Quarter Notes #4 (Volume 1, Issue 4)

Updated: Sep 2, 2020

Dear Get Better Sound readers,

Welcome to the fourth issue of Quarter Notes!

Quarter Notes is a quarterly newsletter for Get Better Sound readers, expanding on the GBS manual, as well as introducing new and timely subjects. From time-to-time, we may have a guest writer on a special topic.

In the vein of entertaining but somewhat un-garden-variety topics, for this issue, we have a guest music review by Geoff Poor, Director of Sales at Balanced Audio Technology, & owner of Glenn Poor’s Audio-Video in Champaign, IL. As well, we have a feature on absolute polarity (reversed acoustic polarity effects), with a list of recordings and their relative polarities, according to research conducted by George Louis, the self-styled (and sometimes controversial) Perfect Polarity Pundit. You may know George from The Digital Solution™, from Ultra-bit Platinum™, and/or from his series of posts on Audio Asylum re absolute polarity.

In addition to the usual updates from me, we also feature suggestions and questions by GBS readers that are particularly appropriate. Don’t forget, you are invited to send me an e-mail and I may include your question or comments in an upcoming newsletter.

Best e-mail address

Since you’re reading this, the e-mail address that I used to notify you must have worked. However, the only e-mail address I have is the one associated with your initial Get Better Sound order.

If you have an e-mail address that you’d prefer to use to receive Quarter Notes notifications, send it to js@getbettersound.com. Be sure to list the month of purchase (if possible), and definitely include the address I used originally along with the one that you want to use to replace it.

From recent experience

I recently spoke at an audio society/club event. The program was outlined that I wanted to go over, some of which was a demonstration of a few important points from Get Better Sound. According to the members, we had a very good turnout, with most every available seat taken.

Having met most of those attending. I’d say that the membership was comprised of unusually knowledgeable audiophiles, when compared to what I perceive the “average” audiophile knows.

We all had a pretty good time. But it didn’t turn out like I expected.

After only a few minutes into the presentation (during which I invited comments and questions), I began to notice that the questions that were being asked have been firmly entrenched into what is sometimes called “audiophile common knowledge.”

Some believed in the so-called “rule of thirds” for room set-up. Some believed in other techniques that are associated with various manufacturers. I should say that all of these folks were those who hadn’t read Get Better Sound. The GBS readers in the audience were relatively quiet, which alone was fascinating (and about which I’m still thinking)…

The majority thought the best rooms had non-parallel walls, one great sub was all you need, etc. The sort of stuff you know isn’t true from having read GBS.

So, much to my surprise, my presentation over the next hour-and-a-half became one of debunking one audiophile myth after another. To give them credit (heck, give me credit too!), we had a lively give-and-take that was fun but never crossed the line into some of the mean-spirited exchanges we see in some quarters these days.

Why tell you about this?

These great guys and gals had been around audio for a long time, and yet they still got some important concepts wrong. If you hear – or still harbor - some of these audiophile “common knowledge” chestnuts, and you haven’t seen them addressed in GBS, drop me a line. Don’t hesitate to ask. I get lots of e-mails, but I try to answer every one within 24 hours.

If it’s a myth, or even partly a myth, I’ll let you know. Plus, we might try to catalog the most pervasive and misleading ones and post them in a future Quarter Notes. :)

On-the-job observations

It’s no secret that I’m doing a lot of system/room voicing for clients theses days. The results have been well beyond each client’s expectations. But I have to say, they aren’t the only ones who are learning something.

The thing that I’ve learned is all about references. As part of the voicing process, I go into clients’ homes and listen to their systems. I might as well admit that I am almost always under-whelmed at the sound that I hear initially.

But I’ve come to realize that it’s not about the hearing ability of the owners. It’s usually not about their components. It even may not be about their set-up ability.

It’s simpler than any of those concepts. They have no reference for what their system should sound like. They don’t know what to do to improve it, because they have no idea – no reference – as to what a great system can sound like in their room.

The cool thing is that – at least so far – virtually every system that I’ve voiced has enjoyed a substantial leap in performance and overall involvement without even one new component being purchased. In fact, everyone still has the same components that they had when I arrived the first time!