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Les Adams
10-17-2007, 11:56 PM
I thought it might be fun to hear about the cheapest upgrades people have done that made a significant improvement to the system.

My most recent "upgrade" was to stuff a couple of old socks into the bass ports on the rear of my Audiovector M2's.

My speakers have to be placed near to the corners of the room, there is nowhere else to put them and still have a useable lounge! This made them a bit bass heavy at times. I have tried toeing them in, moving them back and forward but nothing got it right. I also seemed to be experiencing some kind of phase cancellation at low frequencies in the listening position.

Stuffing the socks in the ports has made a huge difference. Bass sounds tighter and much more in proportion, midrange and even high frequencies sound clearer. The socks sorted it out! It even cured the phase problem. I can only conclude that apart from attenuating the bass, it also eliminated reflected waves from the rear walls affecting the listening position.

So, 1,500 speakers plust the rest of the kit listed below... and one pair of old socks!

So what was your cheapest "low budget" modification?

basite
10-18-2007, 06:46 AM
OK, so here goes:

speaker placement: well...free
Home made speaker stands: nearly free... (some wood, and dad brought some free metal from his work)
Quadraspire QX! silencers, for under my cd player(qx! 50) €35

that's about it...

Keep them spinning,
Bert.

GMichael
10-18-2007, 07:23 AM
Speaker placement - free
Changing settings on sub & powered woofers in my towers. - free
Test CD from Rives - $20
Sound level tester from Rat Shack - $50
Seeing the look on my wife's face when I blew out the tweeters of my 3 day old towers with sine waves - priceless

JohnMichael
10-18-2007, 08:06 AM
Unscrewing the ground pin from my PS Audio power cord. None of my components are grounded and I am not picking up high frequency noise and hash I was when grounded.

Speaker placement a little further into the room. Reduced some midbass thickness and lack of clarity in low mids.

Setting antiskating on turntable by ear instead of relying on the tonearms scale or the blank disc method.

dingus
10-18-2007, 09:12 AM
blu-tac.

topspeed
10-18-2007, 09:22 AM
Curtains at first order reflection: Not free, but the wife wanted them so it's not like I had a choice.
Datacolor Spyder video calibration: Free thanks to Edyct
DVE test disc and Rat Shack spl meter: Disc was free, meter $25
Cheater plug for PSA power cord: 25 cents (unlike JM's, my ground pin isn't removeable)
Learning proper set-up for sub: Free from Doc Greene at AR.com


P.S. Hey JM, what happened to the NHT's?

JohnMichael
10-18-2007, 10:15 AM
P.S. Hey JM, what happened to the NHT's?



I still own them. They began to sound recessed and lacking in highs. I do not know if the tweeters were aging or something in the crossovers are failing. I would like to compare them to another pair because I wonder if they have changed or my tastes changed.

Woochifer
10-18-2007, 10:30 AM
Sounds like your speakers are now better attuned to the acoustical conditions in your room, even if stuffing socks into the port holes in theory would make the speaker's response less even under anecholic conditions.

It seems that a lot of the truly cost effective upgrades address room/setup anomalies. People have already mentioned test discs, SPL meters, alignment, etc. Some other items I would add to the ongoing list:

home-made acoustical treatments - using ceiling panels or rigid fiberglas boards, strategically placed absorption can be very effective at taming time domain issues. Ceiling panels cost about $2 each, while rigid fiberglas costs about $10 per panel.

parametric subwoofer EQ - the venerable Behringer Feedback Destroyer is still available for around $100, and represents the best bang-for-the-buck performance upgrade for any subwoofer.

Grado SR60 headphones - $60 best value for any set of headphones I've heard

bobsticks
10-18-2007, 02:46 PM
Plants, lots and lots of plants (not Finchey's kind).

PeruvianSkies
10-18-2007, 06:51 PM
Plants, lots and lots of plants (not Finchey's kind).

These also work well for those who have to be concerned about the aesthetic values of a spouse or significant other.

Florian
10-18-2007, 10:28 PM
Speaker position = Broken back
Electronics = Empty wallet
Cables = Empty wallet
Acoustic diffusors = Empty wallet
Bass traps = Empty wallet

I think i am doing something wrong..... :idea:

Les Adams
10-18-2007, 11:25 PM
blu-tac.

Where exactly did you stick it and what did it achieve ? !!!

