Tweaks & How My System Disappeared

I have spent the past six weeks trying a few new tweaks and products. For the past year and a half I've been testing cables and working on room acoustics. It's been two years sense I have spent any real effort on vibration control. After finding the right cable combination I felt my system was extremely natural sounding with excellent definition and fabulous sound stage with a superb musicality. I felt it was the best sounding system I had ever listened to, which is saying a lot. I have heard some $150,000 - $200,000 systems that were mighty impressive, they offered one or two areas of improvement over my system, but they always left me feeling there was more there than they had found and that overall my system was a better total sound.
The whole process started six weeks ago with "Bubble Wrap". I shared my experiences on a thread called "Free Tweak That Works". This thread was followed up with another members thread, "Bubble Wrap Revisited." During this time I've had correspondence with a number of members who are finding similar results with "Bubble Wrap." The results are mixed if the tweak is not MDF base, "Bubble Wrap" and Neuance shelf on top. The result of this experiment improved the focus of my system, like a camera lens being put into focus. This is something I had never experienced before. I have found the "Bubble Wrap" will last 3-6 weeks before it goes flat under all my components except the Plinius SA-102 amps. At 85 lbs I get only 6 days before they go flat. I'm now working with "Air Cap" bubbles, they are a heavy duty wrap that has shown promise.
The next experiment was using Aurios Media Isolation Bearing, "Pro" model. I used three under each speaker (Dunlavy IVa) and three under my digital front end (Sony SCD-1). These improved the clarity, meaning there was less haze, like taking a pane or two of frosted glass from between me and the sound stage. I could see more of what was happening, detail was better defined and the tempo was more involving. As with so many tweaks there was a down side, and as with most tweaks it's solvable with the right alterations. In my system, moving a 2 lbs brass weight 1" on a component or moving a footer location under a component by 1/4" can make a huge audible difference to the tone, or focus, or sound stage or PRAT. A change from a brass cone to a rubber foot can be equal to a whole cable or even a piece of equipment, so the job of finding the correct combination of footers, dampening and shelves can be quite complex.
The issue I found with the Aurios was the metal construction left a very distinct and quite pronounced glare or edginess to the tonal quality. The system suddenly sounded very electronic and steely. It took a full three weeks of five hours per day to solve the puzzle of how to best tame the unappreciated consequences of using the Aurios Pro. I thought I had it solved early for the speakers by placing a Black Diamond Racing "Puck" between the Aurios and the speaker cabinet, so I left my attention to the SCD-1. With the SCD-1 I have always found the unit on it's very sophisticated factory footers directly sitting on "Neuance" shelving offered the most neutral sound with the best imaging and PRAT. Any type of metal cone added an unpleasant steeliness to the sound. Rubber and carbon fiber thickened and slowed the signal.
To tame the Aurios I started with rubber products, Sorbothane "Big Foot", EAR and a rubber isolator I found at a military supply store proved to again slow the pace and in the case of the Sorbothane it added an undesirable bloom to the bass. I tried some Mahogany pucks, BDR "Pucks", BDR cones and these simply lost the magic. I tried steel balls, ranging from 1/4" to 1" diameter. These helped but still too edgy. I tried high carbon and tungsten balls, again better but not right. I then tried aluminum, brass and titanium cones, to my surprise the brass sounded smoother than my favorite, titanium. After exhaustive measures I settled on the brass cone set into the center hole of the Aurios Pro.
Now the system was sounding almost back to normal with the added benefit of Bubble Wrap focus and Aurios clarity, yet something still was wrong.
Now being one who likes to complicate things, I decided it was time to complete a long put off project of updating my dedicated lines. I have spend the past few months mocking up different wiring combinations in six foot lengths (DIY power cords) to find the best sounding combination. I tried braided, strand and solid core wire. I tried different weight wire and different dielectric combinations. Different insolation and sheathing. I settled on an extremely simple solution. I took two 10 ga. Romex wires, 50 foot long each and spread them out across the length of my house. I placed the two face to face with the white wire on the bottom run opposed to the black on the top. Thus they would alternate opposite each other, this seemed to lower the noise floor on my test cords. I then twisted the two together making sure the two faces remained opposed. I twisted them as tight as I could, it took over six hours to do 50' and the twists were maybe 4" apart. This made for a very stiff, very tight cord. I then cased it in a stainless steel woven sheathing that would eventually be grounded to the panel and the junction box. This grounded sheathing surprisingly dropped the noise level quite a bit further. After installing this and one of my old Hubble outlets along with a new PS Audio "Power Port" I had to let the new power burn in about ten days before it too smoothed out to the level of the old line, but with a noticeable lowering of the noise level. Now with my ear 1" from the tweeter I can just barely hear a hissing sound. Before at 1" it was maybe 100% greater.
