9 hi-fi tricks you might not believe affect sound quality (but they do)

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Mike Hunt

Well-known member
Jan 22, 2020
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No. 6...... One of my friends ran a research project at Mcr University researching wind flow patterns in urban areas for the MOD ( in case of a nuclear strike ). Anyhow, the equipment was so sensitive that vibrations or even tiny movements in certain cables altered the signals in the measuring equipment. I'm not sure that any HiFi equipment would be remotely as sensitive but the possibility is certainly there
I have an oscilloscope here, and if connected to the right microphone, it could pick up a fly farting from 50 yards away... which also has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of conversation.
 
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Tonya

Well-known member
Sep 9, 2008
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As an audio engineer, I fell I have to give my two penneth here ;)

1) Running in is 100% correct, anything mechanical such as loudspeakers & cartridges will benefit from this and to a certain extent electronic components such as electrolytic capacitors.
Component values are subject to variation depending on operating temperatures which is why professional studio equipment is rarely turned off.
This keeps them at standard operating temperature and minimizes electrical spikes due to on/off power surges.

2) Turning off displays is also a valid point, freeing up more current to the main board and also reducing electrical noise in the circuits.

3) Listening in the dark will enhance your hearing, in the same way a blind person usually experiences enhanced hearing capabilities to make up for loss of sight, however it has no effect on the actual audio coming out of the system.

4) Listening at night, well the human body is more relaxed but it's a tentative point.

5) Isolating mechanical components such as turntables - absolutely, players using lasers also true as less vibration means less digital error correction.

6) Cables off the floor? Rubbish. I work in an electronic snake pit.

7) Analogue cables absolutely (up to a point), digital cables not so much but do use well made high speed HDMI or optical ones please.

8) Don't go by specifications alone, use your ears!

9) We had a good laugh at that one. No, just no.

Please note the observations above are mine and mine alone and not representative of the company!
 
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Peter Bailey

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Apr 12, 2020
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Some of these ideas are close to the mark, but probably not as presented. So here's my take on what's worth considering.

I use a CD such as IsoTek's for a full system burn-in and demag, plus a weekly tuneup.

A power supply that generates a fixed voltage and isolates mains noise is well worth considering.

A decent Schumann Resonator is well worth having as is seems to help focus the senses and everything seems that clearer, but I wouldn't go with the Acoustic Revive.

Subwoofer isolating feet are excellent for other uses.

Cables/interconnects can make an improvement and the most important specification to consider is a low or super low jitter.
 

Mike Hunt

Well-known member
Jan 22, 2020
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If your equipment can't make a clean power supply rail from a slightly-dodgy mains supply, then it is faulty and should be serviced or replaced.

Chris
Yebbut, how will such a cavalier attitude facilitate the selling of mains conditioners by snake oil salesmen?
 

Peter Bailey

Member
Apr 12, 2020
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Yeah, it does have an excellent power supply that can be driven hard. The point is you want to stop any mains noise from entering your equipment's case. A good example is your turntable. If it uses a mains supply, try a regulated external DC supply and the difference is immediate - garbage emitted from the mains lead and power transformer has been eliminated. Even the output from the transformer has ripple before it is filtered. Certainly it going to be less dramatic with less sensitive equipment. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile if you are after the best possible results.
 

abacus

Well-known member
Sep 24, 2008
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Yeah, it does have an excellent power supply that can be driven hard. The point is you want to stop any mains noise from entering your equipment's case. A good example is your turntable. If it uses a mains supply, try a regulated external DC supply and the difference is immediate - garbage emitted from the mains lead and power transformer has been eliminated. Even the output from the transformer has ripple before it is filtered. Certainly it going to be less dramatic with less sensitive equipment. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile if you are after the best possible results.
You do realise that all good power supplies have the filter already built in, the only ones that don’t are the cheap and nasty ones that should not be anywhere near a Hi-Fi system.

Bill
 
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Peter Bailey

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Apr 12, 2020
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You do realise that all good power supplies have the filter already built in, the only ones that don’t are the cheap and nasty ones that should not be anywhere near a Hi-Fi system.

