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Paul’s Posts

PS Audio founder and CEO, Paul McGowan, writes a daily blog: short, informative, fun, often controversial, but always interesting. Subjects range from personal stories, how to setup your system, news of the day, streaming, vinyl, tubes, transistors, loudspeakers, holographic imaging and more. Kind of like the Car Talk of audio. Not much is sacred, and there’s never a sales pitch. Easy to subscribe and even easier to unsubscribe if you wish. Join us.

Jittered 9

Posted 2 hours ago

Speaking with Arnie Nudell yesterday and he was beside himself with the improvements wrought to USB and DirectStream with the Audioquest Jitterbug installed. I haven’t had the chance to try it myself. Rumor is they’re backordered and mine’s on the way. I’ll report back when I get it. And here’s what’s interesting to me. My […]
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Reflecting on sound 12

Posted 1 day ago

Reflections are our friends and stereo systems depend on them. Yet, there seems an ever present desire to stamp the poor fellows out, and treat them like pests. The tendency to over-damp rooms is a natural one. Imagine walking into a bare living room and clapping your hand, only to hear a slap echo and […]
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Profiting from problems 22

Posted 2 days ago

Photographic lenses and listening rooms generate distortion. The trick is to understand how they change the source and take advantage of what they do. An experienced photographer wishing to capture the majesty of soaring mountains uses the distortion inherent in a telephoto lens to compress distance, bringing the mountain closer to the foreground, and larger in […]
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Localization 6

Posted 3 days ago

Localizing, it sounds like what new neighbors should be doing upon move in. But in our case I refer to the opposite of what we spoke of yesterday, divorcing sound from the speakers. So many people I speak with scratch their heads when it comes to having their speakers disappear. Here’s what’s interesting. It is perhaps […]
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Divorced 16

Posted 4 days ago

Not a great word when it applies to relationships, fine and proper describing sound detached from speaker boxes. I’ve covered this topic before, yet it always bears restating in different words, in the hopes it will resonate with someone in a new way. When you listen to your loudspeakers, sound should not appear to come from the cabinets themselves. Turn the […]
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Walls and rooms of speakers 11

Posted 5 days ago

At the dawn of hi fi there were a small handful of dealers, even fewer magazines, and scarce means to compare sound differences. Most people purchased on faith and whatever they bought was better than what they had before, which typically was nothing. Hard to go wrong. As the industry grew so too did the avenues of purchase. […]
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Realities 16

Posted 6 days ago

As a designer and manufacturer I’d love to think we live in a perfect world where decisions on product launches were all about functional performance and nothing about marketplace acceptance. But that’s not true. If it were, we might be making active loudspeakers, but they don’t sell. We might be building whole house power systems, but they too sit on […]
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Glue 8

Posted 1 week ago

High end audio progress comes in chunks, driven by generations of designers in concert with generations of listeners. Of course there was the Edison inspired group of mechanical designs with wax cylinders, cranks and horns.  And Alan Blumlein’s stereo invention which, along with vacuum tubes, microphones, vinyl, and startups birthed in garages, ushered in the electrical age. Marantz, […]

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Eat well and prosper 32

Posted 1 week ago

My personal journey to become a vegetarian was both physical and mental. From just a pure health perspective, I followed a typical path: first cut out the red meat, and eat only birds and fish – later just fish – and finally just vegetables, nuts, grains and dairy. At each step along the path I felt better, as if […]
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Big change 16

Posted 1 week ago

After reaching the ripe old age of thirty and accidentally setting fire to Jack in the Box fast food trash in the passenger footwell of my Volkswagen Beetle, I decided it was time to change habits. I could easily have gotten neater, or taken the time to get out of the car and eat, quit […]
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Eating weeds 19

Posted 1 week ago

I joke about being a vegetarian, but, in fact, I do eat grasses, grains, and leaves. Yesterday several of you ask me to ‘splain myself’ about this lifestyle choice. Neither Terri nor I have eaten land animals for more than a quarter century, and we stopped eating things that swim nearly a decade ago. Our choice wasn’t […]
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Clarity of vision 15

Posted 1 week ago

I wear reading glasses and over time they get scratched, blemished and scuffed. I rarely notice their defects until I replace them with new ones. Suddenly the world is crystal clear again and I notice what I had been missing. I think stereo equipment, modifications and tweaks are similar. We grow used to a certain […]
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Weeding 11

