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?
Every component in our audio system was chosen based on our source preference: digital or vinyl. If we’re assembling a vinyl system then everything that follows is judged on how good music tracked with a needle sounds. Or, if digital, how a CD sounds.
We’ve covered this ground before but it is ground worth revisiting.
When building a system my advice is to choose your loudspeakers first and to invest the greatest amount of money in them. Everything else follows from there. But that isn’t quite the same as my opening statement of tuning to the source. Or is it? When you evaluate those new speakers it will likely be based on the source you’re most comfortable with.
We don’t always think about our selection process in terms of source material. Few think of the process as building a vinyl-based system, or a digital one. Instead, we tell ourselves we’re building a music system and we just prefer one source to another. The reality is that the source mediums are so different they wind up dictating just about every decision in the chain: speakers, amplifiers, preamps, wires, room conditioning, positioning, voicing. All tuned to our source material.
Which is why you can’t judge source technology by simply plopping it into a system pre-tuned for the opposite. Dropping the finest digital source equipment into a vinyl-based setup won’t work. You will always prefer the original.
It may not be possible to have a system that’s optimized for both so let’s not make sweeping proclamations about which is better, digital or analog.
All we can legitimately say is what we prefer in our optimized system.