Tweaks you got rid of because they were not effective (enough)?


There are some audiophiles for whom cost is no object; they buy what they wish and every single tweak and gadget which promises to improve the sound. And the industry is all too happy to produce such tweaks -- often made of expensive materials with elaborate engineering explanations. Those who question the value of these tweaks are frequently accused of being "naysayers" who are either too ignorant or insensate to realize that "everything matters."

Of course, money spent one place cannot be spent elsewhere; expenditures on tweaks take the place of other more central factors affecting the sound. In some cases, those tweaks are worth it; you can hear the difference, and that $400 (or whatever) really could not have improved your speakers or sub or amp, etc.

So, the question here is simple: Which tweak have you tried which, after some experience and reflection, you realized was either *not* effective or not the most effective way to improve your system? 
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Showing 17 responses by hilde45

That picture is like reading the news, daily. 
Interesting list. And of course, all your experience, so no arguments from me.

What you say which I profoundly agree with is the need to treat my room. Not sure how, but if it is like nearly everyone else's room, it's got "issues."
@cd318 Thanks for your candor on the things you've tried but decided weren't doing much. It's so easy to imagine one is hearing something "subtle" in response to a tweak, that it's nice to hear someone just come out and say, "nope, didn't hear a difference."

And by the way, anything that removes a problem -- like a hum -- or prevents a problem -- like a surge protector -- does not fall into the definition of "tweak" that I'm utilizing in this thread. They seem like necessary or obviously prudent things to do.
@mahgister With all due respect, if you say the word "Embed" one more time, I'm going to send a trickster genie to your house to switch the polarity on your speakers. We get it man, we get it. 
@jtcf  Extra points for brevity!
@djones51 As I'm intending it for the purposes of conversation, a "tweak" is something supplemental to the system, something which is not necessary to make it work.

For example, a speaker cable is not a tweak. A fancy speaker cable is. Etc.

An external DAC -- I see how that could be a grey area, if there's already another one in the system. So, for example, when I added an external DAC and bypassed the cheap DAC in my cheap CD player, and it made a big difference (that I could hear), that's an example of a "tweak that works." 

I just purchased some good stands for my speakers. They are made of solid steel, very rugged and are replacing some cheap MDF stands my wife picked up at a Good Will for $10. Does this tweak make a difference? Well, visually, they're much more attractive, so in that sense, "yes." Do they make a sonic difference? I have to spend time listening back and forth to decide. 
@djones51 -- Sure, just voicing opinions -- or rather, "facts," namely, facts about what did or didn’t make a difference for you, in your system, with your preferences, etc. The more clearly we describe the experiments we conducted, the more others can try them to see what they think.

@mahgister. Surely, from what is above, the term "tweak" has been adequately delimited. But, since you’re not clear yet:
  • Some things are necessary to make the system even work (make sounds!). They’re more than tweaks.
  • Some things are intended to improve the main function of the system, how it sounds.
  • Some things are intended to make a system look more attractive. I like djones’ term "jewelry" for that. ( Where "jewelry" indicates an aesthetic factor which does not bear on the sound but rather the overall experience of the system, which includes visual appeal. Nothing wrong with "jewelry" (visual improvement) unless it’s pretending to be a "tweak" (sonic improvement).
Finally, your epistemological point is, what? That unless people have an "adequate concept" for a phenomenon they cannot "perceive" it? I’m sorry, but that kind of intellectualism puts down the experience that so many careful listeners on this forum clearly have. They may have different ways of expressing their experience, and they may still be finding the words in which to express it, but the notion that if they don’t have a "concept" first they can’t perceive it? I cannot accept that.
@millerc and @twoleftears - thanks. I was really trying to avoid a much wider and contentious conversation by asking the question so narrowly,  and I appreciate the straightforwardness of those last two answers.
@duckworp, for the feet under the speakers, what worked for you? I have some spikes but have not tried them out, yet. Came with the speaker stands. 
@tbakin It’s always good to have a reality check with one’s self about whether one hears a difference or not. I’m glad you enjoyed the question I posed; there are so many debates over these products and phenomena that I wanted to try just to elicit a list from people of what they decided, for themselves, were just not helping. It’s likely that none of the answers here can add up to anything like an objective answer, given the range of different equipment, rooms, ears, and tastes involved. But some patterns will probably emerge, patterns which may provide at least a pretext for some of us to try something, avoid something, or do some interesting experiments for ourselves.
@mahgister -- It's all good. Thanks for your nice comment above.

@jerrybj Which tweaks did you get rid of because they made no discernible difference?
To my surprise in all audio threads in all forums, no one has a concept about that, they speak about "tweaks" yes....But a "tweak" is a partial solution and sometimes a trade-off with negative effects, and above all a tweak is vulnerable to placebo effect the day of their evaluation

Yes, well, of course. The word tweak already implies it's not the whole solution. I mean, who'd think *that*?

No disrespect meant to your theories and conclusions, it's just that you're correcting a mistake that no one is making, and then going into a lot of detail about ALL the things that are involved. It feels a bit patronizing. 
@duckworp -- thanks. If I’m understanding, from the top down it’s:

  • speaker
  • granite chopping boards
  • Gaia feet
  • top of the speaker stand
then....what underneath the speaker stand?
Spikes, feet?
Or perhaps it doesn’t matter much given how effective the above things were?
One tweak used which I was pretty sure I *could* hear was putting a couple of 10lb weights, one each, on top of some bookshelf speakers. Tightened up the imaging for sure. Then, I started curling with them every time I listened to music. ("I'm huge, Jerry, I'm huge," to quote Banyan from Seinfeld.)
@douglas_schroeder 

Tweaks are how you do not build a great audio system.

Who asserted that?
@krelldreams We like it down here. Weather is fine. Air is full of oxygen, easy to think clearly.
16 bands for each left and right with a toggle to notch each one up or down by 2 ( don’t remember if it was DB or...). I remember using it to tailor the sound in my room, and tweak, and tweak, and tweak never getting around to sit back and relax to the music.

I did the sub crawl and discovered, happily, that a best spot for my REL was right next to my listening chair. That makes it easy to adjust the bass levels at the beginning of the song. Sometimes, no change is needed, but typically, a bit of dial-in is necessary.

Based on what you relate, I better understand why Schiit made their Loki equalizer have 4 bands. It gives one enough to play with, but not so much that it becomes a distraction. Or, at least, it's less tempting.