PS: Typical McGowan Sound? -- HCA-2 & Classic 250

The commentary I have read on the HCA-2 has been mixed, but the criticisms I read remind me of the typical criticisms that have been expressed on all of Paul McGowan's designs in the past: An upfront, technicolor upper midrange & lower treble, some harmonic thinness, & a tight, but lean bass.

I'd sooner believe the review on Audiogon than I would KR's review in Stereophile, whose questionable hearing I don't trust.

In looking at the responses to the Audiogon review, it is interesting to see that half the responders love it; the other half hate it. By seeing all of them for sale on 'Gon now, you wonder what the real scoop is.

I'm kind of interested in the CLASSIC 250, which is a non-digital design that has alot of hoopla about it on the PS website. Has anyone heard or bought this amp, or compared it to the HCA-2?

Why bother with reviews? Just audition the HCA-2 with the free 30 day trial period from PS Audio. Since you haven't even listened to this amp at all, it makes no sense reading what others have to say. When a unit is priced as low as the PS Audio and rated as high, it becomes obvious that many people would like to find fault with it to justify the fact that it isn't quite up to task. I own the HCA-2 and have had the opportunity to listen to far more expensive amps but it wasn't the price that drew me to it, even though I could afford more- it was the sound. The bass was sufficient- heck- I am using it to drive ML Aerius i's and have successfully driven Maggies 1.6 with no problem at all.

The 250 is slightly better (more power, resolution, and harmonic richness) but it is a different beast altogether (it is not a digital hybrid amp). Yet the difference is only about 5-10% improvement over the HCA-2 (to my ears anyways). It may justify the extra cost but to be honest I could find little to complain about the HCA-2- it presents music in a very open and honest way without exaggeration.

Just audition the amp before relying on the opinion of others. If it doesn't work out, just return it with your money back. You have nothing to lose. Your ears are the best judges in your personal audio preferences.

I agree with Zenaissance about the HCA-2. I use it to drive the Tyler Linbrooks with great results. The amp is very fast, detailed and dynamics with very sweet midrange, tight bass. You could run it all day long and the amp is not even warm when touched. It blows away the Adcom 5802 that I used to own in every way. Make sure to use the amp with a high end PC. It makes a world of difference.
My Mom owns this amp. All she cares about is that it will deliver sound. IMO, I think this is a great bargin for what this amps delivers. I have had the Pass 350 that IMO, was too dry, flat, and not nearly as enjoyable as her PS-HCA-2. I am sure there are those who will fault this amp for reasons other than for it's sound. It would not be my first choice for myself, but I can't understand how anyone could find fault with this amp that has IMO, bested many amps costing thousands of dollars more. Zenaissance covered more with his words than some uneducated, want to be audiophile. A great value in what many amps lack. 30 day trial. Not to many audio makers of amps offer a trial as does PS Audio. They sound very confident if not down right cocky. I can't see why anyone would not give this amp a try if it fits into your budget. It is not a tube sounding amp as claimed. It a very fine SS amp. I could go on but Zenaissance said it better than i can.
You wrote: "In looking at the responses to the Audiogon review, it is interesting to see that half the responders love it; the other half hate it. By seeing all of them for sale on 'Gon now, you wonder what the real scoop is."

So which half are you going to believe? Why not get one on the 30-day return trial if you are really interested and decide for yourself.
"Why don't you go for the 30 day free trial?...." Sounds like an ad for PS Audio........ Maybe I just want some feedback at this time.......

I'm not one to put much stock in measurements, BUT...look at the Stereophile Dec. review, and John Atkinson's measurements of this piece are horrifying. The considerable distortion in the high end of this amp is not comforting, and makes one wonder if some of the 'detailing' is really a manifestation of distortion. An audiophile friend and I had a conversation about this possibility yesterday. Again, I really don't pay much attention to measurements, BUT when they are this gross, and you can tell that even JA, who many accuse of pandering to his bigger advertisers, PS being one of them, it makes you question the design.
Hi Kevziek,

Not an ad for PS Audio at all- I had the choice between Musical Fidelity, Classe, Pass Labs & PS Audio- I chose the HCA-2 purely on the basis of sound- I liked what I heard even though I was looking in the $3000-$4000 range for SS power amps. Nobody has paid me to say how I felt about the HCA-2 amp. There is no pandering to advertisers- for the past number of months there are no PS Audio ads in Stereophile other than dealer classifieds.

