I bought it, read it, and was frankly disappointed. Didn't find anything new that others have already written about. Just my opinion.
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Fsdaron, I re-read the book frequently . On the 3rd read I began to reflect that what Jim details is a frame-work for the illusion , the re-creation of a event long past captured in vinyl(analog) or in "o's" & "1's" (digital). Besides issues of space are issues of measurement that I had not given as much "weight" in my thinking. I have begun the re-evaluation , changing the placement of racks & speakers with a view towards becoming a master of the illusion , not to buying machines. Heady stuff but well intended ideals. Of course, should it work for me good ... If not , I'll start over. Cheers Charlie
I think if you read Jim's book cover to cover and didn't get ANYTHING valuable from it, you know way more than all of us!
I've been in the industry a long time and think that it's the best setup reference I've yet seen.
One of my friends on the MartinLogan forum recently hired Jim to come to his house after reading the book and was very pleased with the results.
Still my top suggestion to anyone before they start going crazy with cable and tweeks!
Towards the end of last year I made a modest investment in my 2-Channel and 5.1 Theater system. In my case I am fairly new to higher end audio and I don't have a dedicated listening room so I knew I had some room challenges.
I spent about 3 months educating myself and moving things around to the point that I thought I had things sounding pretty good. However, I knew I was probably missing out on some things and started looking for a good reference on audio fundamentals and proper system setup.
I stumbled upon Jim Smith's book in another forum where it had come highly recommended. After doing additional research I decided to purchase his book. What sold me is his straightforward approach to system setup and getting the most out of your current system prior to investing in additional upgrades. I figured this would be a good sanity check to make sure I was not overlooking the basics and determining my system "baseline".
Upon receiving the book I read it from front to back. Jim suggests this isn't necessarily the best approach but for me it was all very interesting and I was intrigued to keep reading. Even the sections that seemed trivial to me shed new light on the topics. It is a very easy read and provides helpful diagrams and recommendations for testing your system.
I spent about a week implementing Jim's recommendations all the way from making a grid, positioning my speakers and subs, checking polarities, rearranging my acoustic panels, etc. At the end of the week I had dramatically improved the musicality of my system using Jim's very simple steps. For me it was more than worth the cost of the book and it will continue to serve as my reference when making any changes.
In my case I may have realized larger benefits due to my "newbie" status and less than ideal room but this book really covers the fundamentals that all systems can benefit from. I continue to investigate some of the more advanced topics in the book and look forward to additional system improvements.
I'm an audio journalist who gave this book a rave review because a) it contains an overwhelming amount of information in ONE SINGLE VOLUME, and b) Jim is the best set-up man in the business, and his advice should be treated as gospel. I'm a little concerned that someone found this book to be anything less than incredibly helpful.
Like I said in my review, this is the best $45 audio tweak money can buy.
I bought a copy because I have under construction a dedicated room. It has been helpful to me because it addresses set-up and room treatment issues, I had read a lot about how to design wall structures and select optimum room dimensions but not the stuff Jim covers. I expect his detailed instructions on speaker/listner location to be very helpful.
I like his use of TIPS, it makes re look up of subject matter pretty easy.
BTW, if you have a question about one of Jim's TIPS, he has very kind and answered my several queries promptly and with detail.
A good read I think.
I purchased Jim's book last Nov. I took my time reading it so some of his most important points could sink in. I created the grid and made all the proper measurments. I learned that there is no possible way to set my system up properly. I also learned that I made some poor purchasing decisions. Set up issues include the WAF, room layout, room construction, and not being able to properly locate components. Reading his book did answer a lot of other questions.
We all crave our "fix" for better sound. You just can't get enough of it. Jims book will help you to achieve the ultimate aural high that we all seek. The book saved me from throwing some serious money at an issue that only required a simple furniture change. His tips on what needs to be voiced by ear, instead of meter, was of monumental importance to me. I have to ask, are all those folks sliding copper pipe unions over their CD players AC EIC plugs actually experiencing one of Jims recommendations when they remove the plug? Its difficult to but a price on experience and that is what Jims is selling. Most of us will waste more money than what Jim is asking for his book on source material that we will only listen to once. His book may be the best audio bargain of all time!
