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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.

Celebrating differences 10

Posted 28 minutes ago

On the one hand, we’re mostly interested in sameness. Reading a great product review inspires us to obtain exactly what the reviewer had in their listening room. On the other hand, we’re also fascinated with differing approaches to the same problem. Take loudspeaker enclosures as an example. We can agree all speakers are targeting the […]
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Sameness 46

Posted 1 day ago

Is it possible to produce identical sounding products? Can we assume that a new DirectStream DAC sounds the same as every other DirectStream DAC? I would suggest no. Just like every “identical” car drives differently and every same model piano plays and sounds differently, each piece of audio equipment is slightly different than the other. […]
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Diffuse or absorb? 27

Posted 2 days ago

We know that our rooms play an important role in sound quality. A 2-channel system that performs to spectacular levels in one room, might sound miserable in another. We’re asked all the time whether or not adding absorption or diffusion to a room is the best option. The answers are rarely clear and almost never […]
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Pure sound 57

Posted 3 days ago

The definition of pure is pretty simple: “not mixed or adulterated with any other substance or material.” When it comes to purity of sound, we can extrapolate that to mean a pure signal without any added byproducts like distortion. Yet, I am not sure pure alone gives us what we believe we’re looking for in […]
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Silicon 16

Posted 4 days ago

We recently celebrated the 150 year anniversary of Dmitri Mendeleyev’s Periodic Table of elements. What an astounding achievement to list in order the naturally occurring elements and how they interact with each other—especially considering that at the time, 1871, Mendeleyev and his cohorts had no idea why elements acted the way they did. Just categorizing […]
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Hearing what others do not 23

Posted 5 days ago

Many visitors to Music Room Two comment more on hearing, for the first time, what was formerly hidden from them in the music they are familiar with, from subsonics to room cues, harmonics, finger plucks, and lingering decays. Though it might be counterintuitive, much of what’s missing is often found in the lowest frequencies the […]
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Top of the room 35

Posted 6 days ago

One of the most ignored part of the room is right above our heads. The ceiling—often flat, sometimes arched, broken up with timbers, slanted, domed, and everything in between. We position our speakers in the room more to keep the wall dimensions and layout happiest but rarely do we take into account the ceiling. And […]
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Finer bits 54

Posted 1 week ago

There sure is a lot of controversy over bits and depth. One group feels that dividing 96dB of dynamic range into 65, 535 slices (16 bits) is enough, while others are more comfortable dividing 120dB into 16,777,215 slices (24 bit). Bit depth: the difference between the softest and loudest captured sound. How important is it? […]
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Illusion of touch 64

Posted 1 week ago

I love turning the lights down low in Music Room 2. All of them. Sitting in the dark. Only the glow of the equipment casts its light into the room. The music comes out of the blackness and it’s so real I can almost touch it. Palpable. So intense that it feels like others are […]
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Evidence of absence 63

Posted 1 week ago

There’s a famous aphorism that really resonates with me. “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” Just because traditional audio measurements don’t tell us much of anything about how a product sounds doesn’t mean all same measuring products sound alike. Yes, it’s the old measurements vs. listening debate again, but with a new angle […]
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Customize 84

Posted 1 week ago

It won’t be too much longer before we release our newest power amplifier, the Stellar M1200. Hopefully, we’ll be able to unveil this beauty in March. When engineer Darren Myers came to us with the idea of a 1200 watt monoblock power amplifier with a vacuum tube front end, it wasn’t in the form of […]
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Outer vs. inner 43

Posted 1 week ago

How important is the outer casework of your equipment? For me, it matters a great deal. I want the outside to reflect what’s inside. And yet I can just as easily turn those feelings off and enjoy the performance of a new design that’s built on top of a piece of plywood. I suppose it […]
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Resolving speakers 67

Posted 1 week ago

Loudspeakers come in all flavors and sizes. In fact, I cannot think of another product category in high-end audio that comes close to the variety found in these sound producing boxes. If we were to segregate them into broad performance categories, such as resolving power, we might make a little headway in sorting through their […]
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Bright side 17

Posted 1 week ago

Looking on the bright side seems socially acceptable while listening on the bright side is to be avoided. This kind of makes sense since we tolerate optimists but run from aggressive sound. The meanings are different and in interesting ways. The bright side of life—or the sunny side of the street (your choice)—is where we […]
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Making the most of it 16

Posted 2 weeks ago

Engineers work with compromise because there are no design projects without limitations. Even the most exotic projects run up against the laws of physics from time to time. Which is why we often confuse the word compromise with failure. It is not a failing to compromise, it’s what we all do to make things work. […]
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Approval 31

Posted 2 weeks ago

Stepping outside our comfort zone is sometimes difficult. We’ve heard of a new way of doing something, or perhaps a new piece of gear, tweak, method, or technology. We often wait for the others to try it before we do. We’re waiting for approval from the others. This is completely normal for most of us. […]
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Quality vs. content 46

Posted 2 weeks ago

I don’t listen to many bad recordings, even if the musical content’s great. It was once a quality vs. content issue because bad recordings were made worse while good recordings were made better. Over the years, and as equipment has gotten better, that’s no longer the case. Today, all types of recording qualities play nice […]
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Our differences 22

Posted 2 weeks ago

I am pretty certain we don’t agree. We have our differences, right? We’ve differing tastes in food, music, politics, cars, travel, and the list is endless. And yet, we’re all here not because of those many differences, but because of our many similarities. My next door neighbor doesn’t read Paul’s Post and probably doesn’t know […]
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Steam power 28

Posted 2 weeks ago

I love the term “running out of steam”. It’s an obvious reference to the beginnings of the industrial age where our world transitioned from animal power to steam power. When something runs close to its limits we say it’s running out of steam, or gas. Recently there’s been quite a flap over on Ask Paul’s […]
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Secret ingredients 19

Posted 2 weeks ago

You cannot light a sheep on fire. If that particular endeavor happened to be on your bucket list, then I apologize for ruining your day and shortening your list. The secret ingredients in sheep’s wool comes from a high content of nitrogen and water that, together, require more oxygen than is available for ignition. Secret […]
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Listening to power supplies 34

Posted 2 weeks ago

A power supply converts the AC wall voltage into something useful for our audio equipment—typically DC. That conversion process of AC to DC sounds simple enough that we might imagine they are all the same, yet that would not be true—which is why many audiophiles have strong opinions on what’s best. Some are happiest when […]
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Respect 26

Posted 3 weeks ago

Respect is what Aretha Franklin sang about, and what much of today’s noisy chatter ignores. When we respect the experiences of others and give them the courtesy of listening with intent, we embolden and strengthen them. That’s a wonderful gift that takes nothing from the giver but patience and understanding. On this first day of […]
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Change of vantage 34

Posted 3 weeks ago

Music Room Two, with its magnificent Infinity IRS V, BHK monoblocks, multiple P20 Power Plants, BHK preamp, DirectStream DAC, and Stellar Phono is one of the most revealing systems I know of. It’s our reference that allows us to hear deep into the music. It’s an invaluable tool for the design and voicing of PS […]
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Breaking the chain 24

Posted 3 weeks ago

Our Hi-Fi systems remind me of a chain where each component is a link and together we get music. Each link in the Hi-Fi chain contributes to the whole. If we break that chain and exchange links we will certainly get a different sound. That is because the end result is the sum of all […]
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Rising tides 42

Posted 3 weeks ago

When the 6th largest economy in the world, California, raises automobile emissions standards the rest of the world is forced to go along and we all benefit from cleaner air. When the European Union sets new standards for electrical efficiency that forces every manufacturer to change its power supplies worldwide, we all benefit from using […]
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