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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Point of first reflection

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about acoustically treating the room. I had used a term unfamiliar to some. The point of first reflection. This is the point along the room’s sidewalls where sound from the loudspeaker first strikes and then bounces off back to the listener. When this happens we get a delayed reflection in…

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Acoustic treatments

It is ironic that the best acoustic treatment I know of is made from ordinary stuff. Books. Albums. We go to great expense and long lengths to acoustically treat our rooms, yet when it comes right down to it, the best sounding rooms are typically filled with ordinary stuff. And lots of it. How do…

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Reconnecting

As of late, I am receiving in my inbox a surprising and delightful increase of messages and heartfelt letters of thanks for our HiFi Family. Thanks for reinvigorating people’s interest in HiFi. Seems that folks coming to the website find a place where they can once again feel part of a community that they once…

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Status roles

I am aware it makes some of us a bit uncomfortable to admit we use our system’s status as our calling card, but I’d like to suggest it’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with rating yourself by the status of your equipment. “I am an audiophile,” said the first, proudly. “Yeah? What’s your system?” asked the…

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Over etched

I love this term (though I don’t appreciate its sonic impacts). It’s used to describe an unnatural emphasis on some higher frequencies some of the time. It is typically associated with solid-state amplification gear. We rarely ever use the term to describe the performance of a loudspeaker. Here, we would say it’s bright or has…

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Where have all the experts gone?

As our industry morphs from its heyday of local experts to a more globally connected version, we see a shift that affects us all. I remember well the differing areas of influence exerted over localities. Big, influential high-end dealers in one area would have their favorite go-to systems peppered throughout their spheres of influence. Thus,…

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Ancient extremes

I find it ironic that at the end of our audio chain lies some really ancient technology based primarily on magnetism. Loudspeakers, with few exceptions, are moving coils of wire in magnetic fields: technology invented hundreds of years ago by names like Michael Faraday, Nikola Tesla, and Thomas Edison. The system that powers those ancient…

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In the center

When I look at the wonderful collection of system photos from our HiFi Family photo album, the one thing I notice is that most people place their electronics stack between the speakers. I too do this when at a tradeshow, but almost never do this in my personal or reference system if I can help…

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Measuring mood

I don’t know about you but I am pretty clear that for me, my mood impacts my connection to music. And while it’s true music can change my mood, it’s also true that I tend to choose what music I listen to according to my emotional wants and needs. If I am sad, music can…

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Moving lines

As we’re growing up it’s our job as children to test limits. How far can I go before my fingers get burned or I get caught? As a parent, I was greatly pleased (as well as amused) watching my four sons stretching their boundaries. I would often give them at least two shots at upping…

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Augustus

When Octave’s executive producer, Jessica Carson came to us pitching the idea of recording the indie rock and roll band Augustus she wanted to make sure our audience would like their music: a combination of soulful ballad tracks peppered with cuts of loud guitars, bang-it-out drums, and crank-it-up volume. “Hell yes!” was the answer. A…

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Adaptation

How easily we adapt to our environments. If it’s too cold we put on a sweater, too hot and we find shade, listen to music through bandwidth-limited earbuds, and before long it sounds just right. While being wonderfully adaptive is a blessing, it can also be a curse. We get so used to the sound…

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Revealing systems

I am constantly on the hunt for a more revealing audio experience. When designing a new product or listening to a new Octave release, the closer I can get to revealing the truth of what’s captured in the recording the happier I get. And yet… Can something be too revealing? Can a system dig so…

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Once bitten…

…twice shy. It’s hard to have experienced something unpleasant and overcome that hesitation. I know plenty of folks having once had a bad experience listening to a particular system or technology that will forever stay away from it based on that single experience. I suppose there’s plenty of wisdom in this old chestnut, but better…

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The Straw Man Game

Wikipedia defines a straw man as, “… a form of argument and an informal fallacy of having the impression of refuting an argument, whereas the real subject of the argument was not addressed or refuted, but instead replaced with a false one. One who engages in this fallacy is said to be “attacking a straw…

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Patience and persistence

Patience is a virtue but it’s persistence that pays off. Thus starts a note from Chuck Chylinski from Omaha. He writes: I just wanted drop you a note of thanks to you for the writing the Audiophiles Guide and the accompanying set up CD.  I spent quite a bit of time reading through the set…

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Fear of the new

People that embrace change are often called Early Adopters. They are a rare breed. Early adopters are the ones not only willing to take a chance on new products and technology but actually eager to do so. They are definitely in the minority. Most of us, the ones in the middle of the pack, are…

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Secret wishes

If we’re to be honest with ourselves (itself a frightening thought), wouldn’t each of us secretly hope to find that miracle product? The one that magically transforms our audio system into the next major step forward? I certainly am always on the hunt for such a product or technology. The last one I was party…

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Are libraries obsolete?

For years I have been hearing about how our musical libraries are vanishing, yet to this day I have never met a fellow audiophile without one. Perhaps it’s my limited exposure to other audiophiles but I rather think not. Instead, I’ll bet the bulk of you still have collections of physical media. I certainly do….

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Choosing your tradeoffs

In high-end audio as in engineering, it’s all a matter of managing tradeoffs. There are no perfect solutions. I think when evaluating acceptable tradeoffs one must make a shortlist of inviolate parameters. For example, I am unwilling to sacrifice: dynamics, transparency, bass, soundstage, and listenability. Which, by default, suggests I am willing to sacrifice: tonal…

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Musicality

We ultimately judge the performance of our system but how closely it brings us to music. Real music. So, if in 1981 we had systems that brought us close to the music, where a violin sounded like a violin, a Fender Stratocaster like a Fender Stratocaster, how much progress could we legitimately claim over the…

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Changing tubes

In my many videos and blog posts about changing tired vacuum tubes, I am continually surprised at the variety of answers. They range from heck yeah to hell no; from whenever the system starts to get a bit lifeless to never more than 10 years; and everything in between. I suppose I should never be…

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The price of skill

I have always been fascinated by the skill required to make good bread. With but only four ingredients (water, flour, salt, and leaven) hundreds of different bread types can be created. The difference between loaves is all in the skill. The same can be true designing audio electronics though the list of ingredients is considerably…

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Something different

I have been writing a daily blog post, Paul’s Post, since May of 2011. By my calculation, that’s ten years. In those ten years, I haven’t missed a day of writing the post nor reading the comments by our community members. This morning marks a change. While you’ll still receive a daily Paul’s Post, I…

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Breaking the chain

We work so hard to build a perfect audio equipment chain. It pains us to think about breaking that chain. I am often asked about the best means of interconnecting a chain of equipment. My answer rarely varies. Balanced. Yup, I am a big proponent of balanced audio. I’ve many times sung the praises of…

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NAS vs. internal

A growing trend in media servers is to employ the use of a NAS rather than rely upon the built in HD inside of a music server. It’s probably not a bad idea. NAS is an acronym for Network Attached Storage—a hard drive accessible over a home network. For years, NAS were shunned by most…

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

Join the hi-fi family

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