Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Tweaks for your Tweaks

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Tweaks for your Tweaks

    I have been watching audiophiles with some amusement who have gone tweak crazy on their systems. The engineers who designed and built their gear obviously have no idea of what they are doing so they only way to *fix* the gear and make it really sound good is for people with little to no design experience or engineering background to tweak the snot out of it. We have magic feet available in all shapes and sizes, isolation platforms that were never designed for audio, and then of course the real adventurous will actually open gear up and try and swap out *better* wire, caps, resistors, and connectors. Then we have *ground* boxes that aren't grounded to anything, but surprisingly I haven't seen any tweakers tweak those boxes so they actually are grounded.

    The irony is that if the engineers that designed and manufactured the gear they bought didn't know what they were doing in terms of making their equipment immune to harmful vibrations when placed on a suitable rack, what makes them think the tweaks they bought were designed and manufactured are any better? Maybe they need to tweak the tweaks. Tear those magic feet apart and find out all of the shortcuts they took and rebuild them so they will be *right*. And now we are already seeing that additional tweaks are necessary for some isolation products that were never designed for turntables or electronics in the first place. They are being tweaked by the tweakers. I swear to god that I even read where one audiophile said that we didn't get to the moon with science! Yep, Joe Shit the Ragman designed the rocket engines, built the rocket, designed all of the controls, and figured out all of the math for the launch and reentries. It was all magic-just like some tweaks.

    Here are some simple tips:

    1. If you tweak something in your system and it sounds worse, you have a problem.
    2. If you have tweaked your system and room to the point that you have sucked all the life out of both, you have a problem.
    3. If the manufacturer of your tweak tells you his tweak is not designed for audio and it will make your system sound worse and explains why, listen to him. I promise you he knows more than you do about his product.
    4. If you find that you no longer enjoy listening to your system and you used to, see tip #2 and start removing tweaks you installed until you get your sound back.
    5. Be very wary of any tweak product that promises you your system will be unlistenable for a period of time after installation.
    5. Lastly, spend more time enjoying listening to music through your system and less time driving yourself crazy in search of a problem for a solution that you or some other tweaker dreamed up.
    Last edited by mep; 01-12-2018, 08:13 PM.
    SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, Zesto Andros 1.2 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, and NOLA KO speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs.

  • #2

    Yeah, I hear you, Mark- but some of them- like changing the caps to better quality ones- are more like 'mods' than tweaks. Some do something- e.g. the Schumann Resonator, but nobody can explain why. As to footers, couplers and decouplers, they do have an impact, but it may not be an improvement. As for other stuff- passive resonator dots, crystals, etc., I don't want to pass judgment- but your point is well taken. Things like power cords- generally accepted despite the unending controversy, though the "science" is still all over the place.
    I'm not from the "wire is wire" camp, or the "all amps sound the same" school- neither are you. The question is probably one of degree as well as willingness to make comparisons without an agenda, and be willing to admit that some 'tweaks' aren't improvements, at least for a given system or component.

    Comment


    • #3
      IMHO

      Most tweaks are performed by the man with too much time on his hands, however modifications to a mediocre product can and does make it better providing that it is an upgrade of parts within not a redesign of the circuit, otherwise you should not have bought it, with all of these magic ground boxes that use crystals and stones to improve the ground plane, I say welcome to the world of the greatest snake oil sales farce ever known to man.

      As for the $1000.00 plus power cords and silver,gold interconnects with hand carved ebony hands that hold the wire in such a way that the signal is wider and deeper with more air around the instruments, that is really laughable, please go ahead and smoke another one.

      As a matter of reference, all audio signals are electric and electric follows the path of the lowest resistance. PERIOD! it does not know or care whether it is copper, aluminum, silver or gold, the only important part of the equation is the conductor size and connections . That is not to say that zip cord is acceptable, however Belden cable will suffice for all the wire needed in a system, and no other wire will make your system sound better, the trick is that all current carrying conductors working together be exactly the same length and size.

