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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.

What matters 11

Posted 13 hours ago

Here’s the thing about THD distortion. It mostly doesn’t matter. Even relatively high levels of THD are not recognized by the ear. The impacts of what amp designers do to lower it are far more noticeable than the added harmonics themselves. And loudspeakers make orders of magnitudes more THD than amplifiers. Factoid: the next time […]
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It’s how you get there 14

Posted 1 day ago

If the engineer’s goal is to have as little distortion as possible, then the amplifier or loudspeaker with the lowest number wins. Right? Wrong. Just ask the receiver manufacturers who boast of vanishingly low THD but aren’t worth the metal they’re made from when it comes to high-performance audio. Designing audio equipment that sounds good is […]
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Do measurements matter? 23

Posted 2 days ago

No, I wasn’t thinking of starting a riot or fueling controversy with that headline. My goal is simple enough. Let’s start looking at what we know matters and what we suspect does not. For example, does THD matter? The answer is not a simple one. Books could be written on the subject. But, THD is a […]
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Hitting the right note 7

Posted 3 days ago

The phrase, “hitting the right note” has many meanings. To a classical music performer, accurate to the score; a jazz musician, true to the vibe; a stereo system, enhanced emotion. We all recognize when a wrong note is played. Step into any reproduced music environment and you’re pleasurably or painfully aware of music’s veracity. Our acceptance of right […]
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The best listeners 14

Posted 4 days ago

Often the best listeners are the uninformed, the inexperienced among us, the spouse in another room, a neighbor with zero expectations. Expert listeners often arrive with so much baggage—preconceptions about what something should, or should not sound like—that we cannot hear the obvious differences. I do my best to go into listening situations with as few […]
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New and better 9

Posted 5 days ago

New doesn’t always mean better. A new disease. A new disaster. New Coke. But often it does, and that’s the case with Stellar, our new affordable audio system. The big mono amplifier, the M700, were gone within moments of going online. There are a scant few Gain Cell DACs and S300 stereo amps left to beta […]
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Breaking in what? 28

Posted 6 days ago

It has been said that break-in, the phenomena of equipment improving its sound quality with use, has more to do with breaking in the user’s ears than the kit. I think that opinion is misleading. There is a difference in equipment performance with break-in. Of this I am certain. I can almost always tell when a unit […]
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Change of scene 28

Posted 1 week ago

I sometimes group systems into two categories: those you can step into without adjusting, and those you cannot. A great place to experience what I am referring to is an audio show, where room after room has a different system setup. Enter room one and your reference disc sounds like what you would expect. Enter […]
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Touching music 14

Posted 1 week ago

Sometimes the music reproduced on our systems is so real you can touch it. What creates the touchable illusion? We know a pair of earbuds or a boombox doesn’t come close. Even live music doesn’t always evoke the same sense. I think it has two requirements: a quiet environment and great components. I can stir […]
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Keeping machines happy 13

Posted 1 week ago

When upsampling programs add bits to digital audio our machines are happier, but there’s no new information to hear, no increase in dynamics to be had. It’s tempting to think otherwise. When you read that an analog tape or vinyl album has been recorded with 24 bits rather than 16, you’re happier. More is better. […]
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Depth vs. samples 23

Posted 1 week ago

When Bob Stadtherr and I first started work on the Digital Lens technology, some twenty-two years ago, we hadn’t as many bits to work with as today. Back then, there were only 16. Today, we see 24 and sometimes 32. Do the extra bits we have today matter? It’s nearly impossible to tell because we […]
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We’re rarely wrong 11

Posted 1 week ago

Before I get into the substance of today’s post I wanted to apologize. A snafu on the website prevented a number of customers from ordering Stellar beta units. The problem’s been fixed. There are still units left. If you want to participate in the Stellar Beta test, click on this link. My apologies for the […]
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Stellar Beta begins 15

