Review: Jim Smith Home Consultation & Set Up Speaker
Ok, let’s get a couple caveats out of the way first…
• I couldn’t find the best place to put this review, so I’m putting it with speakers, as that seemed like perhaps the best place to help more people learn about my experience with Jim and why I recommend him so highly.
• Yes, I’m more of a lurker than active poster and contributor. I know I need to ‘pay it forward’ more often. Guilty as charged.
• I have no hidden agenda in posting this review other than to finally start trying to pay it forward, as mentioned above.
A very brief history on myself to help put this ‘review’ into context. I’m most likely similar to many of you. I’ve invested more money than I care to admit over the past 15+ years of audiophile activity. I’ve completely turned over my system several times, in several different rooms. I spent 3 years in Japan as well, and got an in depth look inside the belly of the Japanese addiction to hifi. I’ve had all types of components in and out of my system over the years, ss – class a and ab, tubes in the pre and amp, all types of cd’s/dacs, cables of almost every flavor. I do feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle of what can happen to a system when you change out various components. Obviously, this statement isn’t meant to be an absolute and could be inflammatory if taken too far – not my intention. I simply am trying to set a baseline for what follows, and that is I’ve had many opportunities to evaluate ‘system upgrades’ and the incremental improvements (or decline) that come along with a variety of changes.
My current system for frame of reference:
• Ayre AX-7e
• Ayre QB-9
• Tannoy Canterbury SE
• Audience AU24 speaker cables, Acoustic Revive XLR interconnect, Tel Wire pc on the dac and Virtual Dynamic Master Series 4.0 pc on integrated, RSAD Alethias USB cable.
I’ll start with my conclusion and work my way backward. Hiring Jim Smith to come down was BY FAR, the single best investment I’ve ever made. It’s not even close, seriously. I’ve spent thousands of dollars as mentioned above going from this amp to that amp, this speaker to that speaker, cable swaps, etc. Indeed, all of those changes certainly brought along some change in sound to the system. But as experienced and knowledgeable I think I am (again, I’m sure my experience pales in reference to many of you) I really don’t think that I was much better than 50/50 shot of an upgrade truly resulting in better or more enjoyment from my system. I do believe once you get to a certain level, the incremental improvements are tougher and tougher to achieve.
There are really 2 aspects to why I feel so passionate about writing this review. Certainly one is the major improvement to my system that Jim was able to produce. Improvements that even months after his visit, still amaze me when I sit down to listen. I don’t necessarily feel a need to go into detailed descriptions in exactly what changed, but I will just summarize that everything came together. Nothing is disjointed, bands sound live, with a great solid foundation – physical foundation that is – it makes performances sound live, within the context of their recording venue. Now, I’m not saying the Tannoy’s sounded terrible or anything like that before Jim’s visit. It’s just that emotional connection that is so strong now, I honestly struggle to stop listening and go to bed, where I never had that problem before.
So enough on the first obvious reason to why Jim is a great investment. For me, there is another equally important reason I recommend to everyone to seriously consider Jim’s services. And that is the confidence and peace of mind he can provide. Not only is he a true gentleman, and wealth of knowledge and just a blast to talk to about his history in the industry, but I can’t tell you how great it is to just brainstorm with him all our various ideas/thoughts about our systems and get his candid views and advice. I know the merry go round this hobby is for many of us. But after the session with Jim, I’m not only incredibly satisfied with what my system sounds like, but equally important, I’m not wondering any more about ‘what ifs’ – I did that or this. Jim is not afraid to tell it like it is, whether he thinks your ideas would produce an improvement or just a change, or a good/bad investment. It really is a great feeling to know that you’ve had your system set up done by probably the best in the industry, but also had the time to consult with him about all of the thoughts that were in my head and really settled on what my system should and can (now does) do. And what I should expect from my system in the future and where it could possibly go.
The memory of his time with me is not just the great sound I get daily, but the confidence I have in my system and direction. The dollar investment for his services more than paid for itself with the improvement, but the approach to my system and audio in general are truly priceless. For the price of what many cables cost, and certainly less than what most source or power components cost, his service is a serious steal – truly a bargain.
I do feel that we in this hobby have a strong common bond and unfortunately due to the proliferation of home theater and things like you tube, facebook, etc – our hobby is in danger of dying a slow (or not) death. I truly believe if more people could really experience what a night with a truly dialed in high end 2 channel system, we have a better chance of keeping this beloved hobby thriving and moving forward. Jim’s services are the best way that I’ve found in my history of getting there. My intent with this long-winded review is to encourage anyone serious about getting more enjoyment out of their system to consider contacting Jim. I just wish that I did it sooner.