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  1. #1
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    Cheap Tricks To Improve Sound!

    I am a high school senior that is very short on cash. I love my stereo and I love upgrading but this hobby is becoming increasingly expensive. Please post anything that you can think of that would help someone like me to improve my stereo without spending to much cash.
    -Shwamdoo

  2. #2
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shwamdoo
    I am a high school senior that is very short on cash. I love my stereo and I love upgrading but this hobby is becoming increasingly expensive. Please post anything that you can think of that would help someone like me to improve my stereo without spending to much cash.
    Audiogon.com. Upgrade used and save some $$$.
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

  3. #3
    Forum Regular Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Speaker placement - costs nothing but the time you spend on it.

  4. #4
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    If you have bookshelf speakers, try placing them upside down. Sometimes this can help by changing the acoustic centers and phase properties relative to your listing position (ears).
    Sometimes it'll do nothing at all. A lot of speakers are designed to be best with the tweeter at ear level, but some pick other arbitrary points. You should be able to tell quickly. I find it tames the slight edginess of my Axiom M3Ti's.
    If your tweeters aren't flush mounted, you can place peel-n'-stick felt around the tweeter, a few inches or so...helps reduce some diffraction. You'd be amazed how many speakers benefit from this.

  5. #5
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    Thanks!

    Awesome, this is the sort of advice that I am talking about.

    I was wondering if anyone had any information on how to build power isolators or anything like that?
    -Shwamdoo

  6. #6
    If you can't run-walk. Bernd's Avatar
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    Hi,
    I have a large Bay Window and at the beginning of the year the three plants I had residing at the Window died.So I threw them out and noticed that the sound become cold (glassy if you want),so I replaced the plants and like magic the original sound returned. I removed and replaced them a few times just to make sure I don't imagine that. No it works. So if you have any window area try and place a plant with lots of leaves.

    Good luck

    Bernd

  7. #7
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    Hi,

    Fun and economical ways to improve AV components performances:
    - Do not stack AV components on each other.
    - Do not let cables touch each other.
    - Do not let cables touch floor, wall.
    - Ceramic coffee cups are friendly to all kinds of cables. Support cables with ceramic coffee cups, especially those which will touch the floor.
    - Tip toes for your front speakers will most obviously improve the sound.
    - …………..

    Please let me know the results.

    Good luck and have a good time.


    Sukasem

  8. #8
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    I have a large Bay Window and at the beginning of the year the three plants I had residing at the Window died.So I threw them out and noticed that the sound become cold (glassy if you want),so I replaced the plants and like magic the original sound returned. I removed and replaced them a few times just to make sure I don't imagine that. No it works. So if you have any window area try and place a plant with lots of leaves.
    This is great advice for me because my stereo is set up right in front of a window. I will try hanging carpet or some type of cloth as a drape when I listen.

    Thanks!
    -Shwamdoo

  9. #9
    Forum Regular royphil345's Avatar
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    "- Do not let cables touch each other.
    - Do not let cables touch floor, wall"

    Yeah right...

    Assuming the cable insulation was that bad... Any signal loss would be more apt to short into the ground wire contained in the same casing than into the floor or a wall. Let me know when you prove this one with double-blind testing!!!

    If I went into a guy's house and saw all of his cabling resting on coffee cups, I'd check the fridge for human heads.

  10. #10
    Forum Regular N. Abstentia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by royphil345
    "- Do not let cables touch each other.
    - Do not let cables touch floor, wall"

    Yeah right...

    Assuming the cable insulation was that bad... Any signal loss would be more apt to short into the ground wire contained in the same casing than into the floor or a wall. Let me know when you prove this one with double-blind testing!!!

    If I went into a guy's house and saw all of his cabling resting on coffee cups, I'd check the fridge for human heads.

    I'm pretty sure that post was being sarcastic...or at least I hope so.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular hifitommy's Avatar
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    contact cleaning

    get some de-oxit or other good contact cleaner and remove all your rca plugs and clean them and the jacks they camo out of. doing this periodically will be sometimes a distint improvement.
    ...regards...tr

  12. #12
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    I think the best thing to do, even if you don't have budget limits, is to properly set up what you already have. This involves simple stuff like repositioning and realigning the speakers, changing the location of your listening position, and little things to deal with problems with the room acoustics.

    In general, your speakers should be aligned at a 50 to 60 degree angle from the listening position. You should also experiment with how close or how far away from the corners you place the speakers. The distance from the room boundaries plays a huge role in determining how your bass sounds. If you use a subwoofer, then you should definitely move it around the room to find a spot where the sounds more even. More advanced approaches with a subwoofer would involve working with room treatments and/or parametric equalization. The amount that you want to toe the speakers in towards the listening position will depend on the speaker's off-axis response and dispersion pattern.

