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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.

How long for perfection? 25

Posted 5 hours ago

When we started PS Audio in the early 1970’s there was only vinyl and tape, though it’s safe to suggest for most Audiophiles, it was all vinyl. Few of us had fancy tape decks. Vinyl was just then coming of age, nearly 100 years after its introduction. It’s instructive to remember that what you and […]
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Forgetting DSD 38

Posted 1 day ago

Our excitement and interest levels in new technology ebb and flow over time, yet the formats and innovations that sparked our interests remain, long after the fires of our focus die down. We keep looking for the magic bullet hoping for a major breakthrough, when the truth is, every round of ammunition is actually a […]
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Evolution of understanding 47

Posted 2 days ago

My first glimmer of hope for extracting that which has been covered up up since CD’s introduction, in 1982, came in 2009, with the release of the PWT Memory Player. We had begun that project with two goals in mind: play high resolution optical PCM discs, and add the Digital Lens technology. What we discovered was a […]
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Making basic better 33

Posted 3 days ago

I love good surprises. Perhaps the best is when your expectations for one thing are overwhelmed by something unexpected. When we designed the DirectStream Memory Player we had high hopes to finally hear what we knew to be buried in SACD’s DSD layer—a layer formerly unavailable to external DACs. We weren’t disappointed and I began accumulating […]
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The dilemma 39

Posted 4 days ago

I’ve been playing with the new transport (DirectStream Memory Player) in Music Room One. Playing a lot. And it’s taking a bit of time to wrap my head around this product. Not because I am trying to figure out what I like and don’t like, but how in the world the DMP manages to uplift […]
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Non linearities 35

Posted 5 days ago

What an interesting term, nonlinear. The word linear means to arrange or extend something in a straight line. In electronics we use linear to mean without deviation from the expected. So, we might say that an amplifier’s response is linear if it covers an expected frequency range without hiccups. So, nonlinear seems unorganized, unpredictable, and something […]
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Skill 49

Posted 6 days ago

The company just dropped another bundle of cash on a couple more Audio Precision test suites (each costs in excess of $10,000). We use the less expensive versions for testing our products, and the fanciest ones to help in our equipment designs. But the quality of this advanced test gear is meaningless without the skill required to use […]
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Stirring the muck 29

Posted 1 week ago

In yesterday’s post I wrote about toe tapping as an Audiophile measurement criteria for sound quality. I think I did a poor job of explaining if judged by the rash of responses in the comment section. My apologies. Of course we tap our toes to just about anything: the car radio, MP3 players, good beats […]
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Toe tapping 60

Posted 1 week ago

If you’ve been around a while you’ll inevitably run into one of the metrics people use to evaluate hifi gear. Toe Tapping. Does the reproduced music get your toe to tap? Hard to measure with equipment, easy for listeners to quantify. And heck, it’s listeners that really matter. Right? We understand music connects to our emotional […]
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Breaking the law 46

Posted 1 week ago

It’s probably not a good idea to run red lights. The consequences can be deadly. But most rules or laws that attempt to explain our physical world are open to both interpretation and breaking. Take for example the two yardsticks, THD and IM (Total Harmonic Distortion and Intermodulation Distortion). We care because if these distortion measure beyond a […]
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High-end kind of guy 39

Posted 1 week ago

Most people are happy as clams with what they have, the way their music is played, the food they eat, the cars they drive, the phones they talk on, the cameras they shoot with. But, not me. I find myself happy with the status quo only to a point, and then I strive for something […]
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Enhancements 35

Posted 1 week ago

Sprinkle a touch of sugar on a tasteless tomato and you’ve artificially enhanced its palatability. Leave that same tomato on the vine to ripen, and you’ve naturally enhanced its taste. One’s a tweak, the other a fix. When we look at tweaks and enhancements, I think it’s instructive to separate the sweetening of something vs. […]
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Keeping it clean 12

Posted 1 week ago

I promised in yesterday’s post to start writing about essentials, but then this little gem floated past my desk and I had to share. Sometimes tweaks help the way things look without having an impact on sound quality. Check this out. What a great and simple idea. Go here and watch the video. These guys have […]
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Just what is essential? 11

