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  1. #1
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    My Session With Jim Smith

    Ever since I first read "Get Better Sound" by Jim Smith and put his procedures into practice, I've been a believer. I had always wanted to have Jim come and do a voicing, but I never kept a pair of speakers long enough to do so.

    So, just after getting my Avantgarde Duo Mezzo XD's, I immediately thought of Jim. Jim was the distributor for Avantgarde for many years and has set up more pairs of Avantgarde speakers than anyone on the planet. Also, Jim is the only one to receive repeated standing ovations for his setup of Avantgarde's at CES many years ago. So the decision to hire Jim was a no brainer.

    Jim arrived at my house on Tuesday. Jim brings his equipment - DAC, cables, measuring equipment, etc. in multiple suitcases. After our initial greeting, Jim proceeded to plug in his DAC, cables and other equipment in order to get them warmed up for tomorrow's work. On Tuesday, we simply listened. Whatever I played was fine. Jim didn't say a word, he was quite stealthy in what he was thinking. He was simply processing information on what he was hearing. After a fun session of listening, we went for dinner along with Mark (MDP) and John Chait (a local audiophile friend).

    JIMSMITH6.JPG

    After a good nights sleep, Jim got to work early. Jim begins by connecting his DAC, cables, Laptop, software, etc. to my system and cycling through dozens and dozens of test tracks he brought. Sometimes he listens to 30 seconds, sometimes several minutes of a song, but many times, he goes back and listens to the same song over and over again to verify what he's hearing.

    Jim Smith5.JPG

    After about two hours, Jim moves to his next phase of the process: measurements. Out come the tripods, laptop, proper measuring equipment, microphones, etc. Jim begins measuring and analyzing the room. He is looking for the best place in the room to sit. Forget about the speakers for the meantime, where you sit in the room impacts EVERYTHING. Sometimes the best spot is not the most practical, but regardless, Jim will find the best spot that is the most practical. We were able to watch in real time as Jim moved microphones around and we achieved the best spot. It was amazing to see the dips and peeks change as we moved the microphone around to eventually achieving a relatively flat bass response for the best seat.

    Jim Smith 2.JPG

    Now we move the seat to the ideal location and listen again. Jim once again cycles through his songs and various test tracks.

    Next up, Jim gets out more tripods and his lasers. By the time he's done, my room looked like a scene from the Matrix. There were lasers pointing at lasers, pointing at lasers. Jim is all the while writing down detailed measurements of the room. He is trying to find the "center" and many more data points.

    Jim Smith1.JPG

    After that, we move the speakers to a location based on Jim's instructions and we use the lasers to ensure accuracy within 1/64 inch or less! In my case, the speakers were moved a little closer together and moved closer to the listener (since the ideal listening spot was back from where I originally had the chair). Once done, we listen, we measure and we listen more. We fine tune the speakers locations. We also fine tuned the rake angle of the speakers. For several hours, we are making minor tweaks.

    At this point, we have achieved a huge improvement in sound. My initial thought as I sat there listening was "I don't hear the room anymore". We had amazing depth, nuances in songs were jumping out where before they were hidden. We had pinpoint imaging and vocals were the right size. We also had layering and layering in terms of soundstage. Jim's efforts produced sonic improvements greater than any new amp, preamp, cable, DAC, etc. COMBINED.

    Jim Smith3.JPG

    In most cases, Jim would have been done, but not so with the Avantgarde XD's. Using the PEQ functionality of the speaker, now we could really fine tune the speaker to the room. For the next several hours, we measured, adjusted, listened, measured, adjusted, etc. until we achieved yet another level of improvement: perfect integration of the speaker into the room using the Avantgarde XD's new PEQ functionality.

    As we approached early evening, we were done and Jim was pleased. I was delighted! The sound had improved 10 fold. Mark (MDP) was with me and witnessed the entire setup from Jim. Jim is focused, methodical and determined to achieve perfection. He does not stop for lunch or take a break. He gets into the zone and keeps going until he achieves perfection.

    Hiring Jim smith was the best money I have ever spent in high end audio. The investment you make in Jim pales in comparison to the money we spend on a pair of speaker cables or new interconnects.

    I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you invest in a proper setup by Jim Smith. You won't know just how good your system can be until you do. That, I can guarantee.

    Jim Smith4.JPG
    My Systems: http://www.audioshark.org/showthread...481#post158481

    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

    Dealer for: Aqua Hi-Fi, Audio Research, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Ayre Acoustics, Berkeley Audio Design, Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Chord, EMM Labs, FirstWatt, Focal Headphones, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Gryphon Audio, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, Stein Music Products, Stenheim Loudspeakers, Stillpoints, T+A Electronics, TechDAS/AirForce Turntables, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

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  2. #2
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    After reading Jim Smith's book "Get Better Sound" twice I hired Jim to come out to Chicago about a year ago.

