AXPONA Part 3 from Chicago with PS Audio

Paul McGowan has been shepherding the good folks at PS Audio for quite a few years now.

A long-time audio designer, he takes his role of industry icon pretty seriously. A constant presence on YouTube (and other online sources), his question and answer format to all things audiophile provides an access point to his deep well of knowledge for both laymen and hardcore enthusiast alike.

At AXPONA on Saturday McGowan even hosted a “live” session of his popular interview format to room attendees keen to directly interact with the man himself.

My time in the room however, was focused more on the new two-box DAC design in the room from his digital accomplice Ted Smith.

Ted has been collaborating with PS Audio for more than a few product cycles, and his newest creation is the Obsidian Series Ted Smith Signature DAC due out by the end of this year if all goes as planned.

The rather impressive PS Audio room was located just off the main entrance to the convention hall and featured an efficient arrangement of both showroom and listening space. Even though the demo units for the new digital converters were still on static display, Ted could always be found within arms reach kindly fielding the many questions attendees had. His generous energy and openness to design was also captured for a future episode of our Audiostream Podcast, so interested parties will want to keep an eye (and ear) out for that.

The target price for the new DAC should land in the range of $20,000-$25,000 USD. The two-chassis system isn’t broken out by control boards and power supplies, but rather by galvanically-isolated casework for the digital and analog sections. That means each unit will require a separate plug to the wall, and each has its own unique power supply. A custom optical cable (not Toslink) connects the two sections together, which can be situated either in a stacked position or side by side. Inputs include AES and I2s via an HDMI cable. Ted aims to create power supplies that are “a good citizen to the rest of the system” and prefers only one clock in his designs, located right before the signal turns analog.

On active display in the main listening room was also a pair of new PS Audio AN3 loudspeakers (~$15,000 USD) built in memory of Arnie Nudell, a mentor and friend to Paul McGowan. Due out in Q4 of this year, the metal chairs of the sonic sanctuary were filled and eager ears were pointed directly at drivers. In this case, a four-way system including 12 & 8-inch aluminum woofers, a Bohlender-Graebener Neo 10 planar mid and an AMT tweeter.

A cross section of jazz-oriented tracks played during my time in the room, which allowed for easy pickings into the rich tones of a baritone singer. The bass was responsive, and just a bit heartier overall than the average room over the weekend. Big speakers tend to drive big sound and the AN3 was no exception, there was plenty of room to stretch with the higher ceiling and the system on display filled every inch of it with high fidelity. It was a delightful way to kick off Saturday morning with warm tea and good vibes all around.

PS Audio
4865 Sterling Drive • Boulder, Colorado • 80301