Tweaks that convince others you're truly nuts...

The challenge always is to pay attention to what you hear and to trust your ears. Over the years, our listening room has seen the passage of a range of tweaks, and some have stayed because we're convinced they make a positive difference in our system and our room.

The most recent visitor that seems quite likely to stay are the Shakti Hallographs. And I never would have expected this. Two local audio friends had already listened to these sample units in their listening rooms and didn't hear any change whatsoever. But in our room, on complex large scale orchestral music, we heard an immediate and very positive improvement in the soundstage, in image specificity, and in the clarity of the upper mid-range and treble. The soundstage, already good, simply opened up and increased in apparent size, room boundaries became much less noticeable, and a troubling subtle refraction from the exposed brick fireplace and equipment rack behind the speakers disappeared (hurray!). How can something that reminds me so much of cookies dipped in chocolate make this sort of difference? Trust your ears.

(The Shakti Stones, on the other hand, made a quick departure from our system - killed the sound.)

Walker Audio's Reference High Definition Links (HDLs) were an earlier visitor to our room that were not permitted to leave. These delivered a surprising improvement in clarity to a set of speakers we thought sounded pretty doggone clean and resolving (Avalon Eidolons). Another one of those 3% improvements that cumulatively start making major differences overall. Fortunately, we never have to explain these because they fit inconspicuously at the speaker terminals mounted underneath the Eidolons.

Walker Audio's Talisman has become a regular part of my vinyl regimen. It sits to the left of the turntable and draws no attention until the LP playing ritual starts. Seeing me wave this thing over the surface of an LP creates immediate consternation in visitors, if not outright laughter. Yes, it works, we hear the difference, and we now use it with every LP side we play.

Nipper strategically positioned behind and to the left of the OTL amps... No, doesn't make a sonic difference. Just a fond memory of the friend who gave him to us. And after all, it is the friends we make through this hobby of ours who make all the difference.

So what in your room results in incredulity in your visitors?
Shoot, when I recommended to a guy to fill the hollow tubes of of steel speaker stands, he was incredulous and kept saying, "Really?"

I kept trying to explain to him that resonances are the enemy of clarity and linearity, and having been a percussionist, I knew that hollow metal tubes act like chimes. And that filling the tubes with sand squelched the resonances.

To which he again said, "Really?" This is a $3.49 tweak.

Six months later I talked to him again. He'd bought the sand, but had never filled them yet.

Rushton, I agree with all your tweaks, all easily heard in my system. Oddly enough, you and I seem to be two of the few that don't like the Shatki stones.

Of your list, only the Walker HDL is controversial, and only then because there are speakers they don't work well with. Kharma Exquisite immediately comes to mind.

I got terrific results with Walker HDL on both my Dali Megalines and the Sound-Lab Ultimate before them.

A dozen tweaks that have proven effective for me:

(1) Isoclean fuses (and likely Hi-Fi Tuning fuses when I get them installed)
(2) Cleaning ALL your connections, then treat with contact enhancer (I like Caig).
(3) Add weight on top of (some) equipment. Buy or make your own and see.
(4) Audio Prism Quiet Line (or same effect via other brands).
(5) Best quality jacks and speaker posts. OFC Vampire, Cardas, WBT or whatever.
(6) Precise load for your phono cartridge (and the best resistor for the job).
(7) Keep equipment apart both horizontally and vertically to reduce interaction.
(8) Dedicated lines and good quality AC plugs in the wall and on your AC cord.
(9) Acoustic treatment on all surfaces, some as diffusion, some as absorb.
(10) Texas Instruments EMI shield. I have in wall and on turntable.
(11) Grand Prix amp stands
(12) Most isolators and feet. All audible, some help, some hurt, they all "work."
This is a tweek from the legendary Bob Fulton for you analog guys. Tune your turntable mat. Bob used to sell a flexible blue mat that reminded me of sorbathane or some sort of soft, spongy plastic. It had a small notch on one edge. We would also make a small mark on the platter itself so we knew where we started. According to his directions, one should rotate the matt around the spindle by quarters and listen for the best sound. Then when one found the best sounding quadrant to place the mat, one would cut that quadrant into eigths find the best eighth and then if you wanted to narrow tune it even more down to the best sixteenth. We tried this tweek on Linns, Sotas, Denons, Aristsons, and Oracles. There was always a best position for the mat where the midrange in particular snapped into focus. We also experimented with this phenomena with the Oracle mat and latter the Sota acrylic mat that became available. There was always a "best" mat position and when we tweeked custys turntables this was one of the last things we performed. Try it out and see what you think.
Good listening,
First, the Acoustic System Resonators. They're resonators, just as your Hallographs. When I first got mine, I brought one to work and the head Metallurgist saw it. I told him of the designer's claim, and he told me that that's exactly what those metals do and there was no voodoo behind it at all.

