My list of tweaks and the verdict


As metro NY has been pretty much shut down for the past 11 months and counting, I get so bored sometimes that I find experimenting by buying tweaky audio products to be a helpful reprieve and keeps me from spiraling into the abyss.
So this is what I have purchased in the past 6 months and my quick verdict on sonic impact — what I hear or perceive to hear using my brain and ears in my 2 channel all analog all tube setup:

Not in any particular order and using baseball terms:

1. Walker Audio Talisman. Strikeout. A big swing and miss. The silliest purchase for sure.

2. Copper ankle socks. Home run. No more shocks when I touch my tonearm. Just wow. Least expensive tweak to date that works.

3. Symposium Segue amp shelves. Strikeout. Heard no difference in noise floor, bass, etc. But looks really nice.

4. Symposium Segue ISO Stealth turntable shelf with Rollerblocks Series 2. Home run. Out of the park. Really hear and SEE a significant improvement in everything - clarity, bass, soundstage. Took the performance of 2 very different turntables up a lot. “See” because my needle would jump sometimes and now you can actually see the rollerblocks doing their job swaying back and forth with no impact on the music like a building a Japan. Disclaimer: Room suffers from significant footfall.

5. Townshend Seismic Isolation Platform under my Harbeth 40.2 Ton Trager stands. Home Run. Further improvement due probably to serious footfall in my room. My most expensive tweak but worth it to me.

6. Stein Music Carbon Edition Perfect Interface. Another big swing and miss. Strikeout. Zero diff perceived vs no mat or stock mat. Most expensive swing and miss.

7. Yellow bird Hexmat. A solid double. First time I’ve heard a mat make a noticeable improvement. Probably cause this mat is a record isolator/decoupler and again reduces impact from vibrations.

8. Stillpoint Ultra LPI ver2. A solid double. This one is so easy to A/B and hear a noticeable improvement on some songs vs using no record weight or even the stock record weight. Basically things got quieter enabling me to turn up the volume which increased the perceived dynamics. Plus it looks really cool.

9. Symposium rollerblock jr. Under my phonostage or preamp. Strikeout. I don’t hear any impact on the noise floor but theoretically it’s there.

10. Isoacoustics Gaia tried under preamp, phonostage, amp. Strikeout. Didn’t hear anything noticeably different but again theoretically it’s doing something.

11. Assorted tube rolling. NOS, new new etc. Not sure if this is a tweak but I didn’t really hear any discernible difference to my memory. But it was fun to learn and do it.

Well there you have it! Anyone have similar experiences?


aj523
aj523, I wonder if you made any observations:

(a) about your own objectivity, viz a vis price paid vs. results? From what I can tell, you seem to be setting that aside, but what do you think about your own objectivity? (A hard question, but one we can get better at!)

(b) about those tweaks that did nothing but which you suspect was not adequately tested by your setup? Sometimes, I've done something to my system thinking I'd hear a difference, and when I didn't, people have sometimes pointed out things like, "Your noise floor is too high for you to test that" or "You don't have a dedicated power line, so it would be hard to tell." 
Hi hilde45
Hard question for sure. But I feel like I have zero ego in this area and am being fully transparent to the extent my brain is allowing me to be. I had no problem saying to myself and to others as documented above that I wasted money and effort. Definitely have not willed anything to be “all that” when it ain’t!
Not entirely following your point in (b). My intention was not to state a product is worthless to everyone just to me. Certainly there is a law of diminishing returns here which could be the explanation. But like the Walker Talisman, my fiancée sees me waving it like a wand over my records and thinks I’m friggin nuts - I really wanted her to be wrong lol
AJ, my (b) point was not that. Much more innocent, friendly. I’m only remembering that some of the tweaks I tried I only realized later were things I couldn’t have actually tested because of factors I hadn’t considered. It’s similar to those times someone asks you to taste something just after you’ve eaten something spicy? You might taste it and then realize that you have other things going on (the extant flavor in your mouth) which obscures the new taste. Maybe that’s clearer...
I follow now I think lol.  I guess synergy, the weak link, and things like that can play a role here. 
Anyway I hope this is a helpful tool for others looking for tweaky improvements. 
I created too many homemade devices to be described here, at low cost, and all were useful to reach my actual S.Q.  And this S.Q. is the best i ever listen to...