Everyone has a right to question an equipment's design. However you seem to be more concerned with what this amp purportedly cannot do in a measurement, rather than what it CAN do in a listening test. I am sure a number of years down the road, even the Halcro amps may be subject to scrutiny when something else can perform better.

Your point about distortion is one that many fellow audiophiles fall for- in fact there has never been any solid evidence that a higher distortion (in any high quality stereo of today) causes a degradation or manipulation of sound as to make something sound so remarkably different. You would have to check out those old phonograph machines for that! Select some tube amps and you will agree that measurements differ- stats are helpful but not entirely reliable, especially in high-end audio. It is of course unfair to compare a tube amp to the HCA-2. They are two different models. It is equally unfair to compare the HCA-2 amp to other SS amps. JA's measurements were designed specifically with analog in mind, and not digital; the HCA-2 is a different amp altogether and should be compared directly with other Class D digital amps.

If you want a second opinion on distortion and measurements regarding the HCA-2 check out:

JA's concern is obvious because ever since he started measurements in Stereophile in the late 80s, there was always some need out there to justify how numbers may determine the way equipment sounds. The HCA-2 is a new breed of amps that JA has never encountered before and so the numbers are somewhat startling- how can an amp with this amount of distortion sound so good? The answer is simple- when an amp switches on and off a half million times a second, and generates very little heat, traditional analog measurements simply won't do.

Nothing in high-end equipment tests is comforting-something new always comes along to capture the spotlight- the only comfort is the proof in listening. High-end audio can be subjective- the more so when we read too much into reviews. The HCA-2 is an amp that reaches that critical point of diminishing returns. If it is in your budget, like I said before, try it out. See what the rave is all about. See if it is all hype. See if it justifies what JA's tests came up with. It does no good to debate in theory what it can or cannot do. Put reality to the test and then at least you will know whethre this amp is for you or not.

Happy Listening,

The number of these amps on the used market is disturbing, but more disturbing is what they are being sold for, or rather, what people are willing to pay for them! These amps can be bought NEW for what folks some are buying them USED for! Hot or not, it's unreal that they can sell for over a grand used, especially since the market is flooded with them, which does make you wonder..... The measurments where awful but many people do enjoy distortion of one sort or the other.

On a related note, the Musical Fidelity gear was also raved about and had a great demo policy, yet has a stronger following by consumers, so I'm thinking the MF A3cr gear may be a better bet. Most fortunately I will have the HCA-2 and A3cr in home to demo shortly, along with an Odyssey Stratos and Parasound JC-1 monoblocks, and am pretty anxious and excited to see how they all measure up!
I find this statement rather odd.

"In looking at the responses to the Audiogon review, it is interesting to see that half the responders love it; the other half hate it."

Kevziek, your entire post seems to be a very subtle and clever attempt to bash PS Audio and the HCA-2 in particular.

If you take a broader look at opinions beyond one Audigon review, I think your 50/50 statement will evaporate. I have read every post I can find online about the HCA-2. My opinion is that from those who have *actually heard this amp* the ratio would be more like 90/10. Many of the so-called "haters", upon close inspection, haven't even auditioned this amp. They are simply responding to measurements or hearsay. Who cares about measurements, how does the damn thing sound!

My grandmother never measured a thing when she was cooking. Pinch of this and a dash of that. I would put her dishes up against anyone who used the same recipe and measured everything perfectly. I always found it funny when my sisters measured the ingredients perfectly and yet their dishes never TASTED as good as my grandmother's.

