Wild anecdote on variables in a listening room / studio (from Darko)

I wish my ears were this good! It's a wonder so many recordings sound as good as they do (and why many don't).

“Everything matters.” So spoke multiple Grammy-Award winning recording engineer Leslie Ann Jones, in between sessions at Skywalker Sound. While working on the Cypress String Quartet’s final recording, things just weren’t sounding the same as they had the day prior, and it was a mystery as to why. The players and equipment were identical. Skywalker’s adjustable acoustic system – where the room itself can be tuned for more or less reverb – hadn’t been touched. The players themselves were in the same exact positions, as precisely marked with tape on the floor. Still, something was off.

Eventually, a surprising discovery was made. The chairs used by the performers had been swapped out that night, for whatever reason, and replaced with identical models from the same batch. One chair was discovered to have a different angle to it – likely being bent due to regular use – which changed the posture of that particular performer, and thus the relationship of their instrument relative to that of other players. We’re talking mere inches here, at most. And that’s all it took. The matched pair of Neumann M149 microphones used for this recording were able to clearly pick up on the tonal impact of this seemingly minor change, and the skilled ears behind the console noticed it right away. The offending chair was disposed of, recording continued, and the breathtaking result is free from any incongruity – a suitable exclamation point at the end of a long musical career for the Cypress String Quartet.

Everything matters. It’s a concept also applicable to the reproduction of music. And used wisely – no magic rocks or clocks need apply – I think it makes a whole lot of sense.

Makes one wonder what earthly reason there could possibly be for someone to swap out the studio chairs with identical models from the same batch...
Which brings me to one of my favorite topics.  Do you want to be the guy who complains about a new chair, like the Princess and the Pea or do you want to be a listener with a music system you enjoy hour after hour?
I should have expected snark ;)

If you’ve read Jim Smith’s book, "Get Better Sound", he discusses the importance of the room, and what a big part proper tuning and acoustic treatment of the listening room makes in getting the most out of one’s hifi system. People like the brilliant Leslie Ann Jones have better ears for and more knowledge about good sound reproduction than I ever will. I can’t hear what they hear.

As an audiophile for more than 30 years, with a limited budget, I’m frustrated by all the snake oil out there or things that may get you an incremental improvement of fractions of a percent (don’t flame me, but $10,000 speaker cables, or the $72,000 Soullution DAC just reviewed (by Valin) in the new AbSound...really? I guess if I had >$500k to spend.)

So, I am always looking for biggest bang for the buck, and next will be really properly tuning my room. FWIW. I am always looking for superbly recorded music too. One gold standard for me are those by Water Lily, like Ry Cooder's exquisite "A Meeting by the River." (mics and gear by Tim de Paravicini, iirc). 
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I find it patently hilarious, that you’re, "frustrated by all the snake oil out there or things", that you’re convinced have to cost five figures, when you’ve not yet so much as tuned your room.      That means; you’ve not yet even heard, of what your current system is capable.      AND; that’s whether you’ve tried anything that can be described as an upgrade/tweak, or not.                                I seldom see much of anything recommended on AudiogoN, that costs anywhere near the figures you’ve mentioned.      YET; many of us have experienced the improvements in reproduction/presentation, such purchases have offered.         How much more than, "an incremental improvement of fractions of a percent", do you suppose replacing that chair had, on the overall sound in that recording session?      What, exactly, is your metric for, "fractions of a percent"?          I’ve owned ’A Meeting By The River", since 1993.       The excellent attention to detail, paid during the recording session, has become more obvious with every tweak/improvement, made to my system.      YES, everything matters!         btw; Skywalker Sound uses cables manufactured by Wireworld and MIT (you know: snake oil cables).    Not certain about Water Lily.
Rodman, I'm glad I amused you.  In fact I have decided that I need to do EXACTLY THAT (tune my new-ish listening room) before I spend any more money because my system is decent. In re: rave reviews of a $72,000 DAC and a $3,000 power cord...call me skeptical, even if I had that kind of money. I don’t think any hobby illustrates the Law of Diminishing Returns more than hi-fi. I like to torture myself reading the recommended components guide from Ab Sound, speakers and monoblock sets that cost in the hundreds of thousands. I have heard some incredible and incredibly expensive setups at the hi-fi shows, and they did sound amazing. If I had Lottery money it would open up a world of choices that might make me crazy. Instead I just try and focus on best bang-for-the-buck within my budget, and then forget about gear and go back to just enjoying the music which is the end goal for me anyway. I do have a several dream systems in my head, but they would cost less than that $72,000 DAC. I don't begrudge anyone who can afford systems I can only dream of.

"I wish my ears were this good! It's a wonder so many recordings sound as good as they do (and why many don't).

“Everything matters.” So spoke multiple Grammy-Award winning recording engineer Leslie Ann Jones, in between sessions at Skywalker Sound."                   When you're done with component selection, room treatments and guaranteeing adequate/clean power: trust the ears, minds and training, of those that you hold in high regard (mentioned above).       They have found upgraded cables, an important factor in their efforts toward better sound.       Don't hamper your system's potential, by ignoring them.      Enjoy the journey and your jams!

Did anyone click the link? The whole point of this sappy story is to build up the writers cred as he is about to review a..... $399 power supply.  

Oh for the days when Jonathan Scull would tell us about his golden ears detecting the sound being off when the cleaning lady put his rug back with the fibers going the wrong way, the screws on his CD player case were over-tightened. They must all lined up, but not too tight, don't you know. Those were the days.   

Back then, not only was the BS more entertaining, we were smart enough to see it for the BS that it was- and not get sucked into thinking it was anything more than pretentious prose. Not any more. Total fail guys. Total fail.