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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.

Vinyl is more musical than digital 27

Posted 7 hours ago

Fact or fiction? This fascinating concept has been around since 1982, the year of the Compact Disc’s introduction. And, in 1982, it was true and remained so for nearly two decades before the tides changed course. To answer the question whether this statement of vinyl’s musicality is fact or fiction, I thought it might be […]
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Does expensive equipment always sound better? 21

Posted 1 day ago

Today’s fact or fiction question is a little like the old chestnut: does throwing money at a problem always work? The answer’s as old as the question: of course not (but it usually helps). I struggle with this basic inquiry because it’s a question in search of a pat answer when none are available (the […]
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Performance above 20kHz matters 40

Posted 2 days ago

Fact or fiction? Does amplifier performance above 20kHz matter? This question came first in our list of Fact or Fiction because it’s a fairly easy one to answer but the answer’s going to piss off a whole bunch of objectivists. Let’s try and fix that so everyone wins. To an Objectivist, 20kHz and above does not […]
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Fact or fiction? 44

Posted 3 days ago

I thought it might be fun to start a mini-series called Fact or Fiction: dispelling or accepting audiophile beliefs. Not to get political, but when it has somehow become acceptable to separate facts into categories of believability I thought it’s time to put some of these concepts to the test. What I will attempt to […]
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The midbass dilemma 18

Posted 4 days ago

Midbass is that all-important frequency range between 200Hz and 500Hz and covers the most important instruments in our musical libraries: voice, cello, viola, brass, tympani, woodwinds, bass, guitar. Just about everything we treasure has some element of midbass. In fact, it is the foundation of almost all music. Yet, despite its essential presence loudspeaker designers […]
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Shooting down troubles 20

Posted 5 days ago

One of the hallmarks of a good technician is an ability to troubleshoot problems. It’s an art, actually, but one that fortunately can be taught. When we are faced with problems we can’t fix with our tried and true methods our first reaction is often one of panic: nothing seems to work in the system […]
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The gift of learning 24

Posted 6 days ago

My oldest son, Lon, set up a fine little system in his office: a Sonos Connect, Sprout100, an optical cable, and a pair of Focal Chorus 706 bookshelf speakers. I think the whole affair would have set him back about $1600 (except he got a “deal” on Sprout). :) He controls the system through his […]
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Through a $99 boombox 46

Posted 1 week ago

I appreciate the wisdom of other voices, voices that don’t always agree with my own but none the less have merit. Such is the case with my good friend Bill Low of AudioQuest. Bill and I agree on much—most, actually—but his stance that a highly resolving system is unnecessary to hear subtle differences has long […]
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Guts vs. brains 13

Posted 1 week ago

Most of us like to imagine the choices we make are well thought out intelligent ones. But on closer examination, I wonder how often that’s true? I don’t know about you, but if my analytical side says one thing and my gut’s telling me another, the emotional side usually wins out. We often fall in love […]
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Hitting the mark 18

Posted 1 week ago

Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni or more commonly known by his first name Michelangelo is credited with saying: “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” I think this is excellent advice and a […]
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Importance is relative 9

Posted 1 week ago

We strive to handle important issues first to make way for follow up problems later. Like choosing the right blend of equipment vs. connecting it together. The first trumps the second, though both are important. Figuring out where to best place your energies can often be challenging. For example, the best speakers in the world won’t […]
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The magician’s curse 73

Posted 1 week ago

Following yesterday’s video of the isolation benefits offered by placing ISO feet on a pair of Focals—benefits clearly audible even on an iPhone microphone—my inbox was summarily flooded with a combination of threats, outrage, and claims of heresy! Conspiracies abound! Oh my, my, goodness. Despite the fact I confirmed to my satisfaction the demo was […]
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Does isolation really work? 26

