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Your most recent system tweak, did it help or hurt the sound?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by draden1, Dec 18, 2019.

  1. Larry I

    Larry I Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    Cable feeds can be really problematic. I had noise issues what went away when the cable feed is disconnected. The cable feed is to the television system, which, back then, did not have any direct connection to the stereo system. But, both systems were no the same branch of power feed, so that is how the noise got to the stereo. Even an isolation transformer did not do the trick. The cable company eventually solved the problem. That is a good thing because now my music system IS directly connected to the cable feed. I need an internet connection for the music server.

    To me, stuff like an isolation transformer is more like an essential component (something designed and used to solve a specific problem), and is not so much a tweak. I suppose something like power conditioning is in the grey area between component and tweak in the sense that there are those that find power conditioning to be overkill. I recently added an Isotek Titan and Isoteck Evo Sigma conditioners to my system. They changed the sound to a meaningful extent and I like the overall result, but, like anything else, there are some trade-off involved. More clarity, more precise imaging, a plus; a slightly drier sound and more obvious recording flaws a minus.
     
  2. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    Adding another "questionable" point to the mix- cable break-in.
    I added some silver plated cables between my turntable and phono preamp and they sounded bright and edgy at first- absolutely not debatable. took them out and put the old copper ones back in and they had issues of their own- less dynamic, less vibrant.
    So I put the silver ones back in and let them run for a week or so and the edge was gone.
    If you hear something similar patience might eventually be rewarded.
     
    Uglyversal and toddrhodes like this.
  3. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    Location:
    Netherlands
    It could also be that you are now hearing Dr John as it was recorded. As long as much more records improve than worsen.
     
  4. draden1

    draden1 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Des Moines, IA
    Exactly.
     
  5. danomar

    danomar My spoon is too big.

    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    For a larf, I recently connected two different types of speaker wires (in parallel) from my amp to speakers. I expected it to sound awful or potentially put extra load on my amp, but instead got the qualities I liked from both wires combined. My amp runs no hotter than before. I now plan to install some high-quality spade connectors and leave the different wires together.
     
  6. Larry I

    Larry I Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    It is a bit hard to determine the extent to which something actually breaks in and changes in sound vs. the listener adjusting to the sound of the new component. When I add something new and I haven't gotten a handle on the new sound, I am sometime disappointed in the change or I don't hear as much of a change as I had expected. But, when I remove the new item and go back to the status quo ante, the change seems much more dramatic. Even on a short-term demonstration, the change seems more obvious when taking the new component out of the system than when putting it in.
     
  7. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    Absolutely. I don't think cable burn-in is all that crazy, but then again, there are shades of gray here I suppose. That said, I finished up the second set of these tonight, and popped them in from my digital rig transformer up to my line stage. Same experience so far as the cable I used in the analog rig - more highend energy, better dynamics - more bite to horns. But the imaging and staging - it's as close to "convincing" as I've heard my stereo produce, both for analog and digital. It's like peeling back an onion, it seems.

    I was really questioning whether or not I should build two pairs of interconnects that cost nearly $200 each, which I still had to build, in order to use. Even if they calm down a smidge with more run-in, I can say that I am no longer questioning this decision. And I can't wait to build the simplest cable, yet the most important one, next. It's a shielded 3M cable, also with parts from VHAudio, between my line stage and amp. Not even going to dress it up, just terminate with very good connectors and enjoy. I'll post pics and findings here once it's done.

    And I share your same experiences with a pretty nice silver interconnect I tried prior to these. But with these VHAudio cables - I think the additive sonic qualities they are presenting to me haven't come at the expense of speed, smoothness, and warmth. Just beyond happy, so far.
     
    avanti1960 and draden1 like this.
  8. rnranimal

    rnranimal Senior Member

    Location:
    Ohio
    I have an early 2000s Onkyo 5.1 system in my theater room. It's good enough that I don't feel like spending a bunch to replace it with a proper setup but not good enough that I'm satisfied. So I tried improving it by purchasing another pair of the left/right front speakers so I could use one as the center channel and therefore all front channels would be the same speaker. In theory, this seemed like a good idea. It was not. I know ideally all the front speakers would match but it didn't sound as good. I would need to get 3 higher quality speakers and replace them all. Which isn't happening soon. The problem is that they have the left/right speakers toned brighter and recessed mids while the center is reduced in brightness but strong mids. This works well most of the time but there are issues. Using the same speaker for all 3 solved the issue of hearing a sound change when something was panned through all 3 speakers, but that was a rare occurrence and the overall quality of the voices was noticeably reduced. So I put it back how it was.
     