What is the problem?

Costly devices are GENERIC and created for all needs...

My peanuts cost device were SPECIFIC and  adapted for my ears in my room...

Simple....
aj523,
I enjoyed report on your tweaks.  What dry record brush are you using?  Try these 3 tweaks:
1.  tweakaudio EVS ground enhancer
2.  ingress audio engineering rollerblock
3.  herbie's audio lab super black hole cd mat
Aj, I think you need to give yourself a little more credit. A point of note however is that your strike outs were predictable based on deductive reasoning. No synergy thing here just total BS. Hopefully your report will keep others from wasting money.
If you are thinking of spending more money you might want to upgrade your turntable. Really good ones do not care what you put them on. They start out life well isolated. 
The only synergy going on here is with the mind. Some of us are more open to suggestion and do not have the background to determine what is feasible vs total BS. It is the way things are and there is no getting away from it. Nature operates on a Bell curve.

@soundcheck6

Thanks !
I use Onzow zero dust stylus cleaner. I don’t think of that as a tweak though. But I will definitely look into the three recommendations you mention; unless of course the City opens up and returns to normal :)
@mijostyn

Thanks!! But Don’t underestimate a room with serious footfall even if the turntable is heavily isolated and well...heavy. Do some jumping jacks in my room and it simply doesn’t matter if the plinth and platter weigh 20 kilos or more each. Anyway, deductive reasoning is no fun when you’re hunkered down but I am learning.... :)




Have you tried Nobsound springs? Not as good as Townshend Pods. But remarkably good for how little they cost. If you try them I will not be surprised if you agree they are better than everything else EXCEPT for the Townshend.

As for your other tweak results, I could have saved you an awful lot of time and trouble. If you're looking for tweaks that are mostly all grand slams- Synergistic Research HFT, ECT, PHT. Schumann generators. fO.q tape. Get at least a half a dozen Schumann generators. I'm currently running eight.
The only synergy going on here is with the mind. Some of us are more open to suggestion and do not have the background to determine what is feasible vs total BS. It is the way things are and there is no getting away from it. Nature operates on a Bell curve.
Your first point about synergy and some devices being ONLY in the mind is completely false being a general assumption that means nothing for each specific case...

"Some of us are more open to suggestion and do not have the background" is a badly veiled attack or a paternalist remark at best, not an argument at all....Sorry....

And Nature by the way never operate on a Bell curve.... The Bell curve or the Gauss curve normal distribution MASKED the fine graining of reality that percolate trough the visible scale of the Bell and through the illusory normal distribution which is an easy tool that erase the concrete meaningful details ....

« The bell curve satisfies the reductionism of the deluded. »p.242 " Fooled by randomness" Nicholas Taleb an expert on the Bell curve by the way in 5 books...Pick one....

https://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/GIF.pdf

I apologize for my correction about your points but it is not possible sometimes to let pass some affirmation that are as free as deceiving....

My best to you anyway.....




«No plane will ever fly... Why? It is the way things are and there is no getting away from it.»- Anonymus Smith

 I can state flatly that heavier than air flying machines are impossible.
— Lord Kelvin, 1895

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/no-one-can-explain-why-planes-stay-in-the-air/
You know the biggest BS that many are susceptible to? The BS that says people who haven't tried or heard know better and are entitled to second-guess those who have.


@millercarbon
Thanks!! I’m a big Townshend fan so will be doing more tweaking with them for sure.
But I don’t love Nobsound springs cause they are undamped and their resonance frequency is much higher than my symposium stuff and they have rubber as a component which I’ve found to be a big no no due to it’s grounding effects which is of course counter intuitive when it comes to damping. 
But I’ll definitely check out Schumann generators looks interesting! Thanks again !!
But I’ll definitely check out Schumann generators looks interesting! Thanks again !!
Check my schumann generators grid modified with "golden plate" and my last creation using cheap chinese ionizer to smooth the room...

Peanuts cost and powerful results....



For the springs i use them but they must be used with 2 set of 4 for each speaker one set under and the other set on top under the heavy damping load.... The speakers must be damped by an heavy load (around 75lbs) to create a dyssimetric compressive force between the 2 sets to decrease the internal resonance of the rectangular speakers box....If not the musical timbre perception is unnatural....In my experience one set of spring under speakers is NOT  the good way...