With the new dedicated line installed and burned in it was time to get back to this slight edginess I was still experiencing. I worked on dampening. I had been using a 15 lbs steel plate with a 1/4" rubber mat glued to the bottom and rubber feet glued to the mat on top of my speakers. The steel is sprayed with some anti-vibration product from 3M. These tend to tighten the imaging along with extending and tightening the base. The treble is also effected, sometimes good, sometimes bad. I took the steel plates off the speakers, this helped the treble, but left the mid/bass a bit flat and hollow. I then placed some 5 lbs Walker Audio dampening disks on the top front of the speakers. This was a very good solution, but still something was wrong. I moved some of the Walker disks around on my equipment and in my room, but something bigger still needed to be done. A couple years ago I used one of these steel dampening plates on my SCD-1 but abandoned it when I started using Nueance shelves. For what ever reason I decided to try it again. This was it, it pulled everything together, making all the improvements congeal and created a cohesion to the sound. I was very pleases, but I noticed I was still listening to the system and not the music. This happens when I'm changing things, once I begin enjoying the music and not listening to the components I know I have it. So the only thing I could figure is it was still at the speakers. I tried a 3/8" high carbon steel ball between the BDR "Puck" and the Aurios "Pro."
The next day I came in to listen to a few new SACDs, "Jazz at the Pawnshop", Rolling Stones "Hot Rocks" and Alison Krauss "New Favorite". It was all music, after two SACDs I thought to myself, I have not once thought about the speakers, the equipment, isolation, nothing but the music. The entire sound stage was full, three dimensional, but more than anything completely believable. I listen often with my eyes closed. I have spent the past week with my eyes open focused on the musicians as if they were in the room. I can tell you exactly where the person is, how far away and how tall. It's weird, they are truly three dimensional. I can walk right to the space they occupy on the stage, even when I walk up to them the remain in one place, I came put my hand out and touch where they stand. The speakers and the equipment are completely invisible. This is absolutely beyond my wildest expectations, the music is so real, so filled with life. As I stated the definition is great, but not etched or hard. The people on the stage simply exist as if they were real, there is nothing behind them but air. I simply can not explain how it feels, I sit down and it's all music. For a true tweaker, it's rare to not in some way want to tweak this or that. I simply can not figure anything to do. Every aspect of my system, EVERY ONE, is as good as it's been, and all at one time. Every aspect of the best systems I've ever heard are matched and in most cases surpassed.
So the point of this rather lengthy post. I want to let everyone know how many little things add up to a whole far better than you will ever imagine. I hope every one will learn a little bit from this and I sincerely hope you all find what I have now after over 25 years discovered.
So you ask, why the heck do you want to try more Aurios Pros under racks and or components? Because you just never know, had I remained satisfied a year and a half ago I would have missed out on at least three distinct plateaus of improved performance in my system. What is truly amazing to me is how far you can push your equipment. There always seems to be more available if your willing to take the time. Yes for as wonderful as my system is, I have ordered three more sets of Aurios Pros to play with. Stay tuned to this post for further results.
Okay, I confess. I'm a tweak-a-holic and I can't find a cure......You've gone about this in a very deliberate manner, carefully listening until magic happened. Good work J.D. Now the hard part for us so inflicted, to leave everything alone and just listen to the music,,,,ummmm, but, what if I just....oh no....there is no cure.....oh my....
WOW! My hat’s off to you! I love music and testing different gear including tweaks, but not on your level. Keep up the good work and keep us posted!
JD, it's nice to realize that I'm not the only person so afflicted by this complicated hobby and its attendant ongoing tweaking. I think it's safe to say that those who have taken it to the level you have are in the minority of a small niche group (myself included).

