The winters lessons.

I think it's time to move on from this past weeks discussions to something new. This past 5 months I've tried out a number of different footers, shelves, tweaks, power cords and conditioners. I'd like to share what I've learned here and hope others will do the same. Due to the unreasonable length of this thread I've broken it into three posts, Footers and shelves, power cords and conditioners and tweaks. That way you only need to muddle through my rambling if they interest you. My basic set-up has not changed this year, SCD-1,Kora pre-amp, Aloia amp and Audio Tekne interconnects (and my Empire turntable, clearly not a major component here). I started trying different footers but I went in a bit different direction that Redkiwi. I have been trying a number of Black Diamond Racing products since using a series of cheap cones and have found through a lot of trial and error a good match for my system. I also bought two sets of (OB) Orchard Bay cones, one titanium and one brass. These became the building blocks for me. As a lot of you know, and some don't like, I have a sandstone slab on a masonry hearth so my base is solid and in effect ground. For Christmas I got some BDR pucks, Cardas caps and these "vibration sheets" sold at Music Direct. As a summary of the following posts I would rate the value of the below items in the following order. 1- BMI power cords, 2- P300 power conditioner, 3- Neuance shelf, BDR puck, 4- Quiteline filters, 5- Monster HTS-2000, 6- dedicated circuit. For the rest you'll have to judge for yourself after reading this. If anyone has particular questions feel free to post or send me an e-mail. I tried to keep notes so I could tell you more, GOD FORBID!
Footers and shelves;
I tried the BDR pucks with the BDR cones, both Type 3 on my SCD-1, pre-amp and amp. On the SCD-1 and pre-amp the sound was dark and slow but had a bit more detail. The amp the base was good and detail was the best I'd had to date and the speed was about the same as just the #3 cones alone. I then tried it on the amp power supply and received great base, very good detail and no change in timing. The mid and high ends were not all that effected by any of this. I decided this was too much money for power supply footers and used on the amp knowing I wasn't done. I then tried a BDR shelf and found it to smooth out the high end on the SCD-1 with no lose of dynamics of pace. The stage depth increased quite a bit and the base got just slightly "bloomy" (thick base with too much color). I found it to hurt the sound on my pre-amp, slow, bloomy, dark. I moved it to the amp and was very pleased with the base definition along with the mid/high crystal quality. I used it on the SCD-1 for the time being. Now to date I can't say any of this really helped separate the instruments or added air or quieted to background. It did however add pace and quality of tone. I ended my search of shelving with a Neuance shelf . With the recommendation of Redkiwi, I let the shelf sit in place for a week before moving anything. The eventual set-up was placing my SCD-1 directly on the Neuance. (the SCD-1 has a fairly elaborate footer design and through trial and error I believe the unit sounds it's best on it's own feet) I set the Neuance on four BDR cones turned up and fastened to BDR pucks that were placed on the sandstone base. The four cones are place "exactly" in the center of each quarter of the shelves surface. I then moved the BDR shelf to the amp. The shelf sits on three BDR cones pointing down, this time two cones are at each corner of the back, and one in the center of the front edge of the shelf. The amp sits on three OB brass cones on brass disks in the opposite corners as the BDR cones and the opposite center point. This then required quite a bit of fine tuning (many hours) by moving the brass cones slightly until the best imaging and detail was achieved. I then placed the amp power supply on 3 BDR cones and pucks points down, again fine tuning increased the performance. The pre-amp got the titanium OB cones on brass disks sitting directly on the sandstone slab. It was my opinion the pre-amp benefitted the most from these unique cones and was lost performance with the BDR products. (Warning: it is my opinion that BDR is best used on a system that is on the bright side. It is my experience that these products tend to muddy warmer sounding equipment, even the #4 products) The pre-amp power supply sits on BDR cones because I had extra, the improvement is small if at all. The end result is increased pace, tight base, smoother highs, and most of all greater sound stage depth and width and imaging within the sound stage. With out question the largest footer improvement came from the Neuance shelf. Second for me were the Orchard Bay cones, The BDR pucks were a big improvement over just cones and the BDR shelf in my opinion is not worth the money. My amp power supply received a big improvement from footers where the pre-amp power supply received little to none.
