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.

I’ve used nothing but separate audio components for many years, but now have two different integrated amps, one from Luxman and one from T+A and both are exceptional sounding. The T+A Integrated amp, the PA3100HV, is truly phenomenal sounding.

However, neither have a built in digital section and that’s probably why they sound so good.

High-end audio is more separates than completes. You don’t see many all-in-one receivers connected to high-end speakers.

It’s not that it’s technically impossible to build a great sounding receiver. Plenty of companies from PS Audio to McIntosh to Devialet have.

Yet always a collection of their separate counterparts outperforms the all-in-one. Why?

One could easily argue the shared power supplies don’t help, nor the shared AC cord. Still others might argue the close proximity of noisy circuits within the same chassis, or the need to bring the piece in at a reasonable price.

Yet, speculation aside, I would venture to suggest it is probably not possible to put a digital source next to an analog output without significant compromise. That it is proximity and the inverse-square law that stands between success and failure.

Sometimes we just have to separate things in order to maximize their potential.

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.

Not to get political, but to look at 2020 any other way than a nightmare is unfathomable to me.

I know a lot of people that are in the right tax bracket, or have benefitted from Government programs  are doing ok, as long as they haven’t contracted CV 19, but over 335,000 unnecessary deaths on its own is enough.

However, the Pandemic and its gross mismanagement by this President and his GOP enablers, as well as a  morally, intellectually and corrupt President of the US,  makes 2020 even worse.

And then there are those that support someone who most likely is a traitor to the US and their support for this deeply flawed and dishonest President is is extremely disappointing to me.

There is no apparently no middle and 2020 and 1/20 can’t happen fast enough for me.

Getting near the end

As we approach the end of 2020 we likely all have mixed feelings about this crazy year.

I won’t dwell on the obvious bits of 2020 we’d all like to put behind us. As 2021 approaches I think we’re all hopeful the bad parts stay in the rearview mirror.

The rising sun of 2021 is just there, peeking over the horizon, anxious to spread its gentle glow across a tortured landscape.

At PS Audio we’re excited for what is to come. Our long-awaited loudspeakers, the Octave Player, a new PS Audio website, to mention just a few. In fact, there are seven new products on our busy 2021 docket, the descriptions of which I will roll out to you over the coming months.

I am convinced that with vaccines on the way and a hopeful easing of the massive divide we see in our country, 2021 will be a great and gentler year to look forward to.

 

 

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.

Pleasure, indeed!!

Practical vs. pleasurable

A Corvette Stingray is not the most practical of cars. Yes, you can pick up groceries at the market, arrive in style, and race about town, but you’d be hard-pressed to take the family to dinner.

A fully decked out high-end audio system, on the other hand, is both practical and pleasurable, though we likely didn’t take the plunge because it was practical.

For most of us, the word practical didn’t much enter the conversation when we drooled over the latest amp, scrimped, and saved for that new transport, or sweet talked our better halves into that new pair of loudspeakers dominating the living room.

The operative word was pleasure.

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 has been an High End Audio show in California that combines audio with wine, cigars and even luxury cars. All luxury items many of us are lucky to have.  I count my blessings every day and hope the rest of most of this country does the same.

The trained listener

Forty something years ago when Terri and I first began having children, ultrasound technology was in its infancy. The doctor would show us unrecognizable blurry blobs that only he and other experienced viewers could make out as anything but, well, blobs. They seemed to know what it all meant, but to our untrained eyes, they could have been anything.

In the same vein, you can set two glasses of wine down in front of me and I can tell you which I like and don’t like, but not much more. Try the same thing in front of a Master Sommelier and you’ll be accurately told the wine’s year, location, and brand.

Set an experienced listener in front of a high end stereo system and they can easily tell you what’s going on in the system. Or, if you’re like some of us, we can tell you what’s likely going on inside the circuits processing the sound.

In each case the difference between observers is experience. Training.

It is no more accurate to say that the difference between cheap and expensive wines is undetectable in a double blind test than the same for a stereo system.

Our measure of veracity is always personal. What we can accurately say is that we cannot tell the difference.

We ain’t me, or you.

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.

Wisdom

Doubt is the beginning, not the end, of wisdom.

Aphorisms aside, I think it’s instructive to honor doubt in service of gaining wisdom. When we doubt that parts quality matter, or the topology of a circuit can have a major sonic impact, we can dismiss it or embrace it.

Dismissing something as nonsense simply because it doesn’t fit into our worldview is self-limiting. What wisdom do we gain by blowing it off? If, on the other hand, we keep an open mind in service of curiosity, we open ourselves to new possibilities and understanding.

It is healthy to doubt and even healthier to investigate that which does not immediately ring as true.

The wise audiophile is open to new ideas, new methods of achieving sonic purity.

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 Peter Principle

In 1969, a Canadian educator, Laurence J. Peter, presented to the world the Peter Principle. People and systems in a hierarchical structure are continually elevated (or upgraded) until they reach a point of incompetence, and there they stay.

This now-famous principle was based on a lot of research, personal observations, and not a little bit of satire. Smiles and guffaws aside, the reason it became so well know is its basis in truth. We’ve all known someone that’s exemplified Dr. Peter’s principle.