    My results mirror yours. It is the best money I ever spent. Jim has set up more high end systems than anyone else I am aware of. He did an outstanding job for me.
    Le Roy

    Austin, Tx : Soulution 520 preamp, 501 mono blocks, 541 SACD/560 DAC w/ Network Streaming, Raidho D3.1, Lumin U1, Uptone Audio Modded Mac Mini w/ MMK fanless kit & JS-2 LPS, Regen, Ansuz Diamond Loom, Oppo 105D, QNAP TS-451+

    Chicagoland : Soulution 725 preamp, 711 stereo amp, 541 SACD/560 DAC w/ Network Streaming, Raidho D5.1, Naim UnitiServe 2TB, Aurender W-20 Ansuz d-tc Loom (complete), Teac X1000 R2R, QNAP TS-451+

    Foundation:
    Raidho Rack system, Ansuz DTC Mainz8, Ansuz (2) Mainz D8 Distribution, 20 amp dedicated outlets via subpanel

  3. #3
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Mike.......Sounds like a rewarding event that produce excellent results. Thanks for all the photos. I like what you have done with the Wavewood and curved panels on the ceiling angles. I also have Jim's book and have learned much from many of his techniques.
    Dan

    STUDIO - McIntosh C1000C/P, MC2301 (2), MR88, Aurender N10, Esoteric K-01X, Shunyata Sigma spdif digital coax,
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    LIVING ROOM - McIntosh C2300, MC75 (2), MR85, Magnum Dynalab 205 Signal Sleuth, Sonos Connect, Simaudio MOON Neo 260D-T, Schiit Audio Yggdrasil, Aurender N100H, Shunyata Sigma USB cable,
    Sony DAT 60ES, Nakamichi BX-300, Micro Seiki DD40 w/m505A tonearm, Ortofon Cadenza Blue, PS Audio P10, Furutech Flux 50, Stillpoints Ultra Mini, PMC EB1i, JL Audio f113

    VINTAGE - McIntosh 4300V, McIntosh MA230, Tandberg 3011A tuner, Olive 04HD, JBL 4312A

  4. #4
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    That's pretty interesting Mike. Reminds me of when I had my TV calibrated, the before and after difference was amazing. Obviously, changing speakers will affect the setup, but did you get any idea as to how adding/removing furniture, or making other changes, will affect the setup.

    I just ordered the book. Used copies are selling for twice the price of new on Amazon. LOL.
    Bud

    Lumin X1
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  5. #5

    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Mike, great choice with getting Jim to do your set up. I've learnt a whole heap from his book & dvds

  6. #6
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Brilliant, thanks for the write up Mike and congratulations on the sound improvements.

    Interesting to read of the melt between objective measurements and subjective listening.

    IF audiophiles were capable of finding the best place in the room to place their listening chair - they could save thousands in equipment upgrades - the benefit of which is largely masked by poor room acoustics.
    Borresen Acoustics Loudspeakers, Borresen Model 01 Compact monitor loudspeakers with Ansuz Darkz T2s Supreme resonance control, Audio Video Manufaktur GmbH (AVM) Inspiration amplifier & streamer, Innuos Zen MKII music server, Ansuz Acoustics cables & accessories. Please visit my system thread hosted on Audioshark for more details. Disclosure: The author is materially connected to Ansuz, Aavik & Borresen Acoustics via friendship with an owner.

  7. #7

    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Great writeup, Mike, thx for sharing! Interesting stuff.


    Quote Originally Posted by kiwi_1282001 View Post
    Brilliant, thanks for the write up Mike and congratulations on the sound improvements.

    Interesting to read of the melt between objective measurements and subjective listening.



    IF audiophiles were capable of finding the best place in the room to place their listening chair - they could save thousands in equipment upgrades - the benefit of which is largely masked by poor room acoustics.
    Totally agree!


    Allen

    Speakers: Magico S7
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    Preamp: Trinity Preamp
    Phono: Trinity Phono
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  8. #8
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Thanks Mike for sharing that experience. One question , why did Jim bring HIS DAC ? I thought you had a decent dac.
    Chris

    (2 Chl): Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE Lumin D1, VPI Classic 1, Manley Chinook, Dynavector DV20x2L.exaSound e32 mk11, Marantz SA11S2. ( computer) Win7, Synology DS413 NAS ,Vincent SP-331MKII , Quicksilver LS,Vapor Audio Breeze, Rythmik F12se. Cables: Acoustic Zen, DL Labs, Blue Jean.. ,Bryston BCD-1,Timbernation Rack,

  9. #9
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by CPP View Post
    Thanks Mike for sharing that experience. One question , why did Jim bring HIS DAC ? I thought you had a decent dac.
    Ah! Good question! Because he knows EXACTLY how his DAC sounds.
    My Systems: http://www.audioshark.org/showthread...481#post158481

    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

    Dealer for: Aqua Hi-Fi, Audio Research, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Ayre Acoustics, Berkeley Audio Design, Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Chord, EMM Labs, FirstWatt, Focal Headphones, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Gryphon Audio, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, Stein Music Products, Stenheim Loudspeakers, Stillpoints, T+A Electronics, TechDAS/AirForce Turntables, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

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  10. #10
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Mike,

    First of all, I'm glad you are very happy with the setup. I know that room has given you a hard time acoustically to set equipment in the past.

    I spoke with Mark on Friday and he was blown away by the transformation.

