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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.

We’ve come a long way, baby 22

Posted 6 hours ago

My friend, Cello owner Jim McCullough, sent me a link to one of the best short videos of recorded music I have ever watched. This is worth your time. Click here and spend the 4 and a half minutes it takes to watch tenor Lauritz Melchior record his voice from this classic 1946 film Two […]
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The trouble with convention 31

Posted 1 day ago

I remember my excitement when Mark Levinson’s company broke with the pack and started building products with Lemo Connectors. Wow. Those were wicked cool looking and they had an even cooler story behind them too. Alas, this trend never caught on because nothing else matched and who wants to use adapters? Then, Arnie and I […]
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Paradigm shifts 31

Posted 2 days ago

Paradigms are models of accepted norms: templates of how we arrive at a product or result using standard practices. The paradigm of a room full of neatly ordered books on shelves is called a library. The paradigm of hardwired circuits specific to the conversion of digital bits into analog representations is called a DAC. When […]
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Listening is scary 20

Posted 3 days ago

Ted Smith has done it again. A major breakthrough in the art of digital audio. Over this weekend we have been beta testing our newest operating system for our DirectStream DAC, Snowmass, and the reviews are flooding in: “listening and it is scary – black background with delicate sounds, then the sax… this sound stage […]
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Stereotype solutions 18

Posted 4 days ago

In 1798 a French printer, Firmin Didot, invented a new technology that might be second only to Gutenberg’s original invention of the printing press in 1450. Before Didot’s stroke of brilliance, printing was an arduous process that used movable type—individually molded metal pieces, one per letter, that had to be arranged by hand. This heavy […]
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Closer to the other pasture 43

Posted 5 days ago

Isn’t it ironic that the measure of success for a digital-based audio system is getting closer to analog? And, perhaps even weirder, the holy grail in an analog system is to get closer to digital’s dynamics and accuracy. Somewhere in between these two greener pastures is what we’re all striving for, closer to accurate musicality. I […]
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What I think I know 66

Posted 6 days ago

It’s a head scratcher for me when I tackle a problem and the results aren’t as expected. For example, I have been searching for an upgraded chair to use in the new listening rooms and what I’ve found is unlike anything I might have imagined. Currently, we have some Ikea specials that worked alright but…I […]
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Easy alternatives 60

Posted 1 week ago

An easy alternative to Maldon sea salt is kosher sea salt. Both are made from pure salt evaporated from the ocean. Both raise salinity levels in the exact same proportions. Yet, Malden is prized by knowledgeable cooks around the world. If you go to Maldon’s homepage and watch their video some will likely think “snake […]
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The sound of microphones 65

Posted 1 week ago

It’s rare that I can hear a recorded voice and be unable to distinguish it from the live version. So rare, in fact, that I think the only times I have been fooled is when that voice is distantly recorded and I am not focused on it. I place the blame on the device that […]
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Standing on the periphery 10

Posted 1 week ago

Tackling the challenge of changing people’s minds is not only daunting but in all likelihood a futile exercise. When I think about the number of times I have actually swayed someone from one way of thinking to another I come up with a big fat goose egg. Yet, I continue to spend my time and energy educating […]
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Burden of proof 54

Posted 1 week ago

In a legal proceeding, the burden of proof falls on the party that is bringing the claim against another. “That guy robbed me.” In a scientific setting, the same can be true: “The Earth revolves around the sun” was a radical new idea that went against everything our culture knew at the time. The burden […]
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The deluxe version 29

Posted 1 week ago

I am enamored with the term Deluxe because it’s a word with grand implications that go typically wanting. In mixed nuts, it just means a lack of peanuts. In an album set, merely a thicker book. In a movie, a few replaced scenes the editor cut. The actual term comes from the French de luxe […]
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Near and far 45

Posted 1 week ago

Like it or not there is an optimum distance between listener and boxes for every speaker setup. Too close and imagining as well as frequency response suffers. Too far and the soundstage, as well as intimacy, fall to the wayside. Whenever we set up at an audio show we start with getting the speaker pair […]
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Prove it to me 45

Posted 1 week ago

How often do we go into a decision making process pre-convinced of the outcome? And, when we do that, how is the outcome affected? It cannot be nothing. As soon as I hear the catchphrase “prove it to me” I smile. The person has already decided the outcome and now the task of the educator […]
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Vibration isolation products are snake oil 103

Posted 2 weeks ago

We’ve saved perhaps the best for last. “Best” because this is a subject that genuinely gets the hairs on the back of some necks to stand at stiff attention, yet there’s ample proof that it works. Some weeks ago I published this video of a vibration control product demonstration I saw while at RMAF. Nearly 30,000 […]
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Interconnects and speaker cables matter 98

Posted 2 weeks ago

Yikes. After yesterday’s brave venture into the hornet’s nest of opinion about power cables and how they matter I can only just imagine the brouhaha today’s post is likely to elicit. Fact or fiction: interconnects and speaker cables matter. As in yesterday’s post, you already know my answer. But, there are several burning questions. Do […]
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Cables matter 101

Posted 2 weeks ago

Oh boy. I saved this and the next Fact or Fiction for last. This is a real viper pit of a question and those loyal readers of this blog know my answer before I even write it. Of course they matter, but only if we’re a bit open to proving that to ourselves. I suppose […]
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Speaker size should match the room 30

Posted 2 weeks ago

This fact or fiction question is an interesting one because the notion of matching speaker size to room dimensions is so ingrained into our culture as to be taken for fact. But, some facts aren’t true no matter how much we want them to be. Here’s the deal. Any size loudspeaker will work in just […]
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Single driver speakers are better than multi-driver designs 17

Posted 2 weeks ago

Fact or fiction? There are so many ifs to consider it’s hard to give a good answer but let’s first examine what this all means. For many years of early hifi development, single driver loudspeakers ruled. My first hifi system was a single driver setup that I describe here from my upcoming memoir 99% True: […]
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Parts quality affects performance 33

Posted 2 weeks ago

When this particular Fact or Fiction proposition was originally proposed I passed it over because its answer seemed so evident. Yes, of course, parts quality affects performance. It’s a no-brainer, right? Maybe not to everyone. We can easily agree that low tolerance parts that change value depending on temperature or variability in their construction can […]
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Subwoofers are an unnecessary luxury 37

Posted 2 weeks ago

Fact or fiction? The very term luxury defines whatever it is added to as unnecessary. Air and water are necessities. Love and affection are luxuries. But while many would argue it’s the luxuries that make life worth living, I would extend that to subwoofers make stereos worth listening. Ok, that’s a stretch. Clearly, stereos are […]
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Power supplies are equal in importance to amplifier circuits 52

Posted 3 weeks ago

Fact or fiction? I’ve been designing electronic circuits for 50 years. It took nearly half that number of years for me to finally come to grips with the importance of power supplies in circuits. In my earlier days, I thought of power supplies like most engineers: necessary add-ons to the all-important bit that handles signal. All […]
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Amplifier headroom matters 40

Posted 3 weeks ago

Fact or fiction: an amplifier with 10 times more power than the speaker needs sounds better than one more closely matched? The short answer is often yes, but it’s worth looking into the why of this statement. First, let’s get some facts sorted out. Most listeners have no clue how much power their speakers are actually […]
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Vinyl is more musical than digital 45

Posted 3 weeks 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 3 weeks 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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