PS Audio's Paul McGowan talks about DACs, Speakers, and Why "Code" is a Necessary 4-Letter Word

Earlier this week, we posted a video blog with PS Audio's founder and CEO Paul McGowan giving Jana Dagdagan and me a post-CES tour around the Boulder, Colorado company's factory. That tour ended in Paul's dedicated listening room, "Music Room One," where he has a pair of fully restored Infinity IRS V loudspeakers set-up.

Following the tour, I sat down with Paul in Music Room One and in a wide-ranging conversation, we talked about amplifiers and loudspeakers, DACs and audio systems, and the state of high-end audio. We touched on audio retailing, permission vs push marketing, and even discussed audio magazine publishing strategies. (PS Audio is unique among audio companies in that it publishes a twice-monthly, on-line magazine, Copper.)

In the third and final video Jana shot during our visit to PS Audio, I play three of my own recordings on the legendary IRS Vs, with the binaurally recorded sound putting you in the listening chair. But for now sit back and watch two about-to-be-septuagenarian audiophiles chewing the fat!

tonykaz's picture

My wife came into my office and saw Paul McGowan, she said "he seems familiar".

After all these years she somehow recalled Paul from our B&K connection. My Wife and Sylvia ( our British Partner's Wife) ran our Business office and Judy recalled Paul's voice from 1982,3,4 era. His Voice ! after all these years.

Of course it's Pauls "voice" and the way he phrases his thoughts that make him Unforgettable.

She sat and watched and remembered all the circumstances of our lives back then : Paul brought Memory Lane to my Office for my Wife . I didn't mention that we'd be ordering PS Audio again.

I could feel good about owning that Naim on the Front Cover of Stereophile.


I know that I'd feel good about owning PS Audio again ( especially AN Loudspeakers ).

Stereophile & YouTube combine to make Audio Journalism the finest it's ever been and I think it's improving with the quality of the Cameras, lenses, microphones & lighting that Jana is mastering the use of. The Sound of this Video is better than any previous videos ( new mic? )

Stereophile's writers are also pretty dam wonderful.

I haf-ta think that every Audiophile Outfit out there will be watching this 3-Part Series about Paul & PS raising the Bar a couple of notches. Everyone will scratch their heads wondering how PS rose out of the Ashes of Vinyl's passing to achieve this magnetically charismatic level of evasive success. How the hell did Paul do it ?

Back in the Day, my customer base came from Reciever / Record Changers to thier first stop as Audiophiles Owning an LP12, a PS 4H, some sort of Amp and LS3/5a.

PS was there getting Audiophiles off to a good start, now, PS ( I think ) is leading people to the musical satisfaction we've hoped for but could never achieve . ( most of us could never )

Those beautiful writings of HP&TAS have been fluidly supplanted by PM, JA, Stereophile, Tyll, Jana, Steve G and any of the brilliant Content & insight providers associated with these Creators.

The Audiophile dream is becoming more achievable every day.

Tony in Michigan

Ortofan's picture

... recognizing and appreciating that the end users of his company's products are the actual customers and not the dealers who merely resell it.

jimtavegia's picture

Not many people in this industry with Paul's intellect and insight really understand, as he does, that it is not just all about him that there are so many people that have their lives wrapped up into taking care of their families through the sales and service of PS audio gear and he is to be commended for this vision and the honesty of being a people person and providing some of the best products around.

Anton's picture

I bet the speaker idea Paul mentions and then JA discusses at just after the 25:15 mark will mimic what Rectilinear tried to do with their Model 5, back in the early 70's.

Middle of paragraph one:

tonykaz's picture

In Paul's "How do horn loaded speakers work and sound? Vlog YouTube March 3rd. Paul revealed that the soon to be displayed AN Loudspeakers will have Horn type efficiencies.

I'm excited by this News!

Horns use Mechanical Gain of about 9db.

I've made Horn Loudspeakers, I've owned Horns, I like Horns but they are soooooo dam Big. Phew.

Powerful Amps & 85db. loudspeakers seem a useful compromise, especially if they have LS3/5a sound quality.

Today I want smaller than Horn sized loudspeakers that sound as good as my Sennheiser HD600 series Headphones.

Am I asking for too much?

Tony in Michigan

hollowman's picture

I think JA's remark about bringing Stereophile's pre-Internet content to the web site is a solid one.

About the validity or need for a print-format magazine in today's screen-crazy world ... well, it seems that printed books and bookshops are making a comeback. And 12" vinyl LP's resurgence is real and here-to-stay (for a while, anyway).

For more on Print vs. Screen, see:
The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens

That article is few years old (2013). I think importance of video platforms will make the debate more complex. I personally think Stereophile's vlog is the mag's most-important upgrade in decades.

All that said, the physical, three-dimensional nature of a printed magazine remains inviting. But I'm pre-millennial!

dalethorn's picture

I agree that print is preferable for reading, but digital is wonderful for searching.

-Rudy-'s picture

I also prefer digital for searching, so it will be nice to re-read old reviews I came across when I originally read the print versions back in the 80s and early 90s, or to research older equipment I might consider purchasing.

Sadly I lost all those years worth of Stereophiles during one of my moves back about ten years ago. But really, do I want them back? No. The space to store them, the nuiscance of moving them around, etc. isn't worth it to me to handle a physical copy. I'm already told I have "too much crap in this house," and at this stage in my life, I'm actually starting to believe it. ;o)

hollowman's picture

...i.e., a PDF complete-set of back issues (up to a certain date, of course!).
Other mags do it (Nat. Geo, Scientific American, even AudioXpress). The magazine FORMAT (a continuous publication with a cover, TOC, pages, ads) should be preserved. PDF mags are fine (and searchable) on an iPad or PC. The choppy and RANDOM format of the web site is a different animal.

Stereophile used to pub. (in its Jan or Dec issue ??) an index of that (or just-past) year's index. A complete (up-to-date) index of indexes -- for print version -- would be useful for the web site. I think one used to exist, years ago, in a *.txt format ???

I'm guessing that all that digitizing and cataloging is beyond the capability/budget of TEN Network.

hollowman's picture

PM -- given his age -- speaks realistically about his mortality vs. future of PSA.

In the video, JA and PM comment on their similar age.

It seems that Stereophile, with the sudden loss of its spear-carrier (JA), would be in big trouble....
JA edits, writes reviews, works in the lab for the sake of Measurements, attends shows, moderates the web site ...etc.... what does the guy NOT do?
Suggestion: pick the just-in-case backup ASAP ... and that indiv. should be young with both an arts AND science education.
Hmmm ... how about Janna or Stephen Mejias?

rschryer's picture

Sleep, for one. Or go to a lot of glitzy NYC parties. Or take vacations that require overnight stays.

But he will measure the devil out of a $160.00 pair of Pioneer SP-BS22-LR speakers:

The man is devoted to the cause.

watchdog005's picture

I thoroughly enjoyed my tour of the PS Audio factory with JA and Paul. Very informative interview. The only issue I have is listening to that great system through my laptop speakers. I definitely will have to find the time to visit Paul's music room asap. :)

Bill Leebens's picture

Our factory doors are open Monday-Friday 9-5, and we welcome folks to come and visit for a tour. One of our crew will take you around and give you a shot at the IRS system.

Bill Leebens
Director of Marketing, PS Audio