I recently tried my first system tweak, purchasing IsoAcoustic Orea isolation footers for my Luxman 507uX Mk2 integrated amp, Marantz Ruby CD/SACD player, and Shunyate Hydra Denali 6000S power conditioner. I liked the improvement in sound quality so much I’ve gone ahead and ordered IsoAcoustic Gaia feet for my VPI Classic 2 turntable and Magico A3 speakers. I never expected a tweak to make such an improvement, not just a change, in sound quality. By the way, my cables are Audioquest Rocket 88 speaker cables, Audioquest Colorado cables from the CD/SACD player, and VPI phono cables. The Shunyata Hydra Denali has a Venom power cable. All the other power cords are what came with each component.
Acoustic room treatments that would affect room decor are unfortunately out of the equation and I’ve already tried my best to design component shelving to be a vibration free as I could. I’ve thought about are redoing the house wiring to create a dedicated circuit, and making an ultrasonic record cleaner.
So my question to you all is, what tweaks have had the most positive impact on your own system, that you could you recommend for the above described system? There seems to be a lot of tweaks out there that range from the sublime to the ridiculous in both performance and price. I’d like to know what tweaks of the many out there have worked best for you so I can make a list and prioritize each in terms of performance and budget. Please share your favorites and I’d appreciate your advice. Thanks,
All the other power cords are what came with each component.
Ouch. Huge room for improvement there. Synergistic Research Master Couplers, used, on everything.
So my question to you all is, what tweaks have had the most positive impact on your own system that you could you recommend for the above described system?
System really does not matter. This idea certain things work only with certain other things will only hold you back. The PC recommended above will work no matter what component or what your system. Same goes for these other highly recommended tweaks:
Synergistic HFT, ECT, Orange Fuse. HFT are the most highly effective acoustic treatment yet almost invisible.
Synergistic PHT on your cartridge and arm. Green Dream and Black Widow together are awesome. Check out mine. Look close- there are ECT on the arm as well. These things really work!
BDR Cones, probably about as effective as the footers you have now but a lot less expensive, and universal, as they work just as well under lightweight CDP as massive speakers and amps.
fo.Q tape applied to your arm will open up detail like you won’t believe. It goes on easily, and can be just as easily removed without leaving any residue. I put a strip all along the under side of my arm, where it works great yet is out of sight. Its also underneath the arm base, and a lot of other places where its out of sight yet still works great. Once I heard how great it is I got more and replaced all my speaker gaskets with fo.Q tape, and stuck it all over the drivers on the baskets inside. None of this is visible- stealth tweaks! Also can be used on caps and circuit boards and inside cabinet to damp sheet metal vibrations, although I haven't personally tried those yet.
Cable elevators, either brand name or equally effective ceramic insulators. On sale now at Music Direct.
Acoustic room treatments that would affect room decor are unfortunately out of the equation too.
Please note Synergistic HFT Speaker Kit, works great, hardly noticeable, doesn’t even go on walls.
Some of the things I’ve thought about are redoing the house wiring to create a dedicated circuit, and making an ultrasonic record cleaner.
Don’t re-do anything. Simply run one 20A line direct to the system. Plug everything into that one outlet. You can do a lot more. The sky is the limit. But this is the one that is truly cost-effective. This btw is known because I have actually wired my system and not just once but several times. I know from experience what costs what and how much improvement it brings. You’re on the right track, it just takes a while to try all these different things.
Check out the ElectraClear and Symphony Pro harmonic power conditioners made by ADD-Powr. I have 6 ElectraClears and 2 Symphony Pros and my system never sounded so good. If you consider them tweaks, the so be it. Worth checking out, because you have nothing to lose with the 30 day money back guarantee. Perhaps the best deal for the money out there.
Tvad, sounds like you've made the rounds with isolation footers. I'd not researched the Grand Prix Apex Audio footers you mentioned, so I looked them up. Priced at $1400 for a set of four they are only only a pipe dream.for a plebeian like me.They must be nice.
My listening room is filled with wall to wall bookshelves, so there's hardly a square inch to acoustically treat. I seriously considered one of those Lyngdorf integrated amps with Room Correction for that reason since they could electronically deal with that issue
Millercarbon, thank you for all your ideas. It's going to take me a minute to research each suggestion and product you recommended, but I will. I'll have some follow-up questions for you too if you wouldn't mind following this thread for a day or two. Thanks.
Slaw, nice to hear from you. If I remember correctly I did follow some of your suggestions building my component shelving and thank you for that. Honestly, since replacing my 40 year old system in entirety the last year or so, the footers are my first tweak ever. I guess the shelving could be considered a tweak, having utilized many ideas garnered from that thread to foster vibration isolation. .
