Know of a "Dirt Cheap" tweak?

I am looking for tweaks to improve the overall sound quality of my audio system. I recently purchased some TPC contact cleaner and it made a believer out of me. I noticed a signicant improvement, as if a veil was lifted my system sounded more clear and transparent. Bass got tighter too. Do you know of any cheap tweaks that have made a SIGNIFICANT improvement to the sound quality of your Hifi system...let us know... :-) Comments welcomed!
Most tweaks dont come cheaply.Keeping your connections clean is maybe the cheapest but doesnt last long enough.Blu-tak is good for under small speakers/stands.When I had small speaker I used poster putty @ a buck or so a slab.I couldnt see spending $10 plus S+H for the real Blu-tak but the cheap stuff did work well.Before I broke down and bought BDR cones,Vibra-Pods,J.A.Mitchel cones and Bright Star Audio Big Rocks I used arrow tips under components.They even screw tightly in place of the stock feet that come with amps,pre-amps etc.They do work well too and are very cheap! $2 or so for 12 and avaliable at your friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart.Keeping your I.C.s,cables,powercords away from each other and off the floor is pretty cheap!! A 50 cent 8'x5'x2'concrete patio block painted black with 5 cent rubber grommets for feet on top of my CDP really helped to bring it into focus.If you cant afford the pricey room treatments try heavy throw rugs at the first reflection points and the front wall reflection points.Even this makes a large improvement in focus and imaging.Thats all I can think of now,hope this helps.Happy Hoidays!!!
I may be a wierdo, but I use clear plastic 4oz. "coctail" cups (think airplane beverage cart issue) with good results as cable suspenders. turn each cup upside-down, and cut a trough into the bottom of the cup. Make 8 to 10, and use it to keep the power, speaker, and interconnect cables off the floor. It is also not a good idea (in theory) to have cables pushed against a wall, as electrical fields develop in floor and walls, and having 3" of air between the cables and the flat, somewhat charged surface is a great insulator. Total cost, less than $5.
Vibrapods and a sheet of MDF or a Maple cutting board under the CD player are a cheap must do. I will be trying Mapleshade's Tenderfeet in a few days which are about the same price as the Pods. Keeping cables seperate and off of carpet and other surfaces as mentioned. My speaker cables run across the bottom of a doorway so I built a two channel box out of pine and brass screws to run them through (cut out the carpet and pad and cover it with a cotton rug that was always there). I hang my speaker wires with cloth ribbon from the bottom of standard bookshelves that are behind the speakers. I am also fanatical in regard to achieving the best speaker placement, which is free, within my limitations, as it makes loads of difference. If you have not tried isolation devices on the CD player though, start with the Vibrapods for $24.00, they greatly improved the sound of my old CAL player. Craig at Vibrapod will give you good advice on the setup. Oh, and Gthirteen is a real wierdo, just ask him what he does with the Planter's Peanut packs and the barf bag.
This doesn't help in every system, but this made a very audible improvement in my system. You need a voltmeter and a cheater plug(s) that will let you orient the ac plug(s) in either standard or reverse polarity. I made my own and used a grinder to remove metal from the thick sides of the ac adapter plug. Test the chassis voltage by touching the hot lead of the voltmeter to bare metal on the component chassis and the ground lead to a ground. Orient each component plug in the manner that gives the lowest voltage reading. I only had to reverse my cd player (Cambridge Audio CD4se.) It REALLY tightened up and extended the bass noticeably. Midrange sounded a touch more coherent and integrated.