Just like cooking, I believe circuit design is as much art as it is technical execution.

If I were you I would be looking for the best *measuring* amp in the world and then live happily ever after in *measurement* bliss regardless of the sound.

BTW, I own the HCA-2 and love it.
Fiddler's comment is a typical example of the audiophile who cannot accept questioning or criticism of their beloved choice without attacking the questioner. His paranoid accusations of my engaging in "PS bashing" is quite uncalled for.

I myself own tube equipment, and I can tell you that my last two tube amps were not purchased on the basis of distortion specs; however, both of them tested on Stereophile with substantially less distortion than the HCA-2. JA's comments on the type and magnitude of the distortion it exhibited are particularly troublesome. JA specifically points out that the distortion he found indicates the amp is having a very hard time dealing with signals that other amps don't. THAT is a concern. Look at the spikes for the IM tests. They are dreadful!

Although I don't place great emphasis on measurements, I do believe that they can, and have been proven, to show gross problems with the design.

Furthermore, the sonic character described by those criticizing it (i.e. pushed too far forward in mids & lower highs, too lean midbass, brightness) have been criticisms of Paul McGowan's designs in the past. These comments seem to support this as his preference in sound. I certainly don't cherish such qualities, and wish to avoid them.

Audiogon's forums are intended as a place to foster healthy controversy and discussion, not to attack those questioning a design that you happen to own.
Fully acknowledging that a 30-day trial is a great opportunity to listen for myself.....

I really had to scratch my head when reading the Stereophile review of this amp too. If a $1700, 150 watt/ch amp is rated Class A and is seen as driving a pair of expensive, reference speakers in a manner comensurate with the Class A rating for an experienced listener, and does so with suspect meeasurements, and none of this is questionable, then a bunch of people have wasted a bunch of money on more expensive amps. This, indeed, may be the case - Class D amps may truly be the future.

Yes, there's no substitute for listening for ones self, and yes, measurements don't begin to tell the whole story, but there's certainly enough here to warrant a comment / thread without it having to be seen as a subtle slam on a manufacturer.
Please note the Rowland new amp the 301 is based on some
variation of Class D amplification. What does that tell you???
A psychologist could make a career and a fortune out of studying audiophiles behaviour! It is sad that egos and simply people's need for approval are the motivation for the majority of online reviews (and maybe profesional reviews [ST !!!]), as any person can appreciate when reading write-ups! I feel that one has no credibility as a critic if they cannot evaluate the flaws of the equiptment along with the virtues, and also have an extensive resume of previous components used. For many reviews there is nothing but glowing remarks of equiptment they own, especially so from folks who recently moved from low-fi receiver land to seperates, or cheaper anything on up to mid priced gear, as is often the case with highly reviewed budget components, and then folks really feel they own the best they can afford, regardless of their limited experience, where you typically see phrases like:

"Best for under X grand"
"Beats products costing X times as much".

and so on with no basis in reality! Funny as heck to read but sad that many people can't see through the BS.
And since we are talking about the HCA-2, anyone else really disturbed by the claims stating that a $500-$2000 power cord is absolutely required to make this amp sound good!
How right. Does Sam Tellig review anything that isn't great? You can't trust the reviewers. I don't mean to disparage this amp -- I'm sure it has its good qualities, but I, for one, cannot overlook the very strong negative comments, or the glaringly bad lab results.

I'll have to look it up, but I believe the Bel Canto evo amp, which is Class D as well, did not measure so badly as the PS did. Even Stereophile's reviewer did say it was fuller, warmer, less upfront sounding, and actually he said, in its 2nd generation, it was on the same playing field as the HCA-2. So, why isn't everyone raving about it?
To re-iterate one of my previous comments from another thread, the more a power cord helps a component out, the poorer the design of the power supply and filtration within the component itself.

