When people start with a few pieces of Vertex AQ, they have normally spoken to a dealer and read the Vertex AQ book about all the products, how they improve sound quality, how they are used and so on. With Vertex, the starting place is invariably mains products and supports, and of course upgrading is normally done in stages, a few products at a time. The obvious question at the beginning is, ‘where do I put my new items for best effect?’

So lets say as an example, the customer’s first purchase is 2 mains leads and 2 platforms. We do say experiment of course, but normally you would put these with your front-end components such as transport, DAC, phono-stage or preamp – dependent on the type of system you have. We invariably find that eliminating systematic damage here (particularly with digital sources) usually gives the best results first – and there is plenty of guidance on this in the vertex Book.

After a while, because the customer is happy (and they are invariably very happy), the next question comes along, pretty similar to the first – ‘where do I put my next couple of pieces of Vertex?’ Well, of course there is the guide in the book, which goes on to explain about going through from source to amplification with supports and mains, then upgrading the signal leads, starting with the loudspeaker cables, and working back to the source interconnects.

But there is something else that can be done – in fact this has probably been partially carried out when the customer had the first 2 items, but maybe without a long-term objective in mind. Lets go back to the experimenting idea. When the customer bought his first 2 pieces, he would have experimented to find the best place to use them. But consider this in a broader context.

The customer’s system started off in its original configuration, sans Vertex. He puts the Vertex items into the system, and listens. He hears an improvement. He then takes them out from position ‘A’, and puts them in another part of the system, position ‘B’ (power amps say), and he will also hear an improvement. He may go back and forth, and put the old gear back in as well, to build up an understanding of the sonic effects. Then, to maximise the benefit of his investment, he finally puts them in the place that brings the most effect, lets say the items end up in position A (source components).

But look, after his experimenting, our customer also has some useful information about the performance of the system when the 2 items were used in position B, because in position B he also got a significant improvement – the changes may have sounded different in presentation because it was applied in a different part of the system (remember, we are hearing the reduction of systematic faults in different parts of the system), but they were certainly there. So, when the time for the next upgrade comes along, we already know that there are benefits waiting to be had with some Vertex items in position B. And of course, with the introduction of more Vertex at position B, we are now going to add the improvements together (by subtracting more of the systematic faults) and we will hear another significant step forward in sound quality.

So, when you do experiment with a few Vertex components, take real notice of the effects you hear in all the different places you try them. And remember to think about it in terms of the reduction in faults. So when you come to consider your next upgrade, you already know that there are untreated systematic faults in position B.

Oh, by the way. When you have done 2 or 3 Vertex upgrades like this, and really taken out the major systematic faults, you suddenly get to the point where the system becomes properly transparent, stable and 3-dimensional in its presentation. In particular, the true transparency achieved becomes a game changer in all your future upgrade decisions for electronics and speakers too. From this point onwards, you really will hear the difference in most products, and be far more confident in the value-for-money considerations, particularly in high end gear. It is a sad truth that most people never achieve the levels of system transparency necessary to hear high-end products performing to their true ability – so often they are only heard in poorly set up systems, full of gross systematic errors.

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