Posted 1 week ago

In Sunday’s post I asked what your favorite tweaks are. Lots of great answer coming in and we shall discuss some of the more noteworthy of them. In the meantime, I would ask the question of what is essential? What constitutes a tweak, and what has come to be required? Some tweaks are so pervasive they […]
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DIY 9

Posted 2 weeks ago

In yesterday’s post we asked what your favorite tweaks are. Some great answers are rolling in. Copper Magazine, Issue 15, launched this morning and in it we begin a new series called Make It Yourself. This is an exciting direction for Copper to take and we have one of our newest team members to thank. Darren […]
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Are tweaks for the lazy? 46

Posted 2 weeks ago

I must be lazy. I have tried dozens of tweaks that work, yet I no longer use them: VPi Bricks, sonic bells, resonating cups, directed harmonizers, green pens, degaussers, spray on optical cleaners. They’re all effective, repeatable, and yet they find no home in Music Room One. At least not for the long term. I […]
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Rediscovering music 34

Posted 2 weeks ago

As the first production DirectStream Transport prepares to roll into Music Room One I find myself fascinated at the prospect of rediscovering the musical treasure buried in my CD collection. And the question occurs to me, how many times can we uncover that which is trapped in this original digital storage media, first released in […]
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Unless… 16

Posted 2 weeks ago

Dogs must be on leashes! Unless… I don’t generally like the sound of horns. Unless… Tube amplifiers all have mushy bass! Unless… Often it’s the exceptions to the rules that define the best products, the greatest sound systems. I can’t recall having heard an extraordinary system that played by the rules, that was just stock, […]
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Walled gardens 19

Posted 2 weeks ago

Our homes can be thought of as walled gardens; small private places where we spend time in our own world. And within those walled gardens many of us are fortunate enough to have music available through a system we’re rightfully proud of. Our systems sound the way they do in part because of the walls which contain […]
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Vase or voz? 14

Posted 2 weeks ago

Target or Tarjay? One’s a discount store, the other’s a step above WalMart. Rodeo Drive or Rodayo drive? One’s a street for horse and cattle contests, the other for Gucci. Jason Or Jáson shampoo? One’s the name of a mechanic, the other a fancy artist. I recently had to gently talk a customer down off the […]
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It’s a matter of taste 14

Posted 2 weeks ago

My favorite dish is probably not yours. And my favorite restaurant may or may not be to your liking. Each of us has personal favorites that match our preferences: sounds, feels, looks, tastes, music, mates. It’s true for you and for me. It’s why there is no perfect DAC, preamp, speaker system. There can’t be. […]
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Trying everything 19

Posted 3 weeks ago

“I’ve tried everything!’ “I’ve looked everywhere!” And both are almost always incorrect. Exasperated people often contact us with one of these two statements and are ultimately relieved when we are able to point them in a different direction, suggest the one thing they missed, the one place they didn’t look. It happens to us all. Recently I […]
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OJT 28

Posted 3 weeks ago

In February, 1979, our first child, Lon, was born. After an overnight stay in the hospital he was wrapped in swaddling, handed over, and the nurses waved goodbye. I panicked. No operating manual? What’s the drill here? The nurse smiled and said something about “you’ll figure it out”, and the door closed after her. On […]
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History of the Brick 28

Posted 3 weeks ago

After publishing my story of the VPI Brick my friend, John Hunter, CEO of REL Acoustics, sent me this history I hadn’t previously known. “So let me add a little personal history that illuminates from whence this idea sprang as, by pure happenstance, I was present when the demonstration that led to this product took place […]
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Fear of tweaks 48

Posted 3 weeks ago

Change can be tough for me, especially when the means to an end make no sense. Like green pens on CD edges, demagnetizers, magic stones, voodoo dots, resonators aligning the earth to my stereo system. Ideas presented to me that I cannot make sense of get put on hold. Sometimes indefinitely. Sometimes forever. I remember […]
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