Abstinence. Don't listen to your system for a week. Stay out in the sun on Saturday go home and take a nap. Wake up at about 1:00am. Listen to your system. Goes well with your favorite beverage.
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Clean all your connectors the next time you tidy up the sound room. Use Ultra Connect, Caig, or one of the brands that bottle Shark liver oil.
Regardless of which you choose, the act of cleaning all your RCA, balanced and speaker terminals is a tweak that is 100% positive, immediately audible and nearly free.
Turn off the lights. Your auditory senses become
more acute in the dark. Cheapest and best bang for the buck I know of. If you do this at night after everyone
has gone to bed and the house is still, it will sound
even better. Listening late at night with the lights off.
The quality of your electricity is probably at its highest,
I agree with Dopogue on the hockey pucks. I use them under pracitcally everything. Also my speaker stands and amp stand are 4 pucks each with a one foot square concrete footer on top of the pucks. These made my Hales Rev 3s sound even better. And be sure to use spikes under your speaker. And you don't care if the concrete gets scratched. And if you wish, you can paint the concrete.
Spiking monitor speakers on top of the stands. Immediate benefits to bass clarity and imaging. Can be done cheaply and simply with cones in a triangular orientation sitting point up on top of stands. Also--not a cheapie, nor low tech, but I just added a PS Audio Ultimate outlet for my sources (SACD player and phono preamp) with immediately audible improvements.
Abstinence and "in the dark" are great recommendations.
I should list most of my tweaks as it's difficult to determine what the benefits of one would be without the other tweaks already in place.
With that said, my most favorite low-cost tweaks thus far include:
1. Installing Star Sound Technologies' Audio Points on my rack. Nice improvement after installation. Amazing improvement after break-in.
2. Installing dedicated lines myself.
3. Lifting the grounds on the dedicated lines.
4. Reconnecting the ground only on my pre-amp line.
5. Building my own rack to more properly address the mechanical transfer to ground of air-borne vibrations and resonance.
6. Re-installing the original bi-wire jumper straps that came with my speakers to work together with my mono-terminated cables and associated 6" jumpers.
Hey Darryl, A while ago I helped a friend unravel 20+ years of wires behind his system, consisting of currently used cables/cords and an assortment of dscarded....wires. It was a tightly woven mess. When we were finished the poor man just sat there ard almost cried. Thot that it sounded so good, but that he had been listening to it for so long in such an awful condition. It was as if we had created a whole new system for him. Yes, seperation of cords can be magic.
Right on Uncle Jeff ! Its so simple, yet so effective. I had a glut of cables which I cleaned up, and made sure all the power cords were moving away from the interconnects. Most PC inlets are on the left of your gear. If your outlets are on the right, which mine were , I dont care If you have Wattgates , Romex , whatever, your asking for trouble. Huge difference in my system.
Good question, Mhu. I have found divergent opinions on this one. I don't worry as much about this as about seperation of power cords from ic's. I have read elsewhere here on A'Gon about some who even use chopsticks to achieve total seperation. In my introduction I refer to to the very cheap foam insullation used for hot water pipes employed for ic seperation. I learned about this elsewhere in A'Gon. Several feet of this costs less than a couple of dollars. While many might dispute the gain, few can argue with the cost.
A month ago I bought some Stillpoint ERS material from a local dealer. ERS material reportedly absorbs RFI. I placed a sheet over my cdp and made panels to cover the sides and front of my amp. Well, the results were very favorable. My system played with noticably more detail and was more holographic.
Hi Unclejeff, the "ERS material" is made out of graphite fibers and various metallic substances that are imbedded in a cloth-like material, and is commonly sold by the Stillpoint people in 8"x10" sheets for approximately $20.00 or you can possibly purchase ERS from your local high end audio dealer.
Radio Frequency Interference practically exists everywhere from tv, radio, cellular and telephone, and microwave signals. The ERS material supposedly absorbs harmful RFI.
Fortunately, a local dealer in Hawaii had a roll of the ERS material and I bought a sheet roughly 33"x36". Needless to say, the cost was justified many times over by the favorable results that I got when I covered the top of my digital front end player and the sides and back of my amplifier. I immediately noticed more detail, speed in the lower bass, and a bigger and deeper soundstage. I actually had to lower the gain on my REL Stentor subwoofer and volume control on my amp, believe it or not.
Because of the graphite fibers, you must be careful when using this product. I was advised that the graphite fibers could cause a short in my components, so I taped all sides with electrician's tape, please be careful to follow the manufacturer's instructions.
The word is beginning to get out about this product (ERS) and you would be surprised to hear which manufacturers are using or plan to use this product in their power cord, interconnect, and speaker cables.
I like to put my speakers near my bed (but not too close) and fall asleep to music, especially after a good night bath, with my favorite cup of tea, I am in heaven. Somehow, it sounds better lying down - I have no scientific explanation for it. May be we used to be like dogs and our head got more blood supply since horizontal placement of our body; hence yogis upside down poses. Feels good, everyone should try it. You can just sit in a chair, and let your head down for a few minutes.