Second, the Acoustic Revive RR-77 low frequency generator. I had to remove it from my stereo room because although it worked really well, after ten minutes my ears always started ringing to the point that I couldn't enjoy the music. Something in that room was getting excited and resonating, but I have found it yet. However, in the bedroom I've never had better nights of restful sleep.

Fun thread, Rushton.

We've had visits from a local 'phile and former TAS reviewer. Among the tweaks he's brought along to try were the Shakti Hallographs. Cookies dipped in chocolate indeed!

We all heard the differences they made, but in our room/system the dominant effect was to disrupt the time relationships between various high frequencies. Some ears might have found it smoother, but the three of us agreed that - in this room - the effect was more confusing than anything. That old YMMV strikes again.

On the positively positive tweaky side, our visitor suggested unplugging various devices around the house, including the microwave oven in the kitchen. It's on a different circuit than the one dedicated to the stereo, but even so there was a notable reduction in HF haze. Unplugging the TV (which is on the same circuit as the stereo) had a similar but smaller effect. Weird.

Our nutty tip? Unplug the microwave!
I thought that spending over $100 for wires (IC's in audiophile terms) was enough to convince other's I was nuts.
A $3k turntable is enough to make them want to take you to the ER for testing.
A $3k cartridge and they're ready to commit you to a hospital for the mentally ill

WHAT ?? You paid $3,000.00 for a stereo NEEDLE?

(I can hear it now).
Oh Boy!!....I can't even begin to remember the numerous mods/tweaks we've tried.

My pal is/was obsessed with almost anything he could spend audio money on,so we've tried a load of stuff,between us(mostly him -:)

Just a few...His most recent is the Shakti Hallographs.I had a big laugh,until we experimented in his room.In his set-up it definitely sounds better with them.Am I going to try them?...NO!

Cable towers...he loves them,as do many folks.I have never had a hint of static from my system(under normal circumstances),and have a concrete over "Mother Earth" floor.Comparing all the inner detailings and other audible attributes heard in mutual LP's/CD's etc,with my pal's set-up,I'm still staying with my cables on the floor.If I moved to a condo/apartment,where there could be "electro stuff" floating all over the place,I'd probably go for them.But I'm still a bit lazy.

Numerous tube dampers...Urghh!....we've tried about five different types.All "stunk"(to us) except the standard clear rings,and the winner was Herbies!!

A/C regeneration,even though I have three dedicated lines,is one of the nicest surprises i've encountered.To me,a must!

Btw,the little wall wart that PS Audio sells,is quite effective on my sub,which is the only component I don't run regenerated.The sub has it's own dedicated line,but "The Noise Harvestor"(I paid 75 bucks) is clearly an amazing accessory(to me).

Shakti Onlines,and Stones came,and went.

Bybee conditioners came and went.As did numerous other types.

An air suspension was very good under my older modded table,but now it is mounted on a Symposium Ultra Shelf.Quite good!

I've had numerous mods done to various equip,but I don't think it comes under tweakery -:)

Marigo tuning dots on windows make a very nice improvement,from unwanted resonance.Lowers the noise,but not completely.

I too am perplexed by the fact that I STILL hear abnormalities in sound,when some appliances are run in my home,even though I am on a dedicated line,and regenerated A/C is utilized....My wife knows a wash is off limits when critical listening is happening. -:)

All types of pucks/cones have come and gone.Had poor results with the Walker stuff used as weights.Damped sound,in our opinion.

All types of P/C cables were tried,and many are clearly different sounding.Some work,for us,better than others.I think "this" can be a never ending tweak if one likes P/C's.

Really good NOS tubes are fabulous to play around with,especially in the phonostage of my set-up.I've tried about eight different mfgrs....I'm happy,but am scared to try "Pinched Waiste CCa's" that I know are available.YES...that was Pinched Waiste AND CCa.Rarer than an uncirculated Spanish Dabloon,from 1650!

I'd love to do more A/B'ing of tone-arm cabling,but it's too much of a pain,and expense.We'll be A/B'ing the new Proteus Provectus with the Venustas and IC-70 in the not distant future.I hope!

