Tag Archives: video

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.

In the moment

When Copper Magazine cover artist Bob DAmico forwarded me a video of Le Petit Chef I watched with utter fascination. What I found riveting was not just the brilliance of the husband and wife team of Filip and Birgit Sterckx, along with fellow Belgium Antoon Verbeeck, but how in the moment I felt.

Though this video dates back nearly five years ago, before the pandemic, it seems prescient. At a time in our history when close seating at a crowded restaurant may be only a distant memory, for me, this brilliant idea flipped the whole dining experience conundrum on its head. In a good way.

And no, this is not a post about restaurants or new dining experiences. It’s a post about being in the moment or, as Guru Ram Das might once have said, Be Here Now.

When we’re in the moment it’s important to shift our focus not on the past—waiting for things to return as they were while inwardly fearing it’s too late for that (it is)—but to readjust ourselves to take advantage of what we have to work with today.

Yes, the world’s a little off its collective rocker right now. There’s no denying it.

As I read our forums and reach out to folks invested deeply in the music, I am so proud of our HiFi Family.

What an amazing time this is.

 

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 new live

With intimate gatherings between strangers a bad idea for quite some time to come, we’ve had to figure out ways we can still share music together. One way is through live video.

The idea of a live video performance isn’t all that new. I remember plenty of television shows with Live from Lincoln Center and live from this place or that. What’s changed is the open access we now have for anyone to share with anyone else.

YouTube Live is fast becoming a stage for the personal concert—in a way, a return to the days of old before the advent of reproduced music for the home. Musicians would play to small groups in homes and clubs. Today, anyone with internet access, a camera, and a microphone can reach out across the globe to an audience of one or a million.

The musician in the McGowan family, our second son, Sean, spent a wonderful hour playing a free live concert you can watch and enjoy here.  Straight from the heart, Sean and his piano.

This is the new live. And, like everything else, over time, the quality and accessibility will continue to get better and better.

Musicians around the world now have the means to play for us live.

I hope more take advantage of this golden opportunity.

 

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.

Out of Thin Air

Some projects take a lot longer than others. The good ones. The great ones. They take more time.

On March 14th of 2019, nearly a year after we first started work on Octave Records’ studio, we acquired the analog mixing console of Neil Young and memorialized its installation with this video. That mixing console, along with quite a lot of other one-of-a-kind recording gear makeup Octave Studios and mastering labs.

Fast forward to today, June 12, 2020, and we are finally ready to officially launch Octave Records—a passion project to keep great recordings alive and to honor and support musicians.

Octave’s mission is simple:

Respect musicians by paying them fairly, and respect their music by bringing it to life in the highest-quality possible.

Our first release is ready. We are honored to have famed pianist Don Grusin (brother of Dave Grusin) to kick off Octave. Our first release, Out of Thin Air, is a collection of Don’s brilliant compositions, captured live by former Telarc engineer Robert Friedrich and our own head of Octave Records, mastering engineer Gus Skinas.

If ever there was a go-to reference for how a piano is supposed to sound, this is it.

The music’s fresh and inventive, the sound is irresistible.

We have a limited edition run of a 2-disc package containing an Austrian gold-pressed dual-layer SACD (with pure DSD and CD) that can be played in any transport, plus a second DVD data disc with high-resolution PCM and pure single rate DSD for copying to your computer or server.

We’re not doing downloads for this premier launch. The discs are available while they last to anyone, anywhere in the world.

Definitely grab a copy and help us launch Octave Records.

 

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 is believing

Power Plant regenerators make a noticeable improvement to video screens and projectors. It’s a fact we almost never mention to folks because we’re 2-channel audio people—but it’s a fact, nonetheless.

We’re used to getting eye rolls when we tell those who have never heard the differences a Power Plant can make to their systems, but those eye-rolls pale next to the ones we get when we tell people it improves video as well. “How can power quality effect video?”

Back a few years ago when we participated in the custom integrator’s show, CEDIA, we had a very simple way to demonstrate how Power Plants improved picture quality. At the start of the show, we’d head over to Best Buy and purchase two identical LCD televisions. We’d supply each television an identical HDMI feed from a DVD player, and set them side-by-side in our trade show booth. One screen was powered from a Power Plant, the other from the power supplied to us from the convention center. The differences in the picture were not subtle.

