Most Tedius Part of Audiodom Setup/Tweak/DIY ?

Hi, guys,

the moment we audiophiles step foot (feet for those who JUMP in) into the madness called high-end audio, we are bound to become more and more hands-on kind of people, for various reasons.

The level of hands-on experience can range from the common excercises like speaker placement or feet replacement for electronics to building one's own amps or speaker cabinets.

While the successful execution of any of these "labor of love" will put smile on our faces, the labor itself can be boring, time consuming, dangerous (!), and/or sometimes downright difficult.

What do you feel has been the most memorably painful/tedious experience as hands-on audiophiles?

Thank you,

Hi David; IMO even though speaker placement/location is a common task all audiophiles face, it is probably the most important in terms of yielding beneficial results. When we remodeled our house and I gained a bigger listening room, I spent 61 days playing with speaker location. And with 70 lb. spiked speakers it became physically demanding, was also mentally draining, and at times tedious.

But 61 days later I was satisfied that I had tried almost every conceivable location, and ended up being happy with what turned out to be a very good compromise-- that's right, a compromise. I considered all the trade-offs of different positions, and settled on an excellent compromise-- no regrets here. Cheers. Craig
Taking apart and re-assembling in another spot is certainly the most tedious (I'm doing this as we speak) process I can think of. Narrowing it down to a single item, I would have to say re-'tweaking' the rack and levelling each shelf one by one is a mind-numbing task. Although, setting up a cartridge may take top honors and at least runs a close 2nd.
Most tedious: had to be building my own amps from scratch. Tweaking the design seems to never end, & even when you do eventually finish, you know in the back of your mind that it could still be better. I only stopped because I was so tired of messing with it - & after the second generation design it was getting really frustrating, less & less fun. Gives you some idea of what the designers have to struggle with.
Most memorably difficult was building my first speakers, again from scratch. I am not good with woodcutting, but they came out what I thought was wonderful (well for me it was). Those heavy 15" 3way monster cabinets served for many years & were upgraded several times before I bought my first & only pair of *real* speakers which were really so much better I just couldn't believe it. But considering that initially I had more time than money, it was all worthwhile & certainly hooked me into this hobby very permanently.
So Dave, what are some of your own exploits in this regard? Sounds like you've had some experiences of your own?
Speaker placement & equipment support. As I'm not a builder unlike Bob above, tuning the equip through supports has always been the worst. Move a cone and the sound shifts, add mass, and there it goes again. Not better or worse, just different. Then move the speakers to adjust to the new tuning, then back again... ad nauseam. Add to that my laziness in such matters, and the result is mega tedium.

During such (rare nowadays) tweaking sessions I usually just give up half way and listen to the music...!

I agree that disassembling/reassembling a system to move it to another room or another location in the room, or to put it all on a new rack is the WORST. Somehow I always end up w/bruised fingers from slamming my hand into the wall unplugging tight interconnects from a too-tight space, plus the lower back ache that lasts for a couple of days! The worst experience in audio I have had to date was moving into my townhouse. I had to disassemble and pack up 3 systems, 3000 CDs, 1000 LPs, and 250 LDs and DVDs. Plus two TVs. I swear I will never move again. I am here for life.
Hi, guys,

thanks for responding.

Garfish: yes, speaker location IS very important and CAN be very time consuming. In my studio apartment, there is a side wall next to the left speaker but none on the right side. Also, behind the speakers is a wall-width blinder, which is always only half-closed. One result of this "elephant man" of an acoustic space is that the voice is always shifted to far right. I had to spend many days fiddling with 70 lbs.-per-side speakers before I started getting a centered voice. Until I got it right, I thought it would never happen. Talk about a dark tunnel.

Centurymantra: I know about tearing a system down and setting it up at a new spot. No one could PAY ME to do it. It's the PASSION ALONE that makes me do it. Your setup seems to require quite a bit more work than mine, though, since I don't really have an audiophile rack, although I do have amp stands.

