On the playground

July 8, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

As a kid in school, I was likely not alone in my favorite class, recess. The bell would ring and we kids were released onto the playground.

Some kids liked sports, some the swings, others the monkey bars. Me? I liked the groups. The clans.

Like-minded kids would gather together and plan and talk about “stuff”. Some of it was devilish, some of it was inspiring, some of it was…well, thank goodness we never followed through with half our plans.

Playground groups remind me of audio shows. Not the devilish bits, but the group get togethers of like-minded people.

I get a daily taste of the camaraderie here at PS Audio, but it’s just not the same as an audio show where for two to three days in a row every person in the building is there for one reason and one reason only. Our passion for high end audio.

We’ve just signed a contract for the upcoming Rocky Mountain Audio Fest to be held October 8th through the 10th in Denver.

If you’re vaccinated, into high-end audio, then this is where you’ll want to be come this October.

And yes, we will be playing and displaying the long-awaited FR-30 loudspeakers.

Can’t wait.

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45 comments on “On the playground”

  1. Paul,
    I would’ve never picked you for a ‘gang-banger’ at school.
    I guess that I should’ve read, ‘99%True’.
    This ‘Paul’s Posts’ site is our current playground now; where we can gather & talk about “stuff” pertaining to home audio, recording studios, sourdough bread, healthy dieting, electronic pets & why so few females are interested in high-end home audio.
    Many here will agree & disagree on different aspects of home audio criteria (measurements, cables, tubes, vinyl, etc.) & like the playgrounds of yore, there are always a few punches thrown here & there & a few headlocks & nugies applied.
    Arrogant & obnoxious kids should still have heir heads flushed in the toilet bowl at recess, & whenever necessary…an oldie but definitely still a goody 🙂
    It is an interesting ‘outlet’ for us regular contributors & the silent majority…I’m guessing 😉

  2. … and I assumed Paul was in the Physics lab soldering things together before going off to Engineering School. Where I went to school, we had a 2-hour lunch break which usually involved 5 minutes eating and 1:55 of sport, music or reciting Greek poetry (not for me, thanks). Fortunately we had indoor nets, so were able to play cricket summer and winter, plus other sports.

    I was honorary secretary of the Paleontological Society. Basically, a friend liked digging up fossils and every few weeks a handful of us went along at lunchtime to listen to him talk about his latest find. His dad was high up in the BBC (head of TV News) and managed to procure David Attenborough. Just about the entire school and staff turned up, he was mesmerising, far and away the best speaker I’ve ever heard. Two weeks later it was back to the 5 or 6 of us and some fossilised bone from Barton Beds. Said friend became a Naturalist and moved to Australia. Fights rarely broke out at Paleontological Society meetings, except when Attenborough turned up because the room wasn’t big enough.

      1. Another came close, 5 or 6 years ago at my son’s last school end-of-year prize giving. A guest speaker is invited to give an inspiring talk and hand out the prizes. It’s very hit and miss, but news went around that they’d got Michael Macintyre, Britain’s top comedian – a bit like getting Robin Williams or Larry David. He sells out stadiums at $150 a ticket. So the place is packed. His big (true) joke was that he’d had to turn down going on the Graham Norton Show with George Clooney to hand out school prizes, and he made no secret of the fact that he’d just moved to the area and was trying to curry favour with the administrators to admit his eldest son. He was so funny, and gave us 90 minutes, that he got his son in. Good on him.

        There are two shows in October in the UK, on the same weekends RMAF and Axpona. PS Audio usually do the latter, at Ascot racecourse, a few minutes from Heathrow. I expect it will be well attended.

    1. Nope. Too close together and the organizers kept all the exhibitor’s money from when the show was canceled. At this point we don’t feel like supporting people with business ethics like that.

      1. A very “sound decision” 🙂
        Even if deposits or full payment weren’t returned, you’d might have thought it would be applied as a credit to the next show.

        My choices are narrowing down… quickly.

        1. They are offering to apply half of our deposit to this show, 1/4 to the next and the final quarter to a three-year-from-now show. This, despite the fact the hotel correctly refunded all their deposits and made them whole. They left all the exhibitors holding the bag. If we want to participate we need to send them more upfront cash on top of what they already have of ours. We’re out $10K and now they want another $5K and so on. To say there’s not a great deal of trust and a lot of trepidation of sending them more up front cash is….

