Weird for me-I had just reached out to him for the first time yesterday to do set-up on my two turntables.We traded a few emails and he seems like a great guy. I noticed him on a thread on another audio forum, "whats best". I tried to look up your profile but don't see one. What are the basics of your system? How proficient do you feel you are with cartridge set-up and to what extent would you say there was an improvement over your own best efforts? Nothing you tell me will change my mind though-I know I am average at best with cartridge set-up.
Showing 4 responses by fsonicsmith
Are there any guys who like me totally know what they’re doing, totally know their rig was set up really, really good to begin with, who then were astounded to hear it brought to a whole new level?Millercarbon; you are one confident dude. I wish I could come over to ta maison to hear your system for myself and see if you truly walk the walk. Here is how I look at the issue fwiw; industry veterans largely agree that James Smith of "Get Better Sound" fame is capable of making a system sound better irrespective of adverse conditions and limitations-to an extent that few if any can match regardless of experience. Without exception, his clients who have paid to fly him in and set up their systems over two days time (we’re talking $3000-$5,000 IIRC) have said the results were remarkable and worth every penny. I have talked to James Smith and exchanged quite a few email with him. I was seriously considering the investment. I firmly believe that 98.5% of us with systems that cost above say $30,000 (mine is closer to 100K) are getting less than 80% of the potential sound quality due to compromised set-up. If the set-up is not 100% spot on, the deficit is huge. The old adage about "close only counting with horse shoes and hand grenades" applies. Despite all of his expertise, Jim Smith will not work on a client’s system based on vinyl playback. He uses digital sources only and then leaves it to his client to incorporate the vinyl playback into the system once he gets the system set-up complete. Why? Because he says vinyl injects too may additional variables into the system and he needs to use digital-his digital-as a reference point. First and foremost, any vinyl rig that is in the same room as the speakers is subject to too much acoustic vibration/disturbance for reliable reference, he says.
Why is all of this relevant here you might ask? Two reasons. Just because you get what you call "3D palpable sound" does not mean that you have achieved your vinyl rig’s true potential. Like I said, you may be damned close to perfect, but the difference between close and perfect is huge IMHO. Everything here is just my humble opinion btw. Second, the variables of vinyl playback that Jim Smith won’t touch with a ten foot pole is exactly why having an expert like Brian Walsh so valuable. Go to Brian Walsh’s website-if you wish-and under "Blog" you will see his link to an article Peter Qvortrup co-wrote. Hell, here is a link http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazine/viewpoint/0601/audiohell.htm . Read the article and think about it-if you wish. How many of us have our turntables set up such that they accurately and pleasantly render all the variables of music as they are recorded on a well recorded record? Are you certain that yours does? How do you know? Have you set up thousands of vinyl rigs in expensive systems and reached a status of being acclaimed for your expertise? I AM NOT DOUBTING you! I am asking you.
Fair enough. Why not ask Brian? E.g; "Mr. Walsh-have you ever gone to client’s home and determined that there was no improvement to be made?" or "Have you ever done your work only to have a customer say it sounded as good or better before?". And then there is this; do a search and see if Brian has one dissatisfied customer that has shared the discontent on this thing we have called the ’net. I suppose you will counter that people like yourself are far less likely to hire Brian in the first place. Good point actually.
I suppose it stands to reason that there are a good number of vinyl enthusiasts who have turntable set-up down to an art/science leading edge level of competence. I mostly lack the patience. I get my cartridge aligned as best I can using a two grid protractor or the Feickert gauge and I adjust VTA and azimuth by ear and I of course double check VTF with two digital guages and then I pretty much call it a day. I have a Fozgometer which I calibrated but I think it is a pain in the ass to use and I have grown to distrust it. I am not anal enough to mark every record for VTA/SRA and even if I was, I would never bother to adjust it for every single record despite the fact that adjusting VTA on Reed arms is as easy as it can get (azimuth as well).
I don’t know enough to have my opinions count. YET. Wait til two weeks from now and I will report back. But as you have noted, by experience won’t count for much because I can tell you have much better skills than I do.
Now I am really going to digress. I attended my first audio show recently-Axpona. I don’t think I will ever go again. It is almost depressing. Nope-it is absolutely depressing. So much fanfare, effort, expense, and all for so little. I didn’t see very much smiling by attendees or by exhibitors. It is not fun. It is work for both the exhibitors under impossible conditions and guests to manage the crowded elevators, hallways, and rooms. No wonder the better adjusted hosts had alcoholic beverages on hand. I would guess that roughly one fourth of the better rooms featured a vinyl rig. I would further guess that the exhibitors in these rooms did not sweat the turntable set up too much. Spending four hours to set up a deck that will only be disassembled in two days when an hour will get the deck close is the approach I suspect most took. Being a vinyl fan, I hate to admit this but in virtually every room that had both vinyl and digital at Axpona, I thought the digital sounded better. To the extent that there is any point here, the point would be that there is so much devil in the details with vinyl.
Brian came to my house Friday and spent the better part of five hours setting up my TD124 with a Cadenza Bronze and my Garrard 301 with a VdH Crimson.
I am blown away by the improvement. If you go to Brian's site (I think it is against forum rules to link to another audio commercial site but if you google Brian Walsh and "ttsetup" you will find it) and scroll down to the bottom of the home page and hit the facebook link you will see my two turntables and Brian's flattering comments.
Though my VdH was set close to optimum already, Brian's small corrections transformed the sound. The best way I can describe the difference is that everything "sounds of a whole cloth" now.
On top of everything else, Brian is an utter joy to talk to. I feel like I made a friend. I can not recommend him highly enough.