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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.

Pro vs. home 41

Posted 8 hours ago

Our knee-jerk reaction to pro vs. home is that the former is better than the latter. After all, the pros make their living using equipment and we amateurs don’t.  Ergo, a pro drill must be better than a Black and Decker, a chef’s knife superior to a Popiel offering. Of course, not all pro gear […]
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Adding sparkle 17

Posted 1 day ago

The finishing touch to a several hour’s long meal preparation might be the setting of the table. The last little bit of work capping off hours of preparation. When I roll my sleeves up to muscle loudspeakers around a listening room, swap cables, restack equipment, and rough tune a system the last step is the […]
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Multiple stab wounds 56

Posted 2 days ago

I recently enjoyed the latest version of Murder on the Orient Express. I’m certain everyone’s seen at least one version of this Agatha Christie classic but if you haven’t, it’s alright because I won’t tell you who done it. The antagonist in the film is named Mr. Ratchett but his real identity is Cassetti, an […]
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Purpose built 14

Posted 3 days ago

Why do we build some things while not others? A sleek red car with a big and powerful engine’s probably not what you’d design for mom to take to the market just as a lumbering minivan might not win the Daytona 500. We design with purpose to satisfy a need or a desire. The strength […]
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Matching amplifiers 43

Posted 4 days ago

The ultimate goal in a high-performance audio system is to not hear the equipment, only the music it delivers. Which is why people often insist on using identical amplifiers in a multi-channel setup. Makes sense when all the speakers are identical, but how often does that happen? In my home multi-channel setup, I have identical […]
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Component pedigree 32

Posted 5 days ago

Brand and pedigree set expectations. A Mundorf or REL capacitor has more good feelings associated with them than an XYZ capacitor. Yet, that XYZ capacitor might just blow the socks off either brand. The trick, then, is to avoid the manufacturer’s easy way out: choosing a recognizable brand to delight the eye of the customer […]
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What’s something worth? 21

Posted 6 days ago

My iPhone X retails for $1,000 at the Apple store. That’s a lot. It’s one of the most expensive mobile phones on the market and it could be argued it’s at the top of the expense heap. And yet, if that were a high-end DAC or power amplifier it would be on the extreme low end. […]
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Clear fog 42

Posted 1 week ago

In yesterday’s post I recounted a story of Telarc engineers in the recording studio control room comparing the output of an analog and digital tape recorder to the live feed from their mixer. To their ears the digital recorder was more faithful to the original signal. Which makes perfect sense since this is exactly what we […]
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Which would you choose? 64

Posted 1 week ago

Raul Montilla from Puerto Rico sent me a kind note about an interesting experiment from years past. In it, Jack Renner and the engineers from Telarc are said to have recorded the Cleveland Orchestra on both an analog tape recorder and a Soundstream Digital recorder. They then compared the output of the two and all selected the […]
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We’ve come a long way 37

Posted 1 week ago

“Winston tastes good like a cigarette should” is a catchy ad line from long ago—a time when society’s views on smoking and stereos were very different. Reader Scott Brinckman sent me this classic ad from a 1975 Stereo Review magazine. Looking at all the elements in the ad we can understand the creator’s intent: cool […]
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Room calculator 25

Posted 1 week ago

Our rooms are as important as our equipment yet only a scarce few of us have the luxury of choosing our room dimensions. Typically we take what we can get within our home and make the best out of it. With our new building in process, we’re heavy into the architectural tasks of designing three […]
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Control vs. convenience 15

Posted 1 week ago

There’s a constant battle going on inside me over two fundamental urges: control or convenience. On the one hand, I want to place myself in a position of control over life’s simple variables like dialing in the exact time and temperature of morning toast or setting the thermostat to suit my immediate needs. On the […]
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Adding another way 40

Posted 1 week ago

When loudspeakers were first introduced they were essential 1-way designs: a single driver that carried the limited frequency range possible in those days. Soon we added a tweeter to augment the single driver’s high-frequency response in what became known as a 2-way and there the state of the art sat for many years. Hardly satisfied with […]
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Sensaitionalism 55