  9. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    So it's still early, but I am almost giddy about these new cables I built. To recap:

    2 x 6.5' VHAudio Cat5 speaker cables
    2 x 1M VHAudio DIY Fine Silver with KLE SilverLink RCA connectors
    1 x 3m VHAudio Pulsar Cu2 shielded RCA with ETI Research copper plugs

    I've been trying to think how to put into words what I'm hearing but I think the best way to put it across is to say that I listened for about three hours earlier, and am about to go down and listen for another few, but I'm getting delayed and I'm getting really annoyed at that fact :)

    There's a section of wind instruments in, I believe it's Dave Grusin - Discovered Again, that after all the above, I can hear modulation in not just the note itself, but the trailing reverb/decay - maybe it's been there all along but it has never been so obvious, so real. Even better - that decay seems to occupy its own place in space. It starts from the spot in the soundstage where the instrument was, but then almost seems to come toward the listener as it trails off. Really cool. Soundstaging seems to have exploded a bit. Depth and layering is more easily discernible. Bass is taut and thick, and I have to say it's addicting. Whether it was Tool - Undertow or a SoundKeeper Recordings title (Kay Sa) that I was checking out earlier (and I had listened to several times prior to the changes), there's a very real feeling to what's going on now. I'm not saying it's a totally convincing illusion, but the fact that it's an illusion doesn't seem so obvious, now. But even with what seems like better detail, better clarity - music is just as "musical" and has retained or even felt like a little uptick in speed and engagement. I'm sorry I can't really explain it better, but at the risk of sounding like my system has moved into the "analytical"realm, it has not, thankfully.

    And, extra benefit - I've been getting some hum from my turntable. It's not bad, and I've tried all sorts of different grounding methods, ground points, extra ground wires, different cables. After all was said and done today, after installing the shielded line from preamp to amp, that noise is no longer audible.

    Here are some pics of the last bit of stuff I put together today:
    Shielded RCAs into amp from preamp:
    [​IMG]

    And then a group shot of the two Fine Silvers as well as the new shielded cable:
    [​IMG]

    Now I'm just wishing I had more stuff to build :(
     
  10. Rukiki

    Rukiki Forum Resident

    Location:
    Madrid, Spain
    Moving back from the "filtered" to the "non-filtered" side of my power strip. Wider soundstage and tighter and tamed bass.

    Guess that McIntosh gear seems to dislike power filters.

    Also found that the power strip works for my guitar pedals, where it does make a huge difference removing high frequency noises.
     
  11. ayrehead

    ayrehead It was like that when I found it...

    Location:
    Mid South
    I'd like to share a tweak I've recently installed on my Prime Signature tonearm- the Marigo Audio tonearm damping dot kit. One on the cart, two on the finger lift, two on the arm, two on the side weights, and three on the counter weight. The improvement is substantial, well worth the $50 price.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    LakeMountain likes this.
  12. draden1

    draden1 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Des Moines, IA
    Nice pics, what exactly do these things do?
     
  13. ayrehead

    ayrehead It was like that when I found it...

    Location:
    Mid South
    They damp tonearm resonance.
     
  14. mkane

    mkane Musics a Passion

    Location:
    Cloverdale,CA
    we like tweekin here. Speaker placement is everything, almost.
     
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  15. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Interesting to hear that they also work on top arms/carts, like yours. I ordered the tonearm set to check it out.
     
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  16. ayrehead

    ayrehead It was like that when I found it...

