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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.

Hip Hop 11

Posted sometime

A few weeks ago we attended a hip hop concert by the Atlanta band Arrested Development. The venue was Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox, a crowded and intimate space located in a former brothel in downtown Denver. Terri and I did our best with ear protection but wound up struggling. I am on the hunt for even better means than […]
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For want of a screw 20

Posted 22 hours ago

In Benjamin Franklin’s 1758 manuscript The Way to Wealth he wrote a now famous proverb: “For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost; and for want of a horse the rider was lost; being overtaken and slain by the enemy, all for want of care about […]
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The biggest mistake of my life 14

Posted 1 day ago

My very first product was a phono preamplifier copied inaccurately out of a book. That misstep changed my life and a thousand others. The book was Walter Jung’s IC Op Amp Cookbook and in it was a schematic for a phono preamplifier. The schematic called out for one type of IC, a 741 op amp, and […]
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Whack a mole 15

Posted 2 days ago

Engineering is like the game where you try and beat down critters as they pop up. Change one thing and something else goes differently. Feedback is a great example: increase or decrease its amount in an amplifier and a whole list of changes happen, some expected, others not so much. For example, in a power […]
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Ignorance is bliss 27

Posted 3 days ago

The old saying ignorance is bliss means if you don’t know about something you don’t have to worry about it. That’s probably true but it’s not something I ascribe to. Ignorance is simply a lack of knowledge and when that occurs in a field we have some measure of interest in, like music or hifi, […]
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A simple experiment 23

Posted 4 days ago

We’ve proposed that the act of detaching sound from your loudspeakers is a result of all the elements that make up your system including the speakers, amplification chain, source, and connecting wires. To prove this point I made a simple experiment. I bought a low-cost system: A $150 Sony 2-channel receiver and wired it up to […]
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Detaching sound 12

Posted 5 days ago

First things first: Snowmass for DirectStream Junior has been released. Now, DSJ owners can enjoy the miracle of a new DAC through a simple, free, firmware upgrade. Go here and download the latest firmware, Snowmass for DSJ (and, Senior too!). I have spoken much of soundstaging: how wide, deep, and big it should appear within your […]
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Getting closer to ideal 35

Posted 6 days ago

In yesterday’s post, I detailed the problems we were having in Music Room One that we hoped to have solved when we moved across the street to Music Room Two: Uneven bass response because of massive standing waves. Unfortunately, the problem with the bass didn’t magically get solved, it just shifted from piles of standing […]
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Gotta dance before you commit 12

Posted 1 week ago

New listening rooms are like new partners. You gotta spend time with them before you know them. The two biggest unknowns in any system are the room and the speakers. Both are so far away from perfection that they must be lived in and with for a reasonable period of time before committing to dealing with […]
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The biggest challenges 11

Posted 1 week ago

It is exponentially more difficult to design a great sounding budget product than a state of the art contender. When we’re shooting for the moon the budget’s not a consideration. We’re not constrained by anything other than skill and technology. But when an economic hard line in the sand is drawn now the game gets […]
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The big move 17

Posted 1 week ago

It is done. Finally, after more than a decade and a half of service to us and our guests, Music Room One is officially retired. We emptied her out and handed the keys to her new owners who will soon tear her down to gain new warehouse space. A fleeting structure. I put together a […]
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Feature sets 15

Posted 1 week ago

One of the most difficult, as well as enriching, tasks faced by manufacturers is deciding what features to add or not add to new product. Do you throw in the kitchen sink or just offer the basics? A Swiss Army knife or a P38 can opener? I know in our case we gather in groups […]
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Swan song 27

Posted 1 week ago

“Music is so powerful that it can even avert death” is an ancient notion popularized by the Greeks in legends and fairy tales centered around the swan. In Aesop’s, The Swan and the Goose, a beautiful swan, mistaken by its owner for a goose, was saved from the chopping block by its song. Turns out […]
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Breaking rules 15

Posted 1 week ago

How do we rationalize Follow the rules and stay out of trouble vs. Rules are made to be broken? Can both be true? Indeed, both can be true and often are at the same time. We follow the rules that keep us safe and respectful of others but break the ones unhelpful, antiquated, flawed, or not worth […]
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Portraits of sound 40

Posted 1 week ago

My friend Lawrence wrote, “We do not call portraits people” and he’s right. In the same vein, we should be careful with our expectations of perfection for the recorded arts. They are more like artistic portraits than realistic holograms. The value in thinking about recordings as works of art is that we can lower some of […]
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The loss of an old friend 36

Posted 2 weeks ago

Our new listening rooms are finished and ready to start life which means today is the end of one era and the beginning of another. I am not sure whether to be sad or excited. I suppose it’s a bit of both. The fact that I have been stressing over what musical piece will be […]
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Natural sounding 19

Posted 2 weeks ago

Another word for musical to describe the sound of unadulterated reproduction might be natural. It’s a good and reasonable alternative but I fear out of our reach unless we’re willing to make drastic changes. Natural implies straight from nature without any intervention from us. Picking an apple off a wild tree might qualify, but listening to […]
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Leaving change to others 12

Posted 2 weeks ago

In 1997 I left loudspeaker company Genesis Technologies and went back to my original love, PS Audio. It had been a 7-year break in the continuum—one I really needed to get my act together. Upon my return, I reimagined the company by building a new generation of products not yet seen in the audio industry, […]
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The progress train 22

Posted 2 weeks ago

We’re all passengers on the progress train whether we choose to be or not. It might feel like we can get off whenever we want, but unless you’re living in a shack disconnected from the grid, deep in the woods, it’s unlikely its constant forward push is going to leave you alone. I can remember […]
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Prove it to whom? 25

Posted 2 weeks ago

On several of my videos bringing the world of high-performance audio to a broader audience the inevitable questions of proof arise. Once someone is exposed to the idea that there’s a whole new experience in audio possible lines are drawn: I want to experience it, this can’t be true. Prove it to me. The prove […]
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Not everything needs an explanation 29

Posted 2 weeks ago

In 1975, while riding a moped in Bermuda, a man was accidentally struck and killed by a taxi. One year later, this man’s bother was killed in the very same way. In fact, he was riding the very same moped. And to stretch the odds even further, he was struck by the very same taxi […]
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The blame game 18

Posted 2 weeks ago

We’re pretty good at placing blame at the feet of anything nearby: luck, weather, circumstance, mood, technical difficulties. I think it’s a natural reaction when things feel beyond our control or when we don’t want to take personal responsibility. But often, the shortest path to correcting things is to assume the blame falls squarely on […]
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Tarnished words 40

Posted 3 weeks ago

“Work!!!” When Maynard G. Krebs cried out that phrase we knew he wanted only to get out of it. Work, to Maynard, had a bad connotation. Yet, work to me is a good thing. I love my work and wake up each day excited to be a part of our team. Words get tarnished and […]
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Squeezing harder 43

Posted 3 weeks ago

Many of us prefer our music compressed. All modern music captured on vinyl has been compressed to fit the dynamics within its limited space. That process might sound bad but actually, we may be making it better. When we make a modern digital recording there’s easily 100dB of dynamic range. If you were to apply […]
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Heaven sent 41

Posted 3 weeks ago

I remember my first taste of a high-end USB cable, the JCAT. It made such an improvement that I thought it was a gift from heaven. I just couldn’t believe the difference that cable made. It’s rare but sometimes we take a new piece of gear home and it exceeds our expectations and not just […]
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