My best to you....


mahgister.....send a link
mahgister.....send a link
About what? i speak about many things....

I have a thread about all my devices....Feel free to read....

If you have a question i will try to answewr if i can....

My best to you....
2.  Copper ankle socks. I can not for the life of me believe that another human acknowledged the power of this. Uncanny!
@ricmci 
To quote Elvis, “Thank you thank you very much” 
You forgot the tinfoil hat, cuts down on both RFI and EMF...i don’t always listen to my stereo, but when I do, I wear my tinfoil hat. I saved money and made it myself. Don’t knock it unless you’ve tried it! 😉

Oh, almost forgot, my wife had some extra yarn lying around, so I used it to raise my speaker cables off the floor. You see, I tied one end to speaker cables and attached other end to thumb tacks in the ceiling! I actually think it looks nice, except you need to be mindful they are there, or you will inadvertently strangle yourself in a dimly lit room!

Wait, one last one...I place a large pitcher of water on coffee table in front of my listening position. I swear by this, as I do believe it is somehow absorbing the standing waves in that area of My room.
1) Iso Acoustics Orea insulators under my receiver seemed to help the sound considerably. 
2) Iso Acoustic Gaia III under my speakers didn't seem to change the sound from the previous spikes.
3) Audioquest Type 5 speaker cables didn't seem to do much.
4) Voodoo power cord didn't seem to do much. 
 ***Although, all tweaks together did give me better sound overall and I'm still in the break-in period on the cables and power cord. 
Aj, a properly designed turntable with a proper suspension will TOTALLY ignore foot falls. You can hit a SOTA with a hammer and it won't care. Jumping jacks? No problem. SME's and Basis turntables will also ignore foot falls but you can not hit them with a hammer. Check out the Sota Cosmos Vacuum. It has vacuum clamping, a magnetic thrust bearing, a top motor management system and a hinged dust cover that will not alter sound when down. All this for 1/3rd the price of an SME 30/2.
@dwhess, I hate to be a stick in the mud but power cords and cables do not break-in. Mechanical devices do and perhaps tubes. Many manufacturers support the break-in myth because going against audiophile lore costs them business. The myth is an illusion caused by our central nervous system's ability to accommodate to various stimuli.
A good example is your cologne. When you put it on the smell initially is quite strong but after a while you do not smell it at all. Did it wear off? Not at all. You walk into the office and your secretary holds her nose. You simply accommodated to the smell. I remember walking into the coroner's "office" in Miami while he was doing a post on a decomposing body. The stench was overwhelming. I almost lost it before getting a mask laced with mint oil. The coroner laughed. He had no mask on at all. He was use to it. He called us "pansy a--ed medical students. Up against the ceiling he had a shelf that went around the entire room with his collection of smashed up and bloody motorcycle helmets. His suicide lecture was a favorite. He gave us a slide show of people who had blown their heads off. Quite a guy.  
Thanks mijostyn but this thread isn’t really about my component choices but just my experience with various types of audio tweaks over the past few months and their impact, if any, on improving the hifi “brain to ear” experience in my existing audio room; being as objective and transparent as humanly possible. 

Cheers :)
Total approximate cost of the above mentioned tweaks?
I just bought 4 of the Nobsound branded Schumann generators from Amazon so I’ll get them Tuesday and they are returnable if they don’t work for me.    
@aj523,  

"on improving the hifi “brain to ear” experience in my existing audio" 

