Parks Audio Puffin DSP Phono Pre

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

  1. Davey

    Davey define a transparent dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Technically speaking, the Gold Note is still all analog for the signal path, it uses digitally controlled relays to change eq settings.
     
  2. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    I'm not sure why folks are assuming Shannon decided to make a new phono stage that doesn't sound as good as his old one.
     
  3. DigMyGroove

    DigMyGroove Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    Sounds like an adventure, should I go for it? :agree:
    (Because it might be just fine)
     
  4. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Multiple analog/digital/analog conversions --> YOLO! :D
     
  5. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Burnout from the smoke pit

    Location:
    Ohio
    It makes it tough, digital is a pretty dirty word with people looking to drop some coin on a phonostage. Tubes are always good and digital is always bad if your looking for any street cred around these parts.
     
    RDriftwood likes this.
  6. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Burnout from the smoke pit

    Location:
    Ohio
    Because tubes, man. Tubes! and also digital.
     
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  7. riverrat

    riverrat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Oregon
    I'm fascinated by this product, and how much flexibility is crammed into it.

    As my system has gotten better, I've been struck by how that brings out differences in recordings so much more. It makes it even harder for me to understand the tone control purists who just take whatever sound comes out of their system, regardless if the source is a 50 year old record, a 1 month old record, a CD, a hi-rez file, poorly mastered and recorded, or state of the art. I like tone controls, and use them fairly often. I really like options for tweaking the sound, without having to buy different cartridges, mess with loadings, etc.

    But I also have some misgivings about the analog > digital > analog chain. Not being very knowledgeable, my questions run sort of as follows:

    1. Is it possible to convert the signal like this and still not lose any of the analog goodness? Especially at this price point?
    2. Will my records now just sound kind of like CDs only with less dynamic range?

    As others have pointed out, it's kind of hard to understand why Shannon would release a product that doesn't sound great. But still, I am curious how that would work..
     
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  8. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Burnout from the smoke pit

    Location:
    Ohio
    I'm going to say "no" on sounding like a CD. As long as we have a needle in a groove vibrating to create a faint electronic signal, that is going to be way different than a CD. I'm not positive but I think there was some DSP in an AVR I used for a long time that had an internal phono. It didn't sound great but it certainly didn't have a digital glare.
     
    RDriftwood likes this.
  9. Smellman

    Smellman Well-Known Member

    Location:
    PA
    I've been in the market for a new preamp for a few months and have been waiting for Parks' new offering.
    I had hoped to get a Budgie but they were sold out and rarely come up for sale.
    Saw a few for sale but I refuse to pay more than retail.
    I was initially on board with the Puffin but after driving myself crazy, I've decided to go with the Lounge MKII.
    I may, however, pick up a Puffin in the future, providing my wallet and availability permit.
    Very curious to hear the reviews.
     
    Crazyhorse11 likes this.
  10. DigMyGroove

    DigMyGroove Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    But of course I can attest that 98% of the time when using the Sugacube SC-2 I can't hear any difference between having it engaged and bypassed, so why fear this "Li'l Puffin"!
     
    Strat-Mangler likes this.
  11. DigMyGroove

    DigMyGroove Forum Resident

    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    That''s been my experience with the Sugarcube SC-2, it's like a CD in that I don't hear any distracting noise, the music flows without distractions. But it's music being picked up by a stylus and that's not a CD, 98% of the time I simply cannot hear a difference between the the unit engaged or in bypass mode, even in the rare instance where I do detect a difference it's just that a different quality but not one that sounds "digital". I may very well give the Puffin a try, and I'll be eager to hear what your experience is, especially if as you stated he's already sold out and it will be a bit of a wait.
     
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  12. I'm not sure why he's obligated to make anything other that what he darn well pleases.
     
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  13. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Burnout from the smoke pit

    Location:
    Ohio
    Well, it would be a lot cooler if what he wanted to build was somthing tube rectified with a bunch of 12ax7’s beefy power supplies and heavy transformers.

    Seems like he made up his mind he wants to hit a price point. God bless, we need good entry level phonostages.
     
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  14. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    this thing is quite literally a revolution in phono stages. may not be appealing at face value but it could sound incredible and be a steal at the same time.
     
    Rolltide likes this.
  15. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Burnout from the smoke pit

    Location:
    Ohio
    Possibly, at the sub $500 level. But let’s not go crazy, if your are willing to pay there are some amazing phono’s to be had. It’s a spot where every dollar I’ve spent has yielded a great return.
     
  16. hfarrior3

    hfarrior3 I see you rolled your way into the semis.

    Location:
    Southern USA
    So, with the advent of the Puffin does anyone think the price for a used Budgie will increase above retail?
     
