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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Budget systems

People new to our corner of the world of high-end audio often find what we do daunting. Eyebrows are raised at the idea of many thousands of dollars spent on electronics and speakers. What often brings them back to planet Earth is knowing that for around $1,000 one can bring the magic of high-end audio…

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The roundabout

With every major improvement to my system, I find myself revisiting all my favorite music. Tracks I haven’t heard for sometimes years get pulled off the shelf and replayed. Cutting-edge equipment or improvements that breathe new life into the system don’t demand a revisit to those older musical gems, they beckon me with the promise…

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Tentative steps

Our first steps are the most difficult. We’re in unfamiliar territory. Our brains haven’t yet caught up with our feet. Case in point, I’ve been immersing myself in learning the Pyramix DSD workstation. Every new step is my first and each seems mind-boggling until it’s clear and obvious. I tiptoe in and march out with…

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Viewpoint

When we make recordings the engineer has to decide from what viewpoint or perspective the recording should be made from. The best example of this is a symphonic orchestra. It’s pretty common and obvious that it is to be recorded from the perspective of the conductor. After all, it is the conductor to whom the…

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Shorting plugs

Whatever happened to the shorting plug? For those of you scratching your head, a shorting plug is an RCA connector with its signal and ground wires shorted together. Here’s a picture of some fancy gold-plated versions. The idea is to stuff these shorting plugs into the unused inputs on a preamplifier. The goal is to…

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The kindness challenge

My wife Terri has on her small kitchen table blackboard a handwritten note: “Every person you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Treat them with kindness and understanding.” What amazing advice for each and every one of us. It doesn’t mean we can’t get upset or object to the thoughts of others….

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Customer service

For nearly 50 years, PS has prided itself on helping customers get what they need. It’s as simple as picking up the phone or dropping us an email. We’re here to help with whatever we can do. It’s just part of our DNA. It’s how we would expect to be treated. Apparently, not everyone shares…

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Ethernet vs. USB

If you’re looking for the best sonic solution for streaming music it matters how that music gets delivered. For example, if you’re connecting with USB then the computer matters: faster, quieter, better built will sound better. And the USB cable matters. And then there’s the requirement of an interface buffer to maximize sonics (the Matrix…

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The controversy continues

When I wrote about my memories of the strain gauge cartridge it was presented as mere ramblings. Since that post, there’s been a swirl of controversy and questions. Who knew? One question, in particular, revolved around the cartridge’s supposed disregard for the need of the RIAA curve. Several among you, including my friend Richard Murrison,…

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Decide for yourself

One of the oldest tropes in science fiction is sentient machines. HAL and Lieutenant Commander Data are some of the more famous versions. On June 11th the Washington Post reported that an engineer at Google, Blake Lemoine, had been suspended from his job for arguing that the firm’s “LaMDA” artificial-intelligence (AI) model may have become…

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The constant current source

Some of the most important circuit technology in audio is also the simplest. Take for example the constant current source. If we look at a simple single stage amplifier it is pretty straightforward: a single transistor (Q1) and a few resistors. Depending on the value of those resistors, we can get a certain amount of…

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The strain gauge

For some strange reason, I have been thinking about the strain gauge phono cartridge. And, here’s the weird thing. I have never heard one. What’s interesting to me about this strange beast is how different it is from your conventional phono cartridge. I am always fascinated by truly different. Most phono cartridges are generators. They…

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Conventions

Ever wonder why salad forks are smaller than dinner forks? Is it easier to pierce a shard of lettuce with a smaller instrument? I suspect it is merely convention. Sometime in the past when we were worried about being fancy there likely had to be a way to distinguish between the proper etiquette of which…

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The owner’s manual

I am pretty certain that over the past 48 years I have never gotten excited about an owner’s manual. In fact, let’s be honest. Owner’s manuals are a pain to write and a bigger pain to read. Now that has all changed. With the excitement growing of the launch of our most ambitious and anticipated…

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What are you hoping for?

I get a lot of email requests for advice on what to buy, how to get more out of a system, or how to solve a problem. The conversation typically starts out with the desired end product. “I was thinking about a new amplifier.” One of the first questions I ask is “what is it…

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Aspen FR30 review

To say we’re proud and excited about the aspen FR30s would be an understatement. Now that shipping of the first batch has begun we’re again taking orders for the next two groups. For those who have yet to read anything other than my ramblings about the speaker, HiFi News just released the online version of…

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Endless variations

It is fascinating to me the myriad of seemingly endless variations designers apply to sound reproduction equipment. Take the rarely seen today bipole loudspeaker. The last mass-produced version I remember was by the Canadian company, Mirage. Let’s start with a smidge of reference. Most loudspeakers are monopoles: sound comes out of one plane of the…

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The MOFI dilemma

For those of you that are into controversies here’s a juicy one for you. The fine folks at MoFi, the wonderful company that makes remastered audiophile vinyl of classic music, like that of Santana and others, seem embroiled in a bit of controversy. (Wait! Audiophiles and controversy?) I would normally not even think of getting…

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It’s obvious

It’s funny how obvious something is once you figure it out. Networking issues are like that for me. A blur of numbers and meaningless data points confuse and bewilder me until I can make a connection. And then, it’s obvious! Or, how for years you can work on subwoofer setup and come up with all…

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The Gas Pops

Clay Rose, writer and lead singer of the Gasoline Lollipops is a star. No, really. What an amazing performer. He just blows me away. Listening to the first tracks from the band’s latest release on Octave Records, Nightmares, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. Clay’s a star. Check out Clay’s live performance on…

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Going over your head

It makes me feel sad when I read that something in our technologically complex world of high-end audio has gone over someone’s head. That they cannot grasp the concept as presented to them. It makes me sad because it means we’ve failed to communicate. It makes me sad because we all know that feeling of…

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Gravity doesn’t care

Gravity doesn’t care if you believe in it or not. You’re not going to float free into space. You can jump up and down and claim it’s a conspiracy to limit your personal freedom of movement, but in the end, gravity just doesn’t care. And the same can be said about our own sport. High-end…

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How did we get to 192?

When playing high-resolution PCM files the defacto industry standard seems to be 192kHz, 24 bit. Right? I mean, given a choice between the next candidate, 176.4kHz, we automatically choose 192kHz. Why would we do this? Perhaps human nature. We assume higher is better. But, in fact, there’s reasonable evidence that in many cases, 176kHz is…

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Ratchet of change

While it is true change can happen with the flip of a switch it is more likely to occur in small ratcheted increments. Big events like the time years ago when one of the Genesis loudspeakers I had traveled halfway around the world to set up fell over and broke in half, are certainly instant…

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Hearing into the music

One of the smartest and most experienced HiFi fanatics I know is my good friend, John Hunter of REL subs. In response to one of my recent posts about musicians, John wrote to me what I consider a beautifully crafted lesson in the art of listening. It bears repeating. “Hi Paul, I once dated, briefly,…

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Finding balance

It’s likely no coincidence that my favorite headphones are from Audeze. They are based on the same planar magnetic technology behind PS Audio’s speakers. I’ve tried a number of their headphones but currently, in the mix room at Octave Records, I am enjoying a pair of their LCDMX4 which they tout as being best for…

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

Join the hi-fi family

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