Review: Jim Smith Home Consultation & Set Up Speaker

Category: Speakers

Ok, let’s get a couple caveats out of the way first…

• I couldn’t find the best place to put this review, so I’m putting it with speakers, as that seemed like perhaps the best place to help more people learn about my experience with Jim and why I recommend him so highly.
• Yes, I’m more of a lurker than active poster and contributor. I know I need to ‘pay it forward’ more often. Guilty as charged.
• I have no hidden agenda in posting this review other than to finally start trying to pay it forward, as mentioned above.

A very brief history on myself to help put this ‘review’ into context. I’m most likely similar to many of you. I’ve invested more money than I care to admit over the past 15+ years of audiophile activity. I’ve completely turned over my system several times, in several different rooms. I spent 3 years in Japan as well, and got an in depth look inside the belly of the Japanese addiction to hifi. I’ve had all types of components in and out of my system over the years, ss – class a and ab, tubes in the pre and amp, all types of cd’s/dacs, cables of almost every flavor. I do feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle of what can happen to a system when you change out various components. Obviously, this statement isn’t meant to be an absolute and could be inflammatory if taken too far – not my intention. I simply am trying to set a baseline for what follows, and that is I’ve had many opportunities to evaluate ‘system upgrades’ and the incremental improvements (or decline) that come along with a variety of changes.

My current system for frame of reference:
• Ayre AX-7e
• Ayre QB-9
• Tannoy Canterbury SE
• Audience AU24 speaker cables, Acoustic Revive XLR interconnect, Tel Wire pc on the dac and Virtual Dynamic Master Series 4.0 pc on integrated, RSAD Alethias USB cable.

I’ll start with my conclusion and work my way backward. Hiring Jim Smith to come down was BY FAR, the single best investment I’ve ever made. It’s not even close, seriously. I’ve spent thousands of dollars as mentioned above going from this amp to that amp, this speaker to that speaker, cable swaps, etc. Indeed, all of those changes certainly brought along some change in sound to the system. But as experienced and knowledgeable I think I am (again, I’m sure my experience pales in reference to many of you) I really don’t think that I was much better than 50/50 shot of an upgrade truly resulting in better or more enjoyment from my system. I do believe once you get to a certain level, the incremental improvements are tougher and tougher to achieve.

There are really 2 aspects to why I feel so passionate about writing this review. Certainly one is the major improvement to my system that Jim was able to produce. Improvements that even months after his visit, still amaze me when I sit down to listen. I don’t necessarily feel a need to go into detailed descriptions in exactly what changed, but I will just summarize that everything came together. Nothing is disjointed, bands sound live, with a great solid foundation – physical foundation that is – it makes performances sound live, within the context of their recording venue. Now, I’m not saying the Tannoy’s sounded terrible or anything like that before Jim’s visit. It’s just that emotional connection that is so strong now, I honestly struggle to stop listening and go to bed, where I never had that problem before.

So enough on the first obvious reason to why Jim is a great investment. For me, there is another equally important reason I recommend to everyone to seriously consider Jim’s services. And that is the confidence and peace of mind he can provide. Not only is he a true gentleman, and wealth of knowledge and just a blast to talk to about his history in the industry, but I can’t tell you how great it is to just brainstorm with him all our various ideas/thoughts about our systems and get his candid views and advice. I know the merry go round this hobby is for many of us. But after the session with Jim, I’m not only incredibly satisfied with what my system sounds like, but equally important, I’m not wondering any more about ‘what ifs’ – I did that or this. Jim is not afraid to tell it like it is, whether he thinks your ideas would produce an improvement or just a change, or a good/bad investment. It really is a great feeling to know that you’ve had your system set up done by probably the best in the industry, but also had the time to consult with him about all of the thoughts that were in my head and really settled on what my system should and can (now does) do. And what I should expect from my system in the future and where it could possibly go.

The memory of his time with me is not just the great sound I get daily, but the confidence I have in my system and direction. The dollar investment for his services more than paid for itself with the improvement, but the approach to my system and audio in general are truly priceless. For the price of what many cables cost, and certainly less than what most source or power components cost, his service is a serious steal – truly a bargain.

