Free air, tighter bass - snake oil or cheap tweaks?

Usually when we talk about snake oil it's because some one is out to make a buck on the gullible.  In the case of these tweaks I want to recommend I'm not going to make any money, and you may not spend any either, but I find them useful.

Cover your Speakers

I don't know why a modest change in your acoustics can make such a difference but I usually find that covering my speakers adds a lot of air and room ambiance.  I like to use some thick curtains that I've had from a house a long time ago.  Works really well.

Weigh Your Speakers

I don't mean put them on a scale, but put a weight on top.  Of course, this doesn't apply to those with behemoths.  I find this especially useful with lightweight speakers that are on stands or very small footprints.  Think 2-ways, both bookshelf and floor standers.  I think the additional weight resists the tendency of the woofer to move the box back and forth, creating a kind of Doppler distortion in the bass. In some cases I find this tweak can really make a speaker sound tighter and clearer from the mid-bass downwards.

Clean up the Floor

We often pay attention to the walls, but not the floor, especially behind speakers.  I find that room treatment, cushions and blankets here can really cut out hash I didn't know I had. 


I often cover bass cabinets of my Aerial 10t with furniture blanket. Bass control this way is simply INCREDIBLE My speakers are loaded with lead shot on the bottom. I also use solid platform so they don't stand on carpet floor. 

Another cheap tweak:

Check and/or tighten up screws on your speaker drivers every once in a while.


Erik, I thought you were making a joke, but I soon realized you didn't mean covering the front of the speakers, and the drivers.

Damping small speakers with a weight , a tuned one, is very important...

I do it...




I soon realized you didn't mean covering the front of the speakers, and the drivers.


Um, that's not what I meant, but this would be a great way of getting rid of sibillance problems.   🤣

@erik_squires, I like both of your ideas.

Many years ago there was a company called Audio Concepts who sold to the DIY speaker builder market. They competed with Madisound and Parts Express and Meniscus. Anyway one of their kits was a medium-sized floorstander whose outer surfaces were covered with 2" thick egg-crate foam, with cut-outs for the drivers. Allegedly it imaged very well. I never went to that extreme, but admired their design for its no-holds-barred devotion to eliminating enclosure reflections and diffraction.  Your removable curtain/blanket approach has a MUCH higher WAF! 

As a longtime dipole enthusiast, I’ve often added weight to the top of a dipole speaker. The idea being, a dipole speaker is seldom perfectly rigid and free from rocking, so it can be thought of as an upside-down pendulum. Adding mass to the end of the pendulum (the top of the dipole in this case) lowers its natural rocking frequency, making it less prone to rocking at audio frequencies. Improvement shows up in imaging and bass response, but in my experience it’s usually not a huge improvement.

Duke,  y'all don't resort to the paisley chintz fabric.... ;)

People will giggle.....

I added weight (door stoppers, 2.8kg) on top of my bookshelves. However, the real deal comes from the decoupler below the speakers, specifically two layers of drum dampeners.

@ericsquires Great thread man! 

I found out that a really big "live" room sounds a lot like a bar band venue when i crank up the volume. Some reverb is actually preferable to a dead room. I've had good luck with thick Oriental rugs and hiding sound absorbers behind tapestries. 

Because my wife wants things to be "just so" In her great room I've had to forego the ultimate treatments.  Someday I plan to build a dedicated man cave cigar friendly old English club style listening room in the basement. The trouble is everything I want anymore costs insane money and I'm not Jeff Bezos.

Dreaming about and working towards the "next thing" is sometimes more fun than the score. 

Not exactly cheap, but Myesound stands on my Magnepan 1.7i was worth the added expense, IMO. Also, inexpensive sound scattering panels behind the Maggie’s was a nice little improvement.

Post removed 
Post removed 

@audiokinesis  Thank you. 

I have added felt around the front of speakers to good effect, so I can see how covering the front of a speaker in absorbent foam can work.  What I'm surprised at is that having a curtain that covers the top and sides works at all.  If asked to opine, I'd say that at best there would be some additional absorption in the room but not enough to matter.

PS - Focal speakers are great candidates for using PSA felt around the tweets.  Use a craft punch to make the hole and it looks pretty good.

I'm sorry but I'm a bit dim: what DOES he mean by "covering your speakers"?  Like, cover the exposed wood/hard surfaces with fabric or felt  (like the front panel of old Spica speakers)?

Rubberized Drawer Liner

This perforated, rubber drawer line is very good for sound and vibration dampening. There are several manufacturers of it. Available also in other colors such as taupe.

I used felt on all the surfaces of my speakers. No not on the tweeter and woofers...😊


Take a blanket or curtain or something like that and drape it over your speaker so the top and sides are no longer visible. Leave the front exposed and the rear if ported.

Back in the later 80’s during my first real chapter of high end audio, I had a pair of Conrad Johnson Premier One powered Duntech Marquis’s ( forerunner of Dunlavys) which were very good & only missing the last little bit of full low end extension of his Sovereigns which are still considered amongst the very best speakers ever made albeit huge & expensive. 

