Tag Archives: Audio Equipment

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.

Evaluating audio equipment by ear can sometimes be challenging, while other times it’s as obvious as the nose on your face. It’s a lot easier to evaluate a video system, as our eyes are our dominant trait.

I’m always happiest when I know what an amplifier has to say for itself within the first 30 seconds of listening: yikes! this needs work; wow! this deserves more listening. Clear, clean, simple.

The tough part of evaluation comes when it’s not a clear matter of better or worse, but rather different and deciding which you prefer.

The upcoming M1200 monoblock amplifiers are like the latter. As soon as you put them in the system a smile pops on your face and your toe starts tapping. They are instantly great and you know it from the first few notes of music. Nothing is missing.

But are they better than the BHKs?

The quick answer is no. There’s a musicality and a sweetness to the BHKs that just can’t be touched, but without careful AB comparison, that’s not obvious.

To call one the “winner” and the other the “loser” has vast implications that hide the truth.

If we’re forced to think in terms of winners and losers, perhaps it’s best to imagine a close race rather than a football game.

Coming in second place by mere tenths of a second hardly qualifies one as a loser.

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.

Audible cues

Over years of evaluating differences in audio equipment, one accumulates an audible library of sonic cues from which to judge differences. Cues such as harmonic overtones, extended decay, room modes in the recording, placement, soundstage dimensions. The list is actually quite long.

For those of us with big libraries in our heads, it may not be easy to remember how overwhelming it can be for newcomers evaluating differences in audio or video equipment. I can certainly recall hearing so many differences that singling out one from the many felt impossible—like picking a single face out of a crowd of thousands.

When asked for advice on how to get comfortable with the evaluation process, my go-to answer is to keep it simple and easily identifiable, like a singer and acoustic guitar, two easily recognizable instruments.

Often, the mistake newcomers make is to jump feet first into the big and complex pieces of music, hoping the expected improvements will wash over them like a tsunami. This often leads to disappointment.

Better to keep it simple.