Bill
The idea is to stop any mains noise in its tracks before it gets to the equipment so that the mains frequency is as clean and pure as possible. The so called quality of the internal power supply is irrelevant. They all have transformers that drop the AC voltage and it needs to be converted to DC. Some just have bigger transformers with better filtering to reduce any DC ripple and bigger capacitors to maintain voltage under heavy loads. Perhaps it's not all that important for many, but noise and interference is real and any attempt to stop it should not be dismissed as snake oil.

It might not happen now, but in the past I've heard an electric motor create so much mains noise it can be heard from the speakers. Fortunately times have changed, but even minor ripples should be removed to achieve the best possible reproduction.
 

LeighHughes

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Jul 6, 2009
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There was once CD players which reset their buffers only after a stop and hence performed better afterwards. Very simple matter to research, but you didn’t bother did you....? Oh dear..
If, as I suspect, this is to do with error correction, then I think you are on the right lines. Don't be so hasty, davidc!
 

Matt0001

Member
Apr 24, 2020
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Come on What Hi-Fi!? Portions of that have some scientific backing but one or two had me giggling to myself. Playing a CD from the beginning; maybe I'll quickly test that same theory using Tidal, give my ethernet cable some time to warm up eh!? :)
 

vrvly

Member
Apr 25, 2020
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Not sure how vibrations can make difference in cables where sound is transferred not by air...
Considering CD player it could be possible short term, some players save music to memory to fight again vibrations or to save power, which possibly may degrade the song or its part.
As for other points its understandable, but not every nuance can be discerned, I agree however that its important for listening perfection if you got good enough set up.
 

vrvly

Member
Apr 25, 2020
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Not sure how vibrations can make difference in cables where sound is transferred not by air...
Considering CD player it could be possible short term, some players save music to memory to fight again vibrations or to save power, which possibly may degrade the song or its part.
As for other points its understandable, but not every nuance can be discerned, I agree however that its important for listening perfection if you got good enough set up.
I got it now, so its because they transfer vibrations to equipment.
 

Secretagentmole

Well-known member
Sep 19, 2020
54
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Is this journalism now? To simply assert implausible 'facts' with no supporting data and scant attribution?
To those who say 'Try it' I say this: the placebo effect is such that in medical testing up to 30% reporting of subjective 'improvement' is expected from the control group (those given simulated deliberately fake treatment). That is why the only accepted measure of effectiveness is blind testing between real treatment and fake treatment (or between different treatments which are experienced similarly by the patient, such as pills containing different formulations). As a psychology graduate I learned that similar procedures have to be followed in all subjective testing: you will *always* have a significant proportion of test subjects who swear that the placebo worked for them. The amazing thing is that often, as an effective placebo, it genuinely left them happy: however that was the miracle of the human mind, not of the sugar pill you just gave them.
There was one hi fi reviewer who said that cutting the pages of all the books in the room so that the top right corner was missing improved the sound from his hifi unit. A sure example of the placebo effect...
 

Rush Boy 👦

Member
Sep 24, 2020
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Vacuum tubes, VFETs, Class A FETs all sound very good, better than a traditional solid state Class AB. Ncore does sound very good too, but they are a completely different animal.

Directional cables make sense because they prevent a ground loop. They ground the shield at the source, not the destination. So, yes, they can make a difference ( most of my interconnects are directional).

Ethernet audiophile cables, I agree with you. They're up there with the Tice Clock, but they sure look pretty. My solution is to get good Cat6 cables and dress the with a pretty cover. Red silk looks very nice. My favorite is the audiophile Ethernet switch. Now that's brilliant... a brilliant way to take money from audiophiles. What next? An Ethernet router optimized for HDMI-4?

Audiophile grade caps.... look, I put those teflon caps in my CJ preamp. My wife says that now we listen to music, not a "stereo". So listen before you criticize.