  17. It will just hold its retail value within about 10%.
    All those DSP features in the Puffin are alluring and convenient but there is no way around the A/D - D/A conversion process (believe me, I wish there was!) eating up air and spacial cues in a good analog recording. (believe me, I wish there was!) . Just read the end of Fremer's review of the Sugar Cube for a preview;

    " There's one kind of recording that fared worse than most, and that's simply miked, seriously holographic recordings, mostly classical music, though I first heard what I'm about to describe on Stereo Concert, The Kingston Trio (Capitol ST1183) released in 1959. It was the first time Kingston Trio fans got to hear the group in stereo. It was clearly a simply miked production (probably a spaced pair of omni's, according to Stereophile editor and professional recording engineer John Atkinson) that produces spectacularly vivid three dimensional imaging, though when any one of the trio moves, the soundstage imagery dramatically shifts. Some of the music and especially the humor is terribly dated but if you want to hear your system do its thing spatially this one is great! The SC-1's click remover did its usual great job removing my copy's pops and clicks but it also noticeably flattened the stage along with the vocal images' palpable three-dimensionality. Despite the ridiculous claims of "100% transparency" made by some for digitized analog, this kind of real time processing clearly shows what's lost in the process. The better, more vivid the stereo, the more you can hear what's lost.
    Read more at Sweet Vinyl Sugar Cube SC-1 (Continued)

    I really wish life could be different but so far it isn't.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
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  18. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    A member here took the time to post sample tracks from The Doors' "The End". One is the untouched one with all the pops and crackle on a VG-caliber LP, another is the treated one without any such sounds, and another is again the same track with it enabled/disabled after each 30 secs.

    I didn't hear anything different, while listening through my stereo (not laptop speakers!) aside from the removal of the unwanted noise... and trust my own ears more than I do Fremer whom I personally find to be a bit of a blowhard anyway.
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  19. You were listening through the internet. The analog air and cues won't make it through. Plus the Doors stuff doesn't have a super "live" sound with lots of ambiance and air so it will be harder to tell with that source.
     
  20. Davey

    Davey define a transparent dream

    Location:
    SF Bay Area, USA
    Doesn't seem like you had any analog baseline, so nothing like the Fremer test, everything was digitized. It does tell you something about the transparency, but if you've already lost those analog cues from the A/D conversion, it doesn't tell the whole picture.
     
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  21. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    More like trying to find excuses. With it engaged or not, there was no difference I could hear through my system. That's taking the exact same audio and applying/disabling the removal of clicks/crackle. The difference should either be noticeable or not regardless, to a degree. I didn't notice anything missing or being suppressed that wasn't unwanted noise.

    Long-time users like @DigMyGroove have used it on multiple systems with great success and hasn't been shy in giving detailed explanations and feedback.

    Essentially, there will always be an excuse by those who have no experience whatsoever in using or operating this device. If you're stuck on the "But there's DIGITAL in there!" bit, nothing but a live demonstration would convince you... and even then! So there's no point whatsoever in further discussing it. However, if you're even the least bit open-minded, you can remain skeptical but nevertheless be open to the possibility that the device could surprise you and not shut the door based entirely on assumptions and prejudices.

    It's really as simple as that. Nothing more to say on the topic, really.
     
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  22. Then enjoy! :)

    BTW, I have plenty of experience with digital audio. I worked at Alesis Studio Electronics all through the 90's and into the early 00's. I also worked at Harman Multimedia from 2003 to 2010. Crazy as it may seem, at Alesis I started my analog design path that eventually lead me to where I am now on digital gear! I still audition digital gear all of the time at AES events and audiophile shows.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
  23. Seafinch

    Seafinch Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Utah
    There was a time that I tried the Dspeaker 2.0 unit in my vinyl setup in the preamp loop of my Luxman - this made it VERY easy to A/B. While the Dspeaker was wonderful in EQing the room, overall I preferred the sound coming without the A/D/A conversion happening for exactly the reasons mentioned above - the loss of all those spatial cues and flattened sound stage. I don't doubt that Shannon's new product will sound good, but based on my experiments with a/d/a I know it's not something I'm interested in.
     
    morinix likes this.
  24. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    Not going crazy :) on this phono preamp- necessarily- but rather the overall concept and features that it has. Although hearing it might be believing it.
    If more models are developed with this core technology and competitive manufacturers start trying to add these features, then it will be revolutionary. Multiple phono EQ settings, nearly continuous gain adjustment, tone controls and bass filters, tube and tape simulators, saved settings for multiple cartridges- this thing is more than the swiss army knife of phono preamps.

    Right now it is unique and novel. If it starts a trend that the audio community picks up on, then it will be revolutionary.
     
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  25. hfarrior3

    hfarrior3 I see you rolled your way into the semis.

    Location:
    Southern USA
    The 'Tilt' function on the Puffin seems pretty cool.
     
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