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RE: Totally agree with Rick

I have been through all of this from the beginning. Some points left me confused, and some ended in dead ends that required a complete rebuild. Along the way I learned a lot and a this point could build one very fast. I can offer a couple of pointers that might make this easy.
1. take the time to set your hdd with partitions. I have 3 key partitions.
C: is the fully optimized CMP2 player
D: is a full function XP with network with network
E: is where I store data. 3 key folders - music, all install files & image backups. There will be a lot of these.
2. set up the system to dual boot. later when cmp becomes nothing more than a transport, you can just reboot to windows and tweek it some more, or simply reload an image backup over C: and keep going
3. start cmp with nLite. Do the cmp optimizations and take your base image backup.
4. you can apply all the recommended file deletions pretty much in any order. I like to use a base system that is more or less nLite with steppe deletions up to 12, the Jolida tweeks and in my case full Bold Fortune. I added the lost registry tweeks and watchdog stuff. This is a very sweet sounding base that remains fully functional.
5. from there, registry cleanup and compression is really worthwhile.
6. I found it quesitonable if I liked the sound with the deletions up to step16. It was clearer but maybe not as real. But if you take frequent image backups (takes about 1 minute from the full function xp, you can easily go back to any combination and savor the flavor. take win_SXS stuff out, put it back in until the sound is what you like.
7. If you want to go for broke, delete the rest of the files and from xp, do the hacks on shell32, and perhaps all the remaining dlls. At this point my system came into a beautiful state. The clarity, sound quality, sound stage are all precise and top quality. Most important, the texture came back in spades. There is separation and air around everything that just does not exist at base cmp, step 3 or 4 or 12.
So, you can do a little or a lot. Until you master multiple partitions and frequent image backups, you will be frustrated by the threat of BSOD and a rebuild.
Hope that helps a bit. enjoy.

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