PS AUDIO event write up by Larry Deniston
PS Audio/Paul McGowan SFAS Event – October 21, 2017
SFAS members who attended the PS Audio event in Soquel were treated to a lively and enlightening discussion with PS Audio’s founder Paul McGowan and regional sales manager Kevin Jackson. The event was held at Joe Hakim’s beautiful house in Soquel utilizing a combination of Joe’s system and a complete set of PS Audio electronics.
Paul began the event by talking about how PS Audio was founded in 1973. In 1974, Paul and his partner Stan Warren hand built phono stages out of a garage which sold direct to consumers for $59.95. Paul personally cut all of the walnut end blocks with a table saw. Paul and Stan drilled holes in the circuit boards and soldered the parts in each preamp. They had placed an ad in a hifi magazine for the phono stage with a money-back satisfaction guarantee and the orders started pouring in, even before parts were on hand. Stan left PS Audio in the early 1980s to start his own company. Except for a seven year hiatus during the 1990s when Paul joined Arnie Nudell to form Genesis Loudspeakers, Paul and PS Audio have been designing and building power conditioning, phono stage, preamp, power amp, DAC and CD transport equipment and cables ever since.
During the event Paul spoke about his products and answered questions from the SFAS attendees ranging from the use of tubes in his new amplifiers to the design philosophy around the DirectStream DAC with free firmware upgrades, the benefits of the DirectStream Memory Player for digital media, the effect of USB cables on the sound of a system, and the loudspeaker line PS Audio is developing with Arnie Nudell (expected to be released in 2018).
Paul’s discussions were interspersed with music selections played on the system listed below, including an A/B comparison between an SACD played on the DirectStream Memory Player and the same file streamed to the DirectStream DAC. While the results were not unanimous, approximately twice as many people preferred the sound from the Memory Player.
In addition to running the business at PS Audio, Paul posts a daily blog which I’ve been following since its inception about five years ago. I was pleased to see SFAS and the event at Joe’s house mentioned in his October 24, 2017 blog! Follow the link if you’re inclined to review the blog and possibly sign up for some great daily reads: http://www.psaudio.com/pauls-posts/performance-vs-wealth/
Similar to their last visit to SFAS a couple of years ago, PS Audio made their equipment available for 30-day in-home trials free of charge and no hard sell tactics. Kevin Jackson worked with a number of attendees who will be soon receiving new gear to audition – we’ll look forward to hearing about how the trials went. I had the pleasure of auditioning a BHK Signature 250 stereo amp recently and it is a terrific sounding amplifier! For those of you who were not able to attend the event at Joe’s house, Kevin will extend the PS Audio equipment demo offer to a limited number of SFAS members. If you are interested you may contact Kevin Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call at 720.402.3924.
The music sounded great, Paul was engaging and informative, and the attendees had a great time – another terrific event – thanks so much to Paul and Kevin!
Electronics & Speakers:
BHK Signature Preamp
BHK Signature 300 Monoblock amplifiers
DirectStream DAC with Bridge II running Huron firmware
DirectStream Memory Player
P10 AC Power Regenerator
Von Schweikert Audio VR-55 Aktive speakers
MasterBuilt Audio Ultra interconnects and speaker cables
PS Audio I2S cable Memory Player to DAC
MasterBuilt Audio Ultra (monoblocks), MasterBuilt Audio Reference on the Preamp and DAC, MasterBuilt Audio Signature on the Memory Player and Audio Art on the P10.