      The only "Tweak" that should be done is a dedicated electrical circuit with an insulated ground to a supplemental ground electrode which will give a shorter path to earth than the existing ground path. All of the problems with background noise can be traced to a compromised ground. Before you ask if the NECA allows supplemental ground electrodes the answer is YES!, specifically allowed for specialty equipment which audio is considered to be. The only requirement is that it be tied to the system ground electrode at some point.

      The best way to install the supplemental ground is that the insulated ground goes directly to the supplemental ground electrode and the service electrode ground junctions at the same point. If using a ground rod then a cad weld for the two grounds is primo. The definition of an insulated ground is that the only equipment tied to it are the ones on the dedicated circuit, therefore each dedicated circuit would have an insulated ground.

      Comment


      • don
        don commented
        Editing a comment
        I am sorry that you took it that way,as that is not the intention. I am speaking from a 40 year career of Electrical design contracting, I have designed and installed the electrical systems for more than one first class recording studio both private and commercial. I have seen my share for these false claims of magical products and yes I would say that I do know about these grounding products and special cables that can not work as they are claimed too.

        If my post offended anyone for whatever reason, then I will not post any further.Your comment is highly offensive and uncalled for, BTW I don't frequent those other sites and for you to tell me that is where my post belongs is an insult to me.

      • mep
        mep commented
        Editing a comment
        Steve-I consider you to be the mild mannered reporter from the Daily Planet and therefore I was surprised at your reaction to what Don said. Don's perspective is coming from his electrical background and we could all learn much more about proper grounding techniques from someone like Don than reading 100+ pages on a forum thread devoted to devices that aren't grounded to anything and yet are marketed and sold as grounding devices.

        We do have to make a differentiation between products that have merit vs. products with pretensions of something they are not.

      • david k
        david k commented
        Editing a comment
        Don,
        Steve’s view isn’t shared by everyone, there are certain facts about tweaks and this hobby that should be stated as such, crushed toes and egos or not. Of course people have a right to disagree with some of your results.
        david

    • #4
      Here's another tip:

      6. Back out your system's tweaks - one by one or all at once - then listen to it carefully for a few days.
      Spkr: Wilson Alexias series 2; Amps: Lamm M1.2Ref; Linestage and phono: ARC Ref 10 and ARC Ref 10 Phono; TT: GPA Monaco 2.0; Arms: Kuzma 4Point, Tri-planar Mk. VII U2-SE; Cartridges: Allnic Arrow/Puritas, Benz LP S, Lyra Etna, Transfiguration Phoenix, Denon DL-A100,DL103R; Cables: Shunyata Σ / Σ NR PC/SC/IC; Pwr Cond: Shunyata Triton III, Typhons(3); Isolation: SRA Scuttle3 rack, SRA Ohio Class amp stands, ; Acoustics: Stillpoints Apertures; Audio cat: Finzi

      Comment


      • #5
        Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post
        Yeah, I hear you, Mark- but some of them- like changing the caps to better quality ones- are more like 'mods' than tweaks. Some do something- e.g. the Schumann Resonator, but nobody can explain why. As to footers, couplers and decouplers, they do have an impact, but it may not be an improvement. As for other stuff- passive resonator dots, crystals, etc., I don't want to pass judgment- but your point is well taken. Things like power cords- generally accepted despite the unending controversy, though the "science" is still all over the place.
        I'm not from the "wire is wire" camp, or the "all amps sound the same" school- neither are you. The question is probably one of degree as well as willingness to make comparisons without an agenda, and be willing to admit that some 'tweaks' aren't improvements, at least for a given system or component.
        Bill-I agree with you 100% I should have made a distinction between audiophiles who put stuff over, under, or around their gear in their room vice audiophiles that actually go inside a piece of gear and remove and replace parts. Modders are a different breed than tweakers. Modders usually have some electronics knowledge and know how to solder. Your point about some tweaks "...have an impact, but they may not be an improvement" was exactly my point. We have all read 1000x times by now that just because you hear a difference doesn't mean it is positive.