As to the comments about "try it out at no risk for 30 days", i've got better things to do than rush out to buy / try EVERY product that Stereophile ( or any other mag for that matter ) raves about. Even the reviewer, who was basically responsible for placing the amp in Class A ranking, said that it was noticeably lean and forward sounding. Besides that, JA was pretty plain in stating what he found i.e. nothing impressive what-so-ever.

Combining the information provided by the two people responsible for this review, you end up with an amp that has an "anemic" warmth region with forward mids and a less than competent design ( as verified by the poor measurements in almost EVERY aspect ). This gives me all the info that i need to know. This amp does not sound good nor does it measure good. In effect, i would be wasting my time if i were to go out of my way to purchase this amp, install it into my system and listen to it for ANY amount of time. Call me biased, call me stupid, call me whatever, i really don't care.

As to whether i am any of the above, I must not be alone in my thoughts. I've seen more than a few of these units for sale. Evidently, the sonics must be just good enough to get past the 30 day free trial or the owners wouldn't be selling them so quickly after they bought them. If a product is truly as good as the hype, even the "flavour of the month club" members will hang onto it for more than a few issues of their favorite rag. These amps haven't been out for all that long and they are already populating the market in good quantity.

The funny thing is that, even though all of these comments were put into plain sight in the review, the amp was still placed in Class A. Evidently, reviewers & magazines don't mind telling you the truth up-front. That is, so long as they can lie to you at the end of the article or review to keep the manufacturer / advertiser happy. Sean
A little qualifying is necessary regarding the number of units available for sale. On last check under the Audiogon classifieds- nine HCA-2s were listed with 8 being available (one sold). Five of those units listed were offered by dealers- the other three were through private hands. In two of the private cases, folks had to sell because they had the opportunity to purchase other units. All of this does not qualify for a failed amplifier design. The number of people who are satisfied with this amp is far greater than those who are not.

As far as Sean's comments about the power cord- most audio reviewers review their amps using any assortment of after market power cords. I am sure you do not use the stock cords that came with your equipment. Cables do make a difference. In the HCA-2's case, the power cord makes even more of a difference- however I have tested it using the standard power cord and have noted that the basic qualities of the amp (smoothness, grain-free sonics, extended treble, and tight bass) are still apparent. Now I am not one who is going to go about raving about any one equipment- but for the price- the HCA-2 is very hard to beat. Perhaps it may not be Stereophile "Class A"- but what does it matter? It is still a very fine amp and one that I along with many others can happily live with.

I can understand how you may question the poor test results in the measurements but like everything else- the choice is all yours. In general, PS Audio has a very solid reputation over the years- with excellent customer service and satisfaction. They are one of the few companies out there who actually listens to their clientele. In fact, there was much public input into the design of the HCA-2 amp as well as the forthcoming PCA-2 pre-amp. Their beta units are designed to bring in public feedback, and this kind of honesty has resulted in a higher level of quality control and assurance. If you have read other comments regarding the brightness of the amps and other supposed flaws, then it is obvious that you have not had the opportunity to personally hear it with your own ears. A good healthy debate is always welcome- JA's questioning of the rating is admirable but it takes nothing away from the fine performance of this amp.

I feel I am qualified to say this because I have burnt over 600 hours on this amp driving both ML Aerius's and Maggies 1.6 (two very hard speakers to drive) with astonishing results. I have played every type of music from 1812 to Bruckner, to Led Zeppelin at high volume and not once have this amp displayed any midbass weakness or glare. The sound was open, powerful and musical. I remembered playing this amp for six straight hours- feeding it nothing but bombastic orchestral music and never did it run out of steam, nor did I experience any listening fatigue. The amp upon touching it was barely warm- not even lukewarm! Can JA measure this? Can this be seen as a flaw? What irritates me the most is when people rely too much other opinions without making their assessments. Measurements in high-end audio is just that- measurements: numbers that are available and printed nicely on glossy brochures. Who is to say that a 24 bit DAC is better? Many older 20 bit DACs sounds more impressive. Who is to say SACD is the best new format? There are thousands of questions and comments in the world of audio. There are thousands more opinions. The beautiful thing about this hobby of ours is that we get to experiment with our own preferences. So just relax and enjoy the show. Remember- to read any review with a grain of salt. Your own (not others) ears should be the decisive judge- not JA, not Stereophile, not PS Audio, not Audio Review, not your friends, not me or other Audiogon inmates. If you find this amp is not for you then move on to something else.

