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The Audiophile's Guide & Reference Disc

The secret to great sound

Built in Boulder

Imagine building or improving your home stereo system in a way that makes your music come alive—like the performers are right in front of you—even on a budget. It’s easier than you think.

In The Audiophile’s Guide book and its companion reference music tracks, PS Audio CEO and 45-year audio industry veteran Paul McGowan walks beginners and veterans alike through his easy-to-follow step-by-step secrets for creating amazing 3D sound from two speakers.

Whether you’re new to high-end audio or a lifelong veteran, there’s something for everyone in this book and reference audio disc. Regardless of your system’s configuration—analog or digital, Paul shows you how to make magic happen in your listening room. The Audiophile’s Guide: The Stereo, along with its companion Reference Audio disc, is the ultimate how-to instructional method for turning two-channel home music systems into magical reproduction chains. A must-have for any audiophile or lover of great sound. This instructional guide works for any level of 2-channel audio system, from the most humble to the most aspirational. The Audiophile’s Guide is an essential upgrade.


The Guide's Bundle is available here. If you prefer the book and Audiophile Master's download version instead, order the book on this page and the music download here.

The Audiophile’s Guide & Reference Disc

Paul McGowan has poured his 45 years of high-end audio experience into his landmark book, The Audiophile’s Reference Guide. This companion disc, The Audiophile’s Reference Music, is the must-have component that together work their magic. Follow along with easy step-by-step instructions on setting up your listening position, speaker placement, or simply tuning up an already great system. Each musical track was meticulously recorded for the purposes explained in the included 40-page booklet, or the more in-depth explanation and instructions in The Audiophile’s Guide book. Between this reference disc and Paul’s book, you can make magic with only a few hours of tweaking invested on a Saturday afternoon. The specially designed burn-in track can be used every time you get a new piece of equipment. And the last three tracks on the Reference Music Disc are alone worth the price of the disc. Whether you want to challenge your system, make certain it’s working properly, spend a few hours tweaking it to perfection, The Audiophile’s Reference Music Disc is a must-have component.

This is one direct-to-master recording you don’t want to miss out on. Each music track is a sonic treasure available as a direct-to-master exclusively from Octave Records.
Recorded over four months, The Audiophile’s Reference Music laid down tracks in Octave’s Boulder studio, PS Audio’s main warehouse (for BIG sound), and Lyons Colorado’s Animal Lane Studio. Every effort was made to maintain not only the purity of recordings, but the accuracy of miking, distance, and purpose. The three depth tracks were recorded in PS Audio’s warehouse with centimeter-precision so that when you listen at the three intervals: 3 feet, 6 feet, and 9 feet, you can be certain what you are hearing is precise. Using The Audiophile’s Guide Reference book and this Reference disc, it’s easy to follow the step-by-step instructions to obtain near-perfect depth, imaging, tonal balance and 3 dimensional sound where your speakers disappear and the musicians seem in the room with you.

First-time listeners to PS Audio’s Reference System always have the same reaction. “Wow. The speakers just disappear. It’s as if they are not in the room.” Their wonderment is almost always followed up with a question. “How can I get my system close to this?”

Of course, you need good equipment, but the secret to 3-D sound lies almost entirely in setup.

Setup is a skill that can be mastered by anyone.

The Audiophile’s Guide system is unique. It’s not a textbook, lecture, or How-To book that leaves you scratching your head or wondering how you did. Instead, the Guide is an easy to follow step-by-step process based on simple instructions and musical examples. Follow each step and then play the appropriate track of music on the companion Reference Music Tracks. The Guide tells you what to expect when playing each track and how to tweak the system to get it right.

Step-by-step, track-by-track. By following the Guide’s simple process and verifying the results with the accompanying music track, you can transform your 2-channel audio system into a three-dimensional wonder on a Saturday afternoon.

The Audiophile’s Guide book and companion SACD (playable in any CD or DVD player) can, with a few hours of effort, make the biggest difference you’ve yet experienced in music’s enjoyment.

Get the book and the Audiophile’s Reference Music Tracks (or download) bundle and transform your system—or just tune it up.

This is one pair of products every audiophile should have in their library.

The Guide and its companion SACD (playable on any CD or DVD player) were designed together so that for each step in the instructional process, a reference audio track is designated to check and verify the results. Between the reference disc and the Guide, you can make magic with only a few hours of tweaking invested on a Saturday afternoon.

The depth tracks help users attain perfection when it comes to soundstage depth and width. The first center channel track is simple yet essential to getting correct. Once a perfect center image is attained, it’s time to move on to the next more complex center channel track. Moving between music tracks and the Guide’s easy-to-follow instructions, readers benefit from the system’s checks and balances bringing users that much closer to sonic perfection. As an added bonus, there is a specially designed burn-in track that can be used every time you get a new piece of equipment, or if you just want to tune up the sound. And the last three tracks on the Reference Music Disc are alone worth the price of the disc. Sonic fireworks!

Whether you want to challenge your system, make certain it’s working properly, or spend a few hours tweaking it to perfection, The Audiophile’s Reference Music Disc is a must-have companion to the Guide or as a standalone audio reference. This is one direct-to-master recording you don’t want to miss out on.