        I thought the whole point to this hobby is to have fun listening to music vice an OCD obsession with constantly feeling the need to tweak something because your system is never good enough.
        SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, Zesto Andros 1.2 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, and NOLA KO speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs.

        Comment


        • #6
          Originally posted by tima View Post
          Here's another tip:

          6. Back out your system's tweaks - one by one or all at once - then listen to it carefully for a few days.
          Good advice, and I tried to cover that under tip #4.
          SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, Zesto Andros 1.2 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, and NOLA KO speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs.

          Comment


          • #7
            Mark, great post. A couple of thoughts: you missed those who suggest occasional need-to-shake those "grounding boxes" (see gutwire's advice); and a lot of products are built to a price point, therefore, compromised in execution and/or design by definition, so natural candidates to tweaking
            Sources: Mod. VPI Aries 3/mod. JMW 10.5i/Ortofon A90/mod. Pass XP-25; Spectral 3000SL xport/mod. Alpha DAC; mod. Magnum Dynalab Etude; Revox B-77II Amplification: Spectral DMC-30SV/DMA-400RS Speakers: Heavily mod. MartinLogan (custom Mundorf xover, cabling, woofers; structural mods) Cabling: MIT Oracle 50ic,MA-X/Oracle 90.1; Power: MIT Z-Strip, Magnum Z-Trap; Shunyata CX Black Mamba HC cords, Typhon Tweaks: EAR Isodamp c1002 References: Live unamplified music, Joe Phelps Insignia

            Comment


            • #8
              Originally posted by ack View Post
              Mark, great post. A couple of thoughts: you missed those who suggest occasional need-to-shake those "grounding boxes" (see gutwire's advice); and a lot of products are built to a price point, therefore, compromised in execution and/or design by definition, so natural candidates to tweaking
              Tasos-Thanks for your comments. With regards to your comment that a lot of products are built to a price point, I totally agree. In fact, I would say the vast majority of audio products are built to a price point due to competition at different price points of components. However, people who can open these components up and competently make meaningful parts changes/substitutions aren't falling off trees. Some gear has been destroyed by people who are clueless and most gear loses value (if it can be sold at all) if it has been modded by anyone other than the OEM. Of course there are exceptions. Some people have built reputations around their technical skills and their knowledge of certain gear and they can make meaningful improvements to the gear which will be respected by certain groups of buyers. Bill Thalmann comes to mind as an example of someone the audiophile community respects for his ability to both repair and modify gear.
              SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, Zesto Andros 1.2 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, and NOLA KO speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs.

              Comment


              • ack
                ack commented
                Editing a comment
                Agreed. In fact, Thalmann is the one I would send my Revox to, if I were to ever improve its electronics.

              • Bill Hart
                Bill Hart commented
                Editing a comment
                Bill restored the electronics in my vintage system as well as my old SP-10. A real gentleman.

            • #9
              Originally posted by ack View Post
              Mark, great post. A couple of thoughts: you missed those who suggest occasional need-to-shake those "grounding boxes" (see gutwire's advice); and a lot of products are built to a price point, therefore, compromised in execution and/or design by definition, so natural candidates to tweaking
              Except for some mass market items (Sony, Oppo, maybe Denon or Marantz), an audiophile product built to a price point will almost always have higher priced models in the line. Those are likely to be better buys than an investment in “tweaking”.

