Parks Audio Puffin DSP Phono Pre

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Seafinch, May 5, 2018.

  1. Seafinch

    Seafinch Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Utah
    Well... after the last couple months of wondering what Shannon Parks has been up to, it’s finally here...

    Parks Audio Puffin DSP Phono Pre

    Parks Audio

    From an email I received this morning...

    “I've been working on a new phono preamp design over the last year and have used the last two months to push it towards production. Today I'm proud to announce the Parks Audio Puffin to you.

    The Puffin represents a radical departure from other phono preamps as it is a DSP-based phono preamp, but it still hooks up like a normal phono preamp with analog inputs and outputs. No computer or internet is necessary, and it does everything real-time.

    For a phono preamp gain is everything, and with the variety of cartridges on the market and many kinds of sound systems with different specs, traditional phono preamps don't provide enough flexibility in gain settings. With the Puffin, you have twenty gain settings: from -4dB (CDs) to 72dB (MCs). This is a real game changer. For best noise performance, I'd recommend 0.25mV to be the bottom limit for moving coils.

    The Puffin also gives you full control of the sound character, not just a matter of luck with cartridge loading. I think the Tilt functionality will be the most used feature and it works great with moving coils and CDs, too! It quickly gets the warmth/detail perfect, and you may even tweak the settings from LP to LP depending on the recording.

    But you're a vinyl purist, you say? Great! There are also several monaural features and filters, even a null balance. And the Puffin handles many old record EQ settings--twelve right now, but I can add more. With the Puffin you can actually listen to your 78s live with no need to record to a hard drive and apply Audacity tools. What fun is that?

    I have a limited number of Puffins for sale on my website immediately, with quantities available next month via Amazon, who will be the main reseller. My current Budgie and Budgie Hybrid designs have been discontinued, though I will continue to support Budgie owners 100%.”
     
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  2. Davey

    Davey define a transparent dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    I don't think that's quite the news most Parks Audio fans were hoping for, trading tube goodness for digital and ICs, though it does look like an ambitious package, and probably a much bigger profit margin :)
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2018
  3. Seafinch

    Seafinch Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Utah
    Not at all! I moved on from my Budgie a while ago, but have many fond memories. This is quite baffling.
     
  4. gov

    gov Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC
    :wtf:
     
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  5. bajaed

    bajaed Forum Resident

    While I'm a tube guy(Rogue and Jolida JD9), if the sound measures up to the features I'm very interested.
     
    tmtomh likes this.
  6. When he responded to an email to me a couple months back that he was working on a new design, I too was thinking "oh boy, Tubes 2.0" and was anxiously awaiting since I want to try a good tube preamp.

    I was a little surprised too when I saw the email / announcement this morning --- but keeping an open mind --- don't blame him for going where the money / demand is. We have seen other SS designs thrive if the quality / price point is right (can you say LCR?).

    Let's face it, these days, tubes automatically means a smaller market.... I know all the purists / veterans don't want to hear that, but it is the way it is.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2018
    Seafinch likes this.
  7. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Burnout from the smoke pit

    Location:
    Ohio
    I just bought one. I don’t need it, prefer tubes and dissapointed in the change of direction. That said...I like all the features and flexibility.

    The guy has a great track record and I choose to believe he developed a design that is superior to the budgie. Frankly I think tubes in a phono at this price point is more show than go. Perhaps that’s the conclusion he arrived at as well.
     
  8. Mr.Sneis

    Mr.Sneis Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Very interesting move, I'm not a fan of the display but everything else seems pretty nice. I still got my budgie!
     
  9. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Talk about a 180-degree turn! Yikes.

    I sure hope for his sake he's working on an additional tube-based no-nonsense purely phone preamp or else he'll lose a lot of interest.

    Otherwise, what a slap in the face to the many tube enthusiasts who supported him before!
     
