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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 rarely a mention of our own products. Easy to subscribe and even easier to unsubscribe if you wish. Join us.

Some good stuff here 11

Posted 2 hours ago

In answer to yesterday’s post about the Secret lives of Audiophiles, we got some great answers. Too many to reprint but I picked a few of my favorites. “Really, you still listen to vinyl? —Yes, never stopped. I gave my records away a long time ago. —I’m sure someone is still enjoying them… I’ve got all […]
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The secret life of Audiophiles 71

Posted 1 day ago

I am smack dab in the middle of writing a memoir of sorts, one I’ll share with you when done. In the meantime, I have a question. Why do so many Audiophiles keep their passion a secret? It’s the oddest thing. Amongst members of our community, we’re as vocal as all get out. Step outside […]
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That horse ain’t yet dead! 31

Posted 2 days ago

My unconditional recommendation on going balanced in yesterday’s post set off alarms. Here’s the problem. Balanced is only better in equipment that is designed to take advantage of balanced benefits. Honestly, I thought we’d killed off that old warhorse of “fake balanced” equipment and didn’t want to flog it again. I wrongly assumed all high-end audio […]

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Balanced cables 41

Posted 3 days ago

I never connect my stereo equipment with single ended cables if I can avoid their use. Balanced cables always sound better. I am surprised this is still new information for many people, and not just newbies entering the field. Perhaps part of the reason is slow acceptance by manufacturers of audio equipment over the years. I […]
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What should its cost be? 28

Posted 4 days ago

Reviewer Eric Neff wrote a bold comment in his recent review of the BHK 250 in HiFi Plus Magazine. As audiophiles, we sometimes fall into the ‘price equals performance’ trap. We fear being the emperor with no clothes when our friends ask how much we paid and it was, gasp! LESS than what flagship gear […]
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Mistakes 23

Posted 5 days ago

Isn’t it odd that we try as hard as possible not to make mistakes when it is our mistakes that often lead to discovery and learning? Without mistakes, we wouldn’t have Penicillin, the Microwave, Saccharin, Super Glue, Teflon, Bakelite, Wheaties, or the Pacemaker to name a few. But more than the accidental discoveries, it is […]
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Separating fact from fiction 19

Posted 6 days ago

It’s not always easy to separate fact from fiction because few things in life are black and white enough to make simple judgments. For example, years ago a young technician who became a reviewer, Enid Lumley, drove three and a half hours to PS Audio headquarters to report a discovery she had made. Our phono […]
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…and while you’re at it 32

Posted 1 week ago

If you took yesterday’s advice to reposition your speakers to be more parallel with the rear wall, I have another task for you today. Spring cleaning. This is even easier but has a very positive impact too. Physically unplug everything in your setup: AC cords, interconnects, speaker cables. Do them one at a time then […]
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Aha! moments 38

Posted 1 week ago

Few things in life are as satisfying as an aha! moment: the solving of a tough problem, the solution to a puzzle, getting your stereo system dialed in. One of the more common aha! moments for people is when they try easing up on speaker toe in. Most speakers don’t want to be toed in—the […]
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Learning the ropes 26

Posted 1 week ago

The phrase “he knows the ropes” written on a seaman’s discharge meant that he was inexperienced and only familiar with a ship’s principal ropes. A novice that passed a few tests. When Stan and I first started learning the ropes of design in 1974 the challenge seemed almost insurmountable. We had just compared our first […]
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The bounty of snakes 18

Posted 1 week ago

If I were to offer to heal your arthritis with snake oil you’d likely laugh—but that would be a mistake. Snake oil in its original form works wonders. In the 1800s Chinese railroad workers flooded the west to build the Transcontinental railroad and they brought with them their potions and medicines—among them was liniment made from […]
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Oenophilia 44

Posted 1 week ago

I have often characterized Audiophiles like wine aficionados, more technically named Oenophiles. The word Oenophilia did not exist in the wine lexicon until 1977 when Shirley Copperman coined it for her new bring-your-own-wine restaurant she and her husband dubbed “Oenophilia”, located on the upper West Side of Manhattan. A reviewer in a local paper, The […]
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Precise vs. accurate 29