The AudioAcoustic footers have been such an unexpected success, I'm thinking the tweakers among you are on to something. So I'd like to identify among the multitude of tweaks what might be the best thing to try next. It's pretty amazing what you folks have come up with so far. If these tweaks are additive as Millercarbon pointed out in another thread, this could be a fun ride..
Bemused, I will look up your ElectraClear and Symphony Pro's tomorrow.I found there site a minute ago, but it's getting late and I'll better understand their product line after a night's sleep. Thanks,
skyscraper OP My listening room is filled with wall to wall bookshelves, so there’s hardly a square inch to acoustically treat. I seriously considered one of those Lyngdorf integrated amps with Room Correction for that reason since they could electronically deal with that issue.
>>>>Hi, I’m from the future where we found out books and other media like CDs are bad for the sound. The biggest improvement you can make to your sound is to remove all books from the room. Perhaps you can rent a storage shed? Sorry to be the bear 🐻 of bad gnus 🐃 And yes, I know what you’re thinking, “but books are natural acoustic absorbers.”
Tvad, It would be interesting to compare the performance of the Apex footers with the IsoAcoustics to see how much improvement there might be with such a high end product. The IsoAcoustic footers made such a difference, it's hard to imagine getting even more performance out of such a simple concept as reducing vibration. I'm still awaiting the special 1/2"-13 studs needed to install the recently arrived IsoAcoustic Gaia feet on my speakers to get the full effect of having their footers under all components. You're fortunate to have those Apexs.
Geoffkait, following your suggestion I considered taking all my books outside and starting a good-sized bonfire with them. I bet you nobody's ever thought of doing that before.
Williewonka, I will have to play around with the placement of the IsoAcoustic footers under each component as your second link suggested. The first linked described exactly how I set up my current shelving using non-slip shelf liner under a floating shelf, so maybe I did something right there. I'll try some of those blocks you and Millercarbon suggest under the wires.
Any suggestions by anybody about what your most effective tweaks have been would be appreciated. Thanks,
"I’ve gone ahead and ordered IsoAcoustic Gaia feet for my VPI Classic 2 turntable"
I will be looking for your observations on the results.
My aging Classic 1 has been under the non scientific/controversial, low tech and expensive Mapleshade brass/maple slab. For whatever technical/psychological reason, it does add a tiny bit of more "real" to the presentation. If anything, it makes the humble VPI look cool.
The Gaia's are just like any other footer tweak. YMMV. They do seem to have more positive results under speakers than most. I heard them under some pricey speakers with/ without. Yes, they seem to add something?
If these tweaks are additive as Millercarbon pointed out in another thread, this could be a fun ride..
You have no idea. Most of those who try tweaks at all will do one or two say that's nice and then they are done and go back to running the component upgrade treadmill. I call it a treadmill because you do a lot of work but don't really go anywhere. Because ultimately all it does is get you by until the next component upgrade. A set of BDR Cones however, HFT, ECT, acoustic panel, AC line or outlet, whatever tweak you care to name, is forever. Elevates your game from now on. Actually gets you somewhere.
Any one individual tweak on its own may not seem like all that much. Do enough though and at some point it begins to dawn on you there is no way any amount of money spent on any components ever made will ever be enough.
I'm not the only one saying this either.They do all add together and that is why the few of us who have taken it far enough all agree you cannot get here any other way. In other words tweaks are way more cost effective than components.
If "each tweak adds to the effect of prior tweaks"... beware, they might not, when taken as a whole, be contributing to better sound.
For example, have you ever subtracted some HFTs that were too close together (horizontally or vertically) only to hear an improvement? Or, replaced or subtracted vibration control products, and concluded that "less is better?"
I like to pause, periodically, and evaluate the changes, just to "keep myself honest." I would give more weight to experimentation, than addition, in our quest for better sound. Anyone agree?
Tablejockey, the Gaia’s appear to be working pretrty well under the VPI Classic 2 although I’ve only had them on for one day so far. I played an old Riverside Cannonball Adderly with vibraphonist Milt Hinton album, "Things are Getting Better" last night. The vibes were so well articulated the footers had to be playing a part. I listened to a Sade album too and surprisingly heard a soft male backgound vocal that was buried in the mix. So far It’s been similar, but not as pronounced difference, as placing the footers under the CD player. It’s really to soon to tell though.