Power supply:
I should start by telling you I live in a very quite suburb, (the closest commercial area is over a mile and a half away) and we're16 miles from downtown Minneapolis. We have a power sub-station within a mile and we are the last house on our line with a transformer that only supplies us at the top of the pole, within 100' of our box. The power noise level is really not an issue to the degree that some of you have. I spent a lot of time and money this year experimenting with various power supply issues. First I installed a 20 amp dedicated circuit with 10 ga. wire. I used a commercial grade Hubble hospital outlet. I still have yet to try any other outlet products. I also tried a number of power conditioners for 15 days at a time. I tried the Power Wedge Ultra 115, Audio Prism Power foundation 3, Lightspeed CLS 6400 and 9900, Monster HTS-2000, Quantum Audio Symphony Pro and PS Audio P300. It should be noted that I did not try the Equa=Tech products, but still believe they are worth considering. Each unit had different good and bad characteristics. Bass definition, sound stage and treble were altered to some degree. I have settled on the P300 because it provided the quietest background by far and had the least impact on the sound. It did improve bass definition and tempo but did not seam to artificially color the sound. For the money I believe the HTS-2000 is a fantastic unit and worthy of any system. It did not quite the background like the P300 but it did not color the sound either. I also used the Audio Prism Quietline Parallel Line Shunt Filters. At $25.00 each they are a good value. They recommend a min. of four but I found one to be a great value, two a good value and the last two I bought a waste of money. They did indeed remove a light layer of haze, hiss from the presentation. I tried a couple of tricks on my buddies where as I changed the disk I'd remove a filter, sit back down and listen. In all but one instance they perceived something had changed.. I never to this day have told them I change the filter. For me I received the biggest benefit from power cords. O.K. here we go! I have tried skillions of cords this year and have been fascinated by the results. I've used Snakes, Top Gun, Fatboys, Master Coupler, NBS, XLO, Kimber, Audio Magic and BMI. CORDS DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. For me the benefit are quite high. This year I decided to replace the $150 Audio Magic cords I was using. I bought a Electraglide Fatboy and a Reference Standard along with a Top Gun. These became my base point. I tried friends cords, King Cobra, Master Coupler, XLO and Kimber. Two or three of us would get together and try two or three cords at a time. If a cord won it came back. I always had another cord I'd find on Audiogon to add to the test. Each cord had something good to enjoy and each seemed to have faults. The Reference Standard was first off the island, replaced for a short time with my friends King Cobra. The Top Gun was second off the reference system replaced by a BMI Whale. This cord blew away every cord it went up against on any piece of equipment to this point. I then found a NBS Statement for a great price so I tried it. This cord now had bested the BMI but only when used on the SCD-1. This is a perfect match! My system tonight still has a Fatboy on my pre-amp (this piece of equipment seams to benefit the least from power cords) the NBS Statement on the SCD-1 and a BMI Whale on the amp. The P300 posed a new problem and after a brief set of tests a second Whale was required to compare. That cord is 3/4 of the way through burn-in but out of the box it again bested all comers. I tried it briefly on the pre-amp and now will have to do more comparing, it appears ready to knock the Fatboy off the island next. That of course would require a third cord, and I'm not sure I want that much of the same properties in one system. The problem with a lot of cords is they leave a signature sound on the music. If two or three of the same cord is used it tends to over play that signature and the benefit of the cord is lost. It appears to me that the BMI has very little (none) signature. It adds no coloring to my ear. I plan to post a separate thread on this cord late once I've had more time to play. So what have I found? Well I've gotten an extremely quite background from power cords! Detail is more defined, sound stage is deeper and wider, separation between instruments both sideways and front to back is increased and very defined. Bass is stronger, midrange and highs are smooth with no glare or brightness and yet extremely defined. Cymbals are completely floating with a soft shimmer, not harsh or offensive. Drums and kettles are tight, quick and defined. String instruments are light and shimmery while brass is smoother and has no glare. Vocals to me are most important and my test disks have some harsh areas. These characteristics have been toned down with no loss of dynamics. Amazing, simply amazing that a power cord can do all this and still we have no idea how. IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT THE COMPLETE SET-UP CORDS AND P300 CREATE THIS NIRVANA, until this set-up was arrived at it always lacked in some way. I knew it was lacking because I'd heard the lacking component in some rejected product.
