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.
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Live cheating

Here’s an interesting question as posed by a reader. “How many microphones are allowed in a live recording to not be considered “cheating”? I think there at least two levels of “live” music, for example: 1) Two microphones (left and right) where the band is playing. The microphones would capture the real distance and space…

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Scientific evidence

Evidence comes in a variety of flavors. What we see, hear, feel, learn, or experience. Most evidence we might offer up in a discussion is pretty easy to dismiss if that evidence doesn’t line up with our worldview. Place the word scientific in front of it and the credibility of the evidence changes (even if…

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Go for the gold

Today marks a milestone for Octave Records. We’re launching two new killer discs, each produced on the FR30s, and each available as a 24-karat gold CD in addition to our standard SACD and download versions. While our SACD releases are popular, we get soooooo many requests for lower cost CD versions that we rolled up…

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Putting the crutches away

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of requiring crutches you’ll know they can be addictive. Once you rely upon a crutch it’s a bit of an ordeal to put them away and trust again your freestanding abilities. I remember the first time I read about musician Mark Knopfler’s first foray into digital audio. So “digital”…

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Bypass caps

48 years ago, in 1974, Stan Warren and I got an insider tip we considered at the time to be solid gold. Bypass caps. This was back in the days when Bob Carver’s Phase Linear 400 amplifier was what anyone “in the know” was using to power their speakers. That Phase Linear amp was sooooo…

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Changing of the guard

There’s been a bit of kerfuffle lately about a video I made where I detailed my experience in changing vacuum tubes. I do it often. As often as every 6 months on the main system. I do it because once replaced, new life is breathed into the music. The resistance to my statement seems to…

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Stuck together

I don’t often recommend films to our community because we all have such different tastes. Terri and I, for example, won’t watch tragic or heavy films. We stick more to the Disney types or feel-good ones that bring entertainment and leave us feeling good (like the film CODA). However, once in a while a film…

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Doubling down

It is often difficult for people to grasp how balanced audio cables are 6dB louder than single-ended cables or how two channels of a stereo power amplifier can have double the output voltage and 4 times the power output when in bridged mode. It is difficult to understand because, in each case, only one output…

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Magnetic symmetry

There was a time before digital audio came onto the field where we had magnetic symmetry. Our sources—both vinyl and tape—were magnetically coupled, while our playback too was driven by the power of magnetic motors in our speakers. Magnets in and magnets out. No physical connections between ins and outs. All coupled through magnetism. Today,…

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Defending the truth

Did you know there’s a river in South America named after the world’s largest online retailer? Truth or alternative fact? Today is my 74th birthday and my request from our community is a day of letting go. Like the Beatles, Let It Be. One day where we all smile and enjoy each other’s company (even…

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Bascom King

It is with a heavy heart and great sadness I have to report the passing of one of the great pioneers and innovators in audio. Bascom King. Bascom passed away last Wednesday from complications of pneumonia. He was 84. Bascom was one of a kind. He was a close and dear friend. I first met…

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Handcrafted

We can excuse some minor irregularities in a piece of homemade furniture by accepting the idea the work was handcrafted—unique and acceptable in its lack of perfection. On the other hand, we could be marveling over the opposite like the perfection of a handcrafted puzzle box or the exacting precision of a handcrafted Swiss watch….

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The power of monitors

Not until we got deeply immersed in the building of a state-of-the-art recording label, Octave Records did it occur to us just how important the recording/mixing monitors are to the final outcome. Consider that every single decision made in any recording is 100% determined by ear. No measurement arguments live here. If the guitar sounds…

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Swimming upstream

There are a number of old sayings about the futility of swimming upstream or battling rising tides. It’s better to work with something than fight against it. Like one’s room. Our rooms can be our friends and partners or they can be a constant headache. Which is one reason I prefer diffusers over absorbers, subwoofers…

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Who’s to say?

I remember the first time a worried audiophile came to me for help. It was many years ago at a consumer tradeshow. The fellow—let’s just call him Ed—was concerned because a system in a room sounded wrong to him. That was particularly upsetting to Ed because he had been assured by the owners of the…

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False cues

REL Speakers make some of the best subwoofers in the world. Owner and chief bass’ifier, John Hunter, is nothing short of a magician when it comes to setting up a system. John gets the true purpose of a subwoofer. To fill in for the main speaker. A perfectly set up subwoofer disappears. Only the main…

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Error correction

I recently blogged about how building a better woofer in the first place resulted in a much better sound than adding a servo to correct the mistakes of a lesser woofer. It’s common sense. The same can be said for analog circuits where designing a low distortion, high speed step-response amplifier without need of feedback…

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Making sense

When somebody poses an idea that doesn’t make sense, my first reaction is to reject it as wrong. Over the years, I have been working hard to ignore that first impulse, take a breath, and try and discover what our differences are. Just because it doesn’t make sense to me doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It…

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Strange artifacts

Bit Perfect engineer and friend, Tim Murison, sent me an interesting note about a strange artifact added to about 1/4 of all the music we stream. In a blog post from software engineer, Matt Montag, he describes the following: “A while ago, I wrote about my confusion regarding Weird Spotify Compression Artifacts. It turns out the…

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Distortion vs. spice

When we add to an avocado a pinch of salt, a sprinkle of paprika, and a spot of lemon, we’re distorting it. It is no longer that pure, green, fresh-cut perfection. But it tastes better. I wonder if the same applies to audio. We’re all so ingrained with the notion that distortion is an ugly…

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PCB vs. point to point

Long ago, when tubes ruled and Bell Labs dreamt of sending electrons through solid materials instead of a vacuum, few consumer audio products had circuit boards. Though today PCBs (printed circuit boards) are common, back in the 50s they were rare, though hardly unknown. Over 100 years ago in 1903, German inventor, Albert Hanson, came…

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Living for the city

As long as we’re getting nostalgic, I am remembering the first truly audiophile disc I became enamored with. Stevie Wonder’s Living for the City from his album, Innervisions. What a great piece of music. I remember cranking that tune up on our friend Norm Little’s tri-amped Audio Research system and being just blown away at…

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Reel to reel

I was just remembering back to when I got started in all of this HiFi stuff. Reel to reel tape was the big deal. Not even high-end cassettes had been popularized yet. (For reference, there were no home computers yet and all communications were either by letters or phones). Working with Giorgio Moroder in his…

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Pedigree

I think we can all agree that a product’s pedigree is no guarantee of anything. At the end of the proverbial day, it’s all about performance. But a pedigree or brand can often set expectations. If you listen to one of PS Audio’s products you have an expectation that piece will perform up to a…

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Utopia

Utopia is an imagined place or state of things in which everything and everyone in it is perfect. It’s the state of perfection we often strive to achieve but occasionally get to enjoy. Those fleeting moments when everything clicks. Utopia. When we put on that new track of music and are suddenly transported to another…

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Crapshoots

What’s the old saying about risks vs. rewards? Here we are worried about when to plant tomatoes. Too early and we risk the frost killing them. Too late and we have a weak crop. Get it just right and life’s good. Do nothing and no chance of tomatoes. There are always risks to stepping outside…

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Stop by for a tour:
4865 Sterling Dr.
Boulder, CO 80301

Join the hi-fi family

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