Major sound improvements
with minimal investment.
Review By Steven R. Rochlin
here to e-mail reviewer.
Below are a few of my
favorite audiophile tweaks that in total can make a huge difference in the
way a system reproduces music. In fact, one of the tweaks below can not
only improve your hearing, it might save you from permanent hearing
damage! With so many people spending tens of thousands of dollars on their
high-end audio system it never ceases to amaze me how few people know
about the below, nearly free, tweaks. To achieve Superior Audio you
need Superior Tweaks!
What was it you said? Sorry, i didn't hear that.
Now what if i
shared with you a way to improve your music/movie/sound reproduction system in less than
10 minutes? And what if i also shared with you that it would possibly improve your upper
frequencies, increase the apparent inner-resolution of your system, enhance the lower
level resolution, increase the imaging/soundscape, and also make you a healthier person? How
would you feel if this "tweak" only costs you $10?
Well, this "tweak" isn't for your electronic
reproduction system but is for your human system! May i humbly suggest you go to
your local store and purchase some ear cleaning supplies? The most valued asset of
every audiophile system is one's human hearing. If your human system isn't functioning correctly, then
the electronic system might not have a chance to achieve its full
potential no matter what one does. Using cotton swabs (Q-Tips, etc.) may
not be a good way to clean your ears. Remember: the sharpest thing to put
in your ear canal is your elbow; and obviously your elbow does not fit
into your ear canal. So what should you use?
Please go out and
get an ear cleaning system and follow the directions when using it. The
"system" i humbly suggest comes with fluid and a water rinsing bottle. Basically
the fluid cleans your ears and the water bottle rinses the fluid and foreign matter out.
Regular use of this cleaning system will not just clean your ears, it also
keeps them healthy and less likely to get clogged up and be infected. Such
an infection can permanently damage your hearing! So please clean your
ears, the difference in the way your high-end system sounds may astound
you! Thank you.
For more reading, WebMD has a good article seen
and Resist — A "Courting" Order
So you're introducing that shiny new
sexy amplifier to your preamplifier yet something is unhappy. They seem to
fight each other day after day and you're not sure what to do. Well, you
may wanna see if they're just resisting each others "love vibe."
This little ditty below discusses how to enhance your system's love vibe
through less resistance.
So here what you need for this ditty:
A multimeter that can measure DC resistance
A few "cheater plugs." Cheater plugs are
usually gray and they attach to the male part of an electrical cord. They convert a three prong AC plug into a two prong AC plug
and usually have a tab for the ground. They are available at most Home
Depots, electrical supply huts, and even Radio Shack (known as Tandy to my
What you need to do is file down the larger male prong on
the cheater plug so that both prongs are the same height. This way
you can reverse the electrical phasing of the electrical plug of your
component(s) by using this re-engineered cheater plug.
Next, unhook all your components from each other so that
we are only measuring the DC resistance of one component at a time
which is not connected to anything else. Please electrically plug
in the component you want to test and do the following:
Turn on the product we are testing and give it a few
moments to get warm and happy. Set your multimeter to DC resistance and
insert one of the test probe to the GROUND of your electrical outlet (the
rounder lookin' thing usually on the bottom for us American folks) . Then
place the other probe so that it touches one of the OUTSIDE PART of the
analogue audio RCAs. Write down the DC resistance your meter says.
Turn off the component and use the cheater plug to reverse
the electrical phase of the component. Turn the component back on and
again test the DC resistance. Whichever measurement is lower is
usually the best. Now simply repeat this for every component in your music
There are no "hard and fast" rules here
so one component may subjectively reproduce music better with higher DC
resistance. Like some love affairs, a little more resistance may actually
be a good thing! In the end, let your ears decide which electrical phase
makes the "love vibe" work. As always, if you have any questions
please feel free to e-mail them to me or hire an electrician to do the
above tweak. Important: When in doubt while experimenting with
electricity, hire a professional.
So you have that new power cables i see. Nice! And those new
silver interconnects look very impressive! So if you spent so much on all this cool stuff why do you have
then all looking like puh-scetti (spaghetti) behind your equipment rack? This "tweak"
is really a no brainer yet i've seen the below rule broken by quite a
few folks and felt it should be discussed here.
Please keep your power wires as far away as possible from your low
level signal cables. Also, please do your best to keep your speaker wire away from your
power cords. If you must have them cross each other, please have them do so at a
90 degree angle. There is a sound reason (pun intended) why "twisted pair"
speaker cables are common. By having the positive and negative lead of your speaker
cables twisted, it helps to reduce them "cross talkin'" to each other and
So basically this quickie is basically reminding you to straighten
out your cables. Some audiophiles claim to hear a difference when
they have their cables off the ground. Well, we are not going there right now. So please
clean your "room." (Said like my parents, with humor) Don't make me come in
there young man!!!
(Said Like A Pirate)
Batten It Down Ya' Land
Aaaaaaarrrr maties, we're gonna batten down arr
"treasures," then hoist up the anchor and sail away to enjoy our desert island
music. Ya land lubbers know the drill too! Make sure all ye treasures arr secured in the
Captain's quarters so that nothing makes a resonant sound. Then we ocean pirates keep the
anchor from draggin' us along as we sail away to our destiny.
As part of the continuing maintenance on my system, and
settin' up the new listening rooms, here a few things i humbly suggest to
Fist, we have all those nasty things that go buzz in the
night. A great tool i used in the past was the THX "WOW!" Laserdisc. On one of its tracks is
a very slow frequency sweep track. This track is basically a very slow sweep upward from about
10Hz to 100Hz or so. What we are listening for is the resonant frequency of
various items in your listening room. This way as each frequency is achieved, one can track down and
eliminate the extraneous things that buzz and sympathetically vibrate.
Light fixtures, various furniture, and high-end audiophile
components have their own
resonant frequency(s) and by lowering their audibility we then may enjoy more
music and less buzz and hum! There
are times when only a frequency sweep such as the "WOW!" laserdisc contains may
allow you to really hear, let alone track down resonating devices.
Ya' see, the ear
perceives sound in such a way that some of these resonances may be "hidden"
to some degree by
the sounds your loudspeakers are producing. Since the loudspeakers might be
producing the resonant frequency louder than the resonating device and the harmonics thereof, only a pure
frequency may allow you hunt down these nasties. Let's call it a "seek and
destroy" mission. Then we'll raise the "anchor" and allow our components to
sail to freedom.
Certain components, like our precious turntables or the laser
assemblies in our CD players, need to be as resonant-free as possible. We
certainly do not want resonances to interfere with their operation!
Resonances can be altered and/or removed by somehow either coupling or decouple the
component; or by placing
it on a stand or some such where the resonant frequency is decreased to a good degree.
Some component racks allow you to tune their resonant frequency to change the
affect said resonances may have.
Shiver me timbers but not my tonearm! Let's hoist the main anchor
and sail away to enjoy our desert island music. So vast yon maties, there may be rough
waters ahead! And you, yes you, swab the deck or it's walk the plank fer ya'.
So there you have it, A few tweaks to start this
year on a
positive note. Clean your ears, adjust resistance, clean up your system's
wiring, and remove hum and buzz. These are but a few tweaks you can fund
within the Enjoy the Music.com
Tweaks page. To learn more ways to improve your sound system, see the Tweaks Page by clicking
here. As always, in the end what really matters is that you...
Enjoy the Music,
Steven R. Rochlin