National Semiconductor's LME49860 op ampWe're obsessive about keeping everything in our HD data streams, well, HD. Usually that means keeping things in the digital realm for as long as possible. But at some point before the audio signal gets to your speaker cones, it has to return to its analog roots. Two new op amp (operational amplifier) chips from National Semiconductor have achieved record low distortion figures of 0.00003% total harmonic distortion, which should help make the transition from digital bits to analog voltage really, really transparent. Op amps are used in the preamplifier stage, so don't throw out your receiver in disgust because its power amplifier section falls short of this distortion figure! But once these chips start making it into receivers, you'll be able to sleep easier knowing that at least the preamp stage isn't what's standing between you and sonic nirvana.