Tag Archives: RMAF

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 is a pretty amazing company. They build all sorts of power re-generators, stereo amplifiers,  stereo preamplifiers, DAC’s and now, loudspeakers and do it all in the USA. They also make high resolution recordings, which they release in all sorts of formats, including LP’s.  Paul is the ultimate audio nerd and I say that in a good way. I have a lot of respect for his passion.

Cat’s out of the bag

In case you have yet to see the latest issue of Stereophile Magazine, I wouldn’t want you to be the last on the block to know what’s going on.

In that latest issue is a two-page color spread showing for the very first time our long-awaited FR-30 loudspeaker.

At 60″ tall it’s not as big as the IRSV it’s pictured in front of, but it’s not small either. The FR-30 features 4 custom designed ultra low distortion long throw 8″ woofers supplemented by 4 10″ side-mounted passive low-frequency radiators. Ribbon tweeter front and back and a 10″ ribbon midrange. No internal amplification, this speaker will light up the room with as few as 100 watts per channel.

It’s been a long time coming. To my eyes and those of the few that have been lucky enough to see them, they’re are a thing of beauty.

Hopefully you can make it to RMAF this year to hear them (and hopefully RMAF actually happens!)

And sonically? Hang on to your hats my friends. Hang on to your hats.

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.

There is one picture with this post that shows people listening with their eyes closed. I wonder if any of them are asleep. With much of the music at shows being simple things that sound good on almost any stereo, it wouldn’t surprise me if there are one or two!

Vinyl exceeds CDs

Yesterday we learned that sales of vinyl LP’s have outstripped CDs for the first time in decades. An article posted in Rolling Stone Magazine made the rounds at RMAF, yesterday. I haven’t yet figured out if this means sales of CDs are continuing their downward spiral or vinyl’s picking up steam, but whatever the implications, it’s certainly a twist of events.

And speaking of vinyl, one of the great treats of a consumer trade show like RMAF is the chance for our Hi-Fi Family to gather together and enjoy what we all are interested in, music and 2-channel audio.

Reviewer Micahel Fremer of Stereophile and Analog Planet fame was generous enough to bring his collection of prized vinyl to our room and play it to a packed house for an hour. Just check out the crowd. I could barely squeeze into this standing room only group outside the few prized seats in our listening area to get this picture in the first place.

What a treat! Mikey pulled from his arsenal a prized copy of Joni Mitchel’s Court and Spark to start the afternoon off, and I don’t believe anyone in the room had heard such glorious music. All were transfixed with the vinyl he played. I had chills running down my spine listening to his last track, Zepplin’s Stairway to Heaven. Holy Moly! I am so used to the flat and lifeless digital version that I had no idea of what the recording really sounded like.

Fremer and Stellar Phono designer, Darren Myers, worked well together to make this a seminal event. In the second picture down, we were also honored by the presence of Sharyl Wilson of Wilson Audio fame in the front row.

Here are a few more pictures from the event to enjoy.

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.

RMAF is gone, but PS Audio has introduced a loudspeaker and its expensive, although moderately expensive by today’s luxury standards.

Opening day

With apologies, I am writing this post a day before you actually get to read it. It’s not always easy to juggle all the balls I have in the air and sometimes it’s the best I can manage.

Opening day at a trade show is mixed with both excitement and nerves. Excited because it’s new, fresh and shiny. Nervous because you never know how your efforts and those of your team are going to be accepted. And I can lovingly say our team just knocked it out of the park.

My wife Terri’s in charge of our shows and she directs every aspect of the design and how the room finally looks. And thank goodness for that. If it were left up to me there’d be a stereo system plunked down at one end of the room, a gaggle of folding chairs, and a stack of media in an otherwise empty room. Terri makes our place beautiful.

I’ll have more for you as the show progresses and we get things sorted out, but for today I am sharing a couple of photos and offering an assessment of the sound. Wow! The AN3s are just kicking ass. Dynamics and imaging like we’ve never had at a show in our 45-year history. Wowsers!

And LP’s? With our new Stellar Phono connected to a Lyra cartridge on VPI’s amazing 40th turntable, and Darren and my friend Jim McCullough’s hand picked vinyl, I gotta say it’s impressive. I think this is the first time we’ve spun vinyl in a quarter of a century. Amazing.

Hope you can stop by if you’re in the area.

 

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.

See PS Audio’s website for a short video related to their new speaker system.

Peeking behind the scenes

Designing and building new high-end audio products is a long and detailed process, often requiring years of design and engineering.

