Tag Archives: turntable

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.

Chain repair

A generous helping of maple syrup can improve the taste of a bad pancake but it can’t promise perfection.

Ridding yourself of an audio problem by replacing one piece in your system’s chain is a tempting proposition. Sometimes it’s just what the stereo doctor ordered. But, more often than not, we get a bit of a boost that never quite addresses the problem.

Customers often send me a list of their systems in the hopes I can point to the weakest link in the chain. It’s sometimes painful to make a suggestion when I can see the real problem isn’t a particular link but the chain itself.

We tend to build our stereo and video systems around an idea or a particular piece, perhaps a favorite amplifier or turntable. We’re then building our chain in support of a few links and what we wind up with is a less than a great chain.

I am most pleased when a person shows me their system and everything’s spot on with just a few exceptions. The joy of recommending a particular piece of kit that will link the pieces together and sing to the heavens is always welcome.

If we’ve built a solid chain, replacing a single link can make all the difference in the world.

How strong is your chain?

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.