Posted 1 week ago

Stellar, our affordable cutting edge line of product, is ready for beta testing. We’re going to try something a  different with this beta. With most of our beta launches, we ask you to email us with your system to make sure you qualify. Not this time. Stellar is a high-end audio product designed for every […]
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Suspension of disbelief 16

Posted 1 week ago

A well-crafted movie or book lowers our guard; suspends disbelief; sells the illusion. A stereo setup can do the same thing. We eagerly suspend believe and are transported to another place and time. Close your eyes and you’re in the venue. The musicians are playing just for you. The best experiences allow us to let […]
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Audio truth 20

Posted 2 weeks ago

When I hear a musical instrument perfectly reproduced through a set of loudspeakers or headphones, that’s a musical truth. Which doesn’t necessarily mean hearing the opposite is a lie. Perhaps a story less well told would be a kinder description. We all strive for musical truth in our systems. Few of us achieve it on a […]
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Perspective 21

Posted 2 weeks ago

Advances in technology change perspective. I cannot imagine how the world looked without email, cell phones, digital audio. Each innovation I adopted, forever changed my perspective on the world. The same was true when I first heard a high-end audio system. That experience not only changed my perspective; rocked my world; shook me to my core; […]
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Stellar 20

Posted 2 weeks ago

It’s taken some time but we’ve finally managed to get the new Stellar line of affordable high-end electronics online. They won’t be available for general sale under March 1, but you can read about them now – and next week beta testing starts. There are three products in the Stellar line-up. The Stellar Gain Cell […]
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Becoming a hero 33

Posted 2 weeks ago

Our thoughts on how to turn a living room into a better performance venue for your loudspeakers, without being asked to sleep on the couch, might have an easy twist that elevates you to hero. Of course, you can add Tube Traps, Diffusers, gongs, bells, and the like to improve any room. Unfortunately, most of […]
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Room performance 26

Posted 2 weeks ago

Our rooms are performance venues for speakers. The better performer your room is, the better your speakers sound. One cannot be unhinged from the other. In yesterday’s post, I linked you to the video series I posted on building a great dedicated room. That’s helpful if you have a spare room to convert into a sound […]
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The importance of room treatment 22

Posted 2 weeks ago

From time to time we place new speakers in Music Room One. No, we don’t move out the behemoths already there. Moving the IRSV is an all day affair involving many strong backs and a forklift. What we do is simply plunk down a set of speakers and play. What’s remarkable to me is the […]
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Bone conduction 22

Posted 2 weeks ago

In my ongoing search for the perfect wireless headphones, I have made several observations. I can’t and won’t tolerate anything sticking inside my ear I don’t want over-ear headphones for outdoor use They have to sound good They cannot block the other sounds around me, except on loud passages To date, I have purchased and […]
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Not standing out 14

Posted 3 weeks ago

Happy new year, my friends. I hope 2017 will be a great one for us all. One of the characteristics I admire most in a product is when it doesn’t stand out or draw attention to itself. That can be a difficult concept to relay proper meaning with mere words. On the one hand, you […]
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All in one 20

Posted 3 weeks ago

As the team has been working on getting Stellar products up on the website (hopefully sometime next week) a thought occurred to me I hadn’t yet expressed. Stellar’s Gain Cell DAC, the wonderful new piece designed by both Bob Stadtherr and myself, is really two products in one box. A cutting edge Sabre based DAC […]
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Invisible gremlins 16

Posted 3 weeks ago

If you’re making a horror film the best gremlins are visible. Even the most terrifying invisible threats eventually make themselves known so viewers get their money’s worth. But “seeing” audio problems isn’t all that easy for designers. In a practical sense we can see neither the good nor the bad that impacts audio. Music is invisible. […]
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Upgrades 20

Posted 3 weeks ago

As our new memory player, DMP, gets out in the marketplace, trade-ins are coming through the door at a fast pace. I was asked if I wanted to take a peek inside one of the traded-in PWTs. Here are a couple of pictures of its insides. Note the black wrapping tape? The entire insides are […]
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