Overkill

October 24, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

What an odd concept.

Overkill.

Makes me think of Monty Python’s “not dead yet!”

As (sometimes) obsessive audiophiles we are often accused of overkill but I prefer a different description.

Finishing touches.

It might be overkill to check for the hundredth time how level your turntable is, but after spending an hour carefully setting the VTA it is to me more like the final check before liftoff.

Knowing everything is right has a wonderful calming effect: a measure of confidence that lets down my defenses and encourages the music to flow as it should.

Overkill might just be the last tweak we need.

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42 comments on “Overkill”

  1. I don’t check these things on a regular basis, but in my mind the task of the manufacturer is to make the user’s life easy. I can level my turntable in a couple of minutes without having to move it. Both my tone arms’ VTA can be adjusted on the fly, although Jelco arms require an aftermarket VTA adapter. With digital there is no need to touch anything. If you want to waste your customers’ time, include with every product a 5,000 jigsaw puzzle.

    1. But isn’t that the core difference between high-end audio and consumer audio?
      Only the latter focuses on “ease of use”, “set & forget” – the best example is car stereo where you rarely will see today a CD-player or CD-changer. High-end audio is also defined by the ability to reveal even the finest details of a recording – finally requiring to have cable lifters, third party footers, anti-vibration platforms, pre-heating of loudspeakers/drivers, cartridge-rubber, vacuum tubes, amps, etc., etc.. Some even check the room temperature and humidity!

      1. Some hifi business still design like they did in the 1960s and 1970s when these businesses started out. My turntable is high end, manufactured to an extremely high standard, was designed in 2009 to take minutes to set up and maintain, unlike Linn decks designed in the 1970s that require an expert to take hours or days to get going. The mentality of more recent manufacturers is that if a product works best with vibration control, build it in (e.g. Innuos and Shunyata devices I use), which leaves me with Townshend isolation bars sitting unused in a box. Design hifi that doesn’t need 30 minutes to warm up. It beggars belief that any sort of modern device cannot be controlled by an app or voice.

        Ironically, the dealer who sold me a PSA regenerator is primarily a manufacturer of valve amplifiers and one thing he liked about regenerators is that you can use them to remotely switch on attached components, which is what I did when I had one.

        1. I touch two buttons, one hour before I start my listening sessions, to bring
          both my SACD player & my integrated dual mono amplifier to operating
          temperature…it doesn’t even cause me to burn 0.1 of a calorie.

      2. I’d go along with that. It’s all about the music, but surely an audiophile is VERY interested in the equipment and a little set up and tweaks are all part of the fun, even if only initially. There can be great satisfaction knowing you have finessed your system while still knowing there is the possibility of more to come.
        Now, where’s my hygrometer?

          1. You can get that EMF meter for $186 from Amazon. While that is not cheap, I do at times wonder how polluted my house is with various forms of RFI and EMI. We have a WiFi router, there are cellphone towers near by, I get TV and FM radio OTA. I am tempted to get one.

            1. Having the meter is one thing and can help point out where an issue may exist.

              Then comes the isolation and or removal of what ever is causing it.

              Then comes the measure to confirm reduction / removal. Most importantly the listen for how much better things now sound.

              Approaching overkill or just good sound practice? 🙂

  2. Overkill…OCD…excessive headroom…anal retentive…measuring all of the spec’s…
    mental health issues… endless futzing around; that’s not for me.
    I just want to listen to good or great music.
    If you own a turntable & lots of records, well then it’s obvious that you enjoy the
    ritual of cleaning, flipping, swinging the tonearm, adjusting the tracking weight, etc.
    I only have to open the draw, drop-in a CD & press play…marvellous!
    Nothing ‘overkill’ about that ✌

    1. Bought 6 vinyl at my local record store on Saturday afternoon, Blue Note and Verve pressings from about 1963 to 1984. Total cost was £100 because some of the covers were split. Very dirty, wet cleaned them during the cricket on Sunday morning and now play near perfectly and sound great. Put on a new sleeve and won’t have to clean again.

      Of course collectors will spend £400 on a mint first press or limited reissue of something they already have three copies, some of us just like a lucky dip, save an old record and enjoy it. It takes all sorts.

      1. I bet that you can’t wait for Alexa to learn how to do all that prehistoric vinyl stuff for you.

        After reviewing all of the evidence I am convinced that Pakistan was robbed of
        victory yesterday.

        1. FR by sheer coincidence I happen to be in India. Needless to say, your conclusion re the match is not widely shared here.
          I have been sending my Australian friends a few Ben Stokes video clips. Should you wish, i would be willing to make your day……just teasing, as an ex South African i wish you had arranged for better weather today

        1. Alan (Alan’s Records) has been running it for 28 years and he’s thinking about retiring when his lease ends next year. Heaven forbid. We have lots of record stores, but he’s the only one that I know of that does not sell any new stuff. I buy a few from Discogs, but it’s not the same.

