Seeking Advice – And Taking It!

Over the years that we have been building the Vertex AQ brand, we have advised on a considerable number of hi-fi system upgrades. And from this experience we have learned how to take a Systematic Approach to pretty much every type of problem, in every type of system. From small valve and vinyl setups to solid-state monsters, the basic answers are surprisingly similar. Our dealers work with a lot of systems too, and we all share notes on the many and varied situations we come across. And whilst we don’t know every answer for sure, collectively we are very, very good at resolving system problems, and elevating performance way beyond customers’ expectations.

One very strong plea from us here though – please take our (collective) advice seriously, and with the intent that is meant. The advice might not be what you expect, but it is wholly focussed on that performance you are after and maybe not on the particular bit of equipment you were first thinking of upgrading. From our point of view we may quickly spot weaknesses in your system that you have not yet considered to be significant.

Sometimes people are a little cynical about advice. But remember, it really makes no business sense to tell people something which might make a quick sale – but later leads to dissatisfaction because that advice was not actually in the customer’s best long-term interest. Conversely, bringing a customer to a balanced, systematic viewpoint, and then demonstrating how the Vertex AQ products are the key to a radical musical improvement is pretty much, to every man and woman who experiences it, a staggering revelation.

But let us also point out clearly here that this Systematic Approach ‘guide’ is not intended to be a definitive list of instructions on what you should do. It covers all of the basic rules and common system fault examples, but for your system this work really must be done in detail in close consultation with your Vertex dealer. The dealer must find out about your listening interests, your domestic environment, the type of system you have and where you want to go with it. Only then can you get the correct, tailored advice that will reliably take you to the performance you want. Of course, by all means give us a call too if you like.

Some Basic Vertex AQ Upgrade Rules

If you have read (and hopefully understood) parts 1 – 9 of this guide then you will have some ideas about the problems that we  all, as system builders, face. And the major Vertex techniques that we can use to counter them. But we also have to build up skills and experience of how to apply this knowledge with good upgrade strategies. We start with some simple rules and then build on up, developing your hi-fi system upgrades strategy in detail.

The simple rules:

  • Think! Where in your system might the weaknesses be – keep this ‘weakest link’ approach in mind rather than focussing on a product you like the look of.
  • Don’t get drawn into the ‘stunning review’ therefore ‘I must have’ syndrome. An equivalent value system with averagely well received electronics and speakers that has Vertex throughout WILL ALWAYS SERIOUSLY OUT-PERFORM a system of ‘best buys’ that are chucked together. Besides, usually a ‘best buy’ recommendation is only the opinion of one person, in the context of his system and his musical tastes etc etc.
  • If you’ve already upgraded the major components once and you are still not happy, don’t fall into the trap of upgrading those components again at this stage – look elsewhere. Your dissatisfaction is almost certainly caused by some serious systematic problems.
  • Keep the application of Vertex equipment fairly balanced and reasonably widespread. Dropping a large sum on lots of Vertex mains leads and mains filters, when your equipment is perched at one end of an old sideboard is likely to lead to some strange results!
  • Always treat outside the signal path (supports and mains) before going inside the signal path. If you do not, your system will end up being held back by the poor external architecture.
  • When you treat inside the signal path (speaker leads/interconnects), generally you should work from the high-energy end first (speaker links and speaker leads) back towards the source interconnects.
  • Remember to allow for your own subconscious listening processes to adjust as you make changes to your system. At Vertex we do not believe in the quick A/B demo.