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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.

Stepping stones 2

Posted 16 minutes ago

As some of you know I am writing a novel. It’s a thriller with a message. I am not sure what that genre of book is, or if it even has a genre. None the less, I am now at the point of hiring an editor for the book. I have taken it as far as […]
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Digital DNA 10

Posted 1 day ago

We have our own group of wizards at PS Audio. I might call them alchemists, but I am happier with wizards. Ted Smith, the creator of DirectStream DAC, is a great example of a wizard. Ted just delivered to us a remarkable update to DirectStream. ‘Significant’ hardly describes the magnitude of improvement you’ll hear. And […]
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Hotel system 6

Posted 2 days ago

As we prepare for RMAF (Rocky Mountain Audio Fest) it fascinates me to think of the task ahead. On the one hand we’re doing nothing more than any of our customers: setting a stereo system up in a room that isn’t appreciative of big speakers, cables and boxes. On the other hand, it is different: […]
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9 + 3 and bliss or anxiety? 35

Posted 3 days ago

I had a bit of an anxiety attack recently over the installation of my new home theater. After going to CEDIA and hearing Dolby Atmos, the new 9 channel system Dolby is promoting, I was smitten and ordered even more loudspeakers for the room. Now, this proposed theater system, doubling as a music system, reminds […]
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The future of audio 14

Posted 4 days ago

My friend, Seth Godin, wrote a great post yesterday that included a link to one of the more fascinating articles I’ve yet read on the future of audio. If you think what we have now for home stereo systems is about all there is likely to be, that we are at the pinnacle of what’s […]
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The last 10% 11

Posted 5 days ago

Reader Kevin Norton asked a great question. “If you put all your music on an SSD on the Mac Mini music server, would you get that last 10% you’re missing?” It’s a truly great question because while I suspect the music will get better, the sound closer to that of the ideal, I doubt it’ll […]
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Have you ever noticed … 10

Posted 6 days ago

… that you don’t notice when something’s merely working right? It seems we notice only the extremes. We notice when something’s wrong. We notice when something’s extraordinary. But we rarely seem to notice when things are just right.
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Music from the bookshelf 6

Posted 1 week ago

Yesterday I attended the CEDIA event in Denver. For those unfamiliar with CEDIA it’s the industry’s home theater, custom installation trade show. I go never expecting much in the way of good performance. This is not a two channel show, after all. And I am always surprised when I do hear good sound. Such was the […]
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Not making sense 26

Posted 1 week ago

For quite some time I have labored under the conclusion that music ripped to a hard drive sounds better than playing it directly from the disc. In fact, many of us labor under this conclusion. And here’s another one. We believe that ripping a CD to a hard drive, then transferring it to a recordable […]
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A+ 6

Posted 1 week ago

I think I managed a single A in all my years of going to school. I was definitely happiest whenever I managed a C. The most recent print issue of Stereophile Magazine placed our DirectStream DAC in the A+ category. That’s quite a grade! (The online version hasn’t yet been updated as of this writing). And since […]
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Danger of words 14

Posted 1 week ago

We often use incorrect terminology. Take for example the terms “phase” and “polarity” when we talk of flipping the plus and minus of both channels at the same time. What we mean is polarity, but we often use the term “phase”. Gary Galo, a reader of these posts and an engineer, sent me an excellent […]
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Mac Mini server 7

Posted 1 week ago

In an earlier post I detailed how to build a music server from a Mac Mini. It’s now up on our How To Section of the website if you’re interested. I was, at first, quite happy with the sound. That is until the new power amplifier and IRS V setup in Music Room One. The improved resolution of […]
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Synergy 12

Posted 1 week ago

Wikipedia describes Synergy as “the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts.” And that’s what takes place with careful assembly of your audio system. One of the beauties of our passion to build great music systems is the mixing and matching of equipment. Just think of it. While […]
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Amp wars 31

Posted 1 week ago

In yesterday’s post Listening through another’s ears, I mentioned my trip to Arnie Nudell’s home to begin voicing the new BHK power amp. Many of you asked for the results. I won’t wax enthusiastically about its sound and trust that’s ok with you. As my hero Alfred E. Neuman was fond of saying, “What, me worry?” […]
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Listening through another’s ears 14

Posted 2 weeks ago

I recall the first time I visited MOMA in New York City. I stood in front on a Monet and found it childish, wondering how anyone could call it a masterpiece; little dabs of paint, no meticulous photographic-like quality to it at all. My son, Sean, smiled and walked me back and away from the picture […]
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Only in ‘America’ 20

Posted 2 weeks ago

In response to yesterday’s post, my friend Andy Benjamin pointed out that jitter is a measurable parameter that clearly affects sound quality. Thanks, I forgot that one. Now on to today’s post. Terri and I were watching Bernstein’s brilliant West Side Story the other night. Man what a great movie! Whoever lit that film was […]
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3 barleycorns 25

Posted 2 weeks ago

We discuss a lot how measurements have little correlation to sound quality. One of the reasons for this, of course, is that most measurements were never designed to inform us how something actually sounds. Rather, the original measurement standards, like THD, were designed to help engineers know if the amplifier they were building was working well enough […]
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Good enough? 41

Posted 2 weeks ago

When is something good enough? A number of people responded to yesterday’s post about building a Home Theater. Many surprised I would place sound quality over video quality if compromise was necessary. Here’s the way I look at things. They are all a matter of expectations. And my expectations are to be in a room […]
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Yet another project 29

Posted 2 weeks ago

As if I didn’t have enough going on in my life: writing a novel, running the company, designing a new power amp, designing a new preamp, launching Sprout, my son Scott’s wedding, I have added yet another project to the list. Building a home theater. Yup. After many years of being in the same home […]
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Perceptually speaking … 30

Posted 2 weeks ago

My friend Jim McCullough, owner of Cello, finally hit tilt with my constant harping on analog medium’s lack of bass and dynamics. He sent me the following note. “I understand that it’s the common perception, and the measurements back it up, but it’s a lot (to me) like the perception that all amplifiers (basically) sound […]
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Deeper meaning 11

Posted 2 weeks ago

In our ongoing discussion on the power of words, a comment was made that gave me a bit more insight into this fascinating subject. If I say to you ‘that sounds digital’ or, ‘that sounds live’, you may get a different meaning than that which I intended to convey. For example, I have heard vinyl […]
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Guilty pleasures 10

Posted 3 weeks ago

Today is Labor Day in the US and Canada, perhaps other nations as well. I always relax and enjoy myself on this day and that makes me feel guilty. After all, it’s ‘labor’ day and it sounds like we should be laboring, not resting or celebrating. Of course that’s silly, since the day commemorates the […]
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The power of words 19

Posted 3 weeks ago

Words are powerful. Wars have been started and ended with their use. They convey meaning and, as such, we need to be careful with their use. On our forums, long timer poster Gordon suggested that it’s time to retire the terms ‘analog’ and ‘digital’ when it comes to describing the differences in sound quality in our […]
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What happens … 34

Posted 3 weeks ago

When there’s no more physical media to play from? No physical media to read books from? Reader Wim Moring of Japan wrote to me suggesting the question. It’s a good one, I ponder it often. Our chief engineer’s kid’s middle school has eliminated all textbooks, issuing iPads to every student instead. I no longer read physical […]
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The problem with better 26

Posted 3 weeks ago

This post is for those following along in the Music Room One saga. After Arnie Nudell came to reposition and adjust the IRSV system for optimum performance, nothing’s been quite the same since. First it was the preamp. I run the great sounding tube preamp by Aesthetix, the Calypso. Within a week of Arnie’s visit one […]
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