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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.

Making sausage 10

Posted 12 hours ago

I never want to see how a sausage is made, and not just because I am a vegetarian. There are wonderful plant-based sausages now available. No, it’s not what goes inside but rather it’s the shattering of illusion. When we see a finished product we see the perfection of a completed work. When we see […]
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Obscuring meaning 21

Posted 1 day ago

I have recently fallen into a secret romance. Quitely and without fanfare, my new flame and I often spend lunchtime together, though I sneak in quicks trysts whenever the opportunity arises. Her name is Joan and she hailed from Australia but you’d not know it by her accent. She only speaks to me in Italian. […]
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Straight wires 36

Posted 2 days ago

The many-decades-old term “Straight Wire” wasn’t referring to a wire without kinks. Instead, it meant that the music passed straight through the wire without affectation. The first time I heard it was from reviewer J. Peter Moncrief of I.A.R.. (though I believe he borrowed the term from designer Stuart Hegeman of Harmon Kardon). Peter had devised […]
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Back to basics 23

Posted 3 days ago

I am reminded how complex our quest for perfection can be. Even the simple act of playing a record can seem like an impossible mountain to climb once we factor in the particulars like VTA, phono stages, capacitive loading, proper weight, cartridge types, cables etc. And digital’s even more frightening. There’s a post worth reading on […]
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Hidden treasures 43

Posted 4 days ago

A master recording captured on 30-year-old magnetic tape won’t sound as good as it once did, but that is not true of virgin vinyl or digital of the same age. Of all the virgin vinyl ever produced there was one that was head-and-shoulders better than any other: Direct-to-Disc recording. Many of us will have fond […]
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Looking elsewhere 19

Posted 5 days ago

One of my readers asked a great question. “If the nature of a balanced cable is to eliminate noise, why does the construction and quality of the cable matter?” This is a very juicy question because it provides us with insight into how people think and what their mindsets are, while at the same time […]
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Side benefits 33

Posted 6 days ago

As a former dedicated (obsessed, really) landscape photographer I spend hours hiking up mountains to reach perfect locations where I could practice my art. A waterfall or a rushing stream littered with wildflowers on its banks might be the object of my desire. There I’d plant my tripod, mount the 8×10 view camera and spend […]
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Fighting the great unseen 35

Posted 1 week ago

40 years ago we added defenses against an unseen enemy: a scourge of fidelity, an attack on musicality. We couldn’t see this demon but we certainly knew of its impacts. It was pervasive, heard but hidden. A layer of added grit and pain to the music. A $0.20 sword was all it took to slay the […]
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More than enough 28

Posted 1 week ago

Whenever my mother Sue prepared a meal for company there was always more than enough food. Literally. Her philosophy was a simple one. Always make more than needed so no one left hungry. Our family ate the leftovers for lunch. Pushing supplies to the limit is risky business, both with hungry relatives and power. What […]
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Shuttering the shop 63

Posted 1 week ago

In a recent industry newsletter, a retailer decided to close their doors, shuttering their operations. This wouldn’t have normally caught my eye because it happens a lot in this changing economy. But, their reasons for throwing in the towel startled me: “An elderly gentleman recently stopped into our retail store carrying his sound bar and […]
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Changing history 46

Posted 1 week ago

Burned into my memory is how we disliked vinyl back when it was the only medium available to us. That’s the history I recall. It was vinyl’s variability we tired of. Small changes in weather, tracking force, shmutz on the needle, shmutz in the grooves, shmutz in the air, heat-warped grooves, the pressing itself, the slow […]
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Good fences 38

Posted 1 week ago

The poet Robert Frost wrote, “good fences make good neighbors”. If you’d never read his poem, Mending Wall, you might think he liked fences. You would be wrong. The poem is actually about the opposite. One of the dichotomies of product design is about fences. It’s a problem faced by companies as big as Microsoft and […]
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Plug and play 27

