The Case For Tweaks

Ar-tweak3a.jpgBuilding an audio system is a task filled with multiple options. Questions like transistor or tube, digital, analog, or both, are among the first decisions to make. Then one must decide which amp, preamp, speakers, transport, turntable, cables, interconnects...

Lots of things to decide.

Once done, after all of the research and product demos have been completed, it may be hard to turn things off. This is usually the time when "tweaks" enter the picture. Such was the case with me.

Take W. A. Quantum Chips for example. As the literature purports, the chips "operate at the sub atomic Quantum level." How they actually work is somewhat of a mystery. Certainly it has something to do with quantum mechanics and how sub atomic particles behave in the natural world. Or so I thought. I read testimonials on how the chips resulted in better sound. Anything that is sub atomic and has something to do with quantum physics must be good, right?

AR-twaek5b.jpgI purchased one for my power conditioner and two each for my speakers and speaker cables. The chips are supposed to be moved along the length of the cables and around the back of the speakers to "tune" for the optimum effect.

At first I noticed nothing at all. After moving the chips to various places on the cables and the back of the speakers I began to actually hear results. Only they were in the wrong direction. I lost the vitality and the presence my music had. The sound was basically dull and flat. Removing the chips restored the original sound quality. What ever was going on were not the hoped for results.

When I called the dealer I was asked what kind of equipment I had. I was then told that my equipment was "too good." Seriously? Quantum physics knows the difference in the quality level of a stereo system and can then decide if improvements are needed? That's the story? I asked for a refund, which the dealer was, fortunately, happy to provide.

In J. Gordon Holt's Audio Glossary "tweaks" are defined as "to fine tune something to the nth degree of perfection." The definition goes on to include "a person who is constantly tweaking his equipment." There are pitfalls to the relentless application of the second.

AR-tweak2a.jpgSince my unfortunate results with W. A. Quantum chips I have become more skeptical of things that sound too good to be true. I believe wholeheartedly in vibration control because I've heard the before and after. I also believe in cable elevators- I mean, how can they hurt? Tightening the screws on the drivers of your speakers is probably the best tweak for the lowest cost.

When it comes, however, to things that work on the quantum level and apply some unseen force of nature to improve my world- sorry, I'm going to remain a skeptic. I think I'll stick to things that are proven and more tried and true. I've also stopped watching those miracle pill weight loss infomercials at three in the morning.

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