Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Bewildering

Imagine the angst of a first-time buyer of high-end audio equipment. Few places offer systems and everywhere there’s a bewildering array of component choices.

Where does one start on a hi-fi journey? It used to be that we went to our local dealer and picked from amongst a tier of systems from the affordable to the absurd. Today there’s far fewer qualified dealers and so first-time buyers are either left to their own devices or take what they can get from megastores like Best Buy.

Even magazines like Stereophile and The Absolute Sound focus more on components than systems. If I didn’t know better I’d simply do my research and purchase the best I could afford in any one category, tie it all together with what I could afford in cabling, press play and then pray.

Nowhere am I helped with maximizing synergy between components. If I bought the best DAC I could afford and played it through speakers that were too forward or bright what would I do to remedy the situation or even know where to start?

I suppose this all sounds like doom and gloom and that’s not my intent. I just felt it was important to let some of the issues facing first-time buyers bubble to the surface in the hopes of sparking conversation and debate. If we can talk problems through perhaps solution are right around the corner.

For our part, we’re working on the end goal of building stereo systems first-time or experienced buyers can slip into without worry or bewilderment: choose your price point and be assured the system will work perfectly together.

I am certain there are other paths as well.

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Take only pictures

If you hike a bit you’re bound to see signs about leaving the land as you found it.

“Take only pictures, leave only footprints.”

The origins of this saying aren’t as clear to me as its meaning. Do no harm.

This simple idea might be good advice for more than just hikers—it can easily apply to our sometimes misguided desire to enhance, improve, and modify our stereos.

What would happen if we ran all our urges to make things better through the lens of do no harm? Or, put another way, asking ourselves if we’re fixing a problem or adding sugar to cover bitterness.

When I think of expensive audio cables with control boxes to modify performance or additive/subtractive circuits like tone controls I have to ask myself a basic question. Is this an enhancement or a means of preserving what’s natural?

When we add a Power Plant to our stereo system we’re fixing a basic problem with our home’s AC. That’s an act designed to do less harm.

When my cousin Don added a spring reverb to his car audio system that was an enhancement that veered away from our ideal.

The difference between doing no harm and making things better is a fine one indeed.

It’s worth asking the question.