Congrats and thank you!
Congrats and thank you!
Agree with Hoff48 - Buy the book. After years of improving equipment, trying different combinations and setups, one hour of listening to Jim at a show then reading his book allowed me to improve my system more in one afternoon than I could imagine. I believe Jim lives in Georgia presently but I could be wrong.
Happy to provide some additional detail. First, the price is $1,500 for an overnight visit. In my situation, this entailed picking him up from the airport around 5pm and then coming directly to the house for some initial evaluations and measurements. Now, I'm not a techie, but he did lug alot of equipment with him, which I'm assuming was a spectral analyzer and such, determining bass nodes and the like. He probably spent about 5 hours that first night, working much later than I and I think he also, anticipated. The majority of the effort the first night was in analyzing the rooms characteristics with minimal adjustments to my system.
I then picked him up around 8:30 the next morning and brought him to the house. I would characterize his work as getting my speakers to play the room, or I should properly state that is how he characterizes the work he does, I don't want to plagiarize. Now don't get me wrong, he also spent a significant amount of time determining exact center line of the room, and when I say exact, I mean down to the 1/8 of an inch. We worked very hard on finding the best listening position. We also worked very hard on where the rest of the furniture should be in the room, including my audio rack. However, without question, the primary effort was in finding the perfect location for the speakers. This included not only exact distances from side, front and rear walls, but also exact rake angle and toe in. He has a plethora of tools that he used, so while I agree the book (which I also purchased before hiring Jim) is a great idea and good investment. Unless you have much more free time than I, are naturally talented at this kind of thing, and have all of the devices and tools that Jim has, I simply don't think it would have been possible to achieve the results I have now without hiring Jim.
As Jim mentioned to me, he won't leave until he's satisfied, and if that means he needs to stay a second night, he is willing to do that for a very very reasonable incremental increase - price goes up to $1,780. However, if my memory serves me correctly, he rarely, very rarely, has needed that 2nd night.
Not sure if I've answered everyone's question sufficiently. If not, I'll try again. My best final advice is that if you're contemplating this at all, just give him a ring. He's a really sincere guy and was very patient with me and all of my questions prior to his visit.
Good luck to everyone.
I will save a lot of time to simply say ditto to what favresi wrote above.
To add only that music and its feithfull reproduction has been my pasion since age 9 (I am 67).
Needless to say that through the years I have spent considerable time and money in the persuit of better sound.
One statement will do it. "I have never invested more wisely and with better inmediate results than aaking Jim to "voice" my system.
His dedication,experience and delivery of results are outstanding.
One additional comment is that Jim advised my contractor along the process of building my new sound room and did so at a very reasonable price and using reasonably priced approaches to the building process.
Wow I think this is more than reasonable. I would assume that 1500 plus you pay airfare? I can imagine that if you have spent a lot of money on gear and have a dedicated room where you have the run of the room for speaker placement 1500 bucks for an EXPERT to come and get it sounding right is the best possible money spent. I have talked to a guy who visited Jim's personal system at his house and he said it was the best system he ever heard.
I would like to add my thoughts here as well. I am fortunate enough to be in the same city as Jim Smith so scheduling his time was very easy.
I have had the Avantgarde Duo’s for three years now and have spent a lot of time tweaking the speakers with toe-in and subwoofer adjustments. I had learned of Jim Smith when I was purchasing my Duo’s that at one time he was the North American Dealer for Avantgarde. After reading the advertisement for his book “Get better sound” and consulting services. I thought this is the perfect time to get someone who is very familiar with the setup of the Avantgarde speakers
After contacting Jim and scheduling him for a evaluation of my system. One thing I would like to point out, Jim Smith is very professional and flexible in planning, execution and follow up. If you are wondering if his book or services are worth it I can say without reservation that his book is a must for reference and Jim’s onsite services are top notch. This guy is dictated to results and doesn’t stop until he achieves that.
Once Jim arrived he asked that we not play music right away and focused solely on better understanding my environment, room, components also my music likes. He also asked who setup the equipment and why I had it that way. These questions were for his understanding and not to criticize.
Jim bought his own selection of music. He has certain CD’s that he selects to evaluate different aspects of the system. The tracks he selects are ones he knows very well and so he knew what to listen for. After listening and asking certain questions about what I thought my system was doing, Jim's initial thoughts boiled down to:
- The sound is bit too aggressive in the upper mids, lower highs
- We'd like more depth.
- We'd like the speakers to "disappear" more.
- We'd like to get a bigger, richer, more involving sound. More density of tone.
- We'd like to get rid of a slight nasality.
- The bass is too thin - I sometimes describe that kind of bass as "shriveled up". Too dry. It lacks the form, flow and body of real bass in live venues, either electric or acoustic.
I did feel pretty good about my setup after Jim stated that this was one of the best Avantgarde setups he had seen done by the actual owner. He did say we could make it better and that is what I was really looking forward to.
Jim told me he would send me his analysis and recommendations for correcting the above issues. He did state that the changes to be made could be done by myself and if I wanted he could come back to voice the system to the room. I did schedule Jim to come back and I made the necessary changes listed below before his return:
-Relocate the tweeter and mid horns with the speaker stand as shown on his reference diagram he sent me.