In the end it is enjoying the music that matters most and for MY listening preferences, the HCA-2 amp makes music that much enjoyable.

Happy Listening


"You can't trust the reviewers."

And you call me paranoid, Kevziek? Get real.

My response had nothing to do with my ownership and I could care less what you buy. My only point was why insinuate that the amp doesn't justify the hype when you haven't even heard it?

Your initial post is TRULY the typical audiophile response - can't possibly as good as many people say it is because Paul McGowans designs in the past have been, "An upfront, technicolor upper midrange & lower treble, some harmonic thinness, & a tight, but lean bass." Why be so cynical? It is a totally new design. None of the adjectives you use to describe McGowans past efforts remotely describes how my HCA-2 sounds in my sytem. (YMMV in your system)

Like you, I was initially skeptical of the HCA-2 and I doubted that I would keep it when I ordered it. But I decided to found out for myself rather than blather about a product I personally knew nothing about.

My point is, why try to cast aspersions on something you haven't even listened to. You would have a lot more credibility knocking something you have actually auditioned. But that is another typical audiophile response - sling *know-it-all* statements about something you haven't even heard.

Zenaissance, you are obviously a reasonable man, educated, open minded, and one who listens so he can find out if a certain piece of gear is going to please you. A reasonable person is hard to find these days. I found your posts to be very refreshing with out a hint of arrogance or the tired and boring ramble from those who like to hear themselves talk. I think it was Sam Tellig who said "ya gonna measure it or are ya gonna listen to it". I do not know this amp as well as you. As I stated in my post above, this is my Mothers amp. I set her system up for her. I was very surprised at how good this amp sounded. I know the Pass X 350 is an excellent amp in many peoples opinion. IMO, the HCA-2 sounded better in most areas. I have no reason to care if this amp is good, bad, great, or do I care a bit about how it measures. This was bought before this amp was reviewed. I own only tube gear. Bet it measures very bad also. Thank you for your thoughtful, informitive, sensible comments. Excellent posting!
Kevziek, I do find the following quote a bit strange in light of your rant in this thread about how poorly the HCA-2 measures:

09-18-02: Author ?

"The accuracy thing bugs me. Nothing out there is accurate. Every amp presents a facsimile of the musical event, and none is true to it. Some of the SS people just want to push the "science" thing, but it's all for naught.

Again, measurements basically mean crap. I agree with Twl that this should have been discarded long ago. I remember all the older SS amps I had with 0.0001% distortion. They sounded like garbage.

The ultimate question is: which sounds more like real music being reproduced -- tubes or transistors? My experience tells me tubes, but I started this thread to see other's opinions, and I'm open to them. But let's not fool ourselves into thinking what we are listening to is accurate.....nothing is."


Guess who's post that is? Yours.

So which is it Kevziek? Do measurements matter or in your own words do, "measurements basically mean crap"?

And again, based on your own words, should we even bother with measurements at all, "I agree with Twl that this (measurements) should have been discarded long ago."

Maybe I am wrong about your intentions in posting this thread to begin with and I appologize if I am. Only you know the truth and what your real motivations are.

Clearly, you are certainly entitled to your opinions, as contrary as they are to one another, but I think anyone reading this thread can now see why I felt like your initial post was a subtle attempt to bash the HCA-2.

Fiddler, get off your preaching podium & get real. When I said "measurements basically mean crap," I didn't mean ANY & ALL measurements are irrelevant. I was referring to the typical 0.001% vs. 0.1% differences that some audiophiles find important.

To use a bad analogy, as you seem to like to do: If I go to the deli and ask for 1/4 pd. of ham, I don't care if I get an ounce or even two over; but I would care if I was given 1 pd. when I asked for 1/4 pd.!

