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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Much improved

Over on the PS Audio forums, there’s a thread about cable lifters. You can read it by clicking this link. Elevating the speaker cables off the floor works to improve the sound. Should you run out and grab a set of cable lifters today? Much depends on the state of your system. If you’ve managed…

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Terminology building blocks

One of the easier ways to get on the wrong path is to build an understanding based on piecing together little-understood terms. A good example of this problem might be explained in my earlier post about dynamic range. Relying only on the measured numbers to achieve a more dynamic recording can easily lead to the…

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Raw or refined?

As an aspiring amateur hack of a writer, one of the first lessons in getting words on paper was to just start typing. Let whatever was in my head flow onto the page without worrying about prose or form. Just start writing. It is easier to clean up and rejigger than it is to populate…

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Advanced judgement

It has been multiple decades—in fact, most of our adult lives—that neither Terri nor I have consumed meat or fish. To many Americans we encounter we are an anomaly, a curiosity to be poked and prodded to see if we are real. We both giggle when we get that knowing wink of disbelief from a…

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A special day

Today, October 2nd is a special day. A day set aside to recognize and appreciate those of us who direct our passions to music and its home playback. Today is Audiophile Day. Founded in 2016, this is a day to appreciate our community.  A community of enthusiastic devotees to the art of high-fidelity sound and…

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Golden Ear award

The day loudspeaker designer Chris Brunhaver joined the PS Audio team marked the 2nd to the last step on a lifetime journey (Octave Records would be the final step in closing the loop of our vision of an end-to-end audio ecosystem). Before Chris we could only dream about the day we could say with confidence…

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The art of mastering

When done correctly mastering, recording, and mixing are more art than technique. Just ask our own Gus Skinas. And the art is in the listening (perhaps nothing too surprising to us audiophiles). Another master of the arts is our good friend Cookie Marenco of Blue Coast. She, like Gus, and everyone at Octave Records relies…

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Hearing inside

Using only words, one of the more difficult concepts to explain is the idea of hearing into the music. It is easy to hear but hard to convey. When in Octave’s studio I can stand in front of the drum kit and hear every last nuance of detail in the cymbals as the musician strokes…

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Originals

One of my readers, Blaine, forwarded me this wonderfully funny example of expressing visually the differences we imagine we hear. Good for a morning’s laugh. However, it did spark a few questions. When we make a recording, that master copy is in our minds the standard by which all else is judged. Right? Any deviation…

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Missing information

I am always fascinated to watch those slow-speed nature videos where you watch flowers open and plants grow. Or, the opposite. A high-speed camera that slows down the wing motions of a hummingbird so we might see what in real life we cannot. Those cameras (both film and video) are essentially digital: frame by frame…

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The funny thing about dynamics

It’s somewhat of a mystery why vinyl can sound more dynamic when in fact it is more compressed. Much has to do with the technical measurement versus the perceived measurement. The meaning of dynamic range is the difference between the loudest and softest sounds. The bigger the gap between loud and soft determines the technical…

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Copper

On March 7, 2016, the first issue of Copper Magazine was launched into the world with zero subscribers. Today, 171 issues later, Copper Magazine is read by nearly 50,000 subscribers. I am often asked why we spend the time, money, and energy to publish this ad-free bi-weekly magazine. The answer is rather simple. Copper is…

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Temperament

Seems to me the more complex the system the more I tend to approach its operation as if it had a mind of its own. I often think of equipment as being somewhat temperamental which causes me to approach with caution. As devices get “smarter” anthropomorphizing them seems a natural consequence. For the briefest of…

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Delivering the goods

When you download onto your local hard drive an Octave Records release the copy you store is bit-for-bit identical to the one sitting on the master hard drive at Octave Records. It doesn’t matter that data traveled through millions of switches, miles of cable, fiber, satellite, coaxial, WiFi, and so on. Once downloaded what sits…

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Living in a vacuum

As much as our mental faculties like to focus on one thing at a time, the reality is we do not live in a vacuum. Everything affects everything else. When we opt for a new phono cartridge it has a very different electrical and sonic character than its predecessor. We’ll need to readjust the cartridge…

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Another piece of the puzzle

I often tackle the same question multiple times. With each new answer to the same question, the different angle of attack seems to illuminate the lightbulb of understanding for at least one person. An aha! moment. For me, that’s reason enough to keep trying. We’re all perhaps a bit weary of me beating the DSD…

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The setup dance

In my new book, The Audiophile’s Guide, The Loudspeaker I liken the challenge of system setup to that of a dance. As in my earlier post about devilish details, the setup dance can either be feared or embraced. Fearing the dance inevitably leads to shortcuts: desperate attempts not to get sucked into the vortex of…

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A Monday treat

I had previously written about the great pipe organ project we were involved in for Octave Records. I still tingle with goosebumps every time I hear the playback of that amazing DSD recording session at Temple Emanuel in downtown Denver. I thought it might be fun to share with you this Monday morning a sneak…

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Know your enemy

I get a lot of flack for my dislike of USB as a medium between the computer and DAC. Truth is, it’s not USB I don’t like. It’s what USB connects with that bothers me. Noisy computers. Here’s the deal. We all know computers are vile, noisy affairs that hopefully are as far away from…

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Practical matters

A few years ago when we were researching the PS Audio PowerBase product I spent a few weeks digging into the sonic impacts of vibration control. What I discovered is how much of a difference a solid rack or other means of damping and controlling vibrations in our electronics makes. It’s a big deal. It’s…

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Obvious vs. faith

My small home theater has 12 loudspeakers that cover the walls and ceiling making it pretty obvious why a movie plays in surround sound. You are surrounded by speakers. The idea of getting “surround sound” from a two-channel audio system, on the other hand, requires a leap of faith. It doesn’t look possible to achieve…

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Looking in the wrong places

Digital audio is a very complex subject, one most of us don’t really understand at a level deep enough to make a reasoned technological change. Yes, we can change cables, equipment, programs, and even formats and hear the differences. But most of us aren’t able to dig deep into circuitry and programming to make those…

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The Decca Tree

Wikipedia describes the Decca Tree as a 3 microphone spaced array most commonly used for orchestral recording. The technique was developed in the early 1950s and first commercially used in 1954 by Arthur Haddy, Roy Wallace, and later refined by engineer Kenneth Ernest Wilkinson and his team at Decca Records, to provide a strong stereo…

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Being there

One of the big advantages of Octave Records for me and the other design engineers at PS Audio is being there—at the source of music. You cannot get any closer to the music than being at the recording, and knowing exactly what it sounded like live. This unique perspective helps us get closer to that…

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Appearances

When my friend, Sandy Gross was responsible for marketing Polk Audio in the late 70s and early 80s one of the challenges he faced was acceptance of the brand as a serious contender. It was a tough challenge. Their competitors were pretty serious people including Dr. Amar Bose, Edgar Villchur, Dr. Sydney Harman, and Henry…

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While in Rome…

Well, we’re not in Rome but you know how old sayings go. We are on our last day in London because of the show that, unfortunately, got canceled. What better activity to do than head straight to the famed Abbey Road studios, which we did and acted like the tourists we are. We also had…

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

Join the hi-fi family

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