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Paul’s Posts

PS Audio founder and CEO, Paul McGowan, takes a few hours each day to write to readers of his daily post series. Subjects range from how to setup your system to helping you understand the complex technical issues of streaming, vinyl, tubes, transistors, loudspeakers, holographic imaging and more. Not much is sacred; there’s no hype or sales pitch. Easy to subscribe and even easier to unsubscribe if you wish. Join us.

I just smiled 2

Posted 16 hours ago

On the phone with a customer about DirectStream. He asked a good question. “There are other DACs out there based on FPGA technology. What makes yours different?” I was going to spout off a flippant answer like “everything”, but decided that would not have answered his question, nor would it have been kind. It was, […]
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Dielectric 12

Posted 1 day ago

When we speak of break in much of what we are dealing with is purported to be about dielectrics. I am not expert enough to give you a lecture on this subject but here’s what I can share with you that matters. A dielectric is essentially an insulator of one type of non-conductive material or […]
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“What is this music?” 14

Posted 2 days ago

I am writing today’s post as I typically do, on the morning of the day before it goes live. Terri and I are in California, visiting grandma, and I am looking out at the calm blue ocean. This is a good place to write from. Sometimes it’s good to take a break from audio. If […]
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Yet another … 40

Posted 3 days ago

And just when I thought I’d get around to explaining some of the dielectric effects – or at least what some of that means – yet another opinion comes in. This one from someone I respect greatly, my friend Arnie Nudell. His thoughts run counter to my memory of how equipment responds to break-in, but that’s […]
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The light stays on! 15

Posted 4 days ago

The subject of break in, the tendency of equipment to improve (change) over on-time, is a controversial one. Yesterday’s post suggested ‘warm up’ might be a more accurate term, since burn-in or break-in implies a one-way effect, while warm-up has a less permanent connotation. But that didn’t keep some of you from writing me to […]
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Warming up 17

Posted 5 days ago

In response to yesterday’s post on break-in, my friend Bill Low, founder and chief Mucky Muck of Audioquest sent me the following note: “The improvement in audio system performance as a result of keeping the system energized is not the result of anything permanent. The 2 dominant phenomena are the forming of dielectric and thermal […]
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Easy stuff first 11

Posted 6 days ago

Thank you for all the great dialog on Break In started yesterday in this post. There’s lots I am sifting through, probably resulting in a couple of guest posts; so many people having so much to say on the subject. Perhaps the best place to start is by picking off the low hanging fruit: mechanical […]
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Burn in 46

Posted 1 week ago

I have long wanted to tackle this subject of burn-in. I am not prepared to suggest I have a lot to offer. Perhaps a dialog will open that might shed light on the subject so we can all learn. Let’s define terms first. By ‘burn in’ I am referring, specifically, to the process we Audiophiles […]
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Be careful what you ask for 50

Posted 1 week ago

In a comment posted in response to my post Dogma of some days ago, Lawrence Schenbeck, a professor of music and our resident classical music expert asked an intriguing follow up question. “What if the “theoretically perfect transducer” re-creates an acoustic, or an instrument, that just sounds terrible? How many audiophiles would line up to […]
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Live vs. hifi 33

Posted 1 week ago

The basis for the magazine’s name: The Absolute Sound, was coined by its founder, Harry Pearson. It refers to his personal standard of evaluating hi fi equipment: to reproduce sound compared to the “absolute sound”; defined as the sound of live, unamplified music. Indeed, that’s a good absolute reference. But what of the Audiophile sound? Sometimes […]
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Dogma 16

Posted 1 week ago

It’s an interesting term. It means ‘a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true’. Religions have a lot of them. So too does high end audio. I had written several days ago that a point source loudspeaker is the theoretically perfect transducer: infinitely small, infinitely loud. It is also currently […]
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Fine wine and tubes 18

Posted 1 week ago

Open a bottle of a fine red wine and the taste can sometimes be a bit harsh. A little too upfront; astringent, lacking body and air. We are then told to let it ‘open up’ to sit and ‘break in’ if you will, until that mellowness you’re looking for gets unmasked from the slightly forward […]
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Getting used to it 19

