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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.

Tiny vs. huge 0

Posted 9 hours ago

One of the worst and best things that’s happened to passive components used in stereo equipment is the surface mount part. These tiny bits of silicon, plastic and metal are used to form the transistors, diodes, capacitors and resistors used in modern equipment. Before surface mount there were through hole parts and the differences between the […]
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2400 year advice 8

Posted 1 day ago

Every piece in an amp, preamp, DAC or link in the music reproduction chain matters; even the chassis itself. To believe otherwise ignores Aristotle’s insight the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. For more than 2,400 years we have known that everything matters and the passive bits in our hifi products are no different. I […]
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I nearly forgot 9

Posted 2 days ago

Today is the start of the Montreal hifi show and I neglected to let you know. Room 2417 will be my home for the next two days and if you are attending please give a listen to the BHK Signature amplifier and DirectStream DAC in our room. Travis Townes and I will play music from […]
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Passives 3

Posted 3 days ago

It is said you are what you eat and there is truth in that statement. We could also make a similar observation of our equipment’s sound quality: performance depends on passive components. Within each piece in the music reproduction chain are hundreds, perhaps thousands of building blocks called passive components that are not unlike the cells we are made of. From […]
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Measuring with our ears 28

Posted 4 days ago

As I write today’s headline it seems obvious to me this is how it is done. The headline could just as easily read Tasting with our mouths had this post been about food. It’s obvious this is how it is done, yet we continue to attempt to quantify that which we hear, in the hopes our […]
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Eating crow 15

Posted 5 days ago

I am a vegetarian and have been so for a quarter of a century. Eating crow is not on the short list of delectable menu items for people like me. Admittedly it was a tofu construct of the black bird I ate, but down it went. I did not sit at the table lightly when […]
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Bad ideas 35

Posted 6 days ago

Of course tubes have been used as the output devices in power amplifiers since 1926 when the Radiola was first launched and, until the 1970s not much had changed. Were they the best for connecting a power supply to a loudspeaker? The question is irrelevant because up until the advent of the transistor we hadn’t any […]
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Delicate signals 22

Posted 1 week ago

Imagine the tiny signal coming out of a moving coil phono cartridge: 30,000 to 50,000 times smaller than what comes out of your preamplifier. It has come a long way and through much amplification to become this much bigger. Like a weary long distance traveler who struggles to stay intact along the way, the journey was […]
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Tall challenges 4

Posted 1 week ago

The Greeks prefer their yogurt with less water and so we name it after them. Loudspeakers need large signals to drive them but sources of music produce only tiny ones, and so we name the interface between the two by its task; amplifier. Amplifiers have a nearly impossible task: taking in the tiny, delicate music signals from […]
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Loudspeakers and movie stars 21

Posted 1 week ago

When’s the last time you went to the movies? Since my home theater was installed I haven’t gone once, but I have seen a number of films. And watching those films fools you into believing the only ones that matter are the actors. If the director and crew have done their job then the stars of the […]
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This Saturday 11

Posted 1 week ago

On Saturday the 21st we will again host the Colorado Audio Society in our offices. We have a very special presentation for them as we officially launch the BHK Signature Power Amplifier. I will give some history, a bit of an introduction and then guest speakers Arnie Nudell and Bascom H. King will take the […]
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Damaging digital 11

Posted 1 week ago

If I have a digital file on my computer and I want to share it with you, I need only upload it to Dropbox for storage and email you a link to download it. That file can sit in my Dropbox folder for mere seconds or many years and it can be downloaded by one or […]
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The shrouds of music 12

Posted 1 week ago

It was 7am and I glanced at the temperature; 48 degrees, a pleasant setting for a morning run through the neighborhood. As I huffed up the biggest hill the voice of opera singer Anna Moffo, singing act III of Verdi’s La Traviata powered me up the hill. What a glorious tune and so well performed. It wasn’t until […]
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The race for sameness 4

Posted 1 week ago

In response to yesterday’s post, reader Greg Hammond wrote this to me: I think what you write correlates with our loss of appreciation for just how difficult the metric of “quality” is. In this age, where companies like Apple and PSA have set a customer experience standard so high, so many consumers take such quality for […]
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It only looks simple 6

Posted 2 weeks ago

Ted Smith, the designer of DirectStream, made a comment on our forums that struck a chord with me. I’ve noticed many people seem to feel that any job they haven’t done themselves is simple but conversely the jobs they do take a lot of skill :)  Why is the job of amplification, speakers, a preamp […]
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It sure ain’t all the same 11

Posted 2 weeks ago

Yesterday we sharpened our understanding of why the multitude of digital storage mechanisms sound different despite the fact they produce the same data. What we learned is that while the data may be identical, its timing, noise levels, and quality presented to our DAC is not. In the same way we likely would not question why different […]
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No surprises 7

Posted 2 weeks ago

We discovered in yesterday’s post one of the reasons different CDs with the same data can sound different. Today let’s examine some other mechanisms, such as a hard disc or SSD version (soft disc), and why they too suffer sound differences. Many have found that downloaded music sounds more lifelike than the same discs that originally […]
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Look alikes 12

Posted 2 weeks ago

We’ve been writing about the clues that help us figure out why CDs, hard drives and different medium do not sound the same. And the answer, as many of you have guessed, is a mixed bag. It’s instructive to remember that when we discuss ‘bits is bits’ we refer only to the actual 1′s and 0′s coming […]
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Reading clues 17

Posted 2 weeks ago

It is not difficult to imagine the differences in mechanics between a CD player and a hard drive. A CD player uses a laser to bounce a tiny beam of light off a spinning polycarbonate disc with a silvered layer of metal that contains slight depressions on its surface. The reflected light is received by a sensor […]
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Misdirection 21

Posted 2 weeks ago

Giving facts to the reader that misdirect, yet are accurate, is a key element in the writing of a mystery novel. These work because the reader cannot refute them, thus the setup for the unsolvable mystery begins. This is the same technique used by many audio ‘experts’ who love to cite an accurate fact then draw an inaccurate […]
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Clues 15

Posted 2 weeks ago

I am a fan of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot mysteries as portrayed in the BBC series starring David Suchet. In fact, he’s one of my all time favorite actors portraying a character. It’s a delicious series. And the more you watch the greater your awareness of Christie’s formulaic approach to laying out sparse clues and […]
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Great mysteries 19

Posted 3 weeks ago

I wracked my brain this morning while on a hike. I was trying to think of any other technology where a copy is better than the original and I could not come up with anything. A copy of a photograph is always worse than the original, as is a copy of just about anything I […]
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ConTROversy vs. CONtroversy 11

Posted 3 weeks ago

My notion in yesterday’s post of physical media having more value to me than downloaded has certainly sparked some controversy (I wish I could write ‘controversy’ with the same inflection points as British people speak it). This is something to ponder as I have both downloaded and physical media. And there are many among us that […]
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Help us change the world 29

Posted 3 weeks ago

A project that has long been on my mind is coming closer to being a reality and we need your help. For many years I have been aghast at the way the music industry treats artists, recording and mastering experts. It’s basically awful. If you are a big star you do well, anything less and […]
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Click, snap 6

Posted 3 weeks ago

While we are on the subject of testing equipment available to people with nothing more than an iPhone, here’s one I would highly recommend. Reader Ric Parker sent this to me and what I appreciate is several features: a FFT and a click, snap polarity tester, in addition to the real time analyzer I wrote […]
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