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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Pros vs. amateurs

It’s perhaps humbling to remember that for most of the world we audiophiles are not only amateurs but thought to be teetering on the edge of lunacy. We work hard to make magic from the recordings we want to listen to. Most pros—folks who make (or hope to make) a living at recording and reproducing…

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Studio vs. home

I remain flummoxed as to how the industry wound up separating studio monitors from home audio. Both have the same task of reproducing music as accurately as possible. Yet the way they are marketed is so very different. Pro monitors, as they are referred to (because professionals wouldn’t want to think about amateur home speakers…

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Stereo or mono reflections

My friend, Keith Howard, wrote me a wonderfully insightful note that I will share with you. “I find it helpful to think of reflections as mono or stereo, in the manner of Manfred Schroeder when he performed his analysis of concert hall acoustics and confirmed the importance of lateral reflections. Sidewall reflections are ‘stereo’ because…

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Silly Putty

It’s tempting to believe that “reality” is fixed. That what happens to us is just the way it is. I have a very different view. To me, reality is a story we tell ourselves. A story that helps explain the world around us. Change the story and reality changes with it. Reality is kind of…

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Inside an FR30

PS Audio’s reference loudspeaker, the FR30, has replaced the venerable IRSV. That was a bitter sweet pill for me. For as long as I have been in the field of high-end audio I have been in love with the IRSV. My first listen to it in Sea Cliff, New York at the home of The…

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Do you care?

….If the reverb on a recording is real or artificial if it sounds right? ….If the soundstage is not true to the room but it is to your ears? ….If a bit of artificial treble boost was added to the pluck of a guitar? ….If it sounds live but was actually recorded in a studio?…

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Long chain short chain

Common sense would suggest that the longer the signal chain the worse it will sound. In other words, a short chain will always outperform a long one. But is that true? I think that bit of common folklore wisdom may be a bit simplistic. In my experience, a longer chain of low distortion high-performance electronics…

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Directional

When it comes to directionality I find myself a bit lost. Let’s take for example an AC power cable. Directionality is easy because each of the two connectors is different. But a fuse? Perhaps someone can help me understand how a fuse connecting the AC input of our equipment to the wall power can have…

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Fancy

In a recent post I mentioned I am, for some (unknown to me) reason, getting a bit fancy in my old age. Which is kind of weird because traditionally I am that guy that would wear my jeans for a year if someone didn’t notice. And my shoes…I replace them when there are holes in…

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Vegan leather

I recently updated my travel kit to handle the great number of power supplies, cables, and accessories I find myself lugging about. This time I decided to also upgrade the look and feel of my travel kit, from my standard of simple black canvas to something fancy (I have no idea why). Sorting through the…

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Living with rectangles

Hopefully, your listening room is not square. A square room with all dimensions being equal is a recipe for the worst room modes possible. Fortunately, most of our rooms where we hope to set up a stereo system are not 8’x8’x8′. (If this happens to be your situation, consider a near-field listening setup instead). For…

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Conclusive proof

If you can’t find your car keys it might be tempting to imagine they’ve been stolen or somehow mysteriously vanished. Of course, there’s likely the more down-to-earth answer that you simply misplaced them. The reason we sometimes reject the more sensible answer is that it doesn’t fit our worldview. We don’t recall having misplaced something,…

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We know everything

Near the end of the 19th century, it was generally agreed upon that our understanding of physics had reached its limits. We knew all there was to know about how everything worked. Until we didn’t. One famous example of this thinking came from the physicist Max Planck who told the following story: “When I began…

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FR30 crossover

Of course, we’re all interested in what makes a product tick. Inside a loudspeaker is the crossover network that divides the frequencies between the various speaker drivers: tweeters only produce their intended range, as well as midrange and woofers. Below are photos of the crossover networks in an aspen FR30. They are split between a…

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Procrastination

Sometimes the responses I receive to my posts are so much better than the post itself I just have to share. After reading yesterday’s post about Hofstadter’s law, reader Bret Jenkins wrote what I consider to be one of the more insightful replies I have read in a long time. His words ring true. As…

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Hofstadter’s law

Sydney’s Opera House was originally forecast in 1957 to be completed in 1963. It didn’t happen that way. 10 years later and at 15 times greater expense than predicted, the magnificent structure was finally completed. As the complexity of projects increases, so too does the failure rate of meeting schedule. The problem is known as Hofstadter’s…

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Fast and slow

After 50 years of working with audio gear, it’s easy for me to forget not everyone knows the basics. I’ll do my best to help remedy that. A few days ago we got into fuses, a subject that helped me realize not everyone knows there are two basic types. Fast and slow. A fast fuse…

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The long and winding road

The road to sonic bliss has always been long and winding, but today it’s getting straighter and shorter. Remember back in “the day” when information was scarce? Aside from a few magazines, finding out anything substantial about how a system might fit into your home was more than just challenging. It was nearly impossible. A…

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Maple syrup

Real maple syrup as made from the tree tastes different than the imitation version. That is if you’re paying attention. And here’s the thing. You don’t need to be a maple syrup expert to register that difference any more than you need to be a trained golden eared audiophile to hear differences in cables, equipment,…

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The problem with fuses

I remember the first time I heard the improvements brought by an upgraded fuse. It was a few years ago and our German distributor, Jurgen, was visiting. We were in the middle of a listening session and he asked if I might be up for an experiment. Of course! He pulled the top off the…

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Clear goals

Perhaps one of the most difficult hurdles to cross is the setting of clear goals. What is it you hope to achieve? Where is it you hope to go to? What’s it look like when you get there? “I want a great stereo system.” That’s a reasonable goal but perhaps a bit too broad to…

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Purity vs. minimalism

I can’t think of anyone that isn’t interested in purity. Pure water, pure truth, pure sound. While it’s comforting to assume that fewer obstacles in the signal path leads to greater purity (simple is better/cleaner), it turns out to not always be correct. Take recordings for example. It’s long been assumed that minimalist miking defines…

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Augmented reality

The latest craze in the art of having fun turns out to be called augmented reality. A contraption is placed over one’s head that covers the eyes and (sometimes) the ears in an effort to immerse the person in another place and time. Gamers love the system. When I think about it, our stereo systems…

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Hold your horses

I am delighted to announce that I have, over many years of hard work and effort, developed a way to conclusively measure sound quality. It’s amazing. Of course, it won’t keep happy or make quiet those looking to use their existing audio measuring tools for this daunting task, but that is ok. We understand nothing…

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The power of small

A small change in speaker toe in of less than an inch can snap into focus the center image. That’s the power of small. But, it goes deeper. Once the center image is stabilized your emotional connection to the music changes. You relax. No longer are you working hard at wondering if what you’re hearing…

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Synergistic sound

The dictionary describes synergy as “the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts.” Isn’t that the truth? How does your system fit into the room? How about those connecting cables? Digital? Analog? Moving coil or magnet? Each and every choice we make is part of the whole. Creating…

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Join the hi-fi family

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

Join the hi-fi family

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