Posted 1 week ago

We’ve all heard the claims that isolating a piece of equipment or a set of loudspeakers makes a noticeable improvement in the sound. But, is it true? While at RMAF I ran into a company out of Canada called ISO Acoustics with quite a convincing demonstration of how isolation impacts performance. I thought it might […]
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Walking in other shoes 42

Posted 1 week ago

I remain flummoxed by the sound I heard in some rooms at RMAF: sound that was so bad it reminded me more of the noise a cat makes when you grab their tail or nails on a blackboard. No, really. The owners of the equipment believed their sound was worthy of public demonstration. There’s merit […]
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Journey or destination? 17

Posted 2 weeks ago

One of our forum posters asked an interesting question this morning. “Why don’t you just copy the speaker Arnie Nudell built already? Why improve what has already been established as a masterpiece?” To me, that question is better stated as move forward or sit still? It’s nice to sit still and enjoy the fruits of […]
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Different strokes 49

Posted 2 weeks ago

Audio shows like RMAF are wonderful venues for learning new things and seeing new products. I wander the show and poke my head in rooms new to me in the hopes of finding undiscovered gems: new products that float my boat. What amazes me is the amount of bad sounding rooms. I don’t mean sound […]
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Contrasts 15

Posted 2 weeks ago

We judge music’s loudness by its dynamic contrasts. Which is why a piece like Aaron Copeland’s Fanfare for the Common Man sounds so very loud despite the fact the majority of its content is softly played. As the distant, softly recorded trumpet offers its opening line, your ear relaxes its loudness defenses to gather all that is […]
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Measuring perfection 32

Posted 2 weeks ago

In an address to an assemblage of physicists at the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1900, Lord Kelvin stated, “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” The smug hubris of the 1900s led many scientists—including the American physicist Albert Michelson who […]
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Our own worst enemy 20

Posted 2 weeks ago

In a recent Facebook post Michael Beckerman posited: “High-end audio, in every iteration, is essentially a victim of it’s own success. They have been so good at what they do, for so long and have gotten so close to absolute perfection, that they have essentially pulled the rug out from under themselves with their own […]
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Whatever happened to Pono? 31

Posted 2 weeks ago

Why is it so hard for quality audio to gain a foothold in the mainstream? I ask myself who doesn’t want quality? Everyone wants better quality, the question, of course, is at what price. When Neil Young decried the quality of Apple’s music service he decided to take matters into his own hands. He created Pono, […]
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The 16th bit 18

Posted 2 weeks ago

We should feel sorry for the 16th bit. You know, the last little guy in the digital word of a CD, the ending of the ubiquitous 44.1/16. The technical term for the 16th bit in the digital word is “least significant”. Imagine if you were the last child in the family and your parents referred […]
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Seeing through other eyes 26

Posted 3 weeks ago

Walking in another’s shoes. Seeing through other eyes. All phrases that refer to empathy: our ability to understand where someone else is coming from. It’s often a difficult switch because we weigh new information from the light of our own experience. When a customer asks me to consider trying a new set of vibration damping […]
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The bit conundrum 69

Posted 3 weeks ago

We worry about the timeliness of hot food delivery, but not so much digital audio data. Identical bitstreams will sound and perform the same regardless of how they are delivered. The 1,225 pages of Tolstoy’s War and Peace read the same when delivered over the internet or on a USB thumb drive. Yet according to […]
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Unlucky 4 52

Posted 3 weeks ago

It doesn’t sound like much. The difference between 48 and 44 is only 4 but that can make a lot of difference when it comes to audio. The industry standard in recording studios is 48kHz sample rate and its multiples of 96kHz and 192kHz. For reasons unknown to me, the consumer industry chose 44kHz for […]
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Purity at the source 53

Posted 3 weeks ago

In yesterday’s post, I spoke of how CD quality streaming on Qobuz bested by a country mile the same on Tidal. But it makes one wonder. How could that be true? How could the identical file sent by one service sound different than by another? Technically, they should be the same. But, they are not. […]
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