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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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The day music changed 21

Posted 4 weeks ago

On the night of January 16, 1938, American music was changed forever. The King of Swing, Benny Goodman, brought jazz to the rarified concert setting of Carnegie Hall for the first time (up until this concert jazz wasn’t yet considered a “respectable” form of music). There were other firsts brought by the concert as well: the […]
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Complex trade-offs 26

Posted 4 weeks ago

Life and engineering are quite the same when it comes to trade-offs. We make our best choices from among the imperfect and execute to the extent of our abilities. Take for example separates vs. integrateds. The list of positive attributes for separates is impressive: individual power supplies, isolated chassis, high current output drives, gobs of attention […]
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The great cover up 35

Posted 1 month ago

PS Audio has warts and blemishes that no amount of makeup can cover. It’s a fact we don’t want to hide. How could we? The people we might hide from are family. It’s fascinating to me how many companies try and cover up their mistakes as if they felt obligated to present a picture-perfect cover […]
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Contradictory evidence 31

Posted 1 month ago

As counter-intuitive as it may seem, contradictory evidence only serves to strengthens the position of the believer—especially if that evidence is shouted. If your experience suggests passive components in audio equipment sound different, as I do, every loud attempt at dissuading those beliefs only tends to strengthen your resolve. Highly charged opposing evidence is seen as […]
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Change of state 39

Posted 1 month ago

No, I am not changing from the State of Colorado to somewhere else. I am suggesting there may be more to upgrading equipment and process than just better sound. You might get treated to a change of state. When we make fundamental change more happens than might be obvious. We reach new levels of understanding […]
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Black sheep 11

Posted 1 month ago

When I was growing up my status as the family black sheep was unspoken yet generally agreed upon by everyone but me. As I saw it the antisocial acts of a youthful Paul were never meant to place the McGowan household in a bad light—like the time I arranged for a truckload of gravel to […]
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Uncharted waters 72

Posted 1 month ago

As I venture deeper into the uncharted waters of YouTube with my daily video vlogs I am exposing thousands of new people to the world of high-performance audio (11,000 subscribers and counting). And when I do that, the amount of pushback to the core ideals of what we take for granted is fascinating. A little exhausting […]
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Clean cables 47

Posted 1 month ago

I don’t remember when balanced cables came onto the high-end audio scene but I do remember when no one but recording studios and radio stations had even heard of them. In the 70s, 80s, even into the 90s, single ended cables were the norm for audio systems. My many years in broadcasting and recording studios […]
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Layer by layer 33

Posted 1 month ago

It’s always exciting to get a new product. Who doesn’t like the thrill of opening the new box, pulling out the new toy? We hope each acquisition will move our lives forward. Make progress. Better what we have. And, while it is less exciting, I would propose that the thrill of the new product is maximized […]
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What if we could measure it? 25

Posted 1 month ago

I wonder what it might look like if we could actually measure sound quality. A meter with poor to great? Numbers on some arbitrary scale? And, what would we be looking for? Imagining? Tonal balance? Harmonic integrity? Transient accuracy? Foot tapping intensity? Bass thumping levels? There was a time when measurements mattered. Wow and flutter […]
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Why we’re here 81

Posted 1 month ago

I was replying to a forum post concerning our upcoming music management software, Octave, and explaining that its purpose is to make life simple: a true plug-and-play zero-fiddly musical interface enabling our customers easy access to both their libraries as well as online streaming services, when someone complained, “we should stick to our core business”. […]
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Learn to unlearn 23

Posted 1 month ago

I love learning new things almost as much as unlearning them. The benefits of learning are doubled when we unlearn those same lessons—advantageous like the old Cert’s breath mint ad “two mints in one!”. Unlearning works because the knowledge erasure isn’t complete. Conclusions and lessons are retained while the thirst for learning is renewed in […]
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Short fuse 66

Posted 1 month ago

Sometimes things seem impossible; like trying to see something directly behind you in the mirror. No matter how fast you move your reflected image blocks the view. Yet, sometimes the seemingly impossible works; like a simple AC fuse changing the sonic character of audio equipment. And maybe “impossible” is the wrong word. “Absurd” might be […]
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You can’t do that! 17

Posted 1 month ago

The easiest way to get us to do something out of the ordinary is to suggest it can’t be done. It shouldn’t be done. It’s impossible. No one else has ever done it. When I first learned of musical synthesizers in the early 1970s I was told they could only play single notes because of their […]
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The news cycle problem 39

Posted 1 month ago

Listen to the news, read the forums, react to a sensational headline, find overblown news stories on Facebook, and you might be afraid to walk outside. There just could be a war zone around the block. Yet, walking outside you see an entirely different view: the sun is shining, people appear to be at peace […]
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Equalizing the room 37

Posted 1 month ago

Our rooms are like double-edged swords. We can’t live without them yet they are often our biggest nightmare. Rooms contribute irregularities like frequency bumps and dips, timing errors, and delayed reflections. It is rare that we have a chance to build our rooms from a clean sheet of paper because there are always constraints like […]
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A digital world 21

Posted 1 month ago

I place calls to anywhere in the world from a video screen in my pocket that also happens to take pictures, book a flight, play music wirelessly to little thingies stuck in my ear, play movies, talks to me (and I to it), tells me where to drive my car, reminds me of my next meeting, […]
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Spotify Connect 37

Posted 1 month ago

Redcloud, our free DAC upgrade, launches today at noon for DirectStream (DSJ shortly after). Details available here at 12 noon. Included in the launch is an all-new Bridge II build with a number of new features and services, one of which is called Spotify Connect. I want to tell you a little story about this and why […]
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The audition 54

Posted 1 month ago

Yesterday and today are reserved for the audition process. Engineer Darren Myers and I began in Music Room One at about 10 AM, yesterday, with 20 slight variations of code for Redcloud, the next Ted Smith upgrade miracle of lowered noise and jitter and significantly better sound quality for DirectStream DACS. It’s an arduous process, culling […]
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Tuning with current 4

Posted 1 month ago

When it comes to traditional class AB amplifiers there are two schools of thought about bias. Engineers can add enough class A current to satisfy their distortion analyzers or their ears. Most keep the analyzers happy without worrying about sound quality and it’s pretty easy to see why. Class A bias produces unwanted heat that is costly […]
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Spectral balance 44

Posted 1 month ago

My mentors Arnie Nudell and Harry Pearson believed any system that could accurately reproduce the sound of an orchestra could easily play any other kind of music. The opposite is not true. A Marshall 4×12 Electric Guitar Cabinet can certainly play rock and roll, but I doubt a bassoon would sound like itself. Part of […]
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Trusting your senses 25

Posted 1 month ago

Trust is a funny thing. We’d sooner trust a restaurant recommendation from a stranger or a Yelp review before a friend we suspect has an agenda—even if that person is a food expert. Often, we have trouble trusting ourselves. “Did I make the right decision?” “Can I trust what I am hearing with this new […]
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