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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.

Built in head amp? 29

Posted 15 hours ago

Head amps are devices used to separately amplify moving coil cartridges to the same level as moving magnets. They can be built from active electronics with power supplies or simple step-up transformers. They are needed because moving coil cartridges typically have outputs thirty times lower than their moving magnet brethren. Why they are separate has […]
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Optimal distance between loudspeakers 31

Posted 1 day ago

Before we get started on today’s subject I wanted to offer an apology as well as an explanation about the hats. I love these hats and wear mine proudly. I’ve been approached three times now, asking just what an audiophile is and the conversation is always a pleasure. Those of you that have sent me pictures […]
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Is no DAC the best DAC? 15

Posted 2 days ago

I’ve been answering a lot of great customer questions on Ask Paul. One of them was a simple misunderstanding, but it sparks good dialog. On the DIY forums, a poster suggested he was converting digital audio to analog without the benefit of a DAC and the question posed to me was, “Is that possible?” The […]
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The IRSV for peanuts 25

Posted 3 days ago

The mighty IRSV in PS Audio’s Music Room One. 1.2 tons of elegant overkill in 4, seven and a half foot tall columns wrapped in Brazillian Rosewood. The system remains unmatched even to this day. Its multitude of drivers in a floor to ceiling line source produces breathtakingly effortless music at any listening levels. There […]
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Wimpy internal wiring 13

Posted 4 days ago

Take a look at the back of most high-end audio systems and you might notice the fat speaker cables connecting the amp to the speakers. Or, as in my case, the massive flat ribbons. Whatever means you employ to connect the amp to the speaker, it no doubt looks like overkill compared to what’s inside […]
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Two subwoofers? 31

Posted 5 days ago

We have two channel systems with dedicated left and right speakers, yet often we’re told it’s just fine to use a single subwoofer in mono. I’d like to suggest this attitude is wrong. The single-sub advocate’s logic goes something like this. “Low frequencies are essentially non-directional so it shouldn’t matter if the subwoofer’s on the […]
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Listening through emotions 24

Posted 6 days ago

In yesterday’s post on how vinyl works several readers commented with surprise that good sound can come from such mechanical means as vinyl. In fact, good sound can come from vinyl. It’s musical, it puts a smile on our face, it warms the soul. But, it is compromised. Which is one of the reasons we […]
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The great mystery of vinyl 16

Posted 1 week ago

Look at a needle tracing its path along the grooves of a record album. Notice anything strange? Like, how is it that single needle following along in a single groove can make stereo? It might not be something you think about but now that I mention it, can you tell a friend or spouse how […]
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Biggest bang for the buck 31

Posted 1 week ago

Buying decisions are tough enough even if money’s no object, but when you’re on a limited budget—as many of us are—how do you make the tough choices of where to put your hard earned funds? The side of our personalities that want immediate gratification looks for the biggest bang for the buck. If you’re going […]
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Who knew? 22

Posted 1 week ago

For the past few days, I’ve been in Japan visiting dealers, riding the Bullet Train (200 mph), and enjoying this wonderful culture and its incredible people. Yesterday I was in the country’s second largest city, Osaka. The day before, the far north. What a treat. I will definitely put together a short video of my […]
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Show your colors! 37

Posted 1 week ago

Several of you saw my Audiophile hat and wanted one. Now’s your chance. Check this bad boy out. It’s taken a bit of time but I think the wait’s been worth it. Here’s why. If we’re going to make a cool hat we want it to be high-end and home made. Most branded hats are […]
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Bouncy or firm? 22

Posted 1 week ago

When it comes to the space we allocate for our listening area, we rarely have the luxury of choosing our room size, dimensions, ceiling height, or the floor type. For most of us, we take what we can get and hope for the best. Sometimes, for the luckiest among us, we get to choose the […]
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DSD and Class D 13

Posted 1 week ago

A common engineering joke around PS Audio is the TLA, a self-referencing acronym of the finest order. TLA, DSD, PCM, oh my, oh my. Sometimes I get a little crazy with all these initials representing technologies. One of the most common misconceptions is that Class D and DSD are the same. Nothing could be further […]
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CD or ripped? 26

