Many times when we speak to customer’s about their general upgrading experiences, and their use of Vertex, they talk about swapping cables and supports around, plugging mains filters in and out and so on. They discuss the changes to sound quality – more detail, better imaging, better bass, sweeter treble – all the great improvements we’d expect using Vertex certainly. But every now and then we get a customer who says he gets some of the improvements as he starts to upgrade, but not all that we say he should expect. So of course we discuss this with the customer further, to find out what else might be the problem.

Now it might be that he’s got a duff piece of electronics – but this is actually a pretty rare event. Once people have got beyond ‘lo-fi’, they have usually chosen quite good boxes. More often than not though, its because he hasn’t gone back to the very basics of system setup. And the primary one of these of course is speaker positioning.

To understand this lets go back and first consider a system setup with no Vertex at all, or indeed, any thought to proper supports, mains and so on. This system will have large quantities of RFI and vibration right through it, generating large amounts of intermodulation distortion as a result. But remember one of the most critical things here – this distortion is largely related to the energy that the system is creating as it plays real music. Classically, this makes a system sound really rough in the midband and treble, and the bass is all lumpy and often overblown. All the finer musical attributes are not there in much quantity at all.

This is how it was when the customer first positioned the speakers. And without really knowing it, he will have positioned them to try and minimise the grossest effects he could hear at the time, the most dominant one of these almost certainly being the overblown and lumpy bass. All other positioning considerations for mid-band tonality, treble, timing, imaging and most importantly, the integration of all these elements, could not have been properly accounted for.

Some time later our customer has begun to make architectural changes for the better, which is going to start to drastically reduce those intermodulation effects of course. But look, can you see how those speakers are soon going to be in the wrong position?…… More precisely, they were never optimised for a really good sound at all!

So there it is. One of the most basic tips of all for system upgrading. As you start to increase control and resolution in a system, you will be able to get further significant gains by working on the speaker positioning. Indeed, you really should think of these processes as going hand-in-hand – and include electronics upgrades in this thinking too.

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