I'm surprised though that you failed to critizice my latest discovery: mercury troughs for speaker cables. Sure, vertical elevation is a challenge... but the sound is so much more liquid than before. Flip side is that we have to use respirators around the house, so that might contribute to how everything sounds different now ( "Hey, what? What did you say? I can't hear you.." ;-) )
Isn’t that where the expression “mad as a hatter”comes from ? 😂
 

Yeayeayea

Active member
Oct 18, 2020
1
1
25
Were these blind tests?
You'll have to explain your methodology before I can pass judgement :D
You should change your name to “Eye Ama ****” Some people do have ears that don’t lie and can objectively discern differences in sound without blind-testing everything
 
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bobby1945

Member
Oct 21, 2020
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Here's a tweak to rattle a few cages.
Nano Diamant contact oil.
Immediate improvement in SQ , after applying to amplifier fuse caps , amplifier a/c plugs and furutech mains socket plug.
XLR interconnects and other power cable plugs remain to be treated.
 

Friesiansam

Well-known member
Feb 3, 2015
541
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11,270
Here's a tweak to rattle a few cages.
Nano Diamant contact oil.
Immediate improvement in SQ , after applying to amplifier fuse caps , amplifier a/c plugs and furutech mains socket plug.
XLR interconnects and other power cable plugs remain to be treated.
€39 for a 2ml bottle or, €19,500 a litre.

I suspect graphite powder would do the same job, £4.39 for 50g from Amazon. Not sure why you would want to use it...

So much snake oil in hifi circles, it's amazing you can still walk in to a high-end hifi shop and not slip and fall over.
 
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MentorRon

Active member
Nov 18, 2020
7
3
25
hmmmm, some of the things in this article are reasonable, some are VERY sketchy.
From the top!
  1. Running in: for anything that moves (speaker drivers) or has a suspension (cartridge cantilevers), sure. For anything without moving parts, just bring it up to operating temperatures and it shouldn't change over time. So this one I'd say isn't as widely applicable as is being claimed, but it's not crazy.
  2. Turning off the display: meh, I have receivers that do this- I've never heard a difference with them on or off and neither has my measurement mic or REW software. In the end, this claim is HIGHLY equipment dependent- if the display doesn't cause noise to leak into the audio's path, then there will be no difference. YMMV. Same with turning off unused digital outputs.
  3. Listening in the dark: sure, makes sense.
  4. Listening at night: possible, sure. but it's never going to be a big issue.
  5. Squash balls under all components: seems like overkill again. components that are sensitive to vibration will always benefit from isolation, but many don't.
  6. Cables off the floor: the copy in this section is just confusing. "But when you think about how cables can transmit vibrations into your electronics...." Uh, what? Those cables carry electrical signals, not 'vibrations'. no, just no. if you're THAT worried about vibrations in the floor traveling through the cable into your equipment, then why are all the cable risers made out of rigid material? Shouldn't they be made out of Sorbothane or something if vibrations are the concern? silliness.
  7. cables: people definitely use differently voiced materials in cables to tune the sound of their systems. whether that's a good idea or if they'd be better served by choosing components that match the desired sonic signature in the first place is another question. I like to stick to quality cables that don't try to color the sound in a particular way.
  8. AV power ratings: yep, shenanigans all over these measurements by a lot of manufacturers.
  9. playing CD's from the beginning: lololololol oh come ON! you can't just assert something nonsensical like that without ANY explanation for what might be going on. This absolutely should not have been included lololololol
In total agreement with you. Over many decades, I have read many articles about "improving your system". Lots of these ideas have been "snake oil" when promoting high end products. e.g.: Paying the cost of a new automobile for a set of cables is one of them. There are many proven upgrades I agree with, but usually I can't afford those either (new DAC) or can't logically place these items (such as sound baffles) without getting a divorce. ;-). The only devices I have that seem to operate better when warmed up are CD players. I can easily tell the difference if I play a CD twice: once when powered on and again on disc repeat. The 2nd time is always better. Interconnects are a strange beast: sometimes I find a slightly higher priced interconnect is better, sometimes not. May depend of the devices being connected. This also can vary from month to month, so may be just psychological. Some kind of placebo effect.6189-1.jpgAcoustic Research Interconnects APO31.jpgWeb CDP-950 front.jpgML front - crop.jpg
 

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