Same with measurements. If a piece measures grossly bad, it is an indication that this may manifest itself AUDIBLY, and possibly indicate a design problem.

My opinions are not contrary -- that's how you choose to see them to support your own views. Your comments are, frankly, appearing as harassments rather than useful contributions.
Thanks Brulee- you are indeed quite perceptive! I don't write very often in audio forums but I am a writer of numerous Victorian-style short stories and mysteries (coming out in book form very soon). I also happen to be an English teacher and assistant head of department in a high school in Toronto.

Hope your mother enjoys the amp- it is a fine gift for her.

Happy Listening and Musical Cheers!

Kevziek, what a weak and juvenile response.

And I suspect that Paul McGowan and PS Audio would consider your continued diatribes as harassment considering the fact that you continue to slam a product you haven't even heard.

You have decided to fabricate an issue here and over at AA about a piece of equipment that you don't own, haven't auditioned or even briefly listened to. Something doesn't smell right. It has become obvious to all here and over at Audio Asylum that you are just trying to stir the %#$@ about this amp.

What are your real motivations?
Fiddler, if anyone is exhibiting juvenile behavior, it is you. Your feeble attempt to discredit my response will be seen as exactly that.

And now you falsely state that I have a similar post on Audio Asylum when I have nothing on that site. You are only reinforcing the negative picture of yourself that you continually create in this thread.

Give it a rest before Audiogon silences you. The real question is, what are YOUR real motivations?
Please let me be the one to thank you Zenaissance. Besides audio, reading is another one of my passions. As I am sure that it must be obvious to you, I am not very good with the english language. i am sure Cornfedboy, who i miss very much will agree with me. i would love a chance to read your mysteries and short stories. As you can see,I certainly could use an english teacher. Still this does not stop me from giving opinions on audio. I would be honored if I could purchase your book, if you would be so kind to sign it for me. BTW, my Mom couldn't be happier with her system. Please tell me where to send the check for you book, with the undestanding it will be have your signature.
Thank you for your kind comments.
Kevziek, you don't need my help to discredit you, your own diametrically opposed posts do that.

And you say that is not you at AA. Funny thing, I previously did a search and your equipment here and over at AA is coincidentally the same. Just like in your earlier contradictory posts that I quoted, your own writings betray you again. Just be a man and step up to the plate when you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar.

And your statement, "Give it a rest before Audiogon silences you" is an obvious plea for the moderator to rescue you here and it is un-becoming.

I have done nothing to be silenced by Audiogon and the moderators are infinitely patient and fair here. I would suggest that it is you that should stop casting aspersions about a legitimate product that you haven't even heard. I suspect that the moderators may be more troubled by someone who is bashing a manufacturer without ever hearing the manufacturer's product. There is a very recent example of similar behavior to your's where a manufacturer pursued legal recourse and it wasn't pretty. Part of the problem for the poster wasn't his negative opinions or remarks about the product, but rather negative commentary that was not "legally" viewed as opinion because the poster had never auditioned the product prior to some of his inflammatory posts. Maybe you should take the hint or learn by example.

Hey, audition the amp and if you don't like it, then post negative reviews till the cows come home. And I will be the first to support your right to do so. But please stop inciting negativity about a company illegitimately.

This is my last post, I don't think anymore needs to be said. Anyone that is interested can take the time to do a search and see for themselves who is telling the truth.

Fiddler's comments don't deserve any response. He thinks he comes out smelling like a rose when it is a stinkweed that would be a closer fit.

To ad to the plethora of his unacceptable, vicious comments towards me is his adolescent warning of possible legal action against me. What, for a discussion post on an amplifier? I think that says it all.

It is Fiddler who should be at fear of "legal recourse" when he falsely accuses me, now twice, of posting negative comments about this amp on AA. Let him substantiate this absolute falsehood.