Posted 1 week ago

There’s a difference between precise and accurate. Weather predictions are often precise in their reporting of facts but wrong in their final outcome. Or, take digital audio. It’s not hard for audio engineers to focus on the precise—getting the right bits in the right place, but it’s rare when everything else is taken into account so […]
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Simple tricks 11

Posted 1 week ago

Let’s imagine you’ve read my post from yesterday about disappearing speakers and rear soundstages. You crank up the system and find the opposite. What to do? One could write a book on the subject and unfortunately, this post won’t cover but a minuscule portion. Just about every factor in a high-end system contributes to the good […]
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Impossible feats 22

Posted 2 weeks ago

Speakers should disappear, which seems impossible. The drivers are pointing straight at us! Much to my surprise this fact, along with another—the soundstage should come from behind the loudspeaker—continually baffles people. I am at the Japan Audio show today and watched as two setup guys had the right combination of disappearing source and rear presentation, […]
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It’s our words 17

Posted 2 weeks ago

In yesterday’s post, I suggested fuses don’t make products sound better in the same way an elixir or magic potion does. Instead, aftermarket fuses shore up the tiny wire restricting AC power and make things sound less bad. The difference is all in our words, which might seem inconsequential to some, but I assure you they […]
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Fuses and bees 42

Posted 2 weeks ago

On my morning walk, I had to wear a raincoat to keep dry. But then the drizzle stopped and the sun came out. Of course, technically that’s not what happens. Clouds cover the Earth and block sunlight. The sun is always “out” and shining in the day. It is the clouds that obscure its warmth. […]
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An amazing discovery 19

Posted 2 weeks ago

Got a new credit card this morning and called an 800 number for activation. I was connected to a pleasant sounding machine with the intelligence of a fly, and couldn’t get past first base. “Customer service,” I said nicely into the phone. The machine figured I just didn’t understand English and offered to repeat the […]
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Using what we have 14

Posted 2 weeks ago

Most real world home stereo systems are placed in rooms where circumstances permit, not necessarily where they sound best. The last system I had in a home the speakers were on either side of a long couch, their distance determined by the length of the furniture rather than achieving perfect tonal balance. That’s just the way […]
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Taming walls 24

Posted 2 weeks ago

Taming the reflective nature of walls with portable absorbers like Tube Traps is like trying to keep a three-year-old’s face clean—possible, but not always worth the effort. Instead of trying to reduce or eliminate room reflections with absorbers I have found better results redirecting the sound with diffusers—bending the inevitable rather than trying to eliminate it, like a tree […]

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Awakening the dead 39

Posted 2 weeks ago

On December 28, 1814, Mary Shelley attended a demonstration by Andrew Crosse, a scientist known as “the thunder and lightning man”. Crosse appeared to raise the dead when he applied an electric charge to a corpse which sat bolt upright. Shelly was intrigued by the power of electricity and went on to pen the novel Frankenstein, or, […]
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Absorbing 21

Posted 3 weeks ago

My first experience at the Los Angeles Opera in the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion was last night to see Tosca. Front row, just behind the orchestra. Here’s a shot from my phone as the actors took their bows. Check out the hanging prisoner in the staging. The role of Tosca was played by Sondra Radvanovsky and she absolutely […]
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Reflections 16

Posted 3 weeks ago

We focus our energies on setting up speakers within our rooms for best sound, maximizing the near field direct response. But often, it is the secondary reflections that make or break the system’s greatness. Like it or not, it is our rooms and how they interact with speakers that determine sound quality. The furniture, the […]
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Rooms 29

Posted 3 weeks ago

I don’t think we’ve ever gone to an audio show and found the room for setup a treat. Typically, it’s a battle to position the speakers and make the best of the situation we’re handed. You face the same dilemma in your home. And yet, without that damn room, you and I would not enjoy […]
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The why of it 27

Posted 3 weeks ago

I don’t run to get anywhere faster. I don’t eat to stay alive. I didn’t build a world-class stereo system to set any records. It was all for pleasure.
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