top of page

Today, it is more confusing than ever to find a fault when something does not work at all or in the way you expected. All of us have had this experience, particularly with anything that relies upon software and, sometimes, firmware. I'm not going to go to that level because there is little I can teach you to fix that. Trust me, if I could, I'd have a few lessons for Subaru. Even one of my good friends turned to me after buying a new Toyota to express his utter horror that the owner's manual is over 700 pages long. I am also going to leave out networking, routers, and the internet. That's another whole can of worms.

Let's talk about audio or video products and the human interaction. What brings this up is a recent experience where I sold a consigned piece of audio after we tested it. All seemed fine until the buyer attempted to use it. Within hours of receiving it, I received a rather terse message questioning our reputation, our ethics, and a direct threat to blast us on social media unless we took it back. Well, there was no problem in doing that but, having tested it, we wanted to resolve the apparent fault. After several emails trying to understand what was happening and making a couple of suggestions of how to test it, I said to bring it in for a refund. No problem. When the customer arrived, my staff was immediately put on the defensive with the mannerisms of the customer not even aware that there was a problem.

The problem: The remote control was not working the product. It took me a couple of minutes to get to him and upon inspecting way the remote worked, I switched it from controlling satellite to controlling audio. It worked just fine. The purchaser was silent. All was good. Meanwhile, he had purchased another unit from someplace else and wanted to return it anyway. Ok, done.

What this points out to me, is the gap between understanding a product (and even the remote control) and expectations. It was the very thing that Steve Jobs was a monster over. He understood very well what he called the intuitive approach. Sadly, most products fail miserably at this. Thus, connect a printer to an Apple system and there it is. Connect a printer to a Windows system and you have to tell the system to find a printer connected to the system. Anyway, I digress. Most systems, today, are not intuitive. So, before scaling the walls with swords and ladders, make sure you understand how the product works. There are a great number of YouTube videos out there chocked full of useful tips and guides. Heck, I just used YouTube to get my wife's phone working again and, ironically, it is an Apple. But let's move on with the simple ones.

First, have you recently lost power? Kitchen appliances like stoves and microwaves are great sources for the answer. If their clocks are flashing, you've lost power. It may have been a short burst while you were away or sleeping, maybe longer. Well, power outages have the tendency to confuse audio and video products. They may turn on but nothing seems to work. Simply unplug the unit and let it set for a few minutes. I said a few minutes and I mean it. Not 10 seconds to suit your patience at the moment. Plug it back in. Often times, this clears the problem. (Now, remember, and this is the bane of automation, if power is lost, you may also need to turn the switch back on.) This is also, by the way, a common thing to do if your internet seemingly fails. Power failures are gremlins to most modern products.

Second, is the remote control even working? An easy test for this, for those of us who own Android phones, is to simply point the remote at the camera on the phone, press any button, and see if it is flashing. If it is, the remote is transmitting IR. (Most remotes use infrared to transmit signals. This will not work if you have some sort of radio transmitter like what is used on Sony PlayStations.) If it is not flashing, replace the batteries making sure that the batteries both inserted in the right direction as well as actually making contact with the spring and tabs inside. I say this because some off brand batteries have a body that keeps the button portion of the battery from actually making contact with the tab. Try again. IR remotes will flash. Sorry iPhone owners, your camera typically will not pick up IR flashes. Solution: Borrow an Android phone or have an IR test panel handy. I carried one of those in my wallet for years.

Third, is everything mechanically connected as it should be? Sometimes, there are life's intervening events which results in things becoming unplugged. Animals, children, housekeepers, you name it. Sometimes, I swear, some people's houses are haunted. So, you may be trying to control something but it is not responding with either sound or video or maybe both. This also reminds me that sometimes it may be connected properly but to a different input or output. Thus, telling it to go to A when it is connected to B can be the issue. Sometimes, service people accidently cause a cable to fall out and they guess at where it was. Of course, I am no fan of the HDMI cable connectors as they are often loose fitting and by the shear weight of the cable, fall out. Move the TV set for a better angle, they fall out. I can hear the groans now when that happens and it falls behind a cabinet of stuff.

