Tag Archives: subwoofer

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.

Personality traits

All amplifiers have personalities—sonic traits that distinguish one from the other.

We choose our power amps first to handle the loads our speakers demand followed closely by how they sound.

Once you’ve settled in with your power amplifier you’ll do what it takes to preserve or enhance the sonic personality you enjoy. This can be anything from choosing the right speaker cables to positioning your speakers to best advantage.

Once we’re locked into our sound perhaps we’d like to stretch our boundaries by adding a subwoofer. That’s a practice I have long preached along with yet another Paul axiom, connecting that sub through the output of your power amplifier. This carries forward the audio personality of your power amplifier so the final presentation is seamless. Which is why the perfect match for your amplifier is when the right amp is built into the subwoofer or loudspeaker.

In the case of our upcoming speaker line, the built-in subwoofer amplifiers we designed to power the speaker’s bottom end have been specifically tailored to get out of the way of the main amp’s personality. This has several advantages: a seamless sound and the ability to focus on one task without affecting the rest of the audio spectrum.

If we were starting from scratch with a new full range amplifier design, we could not equal the performance of a built-in subwoofer amp without sacrificing the rest of the spectrum. By that, I mean a great woofer amp uses gobs of feedback and other techniques to provide slam, pace, and rhythm—all desirable attributes that coincidently detract from the other goals of full range amplifiers such as delicacy and inner detail.

You can’t have it all in one full range amplifier, but what you can focus on is choosing a main amplifier with exactly the personality you’re looking for.

Then it’s up to you to keep that personality intact while enhancing the rest of the spectrum.


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.

Breaking things

We’re raised up to get the right answers to problems and to do whatever it takes not to break things. We’re rewarded for reciting memorized answers and staying out of harm’s way.

I would like to argue that’s backasswards from what matters to our development as humans. We should praise wrong answers and encourage breakage.

I remember years back when I came up with the idea of using an audio transformer to connect the power amplifier’s output to the low level input of a subwoofer. I reasoned that it would be a good idea to pass along the sound quality of the main amplifier to the subwoofer. That despite the lack of purity subwoofers would have a greater tendency to disappear when fed this “preconditioned” signal than if we sent a pure input from the preamplifier.

I was ridiculed for this idea. In fact, it got so bad that I hid my little audio transformers behind the main speakers as a protective measure for my ego.

I was told this idea was all wrong. It broke the regular way people did things and therefore it not only wasn’t the right answer but in fact the wrong answer.

Over the years and unbeknownst to me that wrong answer became the obvious and best way to connect subwoofers. That in order to reach the goal of the subwoofer helping the main speakers and disappearing in the process this was not only one of the best means of achieving the goal but it was “obvious”.

I don’t think I invented this technique. What’s important is that I was willing to break things, to be comfortable with the wrong answer in service of the right goal.

I would sooner encourage people to make mistakes than focus on getting the right answers. We can find the “right” answers with a Google search.

Discoveries come from breaking things.