I've tried a few this year, the Audio Additive Vibration Control panels (anti-vibration sheets) recommended and sold at Music direct did nothing that I could hear. Cardas Caps, well... if you've done everything else to quite your system .... O.K. they did nothing, but hey they look cool! Audio Prism CD stoplight, it had an effect but for $18 it's not enough for me. Elevating cords and cables off the floor/shelf. Cost was almost free for me and it does have an effect on my system. Audio Prism Quiteline Filters, the first one or two were well worth the money, for my power anything more is a waste. I have two BDR cones and one BDR puck with cone all pointing up over the vibration points on my tube pre-amp. I located these points with a thin metal dish with water and moved it around to find the most disturbance. Moving the cone location under the equipment can have a dramatic effect, try it just an 1/8 at a time. Next; room acoustics!
My,My,Jadem...'ve been a very busy boy:^)
For my information ,if you'll pardon my asking-
Do you think that you'd have heard the benefits of the BMI cords and P300 as easily or as clearly if you hadn't used the shelf and footers?Did you audition each tweek/experiment independantly or were they done in groups,chronologically,etc.?Thanks.

Good question Ken, and I'm not sure I can fully answer it without some assumptions. The P300 was the last component to arrive and therefor has had the benefit of all the footer tweaks. I have however played with the stock cords and P300 alone and of course the custom cords without the P300. For my system the stock cord on my pre-amp would have been adequate. The cords on my amp and SCD-1 are must haves! The SCD-1 seams to be the most influenced by the cord selection and that might be attributed to the quality of the power supply. (that is pure speculation) The P300 has more influence on how quite the background is where the cords have greater effect on bass definition (I might want to check this statement, the P300 does indeed tighten the bass beyond any cords work), sound stage and separation of instruments. Interesting to me that the P300 benefits from power cord selection almost as much as the SCD-1, and with the right cord will increase all the components performance a notch, maybe making this the first component and not the last like I did?
Now as far as footers, every time I received a new cord I found the footer placement required revision. The cord seem to either place it's signature on the equipments performance or bring out a certain aspect of the equipments performance. Sometimes a whole sale change was required, most times a very small relocation. (It's highly possible these small relocation tweaks are psychological and not factual, but for my system there indeed needed to happen) That line of thought and my experiences are for a follow-up book, "How My Stereo Drove Me Back To Drinking". I guess what I'm thinking is that they work together in a synonymous relationship along with the equipment itself. I'm not sure there is a right answer, this footer with this cord equals... It should be noted that the reverse was not true, or not tried I should say. When I received a different footer to try, I didn't feel compelled to try other cords. I think it's because the cords tend to have such significant impact in comparison to footers. Cones and the like are final tweaks in my mind. Now for your benefit or input (and I realize your not comfortable plugging your product), I found my Neuance shelf straight out of the box to increase space on the sound stage and open the entire presentation in a way no other product had. I would say the Neuance does indeed have a large impact, rated close to the power cord benefits. The tonal qualities as noted by Redkiwi do indeed change over time, and in that the time required for those changes I have only set the shelf up as recommended and not played with it. Summer is on it's way and my listening time goes way down, so that's when I intend to try some things. I also would like to find enough money after my friend Uncle Sam is done with me next month to buy a second shelf for comparison. For now I am fully reliant on Red and his fantastic advice. J.D.
Great thread, Jadem6 -- thanks for sharing experience & tips. I particularly liked the one about the metal dish w/water. I'll use the trick to relocate my cones.
BTW, chords do work, we now even have scientific evidence (See Elisabeth's thread on this same forum).
Surprised you get little effect on yr pre. I tried one cone under the pre's power supply, placed opposite the power connectors pointing down, listened for 10' then, added two more. I am probably deaf, but IMO the sound is better -- just as clear but with better transients -- with one cone.
Gregm, how did you do the one cone? Do you mean you just raised that end? I've also thought about putting a weight on the power supply in that it is a fairly light component.
By the way, water in a shallow dish over a tube pre-amp is an extremely scarry thing!
Yup, as you say Jadem, the cone placed about 1/4 way back next to a screw that secures the power transformers onto the base of the box.
Weight: I DO have a weight on the supply (though mine is heavy) -- forgot a compact dictionary i never use on the box, bit less than the size of the power supply box. Kept it there ever since. I beleive (i.e. voodoo?) it makes a clarity difference, esp. in the mid-low bass.
BTW, my pre is SS -- not that I'm much safer, as you say.
