Tag Archives: preamplifier

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.

I love my stereo!!

Machine love

I have loved quite a number of machines in my day: my Austin Healey 3000 (which I wrote about in my book), my Audio Research SP3 preamplifier, my Gaglia espresso machine, my IRS V speakers, my 8×10 view camera, my DirectStream DAC, my P20 Power Plants.

We’re all fond of physical things to some degree, but I suspect there’s always a few we’d reserve for the emotion called love: perhaps a wedding ring, childhood toy, or treasured book.

When I was very young I had a coveted stick (and it was a damned good stick!).

The physical objects we fall for can be as fickle as the humans and pets we would normally categorize as lovable. How many times have I fell head over heels in love with one piece of gear only to ban it from my life a few years later?

While it may sound strange to ascribe love to an inanimate object, I find it actually freeing to write about it—to shout out my affection for a few of life’s treasures.

Have you given yourself permission to love the machines in your life?

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.