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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 good is old? 11

Posted 1 hour ago

Good memories sweeten with time. My first experience with a pair of exceptional loudspeakers was in the home of radio station engineer Jim Mussel in 1973. He and I worked for the same FM rock and roll radio station, KXFM in Santa Maria, California. We were both interested in good sound but he was farther […]
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Feast on more than just stuffing 12

Posted 1 day ago

Today is a day of thanks in America; though it is not a holiday celebrated elsewhere. But as holidays go it is one of my favorites. I give thanks for my family, coworkers, friends, and music lovers around the world. I hope today finds you and yours in good health and spirit. You deserve both. Once […]
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Arnie Nudell 33

Posted 2 days ago

It is with a heavy heart I report to you that my dear friend, mentor, inspiration, and partner, Arnie Nudell, passed away last week from complications of pneumonia. He slipped away at peace and wasn’t in any pain. In 1968 nuclear physicist Nudell, engineer John Ulrick, and cabinet maker Carrie Christie formed one of the most famous […]
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How important are dynamics? 19

Posted 3 days ago

My very first pair of high-performance loudspeakers were Magneplanars but the marriage didn’t last long. I soon found myself enamored with a different kind of panel speaker, an electrostat which was so much more revealing than the planar that I made the switch. This added window-like clarity was a result of a lighter membrane able […]
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Are cables BS? 67

Posted 4 days ago

There must not be enough worms crawling around so I figure I’ll just go ahead and open a fresh can. Keeps it fun that way. Why is it we’re convinced we can hear changes in polarity, or MQA vs. non MQA, or the difference between CD and vinyl—but find it hard to accept that cables matter? […]
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Solid state vacuum tubes 28

Posted 5 days ago

Most of us like the sound of vacuum tubes on an amplifier’s input: sweet, rich, full-bodied, musical. An equal number aren’t too happy about their downsides: heat, microphonics, size, and the 300-pound gorilla—their ephemeral lifespan. Which is why most customers rejoiced when we began to leverage a solid state equivalent, the FET. Vacuum tubes are […]
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Our two ears 7

Posted 6 days ago

Before the 1900s people rarely gave a second thought about our two ears, the appendages necessary to experience the world in three dimensions. That all changed when Clément Ader demonstrated the first two-channel audio system in Paris. On that day in 1881, Ader setup a pair of telephones on the Paris Opera stage and connected […]
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DAC priorities 25

Posted 1 week ago

All DACs are not equal yet many of today’s most popular digital to analog converters are based on the same off-the-shelf chipset like those from ESS, Cirrus Logic, or Analog Devices. What’s curious is those DACs—despite using identical chips—often sound cut from very different cloth. What makes them different? We might get a clearer answer by […]
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Musical libraries 26

Posted 1 week ago

Most people refer to their physical copies of music as collections, for that is what they typically are. Very few large collections of music are well organized. Take my own, for example. In Music Room One I have 6 shelves of vinyl and 30 of CDs and SACDs. Vinyl is organized by the amount of play […]
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Living the dream 12

Posted 1 week ago

In the more than 40 years I have been building audio products my enthusiasm for what we do has never waned. In fact, quite the opposite. I wake up excited about each new day and another opportunity to spend time with our community and team at PS. I am one lucky guy. And sometimes I […]
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Why are subwoofers attacked? 37

Posted 1 week ago

With all the ranting and raving I do about the importance of subwoofers you’d think we were in the business of selling them. But, we’re not. My passion for certain subjects knows few bounds. I understand people’s hesitations with them: the added clutter of multiple boxes, PITA to set up, expensive, unnecessary. What I do not […]
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Should stereo systems be revealing? 27

Posted 1 week ago

When we assemble a high-performance audio system are we looking primarily for musical truth or maximum pleasure? Most would answer both, but it makes me wonder where our focus lies. I am obligated to lean more towards the quest for musical truth because most of my listening is focused on maximizing product performance—ensuring broad appeal on […]
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Expensive amps and cheap speakers 28

