Call Us: +1 720-406-8946

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.

Moving the needle 1

Posted sometime

The first really cool turntable and arm setup I had ever seen was made by Rabco. The local high-end aficionado, Norm, had a Rabco turntable and attached to it was a strange contraption, a Rabco SL-8 tangential linear tracking tonearm. Crazy looking thing. I remember when it first was placed into the record’s groove, it […]
Read More

Love that turntable 29

Posted 18 hours ago

The opening statement is delivered with the romance of a French accent: “I wondered. Why is the record always spinning, while the stylus stays put?” When you watch this well-produced video featured on a Kickstarter campaign, you’re at first intrigued. It’s a clever idea. A linear tracking tone arm that pivots on the spindle while the vinyl […]
Read More

Is selfish bad? 38

Posted 1 day ago

Of course it is. Sometimes. If withholding something you could otherwise freely give injures another, that’s hardly an act of generosity. But if you build something that pleases only you, that’s a selfish act in a good way. The first example is a dead end street, the second can become a generous sharing act. If you […]
Read More

What a wonderful time 30

Posted 2 days ago

We live in an amazing period in human evolution. Just think of the advances and changes you’ve witnessed within your lifetime. In my short 68 years I’ve witnessed unimagined changes. I am typing this on one of them. You’re reading this on another. I still remember sitting in my father’s 1940s automobile fascinated by the […]
Read More

Hacking 9

Posted 3 days ago

Hacking is a term we hear much of today. Years ago, we referred to it differently. Reverse engineering. And we did plenty of it. It began at PS when we developed the world’s first aftermarket high-end DAC. The year escapes me, but it wasn’t long after 1980 when Sony and Philips first released the CD […]
Read More

Emotional connections 20

Posted 4 days ago

There’s rarely a moment we’re not emotionally connecting with something. Food, weather, smells, conversation, music. For most of us, that’s a good thing. We like being emotionally connected to external stimuli. I have noticed, as of late, that elements in our technological society seem to be insular rather than connecting. Cell phones, television, fast food, Twitter. […]
Read More

Direct examples 14

Posted 5 days ago

It’s easy to compare the sound of two amplifiers and choose which sounds closer to the real thing. It’s a lot more difficult to do that with only one. The reason is simple. In the first case, you’re comparing two real-time events. In the second, it’s a real-time event vs. your memory. We all want […]
Read More

Sad story, happy ending 21

Posted 6 days ago

The Audeze iSine20 headphones I reported on are perfect for indoor use tethered to a wire, but not what I need outdoors. Gotta be wireless. About six weeks ago I added my name to the waitlist for the Apple Airpods. These Bluetooth wireless wonders slip easily into the ear without entering the actual ear canal—just what […]
Read More

Worst sound yet 36

Posted 1 week ago

The 2017 Grammys was by far the worst sound quality yet, and not just by a little. I record the Grammys each year so we can watch them later, skipping the commercials. It wasn’t until last night we cranked up the system in the home theater and settled in for an evening of “live performances”. I […]
Read More

Mission improbable 24

Posted 1 week ago

Yesterday I mentioned the reason all loudspeakers are colored and veiled. They have mass to move. We don’t know how to move mass without affect—no matter how thin or light it is. There have been several attempts at building massless speakers, like the Hill Plamatronics, though it included a conventional, heavy mass woofer. One of […]
Read More

Sonic fog 22

Posted 1 week ago

I had mentioned “sonic fog” in yesterday’s post, referring to the colorations exhibited with high-mass drivers relative to low-mass panels such as an electrostat. What did I mean by that? Speakers color sound. All of them. And headphones too. They are the single most imperfect medium within your stereo system. The small irregularities found in […]
Read More

Quad ESL 45

Posted 1 week ago

The first time I experienced remarkable clarity of sound was through an electrostat, the Quad ESL. That experience was a revelation to me. Before hearing the Quad loudspeaker pair, I had only listened to music through the fog of high-mass drivers. Music played through the low-mass of the electrostatic panel was so clear it was as […]
Read More