I had a problem with Sibilance with my Perreaux amp...the T's and S's sounding much too harsh and opaque. Then, a guy from this site named Sean who is a professional sound engineer set me up with Mobile Spec interconnect cables that were fifteen bucks a pair. I think this must be used in radio applications. He said that when he engineered the sound for several big name bands, he uses these as Sibilance busters. Plainly put, I COULD NOT BELIEVE THE DIFFERENCE. Sorry to harp time and time again about these things, but I think they just buried my more expensive audio interconnects. BURIED THEM. Others have theorized that what has happend is that the cables are poorly designed and they act as a filter for certain high frequencies. I don't know, maybe, but they made my solid state sound much more like my tube amps. And I could not notice any loss of detail. Mobile Spec Performance cables. Don't know where you can get em. Ask Sean.
See my DIY thread under the heading "Best wires for cost". The design that I explained costs less than $3.00/ft, yet it has beat up many $400.00 per meter cables, really!
Spend $35 for a copy of Robert Harley's book. "The Complete Guide to High-End Audio" (2nd Edition). There is so much great advise in there about absolutely everything it will be the best $35 you ever spent.
Sand in zip-lock bags to be placed on top of cd players, dac, speakers even sides of turntables to add some weight, this will cut down on vibration.
Finyl. It s a clear liquid spray you spray on Cd s and then polish. I ordered some from ufh magazine audiophile store one day when I was bored. I was expecting nothing but know they wouldn't use it if they didn't hear an improvment of at least a little bit. Cautiously I took an old classical Deutsche Grammophon and followed the instructons. I was stunned to hear an almost unlistenable cd/ very bright/ become listenable. I seemed to take the top end grain right off. Next I tried my new Patrica O'Callaghan. The speakers just dissapeared. The sound stage moved up, out and back. Seriously. I was sitting im my chair trying to figure this out. I looked again at the back of the instructions and it said "smooths out brightness and improves sound stage". I thought maybe it worked well because I only have a Marantz 67se cd plaver and it could maybe use some help. So I Emailed UHF mag and asked if my this meant my player needed upgrading. They said they had heard improvments in very high end players. How much I dont know. I have done about 25 discs now and notice It affects some more than others but when it works its not one of these tweeks you have to strain to know if its better. It really stands out. Galen Carol has a product similar called Optrix. He says he has not compared the two but has been told Optrix works better. The products are supposed to prevent laser light diffraction. Cheers steve
Turn your equipment on a couple of hours in advance; start your listening session after midnight; listen in total darkness (except for the glow of the tubes, if any) - which may mean putting electrician's tape over annoying indicator lights; and eat a bar of chocolate at the beginning of the listening session.
That's interesting, audiokinesis. I've found that the chocolate actually deadens the vibrations in my stomach, much better than the bags of sand mentioned by Bozo.
Actually the tweak about the cups upside down is in a issue of Stereophile. I use dixie cups and lift my spkr cables off the floor with good effects. Good listening
Some neat stuff, like the chocolate one! Why after midnight? Well think about it, if the industry is making a gazillion power conditioners because of all the EMF and noise created by your neighbors dishwasher and your hearing it in your system, and you are, try listening late its like buying the worlds best power conditioner! You will hear a more black background in your system in fact all resolution comes more alive if you can hear the spray on your cd this will blow you away. Also can't help but comment on the mass issue you know, the sand bags the cutting board stuff that changes mass, ponder this little fact every thing