Jimmy C
10-19-2007, 04:20 AM
... how about listening early morning, or later in the evening? Much less ambient noise. Free.

Maybe a few beverages of choice? Relaxation goes a long way. Not free, but not too expensive either.

If your "man cave" listening room happens to be too live, a few inexpensive sound-absorbing things would diminish the room's contribution. Throw pillows, curtains, area rugs, hanging tapestries, etc. can help a lot. Of course you don't want it TOO dead, but I would rather err in that direction than to much echo.

Listening in the dark. Not sure why this sounds better, but it seems to work. Not only free, but actually saves money on electricity!

Err, uhh... that's about it fer now.

dingus
10-20-2007, 04:09 PM
Where exactly did you stick it and what did it achieve ? !!!
thats rather personal dont you think?




... in regards to using blu-tac, i use to couple speakers to stands and to couple cd players to whatever hard surface they are sitting on. in all cases i've found that using blu-tac this way improves focus and therefor improves clarity.

in my vinyl rig the turntable sits on a dresser (no other place to set it due to room logistics). i was getting a lot of rumble (volume dependent), so i took a 3/4" slab of polyurethane and put it between the dresser and the table, with blu-tac between the dresser and slab, and between the slab and the table. now no more rumble no matter what the volume level.

in lieu of spending lots more time and money on a professional isolation solution, its an easy tweak that takes as much effort as cost, which is just about nil. if it doesnt work for you then you arent out much of anything anyway, so you might as well give it a try.

s dog
10-20-2007, 05:44 PM
Placement , Made stands , Audio rack , made things easier to hookup and clean stuff.

Mr Peabody
10-20-2007, 06:31 PM
My system really don't have many tweaks. A couple large improvements though for not much money. A wall tapestry.to tame reflections was amazing. I was shocked at how effective that was and how damaging reflections actually were. The sonic improvement was also amazing when I upgraded power cords. The most noticeable was in CD player and phono stage. I don't know if the price of a power cord would be considered cheap but to me it was when considering the cost to improvement ratio.

bobsticks
10-21-2007, 10:45 AM
... how about listening early morning, or later in the evening? Much less ambient noise. Free.


Man is this the truth and then some. Further, I get the midday blues from the abuse the power grid takes. I don't wanna start a fight (you can call me "ole dead ears" if you want), but while I have never heard the difference in cables I have definetely heard the difference between an overlworked electrical system and one not. I would imagine that this is exacerbated for those of us in the city.

I used to use Furman Power Conditioners on my guitar rig. Maybe this is something to look into...

Jimmy C
10-22-2007, 12:47 PM
Man is this the truth and then some. Further, I get the midday blues from the abuse the power grid takes. I don't wanna start a fight (you can call me "ole dead ears" if you want), but while I have never heard the difference in cables I have definetely heard the difference between an overlworked electrical system and one not. I would imagine that this is exacerbated for those of us in the city.

I used to use Furman Power Conditioners on my guitar rig. Maybe this is something to look into...

...I consider myself pretty lucky. Our condo complex is very quiet to begin with, but at night (after 8:00ish) the stillness is quite amazing... no kids, barking dogs, loud cars, etc. If my back slider is open, there might be a faint "whoosh" of cars from the Sunken Meadow Parkway, but not too much else here.

Door closed, A/C off, wife gone, cat fed (no meowing), no wind, phone quiet (got rid of the land phone, only cells), and you're almost ready for music.

Warm up tubes (not sure if that does anything, but it makes me feel better :*), grab your favorite beer (whatever), turn lights down/off, sit between speakers, and enjoy. Volume at 9:00 or 10:00 o'clock (must be a whopping 4 watts) and I'm in Heaven!

Speaking of all that, my wonderful wife is going to visit her mom in PA this weekend.

Alone again B^)

audio amateur
10-22-2007, 03:04 PM
...I consider myself pretty lucky. Our condo complex is very quiet to begin with, but at night (after 8:00ish) the stillness is quite amazing... no kids, barking dogs, loud cars, etc. If my back slider is open, there might be a faint "whoosh" of cars from the Sunken Meadow Parkway, but not too much else here.

Door closed, A/C off, wife gone, cat fed (no meowing), no wind, phone quiet (got rid of the land phone, only cells), and you're almost ready for music.

Warm up tubes (not sure if that does anything, but it makes me feel better :*), grab your favorite beer (whatever), turn lights down/off, sit between speakers, and enjoy. Volume at 9:00 or 10:00 o'clock (must be a whopping 4 watts) and I'm in Heaven!