"Inciting negativity about a company illegitimately"?
What, by discussing criticisms of this product made by other Audiogon members and by the review's tester?

As a parting thought, after his shameful adolescent displays above, Fiddler should hardly tell me to "Be a man." He demonstrates no capability at that himself.
Hi Brulee, here's my website that has a few samples of some stories I have written.

It is not out in bookform yet but will be soon. Thanks for your interest.

Happy Listening

While this is not "Ripleys Believe It or Not", i received an email from someone that was directly involved with the review and product in question on this thread. I've taken the liberty of copying part of their email here, minus their name and email address. For the record, i will NOT divulge this persons name and / or email address.

"Thank you for reading carefully. Few do.".

I would suggest reading the comments that i made above and also those that i made on Audio Asylum regarding the same subject. This might better help you to understand what i learned from "reading carefully". From there, I'll leave it up to you to decide for yourself how to interpret what this email really means. Sean
I hope i have not given the opinion that this is an amp that has little competition. I was very surprised how good my Mothers system sounded compared to the Pass x 350. My opinions, for what they are worth, came from listening, not from technical reasons that mean nothing to me. What can one offer about what an amp has to offer if it has not been heard? Is this such a ridiculus question to ask?
If someone has not listened to a speaker, amp, or whatever, why would I care what opinion they have.
I come here to get feedback from those who have experience listening to whatever is being discussed. Information based on anything other than listening has nothing to offer me.
What's the big deal? If you want one, buy it. If you don't then don't. This is a big argument over nothing.
Im interested in this amp.
I currenty have an elecrocompaniet aw-75 driving thiel 3.5's in a 14x20x7.5 foot room.
anybody care to speculate which amp would give me more power and ease to drive these current eating speakers?
The ec 75 does a good job but of course I always want more!
Twl,I agree. My point is what value is there from those who give an opinion on something they haven't heard?
I had this amp in my system for a few months. Class A, I don't know. I haven't heard most of the contenders. Does it sound good, yes. Is it accurate, I don't know. I do know it doesn't like 2 ohm loads. Read the review. It shut down during testing. It also shut down on me using a full range electrostatic. When bi-amping it did not shut down. It also ran some older very good speakers in my house with stellar results. Would I buy it? Yes with the reservations mentioned above.
Thanks for the confidence in my ability to have a sound! I never really thought about having a sound of my own, but I guess it might be true.

Keep in mind that the only two audio only products we make are the two amps right now.

I agree with you: I wouldn't like the HCA-2 if it were thin, up front and lean. I can't stand that sound. I shoot for big, lots of depth, openess, and a full sound.

I use the Sonic Frontiers III mono block amplifiers, the Audio Research VT100 MKIII as my amp references. I use the Audio Research Ref 1 preamplifier for a preamp reference.

The products I design are anything but thin - certainly not on any system I have listened to them on.

With a proper power cord attached, the HCA-2 and Classic 250 are huge amps with tons of midbass and lots of harmonic content. They are alive and musical.

If they don't sound like that to you on your system, you might consider that there are other factors working against you that perhaps you haven't considered.

I'd be happy to work with you to help you achieve this in your system as well.

Could be fun!
Paul McGowan,

What a treat to have you answer! Maybe my archrival here notified you.... My intent here was not to prove your design was flawed, but to question why certain measurements are so bad, and why some listeners don't seem to like the amp.

Considering the amps you personally own, I would agree that you don't like the sound that has been perhaps incorrectly attributed by some to your design. Actually the amps you mention are very good pieces and I have owned a Power 2 and a VT-100 Mk II, so I am familiar with their sound. If the HCA-2 has many of their attributes, then it may be a great sounding piece.

