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In my 40 plus years of playing with high-end stereo systems the single biggest mistake I see people making is improper setup.

I am continually amazed at the money, time and care spent on acquiring high-end equipment - the agonizing over which piece of kit, which cable, which vibration control to purchase to get the system right when the most basic of tasks has been either ignored or not done properly.

I can remember numerous shows by manufacturers as well as homes of customers I've walked into where the stereo image was completely wrong, the tonal balance off, the loudspeakers blaring something other than music - a few adjustments later and music was being made again.

The art of setting up a system is not well known, isn't taught anywhere and I always think of it like the challenge of parenting a child: first time parents go through the birth of their child, get it stamped, stuck with needles, blessed and packaged up by the hospital and then are sent home without the parents having a clue what to do next. If you've been there you know what I mean - there's simply no instruction manual to go with this wailing little thing - you are on your own to figure it out.

I guess we all sort of work out but let's face it - parental skills are all over the map as are the results when the kids grow up. In the same way, everyone gets their new system home and then do their best to set it up - and the results are all over the map.

Let's try and fix some of that in the next few day's posts.

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Paul McGowan

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