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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The traveler

We can download a digital file from anywhere in the world and it will sound the same regardless of where it came from or how it got to us. Yet, once it safely arrives, delivering it even a few feet through different cables sounds different. How could that be? Is it possible that there’s more…

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The asymmetrical room

Customers often send me drawings of their rooms. One of their biggest worries seems to be when the room is not symmetrical. And their greatest angst seems to occur if one side of the room opens wide into another part of the home. Because one side of the room opens into another, the question becomes…

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Impedance differences

If you double the input impedance of your power amplifier from, say, 30kΩ to 60kΩ you’re not going to hear a difference. Yet, double the input impedance of your phono amplifier and you’ll hear a change. What’s different between the two? In the first case of doubling the amp’s input impedance, we won’t hear any…

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DXD

DXD is a digital audio format that has a lot of people excited. From Wikipedia: “Digital eXtreme Definition (DXD) is a digital audio format that originally was developed by Philips and Merging Technologies for editing high-resolution recordings recorded in Direct Stream Digital (DSD), the audio standard used on Super Audio CD (SACD). As the 1-bit…

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PRaT

Most of us are familiar with Pacing, rhythm, and Timing. PRaT for short. It’s what gets our feet tapping to the music. Not all equipment promotes PRaT. Some equipment sounds terrific in all respects except PRaT. I am often asked if when we’re designing new products we consider PRaT as one of the design goals….

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Giving thanks

I understand Thanksgiving is an American tradition. I also understand it’s traditional on this national holiday to eat turkey. I am pretty sure you don’t need to be an American or eat turkey to celebrate this day. (I don’t eat turkey (or meat or fish) and I understand we’re but a small group of countrymen…

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Size matters

One of the easiest ways to achieve proper volume levels for a given track of music is to measure the size of the center image. I am not suggesting some sort of magical measuring apparatus. No, it’s simpler than that. All one needs to do is turn the level up or down until the center…

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A new channel

Octave Records is growing. From the new studio we’re building, to the creation of new recording technologies that have never been used before, we’re forging ahead to help shape the future of the recording arts. Because we’ve committed to DSD as our recording medium, we have a number of technological challenges to meet. Among them…

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Why stereo?

In an age where multi-channel receivers and equipment can be easily had, why do we stay with only two speakers? Some of us have been around long enough to remember the days of Quadraphonic sound. As its name implies, Quadraphonic sound utilized 4-channels of audio typically encoded on LP vinyl in a matrix system based…

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Birds

What was that saying about birds of a feather? Seems to me whoever started that old chestnut hadn’t spent a lot of time watching birds. Out my south window, I can see the neighbor’s giant bird feeder.  He brings it out for the winter after the bears have gone to sleep. It’s a generous gift…

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Before they are gone

Octave Record’s vinyl releases seem to go pretty quickly. We sold out of the Gabriel Mervine in a matter of hours (what a spectacular recording!). As I have mentioned in earlier Paul’s Posts, there’s something very magical about what happens when we go from the DSD master to the vinyl cutting lathe. I truly wish…

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Too good to be true

In 1946, in an effort to sell more cigarettes, the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company created a Medical Relations Division and advertised it in medical journals. This division produced the following ad with the slogan: “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.” They’d solicited this “finding” by giving doctors a free carton of Camel cigarettes,…

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Les Paul

Modern music and the art of recording have much to thank the musician, Les Paul for. Lester William Polsfuss was born in 1915 and lived to the ripe old age of 94. He was known around the world as a self-taught American jazz, country, and blues guitarist, songwriter, luthier, and inventor. It is the inventor…

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Emotional engagement

Here’s a good one for the measurement nerds in us all. How to quantify emotional engagement. How is it that a technically inferior technology like vinyl can often better engage us emotionally than a technologically superior format like DSD? And to make matters worse, a vinyl reproduction of a DSD master like those we have…

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Seeing vs. hearing

When it comes to capturing and reproducing dynamic range, audio has visual beat by a wide margin. The human ear is capable of about 140dB of dynamic range—the same as a 32-bit digital audio capture. That modern recording and playback technology is capable of matching that of the human ear is remarkable. It wasn’t that…

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Critical thinking

You can find information and knowledge on just about any subject in the world. Just Google it. Have a math problem? There are online calculators at the click of a mouse. Need a chemical formula? No problem. Design a room for best sound quality? It’s a few clicks of the mouse away. With a bit…

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Diffusion

We’d all like our speakers to disappear and in their place enjoy the illusion of a deep and wide soundstage. Once heard, it can become addictive. One of the easiest ways of achieving this vanishing act is by the addition of diffusers on the front wall (the wall behind the loudspeakers). Regardless of the type…

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A pinch of sparkle

There’s an incredibly fine balancing act at play when it comes to the top end of a system. Too much and it sounds bright, too little, and the opposite. What many of us are hoping for is to not hear the drivers at all. We don’t want to say “oh, the tweeter sounds great”. What…

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Maximizing one’s assets

Separate loudspeaker drivers like separate electronics maximize the attributes of each: amplifiers focus on amplifying, sources are specific to their task. And so it is with speakers too. No woofer can reproduce that which a proper tweeter can. Take for example the planar tweeter in the upcoming FR30 loudspeaker. Its moving diaphragm has lower mass…

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Pro vs. pro

The definition of a pro is someone who makes a living by virtue of what they do. A plumber plumbs, a carpenter pounds nails and saws wood, and a stereo dealer sells and sometimes installs stereo equipment. They get paid to do a specific job. How good they are at that job should in theory…

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One way street

If you freeze bread and then toast it, the results are marvelous. Crunchy on the outside and soft and pliable on the inside. Try reversing the process and the results are more than disappointing. I wish I understood more about one-way streets. Why some things work best in one direction but not in another. Make…

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Impressions of the FR30

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of living with our new loudspeaker, the FR30. I thought you might be interested in a few of my impressions on those listening experiences. First, a note on naming. The FR30 is one speaker in a line of what will be 6 models—3 below the FR30…

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Winning and losing

It occurs to me that life is sometimes viewed as a sports event with winners and losers. I wonder how many arguments might be avoided, or anger averted if we were to instead think of it in terms of multiple wins. None of us likes to feel as if we’ve lost or on the losing…

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Where reality meets virtual

In yesterday’s tongue-in-cheek post, I poked a bit of fun at augmented reality. And you know what? It’s good to have a laugh at some of the crazy stuff we’re being introduced to. That said, many of you wrote me (with some excitement) to ask about this idea of virtually placing our speaker in your…

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Augmented vs. virtual

What a world we live in. I have been working with a company that provides some really cool services that will someday allow our community members to better explore our products in the comfort of their homes without ever receiving them. Those services are virtual meaning they don’t really exist. And yet. So, I got…

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Whom to believe?

With the influx of media available it’s often hard to know what’s true or false. TV personalities masquerading as pundits in an effort to gain audience often say or do whatever it takes to get noticed. Truth and facts be damned. What would happen if people instead let us know their facts and information were…

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

Join the hi-fi family

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