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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.

Transparent sound 29

Posted 10 hours ago

We sometimes use odd terms to describe what we hear. Transparency is one of them. What does it mean to see through something when we listen to our stereo systems? Do we mean that clarity is at such a level we cut through the gauze of the speakers? Or, do we mean that we can […]
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Improving center fill 20

Posted 1 day ago

Stereo is more than just two channel audio. It’s a least three channels—perhaps more—depending on how philosophical you are. For the sake of clarity let’s agree on three channels: left, right, and center. Of course, the center channel is an illusion created by equal volume on the left and right. Close your eyes when a […]
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Are tweaks a necessity? 35

Posted 2 days ago

I love to tweak the system as much as anyone (perhaps more). It’s the instant gratification that attracts me. Like sweet syrup atop strawberries. But here’s the weird thing. With one or two exceptions, I haven’t any tweaks remaining: dots, bells, green pens, enhancers, felt mats, low-frequency resonators, hundred dollar fuses, potions, and cable lifts are […]
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End of an era 28

Posted 3 days ago

Equipment has life cycles not unlike our own. They are dreamed up, assembled, brought to life, nurtured, flourish, fade, get old, and die. And, like us, their progeny carry on with fresh ideas, dreams, and new approaches to our needs. One technology in the getting-old-phase turns out to be the very instrument I am writing […]
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Second place 27

Posted 4 days ago

In the 2008 100-meter Olympic race swimmer Miloric Cavic came in second to Michael Phelps. The race was so close that slow motion photography couldn’t display the difference and officials had to rely upon touch pads instead. Turns out, Cavic had lost by one sixth of an inch (4.7 millimeters). It’s tempting to put second […]
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Sonic treadmills 43

Posted 5 days ago

One of my readers, Reed, posted the following comment which I found both illuminating and insightful: I find music servers to be a massive distraction. Holding an iPad, browsing my music library with digital pictures of “albums”, dealing with computer & software hang-ups, format types, shopping for music on websites, etc. In my opinion, it makes […]
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Disruption 24

Posted 6 days ago

The word “disruption” causes me discomfort. I am unnerved at the thought of my peace, quiet, or lifestyle disrupted. But I get over the discomfort quickly if it’s technology that is the disruptor. Technology has a habit of disrupting the status quo in a good way. Think of the disruption caused by the refrigerator, automatic […]
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Edge cases 32

Posted 1 week ago

Edge cases make news. The unusual, the extraordinary, the loudest voice, the most surprising answer, is what we read about and share with our compadres. The mundane, ordinary, everyday occurrences don’t make news. Yet, they are the bulk of what happens day in and day out. Consider the letters to the editor section of Stereophile or […]
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Wireless music 28

Posted 1 week ago

I love playing with audio cables as much as the next person. But in my heart of hearts, I’d rather not deal with them. They’re unsightly, always impact sound quality, and they’re expensive. Audio cables are necessary. Or are they? We certainly know how to transfer digital audio data wirelessly without damage. Analog, not so […]
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The many forms of realism 25

Posted 1 week ago

The sense that “you are there,” as rendered on a high-end music system, is both a joy and a mystery. Joy, because we want to believe. Mystery, because the cues we rely upon are different for each of us. Some music lovers are sold as soon as they hear perfect tonality. “That sounds exactly like a ’56 alder […]
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How odd 19

Posted 1 week ago

It’s tempting to compare what we do with other industries like cars, cameras, computers, or consumer electronics. Such comparisons bring questions. How many industries are as fragmented as ours? In most categories, you purchase complete products. Buy a car and you drive it home. A cell phone, computer, or a camera are pretty much good […]
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Taming your room 23

Posted 1 week ago

If you’re fortunate enough to have a room with workable dimensions as described in this post, you’re already ahead of the game when it comes to good sound. Proper room dimensions enable the rule of thirds to work well (which is how we manage to get such good sound in our room). I am assuming you […]
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Live or dead? 31

Posted 1 week ago

In yesterday’s post, inspired by a great Ask Paul question from Mike in Pasadena, I offered an easy room dimension calculator. Getting these dimensions close is a huge step in the right direction of achieving good sound. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the luxury of a dedicated room so we have to work within […]
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Critical room dimensions 31