My Magico A3 speakers are good at revealing detail, details which the IsoAcoustic feet seem to help deliver to them less encumbered by whatever mess vibration might be adding to the signal. An older Gato Barbieri album on the Flying Dutchman label (before he went commercial) sounded great too with better separation between instruments and more transparent articulation apparent than ever before. If it wasn’t such a pain to get these footers installed I’d try some A/B testing with and without them to be sure. Please share your experience once you get yours. Thanks.
I also have my Classic 2 and CD player on a left-over 24" x 40" floating slab of marble, which does show off the VPI same as yours. It’s a nice touch and got the unused slab out of the storeroom where it sat for almost thirty years unused.
Geoff, too late now.
Millercarbon, I’ll be seeing how well these tweaks add up as you indicate they will, which does make sense from my limited experience so far. As this point I’m trying to prioritize which are the most productive. It’s a fun project to try and maximize what your components are capable of doing. I think I’ll try to put together a list of the myriad tweaks and see if I can get a consensus on what ones people agree on are the most effective, or the opposite.
You would think there might be limits to what you might accomplish in an additive fashion. For instance a lot of tweaks mention they widen the sound-stage. If they all worked you’d think the sound-stage would extend from one end of the house to another. The IsoAcoustic footers have so far helped define the placement of elements within the sound stage which seems a more realistic, but still amazing, accomplishment.
One other thing if you don’t mind my asking, since you’ve achieved good results, how many tweaks have you incorporated to get to where you are now? And do you have any more in mind to try? Thanks,
Millercarbon, I’ll be seeing how well these tweaks add up as you
indicate they will, which does make sense from my limited experience so
far. As this point I’m trying to prioritize which are the most
productive. It’s a fun project to try and maximize what your components
are capable of doing. I think I’ll try to put together a list of the
myriad tweaks and see if I can get a consensus on what ones people agree
on are the most effective, or the opposite.
There is no consensus, except among those of us who have tried certain things. My all time favorite most universal value leader is BDR Cones. DIY acoustic panels of OC703 is right up there, but you quickly limit out on that. Next would be fo.Q tape. With that you will not hit the wall until you've done a couple sheets on your turntable and speakers. Then after that comes a whole long list from Synergistic that are all very similar in terms of sound improvement value per dollar- HFT, ECT, PHT, Fuses.
You would think
there might be limits to what you might accomplish in an additive
Of course there are limits. But they are a lot further out than you would think.
For instance a lot of tweaks mention they widen the
sound-stage. If they all worked you’d think the sound-stage would extend
from one end of the house to another.
Good one. Okay so what happens, the greatest extent of the sound stage is the walls of the recording venue. This could be anything from an accurately miked symphony hall to a singer in a recording booth. Whatever it is, its on the recording, and so its what you should hear. The walls of course don't make any sound. They do however reflect back, and that acoustic signature is what provides our sense of the space we are in. So its not that the individual instruments expand farther apart, or even that it sounds like they are in a bigger space. They may after all be in a recording booth- a tiny little space. But when the system gets better our sense of that space - whatever it is - is stronger, and in that sense the sound stage is bigger.
That's the mostly high frequency aspect of it. There's also the low end. This is where it gets really good. Because of the physics of sound, really low frequencies have really long wavelengths, these just don't naturally happen anywhere but really big spaces. Think of the rumble of thunder. You hear that, you don't need to look, you can judge by the sound alone it was very far away.
Well okay. So when you are able to accurately reproduce such low frequency bass it creates the unmistakable sensation of being in that large space. This ultra-low frequency fidelity goes hand in hand with the high frequency detail and together is what creates the other worldly sensation of being on the scene. There. No longer in your room.
other thing if you don’t mind my asking, since you’ve achieved good
results, how many tweaks have you incorporated to get to where you are
Millercarbon, thanks for the explanations and taking the time to write and post them. I still have to research the many tweaks you mentioned in your earlier reply, not to mention decipher the acronyms you and others have been mentioning. Hopefully I'll get on that tonight and tomorrow. I am learning things, which has been an ongoing project since reentering the audio equipment world.
See what I mean? 22k posts, doesn't even have a system.
BDR was originally Black Diamond Racing. Founded by audiophile DJ Casser and originally making ultra-high end gear for America's Cup sailboats, DJ saw advantages in the inherent vibration damping properties of carbon fiber and after a huge amount of effort developed a whole line of vibration control products. You can see many of them in my system. Like many of these niche companies the expertise was very closely held and when DJ died several years ago that was the end of the story, at least as far as new products goes. The company lives on as BDR but only as far as I know sold by Music Direct, and only the Cones it seems are regularly in stock.