We can apply his principle to our stereo systems. We build, tweak, polish, update, and rearrange until audio nirvana has been attained, and then we do it all over again hoping to reach yet a higher level. Eventually, we reach a point where wheels spin without forward motion.

We’ve Petered out (to pun a phrase).

In my experience, this happens more when we’re tweaking rather than addressing basics. A better audio cable, power supply, isolator, or vibration smoother can improve sonics but only if it’s helping a deserving performer—one that has been properly vetted for the job.

Take a 50,000-foot view of the system before delving into the minutiae.

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.

Some well deserved marketing from Paul today, heaping praise on PS Audio’s new power amplifier, their Stellar M1000 monoblock power amplifiers. I’ve not heard them, but a lot of power for their size and very efficient, using a Class D output stage.  One reason they probably sound good is due to their use it of B&O’s ICE power modules, which I think sound a lot better than the more typically used Class D Hypex modules.

And the hits just….

…keep on coming. In the January issue of the UK’s HiFi News, our killer M1200 monoblock combo received another stellar review (pun intended).

“The latter track positively erupted, the amplifiers creating a searing midband with Matt Heafy’s sinewy guitar tone brought to the fore, and drums again hitting with the speed and aggression of a champion boxer.”

Reviewer Mark Craven goes on to write:

“This slender monoblock amp is not solely devoted to room-shaking power. It has that capability, but appreciation of its punch comes with an appreciation of its grace. The sound is a confluence of steel and silk – fast, rhythmic and able to respond astutely to the shifting dynamics of music. A smooth treble lifts it high above the realms of the rough-and-ready, and there’s an energetic delivery of the midband. But the star attraction – the one that gets your blood pumping right away – is its exceptional bass handling.

To check my Bluesound Vault 2i was behaving itself, I fired up, at random, Chris Rea’s ‘Daytona’ [The Road To Hell; Tidal Master]. After no more than a second I had stopped worrying about my network connection and started focusing on the music. This gentle, mid-tempo homage to a Ferrari race car (complete with tires squealing over the outro…) arrived with a slippery, fluid and authentic bass sound that I wasn’t prepared for, the kind that has you wondering why you haven’t always done your listening through 600W monoblock amplifiers.”

If you’d like to read the entire article, you can download a copy by clicking here.

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.

Bi-Amping, which I cant even do with my Daedalus loudspeakers, never did anything to improve sound quality to me and actually could easily introduce more problems than it solved. Paul has reached the same conclusion!!

Does bi-amping still make sense?

Twenty something years ago, horizontal bi-amping made a great deal of sense. One type of power amplifier for the woofer sections, another for the top end.

It made sense because amplifiers of those days rarely did everything well. Perhaps the big amps kicked booty on bass while grating nerves on the top end. Little tube amps were wimps on the bottom end but sweet as honey on the top.

Leveraging an amplifier’s good points while steering clear of its failings was a reasonable proposition. Today, most speakers still come with dual sets of binding posts so as to allow for bi-amping.

But do we still need it?

I think not. Today’s amplifiers are great from top to bottom of the frequency range. A pair of M1200s, or a BHK, garner rave reviews from the lowest bass notes to the ringing of bells and beyond.

Bi-amping is a thing of the past.

And thank goodness for that.

 

 

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.

Proof pudding

No matter how much we wish to believe in something the proof’s often in the pudding. It tastes good or it doesn’t.

For years I have been a disciple of servo-controlled subwoofers. And, for good reason. Proper servo control has a number of advantages: lower distortion, reduction of overhang, flat response irrespective of the enclosure and driver parameters. That’s a lot to like.

Every Genesis Technologies woofer system I helped design was servo-controlled. It just worked and sounded great.

Not until our senior analog engineer, Darren Myers, and loudspeaker designer, Chris Brunhaver, joined the PS engineering team did I begin to question my long-held beliefs. If memory serves me it was Darren that first questioned the actual sound from the servo system. It wouldn’t take long for Chris to join him. Their beef? It didn’t sound right.

They said the pudding would taste better without the servo.

The idea of letting go my love of servos was at first abhorrent. Hard to change that which you have truly believed in for as many decades as I. Yet, it didn’t take but a few hours of demonstration to flip my switch. What they argued wasn’t all that complicated. Servos did indeed produce cleaner bass but, they argued, at the loss of audible slam and impact.

Over the course of a few weeks, multiple experiments were conducted on every kind of music we could come up with. The results were always the same. With the servo in place some of music’s excitement was lost—something one doesn’t notice until a better example is at the ready for comparison.

It’s always a good reminder that no matter how great the recipe, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

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 wrote a diet book!!

On a recent road trip to California, I snacked so much as to have gained back that which I had worked so hard to lose, 5 pounds of weight. I rationalized the snacking as ok because we had agreed, for Covid safety concerns, to avoid indoor restaurants.

Once safely home, it’s back to The Eat Diet.

I can rationalize just about anything, and I’ll bet I am not alone.

How many of us have rationalized our way down expensive or tiresome rabbit holes seeking yet another tiny improvement?

I have a box filled with green pens and a tape degausser as a reminder.

It takes clarity of purpose, courage, and resolve to quiet the rationalizer in us.