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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.

Balanced is better 35

Posted 16 hours ago

In my mind, there’s no question that between components the best connection is balanced. Balanced cables offer lower noise and better sound. I understand there are single-ended holdouts (wait, we disagree on something in audio?). Perhaps their equipment doesn’t support balanced. Perhaps their cable collection doesn’t include balanced. Or maybe they don’t agree with me. […]

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Diferent: better or worse? 25

Posted 1 day ago

My friend Seth tried out new speaker cables. They were definitely different—a fact in itself that surprised him—but were they better? Apple just unveiled its new operating system, Big Sur. Better or worse? Well, on the one hand, they have completely hosed their mail app and its ability to work with Exchange (forcing me to […]
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Before remotes 27

Posted 2 days ago

When we started PS Audio in the early 1970s there was no such thing as a remote controlled volume. No, we had to get off our lard butts and adjust the preamp’s volume knob—which led to very different stereo setups. Preamps were inevitably within arm’s reach. Today, that might be pretty much unthinkable. The changes […]
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Nothing’s free 22

Posted 3 days ago

Following a recent 10-day road trip from our home in Boulder out to California and back, I gained five pounds while snacking in the car and tolerating restaurant food. Now, back home, it’s time to shed those pounds and get back to my healthy number on the scale. That’s not hard. I just follow the […]
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Argan oil and pumpkin 16

Posted 4 days ago

Terri’s in charge of household supplies. That’s a good thing. Were it me I’d likely just buy whatever was on sale. As I am washing my hands I notice her latest acquisition: soap based on argan oil and pumpkin. I have no idea if these two key ingredients matter and, I suspect, neither does she. […]
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Viennese cello ensemble 5 + 1 20

Posted 5 days ago

I am grateful for my reader’s suggestions of what to listen to and watch. Those recommendations vary from lighthearted to deathly serious and everything in between. Thank you. Once in a while I am presented with a true treasure, as when my friend Alon Sagee insisted I watch a rendition of Maurice Ravel’s classic, Bolero […]
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Moving forward 52

Posted 6 days ago

When Stereophile Magazine awarded Stellar Phono its coveted Analog Product of the Year award we were, of course, ecstatic. What an honor. That award got me thinking about the near-impossible job of a phono preamplifier: to amplify without noise a tiny signal 30,000 to 50,000 times smaller than what comes out of your preamplifier. I […]
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Audio sensitivities 28

Posted 1 week ago

Even as a kid I never bought the premise behind Hans Christian Anderson’s story, The Princess, and the Pea. Just a bit too far fetched for my young engineering brain to believe that anyone could feel a pea under multiple mattresses. Fairy tales aside, it is a fact that we are all different when it […]
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Working up or down 19

Posted 1 week ago

We’re all different yet so similar. Take the way I assemble a system. When I first start a project, whether building a stereo rig or adding a new source, I study, research, and amass every possible configuration and head-scratching perturbation I can imagine and then start building. Over time and use, I begin to better […]
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Otis Taylor 20

Posted 1 week ago

Not only is world-famous musician Otis Taylor our friend and neighbor, but he’s also headlining Octave Record’s latest release. Hey Joe Opus | Red Meat has been called by the Guardian a “visceral tour de force” and I couldn’t agree more. The album opens with Otis’ version of Hey Joe, which features the atmospheric psychedelic […]
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Audio taboos and sacred rituals 52

Posted 1 week ago

There are certain audio taboos we’re loathed to violate. High atop my list would be plants atop speakers. (But it behooves us to be diplomats if we’d like not to sleep on the couch) Diplomacy aside, we purists rarely tolerate violations of our taboos and sacred rituals. Some taboos make sonic sense: plugging all your […]
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The overshadowing dilemma 21

Posted 1 week ago

There are abundant chestnuts that cover today’s subject. Perhaps the best is not being able to see the forest for the trees. When we’re so involved in the details we often miss the bigger picture. I’ve more than a few times been so focused on listening for music’s tiny details that I missed the fact the […]
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Quick vs. slow 39