I have done a lot of experimenting with swapping cables and other components, some experimenting with power conditioning devices, and a lot of experimenting with audiophile feet and other tweaks that work to modify resonance. I have also dabbled in room treatments and have had some great success with products like Room Tunes and the Argent room lenses.

Recently, I made some changes to my system that resulted in me hearing the most detail I've ever experienced from a system and when I positioned a room lense at a 45 degree angle behind my equipment rack (which is between my speakers) everything fell into place as you so aptly described. The bass and imaging are just superb -- very lifelike and natural sounding. I found myself immersed in the music and breaking out all my favorite old recordings just to hear how great they now sound.

Still, I have not tried balanced connections and that is next on my personal tweak agenda. I have some Harmonic Technology Pro-Silway Mk-II and Magic interconnects coming in a week or so, and even though I am amazed at how good my system sounds in its present configuration, I am hoping to hear a decent improvement.

BTW, can someone please tell me what "PRAT" is? I'm sure I should know, but somehow that acronym got by me.

It never stops -- that's the nature of the beast! :)
Hi, Plato. I believe[correct me if I'm wrong] but Prat stands for pace, rhythm and timming. Was Martin Collins the first English writer to use the term? I first noticed it when I heard linn LP1's....then again when I bought my Roxan TT....the Brit tables just seem to have PRAT....a lot of earlier cd players had no depth and no Prat.....not musical.....but now most of them can boggie,,,,,
Did you know that my wife almost called the mental institution to see whether I am still sane after doing some of the tweaks you just mentioned? I'd say that one of the best tweaks I have ever experienced in my system is to plug those Audio Prism quietlines, the bubble wraps, and the Bright Star Audio isolation stand. The only problem is our new cat(named Toulouse) played, mutilated, and ruined all the foam covering the sand surrounding the box. Toulouse also got excited running on the bubble wraps as it creates sound as if there is an enemy is behind or in front of him. I salute you in your endeavor and hoped that you don't have a pet that will spoil all your efforts.

My thoughts as I read your post:

- "For God's sake why isn't he/she using paragraphs?"
- "This post could easily get prospective audiophiles to just go with Bose."

I admire your patience and tenacity Jadem6.
Bluenose, thanks for the "lingo" lesson. I hate being out of the loop. :)
Jadem6: Can you provide a very brief summary, i.e. your main conclusion, of your ultra long article?
Keep us posted on your pursuit of the Absolute Sound! The MIB Pros under speakers is something I've want to try, but just have brass cones now.

Have you considered placing entire audio rack on Aurios MIB Pros vs using them under individual components? I have heard a few others here comment on this, could save a lot of money (Pros are $600 set of 3) and simplify things.

I am also wondering since Aurios are selling bearings to place on top of MIB to minimize contact area, perhaps the Symposium Rollerball is simplier more direct appraoch. Not
sure how much weight they can support vs Aurios MIB
interesting article...i'm exactly at the other end...i haven't done ANY tweaks and my system sounds exactly as you described...the singers/performers/players sound very 3-D and if i close my eyes i can visualize them on the stage...maybe is my dedicated listening room....maybe is my dedicated power line...i don't know, but i find myself in absolutly no need for any tweaks...not like i didn't try (rollerblocks, sand bags, innertubes, cones, etc), but i couldn't hear an improvement...the system sounds very good as it is...
Bluenose- you know I can not stop.

Lak and Plato- we need to stick together, keep the nay sayers away.

Yeahright- I'm actually writing from a mental institution but please don't tell anyone.

Rupertdacat- I did write in one line separated paragraphs on a word processing software, I had not looked to see that it didn't transfer.

