From My Clients From The Press
My clients are the life blood of my business. Thank you, each and every one, for allowing me to come into your home or studio to work with your audio system to help make it exactly what you want it to be, and hopefully more than you thought possible. I'd love to share my experiences with them as there are lessons to be learned from each of their systems, but my respect for their (your) privacy dictates otherwise. That said, I can (shamelessly) include their thoughts about their experience with me. Below are some thoughtful and kind words sent to me by a few of the folks I've visited and worked with.
Carlos M - Brownsville, TX
A Visit from Stirling Trayle
I’ve had the pleasure of hosting Stirling in my home to tune my system on two different occasions.
The first was after purchasing a pair of Rockport Lyras. And the second, in order to compare and decide on various cables.
In both cases, it was a distinct pleasure. Not only because Stirling is a consummate gentleman and professional, but also because of his unbridled passion for life and music, and for getting every last ounce of musical perfection out of a system.
I had the opportunity to reflect after his visit, and reached the conclusion that, even though I was really careful, I did manage to learn a few things.
Lesson 1. It’s just a pleasure to watch Stirling work his magic.
He has developed a unique process for optimizing systems that is simply unparalleled not only for how he does it, but also in terms of the before and after positive change.
I’ve come to the conclusion that this is due to three reasons.
First because of his vast knowledge and experience in tuning systems all over the world. This has enabled him to develop benchmarks and a reproducible process that would not be possible otherwise.
Second, his indefatigable discipline and commitment to squeezing every last drop of sound quality from a system regardless of how long or how much hard work it takes. “Good enough” is simply not in his vocabulary.
And finally his passion; not just for for music, but a passion for finding art in every aspect of his experience.
Lesson 2. It’s the “Setup Stupid”
Unless and until you see it and hear it with your own eyes, you won’t believe how critical proper system and speaker setup is to getting a true measure of what any speaker can deliver.
Yes we all know that speaker setup is important. But not to the scale that Stirling takes it. I’ve personally seen, in my room, and with my speakers, how even minute (millimeter) differences in the positioning of speakers, can make significant (non-linear) differences in how they perform.
And the optimal position of even the same speaker (as defined by 6 measurements: x, y, z axes and rotations about each axis), will depend on the electronics and cabling in the same room. I wouldn’t have believed it without hearing it first hand. But simply switching out different cables, required a different optimal speaker positioning to fully extract the best sound. And the difference between the before and after levels of performance was not subtle.
Lesson 3. Hiring a professional to set up your system/speakers is absolutely the best bargain in audio.
And Stirling is unconditionally the best there is.
If you have a system whose total investment exceeds anywhere north of $50k, and perhaps even lower, I would urge you to run, not walk, to Stirling. It’s simply priceless.
Greg H - San Jose, CA
"This is a shout out for Stirling Trayle.
After up grading my speakers, and analog front end I was at a loss on who I should get to set up and install the new gear. Putting a call through to the speaker manufacturer, it was recommended that I contact Stirling Trayle.
After checking out his web site I was sure I had found what I had been looking for.
Stirling is meticulous and thorough, far exceeding my expectations. I now have not just a stereo but a music making machine. Hiring Stirling for the job has transformed my listening experience. I recommend Stirling Trayle to anyone who is a music lover and enjoys the hobby.
Rowland C - Los Altos, CA
“`The experience working with Stirling and the effect he has had on my stereo have been revelatory. From the beginning, he understood what I meant when I complained my system sounded “earthbound,” and went about addressing that exact problem through his combination of meticulous and painstaking techniques and procedures, as well as his grasp and sheer feel for how music should come across to the listener. The sound and music I enjoy in my listening room have been transformed by Stirling – I can’t really compare the improvement to an upgrade or addition of a component, but rather to having a brand new optimized system in place of the old one. Compared to how much money I have spent in the past on that upgrade or new component, the return on investment from working with Stirling is almost ridiculous.”