Posted 1 week ago

I wonder what ‘getting used to it’ actually means? I had so gotten used to the sound in Music Room One that until it got revamped, I ignored all its problems and soldiered on. This “getting used to it” problem was pervasive. When I first setup Music Room One many aspects of it were sounding soooo […]
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In the hands of a master 44

Posted 1 week ago

There are those among you that have had the chance to listen to the Infinity IRSV’s in Music Room One. Most have been impressed with the sound, the effortless quality of this system, its musicality; some more than others, but to all who have visited, we can agree it is something you don’t see every day. The […]
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Isn’t it odd? 21

Posted 2 weeks ago

The last video I made was of the Munich High End show. While creating the video a strange thing happened that I’ve been noodling about for some time now. When I walked into the Martin Logan room the speakers were playing and they instantly sounded like, well, Martin Logans. That wasn’t much of a surprise so […]
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Your last chance 2

Posted 2 weeks ago

Tomorrow morning, Wednesday the 16th at 8 A.M., the Kickstarter campaign for Sprout officially ends. It’s been a good effort and we all appreciate your support and help. My personal goal has always been to help sell 1,000 Sprouts for Scott, we’re not that far away, it’s a goal we can still achieve, maybe even beat. Sprout’s an […]
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Starting over 6

Posted 2 weeks ago

Most of our systems are a collection of components chosen one at a time, added, piece by piece. Certainly mine is. Rarely do we have a chance to start fresh with a clean slate. What would yours look like, had you the chance to start over? Would you repeat the same process: choose your speakers or electronics […]
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All choked up 9

Posted 2 weeks ago

There’s an interesting misunderstanding about attenuators I thought I might address today: they “choke” the sound. That ain’t necessarily so. I have been wondering where that thought process came from and it occurs to me it just might be closer to home than imagined. It might be me! Ok, so I’ve mentioned in a few posts […]
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Give yourself permission 10

Posted 2 weeks ago

We’re funny creatures, we humans. We seem to need permission to do things; to affect change; to step outside our comfort zones. It’s why a good review gives us permission to try something new; a bad one and we have permission to walk away. It seems a challenge to most of us to give ourselves permission: […]
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Full blown crossovers 12

Posted 2 weeks ago

One of my readers asked a great question. “You’ve described a simple low pass/high pass filter for a speaker’s crossover, but isn’t a real full blown crossover a lot more complex?” A “full blown” crossover of a 2-way is usually both a high pass and low pass filter together, just as I described in my […]
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Woofing 12

Posted 2 weeks ago

We’re discussing 2-way loudspeakers and the crossovers that make it possible for each of the two drivers to do what they’re best at. To make sure the tweeter only “tweets” high frequencies, we place a capacitor in series with it, low frequency musical notes just won’t pass through to the tweeter. The woofer is a […]
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Chuck Lamb 8

Posted 3 weeks ago

We’ll get back to speakers and crossovers tomorrow. I wanted to share with you a wonderful musical experience Terri and I had on 4th of July. We were invited to a friend’s home in Lyons Colorado to watch “some live music”. Little did I realize the live music was none other than Chuck Lamb, keyboardist […]
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Crossovers 4

Posted 3 weeks ago

Perhaps the single best reason to use separate speakers drivers is not to lower distortion, but to optimize performance. A woofer can move a lot of air because of its size, mass and length of piston movement; all necessary requirements for lower frequency musical notes. A tweeter, on the other hand, has the opposite characteristics: […]
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2-way loudspeakers 7

Posted 3 weeks ago

Whenever I think of a 2-way loudspeaker I inevitably refer to them as bookshelves and I am not sure why. There are, of course, many big-box loudspeakers with only two drivers. I suppose the reason might be that’s what you see the most of these days, smaller boxes with but two drivers. But the actual […]
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Speakers and mics 13

Posted 3 weeks ago

Reader David Blank pointed out something interesting to me in yesterday’s post. There are, in fact, two nearly perfect speakers that are full range: a headphone and a microphone. A headphone, like the excellent sound Audeze LCD2X that I am going to purchase, has a single planar driver that covers the entire range of frequencies […]
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