Tag Archives: hifi

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.

PS Audio has a new power amplifier, although not on their website yet.

The progress spiral

One of our HiFi Family members mentioned to me the other day they sometimes felt as if they were on the upgrade merry-go-round. With each new piece of gear he bought from us the system got noticeably better to the point where he realized the other components were needing an upgrade as well.

I think of this not as a merry-go-round but more of a progress spiral. With each return to the start, we’re actually in a different (and better) place. Along the journey we learn and grow so that when we circle back progress has been made.

The new BHK600 amplifier is a good example. I knew it would be better than the BHK300, but this much? Within 30 minutes of the new 600 warming up and music playing I found myself in a whole new world of musical wonder. My familiar music was fresh and new. Unknown details in the music were revealed to me.

I started noticing more differences between sources.

There was a greater gap between streaming and playing on the transport.

Maybe that could be addressed with a cable swap or, more basic, should I readjust my loudspeakers again?

Each step up the progress ladder brings us back around to have a look at the assumptions and changes that got us here.

It is how we move forward.

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.

Boy, can I relate to this one on a couple different levels. It’s only taken me about 15 years to get it mostly right here and I’m close. Big rooms like mine, which also has three seats, give more options for loudspeaker placement and as components change, even cables, so can the optimum place for your stereo speakers.

The hot seat

When someone says you’re in the hot seat it’s usually either frightening or bad.

But not in the case of HiFi listening.

The seat of honor; The hot seat; the best seat in the room. That’s the coveted space we all work hard at optimizing.

In PS Audio’s Room 2 where the FR30s live there are three listening positions yet only one is perfectly optimized.

That magical spot in the room where everything gels to perfection. Where the imaging is best. Where the tonality rings true.

The listening position we have all worked so hard to make perfect.

The hot seat.

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

Reel to reel

I was just remembering back to when I got started in all of this HiFi stuff. Reel to reel tape was the big deal. Not even high-end cassettes had been popularized yet. (For reference, there were no home computers yet and all communications were either by letters or phones).

Working with Giorgio Moroder, of Daft Punk fame, in his Munich, Musicland studios, I first got my hands on a 16-track Studer reel to reel machine that used 2-inch tape. What a treat. I still have several reels of the work we did.

For the most part, it was 1/4 inch tape that we mere mortals used and the machine to own back then was a Revox A700. Oh, how I wanted that reel to reel.

The A700 was first launched in 1973, just about the time when Terri and I left Europe to begin our lives in California. It would be another year before Stan and I started PS Audio.

Here’s a picture of the A700.

 

The original A700 went for $1,800—a princely sum in 1973, more than I could afford. Today, you’d be lucky finding one anywhere south of $5,000.

The reason I never wound up with an A700 was twofold: I didn’t have the money and even if I did I had no idea what I would do with it. (my original notion was to be able to play master tapes but….I didn’t have any of those either).

My desire for that gorgeous reel to reel was nothing more than classic lust.

I still think it’s gorgeous (and still don’t know what I’d do with it).

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.

The long and winding road

The road to sonic bliss has always been long and winding, but today it’s getting straighter and shorter.

Remember back in “the day” when information was scarce? Aside from a few magazines, finding out anything substantial about how a stereo system might fit into your home was more than just challenging. It was nearly impossible. A real crapshoot.

You took the word of the HiFi dealer and crossed your fingers. Most of the “research” you did was more about qualifying the dealer rather than the gear.

Today, things are easier. We have a wealth of information at the touch of a mouse.

To me, the road ahead looks much straighter and shorter. Instead of rolling the proverbial dice, today we can read the opinions of others, give a try at home, make our decisions, and sit back and enjoy.

Not only is the road less daunting, but the drive itself is much more enjoyable.

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.

Synergistic sound

The dictionary describes synergy as “the creation of a whole that is greater than the simple sum of its parts.”

Isn’t that the truth?

How does your stereo system fit into the room? How about those connecting cables? Digital? Analog? Moving coil or magnet?

Each and every choice we make is part of the whole.

Creating a synergistic sound is the challenge we all face when setting up or assembling together a HiFi system.

What are the bits and pieces you find essential to creating synergy within your system?

How important are they?

Could you do better?

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.