I believe ALL of the tweak stuff is totally system dependant,so I am totally open to anyone getting different results,and am ALL ears to anything new.

Sorry for my length,but this was fun!

Getting my speaker cables off the carpet. They are now suspended from the ceiling with monofilament and plastic wire tires. My wife tries not to notice when she comes into the listening area in our finished basement.

She is very unhappy about the rolls of carpet remnant and carpet padding being used as corner treatment, however.
Totem "beaks" helped me realize how important it is to keep an open mind in this hobby.

I was skeptical to the point of indignaty at the suggestion I try them, god.......they actually work!
Not a huge improvement, but the treble is noticably cleaner and clearer with slightly improved imaging.

Sitting atop the speakers they draw puzzled looks, with more than one guest having asked, "Are those bullets?!"

"Yes" :)
Actually,one major eyebrow raiser,and left handed compliment,mostly from not too good friends or distant relatives......

My dedicated audio room,with "mucho" electronic gadgetry,to the non-fan/home decorator type...."why would you need a seperate room for yourself"?Isn't that a waste?

Of course,even though I LOVE my hobby,and have a big home,this seems to illicit the occassional "knock" from some relatives and friends,on occassion.They'd be far happier "talking over" any serious music playing,and get bored after about fifteen minutes.

Of course some would rather talk about the two different wine refridgerators and over two hundred bottles of "CRU" in their possession,or the multi Rolex collection owned,as they get into their big Lexus.....

My Subaru and Nissan will do,as my extra cash goes into what makes me happy....Music....done well -:)
Sirspeedy , Done well indeed!!
My wife's sisters have made the following comments.
You allow him to do this ?
I would never allow this in my home.
Why would anyone spend money on this junk?
Cant he just listen to the radio ?
So now i say to those who don't understand,TOUGH
Goldenone!!Believe me,I've heard ALL of those comments too.

One particularly annoying wife of a friend..."I'd never let my husband do that"!

My response..."I'm glad I'm not your husband".We're not so palsy anymore.

I've always been a good provider for my family,and have a large home....Yet,I'm a bit of a nut for having a hobby that takes up some extra space...of which I have plenty.

Thank God I am not into electric trains -:)I know a guy who took over the entire house.
>09-05-08: Krell_man
First, the Acoustic System Resonators. They're resonators, just as your Hallographs. When I first got mine, I brought one to work and the head Metallurgist saw it. I told him of the designer's claim, and he told me that that's exactly what those metals do and there was no voodoo behind it at all.

Amazing. Could you perhaps provide more details of the head Metallurgist's commentary, or perhaps even get him to write a post for us?

Read it on a Singaporean site using olive oil to damp tubes. It’s cheap, environmentally friendly, and, in case it leaks – according to the site owner, one can always massage the oil onto oneself.
Rushton you hit it with this thread. A great subject for a group of what most people would call Nuts for sure. When it comes to the (i would not allow my man to subject our home to this) i say its my home to and i make enough to support this super hobby. I've always been into stereos spending all of my free time when young visiting the Hi Fi stores. Of course at that time going first class was out of the question. I still put all i could afford into my systems at that time.

On the subject i have Holographs and believe they make a positive difference. My wife likes the looks so we have a winner.
I also like using Mapleshades isolation products to my ears they most definitely sharpen the musial picture and look good to.
Walkers links did nothing for me as did Shakti stones and onlines
I like PS audios Noise Harvesters they have a good effect on the noise floor.
I also have Quite Lines through out the house.
On of the best yet for me was a Audiav Cristal Rack with granite top for my TT.

Sirspeedy at one time i was big into Lionel trains but that was kid stuff. Ha Ha ya right. Another big buck hobby.
Stiltrains,when I worked in Manhattan,there was a superb hobbyist train store on 45th street.Right across from Harvey Radio,and some audio/electronics stores.I always took a good look in that place,just as a memory of my train days(in my youth).

Gorgeous stuff!!

A friend,the owner of the "new" Lyric Hi-Fi,always tells me of his amazing train collection!He has enough stuff to take over his whole home,but only sets up for the Holiday season.

A hard worker,and he can do as he pleases.A very nice guy too!!

Here are 4 tweaks that cost nothing and significantly improve the sound of any system, tube and ss, vinyl and digital.