Niphon W - Bangkok, Thailand
Mr. Stirling Trayle has opened my new world of speaker set up. He spend only a few hours on ALEXX to make it perfect while I need to spend one whole year on my old Alexia. It's an honor to welcome a world leading person in this field. Thank you every much. I can enjoy my system faster than ever. ## pre VTL 7.5 series III power Hovland Statos Mono-bloc Meridian Ultra DAC Cable Odin 2 ## Bangkok Thailand
Derek S -
St. Colomb de Lauzan
"Not wishing to sound too grovelly, but I am experiencing so much more emotion from my music...goosebumps and the odd tear! It hasn't ticked those boxes for a very long time...Thanks once again.
Derek S -
St. Colomb de Lauzan
"Audio Systems Optimized:
A personal testamonial."
"Stirling Trayle's services don't come cheaply, but in the context of your audio system, I think it would be impossible to buy such an effective upgrade for anything close to his fee amount. He has worked miracles on my system, which I thought was pretty damned good, and has amazed both my wife and myself with what he has been able to extract from our music collectiom. Long loved tracks which have been played to death have had a whole new lease of life breathed into them, greater details revealed and some lost emotion connections restored. His working methods are impeccable, methodical to the nth degree and achieve exactly what he states is his intention is to achieve with the system which he has been entrusted to him to enhance. Everything is carried out with a calm, logical approach, devoid of any hi-fi "hocus pocus" or "snake oil" type remedy. His explanations for the actions he is carrying out make good solid sense and are delivered without any feeling of "I know best" or that he is trying to pre-condition your expectations of the results. His passion for the work he is doing is self-evident even before he comes to your house, but the skill set that he brings alongside this passion make him one of a very, very small set of people, possibly the only person, who can marry the experience, knowhow, and ability to implement these elements to the benefit of his client in the way he does. I could go on eulogising about this guy and what he can achieve with a hi-fi system, but really just want to say thanks to him for what he has done here and state that I can't recommend him strongly enough to anybody hovering around the idea of taking up his company's services but may perhaps be feeling that the improvements may not be worthwhile enough to justify the cost or can't quite get their head around the type of service that Stirling offers...please take it from me, based upon my experience, you haven't heard your audio system until he's optimized it:"
Selena F - Quebec, Canada
"An unexpected slap in the face!"
"My husband and I are both huge music fans but he’s also an audiophile. His sound system is something he talks about on a daily basis and he’s constantly working on finding ways to improve his sound by buying expensive cables, weird gadgets for his turntable, reading magazines etc etc.. (sounds familiar?!) Well, when he talked about hiring Mr. Trayle to set up his room all over again in order to improve his sound I was sceptical... ‘’How can this man make it THAT much better than you did’’ I asked?
Well, after two days of him working his magic, I sat down in front of the speakers and there it came; an unexpected slap in the face!
I was blown away...
Stirling is not only of great company, he masters his craft to perfection! He’s professional, hard working and worth every penny. After he left, I spent more time than my husband in his sound room! I was (and still am) rediscovering all my favourites artists. The details in the recordings I could not hear before now make listening to music more than an experience; it’s an adventure.
I can now better appreciate my husbands passion and enjoy spending more time with him in his sound room.
I highly recommend Mr. Trayle to any music lover, wether you are an audiophile or not!"
Christos M - Nicosia, Cyprus
"I invited Stirling over to help me set up my Wilson Audio Alexandria XLFs, after we met at the Munich High end show in May.
A hard and efficient worker by nature, Stirling started dismantling my system the first day cleaning all contacts and connections and checking for loose ends on various components. Once the system was put back together, although the speakers were still on wheels and not properly set up a noticeable improvement was heard: noise was eliminated.
The next day was spend taking measurements of the room and positioning the speakers and then going through Stirling’s various reference files and songs. He has a unique and impressive way of setting up the speakers. Although I am not so technically versed to understand how it works the important things is that it does work and in fact it works extremely well.