I never feel "tweaky" anymore. In my media room all you see is two 8 foot speakers, four subwoofers and a screen. No wires, no amps, no lights, no BS. I did the tweaky thing in my younger days discovering that in general it is just a hill of beans. I make my own cables using the best stuff available for a fraction of the cost. If I put some fancy sleeves on them I could sell them for big bucks and rip off gullible audiophiles. The very best "tweak" available is a Weber Soldering Station and some practice. Another great "tweak" is the HiFi News test record. Guaranteed to make your TT sound better. A Conductive sweep arm and a tone arm lifter complete the package. Where are all the amplifiers? Directly under their respective speaker on a shelf hung from the ceiling below. Everything is run balanced. They are all triggered by a 25 volt power supply which is switched from the equipment cabinet above. It also runs 4 variable speed fans keeping the lot cool. The speaker cables are three feet long. The subwoofers are on spikes through the carpet and into the floor. The stats are just on the floor. There is no room to put anything under them anyway. There is a line of acoustic tile behind each stat. This improves the imaging by damping the reflection of everything over 250 Hz. IMHO none of these things are tweaks. They are all practical solutions with solid explanations and rational. Great sound is not magic, neither is optimizing any system. I am certainly not a virgin. I have fallen for a bunch of stuff in the past. Many things are just visual or ego pleasing. Make things sound better? Only in your mind. Some of the stuff is literally comical like the Talisman Magnetic Optimizer. I almost wet my pants.
Thomas, I’ve never been into tweaks before, but I can see it would be possible to go overboard and get over involved with them like you say, listening to how the music sounds rather than the music itself. So I’ll keep your thought in mind. Thinking about tweaks recently has been an interesting way to pass the excess time being home-bound during this coronavirus pandemic.
Tvad, thanks for the link to the Sumiko Master Speaker Set. I played around with speaker positioning a few weeks ago but could probably some more fine tuning and use of a test record.
Millercarbon, I did look into the BDR cones you are using, so appreciate that suggestion. They are cost effective.
Mijostyn, which tone arm lifter are you using? I don’t trust myself to smoothly lift the tonearm up each time anymore. I miss my old Bang and Olufsen straight arm tracking which did that function automatically. I’ll take a look at the Weber soldering station. I’ve soldered a lot of copper pipe in my day but done little with anything electronic related. That would be a good skill to pick up. I’m an inveterate DIY person, but have learned over the years to recognize when I’m in over my head and to try and learn from others, which I’m trying to do here.
I’ll look up the HiFi News test record. What is a conductive sweep arm? Is it something to do with static removal.from record albums. Thanks for your ideas and description of your interesting system set-up. "Practical solutions with solid explanations and rational" are exactly what I’d like to find.
I have tried many tweaks over the years. Some proved to be positive upgrades, some made differences that were not appealing, and some made no difference at all~at least to my ears. But the tweak that has been the most consistent and cost -effective on my system and in my room is the room light switch. Put it in the "off" position and everything suddenly comes into focus. The sound stage becomes more precise as your speakers are removed from your view and you hear every nuance and subtle hint in the music. I think it has to do with the the way our brain focuses better, the fewer things it has to deal with. Thhis probably will seem obvious to most but try it if you haven't already. It's free!
OP - I am not introducing anything new here. But from one recently new to the hobbiest to another, some of the suggestions from here that I followed:
I tried elevating speaker cables - more noticeable for me on thicker heavier and longer cables. Currently using doubled and tripled up styrofoam cups due to the weight. Things sounded airier, a bit more defined.
Cones - Jury's still out on the "how", but after placing them under seemingly good rubber footing (both really heavy monoblocks and light DACs), I cannot deny some improvement.
Subwoofer placement - perhaps the best and most significant overall tweak! Short of adding additional LF sources, do not dismiss placement if you are using one or more. I added more with excellent results in a 10 x 14 room where only one sub couldn't work.
Btw. The light switch thing worked in my listening room!
It’s nice to see all the newcomers and has beens too on the big wide wonderful world of carefree tweakery. When we get to the part about Silver Rainbow 🌈 Foils, Schumann frequency generators, Quantum Chips and Dots, Mpingo discs and tiny little bowls please wake me up.
Tweaks that worked for me were. 1) dedicated line of 20A on separate phase 2) star wired distribution block. 3) high end receptables and iec connectors from Oyaide C004 4) neotech 3003 power cables 5) master base under all my equipment 5) audioquest sorbothane pieces (cut to size) under interconnects, low level cabling and rack 6) cable dressing 7) hifi tuning fuses 8) diffusors behind my listening seat 9) JSSG 360 cable tweak (from computer audiophile website) 10) friwo medical smps with ultra low leakage currents for modem and non audiophile equipment. 11) linear psu's for audiophile equipment. 12) hqplayer and fidilizer for nuc 13) star quad geometry for DC cabling.
