Snake oil and tweaks that work!

This is in no way intended to bring out argument but discussion of tweaks people have tried and have found success with. I know there are at least 50% of you out there that think everything in audio is snake oil, and you are initialed to those opinions. Please don't make this your battle field! If you want to start an opposing thread calling us nuts and getting in arguments please do, it might be fun to have both going. I want this one to be an informational for people who want to try things. I for one have tried a lot of the recommendations in Stereophile each month, most don't work for me, but I have found a few things that do work. #1 tweak: Speaker location. Even a 1/16" can make all the difference. I try to play with this about every six months. A dedicated circuit from the panel with 10ga. wire had a very noticeable improvement. Cables and wires matter, some have been good for my system, some real bad. We have plenty of threads covering this so lets no go there. The "Bedini Ultra Clarifier" works amazingly well for me, I know it's crazy but it works! The Cardas caps I got for X-mas really worked, they produced a more quite background, go figure. Black Diamond Racing "the Puck and the Shelf " have been great improvements, all the different cones I've tried change the sound, I haven't found one I would recommend. The Audio Prism Quiteline filters work great, but power conditioners and RFI/EMI ferrets did nothing. The last thing that has helped me is furniture location, I find if I move something only an inch it can help or hurt. I look forward to hearing others experiences.
Thanks to Megasam who informed me about the inner tube under my cdp I am exremely happy with the results. By far and away the best $4 I have ever spent on audio...
I've tried a lot of tweaks over the years, mostly back in my analogue days. I've decided there are two kinds, those which are electronic or physical and taken mostly on faith like cones or raising wires off the floor which usually cause a difference with indeterminate rewards and the more physical ones like 25 pounds of lead on top of speakers or moving the tv from in between the speakers to the long wall which are no doubters. Hands down best tweak ever was running the air tubes from the ET II aquarium pump through a plastic 5 gallon gas can filled with wool batts; much better defined bass. Sorry, Sam, I find myself wishing the tube was a little bigger, I could at least take it to the beach.
Oops! Line two shoud read "electronic or mystical".
I've been messing around with my speakers lately (kiss, kiss). I don't have the precision to move my 1/16" 'cause i don't want to remove the spikes, but i've noticed a difference with 1/4". My desk chair also has to be in a certain place in order for the stage to center correctly. Because of my living setup I have to listen from my bed, and sit on it with my back against the wall. The arrangement of pillows between me and whoever, and the wall makes a difference. Sometimes I feel pretty neurotic, but that doesn't stop me
"Green edging" CDs works very well for me, as does using a Radio Shack bulk eraser. Hold the CD about 1/4" away from the eraser, hit the trigger and pull the CD away slowly to a distance of about 3 feet. I have not tried raising my speaker cables off the floor but will this weekend. A friend who has tried it tells me that some cables benefit from it while others don't. Go figure. Sorbothane under CD transports (or some other "soft" platform) always works for me. When I listen, I cover the TV and the coffee table with blankets. The TV or anything else between the speakers ruins depth and staging. Tweaks are like sex - if it works for you, it's normal.
Having heard them last week, the inner tubes under the components are a cheap tweak to isolate your equipment from vibrations and very beneficial, particularly for CDPs and tubed eqipment. Just play with the inflation level, you don't want to overinflate. Room acoustic treatments are also tweaks that will greatly benefit your system, and you don't have to spend large amounts for them (for example, cut a small pillow in half, sew the cut sides and you have two corner tunes). I've found plants to be effective at reducing reflections in my room as well (unfortunately, I use my living room as my listening room, so I can't put up devices I might otherwise use in a dedicated listening room). Finally, I've found the Top Hat tube dampers, while expensive, to be effective at increasing the focus of images and clarity of sound with the tubed units I have them in. Keep the tweaks coming, always good to hear of the ones that work and don't cost an arm and a leg!
Marbles under amplifiers. I took 2 aluminum plates per amp and had them routed so that 4 marbles could be sandwiched between them. They can move slightly, but still have a ridged mass supporting them. I'm using this with Levinson Reference 20 amps. It's amazing how the background got quieter and there's virtually no grain (which I didn't know was there until I heard the system with the marbles). Total cost $20.
If you listen in a room with a suspended floor you can improve bass quality by stiffening the floor joists from below. This only works if it is pratical to position adjustable jack posts from a basement or cross base location, and if the expanse of unsuspended floor area is quite large. Two years ago I had a 16x20 addition built where the builder used 16' 2x8s 12" OC for floor joists. This allowed a lot of flex in the floor and was adding some boom to the bass. By positioning several adjustable jack posts underneath the floor joists I was able to improve the quality of the bass significantly.
