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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1’s and 0’s

How simple life in the digital domain seems. It’s just 1’s and 0’s. No one has to worry about waveshape and transition points to make sure timing is correct. And jitter? Power supplies? Noise? It’s just 1’s and 0’s. Let me take my tongue out of my cheek long enough to remind us that as…

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Forbidden fruit

I am delighted when taboos and rituals are challenged and good things still happen. Remember how much more enjoyable playing music became when we no longer had to demagnetize or paint green edges on CDs? Or weigh down the tops of our equipment with VPI Bricks? Or paint the tip of our stylus with Last?…

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Precious metals

There is no doubt in my mind that an audio or power cable whose conductors are made from silver rather than copper will sound better. After reading what I just wrote, I am certain that the hairs on the backs of many necks just popped straight out. Standing hairs and raised eyebrows aside, time and…

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Lighter than air

Here’s something crazy. The mass of the FR30 and FR20’s tweeter and midrange diaphragms is less than the air being moved. Compare that with the heavier mass of even the world’s best diamond-encrusted tweeter, and, at least for me, I experience a moment’s pause. A pause for two reasons. First, I never thought about air…

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What and how

In any endeavor, it’s important to be clear about what you hope to achieve and then worry about how you will get there. Here’s a good example from two recent recording sessions at Octave Records. Both sessions used the Steinway piano in Octave’s tracking room. The first was a solo classical music piece while the second…

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Big amps

No matter what your speakers or your tastes in music are, a big amplifier—and I mean really big—will always set your system apart. Take for example the BHK600 monoblocks. Now there is a BIG amplifier. Big enough that not that many people are able to have one. But for the few that are able to…

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What changed?

I was poking around in the sales area of PS Audio recently and found myself fondling the knobs and switches on one of our older preamplifiers from 40 years ago, the PS Audio 5.0. This older preamplifier hailed from a time when preamps and power amps had no displays. In fact, they had no remote…

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Last day of the year

In one sense, the calendar is silly. Other than being valuable to people who make their living off the land, I don’t know how much value to place on one day versus the other. Tuesday isn’t a whole lot different than Wednesday unless you make up some rules about it. (*Speaking of rules and dates…

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The art of sharing

For the nearly 50 years I’ve been involved with High-End Audio, it’s been better because of the shared experiences of others. Most all of what I’ve learned over the years has been through the help and suggestions of others. Even the times I have used my experience and knowledge to solve problems for those in…

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Success meter

If you’ve ever been to an audio show, you know the differences in systems and loudspeakers can be extreme. In one room, if you are fortunate enough to get the center seat, you’re required to put your head in a vice in order to enjoy perfect imaging. In another room there’s a wide sweet spot…

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We’re not even close

Part of the joy and privilege of being involved in both the recording and playback chains is the chance to grow and learn: new methods in recordings of miking and capturing sound and, in the reproduction chain, new circuit topologies and silicon. Recently a fellow recording engineer working with the same basic DSD chain suggested…

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Sub sats

I often get asked why we need reasonably sized speaker boxes. After all, if we’re willing to include a subwoofer in our mix, why couldn’t the midrange tweeter boxes be tiny? There was a time when this thinking produced an entirely new category of system called the Sub Sat. I was one of the first…

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Methodology

Few things in engineering are straightforward. In fact, more often than not, how you do something is more important than what you do. Take, for example, the task of PC board layout. Back in the day—and that day goes back 40-something years—there were no such things as computers available for PC board layout tasks. At…

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Christmas day

Christmas is a holiday not celebrated everywhere, so perhaps it makes sense to share a few kind words that hopefully resonate universally. A simple poem from the American design engineer Norman Brooks: “Christmas is forever, not for just one day, for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away like bells and lights and tinsel,…

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Be one of the first

I’ve been fortunate enough to be intimately involved with high-performance audio for just about half a century. In all those years, it’s been rare that a new product delighted as many people as the new DirectStream MK2 DAC. One look at the comments section of our beta testers and it’ll be clear. Headlines like: “Stunning,…

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Life’s changes

As long as I am reminiscing about what feels like a past life of (almost) a different person—the me of decades ago—I am struggling to remember how we ever got business done before email. I remember well being at Genesis Technologies, the loudspeaker company Arnie Nudell and I founded in 1990. In those days, my…

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High-end doesn’t mean expensive

I am guessing a number of people believe that to qualify as high-end audio gear means it must be expensive. I want to argue the opposite. The true meaning of high-end audio has nothing to do with price and everything to do with performance. That the highest performance gear is often expensive isn’t a requisite….

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Differing viewpoints

Let me share an interesting experience. At Octave Records, we have built a state-of-the-art mix room with the best equipment we know to exist: FR30 loudspeakers, BHK monoblocks, BHK pre, DSMK2, Audioquest Dragon cables, a pair of custom 21″ subs. Fed from Octave masters, it sounds amazing. And in Music Room 3, we have worked…

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Techno-babble

Back in the 70s, when I became fascinated with high-end audio, there was a list of terms rarely heard today: tape hiss, surface noise, VTA, azimuth, cantilever, and rumble. To the uninitiated, those terms would today probably sound more like techno-babble than sense. They’ve now been replaced by a lexicon of new techno-babble: sample rate,…

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The shape of our ears

The shape of my ears is different than those of yours. Yet, you and I hear the same things. How is that possible? I think of this in the same way I might imagine different microphones. Mine is a ribbon microphone, and perhaps yours is a condenser. Each has a very different sonic signature, yet…

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Fighting the good fight

It should be no surprise that 99.9% of the developed world has sound quality available to them that far exceeds anything they might hope for. And that quality sound is available from a several million title library. What an amazing time to be a music lover. Imagine back a mere 40 years ago telling your…

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Image height

It is not difficult to imagine left, right, and center imaging on a stereo system. It’s also likely not too much of a stretch to understand depth. After all, a proper stereo recording reproduces depth as a measure of how far away from the recording microphones the instruments or performers are. Harder for most people…

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Knob feel

Speaker designer Chris Brunhaver shared with me a funny YouTube video. Check out the Knob Feel channel. Probably worth one or two quick views for a good laugh. However, it does bring to mind the importance of feel. I doubt many of us are immune to the touchy-feely aspects of high-end audio. I know I…

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Passing trains

I have probably spent a total of 5 minutes on social media. Facebook, Instagram, Tick Tock, and whatever new connection program out there has zero interest for me. It feels like a potential blackhole vortex waiting to suck me in and chew up my time without any obvious benefit. The counter I hear to that…

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Do you like a good story?

Over the past decade, I have been writing a novel that has now morphed into a trilogy called Eemians. Book One of Eemians is getting close to being launched, and I would like to give away a couple hundred of the first copies to those that might be interested. The story is fiction based on…

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The gift of music

If you’re wondering what to get an audiophile friend for Christmas, might I suggest the gift of music? There are a number of tasty selections from Octave Records. And here’s the thing about buying a gift from Octave. It’s a safe bet that whoever you send it to will enjoy it. Each release is a…

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