This relaxed state of mined between the waking and the sleeping stage (the alpha state) is great for listening to music. I wouldn't recommend songs with words though - they might have the scary effect of hypnotizing us (All the audio exec. systems with waking up feature should not allow radio as a source to wake up to for this reason). Anyone in the industry should alert manufactures. Wake up to CD music only, without words to be safe.
Clean your ear out with a wax removing liquid from any drug store. I kept turning down the vol. after I did this. I couldn't believe how loudly I've been playing all these years. No wonder my neighbors complained. They are good sports - I put up with their dog barking in the night. You will not be disappointed - this is different from just using q tips. Music sounds more luxurious. Everyone should know about this simple tweak - tell it to musicians especially.
I like making DIY speaker cable out of thickest solid copper wire you can find, and combining with strands to get the best of both worlds. You can also add silver wire to it if you like. I love the sound of the silver for liquid and transparent characteristics. Since you can fine tune the sound by combining different amount, it's fun and economical.
My favorite low-tech tweek is one I made myself. A year ago In my quest to find a cheap isolation device that uses ball bearings. I went to the hardware store. Strolling down the plumbing aisle there it was. The 0.88 cents device that would have me sell or give away all my points,pucks, cones and air-bladder tweeks. A simple Sillcock Handle(round). This is the soild Aluminum out side faucet handle. Combine this with 1\2 round chromium steel balls grade 25 and you have a device that might be cheap tweek of the year. That's 7 balls per handle 6 under the faucet handle. This makes it roll. Then one on top in the circle hole in the middle of the faucet handle. This one ball is the one that will be touching your unit. I use 3 faucet handles per device. That's 21 balls per units. The 1\2 balls fit in the slots on the faucet handel perfectly, but will roll all over the place if lifted by hand. Once under unit they are stabilzed by the weight of the unit. But they will roll if touched to hard, And that is what they are supossed to do. You can upgrade the ball to a Tungsten Carbide grade 25 ball for even better results. I have these under everything. There is not one item in my system that sounded better with any of the other tweeks. Like the Aurios Pro's the more the better. My Hales Rev 3's were the last thing I changed because I had bought some top-notch soild brass points for them. It was as if the music became unforced in my system. It seemed so natural with no straining at all. Just music coming out of darkness. I've kept this under wraps for a year. But now I must speak. BTW they look good also with the all Alum. and chrom. steel.
Interesting. I think I need to read your suggestion a couple of times to get it right. I am buying some high-end referance speakers that come with the "best' cones, I think I will try them, and then your idea and see what happens. If your idea sounds(forgive the pun) the best, I will go with it as I do seem to be moving things around a bit too much.
Mod the stock power cord for the CD or DVD player. First I cut the cord so it just reaches the outlet. Second, I separate the two strands. Third, wrap aluminum tape around both strands. Fourth, put copper coax around the tape. Next, attach the leads to a decent three prong plug, with the copper coax going to the ground. This seems to greatly reduce EMI and RFI interference. Also plug it into it's own dedicated outlet, if you can, so the digital hash doesn't affect the other equipment.
1. Get your ears cleaned anually by your doctor.
2. Replace the mounting screws on your speaker drivers with stainless steel. Nylon screws also work on the smaller drivers (the tweeters).
3. The Cardas speaker placement formula is free and fun. I've found it amazing for soundstaging; not so much for bass.
Clean your connections, as per Albert Porter above, including the AC power. I got some extra detail and quieter background in my system by cleaning my electrical service ground. I momentarily disconnected the copper wire where it clamps to the ground rod, cleaned it with wire brush on Dremel tool, applied Pro-Gold cleaner/enhancer, and solidly reclamped it. Added some ductseal and a plastic bag to protect from future corrosion.
Has anyone played with their ground rods? Slipknot: Maybe after drinking that beer, you could enhance your ground connection. Let us know which beer works best!
Ground Rod protection / cleaning: I spray the connection with Battery Protector and Sealer. It's sold for use with battery terminals, which are susceptible to corrosion. You can purchase this at an auto parts store. The plastic bag is a good idea. My rod is in a shrub bed and I cover the connection with an inverted plastic cup to protect it from moisture.
I used to clean my connections regularly with a product called Cramolin. Eventually it was discontinued. (at least I couldn't find it any more) I started to think that it was possibly just the act of disconnecting and reseating the connection that made the difference in the first place. It actually does make an improvement IMO. Possibly the results are better with Ultra Connect etc., but you can't possibly get cheaper than this tweak.
I believe Cramolin to be the same as another product currently/recently available, but unfortunately I forgot the brand name. It might be one of the Caig products.
When I ran out of Cramolin I used electrician's alcohol for a while (not good for gold plate I'm told) and then used Kontak (gift from a friend) until I spilled the remainder of the bottle.
Now I'm back to using electrician's alcohol (MG Chemicals) and sometimes Flitz polish on nasty vintage contacts/plugs.
Overall I liked the Kontak best (cleaned better than alcohol and never gumbed up any tube sockets), but I'm too cheap to buy a bottle.
I have wondered if dry cleaning fluid might work well (the Kontak smelled like it (dry cleaning fluid) underneath the citrus scent.
Yes, unplugging and plugging works fine (just did it to everything going into the preamp this morning as I was too lazy to actually clean all of the connections). Took me less than half a minute.