As I write this, spring has sprung, and its one month early in New Hampshire, with flowers that normally bloom in May finishing by the end of April. If that's a result of global warming then lets all use tube amps and keep the heat up. Thus spare time has been used for yard cleanup, tractor changeover from snow plowing to grass cutting, with less time reserved for audiophillia. Such is life for a suburbanite.
Thus, there's been little time for extensive reviewing. In addition, due to family problems, a planned trip to the New York high end audio show had to be cancelled. Therefore, I have absolutely nothing new to report on. So I guess I'll just do some follow-ups on previously reviewed products. Well, that's how my column stood as of last week. But something happened this past Friday which has changed everything. A week ago, I got the idea of calling Tim Mroz, an avid audiophile, owner of Perfect Path Technologies, who developed a silver paste treatment for the house electrical system which I discussed at AA Chapter 146 and AA Chapter 148.
As my electrical usage has continued to drop over the past 5 months by an average of 15% to 20% per month and the sound has continued to be far superior to what I had prior to the treatment, I called him to see if he had any experience with using the treatment directly on the audio connections. Why yes he had! And he suggested that he could come over on Friday to give my system the treatment. He was supposed to arrive at 10:00 but at 10:15 I got a call from him. He'd fallen down stairs at home, was hobbling around but would be at my place in an hour. Such dedication! Anyway, he arrived with his tool box and immediately discussed what he'd like to do; basically coat every interconnect, ac plug, speaker connector, and any connectors on the insides of the equipment that weren't soldered. What he didn't feel comfortable with was silver coating my HDMI connectors which would probably needs the hands of a fine watch maker to do without causing shorts. I agreed.
Next he suggested while he had the cabinet of my Classé pre-pro open, that he'd coat all of the circuit boards with a bluish suspension from Canada he had recently become distributor for, Antivibration Magic (or AVM). I was a little reluctant for two reasons. First, I hate doing two changes to the system as one can't tell which produced which changes to the sound, and if something goes wrong one doesn't know which one to blame. Second, I hate to add something to a chassis which can't be easily removed as it may affect the resale value, and if it doesn't work or actually makes the sound worse, then you're screwed. But Tim reminded me that the silver treatment effect isn't instantaneous, as it normally take about 6 weeks to kick in, and I reminded myself that his last tweak had done wonders for both my electrical system and the audio system's sound, so I should be able to trust him as he had already coated his entire system. I gave the go-ahead.
The AVM is a blue thick suspension which is applied to any possible component that may vibrate, such as circuit boards, soldering points, transformers, internal wires, capacitors and fuses. It is applied with a paint brush in two to three thin coats and should be left to dry for 24 hours before applying electricity to the circuit, after which it's non-conductive. It can be used on all types of electronicst, speakers, drivers, chassis, etc. depending on your time and pocket book.
As we only had a couple of hours and a small amount of the material and it was an experiment for me after all, I decided on doing only one chassis. At first I thought of either the Oppo Blu-ray player or my home theater computer as vibration is always a problem with them, but finally decided on my Classé CT-SSP Preamp-processor, as it is the center of the system, controls all other equipment, and does all of the D/A conversion for my system. So I opened the chassis and Tim coated all of the contacts with his silver paste and all of the circuit boards, capacitors and transformers with the suspension, while I applied the silver paste to all of the electrical connections I could find in the rest of the system.
I left the system shut down for 25 hours just to be on the safe side, then turned it on, waited about an hour, fired up the home theater computer (HTPC) and listened; to complete silence as the Classé wouldn't come out of standby. You can imagine the thoughts going through my mind of having to replace every circuit board in a $9000 piece of equipment, and what sort of retribution I could seek from Mr. Mroz. I gave him a call and he said he'd come down the next morning to evaluate the piece. As it was late, I went to bed.
The next morning, I opened the chassis and looked around. There I discovered that one of the connections from the power supply to one of the circuit boards wasn't properly seated. It was promptly replaced, the top was put on and the unit turned on. Ah-ha!! Glorious sound!! And I do mean glorious. Whether the coating had just decrease circuit board vibration or it was doing something electronically to isolate the circuit boards from electrical noise or some sort of magic, I don't know. But there was a significant change for the better.
While I was completely satisfied with the sound my system had been producing, which was significantly better and more lifelike that a year ago, I was amazed that coating just one piece of equipment could make a significant sound improvement. This is especially true as after Tim gave me the web site of the product, I realized that I had tried some of the stuff several years ago on my tubes, for which it was then recommended, and found no change. With an increase in ambiance information and background noise such as tape motor noise on my digital files from analog tapes, 16/44 files now sounded like their high bit rate brethren, and instrumentalists that were previously somewhat diffuse solidified into a more three dimensional object. Bass became somewhat tighter and more tuneful. All in all a significant improvement!
So I've ordered more from the producer and will report on
further findings. Plus I can't wait for the silver treatment to break in to
see what that has wrought. More in the future ...