Posted 1 week ago

There are so many choices of equipment to purchase we must use multiple means to select which models matter; some are obvious, others less so. If we’re choosing our next power amplifier, for example, we can likely skip the Lepai Stereo amplifier that retails for $27, without giving it a listen. We can also narrow […]
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Emotions and outcomes 25

Posted 1 week ago

Mood and environment are important factors to consider when evaluating equipment designed to elicits emotional responses. You wouldn’t want to judge how something makes you feel when you’re feeling off. It skews the test. And this reminds us that we are not machines with identical responses to external stimuli. If the environment is wrong, that too skews the test, […]
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Has this ever happened? 15

Posted 2 weeks ago

HT to reader Steven Beary for this story. Many years ago, I was using your original PS Model 1 power amplifier, which, in stock form, had two, three-inch, coaxial leads from the RCA inputs to the immediately adjacent PC board.  Subsequently, PS switched to using what appeared to be “Kimber PBJ” braided wire in pre-amps […]
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The Nocebo 18

Posted 2 weeks ago

If you put me on the defense I react very differently than when I am relaxed. Take the simplest blind test. “Can you tell the difference between A or B?” And when I try I am defensive because I am being challenged to perform. Those watching are judging me and my ability to discern differences and […]
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Double blind 43

Posted 2 weeks ago

Glutton for punishment seems appropriate to opening this hornet’s nest, yet there are fresh things to say, so why not? Double blind testing simply refers to the notion that neither the subject nor the tester knows which they are reviewing. The idea is easy enough. If neither knows whether A or B is being chosen, […]
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We are all critics 10

Posted 2 weeks ago

In response to yesterday’s post Tough Work reader doraldj quoted one of my favorite movies, Ratatouille; the story of a rat chef (yes, a rodent) that takes over a declining restaurant, turning its fortunes around. In it there is a critic, Anton Ego, whose closing speech is the payoff for the movie: “In many ways, the work of […]
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Tough work 21

Posted 2 weeks ago

I am heading out this morning to visit a reviewer who agreed to listen to the BHK monoblock amplifiers. It’s exciting and I like to be there when reviewers have a chance to listen; there are always questions best asked and answered in real time. And no, I cannot reveal the name of the reviewer […]
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Only so much time 21

Posted 2 weeks ago

Some very valued members of our community were not happy I wrote about this USB device I experimented with and I think I understand why. Conflict. Conflict happens when two or more ideas clash over a long period of time. More than simple disagreement, a conflict seems to happen when worldviews collide. In my world […]
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Bugs, Uptones and regens 32

Posted 2 weeks ago

John Atkinson, in September’s Stereophile Magazine, waxes poetic of Audioquest’s new $49 Jitterbug USB ‘thingie’. And others I know, including my friend Arnie Nudell, use similar devices that have come to be known as USB regenerators and isolators, of which there are a growing number. I haven’t yet tried the Jitterbug in my system, nor the others, though I […]

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Depth 14

Posted 3 weeks ago

When you listen to the Infinity IRSV in Music Room One the first thing you notice is the complete detachment of the soundstage from the source broadcasting it. Though intellectually you understand sound comes from the front of the speakers forward it does not sound that way; your ears deceive you. No sound appears to come […]
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Ground hash 5

Posted 3 weeks ago

No, the headline does not reference chewed corned beef or cut up cannabis, but it does refer to that which makes for bad sound in digital audio. Ground and power supply contamination are one of the toughest problems designers face; an invisible killer of sound quality. The term ground came from the the humblest of beginnings, the earth we […]
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Sharing 7

Posted 3 weeks ago

Before we get started I just had to share something with you. One of our customers, Clarence, in Malaysia, just received his BHK stereo amplifier and dropped me a note from his iPhone. It touched my heart and helped me remember why I so enjoy going to work each and every day. I am now […]
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The Digital Lens 10

Posted 3 weeks ago

I have been involved with many successful designs of audio accessories, but two stand out: the HCPS and Digital Lens. The first came about by accident, the second by design. Today we focus on the second. I have likely written on the subject of the Lens before but it seems worthy to do it again in […]
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