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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.

What to first turn to 33

Posted 16 hours ago

When evaluating a new piece of gear—perhaps that new Power Plant, DAC, cable, or speaker—what’s the first track of music you turn to? Is it always the same? Does it vary from type to type of gear? In my experience we all have a few go-to pieces of music we rely upon to evaluate equipment. […]
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Galvanic isolation 36

Posted 1 day ago

As we talk more of the virtues of galvanic isolation in digital audio, perhaps it’s of value to take a moment out of our busy day to understand just what that means. The term galvanic refers to a galvanic cell, named after its inventor, Luigi Galvani. The Galvanic Cell is technically described with a mumbo […]
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Rip or play? 30

Posted 2 days ago

As we move closer to releasing for beta this September the new SACD Transport, there comes again talk of the virtues of playing discs relative to ripping and/or streaming. Which sounds better? The plain truth of it is perhaps not what many wish to hear, but from my perspective, I think it’s worth saying anyway. […]
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Bad Friday 41

Posted 3 days ago

For those YouTube visitors keeping up with our attempts to harvest our first big crop of Colorado peaches, consider this a sad update. First, a little backstory. A few years ago Terri and I planted a small row of fruit trees alongside the garage: peach, apple, plum, and cherry. Last year we managed one apple […]
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Stepping out on a limb 39

Posted 4 days ago

While the idea of stepping out on a limb may be frightening it’s often beneficial as that’s where the fruit is. We have various names for stepping outside of our comfort zone: leaps of faith, thinking outside the box, broadening our horizons. In each case, they encourage us to try something new: a cable, a […]
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Nail biting 36

Posted 5 days ago

When we start a design process for a new product there’s always a lot of high hopes and nail biting. Investing as much in the design as we do, it’s always a bit of a crapshoot how many times you might have to redo a design until it comes out the way you hoped for. […]
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Room, speaker, recording, amp? 36

Posted 6 days ago

One of the great mysteries to me has been compression of peaks on big orchestral pieces. The louder the orchestra plays the more the character of the music changes to where it seems to stop expanding before bunching up. When I attend a live orchestral performance that never happens. The scale of loudness seems linear—the […]
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Fundamental differences 18

Posted 1 week ago

A planar ribbon is fundamentally different than an electrostat and, because of that, they sound quite different too. In both types of drivers, we start with the same sort of plastic substrates like Mylar or Kapton, but there the two radically depart. To make a ribbon driver we need to layer on a thin sheet […]
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What makes a reference track? 16

Posted 1 week ago

In yesterday’s post, I offered an extended list of my reference tracks. Some of you may have noticed that not all tracks are great recordings. What gives? Diversity. Whether you’re setting up your sound system, designing new products, or simply enjoying music, the key to great reproduction is diversity. A proper system should be able […]
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Paul’s Picks updated 36

Posted 1 week ago

For several years now, my list of favorites has made its way around the internet and shared by many. That’s great. I thought perhaps it’s time to update and extend that list for those music lovers looking for some fresh reference tunes. This task has been on my list of to-dos for some time. Recently, […]
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Panel speakers 37

Posted 1 week ago

It’s been 23 years since I owned a reference level box speaker. Back then it was a pair of Revels that I had built a room around. They were very good sounding speakers but not all that revealing. It was only after dismantling that room and changing over to panel speakers that the missing resolution […]
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I’m not convinced 78

Posted 1 week ago

Boy oh boy, my simple post about our lunchtime conversation concerning cable elevators has once again let all the worms out of the can. Of course, the controversy is to be expected. Anything involving cables, tweaks, isolation bases, fuses, and whatever manner of heresy I write about will naturally draw ridicule. And that’s alright. I […]
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Sonic signatures 52

Posted 1 week ago

If the goal of a high-end audio system is to have no sonic signature—to be as neutral as possible—then why do we insist on tailoring our systems to our likes and dislikes? Perhaps the answer lies in a simple truth. There is no such thing possible as a neutral sound when we use non-perfect equipment […]
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If a cable sings in the woods… 82

Posted 1 week ago

I had to smile while reading this comment to a recent video: “I agree with most you say….except about the wires and power cables….but I still subscribe and like! so there!” Yes indeed. So there. This issue of wires and cables making a difference for some and not for others is one of continual fascination […]
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Cable elevators 81

Posted 2 weeks ago

Over lunch with engineer Darren Meyers we got to talking about systems and when it’s time to turn to cable elevators for improvements. Cable elevators get the speaker cables off the floor and improve sound quality: they are ultra-tweaks. Your system needs to be at a certain point of perfection before they matter. Some audiophiles […]
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Capturing soul 13

Posted 2 weeks ago

Listening to a beautiful piece of music, Variations on One String on a Theme By Rossini: Moses Fantasie – Janos Starker – Janos Starker: Virtuoso Music for Cello, on Qobuz the other night, and I found myself somehow connected with what felt to me like the soul of the music. Rossini and Starker are long […]
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Watts watts? 29

Posted 2 weeks ago

A watt’s a watt, or is it? The technical definition of a watt is a unit of power, equivalent to one joule per second, corresponding to the power in an electric circuit in which the potential difference is one volt and the current one ampere. To get a watt out of our amplifier we need […]
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The problem with staying at home 30

Posted 2 weeks ago

…for me, at least, is the close proximity of the kitchen and, worse, the pantry. Arrgghh. Not much more than 1 year ago, after successfully following my doctor’s instructions to “lose that gut” because I was borderline diabetic, I engineered a surefire way to lose weight and keep it off. You can read about it […]
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The art of illusion 46

Posted 2 weeks ago

Following the threads of the last few day’s posts, it’s become clear to me how much we’re invested in building a palpable 3-d illusion with our high-end audio systems. We’ve known for some time that turning the lights on low, closing our eyes, and tapping our foot to the music not only gets us in […]
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Having something to say 27

Posted 2 weeks ago

There are a few ways of deciding within a company what new products to launch. The most typical is to look around at the competition, see what’s working, and build more of the same so people have a broader choice. The more difficult path, the one we have always chosen, is to only build products […]
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Teleportation 62

Posted 2 weeks ago

I have said for many years the ultimate goal of high-end audio is to honor the music by bringing the musicians into your room as if they were playing live. I think to some degree it’s a notion we can all wrap our heads around. But here’s a twist suggested by one of my readers. […]
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The meaning of analog 30

Posted 3 weeks ago

“That sounds so…analog.” What does that actually mean? And what are we saying when we suggest something sounds “digital”. I wonder if our terminology isn’t out of date. We offer praise when a digital reproduction sounds analog yet we know analog has limitations that digital does not. I would never suggest that while listening to […]
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Turned up noses 64

Posted 3 weeks ago

Audiophiles. We’re nothing if not opinionated. And that’s great because opinions equate to passionate and it’s passion that floats my boat. Where I draw the line is when we’re scornful of others—when we turn our noses up at those that value sound quality over musical performance, hardware lust vs. musical yearning, tubes vs. solid-state, or […]
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Rumble 23

Posted 3 weeks ago

In the volumes of email I receive I get some great questions. Mark, in San Jose California, was asking why phono preamplifiers no longer offer switchable rumble filters. I think it’s a great question. I remember years ago when nearly every phono preamplifier had a switchable rumble filter and I also remember hating it. Every […]
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Octave downloads 14

Posted 3 weeks ago

As promised, we’ve finally managed to get the programmers to figure out how to make downloads available for Octave Records. If you are interested in purchasing a download version of Don Grusin’s Out of Thin Air in DSD, high, medium, or standard resolution PCM, you can now do so on the product page here. While […]
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