When curious people came to the booth all they saw was a little sign that asked them to choose which screen was powered by the Power Plant and which was not. We always got 100% right answers.

Seeing can be believing.

 

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.

Celebrate difference

We are all different in what works for us and what doesn’t. Some can easily take as a signal the experience of others and try it for themselves. Then, there are those who need to line up reams of unquestioned evidence and explanation before they venture into the new. Still others are somewhere in between.

I can remember the first time I started observing these fundamental differences in people. I must have been no older than 8 or 9 years old, already part of a neighborhood gang: similarly aged boys hanging together in search of mischief or adventure as an antidote to boredom.

There were five of us: me, David, Rudy, Mikey, and on occasion, Sam. Each of the five of us were so very different. David was the leader—in today’s parlance, the alpha male. He’d always go first if it seemed a good idea, or shove one of the others out into the firing line if the endeavor seemed a bit risky. Mikey was the patsy—the ‘woe is me’ fall guy. Sam? Sam would try or do anything regardless of how daring or dumb. Rudy was somewhere in the middle: cautious, adventurous, usually the first to be caught. Me? I was typically the instigator, the guy with the bright/stupid ideas to try.

I’ve told the story of the chicken ranch raid in my memoirs, 99% True. I probably left out the vomit on-demand story.

Turns out our friend Rudy could vomit on demand. Most of us could open our diaphragms and suck in enough air to belch on demand, but vomit? That was Rudy’s amazing ability. All that kid needed was a jug of water and a little egging-on and he’d puke his brains out. To the point of this post, each of us reacted quite differently to Rudy’s talents. To David, this was a potential weapon to be directed at unsuspecting people. To me, it was cool just because of the technical challenge. To Sam, he was hoping to appear disconnected from the act yet revel in the horror others would surely display as puke splashed at their feet. And Mikey…he was simply terrified we’d be caught, or worse, shamed. He begged us not to do it but felt socially shamed enough not to wimp out. He wanted only to be accepted.

There had been an annoying pack of similar aged girls nagging us for attention. David, ever the gang’s driving force, decided he’d end their quest—a perfect opportunity to test our new weapon. Of course you can see where this is going. And, yes, Rudy lured the gang of girls close enough to him to then make some awful comment about what he thought of the girls and vomited all over one of their shoes. It was an awful act that I have always felt badly about being a part of, but it does exemplify how each of us is so very different. David led the charge, I watched in disgust (yet couldn’t take my eyes off the carnage), Mikey ran home and was rumored to himself have gotten sick, Sam determined to learn the skill from Rudy, and Rudy, 6 years later, went steady with the girl whose shoe he soiled.

The point of this ramble, if there is to be a point, is how we’re all so very different and to celebrate those differences. I think it’s important to remember our differences—not in judgment as failings or envy—but as differences unique to each of us. This shows up in how our stereo’s sound, or video systems look. Different strokes for different folks.

Our personalities hopefully serve us well. Let’s be kind and generous to those unlike ourselves. They are neither better nor worse.

They are just different.

 

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.

Too Clean

I am pretty certain I have never washed my hands this many times in a day: after getting the mail, after removing my gloves from a trip to the market. Wait. Even writing the words “removing my gloves” is totally foreign. It’s all different yet eerily the same. I go to the same daily meetings as before but now I see our engineers and management on a video screen. Strange times, indeed.

We’ll get through this if we use our heads and keep them screwed on as well.

Can a music system be too clean? By that I mean, sometimes clean works against us like when we add too much absorption to our walls or scrub our power incorrectly. That’s when we clean away some of what’s important in music’s reproduction, like subtle harmonics, room interactions, and imaging cues.

Clean audio and video reproduction is important, but be careful not to scrub too hard. If you are working on your room, cabling, or power, be aware one can go too far in cleaning up the sound.

You don’t want it so clean you strip the life from the music.

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.

