Quarter Notes, Volume 4, Issue #3


Dear Get Better Sound & Through the Sound Barrier owners,

Welcome to the fifteenth issue of Quarter Notes, published on April 22, 2014. Quarter Notes is a newsletter for Get Better Sound and Through the Sound Barrier owners, expanding on both, as well as introducing new and timely subjects.


Best email address

Since you’re reading this, the e-mail address with which I sent this QN must have worked. However, the only e-mail address I have is the one associated with your initial Get Better Sound or Through the Sound Barrier order. If you have an e-mail address that you’d prefer to use to receive Quarter Notes notifications, send it to jim@getbettersound.com. Be sure to include the e-mail address I used originally, along with the one that you want to use to replace it.


Mail servers

After several issues with the outgoing mail servers on the site that we’ve always used to send the Quarter Notes and Breaking Through podcast announcements, we have decided to make a change. The announcement e-mail that you received was sent from our new mail server.


Light Harmonic Light Speed USB cable

This was an unexpected outcome, to be sure. I have been quite happy with my Transparent Audio USB cable. Never saw the need to change – music flowed beautifully. Why fix it if it ain’t broke?

When the folks at Light Harmonic offered to send me a sample (I didn’t ask – they contacted me), I said OK. Honestly speaking, I wasn’t exactly excited. But hey, I promised to give it a listen, so I did…

Lo & behold, it was better in every way. However, I have only had the original USB cable from Transparent. Their upper level models are even better, I am quite certain. I simply have not heard them.

The split USB LH Lightspeed cable is considerably more expensive. I was never a big believer in expensive USB cable differences. But anyone can hear this. It’s not subtle. For all that I know, my MBP Retina/Ayre QB-9 interface especially benefits from it.

If you can arrange a home trial, I highly recommend that you give the LH a try, and if that is more than you can spend, try one of more of the Transparent models.




Favorite audio blog

Most folks have a favorite. For a long time, mine has been Jeff’s Place. It’s not just because I know Jeff, nor is it solely because I have ALWAYS known him to a be a man of integrity, and not just because his site invites positive comments, instead of the annoying negativity that seems to appear most places these days.

I enjoy Jeff’s site because he is such an avid music lover and we share some tastes in music & equipment. His travel photography isn’t bad, either. :)

I keep forgetting to mention his site – but now that I have – check out Jeff’s Place:



Listening room dimensions

As requested:

I already told you a bit about my room issues in the latest Breaking Through podcast, as well as in the latest QNs. However, if you want still more to distract you from getting to your music, here ‘tis: 21’ x 18.5’ x 8.5’ … :)


Can't get no satisfaction?

Through the Sound Barrier is all about retrieving more of the emotional impact from your music – without changing components – and to deliver it at a consistently higher level. The goal is greater musical satisfaction.

It occurred to me some time ago that the work we (you and I) do on RoomPlay sessions has a similar ultimate goal. We want to increase your emotional involvement with your music.

But there are at least two more - somewhat unexpected - outcomes that are possible. I experienced each within the last couple of days. They can come from a RoomPlay session and they will come from TTSB. In fact, I get enough correspondence to know that GBS has delivered on these aspects as well.


Second that emotion 

Getting greater emotional impact from our music is the goal. But that’s only one thing.

Emotional impact on others is another outcome.

A RoomPlay client reported that his wife had indulged his desire for a separate listening room for many years. Occasionally, when invited to listen, she’d come in and maybe stay through one cut. But then it would be “something to do”, a “call to return”, an “errand to run”, etc… She NEVER stayed to listen.

After the recent RoomPlay session, she was again invited to listen, but this time he couldn’t get rid of her (not that he wanted to). She stayed right there, and asked to hear piece after piece. So now his man-cave is a music-cave for him and his wife.

Another report that particularly blessed me was when a former RoomPlay client went out of his way to help an audiophile friend to reach a higher level of musical engagement. He reports that he simply employed some of the techniques he’d learned.

Wow! Both of these reports are awesome – music can be such a joy in our lives, such a great therapeutic tool, that sharing it seems to be the ultimate gift. 


Can Jim voice your system when he is in the area? 

I get asked this question a lot. The answer is probably not.

FWIW - this is a working session, reasonably intense, with no time for breaks.

I cannot do two or more RoomPlay sessions on one trip, as one session is far too depleting to me - emotionally, mentally, and physically - to be fair to a second client. So each session is dedicated as a trip to that client.

If the time comes that you would like to consider a RoomPlay session, it's best for a couple of things to take place first:

  1. I'd need to see a few images of your room and the system - as it is set-up at the time. Cell-phone pics are OK.
  2. We'd then need to have a brief phone conversation to explore whether or not the RoomPlay process is appropriate for your system and room.


In the crosshairs 

On another recent RoomPlay session, a client showed me his self-leveling Skil laser rig. With a tripod mount, it has a horizontal or vertical display available, as well as a cross-hair display.