They were in a large living room in a rebuilt old New England  horse barn w/ solid oak T & G ceiling & just for kicks I decided to try to better couple the speakers to the tiled floor as the large speaker bases did not have spikes. I took one foot square  3/4” plywood w/felt glued on one side & cut 2x4’s to the exact needed length between the speakers & the ceiling.w/ the plywood pieces at each end. I slowly wedged the 2x4’s between the plywood pieces top & bottom. It was truly stupid looking but substantially improved the dynamics & especially imaging as well which that amp & speakers were very good at. I 

When my wife came home, she shook her head, laughed & gave me a look. Needless to say, my little experiment was over by the next day but it was fun while it lasted. 

Here is my snake oil advice:

If you live in a high humidity area, use a dehumidifier to keep humidity at 40 % or below. If humidity gets higher than 50%, the sound will become muffled. If you like clarity, keep the humidity low. It's for real on a revealing system and in a revealing listening room. It's so obvious in my house of stereo. Every time.

Your observation is correct, and it does seem counterintuitive. The speed of sound generally increases in less dense media, such as humid air compared to dry air. However, the perception of sound can be affected by various factors.

In the case of humidity, it might not necessarily cause the sound to be muffled directly. Instead, humidity can affect the absorption and dispersion of sound waves. High humidity can absorb some higher frequency components of sound, leading to a perception of muffled or dull sound.

Changes in weather conditions, temperature, and humidity can have complex effects on how sound behaves. While the speed of sound may be faster in humid air, other acoustic properties and environmental factors can contribute to the overall perception of sound. It's an interesting phenomenon, and your observation during the rainy season may provide additional insights into these acoustic effects.

@yesiam_a_pirate +1 “Dreaming about and working towards the "next thing" is sometimes more fun than the score.”

Banking back to being serious.....and perhaps an interesting query, @erik_squires 

What if I’ve an omni on a column, with nothing that could be considered a side?

All I could do is wrap the column itself...and have been considering a tapered column that would ’accentuate’ the taper of the Walsh drivers....

On a practical level, too top-heavy imho....

@classic8 kidding...*L*

....we can ignore the room for the moment....That becomes a whole discussion of and by itself....

Apply the KISS option... ;)

@asvjerry  If it's something like a Walsh speaker, the bass section provides plenty of area to cover, for an MBL though not so much.

Erik my KLH model 9 are covered with cloth I like the sound.My Norh speakers I have applied felt around the tweeter it Works.Putting weight on top of the speakers helps not much.i go to hardware store for that, I think Marigo has weight but expensive.Some like them.

@jayctoy As far as I'm concerned, any heavy weight (5 lbs or more) would work regardless of how fancy it is.  No need for a Magico brand.

@asvjerry - I think that the reason my curtain idea works is reflections coming off those flat hard surfaces.  If a speaker is a column shaped it's not going to have the same problems to begin with.

Erik if have the means to buy expensive gear I will. For what I have Iam more than satisfied. When I go to axpona and listen to expensive set up one or two will impress me but I don’t miss them.

I have 2 fully insulated Chewbacca suits, 1 for each speaker. I find the coarse hair textures really help settle the image. I suppose you could use grizzly or maybe moose. however I'd try the shorter moose on monitors.

Totem used to give those beaks away to put on top of their speakers. I never did hear a difference with the beaks.

*S* Thanks, less thing of concern or to be about. ;) 5's

If it was at the level of MBLs' I'd likely not be all that concerned anyway, tho'.

Like the idea of a tapered (cone) column, but don't want to be mistaken for a Dalek.

Cheers, J

I want to be clear, when I'm talking weight, I mean WEIGHT!!

Not "resonance dampers" or whatever those things are called.  Let's talk 20 lbs. or so.


The weight must be tuned...

Generally it is heavier than what people will do without test...


I had 80 pounds on my Mission...

On my 4 inches woofer small speakers , i put  25 pounds...

 The results with   a sandwich of 5  materials coupling -decoupling sandwich together  is amazing...



@erik_squires Why not put some photos on your details page of these tweaks.  Just to get a better idea of how they look.

@vitussl101  And have you all steal my ideas?? 🤣


Honestly though, this isn't an exact science.  Just drape absorptive cloth over the sides of your speakers and see if it helps.

@erik_squires And here I thought that you had an elegant approach to this and not @mahgister sandbags and whatever approach to audio.

We agree together that erik_squires is more knowledgeable than me on many audio matters and more polite than you ....😊

My approach has anything to do with sandbag but only with cost... I dont invest money in audio i prefer to be creative ...

By the way if you had read me i suggested the same thing than him and approved him  ...


@erik_squires And here I thought that you had an elegant approach to this and not @mahgister sandbags and whatever approach to audio.

"The problem with forums is, since one is posting into The Void, it might not only echo you, but Find You..." *snicker* (...and not a candy bar, nooo...*L*)

I'll be running 'bout 20ish lbs, even if I don't need to be concerned....*S*....since all the drivers will be at the top....+ hardware...grills....planted pot  I mean potted plants....'cuse, carried away.... ;)

Happi Fried dai....

