|[ Audio Tweaks ]|
I supose that you already know something about tweaking. Tweaking is.... to use the most obscure methods and strange devices to get the best possible sound from our audio equipment. Seriously, tweaking is trying to improve the sound of some audio components by means of doing little (sometimes big) modifications on these components. There are a lot of devices available to do this mods to our equipment but usually they are expensive. But.. what do you think about some tweaks almost for free?. Yes, I know that when reading this somebody may say: Tweaking is a waste of time, it doesn't work. But perhaps you want to try with these zero-cost tweaks. I'm sure that it will be fun.
Leveling--Be sure that all the components of your hi-fi equipment are leveled. Check leveling with a bubble level. This is critical for turntables, CD players, etc. It will also help with loudspeakers.
Cables--Keep loudspeaker cables and interconnects away from power cords. Power cords may cause electrical interference and this will affect the sound. Use short run interconnect cables to minimize audio signal loss. Use the same length of loudspeaker cables for both speakers. If one of them is too long because the amp is closer to one loudspeaker, don't try to roll up it simply leave it on the floor.
Speakers stands--If you speakers stands are empty it is probably that they ring like a bell with the music. If you want to stop that noise, fill the stands with dry sand. Try with different quantities of sand until you get the rigth sound. Anothe way to stop the "ringing-bells" is to fill the stands with little lead balls.
Plugs--Keep all the plugs of your equipment clean. This include RCA plugs on amplifiers, cd, etc, and also on cables and power cords. To keep them clean use a metal polisher or alcohol. Be sure that all your components are unplugged when cleaning them. When connecting all the cords, cables and interconnect be sure that all of them are fitted correctly.
Break-in period--This is not a tweak. Is only a recommendation that even manufacturers of audio equipment do. If your hi-fi gear is completely new it is better to do a brek-in process. Wait some days before listening critically to the equipment. How long time is necessary to do this? It depends on components but it may vary from hours to weeks (read owners manuals. Manufacturers include some notes about break-in periods for their equipment). One of the components that will benefit of break-in are loudspeakers. If you want to accelerate break-in with speakers do this: place speakers one in front of the other and connect one of them out-of-phase (connect positve cable to negative speaker terminal and negative cable to positive speaker terminal). After the connection is done, cover the speakers with a blanket (or similar) and play music.
Bass excess--If the floor of your house is made from wood, it is possible that bass may sound uncontrolled. You can control that bass distortion with a carpet on the floor between speaker and listener position.
Vibrations--Some CD players cages may vibrate with music. It is possible to eliminate this vibration isolating the cover with an absorbing material like tar (the same used in car engines. It is sold as self-adhesive sheets). The ideal material is Sorbothane but it is very expensive. In addition to tar sheet we can place a heavy brick on the top of the cover to eliminate those vibrations.
Isolating platforms--If you need an isolating platfrom for you equipment, try with to pieces of MDF and between then place a bicycle tube. The bicycle tube will act as an air suspension system absorbing vibration. You can vary the absorbing capacity of the platform increasing or decreasing the air preassure of the tube. To fix the tube use blu-tack. You can also use instead of the tube, a bag filled with sand.
Bass Control--If your loudspeaker has a bass-reflex port maybe you can detect more bass than you desire. You can control the excess of bass putting a sponge inside the reflex port. You can try with differents sponges to see what happens.
Unplug equipment--Unplug the power cords of your equipment and then plug tham again. We do this to clean them. Also rotate pots (all9 to prevent dust in them. Do it with you equipment switched off.
Improve Bass--You can place your speakers on a concrete platform. It doesn't look great but it works.
Dark--Switch off the ligths to listen to music. Some psycological studies have concluded that concentration is greater in the dark. And music requieres concentration.
Decoupling spikes--If you hi-fi furniture has spikes and the floor in your home is made from wood, you can use small coins to protect the wood from scratches. Even you can protect more the floor, glueing felt in one side of the small coins (the side faced to the floor). It is the best method and it is the cheapest.
Tennis and squash balls--I supose that you have seen at some audio dealers isolating balls made form esotheric materials and extremely expensive. To substitute these balls you can use tennis balls or squash balls. I prefer squash balls because ther're different types, softer or harder.
Display switch off--The little displays present in CD players can generate electric interferences that may affect audio signals. If you turn off these displays you will listen a subtle improvement in sound.
Blu-Tack--You can use this wondeful and cheap material in a lot of situations. I have seen it placed directly on the CD DAC chips, on power supplys, under speakers, etc. Keep some blu-tack always near to you.
Teflon--If you want to grease you TT axis or the opening mechanism od your CD platter, you can use Teflon based oil. I buy it at the bicycle shops (they use it to grease chains). It has a hig h geasing capacity and lats for a long time. NASA technology for audiophiles.
Cleaning vinylso--The cheapest way is using deionized water and neutral soap. You can add isopropyl alcohol (91) to the misture. Quantity of componenets may vary, but a good composition is 3 parts of deionized water, 1 part of isopropyl alcohol and 10 drops of neutral soap. Clean the vinyl with this liquid using a soft cloath or sponge. Dry the vinyl using a hair dryer (cold air, please!!)
Acoustic panels--I don't know if you can find in you country of origin big cardboard egg boxes. They can substitute some acosutic panels. They doesn't look great but with some ability you can paint them and the final result will be great.
Turntable mat--If you need a TT mat you can build your own desing using felt on one side and cork on the other. Both are cheap materials. You can try with diffrent cork types and thicks
CD mat--The same you did with your TT, you can do it with your CD. Now using only cork (no felt). Cork sheet must be very thin (1mm or less). You can fix the cork mat to the CD usign 3M adhesive spray.
Motor Oil--To grease you TT axis you can also use motor oil. Be careful, use little quantities.
Vaseline--If you want to lubricate in a more permanent way the mechanisn of you TT you can use Vaseline. It is cheaper and cleaner than grease.