Bob bundus: Right now, I'm on the verge of tweakazoid/DIY border. I would like to take it slow with DIY. I'm currently trying out different vintage fullrange single-drivers--the ones with high efficiency for mating with SET's. For their cabinets, I'm looking feverishly on Ebay for the suitable plug-n-play (also vintage) cabinets that are reasonably placed. This is the reason I only buy round drivers with standard diameters (8" or 12") and not oval or 10" drivers.

Thank you,

Strangely enough, I love to do all of the tasks mentioned above. Turntables are probably the most frustrating component, mostly because of the cartridge. But even still, I don't really mind. What is the most tedious, least fun and frustrating experience is the break-in. I mean, what is worse than busting your stones doing all of the wonderful exercisies everyone has mentioned above this post, only to have to walk away until such a time as is necessary to come and go before you can expect an accurate and consistent result from your system. In other words, you don't in most cases get to play with your toys after all of that work. Not until they've broken in. And I think for most audiophiles, that has to be the worst. Let's face it, most of us never got over Christmas. The excitement of new ownership of that prized toy we want so badly is at least partially responsible, or part of the high that goes with this hobby. I know all too well it is for me.
So, for the most tedious, frustrating and mind-numbing tweak of all, I vote for the break-in.
All of the following can be a REAL bear in my experience in no specific order:

1) assembling very tall threaded rod racks with quite a few shelves. MAN, that is a LOT of spinning and tightening of nuts & washers, etc...

2) Installing / routing / relocating a large system, i.e. a big HT system with two million cables can really have you pulling your hair out and speaking French ( "PARDON my French"...).

3) Speaker placement. Need i say more ??? Probably the most elusive "fine art".

4) TT set up. Not just setting up the cartridge but making sure that it is DEAD level, well isolated, etc... Kind of fun and a challenge though...

5) Trying to track down and correct room resonances, rattles, flexing in suspended floors, etc... Just as you get one situation straightened out, you can now hear or notice other things that seem to become just as annoying or bothersome.

6) Trying to install a system for someone that is not well versed in the fine art of "tweaking" i.e. a non-audiophile or beginner. They just don't understand what you're doing or how it will help. Especially the part about "why are the speakers out there" or "why are you moving the speakers SO much"... That is, until they hear the end results.

Sheesh, after all of that, do i REALLY enjoy all of this or am i just a glutton for punishment ??? : ) Sean
Doing the connections cleaning maintenance that requires disconnecting and swabing spraying of each half of the connection and putting back together each......

Let´s see in a simple system:
wall plate or filter to power cord times x according to number of components
wall plate to filter power cord
filter power cord to filter
filter outlet to component power cord
power cord to component
interconnect component to source
interconnect to component target
breaker contact points at breaker box.
etc etc etc
SO I got bored just thinking about it...
Last weekend I just finished installing a subpanel with eight dedicated 10 ga. 20 amp lines to power my stereo and HT. Most normal people would hire an electrician. However for ~350$ in materials, and around four days labor, this has been one of the most cost effective upgrades that I have made to date.

It took quite a bit of planning, care, and labor...

1) Map all house circuits, move noisy appliances (like refrigerators, microwave, furnace, etc.) to the phase not used by the stereo/HT.

2) Make room at the top of the service panel bus bars for two sets of bipole breakers, arranged left to right so that one breaker from each set is connected to the same phase tab(this allows two 50 amp breakers on the same phase, and first dibs on incomming power).

3) Tighten all grounds and neutrals in the main panel.

4) Replace the service panel ground wire with bare 4 ga stranded wire, clean connections on grounding rod.

5) Run 80' of 3 wire 6 ga. Romex cable to oppisite corner in the basement, and connect to Square D sub panel (keep ground and neutral separated, common ground back at the main panel).

6) Prepare 8 30' runs of 10 ga. Romex, bundle together, number each wire at both ends, and hold together with nylon wire ties.

7) Bore access holes in joists and sill plates, run dedicated lines to listening room (cross base access only).

8) Install receptacle boxes in walls (after removing all equipment and racking)

9) Clean and install breakers in subpanel, map dedicated lines, balance load, and connect at subpanel.

10) Install receptacles and face plates.

