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.

I’m not sure how you troubleshoot noise in a stereo system with the loudspeakers disconnected, but otherwise, while this isn’t the way I’d track down noise, the general idea is ok.

First is to determine if the noise is common to both channels and if the noise is present with all the sources connected to the system, go from there.

Narrowing focus

When problems arise in our stereo systems we’re often at wit’s end to resolve them. I cannot tell you the number of exasperated calls and emails I have received from customers who have “tried everything” without success.

Of course, trying everything is akin to having looked everywhere for something lost. Neither statement can be true. Clearly, one hasn’t looked where the missing item is, nor can it be said you’ve tried everything since you haven’t tried the one thing that will fix the problem.

When trouble occurs, it’s best to take a deep breath, wash away all your assumptions, and begin to narrow your focus to specific elements within the chain. This is the tried and true way of troubleshooting known as the Process of Elimination. We selectively eliminate pieces of the electronic chain until the errant device is identified.

Narrowing down the problem to one section, one piece, or one process is the key to effective troubleshooting. My preference is to start at the output and work backward. So, for example, if there’s an annoying noise coming from your speakers, disconnect the cables feeding your speakers and see if the noise stops. It probably will. Next, connect the next piece in the chain, typically the amp and its cables—but make sure the amp hasn’t anything connected to its inputs. Noise? It’s the amp. No noise? Keep working down the chain.

By narrowing your focus you hone in on the bad citizen. From there, you repeat the process of elimination process on the device itself until finally you understand what went wrong.

Always a great skill to keep in one’s back pocket.


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.

Related to this, I’ll soon tell a story about a period where I distributed a high end audio product line from Australia and boy was it pretty stuff. Sounded great too, when it worked..


Who doesn’t like to strut their stuff?

I remember well my first acceptably cool car, a ’55 Chevy Bel Air. True, it was a 4-door and that wasn’t as cool as the 2-door model, but it was a Chevy and that, to the judges of such things, was at least a foot in the door. But, owning a car is not in and of itself a cool enterprise.  I had tried that with my Austin Healey. To be cool, you gotta have the right kit and then say to the world “here I am, and I want you to notice me”.

Enter my ’55 Chevy’s aftermarket chrome air cleaner, a round, bright silver canister about the diameter of a small pizza that perched itself atop the car’s red engine, and with the car’s hood opened for service or simply gawking, announced to the world that its owner was struttin’ his stuff.

Weekends were spent polishing, then waxing that air cleaner as the final touch—the crowning glory—to my car’s weekly cleaning and preening ritual. I would leave its hood open just to watch the sun’s glint catch my eye off that bright shiny chrome surface. Friends had explained to me that keeping it polished improved airflow and would add to the performance of the machine. I knew enough to realize that was likely not true, but still, it felt good to believe.

In the same vein, some stereo equipment manufacturers like to add a sparkle of chrome, a touch of wood, a sprinkle of precious metal, a shouty meter, or a tricky light to their front panels. Not to enhance performance, but to get noticed. We do it. And we’re not alone.

What’s the old saying? If ya’ got it, strut it?

Hell yes. Why not?