    I'll be visiting Tampa in May and hope to come over and listen to your system. Now, the question, will you still have this speakers then?

    Glad that you are happy with the results Mike. Clearly a super endorsement for Jim Smith.
    Last edited by MDP; November 9, 2015 at 10:05 AM.
    _______________

    Mike

  11. #11
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Thanks Mike. I definitely look forward to seeing you in May.

    Yes, my room has been problematic in the past, but through Jim's efforts and the PEQ functionality on the speakers, we were able to achieve sonic nirvana for the first time ever in my room. I was so used to hearing room artifacts that muddied up the sound. I just don't hear those now. Not at all.
    My Systems: http://www.audioshark.org/showthread...481#post158481

    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

    Dealer for: Aqua Hi-Fi, Audio Research, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Ayre Acoustics, Berkeley Audio Design, Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Chord, EMM Labs, FirstWatt, Focal Headphones, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Gryphon Audio, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, Stein Music Products, Stenheim Loudspeakers, Stillpoints, T+A Electronics, TechDAS/AirForce Turntables, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

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  12. #12

    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Mike,
    Nice to hear you've hit a new level of sonic nirvana
    I have wanted to have Jim come to do a set up for some time, ever since reading his book. Haven't done it yet but this sure is inspiration. One question for you and not sure if it came up in your conversations or setup but I know one of Jim's top recommendations originally was to remove all equipment stacks/racks/gear/tv etc. from between the speakers due to the detrimental impact on imaging/SQ. Some of this discussion was also about how far back from the speaker driver these obstructions should ideally be. Many people invest in expensive long runs of cabling to shift their gear to the side wall further back to avoid this issue. I may be wrong on this but I understood that Jim had "softened" (bad word to describe this probably) his position or thoughts on this more recently. Did you and Jim discuss this or did it come up with respect to your gear?
    Thanks
    Chris

  13. #13
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    As the speakers will change-Did Jim think listening chair and approximate speaker locations will work down the road?
    Nick



    Main system :TAD CR1 speakers, Viola Labs Symphony amp,Pass XP-20 preamp., MSB Discrete DAC with twin power supplies and V2 Renderer module, Gigafoil V4 inline ethernet filter with uptone LPS-1 power supply with Ghent audio Gotham 2.1mm to 2.5mm cable and AG diamond ethernet cable, Sonicorbitor Roon Audiophile 6 TB network server-player , MG Audio Design Planus III jumpers & speaker cables, Zitron Cobra power cords, Shunyata Hydra AV, and acoustic zen absolute copper IC,. Room treatment ASC tower traps, Vicoustic absorber premium cinema wall and ceiling panels, and MSR acoustic trifusser side wall panel

  14. #14
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by veindoc View Post
    As the speakers will change-Did Jim think listening chair and approximate speaker locations will work down the road?
    No. Any new speaker would require new voicing if I want it to be perfect. Obviously the listening position is much better now. But another brand/model of speaker would need a new voicing. We all know that many speaker brands have their own "hump" at certain frequencies. In my case, my Raidho and Wilson's did.
    My Systems: http://www.audioshark.org/showthread...481#post158481

    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

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  15. #15
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Ah! Good question! Because he knows EXACTLY how his DAC sounds.
    Ah! and what dac did Jim bring with him ?
    Chris

    (2 Chl): Pass xa30.5, W4S STP-SE Lumin D1, VPI Classic 1, Manley Chinook, Dynavector DV20x2L.exaSound e32 mk11, Marantz SA11S2. ( computer) Win7, Synology DS413 NAS ,Vincent SP-331MKII , Quicksilver LS,Vapor Audio Breeze, Rythmik F12se. Cables: Acoustic Zen, DL Labs, Blue Jean.. ,Bryston BCD-1,Timbernation Rack,

  16. #16
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by CPP View Post
    Ah! and what dac did Jim bring with him ?



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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    Dealer for: Aqua Hi-Fi, Audio Research, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Ayre Acoustics, Berkeley Audio Design, Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Chord, EMM Labs, FirstWatt, Focal Headphones, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Gryphon Audio, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, Stein Music Products, Stenheim Loudspeakers, Stillpoints, T+A Electronics, TechDAS/AirForce Turntables, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

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  17. #17
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

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  18. #18

    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by veindoc View Post
    As the speakers will change-Did Jim think listening chair and approximate speaker locations will work down the road?
    ...or another interpretation at what Nick meant.... no the acoustical boundaries of the speaker wont change, just the delivery of the pitch wave & speed will have a slight difference as the speakers break in, but, the measurements should remain the same from a set mechanical device. If the speakers are moved an inch or changed, all bets are off.

  19. #19
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by bzr View Post
    ...or another interpretation at what Nick meant.... no the acoustical boundaries of the speaker wont change, just the delivery of the pitch wave & speed will have a slight difference as the speakers break in, but, the measurements should remain the same from a set mechanical device. If the speakers are moved an inch or changed, all bets are off.
    Interesting question, but I feel they are broken in and any additional changes will be very minor. My speakers were broken in by Avantgarde prior to RMAF, played for four days straight at RMAF and I've been playing them a lot since I got them a few weeks ago.

