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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.

Courtesy cables 7

Posted 29 minutes ago

I have known of the power cord’s effect on sound quality since the late 1970′s. My first exposure came from a request made by our purchasing manager. He had asked me to help source a power cord for a new preamplifier we were launching. Power cords have traditionally been added to the box containing new products. Called […]
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An experiment 34

Posted 1 day ago

As we start our series on the mysterious power cord, asking the question of why it should make such a difference in sound, I want to offer an experiment for the adventurous few. I will make two assumptions: you have a separate power amplifier, and you haven’t changed your power cord in some time. If true, […]
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Power cords 22

Posted 2 days ago

I recently finished the BHK Signature power amplifier pages for the website starting with an essay entitled, “One man’s pursuit of perfection.” The process is to write an essay, break it down into pages and sections, add specific product details that become the website’s More Details page. Proofreading the the BHK owner’s manual I ran across a […]
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The other side of the coin 5

Posted 3 days ago

After all the negative things I said about integrateds you might think I dislike them as a category, but you’d be wrong. I actually like them a lot. I wanted to point out their drawbacks before extolling their virtues, which are many. Of course the convenience and compactness of integrateds is desirable, and that much […]
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Yikes 8

Posted 4 days ago

While finishing work on crafting our website’s BHK Signature amplifier page I decided to update a few of the files that make the website run. Bad move. The website was hosed from 7 yesterday morning until 6 PM. Thank goodness for backups, even old ones. I apologize. They say you don’t really appreciate something until you […]
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Another piece to the puzzle 0

Posted 6 days ago

One of my favorite stories comes from a kindergarten student brought before the teacher to face charges of selfishness. “It seems you do not like to share with the others.” “Oh, I do! I just don’t like them messing with my stuff.” The vast majority of integrateds achieve their compactness from a shared power supply, but […]
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Putting it together 16

Posted 1 week ago

An integrated combines multiple systems together in one box. A good example is a laptop computer; its screen, keyboard, mouse, processor, hard drive, are all contained in one enclosure, when traditionally they are separate. Laptops offer greater portability and convenience than their mulit-part competitors, yet performance is compromised relative to the best assemblages. 2-channel audio systems can […]

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Holistic 5

Posted 1 week ago

Holistic describes systems intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. It defines our starting point to further understand two groups of music reproduction equipment: separates and integrateds.  We can examine individual components, and we will, but learn little until each is examined as a whole. The thousand foot view of a separates system looks like multiple boxes tied together with cables, powered by […]

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Do you share? 7

Posted 1 week ago

It cannot just be me that wants to share every time I find something new and wonderful. I believe it must be human nature. I get a new album, find a cut that sounds stellar and my first thought is to grab someone else and share it with them. Last night I watched prisoner 24601 […]
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Driving wedges 9

Posted 1 week ago

In response to yesterday’s post Separates reader Chris Foreman commented: These smaller companies made one thing but did it really well and drove a wedge into the market share of the giants who didn’t have the talent or the budget to keep up in all of these product categories. This is a classic story repeated […]
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Separates 13

Posted 1 week ago

Where did the idea of separates come from? Planned or piecemeal? We started with all in ones: radios with speakers, consoles with turntables, complete systems. And then along came the separates, tearing apart the integrateds. The first separate I was aware of came from my father’s system. He had a separate tuner, turntable, amplifier and preamplifier. […]
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Comparisons 10

Posted 1 week ago

The day before yesterday I spoke at the Pacific Northwest Audio Society near Seattle and played Sprout as the main system. Sprout powered a set of Genesis 7.2s filling the large room with ease. The sound was wonderful and little Sprout got an ovation at the end. Go Sprout go! And yesterday I was in the […]
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Technology Train 15

Posted 1 week ago

MQA is coming, so too is Tidal, and then there’s the latest DAC, the brightest new invention. What wonders will we have tomorrow? Better wait, it’ll soon be a whole new world. The pace of technology speeds by us like a freight train; we wonder when the best time to jump on board might be. Oh […]
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This evening 17

Posted 2 weeks ago

This morning I am on a plane to Seattle and will be speaking to the Pacific Northwest Audio Society in Kirkland at 7 pm. Kirkland has to be the hometown of the Cosco brand of the same name, or at least I suppose it is. I’ll be bringing with me a Sprout which just appeared on […]
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Palpable 7

Posted 2 weeks ago

The dictionary defines Palpable as “so intense as to be almost touched or felt” and it’s a great word to describe that which sometimes eludes us in our stereo systems; but elicits ecstasy when we find it. Evaluating music, equipment, or tweaks by listening involves many different parameters and a great deal of focus. Listeners […]
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Error budgets 17

Posted 2 weeks ago

In response to my post of a few days ago, New Paths, reviewer Tony Cordesman wrote a brief essay on the subject I thought illuminating. “I never could figure out if Ivor was simply a con artist or really believed that first in the chain argument. It never made the slightest sense in terms of basic analytic modeling, […]
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What we don’t know does hurt us 17

Posted 2 weeks ago

It’s easy to know when something’s missing, but only if you had it in the first place. Imagine living in a remote village on the banks of a small stream. Neither you nor anyone in the community gave much thought to the stream; it was never enough to matter much. One day the stream level rose until […]
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New paths 6

Posted 2 weeks ago

I have been doing a lot of learning lately, yet it is a strange kind of education, one that is changing my worldview of the system hierarchy without providing a solid foothold to stand on. That type of learning is unnerving to me. I am comfortable with the importance of the source in the chain of reproduction […]
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Live 53

Posted 2 weeks ago

Terri and I attended a wonderful concert last night with great jazz players. The performance was minimally miked and properly done. Yet it did not sound live and I found myself missing my stereo system and wondering how a recording of this very performance would have sounded. When a live performance does not fit my […]
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Feeding transistors 2

Posted 2 weeks ago

The care and feeding of our friend the transistor is an art; many spend their lives learning it and all that is entailed. In yesterday’s post I showed a cascode circuit consisting of two such devices needing to be fed. This subject came up when those watching our new video series on the BHK amplifier heard […]
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Mirrored performance 6

Posted 3 weeks ago

I promised in yesterday’s post to explain more of a cascode and how it works. We use a cascode when we need to divide the duties of one transistor into two. The reasons are varied: too much voltage for the one, poor performance characteristics, we want a different sound. In the case of the new […]
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Cascode magic 1

Posted 3 weeks ago

In Bascom H. King’s video of the new BHK amplifier he talks about a cascode circuit, near the end of that film and several of you have asked me to expand on the subject. The first time I remember learning about a cascode was from the designer of another PS Audio amplifier, Bob Odell, or, as we […]
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Wizards 28

Posted 3 weeks ago

The 1939 MGM version of L. Frank Baum’s, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz aired each Thanksgiving when I was growing up and it never failed to scare me. Margret Hamilton’s character, the Wicked Witch of the West gave me nightmares, her squad of flying monkeys haunted me for days and her guard’s singing the Winkie […]
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Saturday videos 11

Posted 3 weeks ago

No, I don’t have videos of the Super Bowl, scenic wonders, spectacular feats of excess. I do have the complete video series of the world premier of the BHK Signature power amplifier finished; surely a close second. There’s a little less than one hour of video and I have broken it into three presentations: my […]
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Engineering fun 14

Posted 3 weeks ago

I often wonder how many of us equate the words “fun’ with “engineering”? Like any job there is drudgery, but fun moments as well: initial design phase, laying out the basic building blocks of a product, that eureka moment. In lengthy discussions with the designer of our next generation of preamplifier, Bascom H. King, we decided to move […]
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