Posted 1 week ago

Remember a time when CDs ripped to a hard drive sounded better than the CD itself? Were you scratching your head like I was? How the hell can a copy sound better than the original? That just doesn’t make any sense. Right? On the face of it, no, but then we have to look deeper. […]
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The life of vacuum tubes 23

Posted 2 weeks ago

Credit for the 1904 invention of the vacuum tube belongs to John Ambrose Fleming, but the device we associate with amplifiers came three years later when Lee De Forest gave us the three-terminal “Audion” tube, a crude form of what was to become the triode. There was a time, certainly in my lifetime, when all […]
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Hearing aids and high-end audio 24

Posted 2 weeks ago

There are plenty of terms that don’t seem to fit together: literal interpretation, out like a light, self-help group, and my all time favorite, open secret. That said, let me add another: hearing aids for high-end audio. While the two terms together might be a head scratcher, there’s good news ahead. We are extremely adaptable […]
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Motional feedback 24

Posted 2 weeks ago

CD, DVD, and SACD transport mechanisms use motional feedback systems called servos to keep their laser beams focused properly. Without the benefit of this technology, optical disc readers wouldn’t be possible. Another type of motional feedback system is used to control woofers. In this setup, feedback traces the woofer’s travel and compares it with the […]
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Do you believe in ghosts? 26

Posted 2 weeks ago

In 2009, Carrie Poppy was 25 years old. She had recently moved into a new house which she soon suspected was haunted. As you read her story (quoted below from this Ted Talk) you might ask yourself if you too wouldn’t have been convinced it was a ghost. “It was this guest house, it had […]
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In-wall speakers 11

Posted 2 weeks ago

It wasn’t that many years ago stereo systems were simple. A receiver—perhaps and integrated—a turntable and a pair of speakers were all you needed. And before that, a simple all-in-one cabinet. That was before we started separating the console and receiver into their multiple components—called separates. This level of added complexity came about because we […]
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Adding realism 54

Posted 2 weeks ago

In today’s Ask Paul, the Lowdown on Subwoofers, I give a personal plea to consider the merits of these often maligned, misunderstood, and controversial additions to systems. The vast majority of systems I get to audition or give advice on do not have a subwoofer. That’s a shame. Most of us strive for a greater […]
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The Stealth 36

Posted 2 weeks ago

In the comments section of yesterday’s post on amplifier bias, a great question was asked. “What differences would I hear between a small amount of class A bias vs. a lot?” It’s a great question but one that’s hard to answer. You cannot simply compare the sound of one model of amp with standard bias […]
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Two different paths 19

Posted 3 weeks ago

We’ve covered a decent amount of ground in these past few days’ posts. Hopefully, Class A, Class AB, and Class B biasing schemes are a bit better understood now. Thanks for your patience as we spooled these somewhat technical talks out a little at a time. I’ve found that taking smaller bites of knowledge helps […]
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Min or max? 36

Posted 3 weeks ago

Now that we’re all amplifier designers, building our mythical solid state class AB amplifier, let’s get down to brass tacks. (For what it’s worth “getting down to brass tacks” at one time referred to the 19th-century American practice of using brass tacks to spell out the initials of the deceased on the top of their coffin.) […]
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Big decisions 10

Posted 3 weeks ago

There are plenty of decisions when you’re designing an amplifier. Some are pretty basic: wattage, amplifying devices, target costs. Others can get more detailed: class of operation, heat evacuation, cost. In our mini series, we’ll imagine we’ve made those decisions and wound up tasked with building a class AB amplifier. We’ve further decided it’ll be […]
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Class discrimination 27

Posted 3 weeks ago

Class discrimination in society is prejudice and discrimination based on a social setting. Class discrimination in amplifiers contains the same discriminatory elements but based, instead, on a few facts and a lot of opinions—some valid, some not. We believe that class A amplifiers are sweet and without grain or harshness. Class AB less so—depending on […]
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