Crazy cheapo tweaks and impressive SQ hacking


Got a great little digital setup, enjoying the sound Ive been getting. But I had been craving a better DAC, maybe a really nice CD transport, player, SACD...etc.

Instead of going down the typical rabbit holes (where I inevitably be traveling), decided I’d try some silly tweaks and pluggin options?

Got a Raspberry Pi/Allo Digione with usb storage plugged in for files to play, into a cheapo Schiit Audio Modi Uber II, into a Creek Evolution 50A into some used Tekton Lore Reference, decent but very affordable cabling throughout thanks to Zu Audio.

Sound/resonance isolation a starting point, my daughter has an impressive rock collection, where she “loaned” me a perfectly sized rock to set atop the Modi, which I had already set upon some Hudson hifi feet. Also placed these feet under the Allo Digione. Then, downloaded a CD player plugging (Nanomesher) for the Digione that accommodates a cheap external CD/DVD drive via usb.

Stuck the CD player atop a dense little package box.

I cant even begin to describe the improvements...through CD player compared to ripped tracks from the same cd, more soundstage, depth, clarity, tone... mid bass has more color, definition and richness. Every clicky inadvertent texture is heard. Can hear Piano hammers lifting, releasing. Can differentiate the change in tone color and spit moving across a saxophone reed, you name it...all without being too harsh or clinical. I had already had the Hudson feet before using the rock and box, which suggests the cheapest mods worked the real magic here.

What gives? Didn’t expect this. Thought I was just grasping at the ridiculous...what will happen when I can actually allow myself to spend real money? Or do I have to? Thinking not?

Curious about your stories along these lines...anyone else with obsurd yet wonderful tweaks?
riccitone
Color CD edge with an ordinary felt marker pen.
Use paper cups to hold cables up off the floor.
Rearrange cables to eliminate tangles, space apart, and avoid running parallel.
Play the demagnetizing tracks like on the XLO Test CD.
Spray Static Guard laundry spray on cables just before playing.
Flip off all unused circuits on your breaker panel.

For anyone using spring type isolation including my springs, air springs or air bladders, ensure that power cords and interconnects and speakers cables do not exert any force on the iso system, as that will constrain the top plate/component from moving freely. Cables and cords can be supported by appropriate size objects or suspended by thread to eliminate any vertical or horizontal forces that might be acting on the iso device.
@millercarbon @geoffkait 

Very interesting..

i think I’ve seen similar suggestions on other threads...time to try what you’re saying. Hopefully without my wife thinking I’ve gone completely nuts ;)

I have already set up an an array of 
adhesive backed hooks behind our cabinet to separate and suspend power cables and signal cables. Hearing difference after doing this got me thinking about more cheap tricks in the first place. Need to try raising the speaker cables. Can’t wait to try the CD color edge and spraying the speaker cables!

@geoffkait 

Where could I find your springs? That makes so much sense from a cancellation standpoint. 


There’s an ad on Audiogon as we speak for 4 Cryo Baby Prometheans for components weighing up to 40 LB. 5 springs for components up to 55 LB. For heavy components like monster amps and turntables and subwoofers use my Super Stiff Springs, 4 springs for components weighing up to to 120 LB. 5 Super Springs for components up to 150 LB. 
I have already set up an an array of
adhesive backed hooks behind our cabinet to separate and suspend power cables and signal cables. Hearing difference after doing this got me thinking about more cheap tricks in the first place. Need to try raising the speaker cables. Can’t wait to try the CD color edge and spraying the speaker cables!


Sounds like you’re the same stage I was at some 30 years ago- stuff sounds nutty, but if it can be tested for free.... what the....? it works???!

Then by trial and error over time gradually worked out a very general but useful concept of what’s going on.

Everything vibrates. Especially playing music. Even when it seems there are no moving parts, the signal itself is a dynamic electromagnetic field and we all know magnetic fields push and pull. So its all vibrating.

But vibration is not a one-way street. The signal excites the vibration, but then the vibration feeds back into the signal.

So its vibration control. The better you control the vibration the better it sounds. Over time three principle means stand out: Mass, Stiffness, Damping.

For comparison I suggest you find something with the same mass as your rock but much less stiffness and much more damping- sand in ZipLoc baggie say- and swap back and forth and listen. So all three are necessary, and they need to be in balance, and the more they are in balance the better they will sound.

Then when you got a pretty good handle on all that you will be ready to appreciate why BDR Cones are so darn awesome.

On to static and electrical charges. Anything that lifts a cable up off the floor will be an improvement. But things that electrically insulate work better than things that don’t. Ceramic insulators specifically designed to prevent surface charges propagating work best of all. You can buy Cable Elevators, but they are really just telephone pole insulators, and there’s a whole bunch of em for sale on eBay all the time. I’ve compared, they all work just fine.