Okay. How 'bout providing a little teaser here .What is one (or more) of the tweaks/treatments covered in the book that you found most useful? You don't have to give the whole book away...just a little insight as to what ideas/strategies are mentioned in the book. Is it all about room treatments and equipment placement??
Unbelievable benefits from just a couple tips!
Reluctantly, I finally moved my equipment rack from between the two loudspeakers to a side wall. Wow, to say the least. The difference is nothing short of an upgrade to higher performance loudspeakers. The "imaging" is the best I've heard from my system!
Every tip that I have tried (i.e speaker placement, grid mapping, leveling speakers & moving the rack) improved my system's sound more than I would have ever expected! I would not have been able to improve my system this much by simply replacing my equipment components!
The prior audio related books I've purchased have been good to very good but Jim's book is the best for system tweaking, by far! Even very experience audio warriors should consider trying the above mentioned tips as well as the power related tips.
Many thanks to Jim. I owe you big time!
Its well worth the money - as several folks have pointed out we regularly piddle away much more on much less.
What I like is that it provides a methodology and a structure within which to work. And doing it all is in fact work - the kind of work that makes this such an interesting and rewarding hobby.
Put another way, if you have dumped what for you personally is a significant amount of money, here is a chance to avoid reinventing the wheel by yourself.
Ckorody, I am in agreement with your analysis.
I have dear friends who think nothing of spending a fortune on the newest gear but shun reading "Audio" books . Some get caught reinventing the wheel ; I follow the guidence in Jim Smith's book & put what I own to better use. That grants me greater pleasure and money in the pocket for less than the cost of a few CD's or new LP's.
I learned a lot by reading the book. The biggest sonic improvement was the result of his tip to buy a laser measuring device to confirm that each speaker was exactly the same hieght, that each speaker was toed-in exactly the same degrees and that each tweeter was exactly the same distance to a spot on the wall centered behind my listening chair. The improvement in image focus, clarity and soundstage dimensions was worth far more than the cost of the book. It is an excellent reference.
As I incorperate more of Jim's views into my audio-room , the more musical satisfaction I derive. Frankly, I'm amazed. What's more amazing are the origins of the book. Jim suffered a terrible car crash. During his painful recovery , the book took shape in his mind. By the end of the recovery period (1 year), the first transcript was finished. From such physical pain comes such a helpful book. That's amazing.
I have read GBS cover to cover. It is a fine book with a common sense approach to many aspects of a "hobby" which, itself, leans toward "snake oil". How many of us have purchased the latest, greatest tweak and find that it makes no difference or, at worst, degrades our sound.
What Jim's book does for me is affirm the path which I was already going down. There are no silver bullets. No pill can make you lose 20 lbs while you sleep. There are no quick fixes.
What makes GBS a fine book is that it tells you that you don't have to spend big money to get better sound. Don't buy another piece of audio gear until you have addressed your listening environment with a few of the tips in the book.
The single biggest upgrade to my system over the last year, hell, the last ten years, was painstakingly tuning my speaker placement to my listening room. I used a method very similar to that outlined in GBS.
I set up a grid on my floor after getting my speakers close with the Sumiko Method. A few minor movements in the grid and I was blown away. It will make you angry to realize that you have wasted the potential of good equipment by not placing your speakers correctly.
I've also checked my grounds on my equipment, a GBS tip, and installed a dedicated electrical circuit for my gear, another GBS tip.
The first tip costs nothing but time. The dedicated circuit was less than $300 and yielded a bigger and deeper soundstage.
Some may think I'm off-the-wall (maybe right!) but I approached Jim two-weeks after reading his book for a refund. He wrote back that this would be fine and gave me a return number, like #00002 and I thought, "what the heck!" I've poured so much, relatively speaking - I was a single parent for many years, into my hobby of 'listening to music' (trying to avoid buying the components to better do so with), that these forty buckeroos was money well-spent (his complimentary on-line 'Quarterly' is IMO worth the investment, if you so will, as life-time membership fee). And I didn't want to go down in history as the one minnow swimming against the swarm - or something like that.
Jim's respective correspondence alone was well worth the investment (in this, IMO, ever more so rude and callous society), i.e., just for the consideration he gives.
