Simplicity is the key to good sound. Many times, when you install a system that is too complicated for a given room, you end up with poor sound reproduction.
Getting Started in the Hobby of Audio
Michael Green | Michael Green Audio
Getting Started in the Hobby of Audio
Step 1 -- Know Your
Knowing your objective is
important and here's why. Let's take me for example. I enjoy all my
systems and always have. I built my first multi-room system at the age
of 10. My brother, who is two years older than me, had the cool music.
While I was getting force fed The Osmond Brothers, he was listening to
the Allman Brothers. I needed to step up in status, quick. That is, if I
wanted to go out with Patty Bohrman. So I sneaked into my brother's room
and rewired the back of his stereo. Then I ran the wires down the hall
to my room, concealing the evidence, and became cool. Since then, I've
not been without systems throughout my home. And, I also don't get hung
up on "the system." Don't get me wrong. Having a reference system, or
two, or seven, is great. But, making a lifestyle system sound like a
reference system is a blast.
No matter what system you have, if the room or rooms don't accommodate it acoustically and mechanically, you may have a tough time getting a balanced sound.
Let me know
if you want me to expound more on
Steps 1 and 2. I'd be happy to
do so. It's too bad there's not a good "how to" book on stereo and video
systems (for real). The books that are out there seem to jump ahead of
themselves or they leave out the most important parts, like how rooms
sound different from each other. That's the whole ball game as far as
is about the first through the last components of your system, in most
cases. Think about it. You choose the room that you want to put a
particular system in, you setup the system, and then you spend your time
trying to make that system sound good in that room. The key phrase is
"in that room".
(Note: This is an invaluable "road
map" that is being laid out here. As readers can see in the first two
steps, the steps to achieving personal sonic nirvana are intertwined and
the boundaries between each step are less than distinct.
Step 4 -- Evaluating the Ingredients
Sometimes, when we're cooking in a new or different kitchen than what we're used to, we automatically go through a ritual called "evaluating the ingredients." This ritual, or practice, goes much further than the food itself. We take inventory of the food, spices, tools, and even the type of heat. The preparation becomes a method that includes timing and balance.
We also take inventory when putting together our systems. But, many times, we leave out key ingredients. Whenever we do this, just like in cooking, we try to make up for our mistakes with "spices." Things don't always come out the way we want. When this happens in our hobby, it's common to go on the downward spiral of equipment trading which usually leads to big holes in our wallet and, still, unsatisfactory sound. By evaluating the ingredients, choosing them carefully, and applying the proper method of tuning, we will have a good sounding system every time, regardless of price.
The next questions are:
The list of ingredients (components) can be broken down into three main categories -- electrical, mechanical, and acoustical. These three categories are completely intertwined. Therefore, I've named them the "Audio Trilogy."
The ingredients for a system will entail more than you think. If any one part of this system, or ingredient, is not paid the proper attention, the system, as a whole, can suffer sonic values. Many times, poor sound is blamed on the wrong things because of a lack of understanding of how a system works.
A system actually starts outside the home at the local power plant. The grid in your area can make or break your system. This does not mean run out and buy yourself a line conditioner. Most people buy line treatment unnecessarily. Later, remind me and I'll get into electrical energy flow and how it works. You'll be surprised to find out about how electricity does NOT work more than how it does work. But, that's too deep for right now. As the electricity arrives outside your house, it is distributed by a transformer, then to a meter (for you to get those big bills), and then finally inside your house to your fuse or breaker box. It doesn't stop there. The electricity then runs down a wire (usually in conduit) to a wall receptacle.
(Note: Any other outlets, in your room, make your line, by default, not a dedicated line.)
Dedicated means one circuit, one outlet, one component. I know this is impractical for most. But, the system that comes the closest to this will outperform a system that doesn't, every time. Remember, simplicity is the secret to good sound.
You're wiping your forehead going, "Boy, I'm glad the electrical part is over." But, it's not. This is a part where a lot of people mess up. They don't think of their system as a whole. You cannot compartmentalize your system. It is impossible to truly review an individual component. Your only hope is to follow a method of controlled gates and drains of energy. The cost of your components has nothing to do with good sound. Some of the least expensive parts of your system make the biggest difference to your sound. In fact, in many cases, the more complicated a system is designed, the worse it sounds.
Once you leave your outlets, you head to several power supplies. The more "in tune" these power supplies are with each other, the better your parts can harmonically be balanced to carry the sound source signal down the electrical host. If you cannot harmonically balance these power supplies, then it is better to have fewer of them. Take some advice. Only use more components if you know how to make them perform together. You could take something like that little all-in-one system I recommended for the HT mini-system and blow away a hi-end system that someone does not know how to make work. And, there are a lot of professionals who don't know how to make them work. But, give them time; they'll learn -- just not as quickly as you will.
The power supply's job is to supply the proper electrical energy to all the parts inside and outside their particular chassis. I say inside and outside their chassis because they do three things:
See, you guys thought I was going to give a list of the components.
Once the source signal is inside the speaker, it is converted to a larger scaled replica of the same source signal.
(Note: The reason I am not dividing the energy up into different categories is on purpose. All three energies that make up the audio trilogy come from the same root source and therefore, by the laws of nature, are co-dependent on each other. It's the way we harness these energies that makes them appear different from each other.
Let's call this replica "sound waves" (still hosting the trilogy). Sound waves, again, have three basic interactive properties:
Everything affects everything; everything is tunable.
(Note: The energy that hosts the perception of sound waves, or any of the source signal parts or conduits, is omnipresent.)
Keep in mind that there are three energies working together in your system and room - acoustical, mechanical, and electrical. Placing these three energies in tune with each other is the key to obtaining good sound. So, as you assemble or listen to your systems, start thinking of your system/room as a whole, in terms of the energies of which they are comprised, instead of as individual parts which have little to no relationship to each other.
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