For the skeptics, which tweaks have you found to actually work?
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tomek

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Hey guys,

I know that this site is divided into people who really believe in cables and those who don't. I'd like to think that those that don't believe in cables are very skeptical about some of the other tweaks out there and really need to hear a difference to believe and then, invest.

What have you found that works and what hasn't?

For me:

No Difference

interconnects
speaker wire
power cord


despite my best efforts, i just wasn't ever able to notice any difference. i've tried silver, copper and carbon cables but when put to the blind test all differences went away. sure, at times I thought I heard big differences, but as soon as I was blind to the switching I wasn't sure if I heard a difference and I was completely unsure if anything was better than anything else.

isolation cones
solid state amps


as well, i tried several solid state head amps and really couldn't tell. i'm one of the few people that admits that the headphone out of my receiver sounded just as good as some of the better headamps. However, I'm pretty sure that I have heard a difference with tube amps although it's hard to place. They just seem to have more life to them.

I also have some isolation cones for my cdp. I didn't notice any improvement. come on, my CDP has an incredibly complex vibration reduction system.

Difference

power conditioning

there was an unmistakable difference with my old speakers. My girlfriend picked 28/30 times or so, it was unreal. however with my new speakers (much better and bigger) we didn't pick up the difference. It may be the speakers or maybe the power was just really good when we tested again.

listening environment

ambient noise level, speaker placement, placement of the headphones on my head, and listening position have always made VERY big changes to me. toeing in my speakers 20 degrees, moving them back a foot have all made big changes and I've spent a lot of time tweaking them. I still catch myself moving my head forward a foot and noticing how the richness and size of the music changes.

Still Undecided

cd players

I've compared my so called 'audiophile' cdp to aerius' lower cost rack mount player and we had trouble telling any difference. we had the same disc going on each player and switched inputs on my amp for instant changes. at first i thought i noticed a difference, and could pick it out, but several swaps later and i was back at random. The shop I got my gear from has a modded CDP that they've shown me several times and the difference has usually been quite dramatic. I'm reserving judgment until I've had it in my home and been able to test it more carefully.

rainbow foil

who knows. really, call me nuts, but i haven't discounted it yet!

replacement tubes

I've never heard them but am curious whether people with my mindset (or ears) think that they make a noticeable and worthwhile improvement.




Any input guys?
 
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post-814666
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aerius

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In my case it goes something like this.

No Difference

power cords

IME as long as it gets power from the wall to the component it's good. I've had stuff running on lamp cord to proper grounded cords and noticed no difference.


Difference

power conditioning

It kills the noise from the light dimmer and drops the noise floor in doing so. However I don't notice the improved soundstaging, imaging, and focus that have been claimed by others as benefits of power conditioning.

listening environment

Listening at night when it's dead quiet is so much better than daytime listening. How the headphones are worn & how they're positioned in relation to my ears also makes a big difference. Especially with my Grado 225s, wearing them wrong really screws everything up. Frequency balance, soundstage, everything, gets FUBAR'd if I wear them in the wrong position.

replacement tubes

Definite differences here to me, I have 3 sets of tubes for my DIY tube amp, the stock set and a couple I got off ebay. The stock set is lifeless and lacks bass compared to the other 2 sets, the difference isn't subtle, play anything with low bass and the stock tubes won't even reproduce the sound. I think they cut off somewhere around 50Hz while the other 2 sets go down quite a bit more. Between the 2 sets I got off ebay, the differences are pretty subtle, one set seems to image a bit better while the other has a warmer sound.

Solid State amps

I have a mini-Gilmore built from subsonic's board, the jack on my Denon, and an old technics receiver, they all sound different. The differences between any two of these is bigger than the one between my tube amp & my mini-Gilmore. However I haven't had enough experience with a dedicated solid state headphone amp other than my mini-Gilmore to comment on them.

Still Undecided

cd players

While there's a clear difference between my craptastic Panasonic CD/DVD player and my Denon 650F rackmount unit, I couldn't differentiate between my Denon and tomek's audiophile approved CD player. When the output levels were equalized I just sat there going "damned if I know.."

interconnects

Like tomek, I can't tell any differences between silver, copper, shielded, braided, whatever when doing A/B testing, even when I was the one doing the switching. However, I have noticed a reduction in listening fatigue using my new DIY ICs after long listening sessions even though they sound the same as every other IC I've made or heard.

Vibration control

I opened up my Senn 580s and put blue sticky-tack on most of the flat surfaces. Results are similar to using my new DIY ICs, and I think it helps out with imaging & focus a bit but I'm not sure yet.
 
