How do we meet these often conflicting demands? Creating a short signal path that passes the signal with the lightest touch and least friction isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Just as achieving a high immunity to noise demands fully balanced circuitry, signal integrity depends on wide bandwidth, DC coupling and phase coherence, while issues of coloration, tonality and performance rule out the use of complex ICs for analog signal transfer. Our performance demands rule out the simple solutions like excessive global feedback or coupling capacitors and instead we work with discrete components to create wide bandwidth circuits that are stable, with incredibly fast slew rates and vanishingly low noise floors – and that’s much more than a simple theoretical challenge. Take a look inside a CH Precision product – any CH Precision product – and it is immediately clear just how complex it is. Developing such complicated circuits while maintaining audio performance is a demanding and time-consuming task that is only possible through the use of our modular construction – an approach that breaks the circuit down into discrete locks – and sophisticated modelling.
Take a look inside a CH Precision product – any CH Precision product – and it is immediately clear just how complex it is. Developing such complicated circuits while maintaining audio performance is a demanding and time-consuming task that is only possible through the use of our modular construction – an approach that breaks the circuit down into discrete blocks – and sophisticated modelling.
Each circuit in a CH product starts life in the virtual world where its components layout and performance can be created, modified and measured, changes to circuit topology and layout can be assessed, physical constraints can be checked. At this point of course, that “performance” is also entirely virtual, but by carefully weighing the value of the measurements generated, we can predict their impact on the final audible performance, refining and evolving circuit details, track lengths and layouts, ground planes and signal paths. Special attention is paid to signal-to-noise levels, impulse response, phase coherence and time domain integrity. Only when we are happy with our CAD model, is it finally time to build a prototype and measure it in the real world – a place where actual measurements often better the predicted ones.
It’s a process that is only possible with extensive application of today’s powerful CAD/CAM software and prototyping technology, modelling techniques that allow us to fine-tune the performance of each circuit and each part of that circuit, through multiple iterations and evolutions, before embarking on the considerable cost of constructing actual parts. It’s a process that allows, indeed encourages, creative thinking and innovative solutions, allows us to take risks and try cutting-edge technology without the costs that normally implies. But no matter how powerful the tool, it’s only as useful as the hand that guides it and this is also a process that demands considerable engineering experience and expertise, the investment of many hours of design time – which helps explain why over half our staff are directly engaged in engineering and software development.
But holding a prototype circuit block in our hands is only the first step in the process of creating a new product or refining an existing one. Next, we have to listen to it, something we take even more seriously than modelling and measuring. Just as over half our staff are directly involved in product development, over half our office space is given over to a dedicated listening room, equipped with a range of different sources and loudspeakers so that we can assess the musical merits of a new design across a range of different system contexts, rather than relying on a single, familiar system. It is also a facility that provides a direct, occasionally brutal commentary on our design choices. It’s not always comfortable but it is always educational, feeding into our next round of modelling, informing our design decisions and the next set of prototypes. Because, no matter how good the predicted performance and no matter how spectacular the measured performance, it is always the musical performance that matters. Finally, before that circuit becomes a product, we must surround it with the software support to monitor its performance and control its functionality – and do so without audibly impinging on the signal. Only then can that circuitry and the product that contains it join the CH Precision family.
Our ears and brain are far more sensitive and discriminating than any measurement protocol yet developed. Our object is and always has to be, to create circuits in which the technical parameters and musical sensibilities align. Only then can we create products that deliver astonishing performance, yet which can be tailored to the listener’s specific needs, system and priorities, products that can grow and expand with their loftiest musical ambitions. For CH Precision, nobility lies in art without the suffering.