    Break in is estimated at 100 hours. These are well beyond that.

    Is that what you meant?
    My Systems: http://www.audioshark.org/showthread...481#post158481

    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

    Dealer for: Aqua Hi-Fi, Audio Research, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Ayre Acoustics, Berkeley Audio Design, Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Chord, EMM Labs, FirstWatt, Focal Headphones, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Gryphon Audio, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, Stein Music Products, Stenheim Loudspeakers, Stillpoints, T+A Electronics, TechDAS/AirForce Turntables, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

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  20. #20
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by tunes View Post
    Mike,
    Nice to hear you've hit a new level of sonic nirvana
    I have wanted to have Jim come to do a set up for some time, ever since reading his book. Haven't done it yet but this sure is inspiration. One question for you and not sure if it came up in your conversations or setup but I know one of Jim's top recommendations originally was to remove all equipment stacks/racks/gear/tv etc. from between the speakers due to the detrimental impact on imaging/SQ. Some of this discussion was also about how far back from the speaker driver these obstructions should ideally be. Many people invest in expensive long runs of cabling to shift their gear to the side wall further back to avoid this issue. I may be wrong on this but I understood that Jim had "softened" (bad word to describe this probably) his position or thoughts on this more recently. Did you and Jim discuss this or did it come up with respect to your gear?
    Thanks
    Chris
    Hi Chris - I highly recommend having Jim do a setup. I don't know why I waited so long. When you watch him work, you instantly feel great about your investment. When he's done, you're kicking yourself for not doing it sooner.

    As for the racks, we never discussed it. I got the sense that Jim accepts things the way they are and he voices around them - if that makes any sense.

    He did make some suggestions on other things. Like, when I asked him where I should put all my giant home theater subs that are unplugged and not in use, his answer was "audiogon". My Session With Jim Smith
    My Systems: http://www.audioshark.org/showthread...481#post158481

    "We can hear everything we measure, but we can't measure everything we hear. Let your ears be your guide."

    Dealer for: Aqua Hi-Fi, Audio Research, Aurender, AudioQuest Cables & Power Products, Avantgarde Acoustics, Avid HiFi, Ayre Acoustics, Berkeley Audio Design, Boulder Amplifiers, Bowers & Wilkins (B&W), Bryston, Chord, EMM Labs, FirstWatt, Focal Headphones, Furutech, Fyne Audio Loudspeakers, GigaFoil, Gryphon Audio, Harbeth Loudspeakers, Hegel, HiFi Man, ISO Acoustics, Keces Power Supplies, Kuzma Turntables, Lumin, Luxman, Magico Loudspeakers, MBL Speakers & Electronics, MSB Technologies, MySonicLabs Phono Cartridges, Naim Audio, Ortofon, Pass Labs, Quadraspire, Shunyata Research, SimAudio, Stein Music Products, Stenheim Loudspeakers, Stillpoints, T+A Electronics, TechDAS/AirForce Turntables, VAC, Vicoustics, Viva Audio, VPI Industries, WireWorld Cables.

    https://suncoastaudio.com/
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  21. #21
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Spending time with Jim again was a real treat. I traveled to his house and spent time listening to his own system to understand the different things he's looking for when he voices a system. It was very informative, and has helped me with my own setup. But watching him voice a system was even more informative.

    Mike's system sounded great to me on Tuesday night when we arrived at his house. Jim and I listened to a few songs before the three of us left for dinner. Wednesday was the voicing day. To be honest, I really wondered how much improvement could we really expect? As it turned out, quite a bit. When I gather some funds again, I will have Jim come to my place as well.

    As for the Avantgarde Duo Mezzos that are in Mike's system right now, all I can say is if he blows this system up I'm going to commit him to a hospital for evaluation
    Mark

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  22. #22

    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    I've read Mr. Smith's book and I receive his quarterly newsletters. I've been able to improve my sound system quite a bit using some of his methods. His in-home evaluations have received nothing but glowing reviews from what I've read.
    Anthony
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  23. #23
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Thanks for taking the time to share your experience with us, Mike! Awesome stuff!

  24. #24
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    As you might expect, I’ve watched this thread from the beginning. Mark & Mike probably remember from our visit - I typically don’t feel comfortable participating in threads like this one as it can look like self-promotion. However, a few points need a bit of explanation:

    Regarding the GBS book & DVDs, the Quarter Notes newsletters are included with the purchase. There have been seventeen (#18 is coming soon), equivalent to another (slightly smaller) book in content and size. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t allow me to contact purchasers directly, so the only recipients are the thousands of purchasers who purchased from our GBS website. If you purchased the book from Amazon, or you never got on our list for some reason, send me an e-mail - jim at getbettersound dot com - with the e-mail address where you would like to receive them, and I will add you to our list as well as send you access to all of the previous issues.

    Measurements to 1/64th of an inch – not exactly, but here’s why… When voicing a system, it’s easy to make slight adjustments to speaker position and pretty soon, they are not particularly equal. So I – with the client’s input – establish a center line as well as a point from the listening position, so that I can keep close to the correct geometry. Tape on the floor can work but is open to interpretation and doesn’t account for uneven surfaces as are common in many homes. My Leica laser measurement rangefinder goes to 1/32”. Why do I measure that precisely? Well it’s possible, and I am OCD…

    Without getting into detail, I voice for Dynamics, Presence & Tone.