Posted 1 week ago

Is it overkill to have an expensive high-performance amplifier connected to a less than optimal pair of loudspeakers? It’s an interesting question. One that harkens back to Linn’s Ivor Tiefenbrun’s statement that the source is everything—a difficult to answer chicken and egg proposition. His original argument went something like this. The source is the most […]
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Is bigger better? 26

Posted 1 week ago

It’s tough to have too much power like I discussed in my post about audio clipping. Which begs the question of why we don’t then install the biggest, heaviest gauge, AC power wiring possible. In this country the biggest practical AC receptacle is 20-amp—the most common is 15-amp. We rarely have the 20-amp variety in […]
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What would happen… 27

Posted 2 weeks ago

Let me propose a thought experiment. Imagine you had a small acoustic trio playing in your living room: singer, stand up bass, small jazz drum kit. This ensemble is positioned a few feet from the wall behind them. You and your spouse are seated perhaps twelve feet away. What a great experience. But, wait! Wouldn’t […]
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Too much of a good thing 20

Posted 2 weeks ago

We all love our watts—especially those that are sweet and musical. But, can you have too many? If you were to pick up a pair of 600-watt BHK Monoblocks (or 700-watt Stellar Monoblocks) and attach them to a pair of underrated speakers, are you in trouble or heaven? It’s a question often asked by customers […]
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Inner workings 17

Posted 2 weeks ago

Have you ever peered inside a quality mechanical timepiece? Aside from the obvious workmanship to make the thing keep time, I cannot imagine designing and then crafting all the many gears, pivots, and jewels that make it tick. A typical Rolex has about 115 separate parts to its movement. If we could take a similar […]
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Why speakers are in the room 31

Posted 2 weeks ago

A pair of loudspeakers needs to take up precious living room real estate, often sparking domestic territorial battles. One person would like them as far out into the room as needed for best sound, the other unwilling to cede that much of a land grab. It can be a real struggle. The need for distance […]
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Why vinyl? 31

Posted 2 weeks ago

If the cleanest, lowest distortion, most extended frequency range, and greatest dynamic range capabilities are the goal, why would any of us consider vinyl? We know digital has these parameters in spades. Yet, vinyl persists—not because it’s better at any of the aforementioned, but in spite of it. And that is because it remains one […]
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Voicing to old ears 41

Posted 2 weeks ago

Many of today’s audio equipment designers are getting on in years. I am a good example as I creep towards 70. Hard to imagine because in my mind I am still about in my mid-30s. Only the occasional look in the mirror proves that thought incorrect. As we age our hearing changes. An often asked […]
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Low cost, high value 24

Posted 2 weeks ago

One of the downsides to making lower cost, high-value equipment is fewer people take notice—in particular, the press and their readers. And, who can blame them? If I were in the audio press I’d surely want to cover the latest pinnacle of design than uncovering a lower cost hidden gem. I imagine it must be the […]
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New music 25

Posted 3 weeks ago

Some of the most interesting people I have ever met were encountered by chance. Like musician Chris Jones. Terri and I were having a quick bite and glass of wine at the bar of a crowded restaurant in downtown Boulder when the lone man next to us started chatting things up. He was a musician […]
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Are you nuts? 22

Posted 3 weeks ago

When the subject of polite conversation eventually turns to exposing the fact I am an audiophile I get a number of interesting changes in body language. Everything from an eyebrow raise, to a questioning look, to a head shake, as the notion that I am someone not only off the beaten path but way off […]
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Dizzying arrays 19

Posted 3 weeks ago

There sure are a lot of ways to convert bits and numbers to analog and music. The dizzying array of choices can be somewhat overwhelming to people: FPGA, Chip DAC, Ladder DAC, passive, active, oh my! I am often asked to help unravel the myriad of choices as if by doing so it would then […]
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Is expensive better? 29

Posted 3 weeks ago

Our culture is pre-programmed to relate better with expensive. A $10,000 preamp surely sounds and performs better than one half its price. Yet, intellectually we know that isn’t necessarily true. A $40,000 Rolex watch tells no better time than a $20 Timex. Understanding that which isn’t necessarily true doesn’t easily equate to the next step […]
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