I started this journey long ago. I completed the Bronze and Silver sections during a lunch break; there were some tough spots but nothing too frustrating. The rig I used was pretty bare bones:
Foobar>M-Audio Transit at 24/44.1kHz>PIMETA w/OPA627 op-amps>ATH-M50
When I got to the Gold section I could not get through the frequency band section - the mid-high frequency cuts were particularly challenging. I took a long break from the madness.
A few months later I fired up my home-office rig and gave it another shot: Benchmark DAC1-USB and Denon D7000s – what a difference. There were still some struggles that made me want to try my Oppo BDP-105/Mjolnir/HD800 rig at times, but I got through it.
Overall I would say there is a point where as long as the equipment is sufficiently resolving, the rest is just patience and training (and hearing health). There were times where I would be so close to passing the frequency test, but then I would miss 4 in a row and have to start at the beginning. One valuable thing I learned is that frequency cuts were usually more subtle than boosts and harder to detect. That is something I had heard from pro engineers for EQing, but not something I’d experienced myself. This was a fun exercise and something I would recommend to audio-nerds, music-lovers and musicians alike.
Well, you can say that again, and really an inspiration for those who're struggling! Well put!
I know exactly what it feels like to miss 4 in a row, especially when there's just one remaining. Frustrating just doesn't cover it...
Anyway, congrats, and welcome to the club!