What was your first big eye opener with regard to audio?

Hello friends,

what was the most fascinating thing you did with the compilation or optimization of your system in terms of SQ or performance, that really got your attention in either a good or bad way?

what was it that actually impressed or surprized you once it was in place?

or what DIY project was it that once done really gave your audio system a big shot in the arm SQ-wise?

maybe it was simply finding out just how much some items could cost

something always seems to take place that changes our philosophies or understandings and maybe even our approach to arranging a fine audio system.

what was your’s?


Perhaps it was buying a quality rack, platform, or maybe a pr. of amp stands?

rolling tubes? adding iso footers?

biting the bullet and bringing in a decidedly  more expensive or merely a different electronic component? DAC? Line stage? Mono blocks? Speakers?

what amazing things could be done with as little as 8wpc?

for example, my ‘eye opening’ events came two  fold. adding power line conditioning and using upscale wires/cables, or power cords.

which of these came first I’m not sure but all of them  came with a huge amount of prejudice on my part as to them doing anything positive to the quality of the sound, but indeed they did!

other things came along with nearly the impact or mind altering impact but those were the initial items that paved the way for me to keep an open mind with respect to building an audio system and preserving its synergy.

what was or has been your epiphany? your most surprising  ‘move’ in audio land?

The game changer for me was hearing a properly installed pair of Mc’s XRT 20 line arrays back in the 80s Compared to point source speakers the sound literally blew me away. No vertical limit to soundstage or critical sweet spot, the entire row IS the sweet spot. With 25 tweeters per column, 1 8" mid and 2 12" woofers per cabinet, flat response from 20K to 20Khz, there is no need for a subwoofer when playing 2 channel sources.

It took me another decade plus to secure a mint condition pair, (located 3 states away in a church in South Carolina) then re-edge rotten coam surrounds, as well as install better binding posts and upgrade crossover caps. The coupe de’ gras was adding a pair of Mc 501 autoformer mono-blocks, MX135 preamp-processor and later a C2500 preamp in pass thru mode to allow true 2 channel or surround. The combined sound is stunning, from a few tenths of a watt to full power and beyond. I added a a pair of XRT 30’s for another room which I located in between for a good price using the same model amps. The differences between the older and newer line arrays is not dramatic, the older pair are more sensitive and use power more efficiently, but the lower distortion drivers in the newer models add refinement. Either system sounds stellar, whether playing analog or digital material, CD, or high resolution transfers. You can’t go wrong with a decent set of line array speakers. My ears tell me its the best of all worlds together, like attributes of best Point Source and Planar speakers mixed together. You don’t hear the room, you hear the music, with a depth and realism I never knew possible till I heard the XRT 20 and was blown away by what I heard.

I do still own several sets of point source speakers as well, and the work perfectly for me in the smaller rooms I have them set up in. But if I want to hear a performance, I listen to either the 20’s or 30’s depending on my mood. The room the 30’s are in is a tad smallish for them, however they still rise to the challenge, effortlessly reproducing whatever music I play.

I’ve had these speakers longer than any other pairs and don’t ever see a need or have the desire to replace them with anything out there I have heard, even mega buck offerings such as the Wilson Maxx, or the lesser price but still fairly expensive B&W 800 Diamonds that many people still couple with the big McIntosh amp offerings and a Mc tube or SS preamp. The B&W's are power hungry, requiring the big 1.2KW amps if you wish to get anywhere near concert levels. While the Wilson Maxx's are substantially more expensive with excellent sound reproduction and in a league of their own, for my ears they are nowhere near as satisfying as the line arrays are. To each his own I suppose.
Hearing something sublime, startling, or incredible is one thing. those events are just special.

hearing or enjoying a startling event, or presentation is one thing. getting into the past time itself is yet another. In this place ‘eye opening’ events especially eraly on seem to crop up regularly.

at the top of that list for me has to be:
just how much components can cost!!

in all, the true mind blowing aspect of this venture for me remains how much things cost despite their form and application.

$25K for an extension cord?
wow. yeah.

for me the biggest eye opener after the fact, is the stratospheric prices attached to some things in the audio world. no question about it.

finding out ‘everything matters’ was perhaps as interesting and intriguing as has been
the realization things here can exceed the cost of a decent home.

this little nugget did not come as an eye opener, but as a ‘mind blowing’ epiphany. it stemmed predominately from the Audiogon pages and its membership.

never would I have believed placing different types of ‘footers’ beneath a component could alter the entire sonic presentation. Never.

many years ago one member from Colorado sent me a bag of wood blocks. several in fact. each group in their own packaging. each group of 3 pieces was off of a different tree.

Coco Bola. zebra, ebony, Mahogany, and others.

he said ’try ‘em’. so I did.

results were mixed but there were noticeable results from one tree to another. and, it told me there was likely something to be said for even more upscale footers or isolation devices in general.

consequently, as Eric alluded to way early in this thread, DIY and personal experimentation are still an impoirtant aspect   in the hobby.

previously the only area DIY had expressly urged me on was with acoustic treatments for the listening room. so many varied and various things do account for plainly fascinating results which are IMO, derived from unbelievable experiments.

rugs. Drapes. curtains. kinds of furniture. egg boxes. Pillows. insulation! and even foam.

I’m not even gonna get into speaker placement and how marginal moves there can be absolutely revelatory.

in nearly every instance, I had to do it for myself, in my own home and my own gear, to eventually become convinced everything matters.

naturaly some things matter a bit more than others, but….
https://youtu.be/PnEDV2LAWJ8 @blindjim no biting required. Listen without prejudice.
Easy one Townshend Seismic Podiums. Nothing in 40 years has been such a huge system upgrade. Effective with Soundlab Dynastats (Hybrids) Majestic 545's (Electrostatics) JBL Everest (box, horns)  Tannoy Kensington GR (Box) every loudspeaker i have placed on Podiums benefits in a huge way.

Finding out, if you don’t have a lot of money to spend many thousands of dollars on hardware separates you can still get good sound - with modifications of what modest system you already have. But don’t get it twisted! It adds up pretty damn quickly!

Here are some of the modifications/upgrades on my system that I actually learned here on agon:

Headshell wires: Ortofon LW-800S

Cartridge: Shure V15Vx

Styli: JICO SAS VN5xMR (Cost more than the damn antique market find -turntable itself!)

Tonearm wires: KAB Superflex

Put female RCA jacks on the back of my phono to replace the stock interconnects.
- Update! Keith Louis Eichmann of KLEI™ will be coming out with his version of brand new KLEI™ female RCA jacks around Thanksgiving hopefully!

(Tube) Phono Preamp: Parks Audio Budgie

Tubes: NOS Telefunken 6922/E88CC (Cost more than the damn phono preamp!)

Tube shields with ground wires: Free!

Added a Power Sound Audio V1801 Subwoofer 

Interconnects: KLEI™Absolute Harmony Plugs and shielded Duelund DCA20GA interconnects from my turntable to the tube phono preamp with the KLEI™Absolute Harmony Plugs unshielded Duelund DCA20GA interconnects to the receiver. One of the best value upgrades I’ve done yet.

Speaker wire: Duelund DCA12GA speaker wire. Also one of the best value upgrades I’ve done yet.

So just because you don’t have a rig worth a ton of money doesn’t mean you can’t get good sound quality and learn A LOT - here from the guys - and gals for that matter here on Gon.