Tag Archives: Stereo

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.

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.

Navigating through fog

When we attempt to navigate through the unknown we rely on what’s worked in the past. This matters because we often find ourselves in unfamiliar territories, like when we get a new piece of gear.

If you’re installing a new audio, or even a new video, component in your stereo system, your hopes for success are likely high. You’ve pre-imagined how it might sound.

What happens if your expectations aren’t met? Do you switch to autopilot and rely on what’s worked in the past or roll your sleeves up and experiment with the new?

If you’re in the first camp—rejecting what doesn’t immediately work and embracing what does—what would happen if the next time your expectations aren’t met you try a new tack instead: letting the new piece burn in longer than normal, living with it for longer than you’re used to, swapping tried and true cables with something different.

I make pretty quick go-no-go decisions but they often deprive me of learning and growth as I motor through a busy day. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that unless someone asks me to slow down and give a second chance to that new piece of music, cable, circuit design, or thought process I am likely to just go on autopilot with my decisions.

It’s far too easy to sift through the myriad of decisions we’re faced with from day to day by skirting the fog of the unfamiliar, the new idea, the tweak everyone’s raving about.

Airline passengers are a lot safer because pilots aren’t adventurous when visibility challenges them.

I am not so certain safe is where we as audiophiles want to be when it comes to the new.

Are we prepared to navigate through a bit of fog to discover the new and exciting?