    2. “If you own a turntable & lots of records, well then it’s obvious that you enjoy the ritual of cleaning, flipping, swinging the tonearm, adjusting the tracking weight, etc.”

      This is disingenuous and, likely, sarcastic. Few people enjoy inconvenience.

      People play vinyl for the greater emotional engagement it provides them.

  3. Initially I Thought todays post was going to be About a whole bunch of towns in lower mid state New York. 😎

    Regarding overkill … one persons overkill is another persons attention to detail.

    Where the line is drawn and then what others perceive (judge) determines the subjective amount of overkill.

    What’s overkill on an amplifier power? 20W 100W 200W 1200W? That answer depends on many things.

      1. Dear Tony,

        “I can state emphatically that anything over 750 W/ch is overkill.”

        It is easy to forget the maxim: “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

        Have you ever owned Apogee Scintillas or Full Ranges or Divas?

        VTL made Ichibans for a reason.

      2. So Chord’s 780w Ultima mono power amplifier is off your shopping list?

        To me, “overkill” reminds me of the Viennese artist Mark Gerstl, who managed to stab himself twice in the chest and hang himself. As he did not live to tell the tale, the precise order of how her overkilled himself is unknown.

  4. Ironically, most of the audio folks I have been around never seem to experience a calming effect from listening. Once a positive change is made, they are immediately off chasing something else. It’s like the calming effect for them is the chase.

    1. LOL. That’s hilarious but surely must be tongue in cheek? Certainly for me there is nothing more relaxing than sitting back and listening to my favourite tunes. Quiet or loud sometimes it’s so relaxing it almost sends me to sleep, which to be honest, is not really the idea.

    2. TRUE HAPPINESS THIS WAY LIES

      “Have you ever wanted something so badly that it possessed your body & your
      soul through the night & through the day until you finally get it, and then you
      realise that it wasn’t what you wanted after all.
      And then those self-same, sickly little thoughts now go & attach themselves to
      something new & the whole Goddam thing starts all over again”

      “I’ve got my sights set on you baby & one day you’ll come my way & when you
      put your arms around me, I’ll be looking over your shoulder for something new…”

      -Matt Johnson (The The)

      (I call it ‘Audiophile Rabbit-hole Disease’ 😉 )

  5. Audiophilia…currently, there is no known cure. Medication (tweaks, fine-tuning, new gear/new music/new room) helps control it, but we should all support the research efforts of the IAAF (International Audiophile Addiction Foundation)!

    PSA, a leader in the foundations research, request contributions be sent directly to Boulder!!! 😉

  6. All my overkilling takes place outside listening sessions – committing cds & SACDs, concert bluray & DVD to NAS, tagging & art, organizing, alphabetizing, folder icon color coding, playlists, and of course – backing up the backups….And of course being the tech freak audio geek that I is, that stuff is absolutely enjoyable.

    So when listening time comes, it is merely power up, pour, sit, lap the 5 lb hound, eyeball the iPad, pick, sip & play.

    Music editing software is quite fun too – don’t like that overtly annoying solo in that great song? Edit it out. Like the solos from this live track but prefer the verse/chorus from that live version? Mix ‘em. That final sustained guitar chord/note go on WAY too long? Fade it out. That bridge too short but sounds great? Mix it in again before the last verse/chorus. Did a 28 minute version of Frampton’s Do You Feel (Like We Do) mixing back & forth between the live 76 version & the Live in Detroit version to get all the solos. Awesome. That stuff is just fun. Time consuming, but doth tickle the audio geek mixing engineer wanna be tech bone.

  7. Overkill breeds the feeling of security. We as audio enthusiasts need it. A lot of our hobby revolves around the mental and I’ve definitely, like many on here, have gone through some pretty big lengths to allow for the feeling of completion, care taking, convenience and satisfaction.

    I understand overkill in one’s system including mine and accept that it is a necessary evil. 😉

    Cheers friends.

    Easy going spins today.

    Sade Adu—- Diamond life ( very chill. )

    Jasdeep Singh Degun— Anomaly( great album for those into world music like Sitars and tabla’s. Terrific recording as well. Just about everything you buy off Peter Gabriel’s RealWorld records is very well recorded. 😉

      1. You’re 100% right about that.
        The last track #9 “why can’t we live together” is my favourite. The snap of the drums and the beautiful vocals are completely immersive. 🙂

          1. Haha yes. 🙂
            In for the kill.

            Not a fan of George Michael, but I truly get how popular he was in his prime. Sometimes you gotta go with commercial success to appeal to one’s taste. Being a salesman isn’t easy. If I had to play Michael Bolton and Madonna all day to get people to come through the door and buy my stuff, I guess it is happening. Spin it again! Lol.

  8. Overkill, vinyl, moving my house… I started by safely moving my pre1990 top model of TESLA (ProJect owned now) turntable and my humble loved collection of vinyl. OMG it is F*** ovekill all this heavy load!
    But seriously – overkill I understand as using power cable capable to power all the house for my gramophone preamp. Which I do. 🙂

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