Rebel designs

Paul McGowan writes: Modern analog designs leverage common circuit ideas. Few are original. Complimentary outputs, vbe multipliers, diff pairs, current sources, current mirrors, etc., were all original designs that became commonplace. One of the most talented, creative, and radical designers of all time is Bob Widlar.  Widlar invented the basic building blocks of linear ICs. […]

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Who knew?

Paul McGowan writes: For the past few days, I’ve been in Japan visiting dealers, riding the Bullet Train (200 mph), and enjoying this wonderful culture and its incredible people. Yesterday I was in the country’s second largest city, Osaka. The day before, the far north. What a treat. I will definitely put together a short […]

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Biggest bang for the buck

Paul McGowan writes: Buying decisions are tough enough even if money’s no object, but when you’re on a limited budget—as many of us are—how do you make the tough choices of where to put your hard earned funds? The side of our personalities that want immediate gratification looks for the biggest bang for the buck. […]

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Two subwoofers?

Paul McGowan writes: We have two channel systems with dedicated left and right speakers, yet often we’re told it’s just fine to use a single subwoofer in mono. I’d like to suggest this attitude is wrong. The single-sub advocate’s logic goes something like this. “Low frequencies are essentially non-directional so it shouldn’t matter if the […]

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Is no DAC the best DAC?

Paul McGowan writes: I’ve been answering a lot of great customer questions on Ask Paul. One of them was a simple misunderstanding, but it sparks good dialog. On the DIY forums, a poster suggested he was converting digital audio to analog without the benefit of a DAC and the question posed to me was, “Is […]

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Built in head amp?

Paul McGowan writes: Head amps are devices used to separately amplify moving coil cartridges to the same level as moving magnets. They can be built from active electronics with power supplies or simple step-up transformers. They are needed because moving coil cartridges typically have outputs thirty times lower than their moving magnet brethren. Why they […]

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The benefits of redoing your assumptions

Paul McGowan writes:  We just released some new software that changed the sound of our PerfectWave DAC.  As is normal there’s debate on whether or not those changes are better or worse.  For me there’s no question they are better in every respect – but only after I retuned my system to take advantage of […]

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Slap in the face

Paul McGowan writes: Some years backI wrote about a new power amp technology that simply blew my skirt up to the point where I have cleansed the listening room of anything but this product to amplify the Maggies.  The decision to consider doing this took about 10 seconds: I knew immediately this was it.  I […]

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Power supply madness

Paul McGowan writes: The story behind PS Audio introducing the high-end world to the oversized external power supply is a good one that I cover in this video. But that was more than 40 years ago. Is power supply “overkill” still a factor after four decades? Indeed it is. And for good reason. In the […]

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Land of the rising sun

Paul McGowan writes: Not more than a few weeks ago I returned from a great trip to Japan where I toured multiple cities and high-end audio dealers. I put together a ten-minute video you might enjoy. Click here to play it. We know the high-end audio industry is in a state of flux—many suggest it’s […]

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Demanding more bass

Paul McGowan writes: I was in the process of posting today’s Ask Paul video on the difficulty of designing power amplifiers when I was reminded of the lengths some speaker designers were willing to go for bass. I was thinking of Arnie Nudell’s Infinity Kappa series, the terror of solid state amplifier manufacturers the world […]

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From the tiniest beginnings

Paul McGowan writes: Of all the questions we are asked by customers, finding and fixing hum is perhaps number one. Ground loops would be our first suspect, but a close second is hum and noise from turntables. Ground loops occur when two pieces of interconnected equipment find themselves grounded at different levels (one slightly higher […]

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What do you say?

Paul McGowan writes: Let me set the scene for you. You’re at a dinner party, the folks that invited you have worked their hearts out to make a lovely meal, but it’s not to your liking. And then your worst fears come true. “How was your food?” She asks so nicely, filled with expectations (and hope). […]

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Change of pace

Paul McGowan writes: Not all of us are fortunate enough to have turned our passions into a lifestyle—but a few have—and it seems quite prevalent in the high-end audio field. If you have a chance to visit this week’s Rocky Mountain Audio Fest in Denver, keep an eye out for the passion and excitement you find […]

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The best way to connect a sub

Paul McGowan writes: Years ago, there were mostly passive subs, but over time this changed. Modern subwoofers are internally amplified. So it might seem intuitive to connect them as you would any power amplifier, with an interconnect to the preamp or DAC. This works, but would not be my first choice. The problem with cables and […]

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Battling our preconceptions

Paul McGowan writes: Do you fall into the trap of judging things based on a preconception? Do you buy into stereotypes? I do. All the time. I think it’s in our nature as humans to categorize life’s complexities based on our experiences: cables make a difference/cables can’t make a difference. Electrostats are transparent sounding/electrostats require […]

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Battling our preconceptions

Paul McGowan writes: Do you fall into the trap of judging things based on a preconception? Do you buy into stereotypes? I do. All the time. I think it’s in our nature as humans to categorize life’s complexities based on our experiences: cables make a difference/cables can’t make a difference. Electrostats are transparent sounding/electrostats require […]

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Focus

Paul McGowan writes: It’s no surprise that vinyl and digital are different. Different mastering techniques, playback equipment, recording chain (often), bandwidth, dynamics. So it should be no surprise that a system optimized for one, doesn’t sound as good playing back the other. Music Room One, for example, has been optimized for digital audio reproduction. Michael […]

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DIY speakers

Paul McGowan writes: How hard can it be to build your own speakers? Heck, the drivers themselves are easy enough to get—Parts Express has just about every cool driver, crossover, and enclosure you might want. Many are identical to what’s found in the most expensive products in the world. Pick the best you can afford, solder […]

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Oh, the lengths we go to

Paul McGowan writes: I have seen some crazy stuff in the 40 plus years I have been around audiophiles and high-end systems. Exotic room conditioning, trinkets aplenty, cables the size of my leg, claims of subatomic effects, components that sound different depending on their earthly orientation, low-frequency waves said to resonate with the Earth. In […]

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Built in head amp?

Paul McGowan writes: Head amps are devices used to separately amplify moving coil cartridges to the same level as moving magnets. They can be built from active electronics with power supplies or simple step-up transformers. They are needed because moving coil cartridges typically have outputs thirty times lower than their moving magnet brethren. Why they […]

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PS Audio: A rose is a rose……

Paul McGowan writes:  There’s increasing evidence that rhymes, poems, meter and cadence in stories were created not because they are beautiful but because they helped us keep the words straight before the advent of written language.  It is how our civilization kept important lessons, histories, messages and stories intact without writing anything down. Imagine any […]

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Don’t just roll over

Paul McGowan writes: You know the old saying if at first you don’t succeed…well, it’s a good one when it comes to the upgrade process. As audiophiles, we like to occasionally upgrade our equipment. Some of us more than others. (By the way, the second batch of Audiophile hats are in and start shipping today!) We read […]

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