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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.

Audio nirvana 13

Posted 15 hours ago

Once in a while, everything clicks. The lights are dimmed, the music flows unimpeded. You forget you’re in a room. A smile warms across your face and there’s only you to enjoy it. Blissful. Audio nirvana. These moments often catch me off guard, coming when I least expect them. But sometimes it happens when hopes […]
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Timing and nuance 21

Posted 1 day ago

Musical scores are precise instructions detailing how the composer wished the music to be played: notes and tempo are fixed, accents and volume levels accounted for. Two performers tickling identical ivories should, therefore, render carbon copies of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. But that never happens. The differences are timing and nuance—an observation that might also shed light […]

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Sweetening sound 35

Posted 2 days ago

We’re all looking for audio truth—getting as close to the live event as technically possible. So, why is it we tend to install equipment and systems that offer an artificially sweetened sound? Do we believe all recordings should be lush, romantic, and easy on our ears? Surely that wouldn’t be honest sound. (We’ve all cringed at […]
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Computer madness 31

Posted 3 days ago

Music servers are little more than computers in fancy boxes. So, what’s stopping us from simply buying a computer, installing some software and building our own media server at far lower prices than what we might pay a high-end audio company? Not too much, actually, but it turns out that won’t be as easy as […]
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Delayed audio 23

Posted 4 days ago

Here’s an interesting fact. If we play our stereo system outdoors we’d have no room problems, yet not much would sound right. Rooms are somewhat of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, their hard boundaries enable our speakers to fill the room with sound. (Imagine your stereo system trying to fill Yankee Stadium). On the other […]
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Oh, the lengths we go to 25

Posted 5 days ago

I have seen some crazy stuff in the 40 plus years I have been around audiophiles and high-end systems. Exotic room conditioning, trinkets aplenty, cables the size of my leg, claims of subatomic effects, components that sound different depending on their earthly orientation, low-frequency waves said to resonate with the Earth. In fact, I could […]
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DIY speakers 20

Posted 6 days ago

How hard can it be to build your own speakers? Heck, the drivers themselves are easy enough to get—Parts Express has just about every cool driver, crossover, and enclosure you might want. Many are identical to what’s found in the most expensive products in the world. Pick the best you can afford, solder them up, and […]
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RMAF 2017 34

Posted 1 week ago

We do our best to set up a decent listening room at one or more of the consumer audio shows. It’s great to meet everyone, renew friendships, make new ones. My favorite is the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) because it’s in our backyard and easy. We’d someday like to expand to Chicago’s Axpona but […]
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Battling our preconceptions 21

Posted 1 week ago

Do you fall into the trap of judging things based on a preconception? Do you buy into stereotypes? I do. All the time. I think it’s in our nature as humans to categorize life’s complexities based on our experiences: cables make a difference/cables can’t make a difference. Electrostats are transparent sounding/electrostats require your head in […]
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The best way to connect a sub 42

Posted 1 week ago

We touched briefly on subwoofers and speaker setup in yesterday’s post. What I didn’t cover is how best to connect a subwoofer if you choose to go the extra mile and complete your system. Years ago, there were mostly passive subs, but over time this changed. Modern subwoofers are internally amplified. So it might seem intuitive […]
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The art of learning 32

Posted 1 week ago

We all like to learn new things as long as those new ideas and concepts don’t contradict our worldview. Cross that threshold and we typically recoil at the perceived threat challenging our core beliefs. We might (gasp) have been wrong! We hope that with age comes wisdom and I flatter myself in the belief I have […]
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Which components get in? 25

Posted 1 week ago

As designers, we want nothing but the best in our creations—the finest capacitors, connectors, power supplies, and wiring. Yet there’s an obvious problem with that. Not every product can be cost-no-object. Otherwise, few among us could afford to buy equipment for our music systems. And thus the art of intelligent compromise comes into play. Take […]
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Do hifi systems have souls? 63

