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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Nostalgia

How many times have we been nostalgic about something only to relive it and realize our memories were gilded? We often remember only the good parts and strip away the rough edges. And then, sometimes, the opposite happens. Reader Tom Krehbiel sent me a link to an old Woody Herman appearance on the Ed Sullivan…

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Front and center

If the goal of high-end audio is to recreate the sound of live musicians in our rooms why do nearly all studio recordings place the main vocal in the center? Most of the shows I have been to have the singer off to one side of the stage or another. Only when the singer is…

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What is flat?

How can flat-measuring speakers sound different? And for that matter, how can same-measuring-anything sound different? The answer lies in a couple of areas. First, we do not measure all parameters that impact sound quality. In fact, as you will see below, we miss some of the most important opportunities for quantifying performance. Second, even if…

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The practiced ear

As a lifelong photographer, I have, over many decades, developed a practiced eye. What’s that mean? Simply that my eye/brain connections are wired to see through the camera’s viewfinder in such a way that good composition feels natural. (If you’re interested, you can see my photo gallery here). In the same way, we, as audiophiles,…

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12 notes

I have always found it intriguing that the 12 musical notes in Western music, also known as the chromatic scale, can be combined and arranged in various ways to create infinite melodies and chord progressions. The notes can be played at different pitches, rhythms, and durations and can be used in different keys and modes….

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Art of HiFi Series

Thank you for all the kind words from those just now receiving their SACD copies of The Art of HiFi Series: Bass. (I especially liked “rattled my wife’s dental plates”) What’s next in the series? There are so many aspects of HiFi to explore I thought I would share my most recent thoughts and then…

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Ground point

I am often asked to explain ground. No, not dirt, but electrical ground. Counter to what many people might imagine—that ground has something to do with Earth—ground is defined as the lowest point in a circuit. For example, an aircraft relies upon a solid ground even when flying at 30,000 feet. Your iPhone has a…

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The perfect blend

When working with sweeteners and spices, the perfect blend makes magic. A little less, and it’s bland. A little more, and it’s overblown. In electronic design, one can play with input devices to get the sonic flavors just right: a bipolar front end is crisp and clean with a hint of stridency that must be…

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Ripples

Ripples are a mixed bag. They are gently welcomed in a pond, not good when it comes to branding wine, and definitely unwelcome in a power supply. Power supply ripple is what we get when looking at the filter capacitors in a supply. Here’s a picture of it. What would be perfect is for the…

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Impedance vs. regulation

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about the importance of lower impedance in the AC line voltage. I mentioned that lowering the impedance is far more important than cleaning up the AC line noise (a subject for yet another post as this goes against nearly all the conventional wisdom). I got a lot of mail asking…

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Getting it straight

It doesn’t take long to figure out the importance of AC power, and perhaps no device can better demonstrate the advantages of perfect AC than a Power Plant. I wonder how many of the thousands of Power Plant owners across the globe really understand what’s important in power—why their AC regenerators make such a huge…

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Inches matter

Loudspeaker setup is a funny thing. Inches matter for the speaker’s position, yet those minuscule changes affect a much larger area in the seating position. Why would that be? With a well-designed loudspeaker pair with flat off-axis response, the sweet spot for listening is rather broad. For example, Music Room Three with the aspen FR30s…

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Libraries

At the end of the proverbial day, we all have some sort of musical library—something more than just a jumble of discs. For some, our libraries live in the cloud: millions of titles available through streaming at the touch of a button. For others, it’s a wall filled with vinyl or a rack full of…

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Magic sprinkles

For those of you that have purchased and received a copy of The Art of HiFi Series: Bass, I wonder how many have noticed a touch of magic sprinkles I added to one of the tracks. I am curious because what I did was a bit daring and out of the ordinary. Also, if your…

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The synergy of sound

I am always fascinated by the impacts of synergy: how two or more pieces of equipment interact within a system to produce the end result. This means, of course, that no two stereo systems are the same. Not even close. Differences in rooms, speakers, equipment, and setup are so big that not one of you…

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Adjusting focus

Knowing where to focus one’s attention is often difficult in our technically complex world. Take, for example, the case of fiber optics. We know that galvanic isolation can make a big difference in digital audio. Any owners of the new DirectStream MK2, with its ability to switch on and off the isolation of every input…

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Noise reduction

Remember back in the day when Dolby noise reduction was the thing? I remember thinking to myself; this is nothing short of magic. Kind of like the RIAA. Boost the heck out of the high frequencies and then run them through a low pass filter to make everything right again. In the process, hiss is…

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Jitters

Jitter, also known as timing deviation, is the variation in the time interval between two consecutive digital audio samples. This timing deviation can cause easily heard distortion in high-end audio systems including a loss of clarity, definition, and detail in the music, as well as a smearing of transients. Jitter can be caused by a…

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As promised

I promised in yesterday’s post, The Art of HiFi, that I would continue part of the story of this recording’s creation. Couple of things first: I apologize for the slow website yesterday. Between the release of Copper Magazine and my post, the site bogged down to an interminable crawl that is both embarrassing and grating….

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The Art of HiFi

One of the great joys of having our own state-of-the-art recording studio includes the ability to record and release the kinds of recordings rarely ever done. Recordings that are specific to those of us interested in High-End audio. When I first proposed the idea of launching a new series that celebrated the art of HiFi…

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External vs. internal

I was recently asked an interesting question. Is it better to have the loudspeaker crossover inside or outside the loudspeaker? At first, the answer seemed rather simple. Inside, of course. Shorter wires, fewer binding posts, etc. Yet, in thinking about it, I can see at least one advantage to an external box filled with speaker…

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Timeless

Ever notice how time flies when you’re having fun? Or engaged? Or smitten? If I am required to listen to not-so-great music I find myself checking the minutes left on the track. Put on a piece that not only sounds great but the music is clicking with my mood and time seems not to exist….

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Canned heat

The band whose name titles this post was founded in 1965 by two blues enthusiasts, Alan Wilson and Bob Hite, who took the name from Tommy Johnson’s 1928 song “Canned Heat Blues”, a song about an alcoholic who had desperately turned to drinking Sterno, generically called “canned heat”. I loved this band but what stood…

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Taking technology personally

How many times has it felt like technology has it out for you? Butt dialing someone right after their call, closing the page too soon and losing it, pressing delete, and then….. Half the time I walk into Music Room 3 to play the system it doesn’t work: the DAC’s on the wrong input, someone…

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Breaking with accepted facts

Five hundred years ago, most of the world’s experts clung to the facts of a flat Earth, despite the fact that we’ve shown the planet to be round from as far back as 2,000 years prior to that. *The Greek philosopher Pythagoras was the first to come up with the concept of a spherical Earth…

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Keeping it real

Though I am not an avid listener of the news, the last time I listened, some newly elected congressman from Long Island admitted to having fabricated just about everything about his life and career. And when questioned, he says everyone makes mistakes. I wonder how it would go over in our little Audiophile universe if…

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