has a frequency even you! Your audio gear every piece vibrates, when you and an isolator (cone or platform) you change the frequency of the total vibration.That my freind is the same with adding mass the art to this is to amplify or play only the frequency that is on the souce material! Mass usually helps speed up the natural gravitational pull that takes the largest amount of vibration out of our system. But that answers, why all these huge chasis out there? If you want to maximize your tweaking potential use Audiopoints. These take vibrations wich are the cause of disstortion (added frequencies caused buy wires and transfomers and such) and transfer them to your rack instead of your amp. Otherwise they'll be amplified and played for you. If not you will knowingly or not, keep toe tapping to your buzzing transformer! I recomend adding the mass as well. Sistrum the new stuff by starsound who makes audiopints ( is trully the altimate tweak. Anything you put on it becomes simply magical. Watch for info on this stuff or just buy one, I have and it wont ever go back. Merry Christmass god bless. Doc.
Try cupping your hands around your ears to varying degrees. Sticking your tongue out at bad recordings often helps.
Khrys, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Sometimes its the bad speakers that are at fault , especially the million dollar ones.
Hiwaves, if you haven't tried it, don't knock it. But, your post does indeed exemplify itself.
Khrys: Yawning (shortly thereafter) adds detail.
Touche Dekay! I fear you confuse effect with detail however.
How about, not humming along improves perceived detail then?
So you're not yawning after all. I can only presume you're not humming.
Go easy on Khrys. Sense of houmor is refreshing in this obsessive forum surfing......
Some of you thrilled at your 5 dollar tweaks but 2 bucks worth of weed will dramatically improve any system.
I agree Copernicus. Thats the best bang for the buck there is when it comes to inprovements in sound quality.
Nutmeg, and it's legal.
I would seriously question the wisdom of possessing nutmeg under the imminent Bush administration but agree fully with its value to those of us who know fresh-grated from packaged-powdered.
An ENT doctor friend of mine says it is the best tweek. Then again, it is good for business I guess.
Sorry about screwed up post-the tweek was ear cleaning.
Had a brief "thread discussion" with Dekay on this about a week ago and decided to try it as my CD player went out of warranty about a month ago. Go to Home Depot and buy the industrial vinyl floor tiles (3 at about 80 cents apiece). The industrial tile is much heavier and "deader" than the thinner peel and stick but requires an adhesive. Being lazy, I bought 3M outdoor reinforced carpet tape (double-sided) which is black and VERY tacky. Cut pieces and attached them to the underside of the lid of the player and the sides (except where ventilation holes were). The results-a definite improvement in bass performance-bass became more powerful and easier to follow. There was also an increase in transparency with individual instruments becoming clearer and easier to hear-vocals, particularly ends of sentences or verses where the voice "trails off" were much more easily discernable. On the whole, fuller, but also cleaner sound. Definitely worthwhile. $2.50 for the tiles $7.00 for the carpet tape. (Canadian $) My equipment is not ultra-high end so YMMV. Blake
Good go Blake: Now you make me want to tweak my tweak as I just used peel off stick on tile that I found behind the fridge when having linoleum installed. I need to power eveything down to work on my cabinet in a couple of weeks and will try it on my CAL player this time instead of the cheap mini system and let you know what happens. The CAL is somewhat brick like already, but you never know til you try. I like the carpet tape, which should be pretty easy to remove and clean off with a solvent if I need to remove the tile.
MY wife re-arranged the furniture in her cathedral ceiling sun-room.