    Location:
    Mid South
    Make sure you follow the instructions carefully. Let me know how it works out.
     
  17. Otlset

    Otlset under western skies

    Location:
    Temecula, CA
    Are the positions you used for the dots pre-indicated in the instructions, or were they placed by trial and error? If those positions were indicated in the instructions, I wonder what changes would be perceived by moving one or several a few millimeters from those positions, just to experiment.
     
  18. ayrehead

    ayrehead It was like that when I found it...

    Location:
    Mid South
    They are predetermined and moving them is not a good idea. Once they're stuck down leave them there or the adhesive will weaken the more you move them.
     
  19. draden1

    draden1 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Des Moines, IA
    New on the fly VTA adjustment for Jelco tonearms, I have the TK 850L. My system is quite sensitive to VTA adjustments and I got tired of constantly loosening the grub screw so I have decided to give this a try. I will install it tomorrow as I need to get some different hardware.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    Location:
    Netherlands
    I installed the Marigo VTS tuning dot tonearm kit now. It seems slightly different from what you got:
    2x 3mm white VTS dot (1 one the cart and 1 spare),
    2x 2mm green dots (on top of below tip of tonearm finger)
    2x 3mm green dots (on top and bottom of arm tube ca. 1 inch before the pivot point)
    3x 6mm black dots (on back of counterweight, equally spaced, close to outer edge).

    I listened to a short piece of music without dots and then immediately with dots (it takes ca. 10 mins to install them). My first impression was that it was a bit louder and I noticed that the voice was now clearer and better defined, more direct, which is perhaps why I thought it to be louder.

    It would have been nice to switch back to no dots to confirm this impression, but the risk of damaging the dots is too high. If anyone tries the dots it would be nice to do record an A and B (I don’t have the equipment).

    I then played a few favorite records and I again had the impression that resolution had improved. I am happy with what I am hearing!

    There is also a speaker VTS tuning dot kit. I will order it!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    3 black dots on back of counterweight.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
    GyroSE and ayrehead like this.
  21. ayrehead

    ayrehead It was like that when I found it...

    Location:
    Mid South
    I'm glad you like them. You'll find that the sound will get better as there is a short "break in" period. I know this makes no sense but it is what it is.

    As for the dots I had extra black dots from another kit.

    Let us know your thoughts about the speaker tuning dot kit.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2020
  22. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Forgot to mention that I measure 3 and 4 mm’s diameter for the 2 and 3 mm dots, respectively. 6mm dots are 6mm. Do you see the same?

    Looking forward to hear a break in of the tonearm dots and I will feed back on the speaker kit!
     
  23. LakeMountain

    LakeMountain Vinyl surfer

    Location:
    Netherlands
    I installed the speaker dots last week. I started with 30mm dots (SD-31) at the rear of the speaker and 4mm green dots on the woofer/midrange cones.

    And it worked again for me. Listening to a selected short piece and I could quite cleary hear an improvement of the floor drum, for example, the sort of air pulsating inside the drum was suddenly apparent and also the placement of the drum slightly to the rear became audible.
    Overall definition has improved. I listened to a the few favorite records and they sounded even more amazing now.

    I also installed 3mm white dots on the frame of the tweeter. However, here I am undecided whether it did anything. I did not hear any distinct improvement when adding dots and I even had the impression that with 3 dots the tweeter actually became less lively. Marigo states when this happens (over-dampening) just remove the last added and it then should be sonically optimized.

    Overall I am very happy and now I wonder, if anyone else has or will tried it?
     
  24. ayrehead

    ayrehead It was like that when I found it...

    Location:
    Mid South
    I thought about trying it but never got around to it.

    If you don't mind could you post some pictures of the dots on your speakers?

    Thanks
    Robert
     
  25. vo_obgynmd

    vo_obgynmd Forum Resident

    Location:
    Issaquah, WA
    Using an SBooster Power Supply instead of the supplied wall wart for my Chord Huei Phono stage. Huei sounds quieter with darker background with better instrument separation and deeper bass. Maybe placebo. Still evaluating.
     

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