Tag Archives: vinyl

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.

Keeping it personal

Emotions, as well as passions, run deep in high-end audio and that’s one of the reasons I am personally invested in it.

In our discussions on preferences for the various camps of reproduction—like vinyl vs. digital—emotions sometimes run as deep as political differences between Democrats and Republicans. I’ve seen near fist fights erupt at audio shows.

When both our emotions and pocketbooks are heavily invested it’s pretty natural to want to defend our decisions.

What’s perhaps good to remember is not our differences but our sameness. Just like our political divides, I believe we are all after the same things. We just differ in our opinions on how to get there.

I don’t always agree with those calling for the discussions to get less heated—not if the lowering of temperature means a lessening of passion. It’s passion that I love and want to continue.

What would happen if we kept in mind what we have in common? That we share a mutual goal of quality reproduction of music.

Would it be possible to remain as passionate about our differences without thinking less of those that disagree?

We are all interested in the same things.

I hope we never agree on how best to get there.