Posted 1 week ago

Our YouTube channel has more than 120,000 subscribers and boy do they like to comment on my daily videos. Which is great because, for the most part, comments made are actually kind and encouraging. Of course, there’s the occasional commenter that gets up on the wrong side of the bed or who had the misfortune […]
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Analog product of the year 52

Posted 1 week ago

“Wow!” That’s about all I could say when I learned PS Audio’s Stellar Phono Preamplifier had been named by the editors at Stereophile Magazine as their Analog Product of the year. “Wow!” Congratulations to the entire PS Audio engineering team who worked hard to build this beauty. And a special shout out to the product’s […]
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Adjectives vs. nouns 45

Posted 2 weeks ago

Near the end of summer Terri and I decided one way to get out of the house without worrying too much about being unsafe was to take advantage of Boulder’s many bike trails. Our city has 300 miles of bikeway, including 96 miles of bike lanes, 84 miles of multi-use paths, and 50 miles of […]
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The character assassination of salt 38

Posted 2 weeks ago

We generally associate salt with unessential nice-to-have seasonings, condiments, and food enhancers. I would argue salt is instead a critical ingredient. Salt fundamentally changes food. It denatures the rigid structure of proteins, making their flavors tastier and more aromatic. Salts bring out aromas by releasing specific molecules from food into the air, which in turn […]
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Retail therapy 34

Posted 2 weeks ago

Color me appreciative of learning a new lexicon of terms, chief among them Covid-fatigue, and retail therapy. Laugh at my naivety if you will. Truth is, I don’t get out very often and I never spend any time in social media haunts (and if we’re starting a list, I am also fashion challenged). But if […]
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Discrimination 35

Posted 2 weeks ago

All distortions are not created equally despite the fact we’re told we should strive to have none. For example, harmonic is less objectionable than intermodulation, but if one simply weighs overall distortion numbers without qualifications, or listing all types of distortion, knowledge of the sonic outcome can never be reached simply by these numbers. The […]
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The illusion of fixed 37

Posted 2 weeks ago

Standing atop Flagstaff mountain, one of the highest points in Boulder Colorado, I feel anchored. Immovable. And yet I am intellectually aware that is but an illusion. That I am actually held by gravity to a single point on a huge sphere spinning at 24,000 miles an hour while rotating around a 584,000,000 mile arc […]
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Tunnel lights 18

Posted 2 weeks ago

There’s the old joke that one hopes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t an approaching train (something that actually happened to me and my son Sean once, but that’s another story, one we’re able to retell because we were fast on our feet). I am often asked what the end goal is […]
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Uncovering secrets 24

Posted 2 weeks ago

As a young lad, I remember staring at my grandfather’s fireplace mantle where sat a majestic ship in a bottle. It was a three-mast schooner with big billowing white sails jutting out of the dark brown wooden hull perched on a wavy blue bed of stylistic ocean. It had to be a good ten inches […]
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Tinkering 21

Posted 3 weeks ago

One hundred years ago a tinker was a traveling craftsman skilled in the art of metal repair. He would be invited into homes to repair eating utensils and small metal objects. Today, in our disposable society, there’s no need for a person to repair a mangled spoon or a fork’s broken tine. We just throw […]
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Election day 56

Posted 3 weeks ago

Terri and I voted weeks ago and placed our ballots in the Boulder ballot dropbox. We’ve already received email confirmation they were recorded and counted. One more important thing off our list of to-dos. Hopefully, you’ve done the same. But, if not, today’s the day to cast your vote. Voting is important. Your voice will […]
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Is louder better? 60

Posted 3 weeks ago

If we’re playing a dynamic piece of music at a moderate level it’s likely we’ll not hear the soft parts of the score. A little compression would enable us to hear both the softest and loudest passages. Yet to purists, compression is about as acceptable as farting in a crowded room. Let us not be […]
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The FET 14

Posted 3 weeks ago

One of the most important secret weapons available to the high-performance stereo equipment designer is the Field Effect Transistor, better known as the FET. Originally envisioned by Austrian physicist Julius Edgar Lilienfeld in 1925 and then again by Oskar Heil in 1934—yes THAT Oscar Heil, the inventor of what is still to this day one […]
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