Suggestion, OP: invest a few hours, on multiple occasions, gleaning some experiential nuggets from the tens of posters on dozens of threads on the products and ideas already mentioned to you.
It is easy and attractive to want to be "spoon fed," and start your own post. Why not consider a more productive path? If you are serious about better sound, you have to be willing to make sacrifices of time and energy. And probably some dollars, too.
I think these are what can get you further down the road, sonically. You may want someone to say to you, "Do this, buy that." Why not make the effort to learn, with your intellect and your ears, so you can truly experience the satisfaction of being able to say, "Hey, this is sounding BETTER, and I am creating something special!"
It's a journey and (along the way) can be a very enjoyable one, too.
Sgordon, I do intend to fully research the suggestions made here. There are simply so many tweaks mentioned on past Audiogon threads, and elsewhere that I am hoping to winnow the field, categorize them, and focus research by drawing on the experience of those who have used some of these products.
It’s a fairly complex subject to investigate, considering the many categories of possible tweaks, the efficacy of various products, cost, and cons hawking expensive junk. This post is only one venue for starting research. Besides its fun to ask what each of you thinks, and it never hurts to ask persons more knowledgeable than you on any subject. The internet, and this site and it’s members, is a blessing in that regard.
So in short your idea is a good one and I’m on it. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time already researching isolation footers alone. And I did purchase a newer product recommended by a site member that I’d not come across while doing that research.
Tvad, thanks for the suggestion on sorbothane. I did use that on the edges of my floating shelves to keep their edges from contacting the component cabinet's vertical side walls. There must be other uses.
Sorbothane. Not a big fan. No offense to anyone who embraces Sorbothane but I believe it blocks energy from getting out of the system. If you’re looking for a viscoelastic material to use as constrained layer damper there are better materials, much better. Best results when mounting components on cones will generally be using extremely hard materials, like very hard cones - but not like carbon fiber ones, which are relatively soft. Brass is another relatively soft material to avoid, and aluminum. And lead. Ugh! Hardness of the material is proportional to the speed energy is released from the system. Besides, Sorbothane has little or no effect in the worst offender - very low frequency vibration coming up from the floor. As Bob Dylan says at the end of all his records, good luck to everyone.
Thomas, I really like the IsoAcoustic Orea and Gaias and will not be adding or subtracting anything to or from them.
Now don't go trying to tempt me into purchasing new components after I just acquired an entire new system. My current audio plan has to include staying out of the poor house. Tweaks are it for the foreseeable future. I appreciate your suggestion none the less. Thanks,
In my system adding a few of the HFC MC 0.5 magnetic conditioners to unused power outlets has made an immediate and noticeable improvement. At around $200, the MC 0.5 is the least expensive product HFC sells. Well worth the cost.
I also have found that experimenting with the tilt angle of my speakers - in addition to setting optimal toe in and room placement, etc. - has made a big improvement in my system. This may not apply to a speaker as well engineered and designed as your A3, though.
I use sorbothane under my cables only to reduce microphonics from the cabinet. I never use it under equipment because it can alter the transient response. Hard and soft materials are both usefull in audio. I have used all kind of cones under my equipment but always come back to master base. Always 3 pucks. 1 under the transformer, other 2 to balance the case. It expands the soundstage inmediately. I also use techflex flexo noise reduction sleeving around my cabling for reducing microphonics. With these tweaks the sound is more focussed and less diffused. I must investigate more tweaks like a fiber optic network, quantum chips, fo.Q tape, grounding boxes, graphene contact enhancers, industrial ddr memory. Tweaking is a fun ride for the last bit of performance as long as it don't result in audio nervosa.
Suspending cables and power cords provides the best of all worlds. No more micro vibration, no more seismic type vibration, no more static electric fields. No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks! 😠
Skyscraper, get yourself a nice cookie jar and label it Hi Fi. If you get the urge to buy something ....silly, throw the money in the jar. Eventually you will have enough for something significant like a new cartridge. I do not understand this instant gratification thing. Spend your money where it really counts. If you are rich and don't mind throwing money away for the sake of experimentation fine, but otherwise go for the sure thing. You will wind up with a much better system in the long run. Geoffkait, you see? People do know when you are joking or being serious. It's fine to have obtuse thinking but you have to display it carefully with strangers. Must of us are just plain dumb. I include myself in that category.