Stepping back

June 24, 2022
 by Paul McGowan

Though forward progress is always the direction we’d like to move in, sometimes it pays to take a step or two back.

One good example might be removing all the acoustic room treatment and system tweaks before you make a major overhaul. What I have found over the years is that most of the acoustic work I have performed has been specific to a particular set of equipment and setup.

Change either the equipment and/or the setup and now you need to reevaluate all those decisions.

In my experience, time spent stepping back and reevaluating is often less time lost than futzing with what used to work and now needs adjustment.

Start with a clean slate and you’ll make quicker progress than modifying what you had.

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34 comments on “Stepping back”

  1. I absolutely agree with you Paul!
    Personally, after 3 years of ‘re-futzing around’ with new home-audio
    gear, I’m just happy to be in that place again where I can forget
    about the hardware & just enjoy listening to the software 😀

  2. Can’t beat getting back to basics when a change is made…
    Redefining a tweak vs an upgrade, now there’s the art.
    We can sweep a room till our tinnitus is deafening… Wear ourselves out shifting hardware (well the minions actually, hahaha!) …. All to realise that it doesn’t sound the best. We can get close, but the finishing tweaks made using the things we listen with are the things which will bring us the final sonic pleasure… Usually.
    The journey is real.

  3. Ooh yes, and if this change is made in the leaving room, changing the sofa for example, you may need to make changes in the treatment as well :-).

  4. Something that makes total sense, both from personal experience and the experience of others.
    At the same time it can be hard to undo everything that may have been done over the course of time. The key words being Major & overhaul.
    Think of it like starting anew from scratch. Just like when the home audio ‘bug’ afflicted you for life.

                    1. If you need $20k to upgrade your audio rig, you’re nowhere near able to afford a centrifuge to make high-grade Plutonium. I’m not so worried now. 😎

  5. An audio buddy who was a serious music listener and occasional magazine reviewer had extensive room treatments, all recommended by one of the acoustic consultant firms. His number of devices had increased over a year or so. Even to the extent of having multiple angled panels hung from the ceiling.

    Then one day he ask for assistance in removing several of the treatment devices, so another friend and I helped with that task. After removing a half-dozen or so traps the room regained significant life and ambience. Some treatments remained in place so I’m not suggesting they were a bad thing. But treatments can be overdone so careful application is the key.

  6. I agree, Paul!

    I think a corollary of this view is to set-up a new system without tweaks: no fancy cables, no power conditioners, no grounding boxes, no acoustic treatment, etc., to start with. I believe in first understanding the system and the room, and understanding the starting nature of the sound, focusing on speaker placement in the room, before fiddling around with anything and making “improvements.”

  7. Do any of you ever just enjoy music. It seems it’s mostly about buying, measuring, tweaking, repositioning and buying rainbow colored fuses.

    1. Music is just a necessary evil to obtaining the perfect reproduced sound.

      And if you’re buying that, I’ll sell you a famous bridge really cheap 😉

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