          1. The trepidation and lack of trust is understandable. Thanks for the explanation.
            Like being locked into a subscription you don’t want.
            Makes people like me wonder if being in Chicago in late OCT is even worth it. Based on principle alone.
            I guess I’m getting closer to having just Tampa on my list…

          2. Paul,
            When you set-up the FR-30’s at the RMAF show make sure that the listening room/space is treated as best you can; you get one shot at a first-rate debut
            …look who I’m telling (eye rolling emoji) 🙂

              1. Our last Hi-Fi show in Sydney (July 2017)
                I was with the ‘Audio Magic’ team (Harbeth, Lumin, Ayre, Hana, Lavardin, Bauer) at a hotel…in a small, square, room…terrible acoustics, so I kinda know.
                Maybe something the size of MR2?
                (fingers crossed) 🙂

              2. Paul I’m interested in the speakers that you are going to manufacture that are meant to be placed close to the front wall. How far in the development stage are these and when will we know more about them in terms of specifications, size, and price? My guess is the cabinets, crossovers and the drivers will all need to be addressed to make this work. I cannot wait to see what they look like and the type of drivers and crossovers you use.

          3. Wow that sucks about axpona. I really don’t blame you. But unfortunate for us in the Midwest. That was a really nice show couple years back….

            Btw. Congrats on the speaker debut

  3. Interesting story… When I was in second grade we went out after lunch into the schoolyard and I would play Punchball with a group of my school buddies. One day I decided to sit out the game and sat down on the ground with one of my fellow students who had a lunch box that contained a few candy bars that I had never seen before. This was 1953. He asked me if I would like one and of course I accepted. I carefully remove the wrapper and took a bite of this chocolate covered wafer that looked like four chocolate sticks connected together that you could break apart. I can still remember that first bite. It was absolutely delicious and I asked him where he got it. His reply was “my father just started importing them from England”. It was the original Kit Kat bar.

    1. Aha – did you ever get Penguins too? Chocolate biscuits, with choc cream & covered in … chocolate?!! A staple with my bottle of milk a bit later though in the 1960’s. Happy days.

  4. Paul, I agree. I attended the Vegas CES maybe a dozen times, plus multiple audio shows in CA over many years. Yes it was fun to see new components and particularly ones recently covered in reviews. But I was never able to make any real evaluation of a specific demo — a less than idea room and a collection of components I’d never heard before. Then too often only recordings not familiar to me (I intentionally didn’t own some of the war horses heard over and over for demos).

    But seeing old friends, meeting new ones, chatting with designers and company owners, and yes being exposed to new recordings, all that always made the shows worthwhile.

        1. In our vernacular more of a prototype than an Alpha, but yes.

          We recently reached a major hardware milestone the guys have been struggling with for some time now. The system runs on Linux and we had to write a custom driver that interfaces the I2S outs (these run on assigned GPIO pins) with our galvanically isolated FPGA output stage. This is tough because nothing like this exists, the driver must work independently of any clock, and it must be able to recognize the format and sample rate of whatever comes down the road to it. Once recognized it must inform the FPGA of how to handle it. Now it works and music comes out in perfect order.

  5. After an absence of about a year and a half (not counting regular video calls over a 14 inch laptop screen, thank the Good Lord for Skype), my daughter, her husband, and she who I refer to as Teensie Sweetie: the Next Generation have returned for a 2 week long visit. They will be flying back to California tomorrow (whah-whaaah). After 2.3 years on this mortal coil, she is going through a shy phase, but remains a delight to be with. Among her favorite things is to visit the playgrounds of various municipal parks. The Lincoln Children’s Zoo (not be confused our renowned local blues emporium: Zoo Bar) and the Sunken Gardens are also new (to her) happy places.


    1. Glad to read that you’ve had a chance to be with your kids &
      grandchild after so long; it warms my heart to read your post.
      Good for you Stephen 🙂

  6. Can’t wait.

    Neither can the rest of us. See you in October (of course, funds that I have set aside for the purchase of a regenerator will be tapped for the trip).

  7. My grade school years had me in 2nd grade dealing with the death of my Dad from polio. We would spend all recess playing kickball where everyone who wanted got to play, girls and boys. There were girls with jump ropes and others with marble games and some who would just sit and chat.

    Later, about 5th grade I discovered baseball, now a lifelong pursuit and would play at recess and everyday it did not rain on our sandlot field. Nails holding a broken bat together or a ball with a lost cover with friction tape all around it kept the games alive.

    In the summer it was triple headers with a game in the AM, one in the afternoon after a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (often taken to the park), and then one after supper into the dark. That became my release after losing my Dad.

    I played all through high school and college so there was a intention and not just the reason for playing to fill the time. In high school we lost the regional championship game for going down state. We lost 8-5 to a kid who made it all the way to AA with the Astros. Those State games would have been played at Wrigley Field, so being a Cubs fan, that was a huge disappointment.

    My friends and I still talk about THAT GAME as if it was yesterday and remember so much about it. Miles apart cannot stop those conversations.

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