1. Disconnect all unused inputs. E.g. if you're listening to vinyl, unplug your CD interconnect from the preamp as well as any other input connections. I have found that you can disconnect the cable at either end, so if it's more convenient to unplug it at the CD player end, that's ok. By the way, this rule applies regardless of whether the unused input source is powered up or even plugged into the wall. Disconnecting unused inputs results in an important improvement in overall detail and reduction of grain and edge, even if you thought you didn't have any problems in those areas.

2. Unplug all unnecessary power cords that are on the same house circuit breaker as your system. At an absolute minimum, all unused equipment should be turned off, but even better is to unplug the power cords. This not only applies to all unused components, such as your CD player when you're listening to vinyl, but also any other appliances such as lights, TVs, and record cleaning machines. Anything plugged into the wall. Again, this applies whether the appliance or other device is turned on or not. You should experiment to figure out which devices may have an acceptable effect on the sound quality, and which are not acceptable. It's best to start by unplugging everything not in use and, after you are used to the sound, reintroduce items one at a time to see the effect. In my room, I can leave a particular lamp plugged in and it makes no difference I can hear. My Nitty Gritty record cleaner, however, absolutely must be unplugged when I am listening because it has a dramatic effect on the sound (and Yes, I am referring to when it is not turned on). By the way, after-market audiophile power cords can be the worst offendors, even if the power cord is unplugged at the component end.

3. Let your equipment warm up, with signal, for 30-60 minutes before critical listening. Every system sounds better (greater lucidity) after it's fully warmed up, and this means with music playing. The signal level doesn't seem to matter. This is easy to do with CD, but it applies with vinyl too. Even if you don't want to leave your turntable playing a record when you're not present, you should at least have the turntable spinning. This can make a difference.

4. Bypass speaker binding posts whenever possible. Those handy binding posts that let you connect and disconnect your speaker cables easily are a major roadblock sonically. Fortunately, it is often possible to bypass them with little effort. You may find that the internal wires connected to the posts inside your amp (and possibly inside your speakers) have spade lugs that are bolted on to the back end of the binding post. If this is the case, you may be able to disconnect the spades from the inside end of the binding post, extend the wires to the outside of the amp and reconnect them at the outside end of the post. The net result of this is that both the speaker cable spade lug and the amplifier spade lug are touching each other and crimped together by the binding post. The binding post only serves to hold the two together, not to conduct any signal. If you can do this, you will experience such an improvement in musical detail, that you will never go back. Of course, you can accomplish the same thing even if your amp wires are soldered to the inside end of the binding posts but this will require a little soldering work on your part. Years ago, when I was using Classe amps, I tried this and was amazed by the improved clarity. Same thing with Martin Logan CLS speakers when I was using them.

>>Even if you don't want to leave your turntable playing a record when you're not present, you should at least have the turntable spinning. This can make a difference.<<

How so?
Audiofeil, the change in sound of the turntable spinning for a while is probably due to the lubricating oil in the bearing warming up. At least, that's my semi-educated guess.

I can't say that this will be true of all turntables, but it's true of my Galibier.

Yes, I am truly nuts...

I wanted to see how little I could spend to create an isolation platform for my amp. I did research on microscope platforms due to their similar need to stop vibration. There were a few manufacturers who used an inflatable bladder or series of bladders to stop vibration. I think they feel air and soft rubber doesn't transfer vibrations very well. So, I had my granite counter guy cut me a platform (20"x18"x2") and I used bubble wrap (approx. 1" round bubbles) under it to isolate. The bubble wrap is fairly strong when you use a 20"x18" sheet and supports the amp nicely. So far the bubbles have not leaked or popped after 6 weeks but I am checking daily. I am sure I could use wood instead of granite but my goal was low cost and the granite was free. Besides, the black granite looks good. My next step is to use racket balls (like Ginko balls) under the granite to see how they work.

Any thoughts or hints?
Gingko balls are not tennis balls...they are solid material not hollow

Thanks for the info. I have not used Ginkos so I was not aware they were solid. My comment on them was more of a visual discription.

The microscope platforms seem to go on the idea that the least amount of material between the platform and table provides the smallest pathway for vibration. Thus the hollow bladders. I have seen audio racks with opposing magnets to elevate the platform and literally eliminate any contact. The hollow racket balls may be more in line with their theory than the Ginkos. Since this was designed as an experiment I am open to trying different designs such as racket balls (or any other isolation bridge).

I notice that you have moved to AZ. Welcome. We can always use more quality Audiogoners!