Posted 1 week ago

What a great idea someone came up with when they first coined the term plug-and-play. Easy peezy, right? Plug the device in and it just works. If you own a Mac you already know what this feels like. Windows 10 owners finally get a taste, but most people on the planet never really get to […]
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Audio lexicon 33

Posted 1 week ago

My upcoming book, 99% True, is working its way through the last of the story editor’s comments. One of his consistent themes is a demand for me to refrain from describing sound with nothing more than descriptive words: dry, wet, rich, thin, fat. In his view, these words bring little meaning to the reader unless they […]
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Success by failure 22

Posted 2 weeks ago

Building PS Audio from a simple meeting in my living room to a successful company has been a 45 year-long journey filled with wonderful people. As I look back, one thing becomes clear to me. Our successes are directly tied to our failures. This odd once inexplicable pattern grows clearer with every passing year as […]
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Giving all you’ve got 11

Posted 2 weeks ago

I’ve spoken with enough engineers and designers from other companies to know our approach to designing equipment is very different than theirs. Most companies adopt a classic approach: survey the competition, add up features, functions, and performance within a category, then set out to better the score. It is an admirable and often successful path […]
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Miracles 17

Posted 2 weeks ago

My friend, Seth, once delivered his newsletter to subscribers via fax machine. When I first learned this bit of history it seemed so antiquated, so…yesterday…that it made me smile. But then it occurred to me just what a miracle that really was—transmitting the contents of a printed page over a wire. And then I realized […]
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Added drama 50

Posted 2 weeks ago

Yosemite’s Wawona tunnel is 1.3 miles long and cut from solid granite. It is the longest highway tunnel in California. At its east end, travelers are treated to one of the most iconic views of Yosemite National Park. From here you can see El Capitan and Bridalveil Fall majestically rising from Yosemite Valley, with Half Dome […]
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Dangerous ground 68

Posted 2 weeks ago

As PS Audio’s YouTube channel grows in popularity it brings to the forefront some rather heated comments. And that is putting it mildly. Try as I might to maintain a calm approach to the daily videos I routinely manage to trod on dangerous ground by challenging people’s beliefs. I think of it as teaching. Others […]
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Are watts watts? 33

Posted 2 weeks ago

A customer just emailed me a really good question and while I know quite a number of my readers know the answer, there are no doubt an equal number that do not. “Are 35 watts from a 50 watt amplifier the same as 35 watts from a 200 watt amplifier?” Great question. The simple answer […]
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What makes you happy? 20

Posted 2 weeks ago

What elements of your system make you happy? The sheer pleasure of listening to music or the quest to make it better? Some of us are looking for perfection though we aren’t happy when we find it. This is because we’re not really perfection bound. Instead, we love the process of building to a goal, […]
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That’s what remotes are for 35

Posted 3 weeks ago

I can’t think of a track in my library I play at the same volume level as another, though that seems too out there to be true. Regardless, let’s say with some certainty that I change the volume level to match the musical track nearly every time I listen. This occurs because every piece of […]
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Clash of titans 31

Posted 3 weeks ago

Back in the days of console stereos, everything meshed. The phono cartridge and preamplifier matched while the speakers and amps were mated to perfection. It all worked as a system. It wasn’t until the rise of separates that we began recognizing the problems of synergistic matches between components: speakers unable to pair with amplifier power, phono […]
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Addition or subtraction? 22

Posted 3 weeks ago

Is added warmth an accurate term? As in, I went out and found some of it and added it into the recipe. Or, is added warmth an illusion caused by the lack of something else? You can add warmth by putting on a coat, or turning off the air conditioner. I have been as guilty […]
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Music as medicine 33

Posted 3 weeks ago

In my upcoming book 99% True, the long talked about memoir, I refer to high-end audio as a well kept secret and I believe that to be true. After all, the vast majority of humans on this planet have never heard of an audiophile much less met one in person. All of us participating in […]
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