This process might take you a few days, but it’s important

Paul McGowan .....

I promised we’d get started on system tuning and figuring out how to relate what I am doing on the new system to what you can do on yours.  Hopefully this new series will be a help to you in getting the most out of your high-end audio system.

The first thing to understand is key to this whole process – learning your music library or at least the dozen or so pieces of music you are most familiar with.  This may seem really obvious to most of you but I want to assume we haven’t done this before and walk through each step carefully.

To make this process work we’re going to rely on our sound memory.  This is critical to the process and here we’re not so concerned with instruments sounding real, bass being right (or wrong), etc.  What we want to know and get a grip on is how these tracks you’ve chosen work in what you have now.  Let’s call this our baseline reference.

Let’s start with one of my classics that I use routinely, Diana Krall’s CD “From this moment on”.  Track 5 is a particular favorite.  Here’s what I want to know: how does she and her piano sound on what I am listening to?  Does it sound live, studio, natural – are there any “flaws” I hear in the recording, perhaps it’s thin, perhaps it’s fat, etc.  Form an opinion on this disc and this cut assuming the cut itself is perfect and you’re just evaluating that cut as a reviewer might if he were to write a review.

Make mental note.  Take written notes if you have to, but better to really listen and get intimate with the recording.  Now do the same for a few more – using a wide variety of musical types and form an opinion on each.  This process might take you a few days, but it’s important.

Where you want to wind up is a level of intimacy with how this track sounds on your system right now – for better or worse – because you’ll need this info to make forward progress on the next steps.