    Location of Mike’s components – The images of his room are a bit deceptive in terms of layout. His components are low and behind his Avantgardes. After a slight adjustment, the placement didn’t seem to be affecting Dynamics, Presence, and Tone.

    What happens with other speakers? - Should Mike choose to place another speaker in the room, the placement of the seat should still be correct (with the possible exception of the Raidhos, due to their large peak at 70-80 Hz.). One reason that I require the clients to be present during the voicing session is that they will know better how to affect changes later. But the seat location – which IMO is by far the most fundamental adjustment – is usually correct for future speakers as well. Then it’s a matter of speaker placement - but with a considerable head-start to getting it right.

    Codex – I have listened to a lot of DACS. IMO, the new Ayre Codex punches way above its price point. With all of the equipment that I carry on RoomPlay voicing sessions, the fact that it is relatively small and lightweight is a welcome bonus.

    My Audiogon comment about unused subs in Mike's listening room – they tend to play along with the main speakers, only slightly out of tune. I always recommend removing them from the room, or failing that, try to at least short the + & - binding posts to minimize free – and unwanted – movement. If not addressed in some way or other, the deleterious affect on Dynamics, Presence, and Tone is allowed to continue and the user may not realize how easy it’d be to improve the system.

    In my career, I have rarely – in fact, almost never – heard any system – at any price – initially performing at near it’s potential. This includes at audio shows, dealer showrooms, manufacturer showrooms, reviewers (haven’t heard Myles’ system, though), and in audiophiles’ homes. Often, the highest priced systems are the worst offenders. They should be awesome, but all-too-often fall woefully short. I think it is because most audiophiles simply do not have a reference for what is possible. It doesn’t matter how intelligent they are, if they don’t have a reference, how can they achieve the true potential of their systems? And buying more gear may be a pleasant exercise and yield some sonic benefits, but it cannot approach the effect of Dynamics, Presence & Tone when delivered with the best acoustic wave-launch into the room and receiving at the listening seat. A big IMO, of course.

    FWIW - I never planned to do the RoomPlay thing – it was actually created by readers requesting some help. All I did was give it a name.

    About the Avantgarde DUOs at Mike’s – I am trying to figure how I can get a pair…

    Although I did nothing with the Zeros downstairs, they were amazing - in fact, finding fault seemed a waste of time - I just wanted to luxuriate in the music....
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  25. #25

    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by MDP View Post

    As for the Avantgarde Duo Mezzos that are in Mike's system right now, all I can say is if he blows this system up I'm going to commit him to a hospital for evaluation
    Surely the hospital will refuse to admit him if he replaces the Duo Mezzos with the Trios + Basahorns

    Having said that, it was an excellent write-up about what is possible with one's current equipment, and about how it is as important to measure (and have an experienced expert interpret and take corrective action) as it is to listen with golden ears.

    This reminds me of the local Magico + SMT dealer who will take anywhere from 2-3 hours to set up a new system. Measure, adjust and listen, then repeat until done. I used to think that it was extreme, in particular, the repeated measurements, but no more.

  26. #26

    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike View Post
    Interesting question, but I feel they are broken in and any additional changes will be very minor. My speakers were broken in by Avantgarde prior to RMAF, played for four days straight at RMAF and I've been playing them a lot since I got them a few weeks ago.

    Break in is estimated at 100 hours. These are well beyond that.

    Is that what you meant?
    ...pretty much!

  27. #27

    My Session With Jim Smith

    Jim...thank you for your clarifying comments above. I have one question: for those of us who do not have a dedicated room but rather have our system in a living room or family room where selecting the optimum position for the listening chair/couch etc....is not an option, and, hence where only moving the speakers might be possible (also with limitations), to what extent do circumstances such as these hamper the benefit of voicing a system to the room? I imagine the above scenario probably represents the majority of audiophiles' situations.

    Btw, I also purchased your GBS book and receive your quarterly newsletter. Thanks.

    Cyril
    Cyril
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  28. #28
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by cmalak View Post
    Jim...thank you for your clarifying comments above. I have one question: for those of us who do not have a dedicated room but rather have our system in a living room or family room where selecting the optimum position for the listening chair/couch etc....is not an option, and, hence where only moving the speakers might be possible (also with limitations), to what extent do circumstances such as these hamper the benefit of voicing a system to the room? I imagine the above scenario probably represents the majority of audiophiles' situations.

    Btw, I also purchased your GBS book and receive your quarterly newsletter. Thanks.

    Cyril
    Hi Cyril,

    Your question is excellent and it applies to a lot of audiophiles with whom I communicate. Frankly, I am surprised at just how many do have dedicated rooms. Almost certainly, my sample is not random....

    I have edited some of the copy from Book Two of my new project, and pasted it here. It addresses your questions.

    The first step requires getting the bass to be the best it can be in your room
    Maximizing your system’s bass effects must be done by locating the best listening position first, NOT by moving the speakers around!

