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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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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Matching components together

One of the constant challenges we audiophiles face is the matching of components. Pairing together two products to make musical magic. We can rely upon a previous matching effort like that of the manufacturer. (An all PS system, for example, is a known quantity) We can also rely upon the equipment matching suggestions of reviewers…

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Talent vs. skill

We think of someone with talent as having a natural ability—a born-with level of skill. They got the brass ring. I would suggest this notion of talent is somewhat of a self-limiting myth. Vladimir Horowitz wasn’t born to play the piano. His combination of physical attributes coupled with his life-long development of skills got him…

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Montreal

Just a quick note to share with you the setup in our room at the Montreal High End show. Today is the last day of the show so if you do have a chance to make it there, it will be something you don’t want to miss. Here’s a shot of our room taken at…

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Trade secrets

Not that long ago there was a time when tradesmen guarded their secrets as a means of staying employed. If a tradesperson such as a welder, plumber, mechanic, cameraman, or perhaps a draftsperson was in possession of knowledge unavailable to others, their futures would be protected. Or at least that was the theory back then….

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Reverse engineering

I remember my first trip to Hong Kong back in the 1990s. Breakfast that morning was to be fruit, Miso soup, rice, and salted plum. When the server brought my plate out I was pleasantly surprised to see my fruit, a lovely orange/yellow mango, opened for the eating like the top half of a ball…

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FR30s go live

Tomorrow, Friday the 25th, marks the world’s public premiere of the FR30 loudspeaker. If you’re planning on attending the Montreal High End show at the Hotel Bonaventure, you can drop by our room to get a taste of one of the world’s best speakers, the Aspen FR30. Here’s a link to the show information. PS…

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Measuring a Power Plant

As of late, we’ve gotten a lot of folks wondering about how Power Plants measure and if they match their specifications. Specifically, the P12 Power Plant. It’s always interesting to me how rumors and misinformation travel so quickly throughout the community. I suppose it’s a good thing that people are so interested. In response to…

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HiFi snobs

I really dislike labels as they apply to people. I have spent much of my adult life working hard at removing them from my lexicon. Labels encourage us to place complex people in simplistic organized little boxes. That hardly allows for diversity or nuance. Yet, today’s crowd seems ever more eager to assign labels to…

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The transparency paradox

The dictionary defines the word paradox as a statement or proposition that, despite sound reasoning from acceptable premises, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory. Such is the nature of audio transparency. Invisible sound. A seeming paradox. On the one hand, we can never hope to see sound. So the idea…

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Notes or numbers?

Are we as audiophiles more interested in musical notes or measurement numbers? The quick answer is, of course, musical notes. Yet I doubt few would disagree with the need to have measurement numbers good enough to get the job done. Great measuring equipment doesn’t always sound musical and musically great sounding equipment doesn’t always measure…

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Savoring

We savor the moment, the meal, the day. Yet, how often do we savor the music? Last night, Terri, me, and Jessica (Octave’s director) got our first listen to an extraordinary new talent: Clay Rose, the lead singer, and songwriter of the unlikely named group The Gasoline Lollipops. Why am I bringing this to your…

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Emotional transports

If music is an emotional transport that speaks differently to each and every one of us, how can we possibly erect standards? It seems as big a challenge as setting standards and guidelines for falling in love. Perhaps if we remember the emotional aspects of music it might help us wrap our collective heads around…

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Lunch with Chris

PS Audio’s senior loudspeaker designer, Chris Brunhaver, is one of the most knowledgeable people I have ever known. His mastery with respect to loudspeakers, acoustics, and design is, in my experience, somewhat off the charts. While we were in Illinois setting up FR30 speaker set number One, our amiable host, Greg and his wife, set…

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Changing minds

Changing a tire makes sense. The car won’t go much further on a flat tire. Changing a mind is nearly impossible. Imagine being asked to believe in a different religion, lifestyle, political view, stereo opinion, subjective vs. measurement-based, etc. Recently, a generous forum member posted snapshots showing the image improvements on his LCD television when…

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Speaker quality and soundstage

I am often asked if one must have a killer set of speakers in order to experience the wonders of a great soundstage. Fortunately, the answer is no. In fact, almost any decent pair of speakers from a hundreds of dollars pair of Elacs, to an old pair of vintage beasts you haul out of…

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Film caps

Capacitors all sound different, especially when they are in the signal path. Now, I didn’t write that just to raise the hairs on the backs of engineers who scoff at such ideas. For those engineers, I would recommend skipping this post and returning tomorrow where we won’t be broaching such controversial subjects. For those remaining…

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Is Octave a rebirth?

On occasion I get some really interesting mail, like this from Chris in Ohio: “As a native Clevelander and a long time audiophile, I have always had a thing for Telarc records. I see a lot of common ground in what you like (DSD, high quality recording equipment, using the state of the art media…

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The output buffer

Years ago, when Stan and I were first finding our way in the world of high-performance audio we had discovered something most of us already know. Less is more when it comes to the length of the signal path. The more stages of wires, caps, transistors, switches, and connectors the signal is forced to march…

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Simply better

Simpler is better for quite a number of things including, traveling, truth, recipes, and math. But simpler isn’t always better for high-performance home audio. Sometimes a bit of complexity does a better job. Take for example a loudspeaker. It’s simpler to use one driver than it is to use multiples, yet the results support the…

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FR30 customer number 2

In yesterday’s video, we introduced you to the FR30’s first owner, Greg of Illinois. The challenge in that first setup documentary was Greg’s smallish listening room. It’s 10′ x 14′ dimensions turned out to match the FR30 just fine. In setup number 2, we landed in Kansas City, Missouri, and from there we traveled another…

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The first delivery of the FR30

This past week found senior loudspeaker designer, Chris Brunhaver, and me dealing with all the fun present day air travel has to offer as we two masked men winged our way across the United States installing the first of the Aspen FR30 loudspeakers. Stop number one was in Chicago where we met lucky owner, Greg,…

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Adjusting prices

Seems everywhere you look these days prices are on the rise. Gas is approaching $4 a gallon and closer to home, the cost of producing SACDs has gone up. Our latest Octave release, Hothouse Flower (what great music!), had its price raised from $29 to $39 to help defray those rising prices. We received a…

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Live or reproduced?

Once you hear the real deal it’s almost impossible to go back. Such was the experience I had relayed to you in yesterday’s Paul’s Post. It hadn’t taken me long to raise my standards of what music sounds like as reproduced by the extraordinary planar midrange and tweeter drivers of the FR30. Newley recorded cymbals…

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The revelation

In yesterday’s post, I posited a gnarly problem. How to rely upon the sound of a speaker in order to achieve the perfect capture. After all, there’s no such thing as a perfect microphone or speaker. These two transducers are to some degree flawed. Experienced recording and mix engineers have solved this problem through years…

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Listening to the source

One of the sticky problems that sometimes keeps me up at night is how to listen to the source. When making a recording of something complex, say a cymbal, we set the microphone in position just above the cymbal. Then we either listen to the results through headphones or speakers and adjust accordingly. That all…

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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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