Last week audio consultant Jim Smith sent me a copy of his Get Better Sound DVD. The DVD is a companion to the 300 page Get Better Sound manual. Over the weekend I watched the three DVD set from start to finish. Plus I replayed a few chapters that really piqued my interest such as chapter 35 addressing computer audio. Most of the five hours of audio education don't directly relate to computer audio but I pulled a few quotes that may be of interest to the CA faithful.
· Computer audio is the future of digital audio as we know it.
· Sound ripped from my CDs is better than any CD player at any price.
· If you're not into [computer audio] yet you need to do it as soon as you can.
Audio Education Equals Better Sound
It's been close to a decade since I read Robert Harley's Complete Guide to High-End Audio. If I remember correctly that guide was a bit dry and technical in some areas of audio that put me to sleep. Nothing against the guide, I simply don't enjoy absolutely everything associated with high end audio and I don't expect Computer Audiophile readers are either. Thus, I was more than amenable when Jim Smith offer to send the Get Better Sound DVD set for my perusal. The DVD is a painless way to bounce around from chapter to chapter and soak in the information while simultaneously thinking about how to implement some of the ideas. More than a few times my mind drifted off as I thought about adjusting my speakers and adding acoustical room treatments according to Jim's recommendations. That's tough to accomplish while continuing to read a physical book.
Watching the DVD I frequently thought about how long it has taken me to accumulate certain audio knowledge over the decades. As a budding young audiophile I used to read Stereophile and The Absolute Sound trying to pick up little bits of knowledge from the reviews. That meant reading countless pages about components for which I couldn't have cared less. As a 35 year old audiophile I still way more to learn than I even realize. Jim Smith's Get Better Sound DVD is one simple way of picking up high end audio knowledge in a short five hours, not five years or five decades. Each of the 38 chapters is relatively short and to the point. Much of the material is not overly technical, not about gear, and has little to do with spending money. Jim focusses on setting up one's system using techniques he has learned over a few decades as a store owner and audio consultant. When Jim does talk about purchasing gear it's often small tools such as polarity checkers, ground plug "cheaters", and measuring devices. I never heard him suggest people need larger amplifiers, better speakers, or better cables. How refreshing.
One tool Jim and I both can't live without is the $95 Bosch DLR130 laser distance measurer. This tool is much more accurate than using a traditional measuring tape. I recently purchased a new pair of speakers for my listening room and saved myself a ton of time when tweaking the speakers fractions of an inch at a time. Audiophiles tend to sweat the small things. A laser measuring device is just the tool to reduce some of that perspiration.
Get Better Computer Audio
Computer audiophiles should not purchase Get Better Sound seeking a treasure trove of computer audio information. Jim Smith talks about the system he uses on site at clients' homes (MacBook Pro & Ayre QB-9 USB DAC) and the major benefits of computer based audio. It was very nice to see Jim embrace computer audio and recommend all viewers get into it as soon as possible. Jim credits Gordon Ranking of Wavelength Audio for his great work on Asynchronous USB transfer mode and its ability to produce "essentially" jitter free sound quality. Traditional audiophiles still holding out on computer audio should take note that Jim, in addition to many CA readers, thinks the sound from his ripped CDs is better than any CD player at any price. Part of his computer audio formula includes Channel D's Pure Music program. Pure Music has worked so well for Jim that he has no interest unchanging. Here are a few other computer audio items of note from the DVD. When it comes to wireless routers and computer Jim has a couple recommendations.
1. Wireless routers should be turned off as they broadcast digital grunge that has a large negative effect on "musical purity."
2. Computers should not be on the same electrical circuit as the audio system. They put grunge back into that system.
Again, it was great to see Jim touting computer audio as, "The best digital I've come across." I'd also like to thank Jim for including a link to Computer Audiophile at the end of the computer audio chapter. I hope to see many of Jim's clients browsing the site very soon. Jim's 300+ page manual and three disc DVD set are currently on sale at GetBetterSound.com for $29.95 (softcover), $49.95 (hardcover), and $19.95 (DVD).