|I have spent the past six weeks trying a few new tweaks and products. For the past year and a half I've been testing cables and working on room acoustics. It's been two years sense I have spent any real effort on vibration control. After finding the right cable combination I felt my system was extremely natural sounding with excellent definition and fabulous sound stage with a superb musicality. I felt it was the best sounding system I had ever listened to, which is saying a lot. I have heard some $150,000 - $200,000 systems that were mighty impressive, they offered one or two areas of improvement over my system, but they always left me feeling there was more there than they had found and that overall my system was a better total sound.|
The whole process started six weeks ago with "Bubble Wrap". I shared my experiences on a thread called "Free Tweak That Works". This thread was followed up with another members thread, "Bubble Wrap Revisited." During this time I've had correspondence with a number of members who are finding similar results with "Bubble Wrap." The results are mixed if the tweak is not MDF base, "Bubble Wrap" and Neuance shelf on top. The result of this experiment improved the focus of my system, like a camera lens being put into focus. This is something I had never experienced before. I have found the "Bubble Wrap" will last 3-6 weeks before it goes flat under all my components except the Plinius SA-102 amps. At 85 lbs I get only 6 days before they go flat. I'm now working with "Air Cap" bubbles, they are a heavy duty wrap that has shown promise.
The next experiment was using Aurios Media Isolation Bearing, "Pro" model. I used three under each speaker (Dunlavy IVa) and three under my digital front end (Sony SCD-1). These improved the clarity, meaning there was less haze, like taking a pane or two of frosted glass from between me and the sound stage. I could see more of what was happening, detail was better defined and the tempo was more involving. As with so many tweaks there was a down side, and as with most tweaks it's solvable with the right alterations. In my system, moving a 2 lbs brass weight 1" on a component or moving a footer location under a component by 1/4" can make a huge audible difference to the tone, or focus, or sound stage or PRAT. A change from a brass cone to a rubber foot can be equal to a whole cable or even a piece of equipment, so the job of finding the correct combination of footers, dampening and shelves can be quite complex.
The issue I found with the Aurios was the metal construction left a very distinct and quite pronounced glare or edginess to the tonal quality. The system suddenly sounded very electronic and steely. It took a full three weeks of five hours per day to solve the puzzle of how to best tame the unappreciated consequences of using the Aurios Pro. I thought I had it solved early for the speakers by placing a Black Diamond Racing "Puck" between the Aurios and the speaker cabinet, so I left my attention to the SCD-1. With the SCD-1 I have always found the unit on it's very sophisticated factory footers directly sitting on "Neuance" shelving offered the most neutral sound with the best imaging and PRAT. Any type of metal cone added an unpleasant steeliness to the sound. Rubber and carbon fiber thickened and slowed the signal.
To tame the Aurios I started with rubber products, Sorbothane "Big Foot", EAR and a rubber isolator I found at a military supply store proved to again slow the pace and in the case of the Sorbothane it added an undesirable bloom to the bass. I tried some Mahogany pucks, BDR "Pucks", BDR cones and these simply lost the magic. I tried steel balls, ranging from 1/4" to 1" diameter. These helped but still too edgy. I tried high carbon and tungsten balls, again better but not right. I then tried aluminum, brass and titanium cones, to my surprise the brass sounded smoother than my favorite, titanium. After exhaustive measures I settled on the brass cone set into the center hole of the Aurios Pro.
Now the system was sounding almost back to normal with the added benefit of Bubble Wrap focus and Aurios clarity, yet something still was wrong.
