Roughcut or polish?

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Whether one is cutting a gemstone or building a high-performance music system, it’s helpful to identify the order of work that brings the best results. You want to polish after the perfect cut, and not before.

How many times have I lived through an endless parade of tweaks before realizing no amount of polish can fix a component that needs upgrading? The most expensive cables and isolators in the world can’t fix a mediocre component.

Whether you’re starting fresh or working with a year’s old system, it’s always best to step back from the whole and examine your precepts of the components within. That amplifier you’re so fond of. Does it really meet your expectations? Or the DAC, preamp, or speakers?

It’s easier to upgrade a cable or USB isolator than the DAC itself, yet that may not always yield the results we hope for.

Sometimes it pays to reexamine our basic premise.

You can polish a gem to a bright luster, but it’ll never be as satisfying as the perfect cut.