    With the room acoustics, if you have an echoey room, then you need to take some steps to tame and/or break up the echoes. A simple test involves standing in the middle of the room and clapping your hands together. If you hear a slap echo, then your room has hard reflective surfaces that need addressing. To treat your room, you can go with thick rugs on the floors, absorbing materials such as quilts/tapestries or acoustic panels (an inexpensive alternative is fiberglas or acoustic ceiling panels that you can find at building materials stores) along the sidewall at reflecting points, or bookcases filled with a lot different sized books along the sidewall and/or backwall can help break up the reflected sound.

    Experimenting with all of those approaches can greatly improve your performance and won't cost much.

  13. #13
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shwamdoo
    I am a high school senior that is very short on cash. I love my stereo and I love upgrading but this hobby is becoming increasingly expensive. Please post anything that you can think of that would help someone like me to improve my stereo without spending to much cash.
    A set of Sennheiser HD 580 HD 600s, or if you really splurge the AKG 1000 and a decent Headphone amp. Then starting with this as an inexpensive baseline reference Wait and wait and save until you find speakers that at your listening position in your room or any room are even clearer, richer, cleaner than the headphone set-up. I found that to beat these headphones at what headphones do so well is not an inexpensive proposition - then of course the speakers will do many other things inherently better than a good set of cans.

    The great thing about NOT having money is that it forces patience. And when one has no money it allows you to do a lot of window shopping - and in audio that;s a big part of the game. You can listen to all the stupid expensive stuff and everything in between. The good stuff isn't going anywhere - they don't change models as fast as underwear. So if you hear it today the same things should be there in 10 years. If it isn't then chances are it wasn't worth owning in the first place. See the Sugden A21a integrated.

    The problem with your post is that I don't know what you mean by not spending much cash, I don't know if your room is good or bad. Many speakers don't like rooms that are overdamped and adding acoustic treatments may make the sound much worse than not having them treated - especially the back wall behind the listening position. Also, without knowing what you want improved or what is not pleasing you then it's impossible to fix.

  14. #14
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    Response to RGA.

    RGA,
    I understand what you mean. My initial post was very vague.

    My room is actually probably a very poor listening room because I am forced to keep my stereo in my bedroom. My room is almost a triangular shape with a very small fourth side in one of the corners. The floors are carpeted and the walls are made of drywall. I have some furniture in the room but it is not overcrowded. There is an adjacent bathroom that has presented some acoustic problems in the past, but I made a doorsill out of some sound-absorbent material and that seems to have fixed the problem. My speakers have been meticulously placed and I believe that they are in the best position. They are currently placed in the middle on one of the sides of the triangle (Opposite the small fourth side). However, I am concerned that the window behind the speakers may be having an adverse effect on my sound. My electronics sit on a sound isolating component shelf and my speakers are firmly placed on their stands using Sticky Tack. I replaced the outlets in my room with hospital grade Hubbell outlets and I have taken every effort to lay my cables cautiously.

    When I started this thread I was hoping to get suggestions about little DIY fixes and upgrades that could improve sound quality (For example the contact cleaner and the Sticky Tack fixes.) However, I am also interested in room treatment recommendations and advice on where to place my equipment. If anyone has any information on cheap components or suggestions as to which DIY kits are good I am also interested in those options. Really, just anything to keep my hobby and my love for music going without spending every dollar I earn.

    Thanks.
    -Shwamdoo

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by N. Abstentia
    I'm pretty sure that post was being sarcastic...or at least I hope so.
    Hi,

    Thank you. I don't blame him. Three to four years ago I might have been pretty much same as him. It's practice he needs for ears and eyes in AV hobby.

    Eventually, I envy people who can't see or hear too much because that could save a LOT of money in upgrading AV components.


    Sukasem

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by hifitommy
    get some de-oxit or other good contact cleaner and remove all your rca plugs and clean them and the jacks they camo out of. doing this periodically will be sometimes a distint improvement.
    Hi,

    I totally agree. That would really help.

    Sukasem

  17. #17
    If you can't run-walk. Bernd's Avatar
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    Hi,
    Yep-me too. I use "Kontak" cleaner. Makes one hell of a difference.

    Bernd

  18. #18
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    Hey Shwamdoo...I'm a junior in college with the same passion for music, just with limited funds. Quick question....can you give us an equipment list? And what kind of room you have to work with? I think the biggest differences I've made in my system (paradigm monitor speakers with mid-level yamaha components), is getting gold bases for the speaker's spikes to rest on, making clean connections with the speaker cables, and placement more than anything else. Hopefully I can give you some more advice when see what kind of gear you have. Good luck!

  19. #19
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    good quality cables, nothing crazy. Signal cables I use Gepco cable with Neutrik connectors. there are a lot of cheap things you can do. Like Mike said placement makes a huge difference. Just for good measure seperate singal and power cables. Get yourself a decent measurement mic and some sort of RTA and that will help with placement. Also room treatment.

