A Purely Resistive Load

There's another complication.

I spoke with my father today. Circumstances forced me to give him my current home address. I don't think this will be a problem, but I've kept my home secret from him for the last five years for very good reason. The last time he knew where I lived, he showed up on my doorstep — drunk, beaten, and looking for a place to stay. It was winter. I couldn't. I should say: I didn't. I didn't turn him away, though perhaps I should have. This was when I was living in Bloomfield and just beginning my career at Stereophile; I arrived home from work one evening to find him unconscious, in my bed, several empty bottles of vodka and one large knife decorating the floor. I suppose he was trying to kill himself. Or, at least, trying to make it seem that way.

An active line stage or preamp must offer voltage gain and/or current gain, or simply current gain. Current gain derives from a circuit called the buffer stage configured so the output matches the input — unity gain. Voltage gain, on the other hand, is actually what's meant when referring to "amplification" — taking a tiny wiggle and making a big wiggle out of it. Current gain adds current or "muscle" to the audio signal.

He began to shake and squirm in strange, unnatural ways.

I called the police, and the police called an ambulance, and together we watched as he slithered away.

The output buffer stage isolates the source and volume control from the load (amp) and your audio cables. The whole source circuit "sees" what's called a constant load no matter what the output is actually dealing with. The buffer stage also adds current gain, something like a mini power amplifier.

These are things I've really tried to avoid and deny in some backwards attempt at making my life simpler. And quieter. But, I'm only now beginning to see and understand that by avoiding and denying I've been allowing room for real pain and loss in my life. It's a constant and ever-present struggle, no matter how I pretend to be dealing with it. And, now, after all these years of crying and trying, I finally believe that the things I have in my life are too important to risk. I can do something about it, if I want to. I want to.

There are the three basic electrical elements all designers have to deal with: inductance, capacitance, and resistance.

After I gave him my address, he actually had to ask:
"How do you spell your name?"

I hesitated. Then laughed a strange, unnatural laugh.

"What?" he pleaded. "How should I know? Your mother picked it, not me."

I think he was joking. Or, at least, trying to make it seem that way.

Ideal audio cables would offer a purely resistive load with no other electrical influences disturbing the signal. A cable's inherent resistance is usually very low, less than maybe a tenth of an ohm; negligible as there's little or no current required to drive a line level signal. Also, pure resistance isn't frequency dependent, so, in this case, let's consider resistance benign.

Al Marcy's picture

Yes, electricians think they know everything. Even how lonely it is to have drunk parents. Nobody knows everything. Not even me ;)

Jonathan Scull's picture

Okay, Stephen, you asked for it! Every time you sear us with words while constructing the double helix of life and awareness," I will post...Parts of Gizmo's original instructions FOR UNPACKING THE AMPLIFIER!We begin: ""Purchasing audio equipment is often a dismal process that

Stephen Mejias's picture

Thanks for reminding me, J-10! Perfect timing, too, as usual. You're completely right: had I taken the time to follow those instructions meticulously, point by point, I would right now be bathed, smelling sweet, wrapped in a silk robe," and in a ""delicate state of arousal."" Things would be altogether much more heavenly and radical.

Todd Steponick's picture

Even with this weaving and splicing in of these cable instructions in the middle there's still a line that runs through this story. Fine combiner, Brother. The talk of capacitance and resistance, and opening yourself to your fathers tragic ways reminds me of when Joseph Campbell says with confounding enthusiasm," ""say yes"" to all the horror of life (or something close to that). It's bravery.

Clay White's picture

Beautifully writing. So here we all are, made up of and surrounded by enormously complicated stuff. Fortunately it isn't necessary that we have anything close to a complete understanding of it. We just accept it, and act in our own best interests. But you know that. Thanks again for words well worth reading.