So its static charges. Which is why the spray works. This also explains why its temporary. Spray immediately before listening. The improvement is immediate and easy to hear, but then the effect dissipates and this gradual degradation is much harder to hear. Experiment, and by trial and error learn how long you can go without hearing a difference. In my room, serious Better Records listening, I spray just before every side. Other times, lesser recordings, might go all night without it. Nice to have that arrow in the quiver.
Never never, ever use a black marker on the CD or CD tray except for the inner edge of the CD. Always use turquoise or green or purple for the outer edge. 
Post removed 
Everything vibrates. Especially playing music. Even when it seems there are no moving parts, the signal itself is a dynamic electromagnetic field and we all know magnetic fields push and pull. So its all vibrating.

>>>>Several points. The signal is not an electromagnetic field, it’s an electromagnetic wave. The magnetic field induced by the current traveling in the wire is not pulling or pushing the signal - it’s orthogonal to the signal, I.e., right hand rule. 👎 Also, the signal itself in wire is not vibrating. It’s an alternating current and voltage - they alternate at the instantaneous frequency of the signal. But there is only one current/voltage traveling in a wire at one time. The signal in wire is, however, subject to external vibration.
Go back to school. 
Go back to school.
Why do you see a need to respond rudely?
Lol!!

Looks like you two must go way back. I very much appreciate your recommendations. Physicists have been operating on the principle of vibrations as the reason for our very existence for some time now.

Stands clearly to reason that the very thing that our brains translate into music can at the same moment interfere with the equipment associated with generating said music. 

This, spoken by a musician...not a physicist (but a child of a physicist) so forgive my sloppy seudo science. 

Again, thank you 🙏🏼 

These principles of vibration control were worked out by a process of trial and error very gradually over a period of years. The turning point was realizing that properties or effects can be tested just fine without having to build an entire shelf, or rack, or whatever. 

There's no point arguing about this either, because anyone can prove it to themselves one way or the other. One simple test, cut some 3" squares from scrap material- MDF, plywood, maple, oak, acrylic, whatever. The material itself is not the point. The comparison is the point. Actually doing the comparison. 

Cutting them all the same size and shape eliminates those variables. Whatever differences there are now must be due to the inherent vibration properties of the materials themselves. So whatever they are- different wood, plastic, whatever- should all be the same size.

So you cut your 3" or whatever squares. Place them under the cones or footers or whatever. Listen. Change to the next ones. Listen. They all sound different. Pretty freaking amazing. Cost you next to nothing.

Wait, it gets better. Get some little squares of sorbothane or other rubbery material. Again, exactly what does not matter. Try it under the square, between the square and the shelf. Then try it on top, between the square and the component. Notice it produces the same effect on top and bottom, but more pronounced on top? Pretty freaking cool, eh? Do this enough, might eventually sink in, the closer, the more effective.

Why, its almost like whatever vibrations these things are making are finding their way back into the signal. In fact it is exactly like that. Whatever sound these things make when you plink them, is the sound they impart to your music.

But hey, don't just take my word for it. Try it and see.


LIGO the project to detect gravity waves succeeded not because of vibration control but because of vibration isolation. Vibration/resonance control has its place in audio and is relatively easy to accomplish but advanced audiophiles have known the audio system must be decoupled from very low seismic type vibration 🔜 for best results 🔚 for almost 25 years, when Vibraplane, Seismic Sink, my Nimbus Single Airspring Sub Hertz Platform and Bright Star air bladder device ruled.

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica
Vibration Isolation and Resonance Control
I placed a teak chest (13 x 13 x 18) In front of my component rack and in between my floorstanders and filled it with books, and the improvement was immediate and very obvious.  Wider deeper soundstage, smoother and more extended highs, a wonderful combination of air and weight to each note. Tweaks like this are room and system dependent,but this one sure worked for me.  
This is some quantum-freaky stuff! 
Wish I had more time to experiment in full...but you guys have set some very interesting parameters for controlled variables. 
Geo show us the math please to anchor your Wild interpetation of Maxwells,Teslas and other electromagnetic gurus.
do you even know the basic forumals??
you sound like a good used car salesman
also please explain how to filter out the sub Hz resonance of the earth and the ever changing cavity with the ionasphere.. ever hear of the russian woodpecker.  or Teslas earthquake resoniator.