What a tweak! Now it sounds exactly the way it should!

There is now a rattan sofa between the OHM Walsh speakers along the wall and fairly close to corners that is 70% windows. Imaging and soundstage has improved dramatically.

She did this of course for reasons other than sound quality but stumbled onto a good sound tweak in the process.

The OHMs continue on Auralex subdude platforms which is key for taming the bass resulting from floor interactions in that room which is tile over suspended plywood floors, a sonic disaster to start with.

What a woman!
Mass. Adding weight to woofer enclosures may help definition. Bricks on top, whatever you have handy. :)

Especially good for 2 and 2.5 ways with the woofers closer to the tweeter than the floor.
For dirt cheap fill a box with dirt for vibration control.
Drill holes in refrigerator for cables and place all electonics on racks inside. Support refrigerator with springs to isolate the while kit and kaboodle.

Benadryl, but only if you have allergies. 
Take some Blue Tac or some similar putty and make a small ball with it and put it under the edges of various circuit boards in our electronic equipment.. This sort of adds vibration control and damping and can be easily removed.
Putting digital and power on two seperate ac circuits makes a difference.
If your home has a crawl space or basement, placing supplemental support by way of jacks under the floor where your equipment rack, your speakers and subwoofer(s), if you have, are, will clean up the sound, especially the bass in my case (Vandersteen 2wq). Tightening  up the vibes thru the floor really cleans it all up. Did the laundry room at the same time  to even greater reduction in noise and transferred vibrations. And to a pleased wife.  I have a crawl space that runs from 3 ½ to 4 ft high. My jacks  from Home Depot ran up to 3 ft adjustible placing 4jacks, two with 4x6 beams across the spans between joists, and the other two just straight onto the joists. Total 4 hours start to finish and about $150. Home Depot had everything. Jacks ordered online and delivered. 

Completely agree with Kavakat1. Reinforcing my subfloor from beneath the crawlspace has been on my to-do list for some time now. Finally got around to it a few weeks back. I'm very pleased with the results. I cemmented 3 pillar blocks with 4X4 attached to the joists. Additionally I reinforced the joists by screwing 2X4 on each side butted up to the subfloor. Maybe overkill, but now my system sits on a much more solid foundation, close to a solid slab of concrete. Total cost was approx $200 in materials and 8 hrs. of labor.
Plus you get to spend time in the narrow confines under the house, where, I assure you, no one is going to come and bug you. 

Last week was lube time for my TTs.  This time used 5w30 Mobil One Synthetic.  It might be expectation bias but I like what I hear.  
The cheapest one I know of was mentioned (I think) by Stereophile: take your glasses off. Works only for the eyeglass wearers of course, but for the "lucky ones" it provides an extra benefit of Total Immersion into music. You wont be able to read/text/surf, only music! Goes well with "Immersion Box" sets by Pink Floyd ;-)
KAVAKAT1  be a man and fight for the dedicated listening room: its your house!! When I was younger I could do it, not any more :-(    Thats why you see headphones and portable CD player next to my "sweet spot" Big'n'Loving family successfully neutralizes all the benefits of my hi-end rig...
Some decades back VPI was manufacturing what was called a Magic Brick by many(their DB-5).   Nothing more than transformer laminates, inside a wooden box.   I still have a pair atop the power transformers of my Cary monoblocks, which cause an obvious(not at all subtle) focus of my system's imaging and sound stage, which isn't too shabby to start with.    If you can find them, they're popular and costly.    Whether one ascribes the benefit to them attracting magnetic flux(away from circuits) or damping vibrations(by their weight), or both- they DO improve performance.   Similar benefit can be achieved by obtaining simple steel BBs and filling plastic boxes with them.   Placing these above and below components, especially digital devices, will make a wide variety of changes(both improvements and detriments), so- experimentation is KEY!    The OP wanted, "Dirt Cheap" and this fits the bill: ( )  &  (  )   There are bigger boxes available of course and in some instances, more weight/more steel is beneficial.
@rodman99999 I still remember starting this discussion many-many years ago at the meet of Chicago audio society (hope I am not the only one from that meet who is still drinking'n'smoking) and the general consent was Yellow Pages on top of each box. I bought a bunch of Shakti Stones, they look better on top of my Naim amps and power supplies (better than Yellow pages I mean) but in terms of sonics - shoot me! I cannot return them so they stay


Q-Tips for cleaning all wall outlets contacts and power cord plug prongs in the house including those used for appliances, TV, computer, etc.

This is pretty much a free tweak.  Put your audio equipment device or interconnects into the freezer for 2 hours.  Then move to the fridge for 1 hour (slow cool down).  Then take out and let it sit for at least 5 hours to allow any condensation to dry.  What this does is additionally solidify the solder points and allows for a closer/tighter electrical transference.  Since there is less resistance over the solder points, it can also allow some components of electronics to run slightly cooler.  I have found additional resolution and soundstage from this treatment.  Keep in mind that since you are changing the metallurgy of the components somewhat, you would want to burn in the electronics again for at least 20-30 hours before making any judgements on the sound quality.

Non-solder components like speaker cable can have a subtle improvement by extended freezing (like 3-4 days).  It's somewhat akin to a poor-man's cryo treatment.