I'm a little skeptical about tweaks, but I get great results and can enthusiastically recommend the following: 1) wrap any remote control devices in black Pashmina (cream, acqua and turquoise will NOT work for some reason), and while keeping them bundled, remove the parcel from the line of sight of your tweeters 2) using any HP calculator with RPN or reverse polish notation, affix it to the center of the top of your power amp using a roughly 50/50 mixture of Blue Tack and Play Doh. I have had especially good results with an old HP 12C. Most important, although not specifically a "tweak", ALL food past its sell by date MUST be removed from the house. Although trickier to discern in the 200-250 HZ region, this combination will dramatically improve most of 10-30khz spectrum and give spine tingling, holographic imaging comparable to systems worth 5-10 times the price.
I like the Auric Illuminator treatment for Cds, which I apply to any CD that I detect treble grain/hardness, which is over half my Rock/alt music section. Will give a slightly smoother cleaner sound without detail loss. Also like Kontak connector cleaner/enhancer. BTW I have both Bedini II and radio shack demag unit, but I have become less convinced of their positive effect as time goes by.
Museatex used to cryogenically freeze CDs to absolute zero. I had an Aaron Neville cd frozen, then went out and bought a duplicate. I never read any white papers concerning the theory, but what I heard didn't need one to explain. We tried doing an A/B test and EVERYONE who heard the comparison picked the one that was frozen as sounding better. If anyone knows what was supposedly happened to the disc when frozen, please let me know. The difference is amazing!
I have to say it's a bit disapointing that it's not possible for people who want to make fun of an honest question to stay away! Most of us want real advise, not clever ridicule. What suppoedly happened to your disc frozen to absolute zero (not yet possible), the molicules fell apart and you bought a second disk to replace the first. What's amazing is all this happened without a single word in the news! Now if you please leave this thread alone.
Retro is being very serious, this hard freeze concept has been around for years. The theory I have heard is the hard freeze and slow thaw releases impurities introduced during CD manufacturing process, which can then be cleaned away. Also supposed to positively effect CD disc pastic/metal properties. This is too extreme for me even if it does have some benefit, I generally will not apply a tweak that cannot be removed or reversed, in case you later change your mind about the changed sound.
Oh, sorry Retro. The Absolute Zero was the tip. Let's say really cold, liquid oxygen cold huh?
Well I did my first thumbs down.It already has 3 .I assume jadem was refering to the 'pull-date' on another post.Now my tweak that works for me:The UFO thing-e from Music Direct.It demagnetizes your system,as well as your cds.Works for me. Y M M Vary.
If you are a believer in something like Vibropod try getting a Gel Wrist Pad from Fellowes for computers. Around $16.00 It can be cut into eight pieces for eight feet. It's hard to cut, I used a long version of tin snip. Not because it's hard but it stretches so easy. This under whatever with a bag of sand on top dampens vibration very well and it's cheaper than vibropods. Eight feet for $16.00 and a bag of sand. That's the price of one Vibropod foot.
You question the validity of freezing CDs, but you don't mention Cwlondon's post? Or could the pashmina and calculator tweak really work?!?!
Your right, and they too were very disapointing to me. Thank-you for reminding me!
There is a fiberglass brush, sold by Rush eraser in New York, that will polish metals to new bright condition. Using them on the AC (male) plugs on all your power cords, and on tube pins (obviously, only if you have tubes), will immediately improve performance across the board. If this polishing is done with the Rush eraser dipped into ART oil, the connection is enhanced even further. Cleaning with this same ART oil (no brush) on all your RCA or balanced connections is a big help too. Lately have been experimenting with Caig gold in place of the ART, but have not yet come to a conclusion. The Cardis "sweep" LP will do amazing things, if while the stylus is playing in the groove, you run the Aesthetix (Benz) de mag, or the older Audioquest De mag, connected to the RCA jacks of your turntable. A total time of about 30 seconds will de flux the cartridge to perfection. Texas Instruments makes a metal called TI shield, and if a section of it (about as large as your CD player) is placed between the CD, DVD or whatever digital source, and a preamp, amp or other piece of equipment that radiates magnetic fields, there will be an immediate improvement in the digital sound. If the source of magnetic noise is above and below the digital player, you will need a sheet in both locations. This last one is strange but completely true, if you can find a TRUE ground, connect a wire from it to the metal stand that supports your preamp, amp, turntable or digital player. (Probably between the stand and the spike near the floor?) If there are radio waves or other transmitted (RF) signals present, your music will have greater dynamics, more black (lower noise), and reduced brittleness in the high frequencies. I have actually heard radio stations clearly picked up by the shape of equipment stands. Often, the length of the frame and crossbars are the exact dimensions to become a perfect antenna for a signal, some miles away. The ground wire drains this completely, where changing cables, and experimenting with various other grounds in the system did nothing to solve the problem. Often there is a gain, even when the radio station is too weak to be clearly heard through the system. It costs nothing to try the last one, and it can be huge. Best wishes!