Paul is currently posting excerpts from a book he is writing, which do not have much to do with audio, or even video, for that matter.

I’ll still post things, although some of them will be original writings by me and maybe articles or reviews I see of audio or video stuff, that I think people might enjoy.

Lance and I stopped working last week, to try and make sure we and are customers are as safe as possible. We are hoping to start working again in a few weeks. However, it will be as long as it needs to be.

Back tomorrow and hope everyone takes care and stays inside, as best they can.

 

 

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.

Thrill seeking

Now that PS Audio engineer Chris Brunhaver has rebuilt the Infinity IRS woofer sections in Music Room II, tracks of music that once overloaded the room or underwhelmed the listener are back on the table.

Tracks like Deeper by Pete Belasco, When the Party’s Over by Billy Eilish, or Handel’s Organ Concerto Number 3 suddenly make more sense.

Before the woofer change, there was plenty of deep bass but it was more an effect sound than a real live note. Now, the system sends chills up your spine when those notes move both you and the room.

In fact, one of the joys of an upgrade to your audio or video system is the opening of new musical opportunities. If it’s better bass, you start looking through your library for tracks that demonstrate the new prowess. If a new tweeter or speakers with airy extended highs, you search for more thrills in that music.

If you want a few thrills and chills to challenge your system, and have Qobuz, you can access what we listen to by going here.

Have fun and give my apologies to the neighbors.

 

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.

Openness

Few of us want to be left in the dark. We like to be in the know and get the inside scoop. But often, that means we’re at the beginning of an iterative process winding its circuitous way through roadblocks and failed ideas until reaching a successful conclusion. Some of us are comfortable on this path, while others shy away from the clutter.

Think of the times you’ve been party to a meeting or discussion where the outcome is uncertain: what to have for dinner, where to go on vacation, what kind of audio or video technology is best to achieve a specific goal, determining the price point for a product. Some in the group are comfortable with the many choices while others may view them as more chaos than clear choice.

In my case, I am happiest at the beginning of a complex project when little but the end result is clear: we want this outcome but we do not know how to get there. The uncertainty and chaos of a fresh challenge attract me like a moth to the flame. Others have exactly the opposite reaction: call me when you figure it out.

When I share with our community some of PS Audio’s beginning design challenges, and the long path we travel to produce a finished stereo product, some feel encouraged and included while others run away as fast as they can.

I can’t change who I am, but it would sure be helpful if I could find a way to let our community know when I am sharing the beginnings of a project or the final result.

Those who are comfortable with either stage could then choose to read or move on to something else.

 

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.

Made in USA

There is a city in Japan that is located on the small island of Kyushu in the Ōita Prefecture. Its name is Usa. Decades ago, when America was obsessed with xenophobic urges to keep out foreign-made products, it was said the Japanese so named this city to get around the Made in USA requirements of the Federal Trade Commission. That story is completely false. The hysteria surrounding it was real.

The original idea behind the labeling system was to identify products wholly manufactured in another country because a few bad actors made a habit of buying offshore goods and slapping a homemade label on them. No one likes to get fooled.

We all appreciate supporting local economies and jobs.

Which is why PS Audio makes a point of buying local whenever we can. For example, we use our local economies for our chassis, paint, circuit boards, fasteners, sub-assemblies, packaging, etc. In fact, with few exceptions, everything we make (other than Sprout) is mostly made in the USA. The few components we buy overseas, like our top covers and heat sinks, are simply unavailable in the US.

The one big elephant in the room I haven’t mentioned are the audio and video electronics themselves: semiconductors, vacuum tubes, capacitors, resistors, integrated circuits. These are, with few exceptions, no longer made in the States—which means any company using electronics can never label their products as made in the USA.

All this is fine by me because I believe a global economy is good for everyone. However, I also think companies like PS Audio, who support local economies for the majority of their product’s build costs, should be able to proudly let the world know of their commitment to supporting jobs. Instead, we’re forced to print “Assembled in Boulder with globally sourced components”.

I understand the thought process behind the FTC restrictions on labeling, however, I believe they are behind the times and restrictive to the point of being counter-productive.

That should change.

End of rant.