  10. His announcement made it sound like the Budgie won't be built any more. Too bad he doesn't have the bandwith to keep the Budgie line going, start this line up AND build the "Tubes 2.0" we know he is capable of and some of his customers would like to see.

    But understand keeping it simple, and a "one product" lineup --- once you have to hire one or two people, the headache factor goes up exponentially.... and your margins go down possibly too, meaning higher prices.
     
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  11. George Blair

    George Blair Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Glad I have my tube Budgie. This looks like taking endless tweaking to another level, not by bag.
     
    Garthb likes this.
  12. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Burnout from the smoke pit

    Location:
    Ohio
    Yes but Mc cart enthusiasts should be excited. A phono that can deliver the goods for a .27 output cart is unheard of at this price.

    Granted, a guy running a .27 cart isn’t looking for a $400 phonostage.
     
  13. Davey

    Davey define a transparent dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Kinda depends on how good the input op-amps are and how transparent the A/D and D/A conversions are, and how low the noise floor is with a DSP running in a little box. Doesn't sound like a very good environment for amplifying those low level signals, but going digital does open a big bag of tricks for the designer. I guess we will know soon how well he did after you test it out :)
     
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  14. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Burnout from the smoke pit

    Location:
    Ohio
    I kind of wish I had a budgie to do a comparison. I may also be turning into an equipment hoarder.
     
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  15. Davey

    Davey define a transparent dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Yea, they might get even more scarce once this news gets fully out there, but maybe someone here can loan you one for the review :)
     
    Dennis0675 likes this.
  16. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    I'd prefer an emphasis on SQ than features. That's what drew people to his products in prior years. Truly baffling direction, unless there's more in the works.
     
    mike catucci likes this.
  17. ranch 22b

    ranch 22b Active Member

    Location:
    Texas
    Disappointing news to me. I have a Budgie pre and love it (with upgraded tubes). It provides a soundstage unlike any of my solid state phono pre amps (in a good way). I was hoping for an "improved" version of the tubed Budgie.

    I hope Shannon changes his mind about dropping the Budgie line. To me, he had a good, rather unique and affordable product going. That said, I wish him all the best with his new Puffin.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2018
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  18. Can relate completely... :help:

    Agree on the amp touted to reach down to the 0.25mv for MC, there are amps for much more where that territory is not explored.... would love to hear your thoughts on this amp when you get it. I am sure you have plenty to compare it to!! :)
     
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  19. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Burnout from the smoke pit

    Location:
    Ohio
    Part of my thinking is that it’s low risk since his stuff holds its value. The guy can only make so many, if the reviews are good it will be on back order and I should be able to get most my money back.

    The opportunity to buy equipment that is built buy the guy who has his name on it is fleeting.
     
    RDriftwood, Garthb, sami and 3 others like this.
  20. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    Yep. Tube gear only sounds as good as the transformers. That's not really the good transformer price point.
     
  21. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Burnout from the smoke pit

    Location:
    Ohio
    I would be shocked if it’s a downgrade in SQ. Shannon isn’t a corporation, I don’t think he’s looking to dominate market share.

    I’m not saying you but people have an oddly emotional connection to tubes. Just because they are there doesn’t make it better and gone doesn’t make it worse. And I’m a guy that runs a lot of tubes.
     
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  22. ranch 22b

    ranch 22b Active Member

    Location:
    Texas
    Can someone please tell me what "DSP-based" means?

    (Thanks to Seafinch for posting the announcement).
     
    Seafinch likes this.
  23. Digital Signal Processing dsp definition - Google Search
     
  24. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    True, however nobody can deny it's a 180-degree turn from where he was going and why people were initially interested.

    In the end, SQ should determine whether it was s wise or foolish decision.
     
    mike catucci likes this.
  25. Davey

    Davey define a transparent dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    It means the signal is first amplified by a low noise op-amp, then converted to digital (24/96 in this case), and then digital signal processing can be used for an array of filter functions and such, then it is converted back to analog.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2018
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