That night we had invited over some friends to listen to the system. Two of them are ardent music lovers and the third is a trumpet player. They were all very impressed.
The third day was spent make fine adjustments and fine tuning the system. Stirling’s technique is unbelievable, almost magic!
The net result is that I had never heard my system sounding so good. I can now enjoy my music listening at natural levels and no longer having to think about settings, speaker positioning or even that the system is there at all.
I am grateful to Stirling for helping get the best out of my system. I have decided that I will invite Stirling over in regular intervals to check in on my systems and make any adjustments and improvements that may become necessary, but also to enjoy with him a bottle of wine
As one of my friends put it : “Stirling has done a sterling job..”
Fred V - San Francisco, CA
"There’s nothing more dispiriting for an audiophile than having gear you know is great, but that doesn’t gel as a system in your room. After spending weeks myself trying to diagnose, measure, and optimize the placement of my speakers, I was starting to give up hope. Then Stirling transformed my system to a degree that seemed like magic, applying his patient expertise. Months later, the system still sounds fantastic, and I’m 100% certain I could never have managed it without Stirling’s assistance. The best money I’ve spent on audio in a long, long time."
Mick T - Dorset, UK
"I'm really enjoying the sound system since it's been "optimized" and am putting in some big shifts on the sofa getting to grips with the new dynamics. I've been blown away with some of the stuff that I've listened to, music that I thought I knew well has taken on new shape and sometimes sounds like it been re-recorded…
I played a Booker T & the MG's album last weekend and it sounded sensational. Last night I re-discovered the magic of Sam Cooke – incredible how great some of the old stuff sounds!"
Ed F - Redwood City, CA
"After 40 years in the hobby, I met Stirling 12 months ago (July 2014). He optimized the audio system I had created over the last 18yrs. When he was done, my friend and I looked at each other and said “Wow! This is what high end is all about!.” A sense that musicians were playing a venue and we were there. Palpability, cohesiveness, harmonics, timber all coming together synergistically. Since then, whenever I listen to my system and music I get goosebumps.
They just appear without notice.
Working with Stirling has been the most fun, greatest investment and revelation I’ve ever experienced in audio. Stirling is passionate; has attention to detail and is meticulous. He’s reliable and communicative. He has a gift and I am forever grateful to have met him and know him.
Highest recommendation possible."
Andrew S - Chicago, IL
"Stirling: The change you brought about in Ed's system was nothing short of absolutely astounding. I have always liked his system but have on occasion found myself musing whether the difference between the $16,000 or so I've spent on mine (okay, those were 1980 and 1990's dollars) and the $160k or so he has in his was really worth it or lost somewhere in the land of diminishing returns. For the first time ever, I heard a system worthy of what he's spent and worthy of the reputation of all the equipment in the signal path. I know there will always be changes and tweaks that can be made but I can't remember ever hearing a more balanced, musical system (or quiet) at any of the shows or showrooms I've visited ever. So congratulations, well done and keep up the great work."
Arnie S - Austin, TX
"The Results of the System Optimization that Stirling Trayle performed on my system.
Stirling arrived at my home on the evening of Wednesday December 12, 2018 and the visit was planned to last until mid-day on December 16, 2018.
On the first evening we further discussed in great detail the process that Stirling uses and how that process would be applied in his optimization approach for my system. We had dinner and did some listening to give Stirling a better reference point of my system.