    At some point, you will adjust the speaker positions, and the bass can sometimes be affected by that movement. But any potential changes to the bass after speaker movement will be slight when compared to finding the best listening position in the room.

    So, what is the best bass?
    It’s not necessarily the deepest bass. What we want is the smoothest bass, and we care about it from as low as the system goes in the smoothest bass listening position up until at least 250 Hz.

    Why is the listening position most critical?
    Essentially, your room’s shape and dimensions dictate its resonances from 25 Hz to 250 Hz. As you move around in the room, there will be places where some bass notes (or frequencies) are emphasized, and where at the same time other bass notes will be de-emphasized—and perhaps almost missing entirely.

    Whether the notes are too strong or too weak, the phenomenon that causes either result is the same: The room modes (or resonances) at certain frequencies are caused by the interactions of dimensional effects. In other words, the length, width, and height of the room. Of course there are oblique and other dimensions, but the interaction of resonances due to the individual room’s dimensions is the main culprit.

    For example: If the height of your room indicates a resonant frequency of x Hz, and the width of your room produces a resonance at some harmonic multiple of its basic resonance, or y Hz, then depending on the room’s dimensions, the x and y may coincide at or near the same frequency. If they are in anti-phase with one another, you’ll have a suck-out (diminished bass); if they are in-phase, you’ll have a peak. When you move your measuring/listening position—even with movements of less than a foot, the x and y relationship will change, often quite obviously.

    Incidentally, don’t be alarmed when you discover that you have uneven response in the 25 to 250 Hz region. Everyone does. In determining the best listening position, you are looking for the place where the differences between peaks and dips are minimized—i.e., the smoothest response you can achieve for your system in your room.

    Please note that I am talking about doing this organically, without electronic assistance such as room or loudspeaker equalization. If you want to go back later and electronically EQ this original finding as a potential fine-tuning tweak, (note that I said potential—sometimes the flattest measured response in the bass is boring) then that’s fine, but you need to start without EQ to get the best results from your foundational step.

    Why is getting the smoothest bass by locating the best listening position always the first step?
    There are several important reasons for focusing on the bass as the first step. Any of these individually should be sufficient, but together they are overwhelmingly important to our project.

    First, if the bass booms away at one or more frequencies due to room resonances, then you lose some of the dynamic contrast your music was meant to convey. Plus, booming bass covers up some of the finer musical detail and even instrumental/vocal decay, as well as shifting the intended musical emphasis to an unintended location. The music as a whole will never feel right and will be much less emotionally engaging. The intended dynamic contrasts will have been altered.

    If there is a bass suck-out at one or more frequencies, the results will be largely the same: a lack of dynamic range because some notes you were meant to experience will be diminished. And some of the intended musical emphasis will be shifted away from its intended location.

    Second, although the rest of the response may have some irregularities, they are very small compared to the effects of room resonances in the bass. Bass issues are most easily addressed, first and primarily with listener placement and then, to a lesser extent, with speaker placement.

    All too often, I see audiophiles and even dealers and manufacturers move their speakers around without giving much thought, if any, to this most crucial aspect of where the listening seat is located. Yes, you can most likely make an improvement with speaker positioning from practically any listening position. It’s just that this will not have nearly the same impact on the musical engagement.

    What if I cannot move my listening seat?
    You may be thinking right now about how you can move your listening seat when the furniture in your home has already been carefully placed, and changing its arrangement may cause household distress. Yes, if you simply override the wishes of the decor-oriented person in the house, you may get more from your music—but at the cost of an unhappy spouse or partner.

    Sometimes, a creative workaround is necessary to avoid relational distress. That said, in all my experience of voicing clients’ systems, I have always been able to arrive at a workable solution that made everyone happy.

    The following is what has worked for me when seating flexibility is limited. First, find the best location to listen. Then, if this cannot be a new permanent seating area, arrange for comfortable temporary seating in that location. This can mean a temporary chair, putting some cushions behind the main seat, or sliding the seat forward or backward to a predetermined point. But this also means always putting things back in their usual spot if you rearrange things for your listening session. For "everyday listening", you may need to leave things as they are now - or at least close to original. It'll still be OK. But when you want to hear what you paid for, you have a path to get there.

    If you have a dedicated listening room or an exceptionally cooperative significant other, count yourself lucky. You still have work to do to take your music system to the next level, but at least you can do as you wish!

    To proceed further, you need a reference point from which to fine-tune your speaker placement.
    Once you know where you will be sitting, then you can work on speaker placement based on the best listening position.

    You want to move the seating area backwards and forward, at each new position listening to the relative level of the reference music or pink noise cuts. You are listening for the position that yields the smallest level changes – in other words, reduce the delta between peaks and dips - peaks are smaller and dips are less deep. I would start with each change being about a foot. Ultimately, you will be looking for the best performance from smaller movements, until you find the correct position.

    This process is not a quick one, especially without any instruments to facilitate the process. That makes it none the less important. Indeed it is foundational to what we will do.