              Comment


              • #10
                Originally posted by mep View Post
                ....
                I thought the whole point to this hobby is to have fun listening to music vice an OCD obsession with constantly feeling the need to tweak something because your system is never good enough.
                I think there as many different approaches and priorities to this endeavor as there are people who participate in it. I've known people who have little better than a standard '70s receiver/bookshelf speakers type system with massive record collections and others who have completely dope gear that aren't terribly adventurous when it comes to music. There is, for most of us here, a bit of compulsion- whether it's the gear or the records. And there's always been, in gear-land, that element of hmmm, how can I make this better? Sometimes, it means wholesale changes- people that flip gear constantly in that quest; others might be "tweaking" to achieve incremental improvements. I can't condemn it- I understand it.
                I think your complaint is a fair one in terms of some of the hype v reality stuff, but even there, we don't always have a good (read: scientific) explanation for why something changes the sound.
                Your other point- the obsession with tweaking as opposed to enjoyment of what the system can do is also a fair one-- I'm not indifferent to tweaks, even ones that seem to lack a good scientific basis (e.g. that Schumann resonator comes to mind again). I think trying to sort the wheat from the chaff is a full time occupation as is the endless quest for the perfect illusion in home reproduction. I can respect someone who will go to ridiculous lengths to get their system to sound better. Even if it takes away from the time that they could otherwise be "just enjoying the music" (which is a trope, I find, that comes up when somebody wants to dismiss better sound by saying, in effect, 'you are missing the real point of this- to listen, not to tweak). Ultimately, I think it comes down to a personal choice about how someone gets their enjoyment in the hobby. I knew guys who worked endlessly on cars but never drove them. The joy was in the mechanical/aesthetic aspects of the machinery.
                Most of us find a middle ground at some point- where time, budget and priorities define how we spend our time.
                I got off the treadmill a while ago: my system is good, sometimes stunningly so. But, the biggest variable in how good it sounds is often the source material. And that leads down a different path-- I think it partly explains the revived interest in tape; for me, it led to a much deeper exploration of various recordings on LP.
                The fact that we can have all these different sub-groups of interest under the "roof" of the hobby shows a degree of tolerance, of interest and inquisitiveness even among those who aren't necessarily going to commit their dollars or time to one of these more compulsive pursuits. It also leads to a fair degree of snark-- something we wade through in the interest of pursuing a topic.
                Is my set of priorities better than yours? Doubtful. Who is to judge that?
                I do remain skeptical of the flavor of the month approach to gear and accessories- the stuff that is enduring is what it's all about, and it's far easier to know in hindsight what that is. In the meantime, I'll happily applaud anybody who is willing to experiment, as long as it isn't accompanied by hype. There's a long thread on the 'Gon started by a guy who wanted to find the best DAC. He seems to be pretty honest in his assessments- I can't count how many units have passed through his hands in his quest. I'm not really even into digital in a serious way, but respect his effort.
                As for the outlier tweaky stuff, I'll read about it. I don't necessarily buy into it literally or figuratively, but it's only one aspect of the hobby. The DIY folks have my respect--whether they are trying to achieve a higher quality system on the cheap or simply experimenting. (That DIY thread on record cleaning, for example, was meant for those who weren't going to go all spendy on an Audio Desk or KL, but in the process, they unearthed a huge amount of information about the ultrasonic cleaning process that wasn't evident from shiny brochures or even commercial reviews).
                So, let the tweakers tweak. Maybe they come up with something -- maybe they don't. (I always think about Enid Lumley in this context- a little bat shit crazy, but over time, some of her ideas became mainstream).

                Comment


                • mep
                  mep commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Bill-Good points all. The most profound thing you said was "But, the biggest variable in how good it sounds is often the source material." IMO, our stereo systems have a benchmark sound quality that we are used to. The source material will either take the sound of your system to a very high level or it will drive it straight off the rails. The quality of the recording whether digital or analog will ultimately determine the sound quality of our systems.

                  We all have some recordings that will make any system sound horrible. We all have some recordings that should make any good system strut its stuff and shine.

              • #11
                Originally posted by rbbert View Post
                Except for some mass market items (Sony, Oppo, maybe Denon or Marantz), an audiophile product built to a price point will almost always have higher priced models in the line. Those are likely to be better buys than an investment in “tweaking”.
                Very good point Rob. Some of the most ardent tweakers are buying at the tippy-top of OEMs lines though..
                SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, Zesto Andros 1.2 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, and NOLA KO speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs.

