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Quarter Notes #24

Updated: Jan 31, 2021

Dear Get Better Sound & Through the Sound Barrier owners,

Welcome to the twenty-fourth issue of Quarter Notes, published on January 10, 2021. Quarter Notes is a free newsletter for Get Better Sound and Through the Sound Barrier owners, expanding on both, as well as introducing new and timely subjects.


Best email address

If you’re reading this from an e-mail link, the e-mail address with which I sent this QNs must have worked. However, the only e-mail address I have is the one associated with your initial Get Better Sound or Through the Sound Barrier order.

If you have an e-mail address that you’d prefer to use to receive Quarter Notes notifications, send it to Be sure to include the e-mail address I used originally, along with the one that you want to use to replace it.


In this issue:

1. The Get Better Sound website has finally moved!

2. New GBS website features

3. Huge update to the RoomPlay Reference room:

a - What were the changes & why were they deemed necessary?

b - Acoustic wave-launch vs. electrons in cables & circuits. Changes due to this phenomenon.

c - Implications for the Through the Sound Barrier DVD, and its direct connection to unlocking your music.

4. Sheesh!!! I knew better...…

5. A different X-Factor

6. TTSB update


1. The Get Better Sound website has finally moved!

Although it was absolutely necessary, it has been way too involved (effort & time) & frankly, a real chore. My son Randall of Breaking Through Podcast fame, has helped me to make this changeover. Without his assistance, I don't see how it would ever have happened. THANK YOU, RANDALL!!!


2. New GBS website features

Now I can send QNs directly from the site. Podcasts can start again as well, since they can also be hosted directly from the site.


3. Huge update to the RoomPlay Reference room

Below is an image of the RPR room & system, before the big changes. Over the years, this set-up received "Best Sound" comments from about 80% of attendees, with the remaining 20% or so saying things like "In my Top Three", etc…

a. So what were the changes & why were they deemed necessary?

The entire point of the RoomPlay Reference room had been to give visitors a reference for what was possible especially from a musical involvement standpoint. The sessions always included a good bit of 'how to get there' information for the attendees.

Although I truly appreciated the positive comments & reactions from everyone, I began to worry that they held high expectations primarily due to the cost of the components in the system. Of course, this viewpoint is exactly the opposite of what I have always intended…

So, I sold off the speakers, amplification, power cables, and many of the ASC Tube Traps that I had on hand.

b. Acoustic wave-launch vs. electrons in cables & circuits, and changes due to this phenomenon.

The new system and room acoustics, whatever they would be, had to cost a fraction of the one that I had used for many years. Having visited a large number of RoomPlay clients who had great systems, but that were not initially set up to unlock their music, and having to show them the powerful musical involvement effects that come from properly achieving & receiving the best acoustic wave-launch into the room, the last thing I wanted to do here was have them think that if only they spent more money on their system & room, all would be good.

I should mention here that I am NOT against buying better components. Actually, I'm all for it whenever possible, but only after you have discovered how to achieve & receive the best acoustic wave-launch into the room. To do so without unlocking your music is largely a waste of your money, because the system & room are not set up well enough to truly appreciate what a better component can do.

Not to wear you out with this viewpoint, please let me conclude with this statement: Worrying about how electrons flow through circuits & cables can NEVER achieve the results that addressing the proper acoustical wave-launch into your room and receiving it properly at your listening area. IT'S NOT EVEN CLOSE, ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE IS A SIMPLE & AFFORDABLE TECHNIQUE AVAILABLE TO ACHIEVE BOTH MUSICAL HARMONY & DOMESTIC HARMONY

Here is an image of the new RPR room & system, which is approx. 25% of the price of the previous system, but with the same - or perhaps a better - level of musical engagement:

Two more images:

In the images above, you can see more of what the new room offers in layout flexibility. The image just below is what I see in approximately 75% of the systems/rooms that I come to voice. The loss of presence & tone in such a set-up is massive, truly a sad event, especially if the system is relatively high-end.

Back when I was recording for NPR, there was NO WAY that I would allow a performer to be in the same location as the speakers are in the image below. If live sound is compromised in such a position, why do we think ANY loudspeakers will work there?

Although it's only a small improvement, the first – worthwhile - step is to place a fabric cover over the flat TV screen when listening to your music…

The next step is to bring the speakers forward of the cabinet a bit, not shown here, but will be shown on the TTBS DVD. This can easily be accomplished when the owner wants a more immersive listening experience, a greater dose of musical engagement. Of course it needs to be easy to return to the original position when necessary.

c. Implications for the Through the Sound Barrier DVD, and its direct connection to unlocking your music.

The good news is that the new RPR demos really make the TTSB Book Two & DVD come alive in a powerful manner


4. Sheesh!!! I knew better…

For most of my career in retail audio, one of the things that I tried to require of my sales staffs was that only the pair of speakers that the client wanted to hear would be in the room. All others HAD to be removed.

Why? Whenever other – unattached – loudspeakers are in the room, they ALWAYS detract from the sound of the ones that you want to hear.

I am always disappointed when I visit a high-end dealer or see photos that show multiple speakers in the room.

Furthermore, back when I was a LucasFilm-Certified Home Theater Consultant, whenever a HT owner indicated that there were times when he or she wanted to listen to music through the left & right speakers only, they were nearly always skeptical at first when I suggested that they leave the center & surround amplifiers on, but turned down all of the way.