Posted 1 week ago

I’ve heard it said more than once. “Vinyl has soul. Digital does not.” I can relate to what’s being expressed in that statement and I don’t disagree. If we think of soul not as an immortal entity but rather as the essence or embodiment of a certain quality—as in the soul of an argument—then vinyl […]
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What happens in a vacuum? 12

Posted 1 week ago

Vacuums suck (sorry, just couldn’t resist the joke)…but it’s not too far from wrong. It’s really the problem behind the classic AB test method: replace one piece of gear with another to form a value judgment. We all do it, but is it as definitive as we might hope? The answer has a whole lot of […]
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The polarity conundrum 38

Posted 2 weeks ago

I am going to stick my neck out and make you a wager. I’ll bet that if I crept into your home one night and swapped +/- on each of your speakers that you’d not notice the difference. Yet, in the heat of the moment during a listening session you’d hear the swap immediately—even if […]
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Building loudspeakers 35

Posted 2 weeks ago

There are more brands of loudspeakers than electronics by a big margin. If I had to guess at the reason for this I’d imagine a couple of things: speakers are easier to design than electronics and customers tend to change speakers more often than other categories. To that end, there are very few companies that […]
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Building cable tunnels 18

Posted 2 weeks ago

When we built Music Room One in 2013, we spent a lot of time, money, and effort creating the best listening environment we knew how to design. I even posted a series of videos on its step-by-step construction which you can watch here. During that construction, we were able to add a feature to the […]
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Can you make something better than it is? 35

Posted 2 weeks ago

To enhance something means to intensify—exceed what we might find in a natural state. Which raises an interesting question. Is it actually better or merely different? Let us be clear. Enhancement is qualitatively different than what we generally look for in equipment: moving closer to purity. Lower noise, better linearity, are all moves toward purity that […]
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Don’t just roll over 12

Posted 2 weeks ago

You know the old saying if at first you don’t succeed…well, it’s a good one when it comes to the upgrade process. As audiophiles, we like to occasionally upgrade our equipment. Some of us more than others. (By the way, the second batch of Audiophile hats are in and start shipping today!) We read the reviews, we […]
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Change of pace 21

Posted 2 weeks ago

Not all of us are fortunate enough to have turned our passions into a lifestyle—but a few have—and it seems quite prevalent in the high-end audio field. If you have a chance to visit this week’s Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver, keep an eye out for the passion and excitement you find in nearly every […]
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What do you say? 43

Posted 2 weeks ago

Let me set the scene for you. You’re at a dinner party, the folks that invited you have worked their hearts out to make a lovely meal, but it’s not to your liking. And then your worst fears come true. “How was your food?” She asks so nicely, filled with expectations (and hope). What in the […]
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Sneak peek P20 53

Posted 3 weeks ago

I had written yesterday that I love new toys, especially when they are just wicked cool. Not everyone agrees with me, some even think I am weird. So be it. But, tell me this isn’t one, cool looking product. You are getting the world’s first look at our new P20 Power Plant. This beauty won’t […]
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Chasing rainbows 42

Posted 3 weeks ago

I admit it. I am obsessed with high-end audio. How about you? Is yours a passion for music? Perhaps live sounding performances in your home at the touch of a finger or the drop of a needle? What floats your boat about high-end audio? And why am I asking all these questions? No, I am […]
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From the tiniest beginnings 21

Posted 3 weeks ago

Of all the questions we are asked by customers, finding and fixing hum is perhaps number one. Ground loops would be our first suspect, but a close second is hum and noise from turntables. Ground loops occur when two pieces of interconnected equipment find themselves grounded at different levels (one slightly higher or lower than […]
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Demanding more bass 20

Posted 3 weeks ago

I was in the process of posting today’s Ask Paul video on the difficulty of designing power amplifiers when I was reminded of the lengths some speaker designers were willing to go for bass. I was thinking of Arnie Nudell’s Infinity Kappa series, the terror of solid state amplifier manufacturers the world over (though he […]
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