                Comment


                • #12
                  I think the nature of the hobby is following a sonic compass, and musical reference sound. so if we 'settle' for what we hear when we just plunk the gear down and connect it with zip cord we have missed the opportunity to fulfill our musical vision. obviously we don't just plunk our gear down. every single change we make in speaker set-up or room adjustment, or even choosing racks, or cables is all a matter of adjusting or tweaking......and it's a an issue of semantics.

                  so where do you draw the line between 'adjusting' we agree with, and 'tweaking' we think is over the line?

                  my own view is that tweaking has to do with non signal path issues, which are not acoustical room treatments or power grid treatments. tweaking relates to resonance or grounding type products, or any sort of treatments for acoustics not part of a structure surface.

                  all that said, trashing someone else's tweak direction sounds like sour grapes to me. obviously i'm a tweak king so no surprise I feel that way. if I have a strong sense of the sound I want, and i'm finding methods of achieving that, and then talking about it, seems natural on a hobby forum. and while I don't agree with some tweaks either, or processes to approach judging some tweaks, I celebrate any pursuit and if I don't have something positive to contribute, I think it better to stay out of it. constructive or supportive comments are always part of the picture.

                  and obvious knocks on activities in other forums is simply in bad taste, and reflects poorly on this one.

                  just my 2 cents.

                  Comment


                  • #13

                    I did the tweek thing very early on in my hobby life, it was de rigueur if you were to be taken seriously among some philes and to some degree peer pressure. what I discovered for myself was more often than not the reward was infinitesimal against my own time/effort/expense curve, same goes for modding gear. i stick to wholesale upgrades (swapping gear) instead of 'improving' a component through modifications. Its not to say I don't follow my own advise, I've just had a few vintage pieces 'upgraded' but it had more to do with improving reliability and extending its life than anything else.
                    How Do You Beat Audiophile Nervosa?

                    Step Number 1: Upgrade your music collection first. If you do it correctly that should keep you busy in perpetuity.

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      Originally posted by Mike Lavigne View Post
                      I think the nature of the hobby is following a sonic compass, and musical reference sound. so if we 'settle' for what we hear when we just plunk the gear down and connect it with zip cord we have missed the opportunity to fulfill our musical vision. obviously we don't just plunk our gear down. every single change we make in speaker set-up or room adjustment, or even choosing racks, or cables is all a matter of adjusting or tweaking......and it's a an issue of semantics.

                      so where do you draw the line between 'adjusting' we agree with, and 'tweaking' we think is over the line?

                      my own view is that tweaking has to do with non signal path issues, which are not acoustical room treatments or power grid treatments. tweaking relates to resonance or grounding type products, or any sort of treatments for acoustics not part of a structure surface.

                      all that said, trashing someone else's tweak direction sounds like sour grapes to me. obviously i'm a tweak king so no surprise I feel that way. if I have a strong sense of the sound I want, and i'm finding methods of achieving that, and then talking about it, seems natural on a hobby forum. and while I don't agree with some tweaks either, or processes to approach judging some tweaks, I celebrate any pursuit and if I don't have something positive to contribute, I think it better to stay out of it. constructive or supportive comments are always part of the picture.

                      and obvious knocks on activities in other forums is simply in bad taste, and reflects poorly on this one.

                      just my 2 cents.
                      I wasn't aware of the fact that I "trashed" someone's tweak direction. That's pretty harsh, but then you admitted above you are "a tweak king" so I understand how you get your nose out of joint when people don't provide the feedback you want to see. Sorry Mike. I have my own viewpoints on things and they are not always (or ever) going to coincide with everyone else's view points. It's the nature of the hobby. The only thing that matters is if you are happy with the direction you have taken your system.

