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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.

Subs 6

Posted 2 minutes ago

When I started the theater project I was hell bent for leather to have the biggest, baddest subwoofer setup know to man. More bass than one could use, with subwoofers just loafing along. Remember my post on being obsessive? I like bass and it’s a critical element to a successful home theater. But not too […]
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Sidewalls 6

Posted 1 day ago

One of my goals in the theater project was to not see the speakers in the room. Why? I want to see the movie, not the speakers. I have never been a fan of walking into a cool looking theater and seeing, in the front, a center channel flanked by a left and right floor […]
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Full range 26

Posted 2 days ago

In yesterday’s post I recommended treating all speakers in a theater setting as full range. Several readers objected, one suggested my choice of BR Radia was not full range. I think I must have done a poor job of explaining what I meant. Let me try again. Very few speakers are actually full range. The […]
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Obsessive 4

Posted 2 days ago

When I started the theater project I had intended just a 7.1 surround system. After all, 80% of movies are recorded with the standard 5.1 system, the balance at 7.1, so why go to something exotic? The answer is simple. I, like many of my readers, am obsessive. Not all of us own up to […]
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Speaker menagerie 11

Posted 4 days ago

My home theater, which we have been discussing as of late, has a pretty eclectic mix of loudspeakers to make it sound and work the way I want. I chose this arrangement with great purpose. Many people believe it is critical to have exactly the same loudspeaker type, or at least from the same manufacturer, in […]
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Different options 20

Posted 4 days ago

In yesterdays post Breakout I discussed my decision to jailbreak an Apple TV to make an easy to use movie server similar to what Kaliedescape does. The reasons are rather simple. The idea of being able to scroll through ones library of movies, vs. having to go to the local video store to rent (are there […]
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Breakout 18

Posted 6 days ago

I have a lot of DVDs amassed over the years on hard drives. In fact, several terabytes of DVDs. How to make them accessible, playable, easy to select, with cover art and bio information? If you look around, there aren’t that many options. I suppose one could build a Windows or Mac based video server, and […]
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The rest of the story 29

Posted 6 days ago

In yesterday’s post I showed you a picture of the home theater rack and described the two P10 Power Plants and the two Emotiva multi-channel power amps driving the system. Today let’s continue filling in the blanks. The main processor for the system is the surprisingly affordable and spectacularly good Marantz AV8802 Prepro.  The new 8802 […]
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Nice rack! 10

Posted 1 week ago

I thought it might be interesting to describe a little about the theater we just finished building and what is in it. Here’s a picture of the rack with the equipment inside. The first thing you’ll notice is the two P10 Power Plants on the bottom. I probably should have gotten black ones but I just so […]
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My basement 19

Posted 1 week ago

I haven’t yet figured out what we’ll talk about next and in the meantime several of you have been asking about my home theater project. I’ll give you an update of what I’ve got going. The good news is we’re watching movies on the screen. Amazing. In all the decades I have been playing with […]
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Important elements 12

Posted 1 week ago

So, if the power supply in an amplifier is THE most important element, more important sonically than that of even the amplifier circuit itself, why would it not make sense to use the best power supply money can buy? And, what is that? There’s a couple of things to consider when it comes to answering […]
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Wanna be a disc jockey? 16

Posted 1 week ago

Good Monday morning to you! Not sure why I started with that, but hey, Monday’s can be tough. I promised yesterday I’d write a little bit about why the design of switching power supplies is so tough. We’ll then cover why they are not used so much in high-end audio. Ever wonder how a radio […]
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Chop, chop 2

Posted 1 week ago

Back to how switching power supplies work. I explained in my previous post why conventional power transformers are so big. Now it’s time to find out how a switching power supply can become small. And, like a good Agatha Christie mystery, we already know the answer: higher frequency. But, as in the same author’s mysteries, […]
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The great escape 14

Posted 1 week ago

I listen to the world news on my car radio on the way home each evening. It can be pretty depressing. It can make me lose faith in my fellow man. And then I come home and escape into the arms of Mozart, Thia Sexton, Miles Davis, or Giacomo Puccini. They renew my spirit and […]
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Rate of change 4

Posted 2 weeks ago

If we’re going to understand how a SMPS (Switch Mode Power Supply) can be so small we must first comprehend why conventional supplies are so big. If you have ever looked inside a power amplifier you’ll note just how big, big is. Take a look at the enclosed photo. This is the inside of the […]
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Switching it up 2

Posted 2 weeks ago

Yesterday I was poking the hornet’s nest. Today we’re back to power supplies. The change is as rapid as the weather changes in Colorado. Many requested I explain switching supplies.  And so we shall. Let us begin by remembering what a conventional power supply consists of: a transformer (to isolate and set the voltage you need), […]
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Warning! 22

Posted 2 weeks ago

In an online article titled Don’t buy what Neil Young is selling, author Mario Aguilar warns an unsuspecting public of the foolishness of high resolution audio. His arguments are based in science that proves we cannot hear what we hear. I have referred to the followers of this science as members of the Flat Earth Society. The science […]
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Good controversy 15

Posted 2 weeks ago

Yesterday’s post Taking Risks stirred a lot of controversy. Good controversy. I encourage you to click the link and read those comments which range from ‘it’s a business, get used to it’ to Wagner’s Ring Cycle isn’t worth listening to for lack of melody. Others have written me privately asking why I don’t understand business and ‘who […]
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Taking risks 24

Posted 2 weeks ago

Let’s take a breather from the technical stuff for a few days and contemplate something else. Taking risks. An artist such as a musician, writer, actor, even a circuit designer take risks. They put their souls in the line of fire to make their art. It’s a frightening proposition to hone your talents and skills then go […]
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Let’s feed our valve 1

Posted 2 weeks ago

Now that we’ve gone to all the trouble to learn how to convert AC to DC and achieve the correct voltages we need for our equipment, it’s perhaps time to send that power into our valve (the amplifier) and turn it into music. I have said since the beginning of this series that the quality of […]
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Transforming 17

Posted 2 weeks ago

We’ve discussed some of the elements of a power supply, starting with the diodes that convert the AC to DC. I have mentioned the results of passing AC power from your wall socket through a series of these one-way gates is still AC, just separated AC. We don’t yet have DC. Smoothing out the transitions that […]
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Smoothing ripples 13

Posted 3 weeks ago

I mentioned in a reply to a comment that one way to smooth out the remaining ripple of a power supply is with a regulator; which is an electronic device quite similar to an amplifier. I think this comment surprised several of you who have written me suggesting a regulator looks more like an attenuator […]
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Noise 11

Posted 3 weeks ago

This morning I awoke in Las Vegas at 6 AM and, after going downstairs for a cup of coffee, returned to my room to find I cannot use WIFI to connect to the internet; too slow. Okay, clever me, my phone has a hotspot feature so I turn that on. I can’t connect my laptop […]
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Mind the gap 8

Posted 3 weeks ago

Converting AC to DC, the first step necessary in building a power supply, seems rather straight forward. Take the AC and pass it through a diode (an electric one-way gate). What this does is separate the plus and minus of the AC into discrete paths: plus goes one place, negative the other. Simple. Here’s what that […]
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The old In and Out 13

Posted 3 weeks ago

I will be getting on a plane heading to las Vegas in a few hours to attend CES, a show that’s sure changed over the years. Attendance remains about the same but only by virtue of changing what we consider consumer electronics. What used to consist of televisions, stereo systems and a smattering of home […]
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