Posted 1 week ago

As promised, I have been handed a small group of questions that are better answered in print than ‘in person’ via video.  These were asked in our new section, Ask Paul. The first of these questions that we tackle in written form is from Mike in Pasadena, California. “When approaching room construction, treatment, and/or setup, […]
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Questions 9

Posted 2 weeks ago

Wow. Thanks so much! According to my helpers, we’ve received a lot of great questions from Ask Paul. I haven’t yet seen them (they will remain hidden from me until filming begins). Love the element of surprise. So, bring it on! Apparently, there’s such a diversity that I may have to reformulate plans to answer all […]
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Making mistakes 22

Posted 2 weeks ago

It’s surprising to me just how hard wired we are to not make mistakes. We stress. We fret. We agonize. We do anything in our power to get it right. We do not learn from getting things right. The wrong turn, the mistaken choice, the misunderstanding. These are the mechanisms of learning. I dislike making […]
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Just ask Paul 16

Posted 2 weeks ago

I’ve been working on a new video series called Confessions of an Audiophile, after the upcoming book. In this new series, I’ll cover just about everything: speaker setup, how stuff works, circuit designs, stories, history, how PS got started, the challenges we’ve had along the way, advice to start-ups, etc. In addition to these topics, […]
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Rebel designs 15

Posted 2 weeks ago

Modern analog designs leverage common circuit ideas. Few are original. Complimentary outputs, vbe multipliers, diff pairs, current sources, current mirrors, etc., were all original designs that became commonplace. One of the most talented, creative, and radical designers of all time is Bob Widlar.  Widlar invented the basic building blocks of linear ICs. His design innovations […]
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Getting in trouble 23

Posted 2 weeks ago

The ‘prove it to me’ crowd often gain confidence in their world view of superiority over subjectivists when the latter uses speculation to support their findings, rather than hard facts. It happens a lot. For example, take the differences we hear in cables. I can’t think of a more controversial sonic observation than directionality; the idea […]
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The new analog 19

Posted 2 weeks ago

I’ve just finished a really good read. Damon Krukowski’s, The New Analog. This book is centered around the notion that in the transition from analog/tape/vinyl to digital audio, much was lost. In particular, noise. Krukowski’s both a musician, (Galaxie 500, Damon & Naomi, Magic Hour) and the editor/publisher of Exact Change. While I don’t agree with everything he […]

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Audio bling 23

Posted 2 weeks ago

There are three primary means of judging audio equipment: reviews/recommendations, auditioning, and the quality of the casework and connector jewelry. Often, it’s all three. Let’s imagine we read a positive review—or our dealer, friend or trusted colleague, recommends something to us. We’re excited. We get the new piece of kit, and what’s the first thing […]
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More music from Paul 22

Posted 3 weeks ago

As promised, here’s more of my list of tracks I regularly use to evaluate electronics and speakers. Wood by Brian Bromberg. This guy’s amazing. One of the best bass players I know of (no disrespect meant for Jaco Pastorius, Victor Wooten, or Dan Schwartz). This particular album is an older one available on CD and […]
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A pointed discussion 32

Posted 3 weeks ago

In yesterday’s post, I shared some common wisdom about spikes that turns out to be wrong. Thanks to my attentive and generous readers, I stand corrected. The original thought process behind spiking speakers was not to isolate, as I had assumed, but the opposite—anchor the cabinets to the floor and transfer some of the excess […]
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The spike dilemma 46

Posted 3 weeks ago

Audiophiles spike their speakers for better sound. Debate rages as to spike’s efficacy, but I don’t intend to address that in this post. Instead, I want to examine the decision to use them in the first place. Spikes are supposed to provide a degree of isolation. The thought goes something like this. Coupling a loudspeaker to […]
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Small is better 32

Posted 3 weeks ago

Yeah, I know, the joke opportunities abound. Humor aside, I remember the very first time Arnie Nudell demonstrated the massive Infinity IRS III to me. His choice of music was a surprise. Standing in front of these gargantuan 7.5′ tall behemoths, the first thing you’re thinking is the 1812 Overture, Pink Floyd, or Hans Zimmer’s […]
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