Perceptions of PS Audio

Like many of you, I’m sure, I peruse the Audiogon forums. Today, I came upon this thread asking about PS Audio’s reputation. Wonder if any of you saw it. I thought it might be good if some of you from this forum weighed in.

As a market researcher and cultural anthropologist, I’m fascinated by the way perceptions and beliefs get constructed, reproduced, and modified over time. Brands mean different things to different people, but generally have traits—a personality and character—that they come to be known for. To a large extent we construct meaning out of the distinctions and choices we make as consumers (Ford vs Chevy people or iPhone vs. Android types). Of course, it’s more nuanced than these simple oppositions. The original poster is concerned with the “hype” around PS Audio and wonders if the good things he is hearing are justified.

Interesting thread.

It is an interesting thread, for sure. I don’t think there’s a whole lot of doubt about the quality of the products PS Audio is currently putting out in the audiophile community. For the money, they are generally as good or much better than their competitors. There are more “money is no object” centered companies out there that make marginally better products, I guess. Regardless, their service is fantastic and even older products can be repaired and routinely receive firmware updates. Then there’s this community, which is a jewel in and of itself, but that may not make things sound better! As far as hype, I don’t know if I really see much of that in that the products meet of exceed expectations for the price. Well, OK, maybe Paul has been known to be a tad hyperbolic regarding his products, but that is allowed ,and probably in his job description. I mean it is his company and if he doesn’t talk them up, who will?? 21_gif

My only gripe with PS Audio, if I have one, is that the resale of PSA products can take a hit due to the occasional “firesale”. Take, for instance, the P10. It is priced at $5k, which is a fair price, IMO. I was lucky enough to purchase the P10 during a time when the unit was discounted to $3k, which was amazing for me. I can tell you that if I had bought the P10 2 weeks earlier or later, I would have been pissed. Not only because I would have missed out on the sale, but also because the resale price of the P10 is now definitely pegged for less than $3k. I know for a fact that PS Audio retailers are wary of this practice. It would be painful for a shop to buy the BHK monoblocks at one price only to have them sold by PS Audio themselves direct to the consumer at a similar or lower price a month later while they are trying to sell their product? There is probably more to it than I’m relaying, but I know it doesn’t help resale for PSA products, I don’t think.

Wake - I posted on the thread under my ‘gon name “Audioguru222” (yeah, I know…)itwasntme_gif

In Australia, PS Audio products are received well but because of exchange rates etc. The products are priced in the top tier so perhaps they compete in a different product range than they do in the USA. There is huge debate in Oz about electricity/power, cables etc. PS Audio power cables are not certified here in Australia so its another issue - you cannot buy them terminated for use.

The biggest “hi-fi” forum in Australia is and Paul’s comments and positions on various issues like power conditioning, measurements, audio comparisons (sighted, blind, double-blind et al) are debated quite a bit. I think the general opinion is that PS Audio over-hypes their products and the engineering inside.

See this thread:

That over-hyping impression is interesting…and I can understand where it comes from…but not only do I think it’s in Paul’s job description, but also that the communication of technical advantages is important and done very well…others should do the same imo, it’s informative as long as it’s no dazzling.

Although I sometimes wonder that certain basic advantageous design principles are not used, I think PSA really is downright innovative.

I think generally PSA is well received. I think there will always be issues to be managed regarding MAP pricing for dealers (if that exists) vs a “Black Friday” sale(s). Also the inherent impact on resale. I see very little negative and I also see references in reviews like this one:

It stands to note, Mr. Sarmento does not have a name like Paul McGowan. W4S has yet to make history like PS Audio. But, by the leadership of Rick Cullen and the innovation of E.J. Sarmento, Cullen Circuits boasts a remarkable reputation of manufacturing revolutionary audio gear for nearly the last twenty years

I appreciate it can be frustrating when a product one has purchased subsequently goes on sale, be it a car or piece of audio gear.

But does this mean a manufacturer should not ever place a product on sale? Should there be limits on the percentage discount if there is a sale?

Thanks to all of you, Badbeef et al, who have posted over on Audiogon on this. Frank I tried to read the thread but it seems that it’s not an open forum.