                      As for where do I draw the line "between 'adjusting' we agree with, and 'tweaking' we think is over the line," I really haven't thought about because I didn't draw any lines.
                      SP-10 MKII table with custom power supply designed and built by Peter Noerbaek with an SME 3012R with Dyna XV-1S cartridge, VPI Avenger table with rim drive and JMW -12-3D arrm with Lyra Etna SL cartridge, Zesto Andros 1.2 phono stage, Otari MX-55 tape deck, Ampex 350 repros, ARC Ref 6 pre, ARC Ref 75 amp, and NOLA KO speakers with a pair of Def Tech Ref subs.

                      Comment


                      • #15
                        Originally posted by mep View Post

                        Bill-I agree with you 100% I should have made a distinction between audiophiles who put stuff over, under, or around their gear in their room vice audiophiles that actually go inside a piece of gear and remove and replace parts. Modders are a different breed than tweakers. Modders usually have some electronics knowledge and know how to solder. Your point about some tweaks "...have an impact, but they may not be an improvement" was exactly my point. We have all read 1000x times by now that just because you hear a difference doesn't mean it is positive.

                        I thought the whole point to this hobby is to have fun listening to music vice an OCD obsession with constantly feeling the need to tweak something because your system is never good enough.
                        So I'm still "somewhat" of a tweaker.

                        I'm less interested now as other priorities in life have taken over and the price of admission has skyrocketed in the areas I'd like to play- other diversions take precedence.

                        I was installing teflon caps in gear in about 1980 when the company I worked with was commissioning servo systems and x-ray gauges for industrial controls.

                        We worked with fellow engineers in product development and made out with samples that we could never afford otherwise you couldn't buy these off the shelf back then. We had irrefutable proof by our testing that in the applications we were considering the dielectric properties of the teflon caps were superior. For what ever reasons they were superior in coupling locations in tube gear too. I was installing outboard supplies, discrete volume controls , polypropylene based cap power supplies over 30 years ago before it was ever fashionable or written about- lots of tweaking or experimenting.

                        Some things I have no answers for- I succumbed to a ground box to experiment with- but I also did as don suggested above and added a supplemental ground to my system to compare. Our codes are open to some interpretation on this subject so perhaps not as defined as your NECA. I will have more to say on this but it is an interesting ongoing experiment- is this tweaking or experimenting?

                        I have a friend down the street that has 6 Stein resonators and crystal on his ceiling- I'll be damned to explain the differences I'm hearing but I do - now this is "out there" for me.

                        I hear differences in cable- when we change these -is this tweaking?- or appealing to some 1/f phenomenon, reactive component etc... we can experiment and listen as audiophiles or measure if we have the knowledge and equipment.

                        So sure, I think there is a lot of wacko pseudo -science out there. I also believe you can derive knowledge , accomplishment and "perhaps" better sound by tweaking or experimenting.

                        Who am I to judge?- I'm guilty of it to some extent. I also do roll my eyes with some of the stuff I see though- and oh yeah- program material quality will have a profound effect on perceived system sound.

                        Cheers.

                        Front end: Aesthetix Io Signature with 2 Power Supplies and Volume controls
                        Brinkmann La Grange & RonT Tube Power supply with Kuzma 4-point , Brinkmann 12.1 , Koetsu Rosewood Signature Platinum, Lyra Atlas, Lyra Etna SL Goldfinger Statement, KLAUDIO RCM
                        Amps: Wyetech Topaz, Futterman H3 Quad II,Citation II, Marantz 8b, 5 ,2 - Custom Direct Drive to supply Beveridge Electrostatics
                        Pre-Amps: ARC SP 3a, Marantz 7, Marantz Model 1 Consolette Pair
                        Speakers: Quad ESL 57, Beveridge Model 3, REL S/2 x 2

                        Comment


                        • mep
                          mep commented
                          Editing a comment
                          KCIN-I agree with your perspective and your thoughts were well expressed. I don't think there is much daylight between our thoughts.
                      Working...
                      X