Tag Archives: Audio Equipment

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Tipping point

The tipping point is when a whole lot of little things add up to big change. It is the point at which we move from one long-held state to a new and fresh understanding.

The notion of the tipping point first came to my attention through one of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell in his seminal work The Tipping Point.  If you’ve not read the work, you should.

Tipping points are magical moments to be cherished: when you discover the synergy of systems, the importance of audio cables, move from one long-held belief that held back what was possible in your home audio setup, to something new and better.

The thing about tipping points is they require a constant stream of new information or experiences. We rarely get to enjoy tipping points if we are so settled in our ways and habits that we do not venture out or absorb other opinions.

One of the reasons I write these daily missives, called Paul’s Post, is to help my readers reach a tipping point. Drip by drip. Idea and thought by thought. We learn together and move forward in our quest for great sound in our homes.

If you are on the verge of making that decision to try something new—whether a piece of audio equipment kit or setup technique—the knowledge of the Tipping Point and its benefits can ease the angst of change.

What are you waiting for?


Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Paul writes here about the Placebo Effect in high end audio and I agree with most of what he says, 100%.

I think in the large majority of times, if you give someone expectations of what they will hear,  chances are pretty good that they will hear what is described to them. I’ve seen this a lot.

Bias backfire

We’re conditioned by our culture to believe that bias affects opinion. That if we’re told something’s going to be a certain way that’s what we’ll experience.

I would argue that’s true only in some circumstances.

If I tell you to try on a shirt because it’ll look great, you’ll have an expectation that biases you. If I am right, that’s wonderful. But if I am not, will you be fooled into believing what’s not true? Unlikely.

“Here, take a bite of this. It’s wonderful.” Sometimes yes, often times no.

If we’re told a new audio cable or audio equipment sounds a certain way we’re likely to have that expectation going into a listening session. Yet, if it sounds the opposite we reject it even harder than if we hadn’t been biased.

Now we’ve been fooled.

So where does this notion of bias falsely swaying people come from? The Placebo Effect.  Placebos work for two reasons: our belief in them and their ineffectiveness. You can’t have an effective placebo without both conditions. If I tell you a spoonful of lemon tastes sweet, no amount of belief is going to change your pucker factor. But, if I tell you you’ll have fewer aches and pains by taking this little yellow pill with a neutral agent inside, you might well feel less pain.

The point of this post is simple. Bias changes opinions when the differences between devices under test are either non-existent or minimal.

When there is an actual difference between two devices or services, a bias in any one direction will not sway the outcome.

It’s easy to make sweeping judgments but they are not always right.