Hype, over-hype, implies that the claims are exaggerated, not entirely true. One of the posters says he has a preference for “blue chip” audio brands because they “have stood the test of time” and have “better resale.” I wonder which brands he is referring to—McIntosh?

One thing that immediately struck me about PS Audio and Paul in particular is his commitment to transparency and two-way communication. Does this lack of “mystery” and accessibility, not playing the “strong silent type”, take away from the perceived “prestige.” The old Graucho Marx saw about not wanting to be a member of any club that would have him. That our desire is fueled by what we can’t have, the shiny object just out of reach.

In a very crowded marketplace, there are a number of strategies to “position “ or attempt to differentiate a brand. Exclusivity and luxury-level high price is one approach. Superior features and benefits, aesthetics/design, affordability, customer service, breadth of selection, advertising etc.

I admire the approach PS Audio has taken and it rings of authenticity.

Yup - my experience has been that they are authentic in giving a crap about creating great products at a reasonable price, care about good sound, and want to keep their customers happy above and beyond the average audiophile equipment manufacturer, many of whom are overseen by conglomerates these days.

re: Hype - if you created a product, and you believed in it enough to bring it to market, and someone asked you, “What’s the deal with it?”, you would not tend to say, “Hey - between you, me and the signpost, it’s not really that great. I don’t recommend you buy our products”.

Everyone does it, else they are no longer in business, independent of the respect it might engender. “PS Audio is great - they told me not to buy their stuff! I really respect that, and so will continue to take their advice and not buy their products, despite being able to try their stuff for free for a month.”101_gif

I agree. PS Audio occasionally engages in a bit of overly enthusiastic marketing but it really is because they are excited about and believe in their own products. Paul and his team are the real deal. I have gotten amazing customer service over the years and their products represent great value, whether or not you happen to catch them on sale.

On the subject of PS Audio perception…does PS build their products in Boulder (USA)or overseas? I believe the Sprout is made in China but what about the rest of their gear?

Mark-d, I think essentially all of their current electronics, with the exception of Sprout as you mentioned, are made in the US. As was pointed out in the Audiogon thread, PS Audio assembles everything in Boulder, manufacturing of the cases is contracted out to a US manufacturer. I’m not sure who assembles the circuit boards. Not sure if PS Audio wants to divulge all their suppliers, but I’m sure they would be happy to confirm how many are in the US.

Thanks, guys. Yes, with the exception of Sprout and the Dectet, everything we build we build here and source most of the parts here as well. We use vendors from Kansas to California for circuit boards, though most of the metal work is done in Colorado. We’ve got 38 wonderful people working hard to make these products for you right here in the good old USA.

I would encourage anyone in the area to come by and visit. While I know most companies in our business might be a little standoffish of unannounced visitors, you’ll find us quite the opposite. Come on by and watch your products being made and see where they are designed and listened to.

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wakethetown said

One of the posters says he has a preference for “blue chip” audio brands because they “have stood the test of time” and have “better resale.” I wonder which brands he is referring to—McIntosh?

I was curious about that blue-chip comment myself. I wonder how long one has to be in business for their chips to be colored blue? McIntosh certainly qualifies as it was founded one year after I was born. We've been around for only a mere 45 years, so I guess our chips are colored something else....itwasntme_gif

It must be the blue McIntosh meters.

Also seemed related to not selling at discounted prices, so that your list-price purchase isn’t subsequently “devalued” in the resale market.

This may be the reference. Thanks.

I was once offered a new Ferrari 360 Modena with a $20,000+ discount (Buy a Ferrari, get a Honda Civic free!).

It is good I did not accept the offer. I would hate to see Ferrari devalued in the market.

“I would encourage anyone in the area to come by and visit. While I know most companies in our business might be a little standoffish of unannounced visitors, you’ll find us quite the opposite. Come on by and watch your products being made and see where they are designed and listened to.”

It really is a neat experience and you get a feeling for what a great operation is being run there in Boulder. The rumors about Paul imprisoning visitors in the warehouse to be fed only when they make complimentary comments on the forum is blatantly untrue, by the way.

Elk, is your chain long enough to reach the water bucket? I’m thirsty. Really thirsty…