As far as the contents of his book is concerned, and I am confident that I am not alone with this,
"had I had this handbook forty-five years ago I could and would have saved a considerable (by any man's estimate) amount of money, time and frustration."
Most of the contents happened to have come to me by trial, reading and correspondence, via friends or just plain luck, but again, I really would have profited (financially and emotionally) having had his "wise demeanor and helping hand" at the beginning of my trials rather than toward the end. Highly recommended!
Just wanted to share a thought on Jim's book. The best part of the book for me was the tips and suggestions and techniques for speaker placement. They helped give me a more practical approach to speaker setup because the process is more thought out than what I did before with a tape measure and such. I did use Cardas math for the placement and Jim's tips helped me refine that. But for me the best part of Jim's writing on speaker placement was knowing what to listen for when its right. That tone and dynamics are what to really listen for and to achieve. Not imaging and soundstage. Once I got the speakers in the room where I got the tone and dynamics like they REALLY should be, the result was my room was so well energized and there was a very nice 3D wall of sound that was very coherent. Imaging and staging were really secondary at that point. One of the reasons I was able to get this was because I believed in what Jim wrote and wasn't afraid to put my speakers close together. Putting them closer together went against what I believed. And sure the Cardas math resulted in the same thing, but I wouldn't likely put them THAT close together if it wasn't for Jim's writing on the subject. Glad I got the book. I don't even feel like I need room treatment now, but I know I probably would benefit from it.
Now I'm going to put to test his suggestions on gear placement and move my rack out from between the speakers.
I bought Jim's book a few months back for help in setting up my listening room, currently being remodeled. Waiting for my dedicated room to be ready I thought I'd experiment over at my father-in-law's house.
His system is one cobbled together off eBay: Carver amps, home-brew PC music server, older Sunfire preamp/processor, Pyle speakers, etc. I started by reading random excerpts from Jim's book as I wandered around the front 1/3 of the room, listening for a change in the quality of my voice while my father-in-law sat in the listening chair.
Once the general "sweet spot" was found I moved onto the masking tape grid for the floor. Carefully measured teh exact centerline for the room, ran perpendicular taping off the centerline into the "sweet spot" area and positioned the (admittedly cheap) Pyle speakers. Used Jim's makeup mirror trick to figure out where to position some 1" acoustic foam against the walls to deaden first reflection point...
Sat down to listen and was stunned. The soundstaging was absolutely immense! Male vocals were not chesty, female vocals weren't edgy or shrill. Bass wasn't lumpy.
Sure, the Pyles still had their significant shortcomings but YOWZAH they had never sounded as good as they did after following Jim's setup advice. Dad was grinnin' thinking his system was now on par with my Wilson/Boulder/dCS/Transparent setup. (Of course not, but his did sound, easily, twice as good as it did 2 hours before we started.)
I am truly impressed with Jim's book. Can't wait to try it out when my remodel is done.
I've known Jim Smith since the mid '70s, when he was Sales Manager with Magnepan. He has been in every phase of the high end audio business, plus being an audiophile himself. All of this experience is brought out in his book. It is well written and worth reading, even for us who have been at it for a long time. There are things that I forget that his book reminds me of, and then there are some things that I've never thought of that are worthwhile to try. I always think that there is more to learn and more to obtain from something that means a great deal to me, if I will just pursue it further. Jim's book allows me to pursue high end audio a bit further ... and at a reasonable price. He knows audio!
I bought it and had it delivered here in Portugal and am very satisfied with it, i learned a lot of things and made my system sound much better, so i really recomend the purchase of it.
My system is what can be considered a megabuck one and still had room for a lot of improvments, i even think now that the better the system the bigger improvments you'll get from it, unless you know all the info that's in the book.
The advice in Jim's book works. I was stunned by the impact a couple of inches (or less!) made in improving my system. It met his claim of being worth a major component upgrade. A fun bonus is that the music he voices with makes enjoyable listening. I'm still working on system improvements following his advice of a making a roadmap, and anticipate more improvements to come.