If you would address the test results of Mr. Atkinson, I think many would appreciate that here.
Kevziek, WOW what a major suck-up! I think Fiddler was right about you all along.
I have been asking some of the same questions since reading Stereophile, but not in such an obnoxious manner. It's nice to see a well reasoned response from the man whose product you questioned.
Paul, I am currently ampless and will very seriously consider your product before I buy a new amp. Thank you!
nrchy-I was thinkng the same thing but didnt post it as Ive changed my 'evil' ways!
Nrchy, WOW what a vacuous response! The questions I asked were hardly obnoxious. Major suck-up? No, just being nice to the designer. The major suck-ups to PS were accomplished by Fiddler, the self-proclaimed defender of the PS universe. If you want to read obnoxious, read Fiddler's comments about me on audio asylum under PS Forums.
To save everyone the trouble of having to go to the PS Audio Forum, I will graciously post my "suck-up" and "obnoxious" post here:

Warren Gibson


Being a business owner myself, nothing irritates me more than for someone *to stir-up crap* online ANONYMOUSLY about a product without considering how their actions may affect a reputable company. There was a recent example where a jerk started the same type of crap about Newform Research and it reportedly cost John Meyer (the owner of Newform) tens of thousands of dollars in business. John sought recourse legally and the guy finally admitted that he was a liar and a fraud and confessed to his crimes. But much damage had already been done.

Fortunately, I am not in the audio business or own a business that is vunerable to this type of online subterfuge. But I know first hand how tough business is without some pinhead making it tougher. When I put myself in Paul's shoes, the crap that was started at Audiogon and AA really is obnoxious. The guy justs wants to look like a big shot. (He's probably very lonely).

He has no intention of buying an HCA-2, yet he thoroughly debases the HCA-2 to presumably ask about the CLASSIC 250. And does anyone really believe he is interested in buying a 250 when he trashed all of Pauls previous designs by saying, "...all of Paul McGowan's designs in the past" - had - "An upfront, technicolor upper midrange & lower treble, some harmonic thinness, & a tight, but lean bass". Seems to me he could have simply asked, "Could someone please give me their impressions of the PS Audio CLASSIC 250" without trashing the HCA-2 or Pauls previous designs.

But here's the icing on the cake, he later has the gall to ask Paul to explain (defend), "the test results of Mr. Atkinson"!

I would tell him to kiss my _ _ _ !

If the guy has no interest in buying the amp, why bother explaining it to him. If he sincerely wanted an explanation about the amp for *legitimate* reasons, he could have simply emailed or called Paul for the details.

He is simply on a power trip to try to make the designer (Paul) cow-tow to his demands of publicly explaining his design. The simple truth is, numbers don't tell the complete story. You know that, he knows that and I know that. He just wants to make noise.

Look, I don't have any problem with negative reviews. Hey, if you try a product and don't like it, fine, voice your opinion. I will be the first to support your right to do so. But it is simply wrong, petty, unethical, etc. to trash a product or a company for fun and games when you haven't even tried their product.

The goal of these boards is to provide useful information to help others. It is of no use to anyone to muck-rake and blather about an amp you haven't even heard.

I suspect that Paul's efforts to produce an amp that is this good at this price point has ruffled a few feathers. I guess when you move toward the front of the line, you become a bigger target. It would be real interesting to know if there are any hidden agendas in play here.

For what its worth, I don't know Paul, I've never spoken to Paul or anyone else at PS Audio for that matter. I am simply a satisfied customer who happens to also be a business owner. And I just get pissed when idiots play silly little games that take money out of the pockets of honest, hard-working businessmen.

Interesting Fiddler.I see now how reckless posts here and elsewhere can do some real damage to a products sales number.
Some audio companies get beat up all the time though.
Bose or aka Bloes comes to mind for one.I know Bose has no reason to worry but still maybe some restraint towards even them is in order.
Krell takes a beating and keeps on ticking also.I personally have nothing against Krell and the only Krell in my home I have auditioned is the KSA-250 and KSR preamp.They both sounded fine.
My only point is...Opinions can really amount to slander if one is not careful..Lets some of us anyway be more careful in the future with our opinions.
Back to the HCA-2...I think this amp is a must audition product and very well be a KRELL SLAYER!! (just an opinion) :~)