How I Do It -
It's Mostly About Noise
"Within the structure of music, humanity lives in the shades of silence."
Just like written music, where the notes on the page only tell a part of the story, your system's components can only offer a potential result. What makes the music special, not just black notes on a page, is the human element and the interpretation of those notes. An audio system isn't human but provides interpretation through its technical "ability" to decide how much and when or when not to make sound. Each component has its job and characteristics of how it does that job, just like musicians. And like a group of musicians, it must be assembled and optimized to maximize each component's strengths within a system context. The system can easily become a noisy mess without organizing and best utilizing those abilities.
Unlike that beautifully engineered and perfectly tuned sports car in your garage, the components of your home audio system are NOT explicitly engineered to work together—they need an expert constructor as well. The trouble is, just like assembling your sports car, it's no simple project.
Modern audio components are engineered to be quiet devices with low distortion. But no matter how much you pay, your audio system is a disparate collection of equipment. Each piece is isolated. Most equipment designers are so focused on their area of expertise that they often ignore the integrated whole. To equipment designers, AC power, relative location, equipment interaction, microphonics, and room acoustics are, generally speaking, somebody else's problems. An engineer once told me, "it's the other guy's job to keep his noise out of my component." And to a degree, he is correct. We do not have control over what component makes what kind of noise. But we have some control over how much noise is created just in how the system gets power and how it is connected.
The interaction between these components will make — or, more often, break — your home audio system. It's not that your components can't function properly. It's that the variables involved will prevent it from doing so.
Eliminating extra noise and distortion requires an expert understanding of an astonishingly broad range of fundamental concepts.
The Four-Step Program