Unique amongst instructional manuals or textbooks of stereo setup, the Audiophile’s Guide Book and its companion Reference Audio Tracks SACD (or download) together form the basis of an easy-to-implement system of magic making.

Using the Guide and its companion Reference Music Tracks as they were designed—as a system—helps 2-channel audio rigs that sometimes sound more HiFi than live suddenly take on a level of musicality most audiophiles only wish they could achieve. Three dimensional sound—where the speakers disappear and the musicians seem to be in the room with us—can often be an elusive goal. That need no longer be the case. With the Guide and Reference Audio track System, it’s easy to wring all the potential hidden in your stereo by simply following the Guide’s step-by-step instructions and verifying the audible results in real-time.

There are books aplenty on setting up a stereo system, but rarely a complete system of both step-by-step instructions accompanied by specific musical examples. The Audiophile’s Guide, The Stereo, combined with Octave Record’s Reference Music Tracks is the sure-fire system that we’ve all been waiting for.

Phase Check In
Phase Check Out
Room Bass Response
Purity Test
Center Channel Adjustment
Center Channel Soundstage
Depth Check 1
Depth Check 2
Depth Check 3
Small Ensemble
Simple and Detailed
Medium Ensemble
Big Synth
Drum Solo
Burn-In Track
  • One pressing Austrian gold pressed dual-layer SACD
  • Pure DSD + PROMastered CD layers
  • Separate DVD data disc with all masters
  • Disc includes 40-page liner notes
  • Pure DSD mastered by Gus Skinas on the Sonoma mastering system
  • DSD64, DSDDirect Mastered 192kHz 24 bit, 96kHz 24 bit, 44.1kHz 16 bit PCM download
  • No compression in the mastering process
  • CD layer of SACD playable on any CD player
  • Mastering monitored through the PS Audio DirectStream DAC
  • All tracks hand curated on the Infinity IRSV in PS Audio’s Music Room Two
  • Limited edition one-pressing physical media


I achieved truly astonishing results

I spent a couple days with the book and disk, mostly positioning my loudspeakers. For decades I’ve read several similar guides to loudspeaker placement, and I’ve used similar LP’s or CD’s intended to evaluate and assist.

Gotta say, this is the first time I achieved truly astonishing results. The CD tracks and Paul’s instructions were far more useful and practical than any I’ve encountered.

I’m marveling now at the newly created soundstage with depth and positional accuracy for each performer in a slew of classical chamber music works on CD—trios through septets. I’m in awe.

Thanks, Paul!

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Thank you, thank you

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you Paul! I started chasing upgraded sound a year and a half ago. The reviews for the modest components I chose all stated that there was a good sound stage. I have been toeing in and toeing out speakers and trying to knock out the points of first reflection and other internet nuggets with little success. I finally achieved a great center channel after one of Paul’s videos suggested moving my speakers away from the front wall.

One afternoon with this book and downloaded tracks and I cannot stop listening to my wide sound stage. I listened to music for four hours the first day and three hours the next. This is all with the first basic setup instructions which are easy to follow. The only downside is my wife is not overly impressed with my blue tape on the rug and my speakers way out in the room. I don’t care, the sound is wonderful. Thanks again!

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Mike in Boise

Hearing my system for the first time

Really enjoyed your book. Maybe there you said that you feel the best set-up for your speakers is to have nothing between them. Fortunately I had enough speaker cable to relocate my gear to the side of my medium size room, and wow! It’s like the drapes were removed from a window showing a vast and precisely crystal clear landscape. I am hearing my system as if for the first time. Thank you so much!

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Ryan in Chicago

Hard to imagine that setup alone would have made this much difference. I am shocked. Thank you.

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To be frank the result is far beyond my expectations. As an audiophile long time convinced of the importance of acoustics I thought I had already achieved the best possible performance as with carefully placed speakers and some acoustic room treatment my modest but resolving system was already sounding quite well. Reading the guide motivated me nevertheless to challenge the position of the speakers. Following the guide's instructions I finally ended in just moving my right speaker only barely half a foot away from the left one and completely removing the toe-in. The difference is really spectacular! I gained a lot in depth and also in soundstage width. While even improving the bass level. So I wanted to warmly thank Paul and all the Team who made this guide possible (apparently the disc was not so easy to finalize!).

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H. Berry

Highly recommended

The three depth tracks are worth the price of the entire package. I had no idea my system was capable of moving the soundstage beyond my room's walls.

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Ray L.

So excited!

So excited to read this book!! I'm a fan of Paul's youtube vids and have gotten a lot of good tips from there. Now, things are about to get serious with regard to my stereo setup and enjoyment.

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It's basic but essential

Great read and really helped me tune my system. Also enjoyed some of the historical anecdotes about the industry. Highly recommend if you’re a audiophile nut like me!

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L. Bardeen

Give it a chance

I read a few negative reviews on Amazon because the book was too basic, but for me this was a lifesaver. My system's never sounded this good.

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K. Chen

The music is worth it all

The book was helpful but the music and the step by step instructions are what really made this work. Bravo.

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