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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Missing information

I am always fascinated to watch those slow-speed nature videos where you watch flowers open and plants grow. Or, the opposite. A high-speed camera that slows down the wing motions of a hummingbird so we might see what in real life we cannot. Those cameras (both film and video) are essentially digital: frame by frame…

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The funny thing about dynamics

It’s somewhat of a mystery why vinyl can sound more dynamic when in fact it is more compressed. Much has to do with the technical measurement versus the perceived measurement. The meaning of dynamic range is the difference between the loudest and softest sounds. The bigger the gap between loud and soft determines the technical…

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Copper

On March 7, 2016, the first issue of Copper Magazine was launched into the world with zero subscribers. Today, 171 issues later, Copper Magazine is read by nearly 50,000 subscribers. I am often asked why we spend the time, money, and energy to publish this ad-free bi-weekly magazine. The answer is rather simple. Copper is…

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Temperament

Seems to me the more complex the system the more I tend to approach its operation as if it had a mind of its own. I often think of equipment as being somewhat temperamental which causes me to approach with caution. As devices get “smarter” anthropomorphizing them seems a natural consequence. For the briefest of…

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Delivering the goods

When you download onto your local hard drive an Octave Records release the copy you store is bit-for-bit identical to the one sitting on the master hard drive at Octave Records. It doesn’t matter that data traveled through millions of switches, miles of cable, fiber, satellite, coaxial, WiFi, and so on. Once downloaded what sits…

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Living in a vacuum

As much as our mental faculties like to focus on one thing at a time, the reality is we do not live in a vacuum. Everything affects everything else. When we opt for a new phono cartridge it has a very different electrical and sonic character than its predecessor. We’ll need to readjust the cartridge…

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Another piece of the puzzle

I often tackle the same question multiple times. With each new answer to the same question, the different angle of attack seems to illuminate the lightbulb of understanding for at least one person. An aha! moment. For me, that’s reason enough to keep trying. We’re all perhaps a bit weary of me beating the DSD…

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The setup dance

In my new book, The Audiophile’s Guide, The Loudspeaker I liken the challenge of system setup to that of a dance. As in my earlier post about devilish details, the setup dance can either be feared or embraced. Fearing the dance inevitably leads to shortcuts: desperate attempts not to get sucked into the vortex of…

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A Monday treat

I had previously written about the great pipe organ project we were involved in for Octave Records. I still tingle with goosebumps every time I hear the playback of that amazing DSD recording session at Temple Emanuel in downtown Denver. I thought it might be fun to share with you this Monday morning a sneak…

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Know your enemy

I get a lot of flack for my dislike of USB as a medium between the computer and DAC. Truth is, it’s not USB I don’t like. It’s what USB connects with that bothers me. Noisy computers. Here’s the deal. We all know computers are vile, noisy affairs that hopefully are as far away from…

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Practical matters

A few years ago when we were researching the PS Audio PowerBase product I spent a few weeks digging into the sonic impacts of vibration control. What I discovered is how much of a difference a solid rack or other means of damping and controlling vibrations in our electronics makes. It’s a big deal. It’s…

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Obvious vs. faith

My small home theater has 12 loudspeakers that cover the walls and ceiling making it pretty obvious why a movie plays in surround sound. You are surrounded by speakers. The idea of getting “surround sound” from a two-channel audio system, on the other hand, requires a leap of faith. It doesn’t look possible to achieve…

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Looking in the wrong places

Digital audio is a very complex subject, one most of us don’t really understand at a level deep enough to make a reasoned technological change. Yes, we can change cables, equipment, programs, and even formats and hear the differences. But most of us aren’t able to dig deep into circuitry and programming to make those…

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The Decca Tree

Wikipedia describes the Decca Tree as a 3 microphone spaced array most commonly used for orchestral recording. The technique was developed in the early 1950s and first commercially used in 1954 by Arthur Haddy, Roy Wallace, and later refined by engineer Kenneth Ernest Wilkinson and his team at Decca Records, to provide a strong stereo…

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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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