It seems clear to me that Jim's book is the best $45 one could ever spend in pursuit of good sound. I guess for that money you could instead buy something like, uh, 1 hifi fuse. In any event, implementing his set up tips will make a bigger difference than most any of the high end equipment purchased on this site, irrespective of price. If there is a bigger bargain in high end audio, I have never come across it.
I was just recalling that one of the best setup rooms I ever heard was at the Audition store in Birmingham Alabama back in the mid 80's, where I bought my first pair of Magnepans based on what I heard. Actually I went with a friend and we both bought pairs of Maggies that day. Didn't realize until recently that this was Jim Smith's operation back then, so that says a lot for me.
I never know about this book until today when I browsing though Audiogon's tweak section. Normally I would be reluctant to purchase another good-sound type book, but when I saw that it was written by Jim Smith, I placed my order without giving it a second thought. Jim is truly the real deal.
The first time I met Jim was way back in the early '70s when I bought a set of speakers from him at the now long-defunct Sound Shop in Norfolk, Virginia. Years later when he opened Auditions in Homewood, Alabama, a good friend mine and I jumped in a car a drove down to Alabama from Virginia just to check the place out and to see what Jim was up to. Even though Jim was still putting the place together, we able to hear some great sounding music and talk about all sorts of stuff audio. His main staff at the time were some Norfolk, Virginia, transplants that happen to be some guys that we used to hang out and listened to music with. (Jim, please don't hold that against me!) Anyway, we had a great time in Birmingham, we bought a few pieces of used equipment, and received first class treatment the whole time.
Now I can't wait to get the book and do some adjustments in order to Get Better Sound. This book ought to be the next best thing to actually having Jim Smith in your listening room. I'll sure let you guys know.
Seems like every generation a 'definitive' audio book is written. I own both Laura Dearborn's 'Good Sound' & Harley's 'Guide to High-End Audio'. My question is for those who own all of the books; will I find out anything in Smith's book that hasn't been covered by the other books AND decades of reading audio mags??
There is now a 3 cd package that sells for about $20 which I purchased. The tips helped me tweak my system to sounding great. I thought I had it right before I purchased, but some of the smallest things will make a big difference. I'm sure there is still room for more improvement and better sound as I progress with the tips. An added bonus are the free quarter notes emailed periodically.
Just got the book and have exchanged a few emails with Jim. Moving my equipment from between the speakers made a huge difference in the sound. I've read a lot of stuff for the last 10 years and NO ONE recommended doing that. I wish the DVDs had more demonstration of his techniques than him basically reading the book to you, but the information is valuable and he answers questions via email. Solid investment.
I have had the book and DVD's for a good while, and a week ago I visited Jim for his Room Play Reference... Truly thrilling and totally worthwhile! I had come close from the book, but was kidding myself that I did not need to go further in room preparation... It's very helpful to hear the goal. Thanks, Jim Smith!!!
Douger, Jim voiced my system a year and a half ago. He's extremely knowledgeable and a real gentleman. I couldn't be happier with his service as it took my system to a whole new level.
His own system is supposedly world class. I would love to hear it some day, if I ever get down to his area. Could you describe the sound?
Congratulations, it must have been a great experience.
Hi, Peterayer, my hat is off to you for having Jim voice your system. I'm sure that was also a great experience! Could I describe the sound? Very believable, compelling, and addictive! Jim's room is treated and set up to serve the music
wonderfully, and it really works! There are a couple of pictures of Jim's system on Jeff Day's blog, Jeff's Place.
Jim and I both have Tannoy Canterbury SE's, driven by tubes. My system appears on AudioCircle under 'Douger'. Jim has conquered ambient noise much more effectively than I have.
His sound and system are indeed world class, though not
outrageously expensive. It is very well worth hearing!
In the Room Play Reference he demonstrates different genres
of music, and should your system take you to the music or should it bring the performers to you. Very effective!
I went over to Jim's place last winter. He's not too far away and I had read the book.
The book is about as comprehensive and informative as one could imagine. Having recently put together a new system it has been the reference by which I am attempting to bring the room into play, pun intended. After following many of his suggestions things are coming around.
As for the room play reference at his home, well I can only hope to approach that. Holographic and sweet without any artifacts, extremely low noise floor!
If he has time later this year I plan to have him over. Trying to put things in place as to get the most from the session. Highly recommended.