-Remove the spikes from under the SUB 225 bass speakers, leaving only the three outer frame rails to support the DUO
-Change the toe-in and elevation (forward/back tilt of speaker)
Upon Jims return to voice the system first task was to ensure we had the speakers positioned correctly. We used Jims grid system from his “Get Better Sound Book”, to me is the best system I had ever heard used. These adjustments were to address:
Soundstage depth- speakers moved out from the wall and spread out
Slight nasality - Speaker rake was point down ( adjusted the rake to point the speaker up a little)
Richer, more density of tone - Subwoofer Crossover setting at 140 and volume adjustment
Speaker Toe out – Speakers to disappear more
One other note is that Jim found that lack of bass was due to room wasn’t pressurized with the bass. We corrected this by closing the double doors to the room when in a listening session.
I have skipped a bunch of details around checking polarites, AC currents and RTA readings and such but tried to list the major points Jim bought out.
At the end of the voicing session both Jim and I were very happy with the way the system sounded. Jim was the best investment I could have made to complete my system considering what I spent on my speakers and equipment. The system sounds the best it ever has and I learned a ton throughout the process.
I should also note that the items Jim listed that needed addressed were addressed. I have a life size sound stage with such depth and textures now. My speakers have disappeared with the stage extending beyond the width of the speakers.
One last thing I would like to say and that is Bravo Jim.
There is no substitute for expertise in any endeavor involving technology, that is fir sure!
" I would characterize his work as getting my speakers to play the room"
Agree that this is the key to right sizing a system and getting the best sound. Easier said than done often though!
I bought a pair of Maggies back in the 80's at Jim's Audition shop in Birmingham, Alabama almost instantly after hearing them. He may have been the one who helped me even, not sure about that.
That was still the best sounding Maggie setup I recall ever hearing and truly delivered what those speakers were capable of. I never bought a piece of equipment that quickly after first hearing it before!
I should have hired him to help me set them up as well back then I suppose!
As a audiophile I was always searching for the next level of performance in sound in my room. I tried many equipment changes and tweaks over the years and most of the time achieved a higher level of performance but always questioned if the changes were how the sound was recorded and If I was getting the most out of my sound room. It is rather large in size at 33 feet long by 23 feet wide and has ceiling height transitioning from 8 feet to 10 feet. A friend of mine gave me Jim Smith's "Get Better Sound" book to read and I was immediately intrigued with what I read. I then purchased the DVD set from Jim and spoke to him a few times about some of the techniques and theories I read. I decided to schedule Jim to come to my house for one of his ROOM PLAY sessions and it has been the single largest impovement in sound quality that my system has ever experienced and for the first time with Jim's years and years of experience I am confident getting the most out of my room and equipment.
My equipement is as follows:
Vandersteen Model 5A speakers
Balanced Audio Technology VK 600SE amplifier
Audio Research Reference 5 preamplifier
Cary Audio SACD PRO cd player
Mac Book Pro for computer audio using Pure Music software
PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC 2
PS Audio Perfect Wave PWT transport
Audio Quest Diamond USB cable
Mogami interconnects XLR
Alpha Core Goertz speaker cables
BPT power conditioner
Shunyata Power Cords
Following are my impressions of the transformation of the system sound after Jim's visit to the house. I would be remiss first of all if I didn't speak of the experience just meeting Jim and spending 2 days with him. Very classy man and his wealth of knowledge about the audio industry is incredible. I could have spent days asking him questions and learing from his years of experience. BUT we had work to do and we spend most of the time working on the placement of the speakers in the room and getting it just right. From the beginning Jim thought we would be moving the speaker closer together, a little more into the room , and mabye changing the tow in a little. It was amazing to me how Jim could hear the differences of the small changes we made in placement of the Vandersteen's. First of all we determined where my room had the best bass response and then moved my listening seat to that spot ( which ended up being only 7 inches). Next through hours of careful listening and moving the speakers MANY, MANY times Jim suggested the system was now voiced. We ended up moving the speakers closer together, and further into the room. We also verifed toe-in and validated the speakers were still in time alignment using the process outlined in the setup manual for the Vandersteens. In the next few weeks and now months of listening to my music collection I am amazed with the differences I hear on every song I play. The impressions of what I now hear are as follow:
The music now flows with more rhythm and tempo than before. The harmony blend between the treble and bass is improved and sounds more like live music. The variations in loudness is more full range and is more emotionally engaging now. I can now see into the recording more the resolution of detail I now hear is remarkable on every song. The sound is more three dimensional and the height, depth and width seem more right. Finally the imaging is so much better the location of the instruments and singers in the soundstage have added a extra dimension of excitement to the listening experience. I find myself just listening to the music and toe tapping like never before. I truly am just enjoying the music.
I can say with total confidence that there is no bigger improvement you can make to you system than to have it voiced properly to your room. Most of us are not capable of performing this task. Jim has the vast experience and incredible ability to hear the changes and get the most our of your room and system components. Jim's Room Play sessions are worth every penny spent and you too can enjoy the music like never before. And as a added benefit you get to spend a few days with one of the nicest men you will ever come across.