If all else fails, then before seeking support from your local dealer (I can not help you with foreign help center calls), map out your system as best you can, note when the problem started (and any special event) and note what has happened and what you tried to resolve the problem. This will speed up the resolution process.

I would love to share more but it's hard to cram 50 years of troubleshooting experience into single blog. It's simply not possible. And that, kiddies, is why it's important to have a local dealer.


11 views0 comments

In over the nearly 40 years of Audible Elegance, I have seen my share of unfortunate mistakes made by turntable owners. I will be doing a top 10 Ten List on YouTube discussing this very subject. But, for those who like to read, I thought I would give you dibs.

The biggest mistake I see on a regular basis is that the cartridge (with stylus) is not even in the right location in the headshell. This includes both removable headshells as well as fixed. This has become particularly troublesome even on used turntables as often times the overhang gauge which was originally packed with the table has gone missing. The position of the cartridge must be exact (forward or back in the slots provided) so that the stylus properly tracks the record from the outside to the label. There are various products out there that help you in this regard but Audible Elegance has two fairly expensive (and one rare) devices to help us properly mount your cartridge.

The next common mistake is, sadly, nothing we can fix but can detect that it has happened. In short, the tonearm itself has been wrecked. This usually happens on fixed headshells but I have seen it on removable ones as well. What is the problem? That the owner attempted to mount the cartridge themselves to save money but applied so much force in one direction or another that it ends up damaging the tonearm bearings themselves. Typical tonearms use 7 micron bearings while more advanced ones can use down to 1 micron size. Stress placed on the tonearm in either downward pressure or the unresolved force of holding an nut in place while tightening the bolt or screw is another. There is no resolution other than replacement of the arm, if at all possible. I’ve flunked over 50% of the tables brought in for consignment for this very issue. Think of it as a broken tripod for a camera. The game is over. My YouTube video will have diagrams of how the force is wrecking your arm. In short, with a removable headshell, the process is slow and steady but the headshell is never fussed with while on the arm. For fixed headshells, in most cases, the arm should be removed first which makes the mounting a bit more tricky as you have both the proper overhang distance and VTA affecting that position. It’s work. Again, we have the proper tools.

Next is an old favorite. If I can not get the arm to stay down, add weight to the headshell. Yep, I’ve seen pennies, quarters, and gobs of goo place on the the headshell to get the stylus (needle) to sit down on the record and play. This is usually caused by the improper choice of a cartridge for the tonearm and, again, done by inexperience and the desire to save money. Well, two things are happening. First, likely kiss your records to hell if the force is nuts and I have seen that. At 1.7 grams, if the cartridge is designed for that tracking weight, it is putting down thousands of pounds per square inch and heating the vinyl to around 600 degrees Fahrenheit. Just imagine those numbers at 3 grams. Even if you can get the tracking weight correct, which it usually is not, then you have the inertia force of that weight way out on the end of a arm (a long stick). This additional weight greatly changes the weight the cartridge must deal with or was designed for. The compliance of the cartridge ends up being ignored and can lead to a collapse of the cantilever, particularly in moving coil cartridges.

My fourth one goes straight at reviews, the web or word of mouth. “Oh, I’ve just read or been told this and I want one.” What is often overlooked is whether or not the required geometry for tracking angle can be achieved with the combination of arm and cartridge. With cheaper turntables, there is no adjustment at the pillar of the arm and so your choice of cartridges demands a certain body – stylus height. Too much height and kiss the bass good-bye and hello treble. Too low, thump therapy and where’s the treble? Even separate arms may require the purchase of a shim to raise the arm high enough to achieve the proper tracking angle. And sometimes, you just can not get the arm low enough to meet the needs of the cartridge. This is, actually, the most common issue I see when people bring in tables for a new cartridge.