On Thursday morning (12/13) Stirling got to work. The first order of business was for Stirling to change the front panel glass of my now upgraded CH Precision M1 mono block amplifiers to reflect their new M1.1 status (the actual capacitor upgrade was previously done by Stirling on behalf of CH Precision). Once that work was completed and tested, Stirling was ready to start the optimization phase. He told me that he really wanted to start by tearing down my system completely. His focus of this step is to lower the noise floor of the system as much as possible and that this is really a key first step of his process. Doing this allows him to be even more effective during the speaker placement phase as he can hear further into the music coming from the system. It involved removing all of the components from their racks, removing all the cabling, removing all of the footers, any necessary repositioning of the component racks, etc. and then rebuilding and re cabling the entire system. This included cleaning all of the component contacts with Deoxit, straightening all of the cables, properly routing and dressing all of the cables, checking all of the dedicated outlets in my system for secure and proper connections, applying silver contact paste to the wire leads for the outlets, tightening and leveling all of the component racks, leveling all of the components when they were placed back on the racks, tightening all screws of the component cases and insuring that all of the Telos GNR ground wires were connected to the proper component ground screws. This was a very long and labor intensive process that Stirling completed around 2:30 am. We then turned the system back on to insure everything was working properly. We left the system running for the remainder of the evening to let things settle in.
On Friday morning (12/14) we started by Stirling asking me listen to the system to get my reaction to the result of the previous day’s efforts. While I expected there to be some amount of improvement, I was surprised by the magnitude and breadth of what I heard. There was an easy to hear lower noise floor, better imaging balance between the left and right channels (a problem that had been nagging at me for the past 6 weeks or so), a more relaxed and open sound and to put it simply, the system was now just more musically engaging. I was impressed to say the least. And the really fun part was about to begin with the repositioning of my two 900 pound Rockport Arrakis speakers and two stacks each of three REL G1 sub bass systems!
Stirling started right in on working with the Rockport Arrakis speakers. First he worked exclusively with the left speaker getting it where he felt it sounded best (this took about 10 hours) and then later on Friday evening he started on the right speaker. Stirling worked on the right speaker for about 3 hours and got it close to the correct position before calling it a day (it was now 12:30 am – another very long day).
Stirling was back at it on Saturday (12/15) morning and worked on the right Arrakis speaker till around noon before he felt he had both speakers positioned correctly and he asked me to do some critical listening to be sure I liked what the system now sounded like. I listened for about an hour and I was amazed by what I was hearing. The system was not just better – it had an undergone a transformation that I wasn’t prepared for. It’s really not possible for me to describe what I was hearing, but suffice it to say it just sounded like music – effortless, organic, powerful, flowing, dynamic and alive are the words that came into my head. And yet there was still more to come as Stirling was now going to work on my REL G1 sixpack sub bass system to integrate them with the newly positioned Arrakis.
Stirling worked on the REL G1 sixpack for about 4 hours and then asked me to come and listen. As I listened, he adjusted crossover points and gain settings and he wanted me to let him know what I felt sounded best to me. After about 4 or 5 changes I told him what I thought was best and he agreed with my selection. I then sat back and did some listening with the same tracks I had played previously. With the REL G1 six pack now playing with the Arrakis the system was even further transformed. The REL’s were so well integrated with the Arrakis its as if there actually inside of the Arrakis cabinets. The foundation of the music was absolutely incredible and those same thoughts came back into my head as I listened - effortless, organic, powerful, flowing, dynamic and alive. I played one cut – from the album Silver by Fourplay called Silverado. Stirling hadn’t heard this before but we were both mesmerized by what we were hearing. After the track had finished Stirling said – this system does everything so well but on top of all of that – it really “boogies”. I had to agree.
Stirling did some final tuning of the system on Sunday morning (12/16) and then headed out. All I can say is that what Stirling accomplished is nothing short of amazing. He worked tirelessly and the days were very long especially when you are pushing around those 900 pound speakers but the result was spectacular and well beyond my expectations.”
Tom B - Jenner, CA
"Your optimization of the SME table/arm/cartridge and speaker placement has allowed everything to come together beautifully; the music, from all sources, now flows into the room like never before and directly to the soul. I very much appreciate your willingness to go the extra mile to get the best sound possible from my system.
It is a joy.
