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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.

Biamping 20

Posted 1 hour ago

I remember my delight the first time biamping speakers was explained to me. The notion of using one amplifier perfectly matched to the tweeter and another to the woofer made such elegant sense. Tubes for the top end, solid state grunt for the bottom. Brilliant. That was at a time when the choices in amplifiers […]
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The perfect level 44

Posted 1 day ago

Every musical track, speaker system, and room has a perfect volume level. It isn’t based on the time of day or the listener’s mood. It’s based solely on what works. And that is something rare. The Mahler 3d really only works at one level. Too little and the quietest passages are missed. Too loud and the […]
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The beauty of measurements 108

Posted 2 days ago

We are an arrogant lot believing our science can measure all that our senses can. Our machines cannot yet measure beauty. There are no devices, instruments, or algorithms that can say this one is X amount more beautiful than that one or even if it is beautiful or ugly in the first place. In fact, we […]
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Enjoying the journey 24

Posted 3 days ago

Some of us are in an awfully big hurry to get where we’re going. And while that may be an expedient means of achieving goals I wonder how much is missed along the way. Sometimes the journey’s worth more than the destination. Take building a high-performance audio system for example. We can throw lots of […]
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Looking in the wrong place 15

Posted 4 days ago

A quest for answers often has us searching in the wrong place. Like trying to figure out how identical groups of digital audio bits can sound different. No matter how close we look they will always be identical if we look no further than the data themselves. But, we’re looking in the wrong place. It […]
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Doesn’t it just make sense? 24

Posted 5 days ago

There’s plenty I do not understand in this life. Forcing someone to accept what they don’t like is one of them. You purchase something and it isn’t right for you. Your expectations are to be treated with respect and understanding from the person you bought it from. But, that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you get […]
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Stepping outside the box 48

Posted 6 days ago

Yesterday’s Paul’s Post got a few of you thinking and commenting. In it, I suggested we’re not at the end of the discovery line in audio, but rather standing on the precipice of the next big innovation. I truly believe that. Stereo is great but way past its prime. Like the gasoline engine. Still needed, […]
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End of the line 48

Posted 1 week ago

We’ve come so far in our quest for better sound. One wonders if there’s more to be had? How much better can equipment get? Are we at the end of the technology line, where all that remains is a brighter gleam on an overly-polished object? I think not. In fact, if I were to step […]
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Unforgiving engineering 35

Posted 1 week ago

One thing I like about engineering is its honesty. Circuits do not care what your opinion or mood are, they either work or they don’t. If I have a strong conviction on a subject I can search for supporting opinions and find them—lots of them—bolstering my belief whether right or wrong according to facts. (Yes, […]
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Fond memories 19

Posted 1 week ago

We tend to glorify good memories and bury painful ones. Which is why we constantly refer to “the good old days”. You know those days long ago when life was so much better than it is today. Poppycock. At no time in my life did I not hope to climb higher mountains tomorrow. Remembering the […]
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It’s all in the methodology 48

Posted 1 week ago

On our YouTube channel, a poster declared that after rigorous double-blind testing he could not hear the difference between two DACs. Thus, proof DACs don’t sound different. I would suggest a different dynamic’s at work. What he confirmed is our inability to discern subtle differences under non-optimal circumstances. Like performing tastes tests with a clothespin on […]
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What’s your reference? 34

Posted 1 week ago

Reference is an interesting word in the same way remarkable is. To reference something means you’re going to refer to it, while remarkable would cause you to remark about it. If I use live music as my reference it means I will mentally refer to live music for comparison with my system. So, what’s it mean to have […]
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Building community 21

Posted 1 week ago

Being part of a community of like-minded people in a rapidly changing technological world is important to me. It may be critical to our survival. It’s community, cooperation, and adaptability that separates us from any other species on the planet. Most species depend on their community for survival, but those groups are rigid in structure and […]
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Does vinyl sound the same as CD? 32

Posted 1 week ago

I was poking around on YouTube and ran into this official looking guy in a turtleneck and blazer proposing something rather absurd. That for any given recording vinyl sounds the same as CD. A lot of people have viewed his talk and I am not including a link because I believe his video is injurious to […]
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How to control image size 23

Posted 2 weeks ago

The stereo image seems almost magical. Two boxes create an entire holographic three-dimensional soundstage covering the better half of your room. A proper center image is as palpable as either the left and right speaker, yet there’s no box from which sound comes from. If you didn’t know better you might think its sorcery. This […]
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The $5,000,000 loudspeaker 28

Posted 2 weeks ago

One of our readers posted a link to a new speaker from Japan that has an astronomical price tag. Coincidently, an Ask Paul viewer wrote to me on the same day asking what I thought about a speaker costing $5,000,000. How could I resist? If you’d like to see my reaction and pictures of this expensive […]
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The lost image 20

Posted 2 weeks ago

We’ve all experienced the position of a single instrument wandering in space as if that player got up and moved to different locations for different notes. But, of course, that isn’t what’s really happening. It’s called image wander. Image wander occurs for any number of reasons including crossover design, driver placement, speaker setup, and room […]
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Audio snobs 67

Posted 2 weeks ago

The dictionary defines snobbery. “A person who believes that their tastes in a particular area are superior to those of other people.” An apt description of some but rarely audiophiles. Audiophiles want to share our knowledge, experience, and our joy of music—something a snob would not do. Snobs want their club to be exclusive. They […]
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Crappy little systems 46

Posted 2 weeks ago

I have a crappy little music system in our home. Its purpose is the playback of background music to entertain us when we cook or as subtle musical fill for the empty space. Usually jazz. This system is on my list of things to improve in 2018 but spousal requirements of invisibility make it hard. I […]
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Tweaks and good practices 20

Posted 2 weeks ago

This is my last post of 2017. Tomorrow we’re jumping into the new year and I trust it will be a good one for you and yours. Thanks for reading these posts and thanks for being a valued part of our extended family. There’s more than one way to optimize your sound system: new equipment, major […]
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Setup vs. equipment 48

Posted 2 weeks ago

Equipment in skilled hands performs differently than it does for a first time user. One of the best examples of this can be found in a video on YouTube. NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon plays the role of an inexperienced bumpkin taking a fast car for a test drive. Watching the video you have to feel sorry […]
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The problem with everything 37

Posted 3 weeks ago

My friend, writer, musician, and reviewer, Dan Schwartz can tell you what microphone was used in most vocal recordings. It’s nothing short of amazing. Walking into a room where a good stereo system is playing he’ll often proffer an opinion. “Sounds like a Neuman,” or some other microphone. It’s happened more than once. And others […]
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Boxes with holes 41

Posted 3 weeks ago

Woofers are in boxes so the front wave doesn’t get canceled by the out of phase back wave. So, why do some speaker boxes have holes that let out that threatening back wave? Those holes are called ports and to understand what’s going on let’s start with the problem of putting a woofer in a box. […]
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Volume controls 19

Posted 3 weeks ago

Of all the things we take for granted in our lives, volume controls would have to be high on the list. Whether by remote or the turn of a knob, the volume up and down is perhaps the most familiar control in the repertoire. Familiarity doesn’t mean unimportant. Despite the fact that every preamp, integrated, […]
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Simple is often best 27

Posted 3 weeks ago

Building simple, easy to use, functionally perfect products is often hard but usually better than the complex. As is often the case my first example of this interesting dichotomy happened with food. I was on the road in Chicago and struggling with food choices. It’s something that often happens to vegetarians in heavy meat cultures. […]
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