The next quantum leap in fidelity is now on the horizon. Make yourself familiar with the concept of the direct digital chain. You are going to be hearing a lot about it. In the digital realm, analog middlemen are going to be eliminated to the great benefit of fidelity. There are three levels of audio system sophistication of interest to anyone reading this.
The first level involves a largely analog signal path which either originates as analog in a turntable or as digital in a CD player and is converted (A to D) to an analog signal. It then goes through interconnects to the pre-amp, is processed and passed through interconnects to the amp where the signal goes through 2 to 4 gain stages and feedback loops emerging as a power signal passing through speaker cables and ends up in the loudspeakers where it passes through passive crossovers consisting of large inductors, capacitors and resistors. A higher level system uses bi-amping and electronic crossovers to replace the passive crossovers for distinctly superior results.
The third level, and the one that offers a quantum leap in fidelity is now starting to gel. It will take a digital signal right to the loudspeakers where it will be equalized and crossed over in the digital domain and then amplified in digital amplifiers, one for each transducer. The amp output will then travel between 10 and 20 inches along internal speaker wire until it reaches the actual loudspeaker driver.
In short, no losses, no distortions until the signal is turned into analog power within the digital amp. The digital amp, itself serving as the D to A converter will turn the signal into speaker driving current in a single gain stage as opposed to 2 to 4 gain stages in conventional amps. There are no negative feedback loops.
The following components and their noise, distortion and phase anomalies are thereby eliminated from the audio signal path:
D to A converters pre-amps at least 2 sets of interconnects speaker cables passive or active crossovers 1 to 3 amplifier gain stages feed back loops.
There is a vast improvement in the noise floor and in phase coherency. How important is this? In our own listening sessions and in discussions with others in the industry, it became very clear that the sound improvement is much greater than that achieved by going from 44kHz/16 bit CD to either DVD Audio or SACD. The higher resolution formats are distinctly better but you need a good system, well set up, to really appreciate the improvement.
The direct digital chain will knock the socks off any listener, experienced or novice (actually, if you compare the direct digital chain with the factory direct concept, there are quite a few similarities). Effective, seamless room equalization may not arrive at the same time as the rest of the digital chain but it is coming as well.
Upgrading Newform loudspeakers when the time comes will be straight forward and we plan to offer kits for an easy conversion. E-mail for details. A lot of heavy industry types are working on this so look for it to become commonplace in 2 to 3 years.
The bottom line is, don't spend a great deal of money on amplifiers or pre-amps.
DIGITAL AMPLIFIER MANUFACTURERS
DIGITAL PROCESSOR MANUFACTURERS
Moore's Law Catches up with High Fidelity Audio