Bea L -
Owner, VTL Amplifiers, Inc
"I listened to the system some more this weekend. Just cannot believe how the system can reproduce the female voices so well. I was listening to Elly Ameling’s Schubert Lieder LP. Her beautiful voice soaring into this fine arc so delicate and so expressive – not a bit of harshness from the system – to be able to achieve this with the Wilson speakers is not easy. They are not known for delicacy.
Then I was having fun blasting away on Wagner’s operas Tristan and Isolde on CD and Lohengrin on LPs. You have to hear these trumpets and brass in Lohrengrin – the rising notes coming out with lightening speed and even though I don’t regard myself as a crazy audiophile, I have to say it was so much fun just to know that the system is capable of tracking to this level of speed.
I have not heard of any other system that has this level of speed and stability at the same time.
It was like test driving a Ferrari or Lamborghini, isn’t it?"
Mark P - San Francisco, CA
"When Stirling came to my home to evaluate my system, I was expecting that he would be able to make some modest improvements to my set-up, but was skeptical of substantial change. I have a good size room with a hifi I put together with care. Avalon Isis speakers driven by VAC electronics with Clearaudio and Meridian front ends sit in a loft like living room/dinning room/kitchen space. I thought I had the system pretty much dialed in with the help of some professionals, but always thought I could get a bigger soundstage. My room configuration is a little odd and asymmetrical, so I was curious if my speaker placement was optimal.
Stirling came in, asked some questions about my listening habits and concerns, asked me to play some music I liked at a volume that was typical, and then made an initial evaluation. He said that he liked what he had heard, but in a quite understated way, suggested that there was more to hear from my system if I would give him that day to work on it. I gave him the go ahead, and as I said, expected there would be some modest improvement.
What I got at the end of a day of Stirling's work, was not a modest improvement. What I got was a new stereo and a new listening experience. The soundstage did improve, but not in a subtle way. It now extends well beyond the speakers and goes deeper. More surprising, is how much more palpable and exciting the presentation is while at the same time appearing more at ease and fluid. Every sonic category is improved--bass extension, inner detail etc. In short, listening is a more beautiful and involving experience.
Stirling spent the day measuring, listening, and moving my speakers in very small increments. HIs process was fascinating to watch. It was painstaking, deliberate and organized as Stirling was able to translate what he was hearing into small physical repositionings of the speakers. At the end of the day, Stirling moved my speakers about 8" further back away from the listening position and about 18" further apart with less toe in. He also spent a great deal of time adjusting the height of the speakers by tiny increments. He, of coarse, has the precise measurements down to a sixteenth of an inch in a report.
Finally, Stirling is a pleasure to work with. He is passionate about his work and is tireless in trying to achieve the best sound possible. He had some ideas for additional small improvements, but was not trying to sell me anything. He recommended a different spike set for the speakers, which I purchased on line. When I got them, Stirling came back, installed them, and then made more adjustments. His small adjustments, once again, paid big dividends. I cannot recommend Stirling more highly. He is easy and fun to work with. He combines art and science to produce magical results. My system has never sounded better, and I can't remember a single purchase that has been as significant as his work in my home. Anyone wondering if there is more to hear from his or her system should give Stirling a call.
Rune E - North Carolina
"Stirling was very diligent listening carefully to my preferences to understand my music tastes, goals for enjoyment, and any priorities should they be needed for sound trade offs. His process of improvement
focused on methodical adjustments to the whole system minding the last
little detail, but only to items permitted by our discussions. To watch my system's performance being optimized step by step as he worked and
interacted with me was simply exhilarating. When he was done, not only was I completely satisfied with the performance, but finally felt free to enjoy the music more fully without concerns for whether my system was operating at maximum potential or not."
Dan L - Montreal, Canada
"The best analogy I can make is Stirling is a professional race car driver to a sports car, you will never see the performance of your sound system until a professional optimizes it!