Trade secrets

Not that long ago there was a time when tradesmen guarded their secrets as a means of staying employed. If a tradesperson such as a welder, plumber, mechanic, cameraman, or perhaps a draftsperson was in possession of knowledge unavailable to others, their futures would be protected.

Or at least that was the theory back then.

That’s no longer the case. With the advent of YouTube and DIY websites, little to nothing is secret.

Yet the notion of protecting one’s intellectual property remains. Certainly within our industry.

Instead of working in an open-book environment where information like stereo circuit topologies are shared, many of our fellow manufacturers still guard their closely held technological wonders. Think of all the potted modules and sealed boxes containing technological secrets. How many times have you opened a HiFi product only to see the numbers on the ICs wiped clean?

It makes sense (in a strange sort of way) to guard one’s treasures. I get it. I am certain you do as well. But perhaps it’s a bit shortsighted?

When ideas are freely shared there is growth for everyone.

Where do we draw the line between protectionism and forward motion?

Perhaps as a community, it might do us good to give some thought to the notion of being more open and sharing.

We at PS Audio are in.

Would others feel comfortable pulling back their kimonos just a bit?

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.

HiFi snobs

I really dislike labels as they apply to people. I have spent much of my adult life working hard at removing them from my lexicon.

Labels encourage us to place complex people in simplistic organized little boxes.

That hardly allows for diversity or nuance.

Yet, today’s crowd seems ever more eager to assign labels to people in the same way we might catalog sweaters or golf clubs.

One consistent label thrown at our community is that of the HiFi snob. A person who believes that their tastes in music and its reproduction in the home are vastly superior to those of other people.

What is troubling about that definition narrows down to a single word. Taste.

Taste infers superiority.

How would you or anyone else feel if another claimed superiority?

What we can safely say without issue is that our stereo system’s performance vastly outperforms that of the average person’s home audio setup.

It’s why anyone can walk into the room of a highly resolving high-end audio setup and immediately hear that which they are unable to experience in their own home.

It’s why the label golden-eared audiophile is disingenuous.

Our carefully crafted systems are the star performers.

We’re just along for the ride.

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.

Seeing sound

Following the line of “added sparkle” from yesterday’s post, I think the below note from one of my readers, Blake, is insightful.

Blake writes:

“Could it be most reviewers and enthusiasts have synesthesia, and they are “seeing” with their ears?

So much of the terminology is a cacophony of “visual” words, like an Ives precursor to modern “noise” compositions, no wonder it gets confusing. No doubt because so many people’s dominant sense is sight. Even though smell seems a more forceful sense, with the ability to transport people back to their childhoods with a cream and citrus whiff of a Dreamsicle, or petrichor that whisks me back to my 4 year old self and an early evening rain in Lincoln, Nebraska, where bulldozers had scraped the ground bare for the house being built next door.

Maybe the path forward to more aural accuracy in the HiFi world would be to wean ourselves from all the sight-suggestive words and develop our audio vocabularies. Tone, timbre, booming and shrill. Bone-rattling and gut-punching bass. You get the drift.

Sorry for the length. It’s been on my mind for some time after hearing so many YouTube reviewers struggle with this very thing. And the craziness of trying to write about sound! Using a visual medium to convey an understanding about an invisible thing? Oof.”

Not to bring in yet another sensory example but I think Blake’s offered us some food for thought.

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.

Ringing in the new year

Wow. Here we are once again. Ringing in the new year.

What an amazingly nutso period of time we’ve been through together. As PS Audio’s president, Jim Laib, is fond of saying, this is the 24th month of 2020.

We’ve got a lot on tap for 2022, from the delivery of the new FR30 loudspeaker, the launch of the new BHK600 amplifier, the AirLens audio streamer, and new Octave releases each month just for starters.

I have very bright and optimistic expectations for 2022.

I hope you and yours have a wonderful year ahead and thank you, as always, for being a part of our HiFi Family

Here’s to a great year ahead!

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.

Dagwood

How many of us can recall the Blondie cartoon strip with one of my all-time favorites, Dagwood Bumstead, and his enormous over-the-top sandwich?

To this day I do my best to pile on as high as possible the ingredients to my sandwich. Over-the-top.

Which reminds me of how we as audiophiles are often over-the-top about much of what we do. From cables to tweaks to attention to the minutest of details, we are often obsessed (in a wonderful way) with all things to do with our home HiFi systems.

Dagwood Bumstead would have made a great audiophile!