I recently had Brian Walsh come to my home and setup my phono components: turntable, two arms, and two cartridges. The table is a VPI Classic Signature, the arms both VPI 10 inch 3D printed arms (one with Nordost wiring and one with VPI's standard wire), and the cartridges are a Transfiguration Proteus and a newly procured Lyra Olympos built in a double layer X-coil configuration. I didn't trust my trembly old hands and poor skills to mount and adjust it. I would have been devastated if I destroyed it.
So I called Brian, who arrived at my house on Saturday morning with his setup tools in hand. The main ones he uses are an Acoustical Systems SMARTractor, Dr. Feickert Analogue Adjust+ Pro software, and a USB microscope. Oddly I have the same tools but soon found out that in the hands of a skilled expert, there is a huge difference than in the hands of an amateur.
First Brian tackled the Proteus. I had already mounted the Proteus and thought I had done a fairly competent job, but soon found out otherwise. Brian remeasured and reset all of the pertinent adjustment which took approximately 2 1/2 hours. I watched in amazement as I saw all of the measurements improve and fall in line on his laptop using Adjust+. Finally we were ready to listen to the fruits of his labors. WHAT A MASSIVE IMPROVEMENT over my amateur setup. The soundfield now had width and depth with image specificity that didn't exist before. Body and tonality are much improved. The bass is fuller yet tighter than it was previously and a shrillness in the top end is smoothed out and gone. I couldn't wipe the smile from my face.
Next he moved on to the Olympos. He mounted my new baby with great care with steady hands. Once the cartridge was secured to the arm he moved on to making all the precise adjustments necessary to wring every last drop of performance out of the setup. Since the Olympos is basically 'unobtainium' neither of us had listened to one before. Brian pulled two albums from his bag of tricks that he knows well, and we proceeded to critically listen to tracks he uses to verify certain aspects of the system performance. I must say the Olympos blows away the Proteus in every way. The Olympos has remained on the turntable, and the Proteus has a permanent residence in the drawer.
If I hadn't called Brian in to setup my system I would probably be mainly listening to digital material, but as it is now I've only listened to my LPs since he left. I can't recommend Brian highly enough. His service is one of the most cost effective upgrades one can make to their audio system!
-- Denis D.
-- Dennis G.
Here is what Jim Howard of Applied Fidelity (turntable aftermarket 'hotrodder') had to say on a popular audio forum:
I can vouch for your set up, Brian, it is the best I have heard. PERIOD.
That Feickert software just nails set up. I am very lucky to have watched you perform the set up a couple of times now.
This kind of attention to detail goes way beyond a simple paint by numbers approach.
Around the time I went to work at Music Direct, Christopher F. asked me to come set up his turntable and dial in his cartridge. His reactions to the results were ecstatic, as you can see in his long post on Yelp, part of which follows:
From the moment the stylus touched down in the groove it was instantly apparent how alive and real was the sound.
Mr. Walsh's business card says "Analog Expert" and this is not hyperbole.
If you have invested $2,000 or more in a turntable and cartridge and want to have music extracted from your LPs in the most optimal way, go see Mr. Walsh.
I believe if you purchase a turntable from Music Direct he can set up the table in your home regardless of where you are, otherwise your table must be transported to their showroom for set up.
The $400 "Ultimate Setup" service was the best upgrade to our system with tangible results that your ears will easily discern. Finding Mr. Walsh from Wisconsin was finding a needle in a haystack; a Miracle; we are so grateful to him.
Please note: Music Direct no longer offers this service since I was the one doing it.
Testimonials from other satisfied customers:
OK - I got done working and have been listening to some favorite LPs.
(...a few hours later:)
I have been listening more - I am too busy weeping. No shit.
My turntable has vaulted beyond my high-end digital stuff in a way I can't express at the moment. I always liked it better - but it was just sort of warmer and happier.
Now there is no comparison.
-- Mark M.
I just got the chance to listen to the TT, it really sounds great. The issue that I had with the harsh highs is gone. Vocals are really clear. Thank you. I believe that it was money well spent. Thank you again for your help, I hope to talk to you again soon when I am ready for a new cartridge.
-- Thomas S.
Brian did an alignment job on my Oracle Delphi/Rega/Shinon Red for me in February and I just now got my table hooked back up due to the shelf project. My complaints were with mistracking and sibilance. Brian did some fancy schmancy alignment work and turned my rig around. I was so frustrated with getting the last 10% I decided it was time to give it to someone with more experience. I had met Brian in the past and he is an AK member so why not?
After much fussing and use of a computer Brian was able to do some real magic. He gave me a stack of printed data that makes absolutely no sense to me. I can say that my rig sounds MUCH better and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. It's almost a 4 hour round trip to get to his home but it was worth every penny.
I also had my table at Robie's house for an AK get together and it really went over well. I would have been embarrassed to take it there if Brian hadn't sorted it out for me.
Thank you very much Brian.
Evan's comments can also be viewed here.