It seems like members of our Hi-Fi Family really enjoy seeing behind the scenes of what it takes to craft those products and the people behind them. Whenever someone visits us for a tour (something that happens often several times a day), they remark how cool it is to meet the people behind the equipment.

Since we can’t all visit the factory, I really enjoy shooting videos that give you some insight into who we are and what we’re up to.

As we put the finishing touches on the new AN3 loudspeaker before bundling it up to play at tomorrow’s RMAF, here’s a short video from a few weeks ago when we were still hot and heavy into the final tuning stages.

Have fun!

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.

Please see PS Audio’s website for pictures!

Bits and pieces

We’re dipping into a bit of the past with this post but I thought you might find it of interest.

As you read this we’re tearing down the finished AN3 loudspeakers we’ve been laboring over and putting them on a truck for tomorrow’s setup day at RMAF.

Over the past few weeks, it’s been a whirlwind of change and work getting to this point and I haven’t had much of a breather to share the “sausage-making” behind the scenes shots, so forgive me.

As some may remember, the new construction for AN3 is in two boxes, a top cabinet with the twin midbass woofers, and the coaxial ribbon midrange and tweeter. The bottom cabinet is all subwoofer with its frightening 12″ beast and 700-watt amplifier. Here, have a look:

This will give you a better idea of how that works. The finished cabinets aren’t that heavy and even I can easily lift one and pop it onto the sub cabinet. From there, it’s easy to add the side fastener that tie the two together. On the rear of the speaker are multiple sets of binding posts where the top and bottom cabinet’s audio signal are connected via supplied jumpers. I’ll send you pictures of what this looks like when I get a chance.

Below are even more pictures. You can see a closeup of the new custom ribbon coax midrange Chris designed, the custom leveling hardware on the base, and what the new woofer looks like peeking through the side panel.

Tomorrow it’s all hands on deck at the show set up day.

 

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 value of shows

The upcoming Rocky Mountain Audio Fest opens on September 6th, just weeks away. We’ll be there showing off Stellar Phono and the production version of the new AN3 loudspeaker.

Consumer audio shows offer the curious, the prospective buyer, the aficionado, and the newbie a chance to see all the new gear, hobnob with designers and manufacturers, touch, listen and get a sense of what each company is offering.

Audio shows are fun. We focus on the two main shows, Axpona and RMAF, but that’s not to suggest there aren’t plenty of other smaller, regional shows to go to as well. I wish we had the bandwidth to do them all.

It takes a lot of money, time, and energy for PS to participate at a show, though that wasn’t always the case. When we were much smaller we could get by with one of those small bedroom displays. We’d borrow a pair of speakers and bring our entire audio system on a single bellman’s trolley. Today, it’s multiple pallets and a setup crew.

The value of shows for attendees seems obvious. Room after room of sound systems, new gear, interesting people. For us, the benefits are interacting and meeting with our extended Hi-Fi Family—a reunion.

I do hope you’ll have a chance to come visit us in Denver on the 6th.

 

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.

Preaching to the choir

It’s May 11th and, dammit, yesterday I turned 71 years old.

I used to love birthdays.

The older I get the less I want to prove anything to anyone. Experience suggests it’s a fool’s game.

How many times have I produced videos demonstrating differences in audio equipment with the exact same results? My video of the vibration damping feet at RMAF that clearly demonstrated differences audible on an iPhone’s microphone drew exactly the same division of opinions as one would expect. Those who are open to the idea agreed they worked. Those closed to the concept howled “it was rigged” or “the speakers were inches apart and at different heights”.

We hear and see what we wish to.

I got another wonderful surprise when I posted a video on noise suppression in power cables. Using an off-the-shelf AC sniffer I demonstrated how a stock shielded power cable radiates a loud chorus of noise while our properly shielded aftermarket power cables were as quiet as whispers. Those open to the notion that cables matter pointed with pride that their viewpoint had been proven while those that are convinced of the opposite scoffed. “Noise like that doesn’t affect audio.”

And the circle goes round and round.

What we’re doing is attempting to get another person to see what we see, hear what we hear, believe what we believe.

I think most of us are so invested in being right—justifying our own belief system—that we work hard at ignoring what’s often right in front of us.

The choir’s heard it all before.

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.

Soft Europeans

“Hi Paul,

I went to the RMAF last October and found that the European speaker manufacturers products had a soft sounding mid-range presentation. I asked a few of their reps about this and they explained that the listening rooms over there are smaller and made of very hard materials. No wall to wall carpeting etc. I must say, I preferred the softer sound.”

