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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.

Speaker menagerie 6

Posted 14 hours 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 1 day 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 2 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 3 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 4 days 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 5 days 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 10

Posted 6 days 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 1 week 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 1 week 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 1 week 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 1 week 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 2 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 2 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 2 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 2 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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Charge them up! 20

Posted 3 weeks ago

The purpose of a power supply in an amplifying device – and let’s be clear, by amplifier I am referring to anything that amplifies, even sources – is to provide a steady and uninterrupted source of DC voltage. On the surface there can be nothing better than the ‘ultimate’ source of DC voltage, a battery. […]
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Almost reinventing 13

Posted 3 weeks ago

I spent Saturday morning reading the January issue of England’s Hi Fi Plus magazine. I was enticed by the cover’s promise of ‘Music being reinvented in the home’. This miracle to be performed by England’s Naim Audio, in a product called Mu-So. I was kind of excited to learn how they reinvented music for my home with this monolithic […]
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Small leap 4

Posted 3 weeks ago

In yesterday’s post I suggested what we listen to on our stereo systems is a translation of the original source; a mirror amplification of the original but not the original. This is a major point to understand. The source, in this case a phono cartridge, is used by an amplifier only to control the amplifier’s valve: turning on […]
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Translating music 19

Posted 3 weeks ago

Continuing with the story of power supply importance in amplifiers, we arrive at an interesting point; the idea that the original musical signal gets translated into something related yet different. Let me give you an example. Think of a phono cartridge on a turntable. We know that as the needle is dragged through the record’s grooves it moves […]
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