PS AUDIO: Piano keys

Paul McGowan: “Great distortions annoy; lesser distortions fatigue.”  Great quote from one of our readers and it’s quite appropriate as we start looking at Listener Fatigue.  I didn’t want to just examine the nature of fatigue, however, I wanted to steer the discussion into something I actually know about: design.  How does design influence listener […]

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In 1995 there were no easy solutions to this problem but it was possible to build what we wanted.

Paul McGowan writes: In my previous post Jittered, we used a water flow analogy to further our understanding of jitter and how to make it go away. You’ll remember that jitter is all about timing and making sure that the digital audio bits arrive on schedule without any slow downs or speed ups to their […]

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PS AUDIO: Anything that gets me closer to the goal of having live musicians playing in my room is good.

  Paul McGowan writes: I’ve been thinking recently about our discussions on tone controls a few weeks ago. Initially I objected when a commenter suggested we could use tone controls selectively to improve recordings.  That seemed to violate the purity of the recording.  After all, isn’t the goal to get as close to what the […]

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It’s true a simple signal path is cleaner and has a better chance at purity than a many-stage device

Forty-something years ago we believed with all our hearts that simple was better. That a single potentiometer in the signal path was the cleanest, purest, best sounding preamplifier anyone could build. Today, we’ve come to understand it was close, yet no cigar. Rarely are things as simple as we would like them to be. We’re happiest […]

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PS AUDIO: In a DAC or a preamplifier, power supplies are also critical but in a very different way

Paul McGowan writes: I think we all understand the importance of power supplies in audio equipment – as everything we listen to in our systems starts out as DC voltage in the first place. Power amps are particularly sensitive to power quality for reasons I’ve detailed in past posts – and of all power amp […]

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PS AUDIO: Perhaps the most expensive option a designer has to control the gain is called a stepped attenuator.

  Paul McGowan writes: Perhaps the most expensive option a designer has to control the gain is called a stepped attenuator.  These devices can range from the reasonably simple to the ultra exotic and expensive. Cello’s 59 step platinum attenuator as well as Ayre’s 66 stepped device are exotic, expensive hand built beauties that exemplify […]

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Here’s the funny thing. I don’t need PRaT qualities to tap my toe

We judge our stereo system’s performance by a long list of criteria. There’s tonal balance, imaging, dynamics (both micro and macro), soundstaging, top end, bottom end, midrange bloom, noise levels, and of course pacing and rhythm. When I was first got involved in high-end audio no one spoke of pacing and rhythm as a measure of quality, […]

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PS AUDIO: The Amygdala

Paul McGowan writes: Music is an emotional experience. Our emotions are centered in an ancient part of our brains called the Amygdala.  My friend Seth refers to this as the “Lizard Brain”. Some music and some high-end systems give us an emotional experience so strong we remember it to this day; others never get past […]

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PS AUDIO: “Of the two types of power supplies found on class D amps, linear or switch mode, the latter is taking over and the former is moving down in popularity”

Paul McGowan writes: Of the two types of power supplies found on class D amps, linear or switch mode, the latter is taking over and the former is moving down in popularity.  It’s a natural progression as combining a giant power transformer and capacitor bank supply with a small and lightweight power amplifier doesn’t make […]

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Elton, whose real name is Reggie, and I spent a good hour enjoying lunch together in a Munich Cafe in 1972. I found him to be a sensitive, intelligent, warm-hearted man

In 1972 Elton John and Bernie Taupin released the song Rocket Man on John’s 1972 album Honky Château. The track became a hit single, rising to No. 2 in the UK and No. 6 in the US. The world premiere for Rocket Man was played on Armed Forces Network on my radio program called Underground. I […]

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TONE CONTROLS: What happened?

Paul McGowan writes: So, whatever happened to tone controls?  You know, the bass and treble boost/cut controls that used to adorn just about every 1950 and 1960′s era preamplifier? They fell out of fashion in the 1970′s because purists didn’t want them.  The analog audio path must be absolutely pure. They fell back into fashion […]

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PS AUDIO “I believe the basic problem is the loudspeaker itself and less so the electronic chain and microphones used to pickup the music.”

Paul McGowan writes: You are walking down the street perfectly happy after a good lunch or so, when suddenly from nowhere you hear music. It could be a sound two blocks away, poor acoustics, noisy background etc. Maybe it’s a street musician, but the thing is that your brain can detect this as live music […]

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SMPS: Perhaps the single biggest reason to use a switch mode power supply (SMPS) on a power amplifier is that

Paul McGowan writes: Perhaps the single biggest reason to use a switch mode power supply (SMPS) on a power amplifier is that the output of a properly designed one is more like perfect DC than that of a conventional supply; and not just by a little bit. Conventional supplies switch back and fourth between plus […]

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