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Ctn

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For me:

No Difference

interconnects

I found no difference between quality interconnects over $30.

speaker cable

I found no difference between speaker cables when the cable is sufficiently thick/short.

power cord

Zero difference period.

ferrite cores

Zero difference.

surge protectors/filters

No difference, except maybe the the crackles/pops are slightly reduced when the washing machine is on


vibration cones

No difference. I mean, your cdp isnt in the dakar rally


Minor Difference

cd player

I found the difference between an average cdp and a high end cdp to be minimal. I think you can still tell the difference in a blind test but it's not that big a difference.

Major Difference

solid state amps

BIG BIG BIG difference. This imo is the best place to dump your money into after your speakers. I have spent the most on my amp in my system and it sounds awesome. Best money I've ever spent.

listening environment

If your speaker system still sounds crappy, this is your problem.
I find that the environment and placement makes a VERY substantial difference. Best cheap tweak is this !!

spikes

Free and does wonders for the tightness of the bass. Stands are a waste of money imo. If you do insist on stands, dont spend more than $30. Overpriced doorstop.

flurescent globes

Remove all of these !!@!@!@#!@#!@#!@#!@#!
Annoying as hell.
 
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Mr.PD

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No Difference
Power cord.
Could be that I don't have enough experience. Or maybe burn in time took so long that I forgot what it sounded like with the other cord.
Power conditioning strip.
I didn't notice any audio improvements with the addition of a power strip. But it did help my TV.

Major Difference
CD Player.
Huge difference between my two players. One is the Sony DVD NS500V which sounds half as good as my Arcam CD23T. I got the Sony up to half as good with cables and Vibrapods. Before that it was only a quarter as good.

Interconnect cables.
Okay these can also be listed as minor differences. I have a pair of Nordost Solar Wind cables that I thought were good, until I tried something else. I experienced volume level differences when switching between the Nordosts and the Audioquest Corals. Plus the Corals didn't have that bright digital harshness when run through a Cosmic amp that the Nordosts had.
The difference between the Corals and Audioquest Vipers was small enough to be considered perceived rather than actual.

Vibrapods.
Another item where I have seen major improvement and barely noticeable improvement. Under my Sony DVD player they made a huge difference. More distinct bass, deeper and wider sound stage and better picture quality.
Under the Arcam, there was a bit of an improvement. Not dramatic.

Minor Difference
Speaker cables.
Once I got passed the ultra skinny crap that comes with consumer grade stereo equipment, the differences have been slight and subtle. The biggest difference I have noticed is a lower setting of the volume knob for the same sound level.
 
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darkclouds

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I'm not the type of person that would sit down hours on end A/B'ing different components and taking notes. I simply will listen to my music with the various components to see if I like the sonic signature or not. Thus far, I've noticed a huge difference between cdps, headphones, and speakers, easily discernible sonic signatures between power conditioners, and slightly noticeable changes between power chords (especially between stock and after market). Although I've spent a healthy amount of money on speaker cables, ICs and damping devices, I'm not certain how much of an impact it has on my system.

OH, and yes, solidly well built stands make a huge difference. Those that do not hear the difference are simply using poorly built speakers! As the old addage go, you can't shine *****... and you can't make ***** sound good no matter how much money you throw at it.
 
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aerius

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Forgot about a couple things.

Headphone cables: Going from my stock Senn 580 cable to the Oehlbach is a noticeable change. Not as big as removing the foam from my headphones but it's there.

Cute females: The presence of a cute female makes everything better. The difference is like night & day, having a cute chick in the room makes the music ten times better at least, the sound is more relaxed & intimate, the rhythm & timing is better and everything just becomes more "right". If you use speakers you can even position them in various places in the room to improve the acoustics. However this can have undesirable consequences.
 
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Orpheus

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Major difference (Night and day difference):

Headphones/Speakers

Very minor difference (hardly noticeable):

CD Player
Amps

No difference:

Cables (in tone no difference... but there are other reasons to have higher grade cables)

note: while i cannot tell the difference between this and that CD player usually in terms of tone, they do vary widely in easier to hear areas such as noise floor. and the more expensive cd players have more features, like balanced outputs and stuff like that.

but if you're looking to alter the sound itself, the only real difference is found in swapping headphones/speakers. next, maybe go for an amp i guess... well, maybe the cd player too--but it won't change the basic character of the headphone/speaker.
Quote:

Cute females


um no.
actually, it's the opposite in real life. you would think that's true.... but what happens is that cute females are actually insulted when you boast about audio equipment. and if you put on headphones........ cute females will leave the room. so, you're momentary moment of glory will be quite short. that IS what happens.
 
