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Jim Smith. That's about the most common English name conceivable. The antithesis of distinctive. Tom Jones. So his manual needed bite. Sting. That's a perfectly neutral non-confrontational choice. Good sound. Not ambitious enough though. That choice nearly suggests a secret society of sorts, a membership of initiates. You're either in or out. Too judgmental, that. Next. Now that implies action and gain. It's not about abstractions, opinions or Masonic hand shakes. It's about practice and getting some. Marvin Gaye. Not just good sound. Better! It can only mean better than what you currently have - no matter what that might be.

There's more. Cold conviction. "I will show you how!" Naturally, like any other self-help manual, it's no good just reading about it. You gotta implement the advice. Experiment. It's a call to action. That's exactly what Jim Smith's book is about. Available through his website, you have an iron-clad 90-day satisfaction guarantee. If you're not happy with your return on the investment, get your money back. Here's the thing though. For $44.50 (add $20 for hard cover) + shipping, your expenditure will equal that of two CDs. You can't buy a decent set of interconnects for that. Even if you could, would it outperform what you already have to make a significant improvement?

The whole focus of GetBetterSound is not about swapping out hardware. It's about getting 100% satisfaction from the components you already paid for (a long time ago in many cases). In Jim's estimation, most audiophiles barely hit 50 percent on the satisfaction index. Many in fact hear an even smaller fraction of their system's true performance potential. Sad, ain't it? So what would Smith know about any of that? Not to worry, his resume is solid. His website lists all the credentials you'll want to appreciate that this man knows his stuff. He's made a career out of it in fact.

And I've read the book. It's a deceptively easy read, put in very plain language. Even if you've been there, done that and tossed the cigar as a hard-boiled audiophile, you will come across at least a handful of tips that'll be news to you. If you're like most audiophiles -- hardware-centric -- chances are there'll be a lot you have never considered before. That's why this manual is a no-brainer. It's a how-to bible for audio dummies, no offense implied.

Unbeknownst to me -- I knew about this project years ago when Jim began to expand upon his original 31 Secrets To Better Sound concept -- the final website references a short column I wrote for Positive Feedback Online. The core point of that column was to encourage readers to hire a setup
consultant to help dial in their systems. With this reference setup manual, ex Avantgarde-USA man Jim Smith has replaced himself (and all associated hourly consultancy and travel fees) with a paper tome. That gets us back at its self help nature. Were you a big spender, you still could fly Jim (or someone like him) out to your ranch and watch him do his stuff. Sip a sherry and watch the other guy work up a sweat trying to solve the lackluster status of your rig. But let's say you were a tight wad. Or simply careful. Doesn't it still make sense to get yourself professional advice? You then simply roll up your own shirt sleeves to get busy. You could always get a mirror if you just must watch somebody else work.

The concept is solid. There's no way to lose. Naturally, not every one of the 200 tips is equally substantial. A few are fluffier. Others are opinions you might debate. Some simply try to get you to think differently about the same old stuff. But the focus and meat of the manual are very hands-on practical. The leit motif could be something out of another book: "Do and ye shall reap the rewards, each to the extent they apply themselves."

I don't think there's been something exactly like this in our industry before. Not many would have the necessary experience. Fewer of those would have the writing skills to present trickier concepts simply. Even fewer would be inclined to give it all away. Not that $44.50 is exactly free. But it's pretty damn close for decades worth of hands-on expertise condensed into 270+ pages. In short, it's the proverbial slam dunk.
Jim Smith replies:

Dear Srajan,
Just a quick note.

You nailed it.

There are various levels of depth in the manual, even including a few lighter-weight tips for newbies.

And a few of the think pieces may provoke a different viewpoint. But that's fine. Just means we're all thinking about it!

Audiophiles already have some very good books available that tell how things work. Some are so thorough, that they are almost encyclopedic in nature.

This manual has an entirely different objective. It's purposefully written in a straightforward conversational style, so as to make the point without a lot of head scratching on the part of the reader - the same idea applies to the the illustrations.

Get Better Sound is not so much about how things work as it is about how to make them work better. But to do so will require a bit of what I call sweat equity.

Best regards,
Jim Smith

GetBetterSound website