Albert, where can you get the TI shield and the Fiberglass brush? Is Rush on the web?
Okay, Furniture location works for me too. I hate to change it even though some furniture is arranged in most un-orthodox fashion in the family room. $1.20 tweak on both main L-R and rear Surround works for me ( You know I am not really sure but all I got to spare is $2.40). The other day I finally tried partially inflated 12" bicylce tube like on of the post suggested ( I tried to go back to the post to report my findings, but could not find it since the Audigon regrouping), but did not work for MY CD player.The sound was forward, lost focus somewhat and background noise slightly increased. Not to mention, the cd drawer kept getting stuck for a while, after the tube removal. This WOULD work for some CD player and won't for some. It all depends on thier natureal freq modes and its excitation with the internal mech induced random vibaration in addition to airborne pressure induced vibration. The natural freq modes of two set ups ( as stock and as used with tube) are diffrent. I think, assuming if the mfr has designed it right, the spikes generated due to random vib enviroment falling at lower freq modes are remote (the body stiffened accordingly). The tube in the middle supported differently would have now have diffrent natural modes which MAY BE GOOD OR BAD and therefore vary from brand to brand. But best thing is to NOT fiddle with the CD player support. Best option is have the shelf very thick(stiff), held such way that it has high fixity at the ends( again for same reason: you wanna keep the the shelf natural freq modes as high as possible not to interact with CD Player system modes) and CD player top should have shelf right on top panel, not touching but as to kill/block acoustic pressure caused by sound pressure. Weighing down top panel, I have not tried, but once again MAY WORK OR NOT.Therfore I doubt very much the usefulness of the Black diamond racing cones and similar products. It may or may not work. TRY FIRST IF YOU HAVE AN OPTION.
Go to your local auto parts store and buy silicone dielectric tune-up grease. Put a small amount on all power connections (not signal carrying connections!), prongs, male-female iec connections and plug back in. Presto-smoother, more natural sound as a result of less arcing. Cost $5-$10.
Jadem6, I'm sorry that you don't believe my statement. George Melior was doing some very unusual stuff in the early 90's. Rather than be arrogant and rebuffing my statement as tripe, look into it yourself. You will find evidense that this was available from Museatex at a cost of $10.00 per cd. I'll be happy to leave your thread alone.
I'm sorry, I have to ask one more question. Would you believe that a group of dutch scientists slowed the speed of light down to 23 meters/ps last year. Further more, just very recently at least two independent groups slowed it down to zero velocity. It happene in both cases, if you can do proper research, the info is readily available.
The Rush erasers and the TI shield were both available from Mike Percy Audio Products, the last time I spoke to him. You can access him on the web at His parts catalog may be downloaded as a PDF, or search for products you are looking for. Mike is a source for many hard to get resistors, caps, binding posts, adaptors, etc. Anyway, he is an honest and fair person, and his prices are good. His phone number, although he is difficult to reach, is 415-669-7181. 10:00 Am to 9:00 PM, West Coast time. If you get him by phone, tell him Albert ask about "Ollie." (It is his pet bird that sits with him during the long hours on the phone.)
It was just a misunderstanding Retroguy. It sounded so outlandish and I jumped. I'm sorry, it's not my normal reaction. I've had it with some of the people on this site and I figured.... I figured wrong, no hard feelings I hope. I've enjoyed your other posts, I should have thought! YES!!!! Is that cool or what. I've read a couple of preliminary reports. I'm not sure I understand ant of it, but the laws of physics are on shakey ground. Stoping (freezing) light! The potential is amazing. Thanks for your understanding. J.D.
No Problem.
Hdm- You might want to think twice about that silicone dielectric grease! A couple of dealers were having problems with the sound of a vendor's (very expensive) power equipment changing over time, and not for the better. After investigating the possible causes, the vendor determined that it was the grease which was causing the degradation in sound. It is no longer used in the production of their equipment. Obviously, the grease can be removed with solvents (alcohol), so no permanent harm done. Just keep it in mind if things start sounding uninvolving and lacking dynamics. Goodluck.
Thanks for the info Jcbtubes. Have been using it for about 8 months now with no detrimental effects, just positive ones. I use only small amounts on power contacts (plugs and iec's) and it's worked for me so far. But I'll keep my ears open. From your post, it sounds like someone was using this stuff internally in the manufacture of their gear-what exactly were they using it in and where were they applying it?
I was very excited to find the Cardas Frequency Sweep now available as an iPhone app. Works just like the one on the record, only .99 cents. Worth trying, I use it over Bluetooth to a Bluetooth receiver hooked up to my line level inputs. 
I find that wearing my underware inside out and backwards, really improves transient detail...
1.  If you have a turntable that uses a belt, replace the belt with a custom belt built by  This is not a subtle improvement, its major. 