I met Stirling a while back at a local audio show while he was a relationship manager for an audio speaker distributor. At that time I had some issues with the speakers which needed addressed and the fact that he was present gave me a forum to communicate my problem. While conversing with Stirling he asked me if I minded if he came over to set up my speakers after the show was over to which I emphatically agreed. Previously an audio dealer friend of mine had told me about Stirling’s credential, someone for which I have a lot of respect for. As a measure of information my speakers were set up by my selling dealer, placement was adequate and probably better than average although I had the nagging feeling they weren’t at their full potential, probably a feeling shared by many if not all audiophiles. But I didn’t know and I certainly could not do any better than what the selling dealer had done. Interesting to think that oftentimes we end up buying new gear while not having optimally set up the gear we already have! Anyways Stirling spent 5 hours non-stop optimizing my speakers which brought them from a good speaker which I would have replaced in a few years time due to some sound deficiencies to a definite keeper. Of note, they were not optimized to Stirling complete liking due to a defect in the speaker base which would require parts from the manufacturer. While he was optimizing I asked Stirling what he was trying to do, his answer simply was “to make the room disappear”. I was flabbergasted by what came out of the speakers; it was so natural I couldn’t believe they were the same speaker I had bought. I really felt I was listening to what the speaker’s designer had in mind when he designed them. Before set up they were very good now they are state of the art! Now remember Stirling stills fells they are not optimal to his ear, I can’t really tell but now that I have the parts I can’t wait for him to come do his magic again.
He then took what little time he had left prior to his flight to optimize my cartridge. Again what an improvement he did in 1 hour. I have since kept in contact with Stirling and he has been very kind in debunking many myth in high end audio, showing me how to improve my sound system and relay his expertise in layman’s word. He also showed me some quick and inexpensive fix to common problems and quick phone diagnostic of issues I have had since. Overall Stirling has a wealth of knowledge that is probably surpassed by few if any in the industry; one telling tale is that many manufacturers approach him from time to time.
Although we are a continent apart Stirling will be by my house in the near future as I am now fully aware of “Stirling’s Touch”, I also know that no investment in components can improve sound the way optimization can. After he passes by I will be able to say my audio journey is complete for a long time! So do as I do and think of Stirling the next time you want to bring your system to the next level, no component upgrade will do better even if you spend a heavy bundle. In closing the best measure of someone performance is repeat business which I am, but better is when one of my good audiophile friends wants to have his system optimized too after seeing what Stirling has done to my system."
Larry T - Orinda, CA
"Stirling has set up two of my turntables, each with two arms and cartridges. First, I have to say that my TT system has never sounded better. Stirling spent the better part of one whole day setting up each of the TT's and the arm and cartridges. Both are VPI TT and the each had a stereo and mono cartridge mounted on separate arm wands. He first got a sense of the kind of music I listen to and then spent some time listening to my system before starting to adjust the cartridges. For each TT he worked on both the arm itself, making sure it was properly working, and made adjustments to the various arm mechanisms. He started with the different gross and fine adjustments for the stereo cartridge first, (Lyra Skala on my VPI HRX TT with VPI 12.6 arm, and Soundsmith Zephyr II on my VPI Classic 3 with 3D Arm). It took several iterations of the different cartridge settings until he honed in on the best sound. He then asked me to sit in and listen to what my reactions were and whether additional adjustments needed to be made.
He even spent the time to teach me how to adjust the VTA on the VPI arms and what to listen for as small changes were made in the VTA settings. The mono cartridges were easier to do (Miyajima Zero in both cases).
Stirling's services are not inexpensive. However, considering the investment I have made in TT and cartridges, it is well worth the price to be getting the most out of them, something I could not do on my own.
In addition, Stirling is a very nice guy - going the extra mile to make sure the job is well done. After he was done, I received a detailed sheet of the various adjustments made and the settings he ended with, including recommendations for VTA settings for different weight records (regular,180gm, etc)."