    Also, if your seat is along the back wall, it's usually possible to make that work, perhaps with some slight variation.
    Small Green Computer; gigaFoil 4 Ethernet filter w/ Keces PS-3; Sonore ultraRendu; MBP (3) - stripped down for music only; AQ Diamond USB; Duelund USB; Curious USB; PS Audio LanRover; ISO REGEN w/short Curious USB links; Berkeley Alpha USB; Audioquest Diamond ethernet; Audioquest Diamond AES - 3M; Schiit Yggdrasil - fully updated; Ayre Codex - updated; Topping D-90; Pass Labs INT-60 integrated amplifier; Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE-2 preamplifier, Quicksilver Mono 120 amps w/Tung-Sol KT150s; Wyred 4 Sound STP-750E Mk II amplifier w/Kimber TCX wiring & WBT binding posts; Quicksilver Mid Mono amplifiers w/Gold Lion KT77s, Joseph Audio Perspective 2 Graphenes; Symposium Speaker Platforms; REL S-812 subwoofers; Duelund DCA12GA speaker cables; AV Room Service EVPs, Stein Music Harmonizers, Duelund DCA16GA & 20GA ICs; Shunyata 6000S/V2; Tripp Lite PCs; Wyred 4 Sound power cords; AudioDharma cable cooker; dedicated custom room; various GIK & ASC room treatments; etc.

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  29. #29

    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Thanks for the response Jim
    Cyril
    Speakers/Amp/Preamp: Thiel CS2.4 / ARC Ref 110 / ARC Ref 3
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  30. #30
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Great thread. Great questions and answers.
    Jim

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  31. #31
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Watching Jim work has been an education. Even though I don't have the equipment to measure where the bass response in my room is the smoothest, I used a lot of bass heavy music to find the a seating position where it sounded the best to me.
    Last night when I was listening, I could definitely hear details that where missing before. And my music has never sounded better.
    Mark

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  32. #32
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Very informative and thought provoking thread - many thanks to both Mike and Jim. I'm going to have to watch Jim's DVD.

    My dedicated space was designed with an acoustical foundation, and the finished room frequency measured to help determine the placement of the interior wall treatments.

    Perhaps this not the end all I thought they might be.
    ________________________________
    Len
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    http://systems.audiogon.com/systems/5013

  33. #33
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by LenWhite View Post
    My dedicated space was designed with an acoustical foundation, and the finished room frequency measured to help determine the placement of the interior wall treatments.

    Perhaps this not the end all I thought they might be.
    I will never forget it. I was Magnepan's National Sales Manager in 1977. We had built a new "serious" listening room.

    Even back then, there were accepted "best" room dimensions (still seen as best today by many). It was built EXACTLY to the called-for dimensions.

    It took us over 6 months of struggling to get the sound as good as it finally became, in a room that was supposed to be relatively problem free.

    We had other projects going, so we would work on it as time permitted, but it was far from what we thought we were getting.
    Small Green Computer; gigaFoil 4 Ethernet filter w/ Keces PS-3; Sonore ultraRendu; MBP (3) - stripped down for music only; AQ Diamond USB; Duelund USB; Curious USB; PS Audio LanRover; ISO REGEN w/short Curious USB links; Berkeley Alpha USB; Audioquest Diamond ethernet; Audioquest Diamond AES - 3M; Schiit Yggdrasil - fully updated; Ayre Codex - updated; Topping D-90; Pass Labs INT-60 integrated amplifier; Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE-2 preamplifier, Quicksilver Mono 120 amps w/Tung-Sol KT150s; Wyred 4 Sound STP-750E Mk II amplifier w/Kimber TCX wiring & WBT binding posts; Quicksilver Mid Mono amplifiers w/Gold Lion KT77s, Joseph Audio Perspective 2 Graphenes; Symposium Speaker Platforms; REL S-812 subwoofers; Duelund DCA12GA speaker cables; AV Room Service EVPs, Stein Music Harmonizers, Duelund DCA16GA & 20GA ICs; Shunyata 6000S/V2; Tripp Lite PCs; Wyred 4 Sound power cords; AudioDharma cable cooker; dedicated custom room; various GIK & ASC room treatments; etc.

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  34. #34

    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Smith View Post
    I will never forget it. I was Magnepan's National Sales Manager in 1977. We had built a new "serious" listening room.

    Even back then, there were accepted "best" room dimensions (still seen as best today by many). It was built EXACTLY to the called-for dimensions.

    It took us over 6 months of struggling to get the sound as good as it finally became, in a room that was supposed to be relatively problem free.

    We had other projects going, so we would work on it as time permitted, but it was far from what we thought we were getting.

