What commerical audio system tweaks provide sound quality improvement??


If you look in any audio catalogue, whether Music Direct or Audio Advisor, there are usually several pages of  system tweaks.

What  tweaks in your opinion, work and actually provide real audible improvement??

Thank you , SJ

sunnyjim
after market power cords especially for amplifiers
proper support racks and proper individual support for components  
for vinyl-- Furutech destat and a good record cleaning machine
for vinyl-- proper set up tools like SMARTractor


room treatments

or better speakers

amps - if and only if your current amp is clipping

sound isolation if and only if you use a turntable
Nordost Sort Kone and Sort Fut make a positive difference that is easily heard.

Although not found in catalogs, the Vibraplane also made a positive improvement under my turntable.

Your experience many vary, but probably not.

Best Regards,

Jim Perry
+1 randy-11  - my setup works just fine without any tweaks at all. 
This hobby bears a lot of resemblance to the early settlers in America who traveled across this land. A great many grew tired and settled in the Midwest and the Southwest. Those who were braver and more curious made it all the way to the West Coast. 

J Edgar Hoover: Do you go all the way?

Shirley Temple: No.

J Edgar Hoover: I don't either.
very happy with Mapleshade brass cones and maple boards
Any products by Starsound Technologies.
Synergistic Research Black fuses.  
Make sure your connections are rock solid. I have those awful plastic shrouded speaker connectors on my Marantz and it was always difficult to tighten them down. As the connectors tighten, the plastic shroud and the metal contact seem to move as one but I've always wondered if the plastic tightened first before the metal. I've even read where some people have broken off the plastic since the spades can only be inserted one way and one way only, adding to the problem.

Anyway, I went and had the amp end of the speaker cable swapped out from spade to banana and all I can say is what a difference it made. The connection is so much better that it's the old "I'm hearing things I haven't heard before" reaction to very familiar CDs. All of this from better connections. And yes, I cleaned the spade connectors a few months ago so it's not that they were dirty. :-)

All the best,
Nonoise




Agree to the above. Connections matter. The best tweaks/improvements I have found to make nice improvements, after the room and amp to speaker matching are taken care of, and in my opinion:

--Interconnects. Do not cheap out here.
--Good copper connectors either rhodium or gold plated for your power cables. Speaker cables also.
--Some good power outlets, like the Furutech GTX or the new Furutech NCF.
--At least one of the components needs to be tube based.

Audioquest Binding Post Wrench, best $9.99 I ever spent....for solid, tight connections!

waterzlife...you don't have a socket wrench set?  (that's what I use)
One thing that works for sure, but depending also to yhe refinement of uour system. Fuses such as the Synergistic Black fuses,  look up the resistance 
Index gor ant skeptics the Bottleneck stock Steel fuse has 7 times the resistance 
More then premium Silver gold, fuses or even Copper fuse types. Try them 
Give 75-100 hours comes with a 30 day money back ,Noyhing to loose.
This next is the biggest upgrade Boutique Capacitor upgrades ànd many other 
Possibilities, starting with your Loudspeaks. The vast majority under $15k
Have Xovers that parts are average at best. Putting in Premium parts like 
VH capacitors,Mundorf,Audyn,or Duelund, resistors,the same applies to amplifiers, digital, and preamps.on average maybe 30% of the cost of the item actually goes into build.the rest overhead ,and 50% markup for dealers.I solid Audio for years 
That is why buying a solid piece of used gear, then dedicate money's to upgrade 
The results Dramatic. This is why I have equipment built with the best parts 
And it is still less then at a audio store.
Rather than tweaking I prefer "tuning with tweaks"  but I know what you mean.  
  • Selecting components that play well together with the speakers that make music for you
  • Good quality cables to allow those components to"sing"
  • Clean AC 
  • Fine tuning with footers.  Herbie's Audio Lab is a great source for these.  Keep working with footers till it sounds right.
Assuming that you have a nice system which you like, you might want to consider the following. I save my money for the physics - that is, if and only if the physics is solid and uncontroversial. Then I have been known to spend real money.

Those areas are: capacitors (film and foil are the best), resistors (nude Vishays are best), solid connectors (not necessarily expensive, just solid), clean power, clean stylus, and clean records. And the most cost effective tweak of all: little rectangles of sticky jelly-like substance, which can be stuck on things to control resonance, Moongel, for $10. I use the stuff extensively on my air bearing tonearm.