" >>>>Several points. The signal is not an electromagnetic field, it’s an electromagnetic wave. The magnetic field induced by the current traveling in the wire is not pulling or pushing the signal - it’s orthogonal to the signal, I.e., right hand rule. 👎 Also, the signal itself in wire is not vibrating. It’s an alternating current and voltage - they alternate at the instantaneous frequency of the signal. But there is only one current/voltage traveling in a wire at one time. The signal in wire is, however, subject to external vibration.
 But there is only one current/voltage traveling in a wire at one time. The signal in wire is, however, subject to external vibration.

yea right only one signal is in rf cable and phone wires.
also please explain how to filter out the sub Hz resonance of the earth


Behold! The Nimbus Sub-Hertz Platform! (aka Firestone air spring) http://www.machinadynamica.com/machina24.htm


hemigreg
73
Geo show us the math please to anchor your Wild interpetation of Maxwells,Teslas and other electromagnetic gurus.
do you even know the basic forumals??
you sound like a good used car salesman
also please explain how to filter out the sub Hz resonance of the earth and the ever changing cavity with the ionasphere.. ever hear of the russian woodpecker. or Teslas earthquake resoniator.

>>>I don’t reckon I’ve seen so many illogical statements in one post all week. You really do deserve a prize. Congratulations! Also, just curious, is your spellchecker disabled? 🤕

Have to say I have been skeptical about the importance of vibration.

(But then I used to think that the ideas that power cords, wire direction, and fuses could make a difference to the sound of a system were fanciful too.)
Interesting experience today,
System just did not sound right. Bass not a tight or powerful as usual. Vocals not as clean.
Tried to figure what was different,
Noticed that heavy pile of books had removed from coffee table, a hollow box-like structure, to accommodate finger foods for a party.
Put books back.
Sound image snapped back into place- sharp vocals, tight tuneful bass.



Curious about cable elevation.
Does entire length of cable need to be elevated to hear improvements?
Don't think I elevate part of cable that runs underneath cabinet.
Also, would placing wire on top of plastic sleeve or long piece of wood work? Or, do you need to elevate from discrete points, like Cable Elevators?
Curious about cable elevation.
Does entire length of cable need to be elevated to hear improvements?
Don't think I elevate part of cable that runs underneath cabinet.
Also, would placing wire on top of plastic sleeve or long piece of wood work? Or, do you need to elevate from discrete points, like Cable Elevators?


Friend of mine answered this one recently. I was going left to right removing one at a time gently letting the CTS cable go to the carpet. There's 3 Cable Elevators on each side, plus two smaller but very similar ceramic insulators holding the cable up the first little bit from the amp. I hate to belabor it but finger counting, harder on some than you'd think. Anyway my friend noticed right away, said each one got a little worse. I never really paid attention since being bent over between and behind the speakers what are the odds? But once I did listen sure enough it was that noticeable. Every single one makes a difference. So the answer is no not the whole length but the more the better.

I know, bad enough some guy says you can hear a difference when the whole cable is elevated. But just one foot? On just one side? All I can say is: try it and hear for yourself.

Before Cable Elevators I tried a few things like cups, books, wood, and even BDR Those Things, little 3" square carbon fiber footer pads. (You can see them here in this 15 years old photo. Also some OC test panels, as well as finished DIY OC corner tunes covered in fabric.) http://theanalogdept.com/c_miller.htm
They all worked, all close enough I don't recall any being best, until Cable Elevators which are a whole lot better than anything else. Other than another ceramic insulator that is. They are all very effective. That's why I say go on eBay, buy whatever ceramic insulator looks good to you. They all work about the same so you can go by price and appearance.

How many you need depends a lot on your cables. Mine are stiff enough to span about 2 feet. At that spacing the cable lays almost flat, hardly any sag. But that's just what I like. The neat thing is you can listen and work this stuff out for yourself.

leave the Daughter out of it. I quit reading all of it.         , Go buy a $400 + usd 
internet switch give it 2 days to warm up   Trust me  you will hear the difference .  Amazing  more so then any hifi Fuse
     let's get that right 
 
 
We represent a group of noted physicist, nuclear engineers and chemist, several of whom are Nobel prize winners, who are starting our own online store that will compete with several existing online establishments selling sophisticated tweaks for technically advanced audiophiles (note, please do not purchase any of these products if you do not have the background to safely use them). It has taken many years of research for our team led by a famous industry insider  https://i.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/925/410/4cc.jpg  to develop and bring these patented products to market.

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and 
our exclusive product that puts us ahead of the pack, our new line of cable elevators (please note the strategically placed piece of white graphene at the right hand end of the elevator https://www.123rf.com/photo_6944792_empty-toilet-paper-roll-close-up.html 
Lol!!!

@jetter For the win...

Hilarious and on point...not to mention still applicable/functional tweaks all around (that last link was my favorite). 


