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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Judging success

I wonder if it’s possible to measure a person’s judgment. I suspect not. We might be able to keep score: based on judgment, how many times has one gotten the expected results? But is keeping score the same thing as making measurements? For example, what would happen if instead of arguing over whether or not…

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Systems

Each of us produces a liter of mucus per day. Snot, actually, and we use it to keep our esophageal system working smoothly. And here’s the thing, despite the fact that’s a lot of snot, unless there’s a problem we never notice it. And that’s the way most systems work, seamlessly and in the background…

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Armchair quarterbacks

The classic armchair quarterback can be a valued member of any team. Their dispassionate views often add value to those actually making the plays. But making the plays, designing the equipment, making the tough decisions of how to get from point A to point B is a very different challenge than what a critic faces….

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Hope for the future

There are many reasons why we launched Octave Records, but chief among them was to add to the small supply of high-resolution recordings as well as to help set standards of what we as the high-end audio community demand in the way of well-recorded material. To that end, I think we’re on the right track….

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Direction matters

Direction matters in at least diodes, capacitors, one-way streets, and game plans, but it is to the last on this list we write about today. Being the impatient type I fully understand the temptation to jump into the deep end of a problem without a plan, but, as someone that’s been on the planet for…

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The dog gets it

When HiFi Family member Ed Spilka sent me the following note I just had to smile. How many times have I heard a similar story? Too many times to count. And here’s the thing. It’s not just about vinyl. I have heard the same stories about DSD, vacuum tubes, and even good vs. bad cables….

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Last but not least

Following the past few day’s posts about amplifier efficiency, Class AB biasing, and Class A biasing, let’s wrap our little mini-series up with another topology most of us have not heard of, adaptive biasing. The promise of adaptive biasing is a best of both worlds scenario: the efficiency of a Class AB circuit with the…

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The strange case of the A class

If you’ve been keeping up with my rant on amplifier classes you’ll recall that in yesterday’s post I explained class AB operation. One of the takeaways from that explanation would be that without an input signal, a Class AB amplifier constantly draws a small amount of power out of the wall—enough to warm its heatsinks….

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Class dismissed

When I was attending school there were no sweeter words than the headline of today’s post. Free at last. Let me start today’s topic with an apology. Because I disliked school so much my math skills suck. Badly. I tend to get confused around percentages especially when they work in reverse. Armed with the correct…

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Amplifier efficiency

There seems to be a lot of misinformation swirling around an amplifier’s efficiency. Maybe I can help by explaining a few things. First off, what do we mean by the term efficiency? It refers to the production of heat vs. the production of sound. Think of it in the same way you might think of…

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Finding the golden nugget

The sweet flesh of a Bing cherry exists to support that which we throw away. The pit. From the cherry’s perspective, it’s all about the seed. From the eater’s perspective, it’s all about its outer wrapping. Focusing only on one aspect while ignoring everything else can have consequences. In our quest for the absolute sound,…

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Getting it wrong

In 500 BC Heraclitus of Ephesus is credited with observing the only constant is change itself; an idea he expressed in the saying, “No man ever steps in the same river twice”. I’ve been thinking about the idea that the only thing we can count on is change, and it occurs to me we’ve got…

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A little dab

In 2008, authors Karl Johan Åström and Richard M.Murray wrote about feedback: “Simple causal reasoning about a feedback system is difficult because the first system influences the second and second system influences the first, leading to a circular argument. This makes reasoning based upon cause and effect tricky, and it is necessary to analyze the…

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Card decks

When we enter this life we’re each dealt a hand of cards. Each hand has a different distribution of good ones and bad ones and it is up to us to make the most out of the hands we are dealt. The same can be said for our HiFi systems and rooms. None are perfect….

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Big vs. small

I am struggling to think of a smaller company that’s gotten better after being acquired by a bigger one. I cringe at the aftermath of Harmon’s purchase of Infinity, and JBL, and I wince at the results following Sound United’s big gulps of Denon, Polk, Marantz, B&W, Def Tech, Boston, and Classe. The list seems…

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Road trip

Golden opportunities don’t often come our way but, when they do, we should grab them. Life’s short enough as it is. One of our HiFi Family members had emailed me a few weeks ago asking if I knew anyone that might be interested in owning a pair of Genesis Technology’s Gen II speakers. He was…

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Mastering

After more years than I can count I am still trying to figure out mastering. This might seem kind of odd considering our own in-house mastering engineer, Gus Skinas, is one of the world’s most respected. Yet, still I struggle with defining exactly what they do. I do know they volume adjust tracks on an…

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The soft effect

A very kind HiFi Family member generously sent me a few Sheffield Direct to Discs. These treasures are hard to find and I was extremely grateful to have received them. Upon playing the Lincoln Mayorga and Friends disc I was reminded of just how direct and dynamic they were. There’s a clarity here that you…

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Attributions

Knowing what attributes are important and why can be valuable. For example, if we understand that AC voltage regulation is beneficial to performance, it behooves us to know why. Otherwise, we might take that info at face value and implement the wrong system. Case in point, there was a period of time when a few…

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Fundamentals first

I am often asked to weigh in on upcoming decisions for stereo system upgrades: Bi-wire or bi-amp, what to do with the room, which amps, speakers, power products? Where to get the biggest bang for the buck. My answers are always conditional. I ask first what it is the person’s hoping to achieve, secondly, what’s…

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Patching it up

In yesterday’s post I shared with you the fact we’ve made some changes/modifications in Music Room II. I was quite surprised to find reactions to that news varying from outright betrayal, shock and horror, to ‘atta boy’ and everything in between. Thank goodness no one in this crowd has any strong opinions. 🙂 The problem…

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Saturday morning

Depending on where you are in the world this post will arrive at your doorstep on Saturday morning. What a fine day to finally get off the old duff and fix up the system. Yeah, I know, it’s probably a better day to kick back and roll some tunes on that system, but having just…

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Agree to disagree

When it comes to strongly held matters of opinion I believe it is sometimes best to agree to disagree. This simple act often has the ability to relieve a bit of pressure from the argument. With lower pressure perhaps one day, a bit of middle ground might open up. Case in point there’s been an…

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The fun begins

I have often been labeled a Pollyanna believing that everything’s more likely to go without a hitch than the opposite. I am often wrong. On Monday of this week, the demolition crew tearing out all the old infrastructure inside the new Octave Studios building was supposed to have wrapped up their work. Once the place…

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MVP

When sports-minded people see the TLA MVP they naturally gravitate towards the acronym meaning Most Valuable Player. In our case, we’re going to refer to another definition, one used in product design, Minimum Viable Product. Most product designs start out with a MVP specification defining the least it must do. Designs are then generated to…

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Wow and flutter

The terms wow and flutter will bring back memories of tape recorders to some, perhaps pictures of butterflies to others. Wow is a low-frequency fluctuation while flutter is a much faster version of the same thing. Steady state instruments like oboes and piano are particularly affected by these mechanical distortions prevalent in tape recorders and…

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

Join the hi-fi family

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