You may notice some high-mark-up items missing from my list. So is everything controversial. That's how I approach the subject: physics first. YMMV
Physics definitely supports vibration control. Particularly for tube components and turntables. Don’t leave them out!

Also, room treatment is very well supported by theory.

Some tweaks, though.. Jeez. I can’t believe people purchase these things. They make some of the stuff the new agers buy look like quantum physics.
Quite right, Todd. I missed room treatment. Mea Culpa.

Thank you to all who have responded. You have provided a wealth of good advice about audio tweaks.  I often wondered how important speaker connectors are. Fortunately, the connectors of the several speaker cables I have owned, seemed more than adequate, but.....

The Harmonic Technology Pro11+  I purchased used on AG came with expandable banana plugs. Most work, but some seem difficult to use. easily However, with garden hose thick speaker cable and these types of banana plugs, there is always the risk of breaking the speaker connector, especially if the speaker connectors are made of plastic and  because the torgue of  the cable because of its thickness. It is worse if the cables are longer than you need, which is a problem I have with the HT cable. It is a 12 ft pair.  But the sound they provide is excellent  The speakers are the Golden Ear Technology 7's, a very good speaker, but the speaker connectors are cheaply made. 

The speakers came with a ceramic oval base with standard spikes. Occasionally, there is a bit of overhang in the low bass  which could be related to several factors. I have considered using a one inch "dense" wood platform of equal size to further decouple the speaker from the floor which is carpeted.  A couple of months ago, I called up The Cable Company, and they advised against added elevation of the speaker to insure the correct ear to eye line from the tweeter to the listener's position. I am very familiar with this standard rule of  thumb caveat, and saw nothing in the manual advising against a minimal elevation;  unfortunately, I have never felt confident with The CC's recommendations or advice. At times, they can be unfriendly and dismissive

BTW, do "Audio Additives" RCA  caps for unused sources reduced the noise floor as claimed. Music Direct sells them, and they are reasonably priced.    Thanks, SJ   

 

These are common on test equipment, which can be influenced by ambient radio noise because input signals can interact on some settings. For audio, not so much, although at the preamp, the tape out RCA's and amplifier RCA's can be connected. In that case, be damned sure that you don't use shorting caps on the tape out RCA's, which short the signal line to ground.

I suspect that the main advantage is cleanliness, which should not be under-rated.

Acoustic resonators ASI and Shun Mook have a rough idea on how it works but it certainly provides audible improvements. Making your own resonators does the job too.

Alan maher designs his QPI's 0hz, Cbf's and fuse wraps. Amazing improvements for any system, he has a good description on how it is applied and what it does.

Footers to name a few Herbie’s, sort kones, Mooks and Harmonics these are system dependent and based on how the vibrations in your system are acting up.
Clean all of your cable terminations, including power cords with a good cleaner of your choice.

Let’s not forget to clean all non-audio connections and outlets, too. In every room, too. You know, computer, fridge, TV, floor lamps, you name it. Good Housekeeping 101.

@geoffkait  

Make sure you turn off the power at the breaker box before you clean the outlets. PLEASE !

 
terry9
@geoffkait

Make sure you turn off the power at the breaker box before you clean the outlets. PLEASE !

I never turned off the power prior to cleaning outlets and am fine. I mean except for a slight twitch. :-) Do not clean both HOT and NEUTRAL simultaneously. PLEASE !

 
toddverrone
Physics definitely supports vibration control. Particularly for tube components and turntables.

Physics also supports vibration control for solid state components.

toddverrone
Some tweaks, though.. Jeez. I can’t believe people purchase these things. They make some of the stuff the new agers buy look like quantum physics.

Care to give some examples of these tweaks you can't believe people purchase?
Buy a  bag of child proof outlet plugs roughly $5 for a big bag. Plug every unused outlet opening through out the house, not just your sound room. This prevents EMI, RFI from entering the electrical system, the reduction in back round noise is anything but subtle. One more cheap but highly effective tweak suspend all cabling with fish line from the ceiling, most effective in minimizing cable vibration, cable risers do not even come close in performance! 
perfectpathtech wrote,

"Buy a bag of child proof outlet plugs roughly $5 for a big bag. Plug every unused outlet opening through out the house, not just your sound room. This prevents EMI, RFI from entering the electrical system, the reduction in back round noise is anything but subtle."