@twoch

Although I’m primarily operating through storage and playing CD’s, I was also looking into an internet switch to see what gains could also be made there, as I do stream a bit through the RPI Allo board.

Is $400 really the cheapest way to go? What switches would still apply some benefit on the cheap side?

Thanks again to everyone here for maintaining this discussion!
jetter, THANK YOU for one of the most entertaining posts in ten years! Precious! It should be in the Audiogon hall of fame! 

Someday, perhaps the "chintziness gene" will be discovered, which will explain hoarders, tightwads, and audiophiles who incessantly pursue low cost tweaks in favor of actually building a superior system.  
Some people dont have the choice delivered by money... My own system value is way under 1000 bucks headphone, amplifier, dac, speakers included...I use homemade tweaks of low cost with a great success... I experiment with that on the last 2 years with increasing success...I consider my system now that look like trash for some to be, by comparison with some others way more costly, a relatively superior system... I am no more envious of any system at any cost even if most are way better than mine, the reason is when you listen to relatively holographic, dynamic, musical imaging sound with speakers, be it in nearfield or at normal distance or with headphone, your audio system is Hi-Fi, at any price and even with tweaks, be them cheap and homemade or sells by audiophile company at high cost...

The posts of jetter is hilarious yes....I smile...:)

But sometimes cheap tweaks are necessary for the poor or even for the richest...Money does not necessarily gives you an audio system that will play at his OPTIMAL level, knowledge, experiments, and sometimes cheap controls methods and tweaks will...

I know that for a law in audio and in life : Money is illusion, knowledge is reality....


A last word:
Anybody with big money can create a hi-fi system of supremum quality....It is a bit more difficult with a ridiculous small budget and ask for something call: creativity ….For example my "golden plates" shungite plate+copper tape on one side, put on top of the central electrical panel of my house(20 bucks each) transform the sound on a level which is astounding in my audio system...I dont pretend that my plates equal costlier one in the industry, but for their ratio sound quality/ price I smile indeed...My best to all...


And if I had the money I will try the industry product for sure,  it is just that I am no more in frustration if I replicate or create low cost methods to buy me audiophile quality...
Thanks for the kind words. I would like to mention that the one item that I have been using for the last month, that I don't really consider a tweak or cheap, has been two PPT omega emats.  I have found that all the accolades the emats have garnered to be spot on.  Nuff said.
Mahgister, it was all in spoof.  I applaud your experimentation and encourage you to always carry on.  
I know Jetter and I smile a lot with your magnificent post thanks...But some others need my point.... My best to you brother...
@jetter  In the future please preface posts like the one with links with the following:

Hernia Warning !  Something may rupture or you may cough up a lung!

Thanks
wyoboy, you got it. I am still waiting for the competition to chime in. Let’s count backwards from 10, 9, 8, 7
Maybe you caused him that aneurism he's always telling others not to have?  Hope not--it's usually such good fun regardless of whether you understand or not!  Well, fun except when he compares himself to Einstein & Feynman...i wonder if those guys were audiophiles ?
Just curious, has anyone here considered hemorrhoid cushions? No, not for audio, silly, for your hemorrhoids. 🤗 
Ahhhh, sweet relief-i've been holding my breath for soooo long!  But I think you may inadvertently be on to something--maybe those cushions can be used to elevate cables ?  or isolate components ? A genuine new tweak !  Patent it ?
You see everything, don’t you? 👀
I saw you came up with a crazy, cheapo tweak a la this thread..
Anybody with big money can create a hi-fi system of supremum quality

You don't say. So how come the $1.3M system at Definitive sounds like crap?
Gives me the system I will make it great for a low cost.... Is it so horrible system?


By the way if you use some of my post read all the post... I said also a couple of lines before:

"Money does not necessarily gives you an audio system that will play at his OPTIMAL level, knowledge, experiments, and sometimes cheap controls methods and tweaks will..."

Then system at any cost can sound not only less than their potential higher S.Q. but sound atrocious for some experienced ears...For the relatively poor audiophile a costly upgrade is not an option, or even a less costly audiophile products.. I choose to makes mine homemade and replicating some, inventing others with great avail and success... My best to you...
Exactly...

there comes a point of diminishing returns. A very expensive setup will require an expensive room to elicit any and all benefits derived from said gear. It takes some experimentation, knowledge-seeking, love for the music, some understanding of room acoustics/reflections, understanding the placement of equipment as well as equipment matching to bring out what’s best in the music you want to hear.

That does not require big bucks by today’s standards, with all the different types (not to mention all the different levels) of equipment available to audiophiles. Especially when you’ve got those priorities in order.
Thanks very well said....My best...