 I sorta thought it was ear to brain. My point aj is that the equipment is where the money is not in these things. Most tweaks are only about improving the eye to brain experience. I think audiophiles would save a lot of money if they were blind, not that I would wish that on anyone.
If I take two identical cables and just put a fancy jacket on one and jack the asking price many people are going to think the jacketed cable sounds better. I admire your experimental attitude and if you can afford it, experience is the best teacher. The hard part is knowing your own weaknesses and keeping them from biasing the results. 
I bought a Nobsound record clamp once. It was very disappointing.
Right ear to brain. It was a bad joke. Anyway since I have little interest in claiming what I have is the best or that any audio tweak that I spent money on must work, it simply comes down to what I’m hearing and if i think it sounds better than it doesn’t really matter if it’s real or some false perception. It’s only my sensory experience that matters here.
For the record clamp I had my son take the Stillpoint record clamp and the stock clamp which is about half the weight and I had him stand at the turntable and switch between them and none at all and it was really cool hearing when the music sounded best to me. He heard it too but he had knowledge I didn’t, although I didn’t tell him one cost like 5x the other lol. Anyway it was harder to replicate that with the Uber expensive Stein mat but I tried and for the life of me couldn’t hear a difference between it and no mat. Doesn’t mean it’s not there I just couldn’t hear it. But that hexmat wow but perhaps with a SOTA I wouldn’t have heard such a stark improvement in either the clamp or the mat.   Lots of fun regardless.
I sorta thought it was ear to brain. My point aj is that the equipment is where the money is not in these things. Most tweaks are only about improving the eye to brain experience.
This is completely false....

The S.Q. is where your creative work to rightfully install the gear is, in his working dimensions...My 500 bucks system is better to my ears than very, very costly system ....

Attacking blindfully all devices as "snake oil" is pure prejudices and ignorance...Some are, some are not...

My own devices cost nothing or almost nothing and are homemade and completely transformed my audio....Hallucinations?

Think before judging and recommending to people to throw money at upgrades ........The world is bigger and more surprizing than what consumerism dictate you to think it is....

It is more clever to learn how to control the mechanical electrical and acoustical dimensions than plugging new upgraded amplifier or new speakers....Acoustic of a room for example can KILL or TRANSFORM totally a pair of good speakers at ANY price....

And i am tired to read about "hallucinations" and "suggestion" coming from some about all other people experiences...

Sorry....

Nevertheless, i dont want to upset you....I only want to say what i think is true in the sea of your free generalizations to justify your prejudice.... And your prejudice is only simple: buy an EQ. and call the rest "snake oil"...

The best example is your last use of Bell curve without knowing what it is and how it is used voluntarily or not to hide reality....Same thing for your use of the placebo concept....

Negating the sensory experience of others and throwing all testimonies in the drawer of illusion and deception can be insulting, even if you dont want to insult people.... Do you understand that at least?

Invoking true scientific concepts like, placebo concept,  in a context that suit you, audio experience, to use them for your own opinion expression which is the negation of sense experience you dont want to hear about, is no science it is sophistry....


OMG I can’t believe I forgot two additional tweaks! Too bad you aren’t allowed to update at least the original post.
Anyway for those that are following my (mis)adventures, I bought

12. Cardas audio rca noise cap covers for my preamp. Can not tell any difference even putting them on and off as music is playing but they were inexpensive and I feel they are protective in some way so I kept them on.

13. Ok don’t laugh but I also bought the $249 Furetech Clear-line plug. Thinking reputable company, smart engineers and Jesus it comes up in all social media feeds so I said wtf. 
Anyway I tried it first in my dedicated outlet and then in my Niagara 5000 on an empty outlet which shares the same bank as the amp. Classic snake oil? Hmmm This one is tricky. I feel like it does make a difference on the noise floor but subtle at best and probably my brain playing tricks. I could have returned it but I didn’t. Anyone else try this one, the marketing of it is everywhere lately.
Thanks for all your thoughts @aj523. I 100% agree with the Townshend pods- I have their seismic platform and when I put it under my admittedly light turntable, it completely blew me away. Herbie’s mat got rid of my problem of the static from a stock felt Rega mat lifting off the table, but I didn’t really notice a sound difference. I also put Herbie’s Tenderfeet under my phono stage and amp, but didn’t notice anything, but I didn’t expect to.

I get no shocks when touching my tonearm, and Rega specifically says not to use record weights as it is completely diametrically opposed to their low weight philosophy, so I’ll wait to hear what happens with the Schumann Generators. I am always looking to improve the sound of my existing equipment. 
It would be nice to not hear comments about either only tweaking (electrically, mechanically and acoustically) or only getting new equipment to increase SQ. Anything may help - trust your ears, nobody else, least of all reviewers.

Can anyone please explain how Schumann generators work and what they are?
There exist 3 working dimensions for any audio system:


-Mechanical : try and experiment with simple device to eliminate vibrations but also to decrease internal resonance in the box speakers ( other gear also but speakers are very important)

I succeed for peanuts with sandwich of varied materials under my gear and using springs in a way to decrease resonance with a dyssimetric compressing force applied to them.... Cost: peanuts...

