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Building up a Hi End System from Ground Zero

My two little giants came back yesterday with a new face. The joy of a new pair of speakers was absent because I know it will take hell of a job to reach the standard of gluing myself on a chair listening to music, when I am certain of my current reference could be light years ahead of the maximum potential of the little giants. I know this is a bold statement to make but people who had visited me concur without hesitation so far. That said, it is hasty and wrongful to render a verdict when the two little giants did not have the needed space for them to breathe at that time. Maybe, they will do better this time because there is nothing absolute in this world. Put it this way, they are going to have a tough catching-up game ahead. I still want to listen, and hopefully to achieve, their most matured state of sound. Life is everywhere, it is a matter of waking up their souls. I wish Hi End audio is as simple as plug and play but the truth is not.

A new pairs of speakers means a complete rework of cabling and room acoustics treatment have to be reconsidered. The difficulty is the evolving nature of the new speakers because the sonic basically changes everyday. The initial 2 to 3 months could well be the “exploration� period, meaning I have to change here and there and yet may find myself circling back to square one. If you take the variable of room acoustics out of the complete equation, it will be much easier because all conclusions will be drawn on the sound fusing with room resonances. As a result, certain frequency region will be boosted up and some certain areas will be painted with lighter colors. The ironic part is we may actually like the sound fusing with room resonances. Somehow, accessories and cables can be used to fill the hole or take away the sonic fat so as to achieving the subjective equilibrium. The use of speaker positioning to mitigate certain acoustics deficiencies is effective too. Not until room acoustics problems are solved, we are merely solving the problem by means of compromising, which I understand is always the 2nd best solution due to scarcity of space, time and resources.

A Plan is needed. Given I know the respective character of each components in the system, initial matching of power cords and interconnects can be easily done in a few hours. During the initial week, I have no plan of using acoustics treatment. Rather, I want to concentrate on discovering the major areas of resonances inside the room. I will then |use simple stuffs such as carpets on the floor, a picture on the wall, as well as clothes on hangers, to block the reflective waves to reduce resonances. Such simple stuff always works but whether they can strike a balance between absorption and diffusion is simply a matter of luck. After these experiments, I will then have a basic idea of what kind of balance between absorption and diffusion I am opting for.

Next, I will then try difference interfaces below the steel spikes of the two little giants. I dislike steel spikes for a simple reason – the resonances of steel. If your floor is hard and concrete, vibration will probably bounced back to the drivers via the nice and finely polished steel spikes. What to do? I prefer wood to most other materials despite their respective merits and vibration control properties. If the wood is too soft, the sound may become too soft and lose focus. Similarly, if the wood is too hard, it will be reflected in the mid high section usually. Again, finding the right balance is the key here. But things are getting more and more complicated because this right balance between the floor and the speakers is also a function of your room, components and cables! That is getting too complicated. I agree. Sometimes, even my point of reference has to change/evolve in different stage of development.

I better to stop here before I confuse everyone. But I will report my real field experience every now and then here.
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