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.

A matter of degree

Now that PS Audio has moved across the street to our new facilities our old home is vacant. We’ve got to search for a new tenant to lease the space. In the meantime, we have plenty of big, empty, rooms to put stereo systems in.

We’ve set up Arnie Nudell’s reference audio system in the room that once was our entryway and admin area. After a lot of work getting the speakers back to operational status we’ve finally gotten a chance to listen to them again. Wow. I played the San Francisco Symphony Mahler 3d and felt like weeping. It was one of Arnie’s favorites and I was reminded of him and the sound he liked—there it was again, in the room, just the way he demanded—as if the orchestra was in the room. Extraordinary.

I played a few other pieces and wasn’t quite so happy. The bass was wrong: too much, too big, and then the woofer amp croaked. Sigh. The Mahler loves a bit of overblown bottom end, but Shelby Lynn’s Just a little lovin’ not so much and Boz Scaggs Thanks To You was the straw that broke the woofer amp’s back.

The Mahler was still playing in my head when I walked through our home front door to the music of The Allman Brothers live vinyl on Sprout and KEF LS50s. Meh. The difference was so stark as to make me cringe just a bit. But then, the Allman Brother’s music is so good…

It’s all a matter of degree.

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.

When is too much enough?

I am often asked if a certain this or a certain that is overkill.

“I have a small room, would a subwoofer be overkill?”

I am tempted to turn the question around and ask what size room benefits from a rolled off speaker? Seems to me I always want to get everything on the disc.

Or, “is this DAC too good for my system?”

I get the sentiment of not wanting to “waste” expensive high quality. When I first got into the drinking of good wine I’d share an expensive red with my mother Sue who would proceed to plop a few cubes of ice into it to get the temperature right.

But I think asking the question of how good something needs to be before its goodness is wasted is misguided. Why wouldn’t it make more sense to always do the best you can: the widest frequency response speakers, the highest DAC resolution possible, an unrestricted dynamic range phono cartridge.

I think it should be turned into: What’s the best I can do?

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