Tag Archives: receivers

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.

Easy isn’t always better

How many times have you gotten advice to take the easy path, the quickest road?

Why paddle upstream?

Unfortunately, the easiest path often nets us the lowest return: snacks vs. real food, receivers vs. separates, driving your car around the block when you could get some exercise.

In my experience, people often mistake simple for easy.

The simplest answer is often the best while the easiest is more often than not a shortcut with returns commensurate with the effort expended.

Like an investment, I think it’s safe to say the results of our efforts and hard work are often reflected in the final outcome. A carefully curated high-end audio system with hand-selected cables and components, set up with meticulous care and understanding, will nearly always outperform even the most highly touted plug-and-play solution.

It might be safe to suggest easy is rarely better.

Taking the time and energy to gain the knowledge of what you’re seeking to achieve and then making the effort to get it right is how the best audio systems in the world come to be recognized.

If you’re reading this post you’re already investing the time and energy to make things better.

Go get ’em!

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

Being safe

We do appreciate single mindedness, dedicated purpose over multi-functioness, don’t we? We choose an Astell and Kern portable music player over an iPhone or Android multi-purpose phone, although the two have similar functions. We choose separates over integrateds and integrateds over receivers. We choose a purpose-built digital coax cable over a purpose-built audio interconnect, even if the two are identical in specifications. I think we do this because it’s safer.

I remember being nervous the first time I used an audio interconnect for a coaxial digital connection and it sounded fine. I questioned the results. Why? Because it wasn’t a safe assumption. I was treading on unchartered territory. What I did isn’t the accepted thing to do. It might open me for criticism or worse; ridicule. I also remember the shirt I picked out in the department store that I liked, only to be told it couldn’t be worn because it was a “lady’s shirt”. It was explained to me the lady’s shirts have buttons on the opposite side than those of a man’s. I subsequently saw the exact same shirt in the men’s department, only this time the side the buttons were on had been swapped. This then, was safe. Sometimes you just gotta call BS on safe.

Of course some purpose-built products have every reason to be selected if they fit your needs. Take the Astell and Kerns example I brought up. As a music player it supports far more formats, has a better DAC and sounds significantly better than an iPhone. But, that’s valuable only if you are willing to accept a dedicated lump like this in your pocket – and that – in addition to your phone. I do no serious listening on a portable device, so it doesn’t matter to me, better or not better. The iPhone’s just fine, gives me a camera as well as everything else.

That said, I am going to make a point of stepping outside my comfort zone with purpose-built products more often than I now do. Why? Because I think it’s healthy to question the assumptions around us and be a bit more open for criticism.

ou never know what you might find when you do this.

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.