Elegance is what one can strive for, limited only by ones' creativity and craft, @vitussl101 ...

Go thee forth and astound, therefor....;)

jayctoy's avatar


3,575 posts


Erik my KLH model 9 are covered with cloth I like the sound.My Norh speakers I have applied felt around the tweeter it Works.Putting weight on top of the speakers helps not much.i go to hardware store for that, I think Marigo has weight but expensive.Some like them.

I assume you know that the weight must be properly burned in. Best done with a CD on repeat at low volume for a couple of months.

So, to many I know this sounds like snake oil, but the weight has simple reason for working.  With smaller speakers, especially tall, narrow two-way speakers, the motion of the woofer pushes against the box, potentially causing a rocking back and forth effect.

This varies, of course, based on the height, weight and rigidity of the speaker.  For giant 200 lb rigid speakers there's no possible benefit here.

This does not have to be "tuned" because the issue isn't any one particular resonant frequency but the entire band of the woofer. 


I'm going to toss in some things that may be of interest to newbies and potentially some salty veterans of our beloved hobby.  I have become inured to the slings and arrows over decades, so...

Every several months, unplug your gear and anything with a surge risk, then go to your electrical panel and flip the main and each individual circuit a few times. 

Even if you do not have a dedicated line to your audio system, upgrade to at least a hospital grade outlet, even in apartments.  If you must have other electrical devices on the same circuit in your apartment or dwelling, especially a fridge, furnace, or A/C...plan your listening around them if possible.  Additionally, there are shunting plug-in devices that do help quiet their outlets, for little money.  As a lifelong audio guy who rented for many years, I took it upon myself to meet my new neighbors, explain my hobby and show respect for their lifestyles.  It works.  

From the mountaintop...treat your room to match its loudspeaker placement and design.  Nothing is more cost effective in creating the best sonics for that space.  A couple clicks will find concrete information, sourced from reliable sites.  Some offer a free evaluation of your specific room, following up with advice.  Simply, not an area to skimp.

Level and physically isolate your electronics, taking care to not run power cords parallel to other cables, crossing them at 90 degrees if necessary.  An inexpensive start for isolation is Vibrapods and Vibracones, paying strict attention to the weight of your boxes and location of pods, as recommended on their website (noting the added weight of plugs and cables.)  Caution, the pods can mar surfaces.  Playing cards serve well between them and surfaces.

Some have suggested placing weights upon loudspeakers, particularly monitors, without a "why."  Judicious weight to deaden the box atop stable, non-resonating stands is important.  Some go to lengths of shoring up the flooring beneath the stands like you might for a turntable. If that's not possible, experimenting with tiptoes may work.  High-end manufactures go to heroic extremes to deaden materials surrounding drivers.  Other inexpensive ways of deadening loudspeaker boxes include Mortite with flattened strips of lead inserts, maybe inside the box and crossover board.  This can serve for corners of resonating windows also.  At the very minimum, carefully tighten up the nuts that hold the drivers in place.   

Over the years, my more elegant solution to reducing vibration and hysteresis is in carefully applied Marigo Tuning Dots to cabinets, and under the hood of electronics, crossovers, and connectors.  This article is dated, yet no less applicable today:  The Audiophile Voice | MARIGO AUDIO LAB  

I'll stop here.  As an ACTIVE music lover with a great passion for improving sound for myself and others, I remain alert for ways to promote great sound for anybody who may have interest.  Just yesterday "The Audiopheliac," Steve Guttenberg released a video on his YouTube Channel...a studio tour and interview with pianist, composer, producer and arranger, David Chesky.  David has spent his career improving upon and sharing great audio.  He is graciously evenhanded in his patience and tolerance for others. allowing them space in their journey, and in how music works for them.  A true Mentor. 

For those of us more scientifically searching, the BACCH-dsP is firmly upon our audio horizon. 

More Peace            Pin        (bold print for old eyes)









@waytoomuchstuff .....way too late for free....Ref: "Tax Man" (Beatles)....

....even available in canned 'huffers' of oxygen for the altitude challenged and/or the COPD' me....

....wonder if it's available in 'Panama Red' scent.....?

@erik_squires ....."...just 'n excitable boy...." *familiar 6 note coda*, Stay.

....Been There.....

*stylus hissss*

*'URPLE DAZE  is in muh HEAD

muybbe got sum

frum dat moldie BRED

Actin' funnie don care YYYY

Scuz me wile I eat dis rye..... *DOOM DOom doom"

....maybe something softer.....



...woofer/mid-range not an issue, it and the tweet vertically aligned on the originals....*S*

I admired Maggie Roche....same age, liked her lyrics....RIP, Mags....

Live, the ladies could put your hair on end with their harmonies...

Sounds like you just need to get new speakers you actually enjoy listening to.

The Roches album "Can We Go Home Now" remains one of my most cherished plots of music.