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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.

What do we have in common? 3

Posted 6 hours ago

Balanced audio cables were invented many years ago for professional applications such as radio, television, film and recording studios. No consumer products had them. They were for the pros. And the pros had noisy environments of many cables, inputs, devices, transmitters, and so forth to deal with. Their inputs were almost always transformer coupled. Meaning, […]
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Regaining our balance 6

Posted 1 day ago

If a single ended cable has one conductor and a balanced cable two, what is the reason for their difference? Noise. Or, more appropriately put, the lack of it. A single ended cable is more prone to external noise than a balanced cable. And here’s something to remember when you’re thinking about these two types […]
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Chocolate or vanilla? 45

Posted 2 days ago

I will return to explaining balanced audio tomorrow. Most likely. Over on the PS Audio forums there’s been a bit of controversy. It’s the ongoing debate of PCM vs. DSD processing. An industry maven has publicly scolded us for ‘forcing’ our customers into using DSD processing; failing to give them a choice between PCM or DSD in […]
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The Cannon Connector 3

Posted 3 days ago

Yesterday we went over the simple RCA single ended cable construction. Today we see what’s inside a balanced XLR cable. The simplest description of a balanced cable is two single ended conductors in a shielded enclosure. A single ended RCA cable is one conductor in a shielded enclosure, the balanced XLR has two conductors. Otherwise, the two […]
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Getting everything straight 11

Posted 4 days ago

Ok, I couldn’t resist the subject title. Sorry. And no, we never refer to single ended and balanced as such. I just couldn’t resist. Here’s a picture of a single ended RCA cable. And if you have anything that actually looks like these cheesy cables in your system I shall never speak to you again. […]
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Balanced view 9

Posted 5 days ago

I get a lot of questions about balanced audio. You know, the kind that looks like a bigger cable and is not the standard RCA type. Of course we’ve spent time on this subject before but it’s always good to go for a refresher now and then. Plus, things change for people in their systems […]
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Bit of this, bit of that… 17

Posted 6 days ago

No, we don’t listen to bits. Do we? Not if we listen to PCM we don’t. PCM is a type of code that goes through a secondary operation before getting to a form where we can hear it. DSD not so much. We actually do listen to the direct bits in DSD. PCM is kind of like […]
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Asking the right questions 7

Posted 1 week ago

The answers we get depend largely on the questions we ask. Seems simple enough, yet why is it we’re always surprised with those answers? I remember asking the kids if they did their homework. They’d answer yes or no honestly until the realized my question was general enough to tell the technical truth without violating […]
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The new tuner 24

Posted 1 week ago

I was thinking of the my favorite tuners this morning. For many years I listened to a Marantz Model 120 (with the silly display). I also enjoyed a Magnum Dynalab and the last tuner I owned was the PS Audio ST1, based on the same Magnum Dynalab circuitry. That was back when local FM radio was worth listening […]
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Two finger flying 12

Posted 1 week ago

Hey, it’s Saturday and I feel like telling a little story unrelated to audio. As a young lad of 15 years I was both a photographer and a cub reporter for a local newspaper called the Anaheim Bulletin, conveniently located in Anaheim California. I wanted nothing more out of life than to be one of the […]
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Bonding with machines 32

Posted 1 week ago

We all bond with machines. No, I’m not getting kinky, but you know what I mean. We fall in love with the Marantz tuner, the power amplifier, a favorite DAC, computer, tool, camera, car, or stereo system.  Somewhere along the line you’ve no doubt managed to bond with some inanimate object. It’s a strange relationship yet we all understand how […]
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Longevity 8

Posted 1 week ago

There’s a price to be paid for anything we do. Yesterday’s post suggesting you keep your equipment on for better performance can be a double edged sword: better sound but a change in the unit’s longevity, for both better and the worse. Heat and surges are the enemy of capacitors. Sitting on a shelf doesn’t help them […]
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At what cost perfection? 14

