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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Scare tactics

Back in the early 1960s when I was but a lad I remember my parent’s vehement objections to the government forcing the auto industry to stop using leaded gas and install catalytic converters. My parents had bought into the notion that if allowed, the economic disruption to the country would be catastrophic: gas prices would…

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“You can see wires

Reader, Jack Flory sent me this touching story of becoming an audiophile and I wanted to share part of it with you. I don’t remember the exact date that I became a budding audiophile, but it all started in 1965 when I was in the seventh grade. My parents were building the house of my…

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Optimizing for gear

When we get a new piece of gear for evaluation it’s helpful to optimize its contribution by experimenting with different cable and speaker positioning combinations. Consider that how your system sounds today is a cumulative effort over time to optimize what you have. Insert something new and now the game changes. Might be perfect right…

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Preservation of the arts

Our former director of engineering, Dave Pannanen, hand carves wooden spoons—a little-known skill handed down over generations of Pannanens. He whittles away in the quiet evening hours crafting gorgeous works of art. He is keeping alive an art form. Some art forms are worth preserving. Take, for example, the art of crafting master recordings. The…

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Rolling the dice

A truly full-range loudspeaker is a rare bird. There simply aren’t that many speaker models on the market that cover 20Hz to 20kHz. But here’s the thing. Even if they were a common occurrence, few among us would be able to enjoy their low frequency contributions. The problem of course is our old friend the…

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Form follows personas

Have you ever noticed how our stereo systems seem to match our personalities? I am without question an over-the-top personality who leans to extremes and promotes an inclusive liberal bias to life. I want to share what’s important to me. With that in mind, consider how Music Room Two reflects those values. I doubt anyone…

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The role of great recordings

Anyone can make a recording in the same way anyone can take a picture. All you need is a mobile phone. There are now multiple apps and add-on microphone options to make stereo recordings that are technically better than even the finest analog tape recorders. What would Grateful Dead bootlegger recordists have given to have…

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We love to judge

One of the readers of this daily post, Bernard, suggested I remind us of some famous words from Linn founder, Ivor Tiefenbrunn. “If you haven’t heard it, you don’t have an opinion.” Now that’s fairly direct and to the point. I don’t personally know Ivor but from what I gather he was always that way….

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Remembering CES

This May of 2021 marks the tenth year I’ve been writing this daily post. To date, I’ve written well over 3,000 of them. I am honored when people take the time to read what I have written. Thank you. It was my friend and fellow Audiophile, Seth Godin, that inspired me to begin writing a…

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Phantoms

There are ghosts in our stereo systems. Phantoms of sound that do not physically exist in the real world. We call them the center channel. Think of how much time and effort we put into getting this phantom center channel to sound real. For most people, the center channel is number one in importance. We…

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Room in a room

Our rooms contribute to how reproduced music sounds. Have a room resonance peak at maybe 150Hz? Every track of music played in the room will have that same bass bump. Your room’s response is then added to by the multiple room responses of where the recording was captured, mixed, and mastered. What we hear when…

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The perfection myth

Imagine how it must feel to get something so right that there are no flaws, no deviation from expectations, nothing but pure unadulterated perfection. Is it even possible? Is perfection a myth? Imagine for a moment Beethoven’s original score of his magnificent 9th symphony. Here’s what it looks like: Perfection would seem to be following…

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Now you see me…

Most of us want to be noticed and cared about. Few want only to fade into the darkness. We hope others will pay attention to us. Yet, when it comes to a high-performance loudspeaker, that’s the last thing we hope for. The finest loudspeakers disappear in one of the best magic shows I know of….

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Is it real?

How many can recall that most wonderful of iconic ads from Memorex? In the ad copy, it suggests orchestra conductor Nelson Riddle could not tell whether it was Ella Fitzgerald singing live into a microphone or whether it had instead been recorded on tape. I doubt many of us HiFi buffs bought into the idea…

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The way music is supposed to sound

Tell a false fact or a mistruth enough times and people will believe it to be accurate. I wonder if the same thing applies to music and its reproduction. Could it be that with enough repetition the hyper-compressed music of acts like Kanye West and Diddy is how music is supposed to sound? What happens…

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Can’t vs. has

If you line up three blindfolded food tasters and rate their responses on the difference in taste between arugula and parsley, would it make sense to proclaim there are no taste differences if that should be their conclusion? More to the point, if in blind testing on someone’s HiFi system there are no differences heard…

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Main Street

I wonder why some topics raise the hairs on the backs of our necks more than others. Any mention of cables and their sound quality and all hell breaks loose. Or, vibration control. Or electrical power improvements. Perhaps it can be said that the farther away from Main Street the more brightly the fires of…

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Why not everything?

In a recent post, I wrote about balanced audio cables and how they work. Unlike simple RCA cables with their single signal conductor and ground wire, a balanced cable has two signal conductors with opposite polarity signals. The receiving equipment amplifies only the difference between the two opposing signals and ignores anything in common, such…

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In or out?

Over on the PS Audio YouTube channel, there’s a spirited debate over terminology. In a balanced signal, are the two halves out of polarity or out of phase? I suppose the fact viewers are in a heated discussion over such semantic differences is a good thing. Or maybe it means folks have more time on…

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Sting of the Dragon

A am utterly fascinated with cable break-in. For many people, the idea of a piece of wire breaking in or changing its audible character over time is questionable at best and for others bordering on the preposterous. And yet, cable break-in is as real as the sun rising each morning. Recently we have been assembling…

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Rules need to be broken

There’s an old chestnut that goes “rules are meant to be broken”. The original quote was made by a man who should know: American General, Douglas MacArthur (who famously broke a lot of rules). His actual quote is: “Rules are mostly made to be broken and are too often for the lazy to hide behind.”…

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The normal myth

How many times have you wished for just the normal kind? You know, the one like everyone else has: the standard room, the normal and accepted procedure, the one everyone else is happy with. Normalized standards are references from which everything else is judged. We can have better or worse. Standards touch most of the…

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A touch of spice

One of the rules of successful cooking is the addition of spices and salts. When properly applied these flavor enhancers transform ordinary ingredients into works of art. We can say the same about the tweaks and upgrades we often lavish upon our audio equipment. Everything from aftermarket fuses, vibration controls, shelving, room acoustic enhancements…even setup….

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Costumes

Costumes, uniforms, and appropriate dress rules are important to most in our society. We expect doctors with stethoscopes, scientists in white lab coats, police in uniform wearing a badge. We’re all susceptible. I would really struggle with my expectations at a fancy restaurant if the head chef came out in a grimy t-shirt and shorts….

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Easy isn’t always better

How many times have you gotten advice to take the easy path, the quickest road? Why paddle upstream? Unfortunately, the easiest path often nets us the lowest return: snacks vs. real food, receivers vs. separates, driving your car around the block when you could get some exercise. In my experience, people often mistake simple for…

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Puzzle pieces

Every bit of new information we receive can be viewed as a puzzle piece. Put enough of the puzzle pieces together and suddenly you have a picture of the whole. Those puzzle pieces are what contribute to an aha! moment. And we all love those aha! moments. Reading reviews, talking with fellow audiophiles, blog posts,…

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

Join the hi-fi family

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