I had the great pleasure of spending a couple of hours yesterday morning at PS Audio in Boulder, Colorado. Knowing that I would be in Boulder (my sister lives in Four Mile Canyon), I reached out to Paul McGowan (I’ve met him several times), the head of the company, and let him know that I would be in Boulder and that I would love to come by to chat, listen, and share our experiences in high-end audio. He responded right away and made room in his very busy schedule for a 10 am visit. Paul was very gracious and generous to make time for me, especially as I have written some critical posts about his company’s approach to digital audio and his preference for DSD coding.
My plan was to share some of my recordings with Paul in his new very well equipped music room. I always carry my trusty 32 Gig music loaded USB stick with me, so I wrote to Paul and asked whether this would work in his system. It turned out that the gear needed to play files from my USB stick was in transit from the Montreal Show (I missed it this year) so that ruled out that option. Option B was to locate one of my Blu-ray samplers and find out whether the system in his demo room could handle that format…again, that plan was not feasible. The PS Audio PerfectWave Memory Player that is used to play discs can handle CD-Audio/CD-ROM/DVD-ROM formats but not Blu-ray discs or DVD-Audio/Video discs. Strike two. OK, I thought as I was driving to Boulder that morning, I’d just have to burn some files from my laptop onto a CD-R and play those. I arrived a little early and tried to burn a few of my favorite files as I only had a single CD-R (capacity 700 Megs), I couldn’t get more than a couple tunes on it. We’re talking about high-resolution audio files…and they can be very large.
Frustrated, I packed up my briefcase and headed to the door at exactly 10 am. Just inside the door are shelves of PS Audio products past and present. I recognized the Ultralink DAC that powered my mastering business back in 1989. Pretty cool. As I walked in, the entire company staff was assembled in the lobby. Paul was close by, turned around and immediately welcomed me in. He introduced me to the group just prior to a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday”. I’m not sure whose birthday is was but I knew I was in the midst of a friendly group.
Paul gave me the royal tour of the entire facility. I met his son Scott, who handles marketing and promotion and I learned about Paul’s other son who has a company in Denver that designs and fabricates exquisite furniture. There were several exquisite pieces around the office…it resurrected memories of my years as a woodworker and furniture geek. I’d be hard pressed to recall the names of all of the people that I met, but everyone was more than happy to chat briefly. I spent more than a few moments with one of the operations/financial guys. It turns out he’s a fellow marathoner…although a serious and good one…and is in the midst of running a different marathon in every state of the union. He’s got a map on his wall that’s tracking his progress. I’m always impressed with individuals that include running a marathon on their bucket list but this guy accepted a challenge way beyond that. And what’s his plan after the 50 marathons? He plans on climbing Mt. Everest. Wow.
PS Audio builds very high-end equipment…and they build it in Boulder, Colorado. Kudos to them for keeping their manufacturing in the U.S. They have other specialized companies build the circuit boards, mill the metal housings, and supply other parts but the final assembly and testing is done right there in their shop. The hardware and software is done right there, too. I met most of the team of die-hard audio geeks and am completely convinced that the employees of Paul’s company are there because they love music and sound.
As we toured and talked, I mentioned the format dilemma that I was confronting regarding my AIX Records tracks. I asked Paul if he had any DVD-Rs. Maybe I could burn some tracks onto a DVD-R disc as WAV files that would be compatible with the PerfectWave Memory Player. The solution presented itself. I pulled out my aging Mac Laptop and began to copy about 10 tracks from hard disc to DVD-R. As the progress bar traversed the screen of my computer, Paul and I chatted.
To be continued…