Speaking of all that, my wonderful wife is going to visit her mom in PA this weekend.

Alone again B^)

hehe all that sounds very nice indeed;) (couldn't describe it better..) lucky you!

jrhymeammo
10-22-2007, 06:27 PM
ERS Cloth.

This thing really blocks all the RFI.

I was having a huge problem with my TT set. Picking up some seriously bad FM radio...

I wrapped up my TT cable with strips of ERS, and RFI is COMPLETELY GONE!!!

http://gallery.audioreview.com/data/audio//505/Picture_086.jpg

btw, it did absolutely nothing for rest of my gears.


JRA

Feanor
10-23-2007, 08:04 AM
ERS Cloth.

This thing really blocks all the RFI.

I was having a huge problem with my TT set. Picking up some seriously bad FM radio...

I wrapped up my TT cable with strips of ERS, and RFI is COMPLETELY GONE!!!

btw, it did absolutely nothing for rest of my gears.

JRA

My ignorance appalls even me ... what is ERS cloth? :confused:

jrhymeammo
10-23-2007, 08:30 AM
My ignorance appalls even me ... what is ERS cloth? :confused:
Bill,It's just this BS cloth with a blend of carbon fibre. This tweak worked cuz I had a problem.JRA

Worf101
10-24-2007, 04:15 AM
Oooh Ohhh Pick me!!!!!

1. Rat Shack SPL meter.

2. Tape measurer to use said meter with.

3. Mid level RCA connectors between all components. Not meaning to start a fight but these led to a noticable improvement in sound when I replace some spaghetti thin cabling that had been around since the Ford Administration.

Da Worfster

GMichael
10-24-2007, 06:08 AM
Oooh Ohhh Pick me!!!!!

1. Rat Shack SPL meter.

2. Tape measurer to use said meter with.

3. Mid level RCA connectors between all components. Not meaning to start a fight but these led to a noticable improvement in sound when I replace some spaghetti thin cabling that had been around since the Ford Administration.

Da Worfster

I don't think that many people fight over the usefulness of mid level connectors over the super cheap "came in the box" types. It's the mid to "wholly crap! you paid how much?!" types that get into it.

PS,

I'll always pick you to be on my team. OH, what are we playing?

L.J.
10-24-2007, 07:04 AM
SPL Meter
Rives Disc
DIY Panels
Putting the things I've learned here at AR to use
A wife who doesn't trip when UPS/Fed-x shows up with another package

hydroman
11-09-2007, 11:41 AM
Remove the speaker covers! I listen before and after and the difference is quite noticable!

I would prefer the covers to be on (looks better/marginally safer) but...

Groundbeef
11-09-2007, 11:58 AM
These also work well for those who have to be concerned about the aesthetic values of a spouse or significant other.

Are you saying you hide your wife/girlfriend behind a plant?

Mr Peabody
11-09-2007, 08:23 PM
Yeah, sometimes removing the speaker covers can make a difference. In my prior set up it didn't make a huge difference. Now I remove them as soon as the system gets powered up because the improvement is that big. I don't know if it's because my speakers are closer together now or maybe it's using monoblocks, I wouldn't think tube verses solid state would make that big of a difference, but maybe.

JohnMichael
11-30-2007, 11:34 AM
My latest upgrade was elevating my speakers to the designers recommendation. I had speaker stands that were 24 inches tall and 28 inches would have been better. Not wanting to purchase a second set of stands I contacted the manufacturer and I was able to buy the taller center columns for $30 a pair. Speakers sound better and now I have two heights I can use if I change speakers without the storage hassle of extra stands.

I am waiting on my next upgrade which will be a HiFi Tuning fuse. I am skeptical about this one but it is only $30.

Mr Peabody
11-30-2007, 05:28 PM
Why didn't you just saw off 4 inches of your listening chair's legs :)

JohnMichael
12-01-2007, 04:56 PM
Why didn't you just saw off 4 inches of your listening chair's legs :)



Due to the difficulty I would have standing from a chair that low to the ground.

JohnMichael
12-01-2007, 05:07 PM
I should also mention tweeter diffraction control. I use self adhesive felt furniture protecters around the tweeter dome. I will be trying a higher grade of diffraction control in the very near future.

The HiFi Tuning fuse will be here Tuesday and I will report on that tweak.