    The cables touching and all that is a total load of BS, if it mattered then in every major studio they wouldnt put their cables together. Think about the fact that if it is good enough to make the album its good enough to listen to it

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by pelly3s
    good quality cables, nothing crazy. Signal cables I use Gepco cable with Neutrik connectors. there are a lot of cheap things you can do.....The cables touching and all that is a total load of BS, if it mattered then in every major studio they wouldnt put their cables together. ....
    Like I said, you are lucky that you just can't notice the differences. That would save you a lot of time and money. I confirm that what I expressed came from my real experiences. No reason to BS, since I am not a sales rep. wanting to sell my stuffs. And this will be my last post on this topic.

    Why don't you try ?!! Open your eyes, ears, and most importantly, your heart.

    Bye

    Sukasem

  21. #21
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    If your able...visit Ethan Winer's Introductory Acoustic Page.

    Setting up some Owens 703 (Knauff 3lb) 4" thick in the corners as bass traps and some a 2" panel in the first reflection point will greatly increase your bass response, mids and highs.

    This will not be overdamping a room by any stretch of the means. I would recommend these treatments only knowing that you haven't done them already.

    This may actually end up saving you money on some less needed upgrades in the future. Of course you'll have to wrap the high denisity fiberglass in some fabric. Total price would be in the $130 area or so.

    If you would like...it would also be easy to wrap the fabric and leave these panels as "portable" solutions as well. Only placing the corner traps in each corner...and using a single nail or some velcro for the first reflection panels. This way you can choose to take them down at any time...or leave them up

    have fun!
    dan
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    enjoy the music!

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by csukasem
    Like I said, you are lucky that you just can't notice the differences. That would save you a lot of time and money. I confirm that what I expressed came from my real experiences. No reason to BS, since I am not a sales rep. wanting to sell my stuffs. And this will be my last post on this topic.

    Why don't you try ?!! Open your eyes, ears, and most importantly, your heart.

    Bye

    Sukasem
    Do me a favor and go buy an Earthworks M50, a 1021 Preamp, and SIA Smaart and measure the difference. I have done this test numerous times in an anechoic chamber and still to this day can not find a difference. I have also reviewed white papers from the worlds top audio engineers and none of them can hear the difference either. My ears have an almost near flat response to 22.5kHz, and I have gone through extensive Golden Ears and Perfect Pitch trainings.

    Its simple physics, and you cant change physics.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by pelly3s
    Do me a favor and go buy an Earthworks M50, a 1021 Preamp, and SIA Smaart and measure the difference. I have done this test numerous times in an anechoic chamber and still to this day can not find a difference. I have also reviewed white papers from the worlds top audio engineers and none of them can hear the difference either. My ears have an almost near flat response to 22.5kHz, and I have gone through extensive Golden Ears and Perfect Pitch trainings.

    Its simple physics, and you cant change physics.
    What’s the point here ? You have your way and I have mine for AV hobby. This particular thread is for Shwamdoo and everybody just throws in ideas and experiences for him (isn’t this the focus of this forum ?). He will make decision whether to believe and act. I definitely don’t think that it is a proper way to put opinions in a destructive manner, especially, directly or indirectly saying anybody is lying or being nonsense. We are living in a civilized world now. Let’s talk like adults. I respected everybody’s idea and I should be reciprocated the same.

    It seems to me that we are now playing who-is-smarter game. And this must have been disturbances to other members. Please stop now. If I have, in someway, insulted you, I am sorry. O.K. ?

    If you still insist, address me directly thru private messages.

    This would be definitely my last post on this thread.


    Bye,

    Sukasem
    Last edited by csukasem; 10-27-2005 at 12:00 AM.

  24. #24
    If you can't run-walk. Bernd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by csukasem
    What’s the point here ? You have your way and I have mine for AV hobby. This particular thread is for Shwamdoo and everybody just throws in ideas and experiences for him (isn’t this the focus of this forum ?). He will make decision whether to believe and act. I definitely don’t think that it is a proper way to put opinions in a destructive manner, especially, directly or indirectly saying anybody is lying or being nonsense. We are living in a civilized world now. Let’s talk like adults. I respected everybody’s idea and I should be reciprocated the same.

    It seems to me that we are now playing who-is-smarter game. And this must have been disturbances to other members. Please stop now. If I have, in someway, insulted you, I am sorry. O.K. ?

    If you still insist, address me directly thru private messages.

    This would be definitely my last post on this thread.


    Bye,

    Sukasem
    Hi,

    Well said Sukasem.
    Shwamdoo has asked for cheap improvements (man-some of these are even free) and we all chipped in with our experiences.
    And "Pelly3s" if you have indeed golden ears good for you.There is no need to play the " I am smarter than you game".
    Most of us are not blessed that way and we make do with what we were given.
    I did not hear any difference by keeping the power and signal cabels separate. That does not mean it does not excist.

    Peace

    Bernd
    Last edited by Bernd; 10-27-2005 at 01:46 AM.

  25. #25
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    My system.

    I don't really have room measurments and I am too lazy to get them right now.

    But, here is my system.

    Quad 12L speakers
    Atlantis Refrence speaker stands
    Arcam CD73T CD player
    Arcam A65+ integrated amplifier
    Zu Cables
    -Shwamdoo

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