I do feel that we in this hobby have a strong common bond and unfortunately due to the proliferation of home theater and things like you tube, facebook, etc – our hobby is in danger of dying a slow (or not) death. I truly believe if more people could really experience what a night with a truly dialed in high end 2 channel system, we have a better chance of keeping this beloved hobby thriving and moving forward. Jim’s services are the best way that I’ve found in my history of getting there. My intent with this long-winded review is to encourage anyone serious about getting more enjoyment out of their system to consider contacting Jim. I just wish that I did it sooner.
Ag insider logo xs@2xfavresj
+2 to or more to richfield_hunter. If you are REALLY serious, study and read and ACT  on Better Sound by Jim Smith (2008)  Paperback – 2008
This takes out visual, emotion,WAF and any other obstacle that might influence preconceived intentions. For real audiophiles only. 
I would never let him set foot into my house even for free - because he has usurped - stolen is a better word - almost 100000 USD from a Kickstarter project without sending out the rewards to the guys who funded his *project*. Been more than seven years now.
I don't blame Audiobonk, though I notice he has only made three posts here - all the same - for his opinion. The Through The Sound Barrier Project has been a much more massive project than I ever imagined, plus I have kept adding to it to make up for it being late...
I have also fulfilled over half of the TTSB commitments to backers who went beyond the standard pledge - RoomPlay, RoomPlay Reference, & StraightTalk.

In order to save some time, and give you up-to-date info, here is a l-o-o-o-n-g copy of an update that I recently sent to another backer:

"I appreciate your note and your patience.  I do still have some health issues - in fact, I am prescribed a twice-weekly Physical Therapy session which has been put on hold with  the C-19 lockdown...

However, none of that is really slowing me down much.

I am sorry for the lack of communication.  There’s no excuse, even though I have been working pretty much non-stop on this huge project.

Here’s the TTSB current report - it’s kinda long - but I hope it helps:

All 23 TTSB CD tracks that require it have finally been licensed.  All 27 have been mastered.

I am still finishing up Book Two - it’s trickier than I expected, as I am writing the info re all of the tracks, plus others that I use, now that streaming make it possible to recommend them as well - for very little money - without licensing - but I think it will be very helpful for use with the CDs, along with the DVD as an aid, as well as the additional surprise item mentioned below....

I do have an unforeseen hold-up due to website hosting issues.

If all goes as planned, we will have a new host/website soon.  It will still be, but with a new design & new host. (Yay - just completed yesterday, 5-30-20!)

It will be hosting TTSB as well as GBS.  The QNs mailings (last one 14 months or so ago), which also had become quite burdensome with the mailing company we have been using, will be able to be sent directly - and much more easily, with better delivery - from the new GBS website.

I have been working hard on preparing the DVD, which I know will be vastly more useful than what I had originally planned.

I am painfully aware of how late this project is. However, this project is massively more informative than originally planned, with two books, a system log, three fully licensed CDs, a much more impacting & useful DVD, plus another big surprise item

Book One is essentially What are Sound Barriers & Why we should be aware of their effect on our music. Book Two is How To Unlock Your Music in a more powerful way.  The CDs are there to use only after reading Book Two, the DVD makes it even more useful, and the System Log enhances the solidity of the project as well as organizing future music considerations.

Believe me, with this ridiculous delay, I am driven to partially make up for it by delivering much more at this late date than was originally promised.

And FWIW - I have learned-by-doing (through RoomPlay & RoomPlay Reference sessions) a great deal re just how musically compromised 95% of all audiophile systems are, even including Get Better Sound owners - an issue that I wasn’t nearly as aware of as I am now.  Which is why the additional - yet unannounced - item will have such musical impact...

Since I have been so incompetent in estimating the size & ETA of this huge project, I know not to make any ETA guesses at this point.

Maybe the only good thing about the COVID-19 situation here is that I can not go on RoomPlay voicing sessions around North America, nor has anyone been encouraged to travel here for a RoomPlay Reference session.

Therefore, no distractions.  

My wife Pam can readily attest to the long hours of each day, as I try to complete two books, a system logbook, three CDs, and the DVD, plus another highly valuable surprise item...

AFAIK, I am still at the top of my game re sound system set-up & unlocking the music, but producing such a massive project is obviously not in my highest skill set...

Please feel free to inquire any time.  I do check e-mails more often than other types of messages.

May I ask - did you participate in the TTSB Kickstarter project, and if so, at what pledge level did you participate?  

The reason I ask is that some backers (Barrier Talk, RoomPlay Reference, & RoomPlay) did more than the TTSB package alone, and sometimes I can help them with the other part of their pledge - in fact about half of them have been done to date."

Best wishes,

Jim Smith"