Tag Archives: audio system

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.

Setup recording

I have a lot of long term projects in my head and one that comes up often is the creation of a setup CD (or LP).

There have been attempts at just such a product in the past. Stereophile’s setup CD remains one of my favorites. When I set up a new audio system I always check for left and right plus phase on tracks 1 and 2. But, that’s pretty basic and not really what I had in mind.

The problems of setup I see have more to do with dialing in the fine details of tonal balance, spatial cues, room modes, image size, etc. I don’t know of a setup product that really addresses these challenges with specific goals to achieve accompanied by easy steps to dial the sound in.

We’d like to change that.

Would it be possible to have tracks on a recording accompanied by step-by-step directions like:

  • Listen to the voice and adjust the level until the singer sounds proportionally correct.
  • With the help of the included measurement scale on the floor determine where the image is placed behind the imaginary line of the speakers
    • If too far back do this
    • If too trapped in the speaker do that

I am just spitballing here but it seems to me a step-by-step instruction set with specific examples would be invaluable if one could figure out how to pull it off.

What do you think?

What would be critical to be included?

Would you find a tool like this valuable?

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.

Turntable setup

Proper setup of a turntable arm and cartridge are more important to great stereo performance than even the electronics it feeds.

Of course, it’s all an audio system and even the most accurate setup won’t sound great through a mediocre phono preamplifier but it’s equally true that the world’s best phono stage won’t be worth its cost without the proper arm and cartridge attention.

I wish I could impart an expert’s step-by-step instruction on how to set up your table, but the extent of my knowledge just dusts the surface. Sure, I’ve set up plenty of arms and tables in my day. Protractor and stylus gauge in hand, I’ve fumbled through the basics as most of us have and the results were often good. Time spent adjusting and tweaking always paid off in better performance and the freeing of music trapped in vinyl grooves.

Yet, a novice’s best efforts pale in comparison to an expert’s deft hand. Years ago I paid setup expert Brooks Berdan to tweak my table and upon its return I was floored with the improvements. Suddenly, two dimensions became three: surface noise and music were separated, highs and lows were balanced, and a musicality warmed the room like a fire in the hearth.

Though my readers know I prefer an optimized DSD based system to that of vinyl, there’s no disputing the magic that is trapped in those wiggly grooves.

I fear the skills needed to expertly set up a turntable have largely been lost as, sadly, experts are dying off. However, we do live in an age of recorded wisdom and that’s a good thing.

One of the best setup people still with us today is our good friend Michael Fremer and, guess what. Mikey has a setup DVD available for sale.

This video, followed closely, will bring as much improvement to your vinyl system as any new piece of gear. Maybe more.

Building a reference quality vinyl system takes work. But then, so too does any worthwhile adventure.