Now being one who likes to complicate things, I decided it was time to complete a long put off project of updating my dedicated lines. I have spend the past few months mocking up different wiring combinations in six foot lengths (DIY power cords) to find the best sounding combination. I tried braided, strand and solid core wire. I tried different weight wire and different dielectric combinations. Different insolation and sheathing. I settled on an extremely simple solution. I took two 10 ga. Romex wires, 50 foot long each and spread them out across the length of my house. I placed the two face to face with the white wire on the bottom run opposed to the black on the top. Thus they would alternate opposite each other, this seemed to lower the noise floor on my test cords. I then twisted the two together making sure the two faces remained opposed. I twisted them as tight as I could, it took over six hours to do 50' and the twists were maybe 4" apart. This made for a very stiff, very tight cord. I then cased it in a stainless steel woven sheathing that would eventually be grounded to the panel and the junction box. This grounded sheathing surprisingly dropped the noise level quite a bit further. After installing this and one of my old Hubble outlets along with a new PS Audio "Power Port" I had to let the new power burn in about ten days before it too smoothed out to the level of the old line, but with a noticeable lowering of the noise level. Now with my ear 1" from the tweeter I can just barely hear a hissing sound. Before at 1" it was maybe 100% greater.
With the new dedicated line installed and burned in it was time to get back to this slight edginess I was still experiencing. I worked on dampening. I had been using a 15 lbs steel plate with a 1/4" rubber mat glued to the bottom and rubber feet glued to the mat on top of my speakers. The steel is sprayed with some anti-vibration product from 3M. These tend to tighten the imaging along with extending and tightening the base. The treble is also effected, sometimes good, sometimes bad. I took the steel plates off the speakers, this helped the treble, but left the mid/bass a bit flat and hollow. I then placed some 5 lbs Walker Audio dampening disks on the top front of the speakers. This was a very good solution, but still something was wrong. I moved some of the Walker disks around on my equipment and in my room, but something bigger still needed to be done. A couple years ago I used one of these steel dampening plates on my SCD-1 but abandoned it when I started using Nueance shelves. For what ever reason I decided to try it again. This was it, it pulled everything together, making all the improvements congeal and created a cohesion to the sound. I was very pleases, but I noticed I was still listening to the system and not the music. This happens when I'm changing things, once I begin enjoying the music and not listening to the components I know I have it. So the only thing I could figure is it was still at the speakers. I tried a 3/8" high carbon steel ball between the BDR "Puck" and the Aurios "Pro."
The next day I came in to listen to a few new SACDs, "Jazz at the Pawnshop", Rolling Stones "Hot Rocks" and Alison Krauss "New Favorite". It was all music, after two SACDs I thought to myself, I have not once thought about the speakers, the equipment, isolation, nothing but the music. The entire sound stage was full, three dimensional, but more than anything completely believable. I listen often with my eyes closed. I have spent the past week with my eyes open focused on the musicians as if they were in the room. I can tell you exactly where the person is, how far away and how tall. It's weird, they are truly three dimensional. I can walk right to the space they occupy on the stage, even when I walk up to them the remain in one place, I came put my hand out and touch where they stand. The speakers and the equipment are completely invisible. This is absolutely beyond my wildest expectations, the music is so real, so filled with life. As I stated the definition is great, but not etched or hard. The people on the stage simply exist as if they were real, there is nothing behind them but air. I simply can not explain how it feels, I sit down and it's all music. For a true tweaker, it's rare to not in some way want to tweak this or that. I simply can not figure anything to do. Every aspect of my system, EVERY ONE, is as good as it's been, and all at one time. Every aspect of the best systems I've ever heard are matched and in most cases surpassed.
So the point of this rather lengthy post. I want to let everyone know how many little things add up to a whole far better than you will ever imagine. I hope every one will learn a little bit from this and I sincerely hope you all find what I have now after over 25 years discovered.
So you ask, why the heck do you want to try more Aurios Pros under racks and or components? Because you just never know, had I remained satisfied a year and a half ago I would have missed out on at least three distinct plateaus of improved performance in my system. What is truly amazing to me is how far you can push your equipment. There always seems to be more available if your willing to take the time. Yes for as wonderful as my system is, I have ordered three more sets of Aurios Pros to play with. Stay tuned to this post for further results.