Posted 1 week ago

It’s a cold snap outside. Today reached a high of twenty degrees, tomorrow we won’t see past ten and tonight it dips below zero. I was chilled walking the distance from my car to PS Audio’s front door so I walked into Music Room One, still warm from the equipment that is perpetually on, and warmed my hands on […]
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Ready, aim, … 7

Posted 1 week ago

I mentioned in yesterday’s post the idea of changing one’s seat height to optimize the soundfield. So, what is this actually doing? It points the tweeter more or less at your ears, increasing or decreasing the level of the highs. Several readers were quick to point out a close alternative to adjusting your seat height is to tilt, […]
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Easy tweak 8

Posted 2 weeks ago

It should come as no surprise we all want an easy improvement to the way our sound systems playback music. Our ever-constant goal: to get as close to the sound of live, unamplified music as we can, within the limitations of our systems. That’s not always an easy task. One quick tweak is adjusting seat height. […]
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Food for thought 35

Posted 2 weeks ago

My wife Terri organizes company field trips. We do two a year and they’re always welcome, fun events. This year the entire company invaded the Super Audio Center run by Gus Skinas as well as toured Immersive Studios (the only recording studio in the world with a full 32 track Sonoma DSD recording system). Gus […]
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Soft edges 39

Posted 2 weeks ago

I read comments now and then of people clinging to the notion DSD is softer than that of PCM. And my question is simple: compared to what? Compared to live recorded music? I don’t think so. I have on many occasions stood in the mastering studio listening to originally recorded music and compared the two. Yet I cannot deny […]
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Auguries of innocence 4

Posted 2 weeks ago

I sat down to write today but it seemed almost a sacrilege to scribble on about audio. Time to heal. I’ll be better tomorrow. Let me share with you instead the first lines of one of my favorite poems, The Auguries of Innocence by William Blake. I think HP would have liked this. To see a […]
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In memory 16

Posted 2 weeks ago

The last few days have been sad ones: first it was the passing of Tom Magliozzi, Click of NPR’s Car Talk at age 77. The next day it was Harry Pearson, also 77. Harry was my friend. We had our ups and downs. He pissed me off more than a few times, but he alone inspired my love of […]
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Whirlwinds of change 15

Posted 2 weeks ago

We’ve moved from the holistic curated system approach, popular with dealers in the late 70′s and early 80′s, towards the DIY approach of today. But let’s not ignore the middle years of system building where we transitioned from the original to what we have today. During the grand years of high end’s history, where dealers were revered kings […]
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Holistic systems 15

Posted 2 weeks ago

If we lavish more attention onto the equipment we interface with the most, as discussed in yesterday’s post, what does that say about our holistic approach to the system? Unless we start from scratch, and few do, we rarely take a holistic approach to systems analysis. It’s been my experience that systems are built over time, rarely […]
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Fundamental thinking 20

Posted 3 weeks ago

My friend and CEO of Audioquest, Bill Low, sent me a few thoughts on system fundamentals I found of value. Speakers engender the strongest relationships … they are people in the room. They are un-ignorable and their presence requires some degree of love, like, irritation or hate. Depending on their individual owner, they are likely […]
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Just one more thing … 11

Posted 3 weeks ago

At this pace we’ll never get to our core subject, fundamentals, but, again, I just couldn’t resist. A day or so ago Microsoft announced their new wearable computer, weeks after Apple announced theirs. He’s a picture of the two: I won’t bother telling you which is which. If you care about design aesthetic, as I do, […]
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Bits is bits again 20

Posted 3 weeks ago

I was going to get started on our ‘fundamental’ conversation started yesterday. But reading through the PS Forums I ran across an explanation by our own Ted Smith about some of the issues affecting the sound of digital audio. I wanted to post it here, so informative that comment. When asked about why a RamDisk […]
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Fundamentals 38

Posted 3 weeks ago

There are fundamentals in high end audio: speakers, power, sources, control, connecting cables, the room. I would like to explore a few of the more cherished ones in the next few days. Ivor Tiefenbrum, founder of Linn product of Scotland, famously put forth the notion that the source (then a turntable) was the most important element in […]
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