11) Test power, polarity, and grounds.

12) Reinstall racking, equipment, rout cables.

Crappy job #1 is running hidden speaker cables for the surrounds in the HT setup. The deal in our house is that I can have as many speakers as I want - just don't let me see the wires. Snaking cable though basement, crawl space, attic and stud cavities rate #1 on things I hate to do. When we remodel I am going to so overwire that I'll never have to do that again. Close second is moving the system ... rack and all. The urge to just slap it together so I can get back to music is unbearable.
WOW !!!! Tom, whether or not your "electrical surgery" made a difference ( and i bet it did ), you are to be applauded just for having the guts to initiate let alone tackle such a major project. Now all you need to do is to have Sol322 stop by and carefully clean and prune all those connections : )

I wish that i had the fortitude to get things done like that. I've got SO many projects backed up right now. Then again, if i got off the puter once in a while... : ) Sean
Sean, I procrastinated as long as I could, but finally decided to take a couple days off from work to takle this project. I had six dedicated lines before, however I was cheating by doubling up the neutrals as 'hot' on three 12 ga runs to my room, and ran a dedicated neutral/ground back to the panel. I didn't feel comfortable with this arrangement. I hoped for some improvement, but was pleasantly surprised by how much everything improved. The noise floor has dropped dramatically, there are no ground loop problems, and the overall power, control, and resolution has been notched up.
Tom, I had an electrician install about 10 dedicated circuits for me in my listening room, but it only took him about 6 hrs. After reading your post, I fear I got ripped off! I had no idea what to check or look for in his work. I just saw that I had 10 new hospital-grade outlets on my wall and thought all was well. Now, I'm not so sure. Well, I'll just choose not to think about it! Great job, great initiative, great courage. Are you an electrician or electrical engineer? I am an English major, lawyer, and female, and the biggest DIY project I have ever undertaken was to build several tall bookcases w/glass doors and extra shelves for CDs, from Ikea. I too took 2 days off from work to accomplish my project.
tho i've not tried myself to install separate circuits for my audio equipment (like sarah, i had an electrician do that), i have tackled a few jobs i might have done better, in hindsight, to have employed experts to do. the one task that comes most readily to mind involved my purchasing a scientific-grade air compressor to power my airtangent tonearm. i installed the compressor onto a hand-built damping stand and put that in a vented box that was lined with sonex. this box was then moved into a storage area about 40 ft. from my tt/tonearm. that space was also covered with sonex. i ran tubing from the compressor through a finished sofit, which required my using several 8 ft. lengths of pvc to "push" the tubing to a plate in the ceiling i constructed from a solid copper switchplate and various fittings. after installing a remote switch, pressure and flow gauges at each end, desiccant filters and other fittings, i ended up with a very cool air source that's completely hidden from view. once i get my basis debut 5 vacuum (gotta win some more consumer fraud cases that i take on contingent fee bases!), i'll "reverse" the airflow of my pneumatic system, which will allow me to house the vacuum pump where the compressor has resided. (i know this is pretty silly, since the basis pump is very quiet, but i'm not gonna let all my work go to waste). -cfb
Come on guys .... none of it is tedious REALLY is it ? We may complain about finding optimal speaker placment or routing wires around the room so as not to trip the spouse, but really we love it ... that's why we do it. So let's not pretend that we don't enjoy it. Actually the part I least enjoy is having to pay for the equipment, because this inevitably means having to go to work to earn the money in the first place. Unfortunately as a law abiding citizen there really is no way around this problem.
> Unfortunately as a law abiding citizen there really is no > way around this problem.

Now, THERE is a dangerous part :)
I have one more to add, having just done this twice in the last few days during the course of re-arranging. Any audiohound with a large vinyl collection would certainly agree that pulling out and moving a record collection is MOST tedious.
Kelly ( aka Cornfed ), out of curiosity, what arm are you using ? If it is what i think it is, it is already somewhat "fiddly" to start off with. I think that i've got the same arm on one of my tables. If it is, u and me need to "hook up" via email. I need some edukatin' on the in's and out's. Sean