Tag Archives: Audio Equipment

Asheville’s Home Theater and Audio specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Battery power
A number of readers have asked about building their music servers around a laptop; not a bad idea at all and one many choose. And you might think the fact a laptop can run on batteries, thus isolating it from the power grid, would be a good thing, I am here to tell you it is the opposite.
One of the more startling discoveries my friend Arnie Nudell made and demonstrated to me recently was what happens to sound quality when the laptop is running on battery power. To say I was surprised is putting it mildly.
Listening to the San Francisco Symphony’s fabulous recording of the Mahler 3d, released on Blue Coast, as well as a Holly Cole disc, the startling loss of bass when running on battery power was truly unnerving. Unnerving because while I, among all people, should never be surprised when power makes a difference in audio equipment, this audio equipment is supplying only bits. One could make the same claim about any source, such as a CD player or transport and power quality, but for some reason the idea of a laptop running on batteries or power supply making this dramatic a difference was just unsettling to me.
If you have decided on a laptop for your server, make sure you repeat the experiment I just described, listening with AC power and without. Let us know what you find.

Giorgio Moroder

Singer, songwriter, producer and father of disco, Giorgio Moroder was my friend in the early 1970′s.

I haven’t thought much about Giorgio for many years but his name keeps resurfacing as of late: an entire track named after him on the Daft Punk album the most recent.  Because of Giorgio my life might have turned out very differently, never designing or building high end audio equipment had I been able to follow his path.  For the next few days I’ll retell the story of Giorgio and me.

I first met Giorgio through another friend, English record producer and songwriter Pete Bellotte.  Pete and I were friends because during the early 1970′s I hosted a music interview program throughout Germany on Armed Forces Radio (AFN) called Underground.  Every week I would interview touring artists that came through my home town of Munich and Pete would arrange many of those interviews with the likes of Elton John, Frank Zappa, Fleetwood Mac, Humble Pie and other stars of the day.  I lived at AFN Munich on Kalbachstrasse, located next to the famous Englisher Gardens,  and many of the interviews I conducted were done there, usually at night, after the staff had gone home (oh the tales I could tell).  Here’s a picture of my “home” in Germany.

AFN Munich early 1960s Giorgio Moroder

One day Pete asked me if I would be willing to purchase some stereo equipment for a friend of his named Giorgio.  Back then stereo equipment could be purchased at significantly lower cost through US sanctioned “Audio Clubs”.  These clubs were a little like Best Buy today and were huge toy stores of speakers, receivers and integrateds all at heavily discounted prices but available only to US service people and government workers.  Purchasing equipment at the Audio Club and reselling it was a big no, no but, being the rebel I am, I agreed to purchase whatever this friend of Pete’s wanted.  Integrated amps is what he wanted and I purchased three of them.  I was asked to deliver the amps to Pete’s friend’s home.  Turns out that this friend’s “home” was a luxury hotel called the Arabella House.  When I arrived I checked in at the front desk asking for a Giorgio Moroder and was told “Giorgio’s in the basement” and the clerk pointed me towards a freight elevator to go down.  Strange.

The door of the elevator opened at the basement level and I carried an arm load of boxes down several corridors wondering where the hell I was going.  I finally arrived at a nondescript door labeled “studio”.   Opening the door I was stunned.  This was the last thing I expected.  Here was a full on recording studio with twin Studer tape recorders, one a 16 track the other a two track mastering machine and a giant mixing board.  At the end of the mixing console propped up on a couple of folding chairs, a modular Moog synthesizer and keyboard plus ribbon band controller.  Playing the keyboard was an Italian looking mustached fellow that (now) might remind me of Mario of the game fame.  Next to him was my friend Pete Bellotte.

“Paul, meet Giorgio.”  We shook hands after I set the boxes of stereo equipment down.  Giorgio’s eyes lit up when he saw the integrated amplifiers I bought for him and with a thick Italian accent, thanked and paid me for the pieces.  I was most interested in what I saw because at the time I was in the process of trying to design my own synthesizer (which later was called the Infinitizer) and had fallen in love with the Moog, recording studios and everything to do with music.  This love of synthesizers a result of watching an Emerson Lake and Palmer live concert.  I had never actually touched or played a real Moog and here it was, right in front of me.  I was mesmerized by the whole environment.  Giorgio had just released one of his first songs called Son of my father that featured a nice synth riff.

Giorgio and I became fast friends and whenever I could I hung out at his studio, getting to play around with the Moog and watch the recording process.  At that time, Giorgio made his money producing covers of popular songs in German.  Songs like Sugar, Sugar by the Archies would be translated into German and German language versions would be produced by Giorgio using hired musicians and singers.  Giorgio hated what he did and longed to make money from making “real music” not the drivel of top 40.

Over the next year or so, Giorgio and I hatched a plan together that would get me into the recording studio and Giorgio out of the business of producing top 40 knock offs.  But much was to happen before the plan could take place.

More tomorrow.

Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.