    Jim, I've heard many rooms where this applies, also the opposite. Meaning a room that just shouldn't sound that good because it had a stairwell in the space also or a t-shaped room where it had to effect the sound within reasoning & yet, these spaces I have mentioned had exceptional quality of sound

  35. #35
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by bzr View Post
    Jim, I've heard many rooms where this applies, also the opposite. Meaning a room that just shouldn't sound that good because it had a stairwell in the space also or a t-shaped room where it had to effect the sound within reasoning & yet, these spaces I have mentioned had exceptional quality of sound
    Agreed.
    Small Green Computer; gigaFoil 4 Ethernet filter w/ Keces PS-3; Sonore ultraRendu; MBP (3) - stripped down for music only; AQ Diamond USB; Duelund USB; Curious USB; PS Audio LanRover; ISO REGEN w/short Curious USB links; Berkeley Alpha USB; Audioquest Diamond ethernet; Audioquest Diamond AES - 3M; Schiit Yggdrasil - fully updated; Ayre Codex - updated; Topping D-90; Pass Labs INT-60 integrated amplifier; Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE-2 preamplifier, Quicksilver Mono 120 amps w/Tung-Sol KT150s; Wyred 4 Sound STP-750E Mk II amplifier w/Kimber TCX wiring & WBT binding posts; Quicksilver Mid Mono amplifiers w/Gold Lion KT77s, Joseph Audio Perspective 2 Graphenes; Symposium Speaker Platforms; REL S-812 subwoofers; Duelund DCA12GA speaker cables; AV Room Service EVPs, Stein Music Harmonizers, Duelund DCA16GA & 20GA ICs; Shunyata 6000S/V2; Tripp Lite PCs; Wyred 4 Sound power cords; AudioDharma cable cooker; dedicated custom room; various GIK & ASC room treatments; etc.

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  36. #36
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Darn! Wish I knew that Mike had Jim coming down. I would've asked if he could extend his FL trip for a RoomPlay session in my place! Maybe some local Suncoast or Sarasota Audiophile Society members can pool their resources, and bring him back for a week or two (or convince him to semi-retire down here <g>).
    Squeezebox Touch/Bel Canto DAC 3.5VB + Oppo 205 > Conrad Johnson CT5 preamp and Premier 350 amp > Martin Logan Expression 13A's and two ML BF210 subs. Audience Au24e I/C's & speaker cable. Member of the Suncoast Audiophile Society.

  37. #37

    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Mike, it might be time for a pair of these

    http://234mono.com

  38. #38

    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Smith View Post
    (...) I have edited some of the copy from Book Two of my new project, and pasted it here. It addresses your questions.

    The first step requires getting the bass to be the best it can be in your room
    Maximizing your system’s bass effects must be done by locating the best listening position first, NOT by moving the speakers around!

    At some point, you will adjust the speaker positions, and the bass can sometimes be affected by that movement. But any potential changes to the bass after speaker movement will be slight when compared to finding the best listening position in the room.

    So, what is the best bass?
    It’s not necessarily the deepest bass. What we want is the smoothest bass, and we care about it from as low as the system goes in the smoothest bass listening position up until at least 250 Hz.

    Why is the listening position most critical?
    Essentially, your room’s shape and dimensions dictate its resonances from 25 Hz to 250 Hz. As you move around in the room, there will be places where some bass notes (or frequencies) are emphasized, and where at the same time other bass notes will be de-emphasized—and perhaps almost missing entirely.
    (...)
    Jim,

    After reading Mike description of the first step in the original post I was prepared to order your book. However, reading your comments on book II triggered a doubt - is this process of finding the best listening placed described in your Book One ? Just one more question as I appreciate reading a lot more than seeing movies - is there any important information in the DVDs that is not covered in the book?
    Thanks!

  39. #39
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    Re: My Session With Jim Smith

    Quote Originally Posted by microstrip View Post
    Jim,

    After reading Mike description of the first step in the original post I was prepared to order your book. However, reading your comments on book II triggered a doubt - is this process of finding the best listening placed described in your Book One ? Just one more question as I appreciate reading a lot more than seeing movies - is there any important information in the DVDs that is not covered in the book?
    Thanks!
    This topic is also covered in GBS, both the book and the DVD set.

    There are are topics that are different or perhaps illustrated better in the DVD. On the other hand, the book has more info with 202 tips-293 pages whereas the DVD set is three DVDs.

    But I prefer to refrain from talking about details that might appear as selling Get Better Sound or other services on this forum.

    My email is jim at getbettersound dot com
    Small Green Computer; gigaFoil 4 Ethernet filter w/ Keces PS-3; Sonore ultraRendu; MBP (3) - stripped down for music only; AQ Diamond USB; Duelund USB; Curious USB; PS Audio LanRover; ISO REGEN w/short Curious USB links; Berkeley Alpha USB; Audioquest Diamond ethernet; Audioquest Diamond AES - 3M; Schiit Yggdrasil - fully updated; Ayre Codex - updated; Topping D-90; Pass Labs INT-60 integrated amplifier; Wyred 4 Sound STP-SE-2 preamplifier, Quicksilver Mono 120 amps w/Tung-Sol KT150s; Wyred 4 Sound STP-750E Mk II amplifier w/Kimber TCX wiring & WBT binding posts; Quicksilver Mid Mono amplifiers w/Gold Lion KT77s, Joseph Audio Perspective 2 Graphenes; Symposium Speaker Platforms; REL S-812 subwoofers; Duelund DCA12GA speaker cables; AV Room Service EVPs, Stein Music Harmonizers, Duelund DCA16GA & 20GA ICs; Shunyata 6000S/V2; Tripp Lite PCs; Wyred 4 Sound power cords; AudioDharma cable cooker; dedicated custom room; various GIK & ASC room treatments; etc.

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My Session With Jim Smith

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