2.  Change out your speaker terminals with Cardas copper terminals. 

3.  Use Caig Gold contact enhancer on all terminations including tube pins. Don't forget your the spade lugs on your speaker cables (both ends). 

4.  Invest in a ten pack of Synergistic Research High Frequency Transducers (HFT's) and place them around the room as per the directions. 

5.  Replace all fuses in your sysem with Synergistic Research BLACK fuses. 

6.  If you're into vinyl and haven't done so yet, invest in a VPI record cleaning machine.

7.  Stop listening to your equipment and listen instead to the music. 


Has it really been 15 years since Radio Shack demagnetizer and greening the edges of CDs? How the times have changed. Now it's Graphene and purpling the edges of CDs.

I was going to share my cabling improvements and insist that cables really make a difference, but in light of the marbles technique I think I'll not bother after all...
The following tweaks work for me in my system:
1)  Clean all system contacts every 6 months.
2)  Herbie Audio Labs Tenderfeet under components, tube dampers, interconnect dampers, Super Black Hole CD mat, Grungebuster LP mat.
3)  Mass damping top of chassis
4)  Use green POSCA pen on CD edges - yes the sound is more focused.
5)  Treat all CDs with "Rain-X"  It shines up the surface and makes removing future smudges/grime much easier.
6)  Purist Audio Design System Enhancer disc - especially great to hasten burn in of new components.
7)  Cardas frequency/demag. LP

I'll repeat what I've said previously...this is, at least for me, the fun part of the hobby.  This is where we get to "tune/enhance" our systems to our ear's desires.