-Electrical: Decreasing the noise floor of the house electrical grid is of the utmost importance.... I created my own device at peanuts costs...
"golden plate" : shungite plate+ copper tape on the external side....I put 30 of them all along my electrical grid.... Very audible impact... Low cost...

-Acoustical controls and treatment: I used passive materials treatment homemade with simple materials, absorbent one, reflecting one and diffusive devices, i use Helmholtz tubes and bottles, resonators, cheap grid of Schumann generators modified, and ionizers, and many other devices....i created my own room tuner at NO cost....The Helmholtz-Fibonacci room tuner....

Cost peanuts with result so powerful that it is better than upgrading with most possible choices in my purse range...


Is it snake oil?

Feel free to try my device or idea....I sell creativity, confidence in our own ears, and fun....

Is it hallucination?

I must say that i will feel insulted to read that about my experience especially on the guise of an alleged "scientific explanation"....





My advice is simple: dont buy costly cables and costly "tweaks" before  taking care at low cost of these 3 working dimensions where your audio system is working....I never bought "tweaks" and i dont need them now at all....

A tweak can  never  be a method of listening experiment and no tweak  can be the  single solution to all the problems is these 3 working dimensions....

Tweaks are costly and even if they work you can most of the times replace them with a no cost solution.... I did it then you can....
@aj523 bought the Furutech Clear Line "things" at recommendation by dealer at just over $200. Best tweak in a long time. Not only blacker background but everything just sounded a bit more round and fuller. Thought initially in my mind but left it out for a few days then replaced and clearly a very nice improvement. 
@rsf507 
Very cool!  I have not taken it out of the system since I was done experimenting maybe 2-3 months ago. I guess I should!!  Btw when I told my dealer I wasn’t sure if I heard a difference or an improvement, he said buy another, but two more lol . Gotta love it 
Love the naysayers when they have never even gave it a shot.

Kinda like all those people who told Columbus he would sail off the edge of the earth. Or the ones that told Chuck Yeager his controls would reverse and he would die when he hit Mach 1.

Take your tinfoil hats and hold them between your knees.

Cheers naysayers.


@aj523 I actually tried a 2nd Clear Line but just was too much so dealer took back. Although I tried it on my OLED TV and seemed to give me slightly better color but didn't think it was worth the 200.

millercarbon7,655 posts
02-13-2021 9:40pm
You know the biggest BS that many are susceptible to? The BS that says people who haven’t tried or heard know better and are entitled to second-guess those who have.

+10,000

And to the OP - Thanks for your refreshing and honest take your tweak attempts.
The way I read the ops post, the products that actually do something, i.e. address vibration issues with a turntable setup make a noticable difference. The ones I would call tweaks, i.e. supposed vibrations in electronics, did nothing.
@audio2design

Yeah so I’d say the biggest bang for the buck is clearly around turntables and speakers for sure.
The Townshend podium under my harbeths was a revelation albeit an expensive ticket for entry. The fact that vibration control works under those doesn’t necessarily mean it didnt or doesn’t work under other electronics like an amp, preamp. In fact I’d say it likely does but in my case perhaps my particular brand of amp or preamp doesnt benefit, or I just didn’t hear it cause it was so subtle and not perceptible to me. I don’t have another source in this setup to try like a CD player but I suspect it would be improved.

Now one thing I didn’t mention is that I have the entire rig running through an Audioquest Niagara 5000 power conditioner which was my first significant upgrade - going from 3 wall outlets to just one thru this unit improved the entire sonic presentation, background noise dropped to a crazy silence, all those proverbial buzzwords comes to mind. I didn’t view that as a tweak though so didn’t include it. That’s an easy one to experiment with and hear an improvement. 
Depends on the CD player. Given CD drives worked fine at high speed in laptops slow speed in audio is child's play. All comes down to how the electronics derive their clock and how immune the DAC is to jitter.
How about a list of cheap tweaks or no cost tweaks.
Here's some that I've used.

Plug components directly into AC outlets and avoid AC power strips.
Replace standard ac power cords with shorter cords that are of heavier gauged wire. 
Buy a large ball bearing and place it on you turntable to see if it is level.
Clean RCA connections by unplugging them then reattach.
Place a heavy weight (Iron dumbbell plate) on top of your solid state amp or,
Remove the cover of your amp and replace with a piece of glass or solid piece of wood.  

