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  1. #1
    Music / Hi-Fi enthusiast Les Adams's Avatar
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    Cheapest upgrades

    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?
    Last edited by Les Adams; 10-18-2007 at 01:16 AM.
    STEREO

    Garrard 401 Turntable mounted in Skeletal Oak Plinth /
    Ringmat 330 MKII XLR
    SME 3009-S2-imp Arm (Fixed shell)
    Shure V15Vxmr Cartridge
    Trichord Dino Phono Stage
    Arcam Alpha 8SE CD Player / Ringmat CDi Blue
    Quad 99 Pre-amp
    Quad 909 Power Amp
    Audiovector M2 Loudspeakers
    Silverlink Aero Bi-Wire Speaker Cables

    AV
    Denon AVR3801A/V Receiver (pre out to aux input of Quad 99 for front L + R)
    JBL Centre Speaker
    Gale Satellites for rear L + R

    Interconnects are Van Den Hul 102 mk3

  2. #2
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    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.
    Life is music!

    Mcintosh MA6400 Integrated
    Double Advent speakers
    Thiel CS2.3's
    *DIY Lenco L75 TT
    * SME 3012 S2
    * Rega RB-301
    *Denon DL-103 in midas body
    *Denon DL-304
    *Graham slee elevator EXP & revelation
    *Lehmann audio black cube SE
    Marantz CD5001 OSE
    MIT AVt 2 IC's
    Sonic link Black earth IC's
    Siltech MXT New york IC's
    Kimber 4VS speakercable
    Furutech powercord and plugs.

    I'm a happy 20 year old...

  3. #3
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    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
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    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.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cones. Grado Sonata, Moon 110 LP phono.
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd SID mat, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
    Speaker
    Monitor Audio RS6
    Cables
    AQ SPKR and AQ XLR and IC

  5. #5
    stuck on vintage dingus's Avatar
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    blu-tac.
    AR MGC-1, AR C225 PS, M&K V-1B, Pioneer VSX 47TX, Oppo BDP-83, Squeezebox v3, Vortexbox Appliance.

  6. #6
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    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?

  7. #7
    Super Moderator Site Moderator JohnMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed
    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.
    JohnMichael
    Vinyl Rega Planar 2, Incognito rewire, Deepgroove subplatter, ceramic bearing, Michell Technoweight, Rega 24V motor, TTPSU, FunkFirm Achroplat platter, Michael Lim top and bottom braces, 2 Rega feet and one RDC cones. Grado Sonata, Moon 110 LP phono.
    Digital
    Sony SCD-XA5400ES SACD/cd SID mat, Marantz SA 8001
    Int. Amp Krell S-300i
    Speaker
    Monitor Audio RS6
    Cables
    AQ SPKR and AQ XLR and IC

  8. #8
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    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
    Wooch's Home Theater 2.0 (Pics)
    Panasonic VIERA TH-C50FD18 50" 1080p
    Paradigm Reference Studio 40, CC, and 20 v.2
    Adire Audio Rava (EQ: Behringer Feedback Destroyer DSP1124)
    Yamaha RX-A1030
    Dual CS5000 (Ortofon OM30 Super)
    Sony UBP-X800
    Sony Playstation 3 (MediaLink OS X Server)
    Sony ES SCD-C2000ES
    JVC HR-S3912U
    Directv HR44 and WVB
    Logitech Harmony 700
    iPhone 5s/iPad 3
    Linksys WES610



    The Neverending DVD/BD Collection

    Subwoofer Setup and Parametric EQ Results *Dead Link*

  9. #9
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Plants, lots and lots of plants (not Finchey's kind).

  10. #10
    Suspended PeruvianSkies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobsticks
    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.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    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.....
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  12. #12
    Music / Hi-Fi enthusiast Les Adams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dingus
    blu-tac.
    Where exactly did you stick it and what did it achieve ? !!!
    STEREO

    Garrard 401 Turntable mounted in Skeletal Oak Plinth /
    Ringmat 330 MKII XLR
    SME 3009-S2-imp Arm (Fixed shell)
    Shure V15Vxmr Cartridge
    Trichord Dino Phono Stage
    Arcam Alpha 8SE CD Player / Ringmat CDi Blue
    Quad 99 Pre-amp
    Quad 909 Power Amp
    Audiovector M2 Loudspeakers
    Silverlink Aero Bi-Wire Speaker Cables

    AV
    Denon AVR3801A/V Receiver (pre out to aux input of Quad 99 for front L + R)
    JBL Centre Speaker
    Gale Satellites for rear L + R

    Interconnects are Van Den Hul 102 mk3

  13. #13
    Forum Regular
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    A few things...

    ... 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.

  14. #14
    stuck on vintage dingus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Les Adams
    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.
    AR MGC-1, AR C225 PS, M&K V-1B, Pioneer VSX 47TX, Oppo BDP-83, Squeezebox v3, Vortexbox Appliance.

  15. #15
    Forum Regular
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    Cheap

    Placement , Made stands , Audio rack , made things easier to hookup and clean stuff.

  16. #16
    Suspended
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    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.

  17. #17
    Man of the People Forums Moderator bobsticks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy C
    ... 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...

  18. #18
    Forum Regular
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    As far as listening goes...

    Quote Originally Posted by bobsticks
    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^)

  19. #19
    Forum Regular audio amateur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy C
    ...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!

  20. #20
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    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

  21. #21
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Sorry

    Quote Originally Posted by jrhymeammo
    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?

  22. #22
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Ahhh.... there is nothing like taking a lunch break with some tunes...

    Quote Originally Posted by Feanor
    My ignorance appalls even me ... what is ERS cloth?
    Bill,It's just this BS cloth with a blend of carbon fibre. This tweak worked cuz I had a problem.JRA

  23. #23
    Sgt. At Arms Worf101's Avatar
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    Hey, can I play?

    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

  24. #24
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Worf101
    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?
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  25. #25
    Da Dragonball Kid L.J.'s Avatar
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    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

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