Does size matter? 21

Posted 1 week ago

There are a couple of jokes at the ready but we’re not going there this morning. In microelectronics, smaller is better. In hard drive and video size, bigger is better. What of audio files? Red Book CD tracks are about 50mB. Their higher resolution counterparts as much as a magnitude bigger. Do they always sound better? […]
Read More

The feel of things 21

Posted 1 week ago

We absorb much of our physical world through two of our five senses: eyes and ears. And while adequate for most of life’s activities I sometimes feel a disconnect.  Walking through the woods can seem like a distant movie, so I often caress a tree’s bark to feel more connected. And the funny thing is, that […]
Read More

Snap judgments 13

Posted 1 week ago

It’s tempting to throw a new product into your system and pass judgment. Tempting, but dangerous. Systems are all about synergy, where the whole is the sum of all parts. Change any one part and all you’ve managed to determine is how well that part fits into the system—not how good that one part is. I […]
Read More

Mixing and matching 16

Posted 2 weeks ago

Our favorite Italian restaurant just happens to have the best olive oil I have yet tasted—its healthy oleocanthal burn at the back of my throat is exquisite. Funny thing is, the olive oil in question is not in keeping with the restaurant’s Italian theme. It is from Spain—a perfect hybrid of cultures in service of great […]
Read More

Interesting divide 23

Posted 2 weeks ago

I’ve been noticing an interesting split in product direction. User interface vs. hardware. In the first, UI, we focus on the experience of interacting with the music through a graphical interface like an iPad, phone, or computer. The hardware that makes all this happen tends to fade into the background. In the second, kit, it […]
Read More

Climbing the ladder 19

Posted 2 weeks ago

Are we making progress? Does today’s average piece of high-end kit sound better than its older counterpart? I believe the answer to be yes. From my perspective, we’re climbing the ladder of improvement and when we look back, we can hear we’ve made progress. We have a very generous trade in program at PS. A […]
Read More

Communicating 13

Posted 2 weeks ago

Communicating with words is complicated. You have to know words to understand other words. Just look at a dictionary to note that one word is defined by the use of many others. A French dictionary is of no use to an English speaker. This paradox reminds me of a cookbook I once purchased, the Epicurean, […]
Read More

I never thought… 8

Posted 2 weeks ago

…I would say this, but I found a pair of in-ear headphones that are not only comfortable, they’re wonderful sounding. Best I’ve ever heard. The Audeze iSine20 are a planar design that comfortably fit in your ear and sound like nothing I’ve yet experienced from a headphone. Amazing. They’re not cheap. $600. You also look […]
Read More

Keeping your distance 30

Posted 2 weeks ago

One of the great mysteries of our art has started to unravel. Why identical bits sound different. Of course, we understand bits are bits—just as numbers are numbers. 2+2=4. But that’s where it gets interesting. Timing, jitter, noise, all impact sound quality—just as they impact computational speed. The answer to an addition problem should always be […]
Read More

Making copies 36

Posted 2 weeks ago

Remember when making a copy of an analog recording was always worse? A cassette tape of an album, even a fancy reel-to-reel, always lost something of the original. And every subsequent copy lost more. Record companies weren’t worried about piracy back then; mix tapes were shared; favorites assembled and enjoyed. Then all that changed with […]
Read More

Straight shot 7

Posted 3 weeks ago

In yesterday’s post, I suggested why a solar panel, independent of the shared power line, is a good idea not yet ready for prime time. A number of astute readers asked the obvious. “Why go through all the trouble of converting to AC? Wouldn’t DC be better?” Ahhh. Of course. The obvious. Why go to all the […]
Read More

Solar purity 27

Posted 3 weeks ago

One of my readers proposed a great idea. Solar power. His reasoning was simple and sound. If sharing power with our neighbor is problematic for its quality, an independent solar system should be perfect. Great logic. Shared power is an issue we all suffer from. Your home shares its AC power with your neighbors; anywhere from […]
Read More

Validation 3

Posted 3 weeks ago

Most of us seek validation. It’s important to know we’re on the right track because the validation of others helps steer our direction. Which is why reviewers, educators, mentors, parents, and experts matter. But just because we crave validation doesn’t mean we should necessarily shape ourselves around it. Your ideas, original thoughts, notions, experiments, daring adventures, […]

Read More