Posted 1 week ago

We love the sensational. We rubberneck at accidents. Our eyes jump at breaking news. And few things are more sensational than the imminent demise of an institution. The pundits love to clean their crystal balls and trumpet the future. Yet, it’s rare the future just plops down on us without our notice. Take the cries […]
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Comparing sound 18

Posted 2 weeks ago

One of the most difficult challenges we audiophiles face is making sonic comparisons between equipment. God, it’s hard. And while speakers are the worst, electronics aren’t too far behind in difficulty. In some parts of the world, a forest of them are lined up in elevated tiers like choir members. A number is assigned to […]
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PS update 35

Posted 2 weeks ago

Is it just me or has this been the shortest summer on record? I know it’s hot everywhere but suddenly I find tomorrow becoming August and not long after it turns to fall, then Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, then a chance for snow. Yikes! I thought you’d enjoy a bit of an update on a […]
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A matter of opinion 30

Posted 2 weeks ago

Here’s a real mind bender for you. How do engineers verify a microphone’s performance? It certainly can’t be by listening to its output since microphones don’t make sound they only capture it. Playback of a microphone’s performance would have to be via a loudspeaker which, of course, has its own sound colorations. No, what they have […]
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On again, off again 38

Posted 2 weeks ago

I guess I was somewhat taken by surprise at a comment on our Community Forums in the thread about our upcoming Arnie Nudell loudspeaker line. In it, I suggest the new speakers won’t need more than a few degrees of toe in and that seems to have come as a surprise to readers used to generous […]
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Status stereo 28

Posted 2 weeks ago

“Wow, really nice looking stereo you have there,” I said. And, it was. A big set of Wilsons powered by a stack of McIntosh electronics with their signature blue meters dominating the room. “How’s it sound?” I asked. Turns out not to good. The dealer had recommended the setup as the best available—exactly what the […]
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The upgrade 22

Posted 2 weeks ago

One of the most exciting things a hifi buff can do is upgrade. The process of researching, noodling on choices, making the decision, pulling the trigger, receiving the new boxes, then upgrading the system is a real hoot. Few things I can think of get me more excited. My son Scott McGowan has never owned a […]
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Listening 36

Posted 2 weeks ago

We perceive sound with our ears. We listen with our minds. What’s interesting about this observation is that no two people hear or listen in the same way yet we can each agree an oboe is an oboe, a guitar a guitar, Beethoven’s 5th rather than another symphony. Our senses may be similar in function but […]
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Anchor or isolate? 23

Posted 3 weeks ago

Audiophile wisdom is rife with both good and bad advice. It’s a good idea to pay attention to the electronic chain’s component quality while it’s a bad idea to spend so much on tweaks you ignore the fundamentals. Sometimes this common wisdom finds itself in the middle of a great philosophical divide. For example, if […]
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Bi-amping 23

Posted 3 weeks ago

There once was a day when power amplifiers struggled. The mainstays, tube amplifiers, couldn’t handle low frequencies well but had immaculate highs. The newcomers, solid state amps, produced prodigious bass but struggled with the high notes. Neither handled both. That’s when some bright person decided to combine the best of both worlds. A real aha! […]
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Shareholders 29

Posted 3 weeks ago

PS Audio is a privately held company: Family owned by Terri, me, my sons Scott and Lon. And then, there are our shareholders consisting of our team and our community. That might sound odd but it’s true. From our first days in business back in 1974, we have considered our customers shareholders in our company. […]
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Distorted speakers 32

Posted 3 weeks ago

Ever wonder why speaker manufacturers don’t list distortion as one of their measured parameters? Me too. To my knowledge, there’s not even a standard by which to suggest acceptable distortion. Yet, try that with the electronics that drive those speakers and howls of protest drift up through the rafters. Do we not care what level […]
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