Tails wagging dogs
It’s sometimes good to take a step back and widen our views because it’s easy to get mired in the classic tail wagging the dog syndrome.
Take for example our audio and video systems and how we improve them. Too often I have seen people add tweaks and potions to correct for fundamental problems.
It can be difficult to know when you’re efforts at polishing are what’s needed. Often, it’s a new paint job that will get the job done.
Just today I am working with a fellow that’s struggling to hear differences in amplifiers. Try as he might, the obvious changes between a good amp and a bad one are not apparent. It’s not because they aren’t there, it’s just because his loudspeakers and setup aren’t up to the task.
One of the best ways of identifying if you have a core problem or a modification challenge is to ask yourself where you are in the magnitude scale. Does your audio system get you 90% of where you want to be? If so, you’re likely to benefit from small tweaks and modifications. But, if you’re a few miles from home base, your best bet is to instead work on identifying the weak link (or links) in the chain.
A wide angle view is often more illuminating than zooming in to see which part of the dog is moving.
The cost of a soundstage
Visitors to PS Audio often walk away from Music Room 2 with their jaws still open.
Following a recent visit, Karel Osten wrote to me:
“I know you have described the sound but until I heard it for myself I had no concept of the depth and rock solid placing of the sound. Words are inadequate to describe the effect of the wide soundstage but at the same time the precise location of instruments and vocals. It seemed to me to be a strange combination of mono and stereo if that makes sense. How much do you think you have to spend to get anywhere close to the same sense of depth and soundstage?”
This is a great question and one we struggle with all the time. Fact is, what you hear in MR2 is not just the IRSV but an entire audio system. Those speakers are some of the more revealing speakers made. Thus, anything before the speakers gets shown in a harsh light—for better or for worse. There’s no hiding possible.
When it comes to the specifics of Karel’s question of depth and soundstage, that’s a little easier to answer. Given decent electronics, even a low cost loudspeaker system can disappear and in its place, listeners can experience a full soundstage. It just takes some setup skills, enough room for the speakers to breathe, and the right group of equipment. Synergy focused on soundstage.
I am pretty confident most of us already have many of the basic components needed to achieve what Karel’s looking for.
The reason we don’t get there is often a single missing piece in the chain.