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January 2007
Superior Audio Equipment Review

Superior Tweaks!
Major sound improvements with minimal investment.
Review By Steven R. Rochlin
Click 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? What?
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 here.

 

 

Cease 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 European friends). 

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 reproduction system.

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.

 

 

Lift & Separate
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 reduces other electrical nasties.

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 Lubber!
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 enjoy your "treasures."

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'.

 

Finale
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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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