During the winter months spray the floor near your stereo with a mix of Water and fabric softener. I can't remember what the water to fabric softener ratio is - maybe someone can help with this. This reduces static electricity.

Remove all inactive speakers from the room. This includes cell phones, remotes with mic's, headphones, blue tooth speakers and any device that talks to you. A Linn dealer showed me this effect by removing a pair of headphones from a listening room and then reintroducing them into the room.

Lower the noise in your home by turning off the refrigerator, AC or heating system and other electric devices that emit noise.  Just remember you turned them off.

If you listen to your music through pc speakers and they are sitting on a glass table try putting a folded wash cloth in front of each speaker. 

Place your pc tower on three or four half tennis balls. Used tennis balls cut in half can also be used under stereo components but have varying effects. My stereo's sound improved when using a whole tennis balls because the stand and shelves were all metal. Three whole balls under components are very unsteady and you got to be careful when touching the component. It helped the amp, pre-amp and cd player. It also certified me as a complete audio nut when my friends saw this. Then they heard the difference and agreed but still laughed....a lot. Then I told them about a cheap $100.00 ac wire I was considering. That got a good laugh.

 Anyone have other tweaks to share? Please do so. I'd love to see what has worked for others.
Thanks
The longer the power cord the better. The shorter the interconnect or speaker wire, the better. Don't let wires touch and keep them as still as possible. 

These are indisputable scientific facts. Minor violations will most likely not be audible, especially if you don't know something happened. But major things, like using long interconnects that probably require XLR cords/plugs or speaker wire will be.

Love to hear the jokers who make fun of the most extreme audiophiles whose listening rooms probably resemble Jimmy McGill's departed brother from Better Call Saul who was petrified of any magnetic or electric field. Tin foil, etc....

Remember - if you think it sounds better, it does. The mind is a powerful thing.
Indisputable scientific facts ... Nothing like gross hyperbole for a Monday!   Longer power cords, but you better make sure those fuses are really low resistance ...

Please don' replace the metal case of your amplifier with a wood one. Just takes one good fault and poof, there goes the house. Electrical products are made of metal or certain plastics for a reason.


If your humidity is low enough that you are worried about static, but a humidifier. Static spray isn't going to help the lack of humidity in the air.


I am going to go with no human can reliably whether my cell phone is in the room or not, not because of the microphone at least. Carefully placed for a sound reflection perhaps, but I am not holding it by my ear like that.


@aj523,

How did the Stillpoints Ultra LPI ver2 work combined with the Hexmat?

Lance
Post removed 
@lancelock 

Those were my exact thoughts - how is this going to work.  It may just be the most perfect union of mat and record weight because the favorable impact on the sound was quite noticeable.  So the hexmat works as an isolator suspending the record off the platter to reduce vibration while the Stillpoint is doing its thing pressing the record down onto the mat to reduce vibration but only on the label obviously where there are no contact points.  The website for Hexmat mentions that record weights don’t negatively impact it’s performance. 
sokogear317 posts02-15-2021 8:58am"The longer the power cord the better...These are indisputable scientific facts..."

Is there a scientific reason why longer power cords are better? If so, what is it?
@turnbowm- I believe it cleans up the power as the current goes from the wall (or a power conditioner, power strip, etc.) to the component, so the longer the cable, the more it conditions the current. This was explained to me by a company that specializes in cables. They aren’t trying to sell longer ones as they also said to get the shortest interconnect possible.

Some consider a power conditioner a tweak, but I would say it is an essential component, and can be had for a relatively low investment, although you can spend thousands on them if you want. I don’t think that is necessary for typical home audio environments. Exceptionally high current ones could necessitate an expensive one.
Appreciate some reporting from the tweak trenches, OP. 
My favorite recent tweak: isoacoustics oreas under my harbeth 30.2s and tube preamp.
And I tried a Schumann generator for a while, didn't make an audible difference. I guess I could have tried 6 or 8, but I had better things to do. 
@aj523 Thanks for the work and the tweak reporting.   I am sure it was a lot of work and I appreciate the effort.   Thanks for sharing.