Roger

Thanks, Roger and I love this thought because t brings up something near and dear to my heart. The way we tailor our sound system to match our environment.

If you take the 50,000-foot view of this notion that manufacturers of speakers in countries with smaller rooms soften their products it might cause you to scratch your head. Why not simply make flatter speakers that work for everyone and ask the hometown folks to add a little carpet or sound deadening to their walls?

The answer to that question goes deep to the heart of what I love about our industry. The great manufacturers build products that work in their homes. This, in contrast to the big consumer audio companies that homogenize their offerings, is a key component in what separates high-performance audio from the oatmeal vendors trying to cater to everyone and being remarkable to no one.

High-End Audio is personal.

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.

Vibration isolation products are snake oil

We’ve saved perhaps the best for last. “Best” because this is a subject that genuinely gets the hairs on the back of some necks to stand at stiff attention, yet there’s ample proof that it works.

Some weeks ago I published this video of a vibration control product demonstration I saw while at RMAF. Nearly 30,000 people have viewed this video and the number of commenters is one of the highest of all my many videos. Passions run high and I think I know why. The idea that reducing vibrations has an audible impact runs so counter to what we consider normal as to inflame emotions often to the burning point. “It just doesn’t make any sense!” is a rallying cry to get the tar heated up and the feathers collected. Yet, the differences are easy to hear.

Few knowledgeable people would dispute that quieting vibration prone equipment matters: turntables, vacuum tubes would come to mind right away. Perhaps less obvious are capacitors that proliferate within equipment, but these are generally accepted by even the propellerhead measurementists. No, what really freaks people out is speakers.

Speakers make the noise we hear in our rooms and systems. They generate sound pressure and should be immune to their own vibrations, dammit!

Ahh, but sadly, the boxes that hold our speakers add to the melee of sound in the room. At the same time they radiate sound waves those same boxes add time audible vibrations through the floor. As well, some would claim those same floor vibrations are reflected back up into the box to muddle the music even more. If you have the time to closely look at the graphs Dave Morrison shows at the end of the video you’ll gain a better understanding of how isolation products—legit isolation products, that is—actually contribute to good sound.

Is there snake oil in accessories? Oh my, yes. Claims and counterclaims that match Carter and his little pills abound with abandon. Yet, I would encourage the person interested in good sound to wade through the bullcrap to find the truth.

As in any of these Fact or Fiction questions, there’s truth to be found if you’re interested in finding it.

Good hunting!

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.

Interconnects and speaker cables matter

Yikes. After yesterday’s brave venture into the hornet’s nest of opinion about power cables and how they matter I can only just imagine the brouhaha today’s post is likely to elicit.

Fact or fiction: interconnects and speaker cables matter. As in yesterday’s post, you already know my answer. But, there are several burning questions.

Do they always matter? How come some people simply do not hear differences? Are audiophiles the only group that buys into the idea of cables making a sonic difference?

Let’s start with the last question first. No, certainly audiophiles are not the only people concerned with cable quality. At a minimum, engineers, recordists, and scientists pay close attention to the quality of their cables in an effort to get the lowest noise results. Proper shielding, balanced, and well-built connectors are a must for any serious pro. Do they also worry about the type of conductors and geometry of the design? Not many, but they do want to make sure they don’t muck up a job because of a noisy or broken cable.

And why do some not hear a difference? In my experience, it’s all about setup, system, and intent. While at RMAF a young group of fellow YouTube channel contributors approached me with folded arms and a challenge. They had purchased at Best Buy the cheapest USB cable they could find. Their challenge to me was to prove to them a difference between their cable and my high-performance cable mattered.

“No problem,” said I and invited them to Music Room One after the show. Within the first 30 seconds of the comparison the looks of shock on their faces was a sheer joy to me. Here were four bright young men intent on being right that cables cannot matter, yet open-minded enough to actually give it a try. After demonstrating the differences I left the room and their leader proceeded to test them with blind ABs and the group fared well: 70% accurate choices. Not bad for inexperienced listeners. (Yes, listening is a learned skill).

Do they always matter? No, they do not. I have had numerous experiences with systems that seem agnostic to the signal cables attached to them and I am not certain why. I’ve heard Bill Low’s Audioquest Boombox comparison of cables and the differences are stark and clear. Yet, I have also worked with in-home setups using good speakers where we could not tell the differences between zip cord and high-performance wire. My guess is that the room and setup were masking subtle differences normally heard.

Whatever the case, it’s obvious to me that for the most part cables—interconnects and speaker—matter.

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