The last is a killer. I want to spend a lot of money on a cartridge because that’s the most important thing on a turntable. Absolutely wrong. Why? The better the cartridge, the better it is in picking up all the other defects of the table you are using. It’s like using a video camera on a broken tripod in the middle of an earthquake. It may be a fine cartridge but the fact remains you will not get the full benefit of its abilities because of everything else that is going wrong. So, if you use a cheap camera in place of the Leica, you still get the smear image but at least you didn’t pay thousands of dollars to get the same results. Conversely, a very cheap cartridge, allowed to perform properly on a good turntable, will bury an expensive cartridge on an inferior turntable. I’ve done many demonstrations of that in my store crushing a $2,000 moving coil cartridge with a $50 moving magnet one.

Hopefully you have not done any of these but if you are buying a used turntable, well, you never know about the tonearm bearings. There are ways of checking that in some cases. Again, subscribe to our YouTube channel here. But honestly, we have the proper tools to do most turntables. Most times its not an instant oil change so be prepared to leave your table. Again, as always, it’s your money. But remember, the dog is cheap, the food’s expensive. Think about your records.


29 views0 comments

Updated: Apr 1

There are times and moments that I put aside my thoughts about audio, video, home theater and accessories. For while those things can bring you temporary and fleeting enjoyment, none compares in the slightest to the Gift of Life itself.

There are times where unfamiliar families become united through both joy and grief. You see, my wife was one of the very fortunate in this world to receive such a gift, a heart.

At one time, my wife Debbie suffered through a genetic heart disease known as HCM. (It is finally getting the attention it truly deserves, the medical condition known as HCM or Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. I cannot thank Lisa Salberg and her organization 4HCM.ORG enough for both the care and guidance through all of this including the transplant events.) Eventually, even medical intervention by the Cleveland Clinic could not overcome what had happened over time to her heart and the only option left was a heart transplant. Essentially, for every 10 people who need one, only 1 is so fortunate. My wife is one of the fortunate. Of course, several things occur simultaneously when the time for a transplant occurs, and without any warning. At one end is the hope and dreams of continued life while at the other end there are families saying their good-byes to a loved one. This happens for other organs too but the heart is the cultural-spiritual existence of all living things. Transplant recipients then run the gauntlet of survival (it is not a cure like plugging in a new battery) but an exchange of one set of problems for another and, well, Deb has had quite a share of those. Near death, six times is our current count. But, there's another part too. It is the recognition by the recipient that another's life came to an end to continue theirs. There's a sort of guilt/remorse to it for a family unknown. Now, UNOS, who handles the movement of such organs does provide a narrow path to contact the donor family. However, you must wait one year before you can reach out. It goes through UNOS who knows who. If the donor family declines to respond, that's pretty much the end of communications. It must be this way as some donor families do not wish to relive those painful moments and good-byes. Then, there are magic moments. Debbie was so very fortunate 6 months after her transplant to have the donor family reach out. The conversations began. These past few days Debbie and I were honored to have the mother visit us and spend time in our home. The first meeting at the airport was a powerful moment. You see, Deb now had the heart of her young son who sadly died in a tragic event. While Deb and I celebrated the Gift of Life Thanksgiving Day 2020, at the other end was the closing of a life that day as well. We were blessed to share life together and to experience that moment that no great philosopher had ever considered. We have to blaze new paths on our own. After a few days with us, it came time for her to return home. Then, came the next magic moment. A moment few get to see let alone experience. We shared the moment when the mother's desire was fulfilled to hear her son's heart beat in Debbie. I can not speak for what both emotionally felt and it would be a great injustice to even attempt it. But I am letting you see the moment of their first meeting and a moment when the mother could hear her son's heart. It is, as best as I can describe, a living legacy from her son.

It is moments like these that should help you understand why UNOS has the banner Donate Life and ask people to become organ donors in the event of their pending death for which no amount of medical intervention can overcome. I hope you also now understand why I have a search going for a Dean Exotica guitar which is posted on the Audible Elegance YouTube videos. You see, her son played it and, most unfortunately, someone decided it needed to be stolen. It remains my hope that I can, at least, with your assistance, recover the guitar and return it to her as a part of his life and a token our gratitudes.

In any event, please do consider donating life. It is, in the end, far greater than anything that will ever be done by Audible Elegance. You, alone, can do it.


31 views0 comments
bottom of page