Lall- I tried to address vibration and isolation of equipment from the room vibration. I first used "Bubble Wrap" between a MDF shelf and a "Neuance shelf" under each peice of equipment. I then incorporated Aurios "Pro" bearings under the cd player and speakers. This caused an unwanted harshness to the signal. I found that using footer products (cones, pucks and balls) between the Aurios and the component solved the issues. The resulting sound was the entire sound stage was full, three dimensional, but more than anything completely believable. I can tell you exactly where the musician is on the sound stage, how far away and how tall. It's weird, they are truly three dimensional. I can walk right to the space they occupy on the stage, even when I walk up to them they remain in one place, I came put my hand out and touch where they stand. The speakers and the equipment are completely invisible. This is absolutely beyond my wildest expectations, the music is so real, so filled with life. Definition is great, but not etched or hard. The people on the stage simply exist as if they were real, there is nothing behind them but air. I simply can not explain how it feels, I sit down and it's all music. Every aspect of my system, EVERY ONE, is as good as it's been, and all at one time. Every aspect of the best systems I've ever heard are matched and in most cases surpassed.

Megasam- That is actually the next thing. I used to have my racks on a 3" sandstone slab that sat on the fireplace hearth. The system had great pace, excellent definition and was a smooth and liquid as I have ever had. I moved the system to the other wall two years ago and have been set up on a wood floor. I have been able to duplicate all the virtues of the stone except the liquidity so I'm going to see if I can get it back. Each bearing can support 500 lbs so a set of three will support a 5' slab of stone with no problem. I intend to put the two amp racks on the 5' stone. (side by side they also hold the pre-amp and power conditioning on) This would mean one set of three for the majority of the equipment. I thought I'd get a second set to try stone under the SCD-1 rack also. If this fails, I will put one set under the pre-amp (which I tried with success) and one under the high/ mid range amp. I will indeed keep you posted.
As far as Rollerball (besides being a bad movie) they use one large bearing and I believe a softer metal than Aurios. The Aurios Pro has three smaller bearings held apart equal distant, so the two products are really quite different. The Rollerball is more like the Daruma 3II.
I was talking to Audiogon Arnie last night and he had a great theory as to why these bearing products work. In that they are a ball or three balls in a cup shaped base, any sideways movement would also require the ball to move up hill. In the speakers case the vibration would have to produce enough energy to lift 185 lbs. Not too likely, so I would assume the bearings are restricted to micro vibration and movement, something far less than the speaker movement on cones. It's interesting, the movement of my speakers on cones was quite noticeable at the top if I put my hand on the side or back. That has got to be more distance of movement that the length of a 20,000 Hz wave. What these products must be doing is remove "micro smear" thus the improved definition and ability to see deeper into the sound stage. Any smear will cause distortion in the lower range and glare in the high frequency. By eliminating the smear/glare I can see what was behind that offending instrument.
J-D your excellent & informative thread reminds me of the "Winter lessons" of old...
Pls excuse my no-brainer -- but, do I understand the set-up correctly: component on (soft) footer, footer on Aurio? The speakers remain on Aurios alone? Thanks & Cheers!
Congrats on your efforts and success!

"It took a full three weeks of five hours per day to solve the puzzle..."

Let's say you value your time at $100/hr., then your 105 hours of "work" cost you $10,500. No one ever said it would be easy, or cheap.
That's a terrible thought Onhwy 61. I bill myself out a quite a bit more that the $100/hr. I would hate to think of what it would cost to have me set-up a system with that thought process. Luckly this remains a hobby, it's my time and I have yet to bill myself.

