PS AUDIO: How does one measure the differences between amplifiers when they clearly sound different?

How does one measure the differences between amplifiers when they clearly sound different? The first and simplest measurements are frequency response and noise levels: frequency response shows us that everything we put in makes it through to the output and noise levels are an obvious thing to measure so we don’t have hiss. Fancier measurements […]

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Are you nuts?

Paul McGowan writes: When the subject of polite conversation eventually turns to exposing the fact I am an audiophile I get a number of interesting changes in body language. Everything from an eyebrow raise, to a questioning look, to a head shake, as the notion that I am someone not only off the beaten path […]

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Never in all my years of playing with stereos have I heard such music – the waves of singers and instruments, tympani’s gone wild – it was a truly remarkable experience

Paul McGowan writes: I’ll continue with the story of the invention of an electronically scalable room but today wanted to tell you about something I’ve been listening to that has me running around the PS offices grabbing whomever I can to come and listen.  One of my readers wrote: “For a real sense of a […]

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CD or ripped?

Paul McGowan writes ….. Remember a time when CDs ripped to a hard drive sounded better than the CD itself? Were you scratching your head like I was? How the hell can a copy sound better than the original? That just doesn’t make any sense. Right? On the face of it, no, but then we […]

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Truth or consequences?

Paul McGowan writes: None of us have ever heard the true sound of music. In fact, everything we hear, in particular, if it has been recorded, is colored by uncountable distortions: microphones, speakers, headphones, the room, cables, equipment, mastering, varying air densities of any particular day. Even without the recording/playback medium in the way we […]

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The life of vacuum tubes

Paul McGowan writes ….. Credit for the 1904 invention of the vacuum tube belongs to John Ambrose Fleming, but the device we associate with amplifiers came three years later when Lee De Forest gave us the three-terminal “Audion” tube, a crude form of what was to become the triode. There was a time, certainly in […]

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Sweetening sound

Paul McGowan writes: We’re all looking for audio truth—getting as close to the live event as technically possible. So, why is it we tend to install equipment and systems that offer an artificially sweetened sound? Do we believe all recordings should be lush, romantic, and easy on our ears? Surely that wouldn’t be honest sound. […]

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PS AUDIO: Putting the cart first

Paul McGowan: My note about being open to trying out a preamp between the DAC and power amp brought a lot of attention and many great suggestions.  One of the repeated suggestions is to simply stick a buffer stage at the output of the DAC and play the system with and without the buffer.  While […]

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Hearing aids and high-end audio

Paul McGowan writes ….. There are plenty of terms that don’t seem to fit together: literal interpretation, out like a light, self-help group, and my all time favorite, open secret. That said, let me add another: hearing aids for high-end audio. While the two terms together might be a head scratcher, there’s good news ahead. […]

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Computer madness

Paul McGowan writes: Music servers are little more than computers in fancy boxes. So, what’s stopping us from simply buying a computer, installing some software and building our own media server at far lower prices than what we might pay a high-end audio company? Not too much, actually, but it turns out that won’t be […]

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PS AUDIO: The need for compromises

Paul McGowan writes:  Designing any product for consumer electronics is a series of design choices – better known in some circles as compromises – giving one thing up for the benefit of another.  Design choices are not unique to consumer electronics as compromise is just a part of the process of everything you can imagine: […]

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Falling off the tracks

Paul McGowan writes ….. Televisions and home theaters need remotes, our hi-fi systems do not. For those ancient enough to remember when equipment did not have remotes, we solved the problem of volume adjustment in the same way we made it easy to play a record. The preamp and turntable were next to us. No […]

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PS AUDIO: The strike of a wooden block

Paul McGowan writes: I was going to step off into the deep end this morning with the start of our cable series but many of you asked about the results of the latest amp shootout so I thought I’d give you a brief update on that progress. The quick overview is that we made significant […]

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Delayed audio

Paul McGowan writes: Here’s an interesting fact. If we play our stereo system outdoors we’d have no room problems, yet not much would sound right. Rooms are somewhat of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, their hard boundaries enable our speakers to fill the room with sound. (Imagine your stereo system trying to fill Yankee Stadium). […]

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PS AUDIO: Odd or even?

Paul McGowan writes: No doubt you’ve heard terms like class A, push pull, , SET, full complimentary, single ended etc.  These terms all refer to how we use an amplification device rather than the amplification device itself (like a tube or transistor). Many of us have also heard that tubes produce a warmer sound due […]

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Speakers should disappear, which seems impossible. The drivers are pointing straight at us!

Paul McGowan writes ….. Much to my surprise this fact, along with another—the soundstage should come from behind the loudspeaker—continually baffles people. I am at the Japan Audio show today and watched as two setup guys had the right combination of disappearing source and rear presentation, only to change placement to pinpoint the source and […]

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Sharing one’s passion

Paul McGowan: We’ve probably beat this topic of being an Audiophile to death. The discussion sparked a few ideas about how we might get together in service of ourselves. There’s advantage and power in a group, certainly a self serving one. More to follow someday. But today is Thanksgiving. That time of year when we […]

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