The last time I checked RFI/EMI can pass quite freely through plastic and glass, which is actually why your cell phone works inside your house. I guess this is probably the placebo effect that’s anything but subtle in this case.

perfectpathtech wrote,

"One more cheap but highly effective tweak suspend all cabling with fish line from the ceiling, most effective in minimizing cable vibration, cable risers do not even come close in performance!"

Gosh, has someone actually been paying attention to my posts? Heavens to Murgatroyd!
A bunch of fish lines hanging from the ceiling? I think I'll stick with risers. 
@geoffkait  "I never turned off the power prior to cleaning outlets and am fine. I mean except for a slight twitch."

Bad advice, Geoff, in my opinion.

Perhaps you know enough to do that kind of thing with some safety, but not everyone does. I suggest you withdraw that.
I dislike the idea of editing to prevent people from hurting themselves. Geoff did say not to clean hot and neutral at the same time. Which is fair warning. 

But if a bunch of us say it's foolproof safety to turn off the circuit, which it is, then anyone reading this can decide how to proceed.

@geoffkait I was thinking of the pebbles with the 'special crystal structure' that you tape or place on cables and components. It's a bag of rocks from a roadside attraction anywhere in the southwest...
Actually you would have to touch both Hot and Neutral at the same time with a CONDUCTOR. That would be pretty stupid, no? Audiophiles aren’t that stupid, are they?

@geoffkait I was thinking of the pebbles with the 'special crystal structure' that you tape or place on cables and components. It's a bag of rocks from a roadside attraction anywhere in the southwest...

You were thinking? I thought I smelled something burning.


Caig makes a good cleaner and a liquid polymer that is conductive

Don't waste money on spendy interconnects but gold plated ends are worthwhile.

ARC puts dampers on their tubes so you should too; turntables & cartridges would be best in another room if you cannot isolate them from surface vibrations as well as airborne vibrations.

Add that to what todd said above and ignore the trolls
Post removed 
One does NOT need to touch both hot and neutral to get a shock. All that is required is an electrical path from hot to ground. That can happen innumerable ways: damp floor, kid spilling his drink, or any other innocent means of being in contact with a grounded object while cleaning.

Oh, and did you ever think of your kid emulating what daddy does? There is 2 horsepower hiding behind every receptacle, waiting to get loose.

I stand by my posts. PLEASE disconnect at the panel.
@terry9 valid points!
Terry9
"One does NOT need to touch both hot and neutral to get a shock. All that is required is an electrical path from hot to ground. That can happen innumerable ways: damp floor, kid spilling his drink, or any other innocent means of being in contact with a grounded object while cleaning."

You would have to be cleaning the outlets with a conductive material to get shocked. Hint: do not use a coat hanger or similar item to clean your contacts. Tell your kid not to stick his fingers in both holes at the same time.


Geoff, you would have to be cleaning ONE outlet, the hot one, with a material that becomes conductive, for one reason or another; e.g. wet with perspiration. That and a path to ground, no matter how elusive or invisible.

And Geoff, I did not insult you nor your intelligence, so pray do not insult mine. There is no need for that.

Now you're being ridiculous. And argumentative.
Yeah. Right.

The $15 Ikea butcher-block cutting board under floor standing speakers.

OK. let's make sure, based on the last 10 responses or so, that nobody fries themselves by becoming a human electrical conduit. 


Audiogon does not have an official " In Memoriam"  category

S.J.    

No "In Memoriam" category but perhaps we can establish a benefactor category where those who clean their electrical outlets without turning off the power first could bequeath their systems to other members. I would be happy to be the bequeathee!
Thanks todd, sunnyjim, and falcon. I was starting to feel a bit lonely.

No audiophile has ever been electrocuted whilst cleaning outlets, even those who employed Brillo pads, coat hangers, conductive grease or silver paste, even those who declined or overlooked turning off the power at the breaker box a priori. Even when slopping the goop on in globs. The hand-wringing is touching but save the drama for yo mama. I hate to judge too hastily but I suspect none of the hand-wringers has ever cleaned his wall outlets.

Let's be honest, you don't hate to judge, hastily or not. 
@sunnyjim you may as well try the isolation platforms under the speakers and see how they sound to you! It should be easy enough to tell by looking, though, if the added height will be a problem in terms of tweeter height. But a couple of inches shouldn't matter I would think
High Fidelity MC O5s, simple to use, just plug them in and be amazed

Another +vote for Power Cords.
Stillpoints Ultra 5's, Ultra SS and the minis under components and speakers. Amazing!!!
And power cords too.