PS AUDIO: Your Dirty Dozen

Paul McGowan:

It’s tempting to make a snap judgment that a new change to your setup is wonderful – working miracles – but many times this “first blush” critique won’t stand the test of time.

It turns out that it’s quite easy to get enamored with one area of improvement while not noticing a failure in another and taking your time, trying the new change over multiple pieces of music is a really good thing to do.

In our listening room we have what’s come to be known as “Paul’s dirty dozen” a group of tried and true musical pieces we always run through before passing final judgment on anything. These pieces cover a wide range of music and demands for a high-end system: small and intimate, big and dynamic, single vocal, massed choir and so on. Only by disciplining myself and our staff that we have to run through the list before making a proclamation are we able to maintain any kind of consistency.

The need for this process has all kinds of ramifications for each of us – auditioning a new piece of equipment at a dealer’s showroom chief among them. I know many Audiophiles who visit their dealers and trade shows with their own “dirty dozen” and it’s frankly a pretty good idea.

The next time you want to evaluate something, think about burning a CD with the tracks you use as a reference on it. To help, mark the volume of each track or its relative increase or decrease of the first track so you can keep your references straight. You’ll be much more confident of your decisions.

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