Why would that make a difference? With the center & surround speakers under the control of their associated electronics, while it might not be as good as removing the speakers completely, it was still substantially better, as the other speakers' drivers were not nearly as free to move around in response to the left & right pair playing at a standard listening volume level. Over the years, I probably helped over 300 system owners with this issue, some with extra unused speakers in the room, and some when using their home-theater system as a stereo music playback system.

So you would think that what happened to me a couple of days ago was simply a huge brain fart. I was finishing up on fine-tuning (Fyne tuning?) the Fyne Audio 703s as an alternative to the Joseph Audio Graphene 2s.

Woah! Somehow the bass wasn't nearly as deep, nor powerful, nor as articulate as I had experienced just a couple of hours previously, before I had to handle some e-mails & book shipping. Or maybe I was wrong when I thought it was spot on???

Then I noticed that I had brought the Josephs into the sound room to clear a space for moving some equipment around in the hallway. When I moved the Josephs (it could really have been any speaker, it just happened to be the Josephs), back out of the room, and replayed my RoomPlay test tracks – Voila! Everything was back as it was.

I should have immediately known better, but I simply got sidetracked…

So here's some advice that came directly from my mental mistake a few days ago:

Do remove any unused loudspeakers from your listening room, and if you are using a Home Theater system in the same room, remember to turn on the amplifier/amplifiers connected to the surround speakers & a center channel speaker if you have it. Simply turn down any volume controls, muting the volume if possible. Having the HT amplifier(s) exert control over the loudspeakers isn't as good as removing them, but it's much better than allowing their drivers to flop around, subtracting from your musical involvement.

If the home theater is entirely separate, make sure that ALL of the HT speakers are connected to their associated amplifier/amplifiers and that the amps are powered up. But please make sure that they are without any signal, and/or the HT volume control is turned down all of the way.

Please don't misunderstand - it's not just the bass, it's all of the sound that is compromised by having an extra loudspeaker or more in your listening room.

FWIW – there is another solution to having to keep unused loudspeakers in your listening room. E-mail me at


5. A different X-Factor

We've probably all heard or used the term X-factor. And many of you have probably seen some X-Factor tv shows.

But this version is totally different.

When I think of X, it's always related to multiplication. Such as 2 X 3 = 6.

I hear these x-factors all the time from RoomPlay and Roomplay Reference clients. As such, it seems appropriate to explain the x-factor value as they see it.

Essentially, they say things like "Wow! That session was worth x-times what I have ever spent on any component!

And you know what – I agree! Not because of ego (at least I hope not), but because these sessions contain the key to powerfully unlock your music at a level that you most likely haven't experienced when listening to your audio system…

Addressing how electrons flow through wires, tubes or transistors, etc. – assessing virtually ANY audio component – doesn't begin to compare with addressing the system's acoustic wave-launch into your room, and receiving it properly at your listening seat.

In other words, spending money on a "better" component cannot come close to the results from actually spending less money while getting far greater results from one of the RP or RPR sessions.

Now, I am not against buying better components when possible. In fact, I endorse it highly. But why not hear the real differences between components, so that the money you spend on them is not wasted? Plus, your musical involvement will be greatly increased.

And that's my X-Factor explained. Of course, an explanation is one thing, experience is quite another… ♬ ☺


6. A Through the Sound Barrier update…

I am working on the DVD set-up just now. It required a major change in the set-up of the RoomPlay Reference room, but that is finally complete. We hope to be filming the DVD/video soon.

Having said this before, I can only say that I am still learning a lot about my ability to meet TTSB deadlines. Yes, the project has grown a lot in complexity and size – in fact, it's about three times the size that I had originally planned. As such, I am afraid to give an ETA, as I have so badly underestimated the size & complexity of this project. Workdays continue to begin before sunup and end a bit after sundown.

I have also asked this question before, but time has slipped by and there have been some changes in many audiophile/music lovers' habits around the world – at least from the relevant e-mails that I receive. Do you still watch DVDs and play CDs?

Please reply by e-mail. However, please note that my e-mail address has changed from to

Although it should have been a fairly straightforward move, we had some issues with the previous web host, including the unexpected necessity to change e-mail addresses. We selected the new host in anticipation of being able to send out newsletters again, host podcasts, and to be ready for the coming fulfillment of the TTSB Kickstarter project.

If you are a backer with an additional pledge, such as RoomPlay, RoomPlay Reference, or StraightTalk, we have already fulfilled these pledges to over half of the backers. If you backed at one of these levels, please contact me so that we can fulfill your pledge requirement. Again, contact me at

In anticipation of the TTSB DVD/video, the RPR system & room have been completely redone. We hope to be filming it soon.

There is a powerful new benefit that has been added to the TTSB project. It has been completed, and I will announce it when TTSB is ready.

Referring again to changes in listening habits & styles, I am investigating streaming as a possible alternative for CDs for some folks. Please e-mail me at if you have any comments/observations. We welcome your input!

I do continue to think that probably the only positive thing about the Covid-19 mess here has been that I am no longer voicing as many systems in clients' homes who live out of reach when driving; or doing many RoomPlay Reference sessions here, hence I have more time to devote to TTSB.

Therefore, not as many distractions…

My wife Pam can readily attest to the long hours of each day - from before daybreak until after sunset - as I try to complete two books, a system logbook, three CDs, and the DVD/video, plus another highly valuable surprise item, as mentioned above.

AFAIK, I am still at the top of my game re sound system set-up & unlocking the music, but producing such a massive project is obviously not in my highest skill set. Even so, we are definitely making progress…


That's all, folks!

Best wishes,

Jim Smith

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