Devilish details

September 9, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

They say there’s a devil in those details. That it’s awfully easy to imagine wholesale change until one rolls up their proverbial sleeves and gets going.

Which is why I recommend dedicating an entire Saturday or Sunday for making changes to your system.

Even small changes.

Simply tweaking the toe-in or out can blossom into a lot of work. Get a better center image but now you’ve lost the soundstage width. Move the speakers back towards the front wall and you increase bottom end but at the expense of depth. Move the left and right closer together and the result is better midbass coupling but what else changes?

Replace one of your components with a new one. You love what it brings to the system. Over time, the newness wears off and you begin to notice the kinks.

Time to look that devil in the details straight in the eye and get to tuning.

Over the years I have learned to apportion enough time to handle what seems at first like a quick change.

Weekends are great for helping make better a great 2-channel audio system.

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17 comments on “Devilish details”

  1. For over seventy years Elizabeth Regina was certainly one who rolled up her sleeves & got going.
    What better way to remind us all of our own mortality & how insignificant we all really are,
    regardless of how big our egos may be or how humble we may be.
    Vale Elizabeth II (1926-2022)
    Indeed, an exemplary life.

    Placing your loudspeakers to optimise the sometimes elusive holographic 3-D soundstage that true
    audiophiles crave, is still quite often dependent on the recording, ie. placement is still a compromise.

    1. I realize that Australia is not a British colony, but I’m sure most people in your country have a deep affection for Queen Elizabeth. I don’t think that I could count on one hand the world leaders I’ve known in 70 years that even come close to her qualities of ( dedication, commitment, integrity, a sense of humor mixed in, and just basic goodness) It hardly seems like they make leaders like that anymore!

      1. Hi RC,
        Australia is indeed a British colony, much like Canada is.
        Until yesterday Elizabeth II was our head of state.
        King Charles III is currently our head of state.
        Soon Australia will have a referendum to decide whether we should finally
        become a republic & go forward with our own elected head of state.

        1. I only said that because I wasn’t sure, so I googled it. All the answers said it wasn’t. It read that the Australian act of 1986 eliminated the last vestige of British legal authority at the federal level. It doesn’t matter to me either way. It doesn’t diminish the legacy of Queen Elizabeth. Also I’m going to follow your lead and separate my new speaker cables by two inches.

          1. We still have a Governor General as the British monarch’s representative in Australia who oversees the Australian Federal Government & it’s ministers.
            The Governor General has the power to sack our Prime Minister & that, to my mind, makes us still a colony under the ‘benevolent dictatorship’ of the British monarchy 😉 …just saying ✌

            Your feedback on the success, or not, of the separation of your loudspeaker leads would be appreciated.

            1. FR, I am particularly fond of 13 British colonies. They got fed up with the crown and in particular a guy named George. On July 4, 1776 the decided to say enough is enough. There was quite a bid of disagreement between George and his army ( the red coats ) with the rebels. Finally in 1781 the British gave up and the colonies were free. We have been free for almost 250 years and look what it has got us. I find it a touch ironic that we now get very upset with people who advocate the over throw of the government given that we started as a band of rebels who got their freedom by armed insurrection. How quickly we forget.

              On the other hand, you belong to a Commonwealth that can trace it’s roots back to sometime in the 900’s. That is over 1000 years ago. Be careful what you wish for.

              1. Agreed Tony.
                Personally, I’ve always lived by,
                “If it aint f***ked then don’t try & fix it”.

                Looks like some Americans still love their insurrections 😉
                An Australian band called ‘Midnight Oil’ wrote a song back in the 80’s called ‘Short Memories’ that tackle this very political issue.

  2. “They say there’s a devil in those details”

    I’m not sure who “they” are….

    But some audio folks may say….
    Getting those details out of their audio kit may have something to with a devil….

    If I’m spending a 24 period shuffling things around in the home audio land then there better be a major weather event keeping me in.

    It takes a weekend day to read and absorb the audiophiles guide…. Then the next weekend I forgot what I read and have to re-read, a viscous circle. 😀

    I’d rather make some incremental changes and give things time. The process is slower, and good note taking is a must for repeatability. It doesn’t consume a day and removes the 1st impression syndrome.

  3. If the day comes when I have to spend it entirely on redoing what I have already done many many times before and am already quite happy with the SQ, then, “There Must Be A Disturbance In The Force”. Currently, the only issue that’s necessary to keep my music system tuned-in to my soul is checking the amp tube bias three times a year and dusting my system off PRN.

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