So Greg, do you think the vocal quality has improved? I'm thinking the dictionary has somehow helped in the pronunciation, thus giving tighter image.
J, not only, but also, this is a FRENCH language dictionary; it seems to work better with Carmen than say, Buddy Guy or Mahler... Do you think we have a case of language-sensitivity?? (Seriously though, give the weight a try... you never know).
here's a quick update Gregm. I've been playing with some different weight options on my pre-amp power supply and the pre-amp it's self. As you had predicted, by adding 7 lbs (an Iron cat doorstop) above the transformer created a bit better focus. Vocals that were murky are now easier to understand. Guiter strums that were clear before are clear enough now to sense the string with air around it. Noises that were there prior are easier to pick up on and define. I then tried a bronze casting I made back in collage that weighs about 6lbs over the biggest vibration spot on my pre-amp. My God, the bass tightened and intensified so that during bass passages that used to be focused and defined are tighter and have far more physical effect on the body. Amazing! I'm wondering if you can buy brass weights, not "audio tweaks" somewhere. I'd like to play with this further. Does anyone have thoughts on were I might find brass "disks" of different weight?
Thanks Gregm for giving me your thoughts, it just keeps getting better! J.D.
JD: I have used various objects in the same manner and with noticable changes in the sound. I found that the top weighting of my DAC and player reduces harmonics (I like harmonics and the lively sound that they offer), though it does define other areas of the sound, especially the mid bass on down. The best results that I acheived with top weighting was when using Mapleshade brass cones (point down on the top of my player) with a weight (my precious Des Moines brick) above them, resting on the flat sides of the cones. This method firmed up the lower frequencies while leaving the mids and the highs still "open" with very little loss of harmonics (though there was a slight reduction). Problem was that I found the setup to be too precarious. Anyway, try some downward turned points in between your flat weight(s) and the top of the unit(s) and you may like the livlier though somewhat more controlled sound that this method offers.
Thanks Dekay, I played around with a number of combinations today/night. With brass cones up or down the sound opened nicely but I found a bit too much treble energy. My system is tuned to the edge of bright/ fatiguing. I tried BDR cones up and down but felt I lost the immediacy of the presentation. I then tried BDR "those things, #4" plane under the weight, too thick and closed in. I finally worked with brass cones points up, BDR "those things" and then the weight. This seams to be the answer, all good, no bad!
It keeps amazing me the little things that can help or hurt the image and presentation. Thanks again for your suggestions. J.D.
1st Update on winter lessons' lessons. I managed to locate certain vibration points using Jadem6's water trick (thanks again!). Placing cones accordingly, I gained treble energy and clarity using cones on the power supplies (CD and pre) rather than the machines. Putting cones undet the CD and pre, *shifted* the frequency response upward, giving too much treble at the expense of bass. A friend suggested I use absorbant material as a weight... sand bags etc being out the WAF region, I tried large, thick books (6-7 pounds), placed over the vibration points on: the CD, better imaging, tighter focus; the pre, more neutral sound, no loss of detail throughout the audible spectrum.
Maybe metal weights give their own *flavour* to the system -- i.e emphasizing treble??
On the down side, books on a piece of equipment look a bit silly....
BTW, JD, one cone under the power supplies, placed as per your findings, still sound better than three in my system!
Thank-you for the update Greg. I tried the single cone centered under the wire coil with no other cones. I ended up with it moved off center about 1/4". I think it's almost identical to my previose set--up except for maybe adding a bit more colour. I used Dave's True Story "Sex Without Bodies" song #5 as my test. Without wieght on top the bass was less detailed and a bit softer and the treble was without definition. I found weight with a single cone made Kelly Flint's voice smooth (don't tell my wife but I love Kelly)with good foundation.Bass was well defined, not the best but 95% there. At about 1 minute into this track there is a light either metal on cymbal or brushing of chimes in the left rear middle. The definition was best with cone centered, but the overall presentation was too bright. I'm going to stick with the single cone weighted for a while, I'll let you know the final. I find it just increadable that these tinny movements can change the quality of sound so much.
As per your books, I think that if Redkiwi were here to help us he might think the books add too much mass (slowing pace and storing energy). It might be worth trying the books seperated by cones. Who knows, it's fun trying this stuff though. J.D.
Hey Jd you mentioned where to get brass weights. I would try a jewelery supply,
I nominate JD for best thread, excellent.