Gregm- This report is very similar in nature to "winter lessons". It's a format that works for me and I'm excited when I can share my experiences. I am always amazed at the personal e-mails of people wanting to share or ask questions. I think a lot of people a hungry for detailed explanations of how "we" work our systems.
Sony "SCD-1" - Brass "Orchard Bay" cones under three of the five factory footers (two rear and single center footer) The cones are placed in the hole at the center of the "Aurios." The "Aurios" is sitting on "Neuance" shelf that sits on "Bubble Wrap" that sits on a 3/8" MDF shelf. The MDF is supported on upturned spikes screwed to the Apollo rigid steel rack.
Dunlavy IVa - Speakers resting on #3 BDR "Pucks" There is a ½" steel ball set in the hole of the "Puck" and the hole in the "Aurios." This provides about a 1/4" separation between the "Puck" and "Aurios." The "Aurios" sit directly on the wood floor.
Fantastic piece of R&D. JD, thanks for sharing with us.

I came to a very similar conclusion. I found the stock Aurio Pro bearings a little "lacking" even when coupled with the TCB bearings (configuration recommended by MIB). My CDP/CDT responded most favourably to Brass Orchard Bay Khorus Cones sitting in the "hole" of the Aurio Pros. Very much in line with JD's observations. I also had good results with an inverted Symposium Rollerblocks (under component) and Aurio Pros (above shelf) sandwich with TCB bearings in between. Less refined prototypes that started this mad escapade include a Aurio 1.2 and Pro sandwich with TCB, various cones (metal,carbon,ceramic,composite) sitting on Aurios . The outcome surprised me - the Brass Orchard Bay Khorus Cones are really special. On my solid state pre amp, slight preferance in favour of the Symposium/Aurio sandwich over the Brass Cones sitting on Aurios. On my solid state power amp, Just the Brass Orchard Bay Khorus Cones sitting on its brass "footers" seemed to work best.

Am in the process of running in a new pair of speakers (yo-yo time), will be experimenting with Aurios when things begin to gell.

Tom, it's nice to hear your experiences are similiar to mine, kind of helps me believe I found a good solution. I like the efforts with Symposium/Aurio, I might have to get some Symposium to give it a try.
Yeah, the Symposium/Aurio sandwich has a "nicer" feel (a little euphonic IMHO). I thought the Orchard Bay Brass Cones with Aurios were more uncoloured and true.

It is a very fine line to toe - your personal preference and system synergy may just tilt the balance in favour of one over the other. Alternatively, it could boil down to simply whether you are a tube head or a SS man.

I will be very interested the hear the results of your experience with Symposium/Aurio. Have fun !
Instead of combining Symposium/Aurios, why not use Rollerblock sandwich?

My original observation that since Aurios is recommending placing the single bearing on top of MIB bearing to reduce contact area "seems" to vindicate that the less complicated more direct appraoch of Symposium Rollerblock may be the way to go. I have heard people recommend the best sound is obtained using two sets of Rollerblocks to make 3 sandwiches, one block above and one below a single bearing creating a sandwich. In effect this is a much higher end version of the Daruma bearing design.

This gives high tolerance bearing two super polished surfaces to contact, getting closer to the ideal of two single points of contact. Of course the cost is doubled, but sounds like you guys are in the upper income brackets, for me it would be too expensive.

I have owned both Symposium Rollerblocks and Aurios MIBs in the past, but have never tried the sandwich before and am just repeating what I have read elsewhere.
Tried the Symposium/Aurios sandwich because I discovered the Aurios first. Bought a set of Symposium to try and liked it. Found the Orchard Bay Cones, and the rest is history. I am sure the effects of a double Symposium sandwich will be as good (I dare say poss better).
Not, I am not exactly in the high income bracket. In my view, normally, high income = no time. I guess I am just in the highly obssessed category when it comes to a pet subject. It was PCs for a while, now it is isolation, resonance tuning. Once I get everything right ......
Seems Symposium has also heard about "double stack" of rollerblocks and has a special page at website describing how to do it:

I also noticed they have a new product called the Rollerblock JR which is a version of the Daruma.
Gilas, Where did you find the Orchard Bay cones? Been looking. Thanks
The only place to find Orchard Bay is A Sanctuary of Sound; web site is and you can email Stewart at

This is a terrific dealer, while your there sign up for his newsletter, he often has some excellent ideas.

Thank you. When I spoke with Stewart a few days ago, he reported that Orchard Bay is retooling and it will be a few months before any production. Thanks again.