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RMAF 2018: PS Audio Factory Tour

KEF R Series

As readers may remember, I’m a huge fan of the PS Audio DirectStream DAC.  Very recently, PS Audio moved into a much larger facility right across the street from the old facility.  I was quite keen on seeing the new place as I visited the prior location around five years ago and had a great time.  I spoke to Bill Leebens about possibly doing a quick tour and he set it up for me.  I felt a bit guilty about it as I was hitting them up while all their people were at the Marriott setting up their room.  But he said Joey from Sales was still left at the factory and it was doable.  So with generous support from Bill and Joey, I met up with my pal Chris Noble from Texas and we headed to Boulder.

It could not have been a nicer day.  A quick trip up 25 to 36 West and we soon arrived at PS Audio global headquarters.  Joey met us at the engineering department and the tour began.

Right off the bat we met two cool people, Bill who does the mechanical designs, and Bob Stadtherr who invented the “Digital Lens” which helps the digital products sound so good.  Bob and Bill could not have been nicer.  What impressed Chris and I right off was how clean and bright the factory was.  The engineering guys had these cool new electronic desks which allow them to work on designs while standing or sitting.  On each desk were two large monitors arranged in a butterfly configuration.  On the other side the cubes was the team that has been pushing out firmware updated on the Memory Player.  They just pushed out an update a couple of days ago so that will be fun to play with when I get home.  I really got a sense of what a big operation PS Audio is by this engineering team.  According to Joey, the total team is nearing 50 people which makes PS a fairly large company by high-end standards.  As a fan and heavy user of their digital products, I am really happy for Paul and team.  It’s refreshing to see any high-end company be this successful but it’s especially gratifying when a family business full of friendly people do so well.

From engineering we went into the warehouse which was chock-a-block full of parts and finished goods.  It seemed clear that PS had a good level of production volume.

Next on the tour were the production rooms.  The last visit I had to Boulder with PS, I saw some power conditioners and power strips being built.  Now we are seeing more DirectStream DACs being completed and Bascom King’s wonderful tube/solid state amps and preamps being built.  It’s really something to see audio gear in various stages of completion.  Again, the factory impressed with cleanliness and well thought out workstations.  There are lots of windows everywhere and on a sunny day in Boulder, lots of natural light.  But the biggest difference was how spacious the new place is.  The older place was fairly cramped and this place appears to have room to grow.  Best of all, the team looked happy.  It kinda feels like a big family and I suspect many have been at the company for many years.

From production, we went up stairs to a landing which was under furious construction.  This area contained the three upcoming “music rooms” where new designs will be listened to and where visitors can hear reference systems in a good acoustical space.

A short flight of steps up from there was a huge room where the sales team sits and the PS Audio “museum” which is a large set of shelves where the team has kept key products from every decade of PS Audio’s existence.

From here we wound up in corporate operations and Jim Laib, the President of PS Audio came out to meet us.  It was really nice to talk to him and, of course, with my “grill master” friend Chris, the talked quickly turned to barbecue.  Accounting and other corporate functions are here.

Chris and I enjoyed ourselves on this tour.  Joey was a great host and everyone was super friendly even though we were interrupting their work days.  Paul and team have genuinely built something special here.  Many thanks to Bill and Joey for the tour.  It made me even more proud to be an owner of the DirectStream DAC and Memory Player.  I can’t wait to finish this article and head down to the Marriott’s Spruce Room and hear the latest gear, including Arnie Nudell’s personal speakers.  One more observation: at the factory, you see the Nipper audio dog in several rooms.  As a dog lover, I can’t resist ending with the Nipper in the window that first greeted us.  I suspect Nipper is liking what he is hearing at PS Audio these days.

About Lee Scoggins (76 Articles)
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Lee got interested in audio listening to his Dad’s system in the late 70s and he started making cassettes from LPs. By the early 80s he got swept up in the CD wave that was launching which led to a love of discs from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs. Later while working on Wall Street in the 90s, Lee started working on blues, jazz and classical sessions for Chesky Records and learned record engineering by apprenticeship. Lee was involved in the first high resolution recordings which eventually became the DVD-Audio format. Lee now does recordings of small orchestras and string quartets in the Atlanta area. Lee's current system consists of Audio Research Reference electronics and Wilson Audio speakers.

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