If you currently use lasers for measuring when setting up a grid, I highly recommend this gadget as well. It’s a huge timesaver, not to mention the confidence that it builds. Well, at least if you are ever-so-slightly OCD :)

Skil laser level

And no, the second image isn’t perfectly square. That’s a camera operator issue, not a problem with the Skil laser level…



Links to Breaking Through Podcasts if you cannot use iTunes 

A few QNs subscribers cannot or do not use iTunes. However, they want to hear the podcasts. In the future, we will provide both links. But for now, here is the link to our Libsyn site - where the podcasts originate:


And the iTunes site:



How do you know if your TTSB pledge is on file?

If you backed TTSB, and if for some reason you did not receive acknowledgement of your pledge through Kickstarter, please consider the Quarter Notes e-mail that you received from the new server as confirmation that we do indeed have your pledge info on file. And any TTSB Breaking Through podcast announcements will also come from our new server. 


Previous Quarter Notes

  • Volume 1, Issue #1
    Topics: Tesa tape • Master the mister • Why single-ended amplifiers can sound so good • Why single-ended amplifiers can sound so bad • Bi-wiring • Room temp/humidity/Rives • The Concert Experience • Twenty Minutes vs. Two Hours to Nirvana? • Small, medium and large listening rooms • CES 2009 quick note • Laser distance measurers and levels • RTAs • House calls
  • Volume 1, Issue #2
    Topics: A question about CD technology • Bi-wiring, part two • From common sense to sixth sense – Srajan Ebaen • Three common-sense tweaks • Tweaks to watch • Tweaks to try • Sensitivity to sensitivity? • Top 10 standards of quality for high-end audio retail specialists • Message boards • Sad, but true • Hourly rate for consulting
  • Volume 1, Issue #3
    Topics: The top 3 tips I keep hearing about from readers • Vinyl 101 - A few tips on the return to vinyl – Jeff Dorgay • How to Eat an Elephant • Computers and Audio – Charles Hanson
  • Volume 1, Issue #4
    Topics: From recent experience • On-the-job observations • The sound of rooms • Hard drive housekeeping • Ear protectors, new basement, fluorescent lights • AC polarity tip • Questions from Italy • Music review – Geoff Poor • Absolute polarity -- controversial, but worth checking out
  • Volume 2, Issue #1
    Topics: The ACK Attack and un-common Knowledge • Basics re-visited  - a little more info: subwoofer set-up, speaker separation and staging, long wall or short wall?, affordable RTA, absolute phase/polarity, sliding base for spiked speakers, rack in the middle – AGAIN!, spikes – AGAIN! • Stacking the decks with DEQX • Demystifying room acoustic treatment
  • Volume 2, Issue #2
    Topics:A reader teaches me a lesson – Computer Audio • New room designs • Set-up diagrams • Stereo subs • Audio forums • Back in the saddle again
  • Volume 2, Issue #3
    Topics: The new Get Better Sound DVD! • Computer audio, part two - the sound, better recordings, more involving sound, Redbook CD, Pure Music, five easy pieces, computer hardware upgrades, interview with Rob Robinson – CEO of Pure Music
  • Volume 2, Issue #4
    Topics: Get Better Sound DVD • Introducing RoomPlay™ • A surprising story about voicing • Room eq systems, and a brief story • How far is too far? • Uneven speaker wire lengths • Fuses as tweaks • Sliders • Degrees of separation • Subs for every system? • Computer audio and absolute polarity • Rack ‘em up one more time!
  • Interim Volume 3, Issue #1
    Topics: Nothing much to see here – just a report about some health issues that were interfering with my work.
  • Volume 3, Issue #2
    Topics: Health issues and your correspondence • It’s not just babies that take nine months – the 1st comprehensive GBS DVD review is born! • Best coupling to the floor • Speaker sliders – a better solution • When sound is foremost • Mini-breakthrough in my Computer Audio system – and a tip even if you don’t use computer audio but you have a TV connected to your system • Apology re RTAs • Balanced outputs – better or worse? • When do the best measurements NOT yield the best musical involvement? • Another instance of technically correct set-up at the expense of the music • RoomPlay Reference
  • Volume 3, Issue #3
    Topics: Half Notes, anyone? • RoomPlay & RoomPlay Reference update • New – StraightTalk • The 83% rule – NOT! • Clever and entertaining blog • SPL meter • Full-range speakers need subs too… • Auto EQ & bass levels • How to voice subs (2, not 1, of course) with full range speakers • Listening seat not always against or near the back wall • Effects and proper usage of Tube Traps • My computer audio settings – NOT • Three good questions • Effects of ear wax • Near-field listening
  • Volume 3, Issue #4
    Topics: Through the Sound Barrier • A different kind of Sound Barrier • Kickstarter
  • Volume 4, Issue #1
    Topics: Our FIFTH Anniversary! • Internet message boards and a continuing invitation • System priorities • Organic EQ vs electronic EQ • Ultimate tweak for Macs when used as computer music servers? • Tweaksville • Latest developments with Through the Sound Barrier • Inside info about the delay
  • Volume 4, Issue #2
    Topics: Finding old newsletters • Inexpensive RTA that works • Soulless • The High Fidelity Report • New sound room & office • Just a little loving and moving • Large items between your speakers • Quiet and efficient HVAC • Duelund outboard crossover • Laser info • TTSB updates • StraightTalk • More…


Questions or comments?

E-mail me: jim@getbettersound.com


That’s all, folks.

Keep on listening!

Jim Smith

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