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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Being there

One of the big advantages of Octave Records for me and the other design engineers at PS Audio is being there—at the source of music. You cannot get any closer to the music than being at the recording, and knowing exactly what it sounded like live. This unique perspective helps us get closer to that…

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Appearances

When my friend, Sandy Gross was responsible for marketing Polk Audio in the late 70s and early 80s one of the challenges he faced was acceptance of the brand as a serious contender. It was a tough challenge. Their competitors were pretty serious people including Dr. Amar Bose, Edgar Villchur, Dr. Sydney Harman, and Henry…

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While in Rome…

Well, we’re not in Rome but you know how old sayings go. We are on our last day in London because of the show that, unfortunately, got canceled. What better activity to do than head straight to the famed Abbey Road studios, which we did and acted like the tourists we are. We also had…

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Sadly….

Today was going to be the start of the UK HiFi Show and Terri, Scott, Travis, and I are here in London in all our finery….. ….but then the sad news of the death of her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. Our condolences to her family. We were going to be playing the new aspen FR30 speakers,…

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Devilish details

They say there’s a devil in those details. That it’s awfully easy to imagine wholesale change until one rolls up their proverbial sleeves and gets going. Which is why I recommend dedicating an entire Saturday or Sunday for making changes to your system. Even small changes. Simply tweaking the toe-in or out can blossom into…

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Bamboo socks

One of the more consistent product pitches I receive in my SPAM box is for bamboo socks. Let’s ignore for the moment the fact I haven’t a clue what a bamboo sock might be. The bigger question for me is what these people are thinking and why they are sending it to me. On the…

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Getting down to tastes

When we hear a HiFi system that is just plain wrong there’s little discussion about its merits. We can all agree it needs some help. But when systems are good enough to be called great, the differences between them come down to a simple matter of taste. Perhaps system A is to your ears a…

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eXtreme Digital

One of my readers, Mark, asked me to explain what DXD is and why we’ve even heard of it. Most of us know about DXD because of Octave Records and our penchant for DSD. When we first started Octave Records we used the Sony Sonoma DSD system (Sonoma was originally developed by Sony and is…

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Dolby noise reduction

Ray Dolby was a pioneering engineer. While many folks would recognize the name as associated with multi-channel home theater—Dolby Atmos for example—the beginnings of Dolby were an attempt to reduce noise in tape recorders. Tape recorders have hiss. It’s just part and parcel of their process of magnetizing the metal particles on plastic strips of…

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DSD256 downloads

A few weeks ago we had announced that our entire Octave Record’s catalog was now available in DSD256. Many of you got excited (me too!) and purchased them….. …..only to discover there was no music on those downloads. Doh! This was 100% my fault and I apologize. Now, the files are repaired and available again…

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The 19″ rack

As long as I am getting nostalgic I might as well ruminate about the 19″ rack. When we first started PS Audio in the mid-1970s and well into the late 80s, all separates had 19″ face plates with rack mount holes. Today, none of them do. The standard back then was derived from the pro-market…

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Everything matters

Back in the 70s, 80s, and even into the early 90s there was no such thing as Power Plants or power conditioners for high-end audio. Heck, there weren’t even high-end power cables. Back then we just plugged into the wall and went about our business. And we had some great sounding systems back then because…

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Outsiders

Living in our little audiophile bubble means that everything we obsess over seems normal. It isn’t until we step outside the bubble and view our little world through the eyes of an outsider that one begins to realize just how far removed from the crowd we are. Terms that seem obvious and normal to us…

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Cable placement

A great deal of angst can be had when it comes to the proper placement of cables. The worry is getting audio cables too close to noisy power cables and vice versa. Truth is I have never found this to be a problem. Yes, my OCD gets the better of me when I see a…

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Paul’s finally lost it

We could all see it coming. A screw loose here, a rattle in the old brain cage, a distant look in my eyes. Yup. Lost it. When Octave Record’s executive producer, Jessica Carson, and I were plotting out some new releases one of the ones I was most excited about will be the first in…

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Neighbors

One of my readers in the UK, Kevin, asked me a very interesting question. “I’ve noticed that when my neighbours are away my system sounds better with wider and deeper soundstage, better bass etc. Is this because something next door is having an effect like electrical appliances or is it psychological because I know they’re…

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A whacky idea

Following my post about cable damage, it occurs to me that there is an opportunity for an interesting experiment. We’ve all seen the techno-wizard’s proof that cables make zero difference. They routinely put a cable on the AP and under real world conditions show that what goes in comes out the other end. I am…

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Cable damage

I often speak in terms that make a few people nervous. Take for example the notion that speaker cables damage sound quality. To me, this is a fairly obvious notion. Since cables are passive they cannot add anything, but they sure can subtract. When a conduit of sound subtracts from that which was intended to…

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Musicians know better

Musicians know best how their instruments and music sound. I disagree. Musicians have a unique perspective, one that is not shared by those of us who enjoy their music. Imagine how a violin must sound when the instrument is under your chin and your left ear is mere inches from the strings and bow. I…

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Audio Renaissance

According to Wikipedia, the Renaissance is a period in European history marking the transition from the Middle Ages to modernity and covering the 15th and 16th centuries, characterized by an effort to revive and surpass ideas and achievements of classical antiquity. It occurred after the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages and was associated with…

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Analog pure

Our perception of analog is one of purity. Analog is pure. Anything else is impure. Only, that’s never been true. The only “pure” analog is what we hear directly from the microphone feed. Once we record that feed it has in some manner been converted to something other than the original. No recording in the…

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Just a little off the top please

Darren Myers and I were having one of those classic water cooler conversations (even though we don’t have a water cooler). We were speaking about the upcoming FR20 loudspeaker Chris and Darren are working on voicing. Darren said something to me that really rang true. “A half or even a 1dB change between the midrange…

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Horns are good because…

In one of my YouTube videos, I railed against the sound of horns and how they are difficult for me to adjust to. They simply sound unnatural until my brain adjusts. Of course, that spurred a raft of opposition from horn lovers defending their turf (as it should). One of the long time beliefs about…

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Rules are made to be…

In any endeavor, rules, standards, and procedures are essential. They exist to help us wade through often complex tasks. Learning a new system or technique I find myself following carefully the rules that others have established. Once mastered it’s time to start questioning those rules. This approach certainly does not work for everyone. In fact,…

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Industry standards

When it comes to the recording industry there are no standards. There are, however, personal standards for each company. Take Octave Records for example. Working with DSD is always going to be a challenge with compromises, but so too is analog. In fact, the only analog process I know of without compromise is a direct-to-disc…

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Why DSD isn’t everywhere

As diehard advocates of DSD as the ultimate capture technology, we are in the infinitesimal minority. We find ourselves here on the wild frontier for one reason and one reason alone. DSD sounds remarkably better than any other capture method (including analog). So the question continues to pop up. If DSD is so darn good…

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