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Ctn

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Quote:

Originally Posted by darkclouds
OH, and yes, solidly well built stands make a huge difference. Those that do not hear the difference are simply using poorly built speakers! As the old addage go, you can't shine *****... and you can't make ***** sound good no matter how much money you throw at it.



You can't improve on perfect either
 
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ooheadsoo

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Major difference

Speakers/Headphones

Speaker amplification (I have to hold my judgement on headphone amps, I haven't A/B'd enough.) - With speakers, a bad amp can mean that everything sounds like SUCK ASS. I went to a DIY store which had speakers that ranged from $15 in parts to $2000-3000 in parts alone. With a crappy amp (I forget which) all of them sounded bleh. Went back later and they had switched up to a bunch of Sunfire amps. WHOA. Even the $15 parts speakers with 3" drivers sounded like they were pumping out 50hz bass! It was a whole different ballpark. The better speakers sounded open, after all.

Cables with a passive preamp. This has just as big an impact as speakers/headphones. We're talking HUGE treble attenuation with the wrong capacitance/length cables.

"Speaker stands" - whatever you use, don't use textbooks. They destroy the soundstage. Placing them on my wildly gyrating desk is MUCH better. I'll post my new pics some time of my ghetto asymmetrical setup.

Minor difference

Cables - after switching to new cables I thought there was a difference, but after switching back, I had second thoughts. Not 100% positive.

Blue Circle parallel power filter - It certainly didn't hurt. I'm not 100% positive it helped. Too hard to A/B what with the crawling under the table business to unplug the sucker and all that.

Source - To tell you the truth, with my headphones, I can barely hear a difference between my Revo and my cd player. However, turn my speakers on, and the difference is definitely there. Maybe speakers are just more sensitive than headphones...? Or maybe my speakers are more revealing than my headphones. As I'm typing this, I fiddled with the resampling options. I had set it to 88.2khz because it had sounded "more clear" than 96khz. However, now I know that the 88.2khz resampling was a major reason the revo sounded cheaper, brighter and more plastickey than my cd player. With the resampling back at 96khz, the difference between the treble is almost alleviated. Some midrange issues remain, and soundstage flatness still favors my cdplayer by a sizeable margin. I don't know if I can tell a difference AT ALL now on my headphones.

No Difference
isolation blocks on my cd player/amps at least while on my rather decoupled desk...Did nothing afai can tell.

Belkin Isolator power strip - Don't think it does much...



_____

Ctn, aren't your speakers floorstanders?? I wouldn't use stands with floorstanders either
 
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Ctn

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ooheadsoo
Ctn, aren't your speakers floorstanders?? I wouldn't use stands with floorstanders either



I have other speakers too, you know


I use spikes on my foorstanders. It tightens up the bass a fair bit.
 
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ooheadsoo

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What do you use for diy spikes? I'd like to spike my sub, but with my speaker sitting on top, a cinder block, and a bunch of junk, the sucker weighs like 130lbs or something, so I'm afraid nails won't cut it...
 
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Ctn

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ooheadsoo
What do you use for diy spikes? I'd like to spike my sub, but with my speaker sitting on top, a cinder block, and a bunch of junk, the sucker weighs like 130lbs or something, so I'm afraid nails won't cut it...


I use the spikes supplied with my speakers

It's just a sharp screw with a nut, atleast that's what it looks like.

If you dont have carpet, use rubber feet. It's just as good.
If you got carpet, you need to some drilling
depeding if the base is thick.
I wouldnt use nails.

Since your sub is like 130lbs, you shouldnt need spikes. That sucker aint going nowhere.
 
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ooheadsoo

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I have carpet :\ I guess I won't be adding spikes any time soon. My sub is crammed into the corner of my room pinned behind a rack kinda thing and my desk. I can't move my desk very easily because it's rather flimsy (did I mention it gyrates wildly?) and so is my rack kinda thing. So the way I got my sub in was by lifting it in my arms (without my cinderblock and speakers of course, around 80 lbs.) and got my brother to get under the area on his back and help support it on its way down to the ground. It'd be a MAJOR job to get it out of that corner!

I would consider nails for tile floors - but not for my sub!

Ah well, sorry for going OT.
 
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so far in my experience.

No Difference
Rainbow Foil
Length of ICs, Speaker Cable


Barely Noticable
Isolation cones
Power Cords
Power Conditioners


Minor Difference
Interconnects
Speaker Cables
Cable Splitters
Digital Cables


Major Difference
OpAmp Rolling
Amplification
CD Players
 
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ooheadsoo

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To clarify, I don't think there can be any doubt that length and/or capacitance of IC matters in passive preamp situations. The difference is so huge, it would EASILY be measurable.
 
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