It’s the time of year for saving money!
Ah, we audiophiles love optimism. We love to embrace some measure of buoyant assurance that a magic pill for better sound awaits. A pill, not coincidentally, that is low cost, simple to use, works flawlessly and will leave users speechless in the result.
I have tried many of these devices and some I was surprised at how well they did work and others, I must admit, were a total waste of money. Some were almost free and while they didn’t make world class changes, for the investment, they worked adequately well. While there are many of them available today, let’s look at a few of the ones I’ve tried.
I suppose somewhere, someone might endorse this product, but it will not be me. They are supposed to improve current flow and purportedly operate on the “quantum” level. “Quantum” is a well-used phrase in some of these products. I tried them and found they did somewhere between nothing and, actually, I thought making things worse. After two days, I returned them for a refund.
Insulation between cables
Oddly enough, I found this worked, while only marginally but it did work. I went to my local Lowe’s and purchased a six-foot piece of ½” water pipe insulation. My total investment was about $2.00. Wherever two cables touched is where I put a small, one-inch section of pipe insulation held in place with electrical tape. Despite my cables being very high quality, and designed to ward off external noise, I did notice a small improvement in the noise floor, presumably from a reduction of cross contamination between cables. Regardless of the actual effectiveness, this is a very simple, very inexpensive thing to try.
Synergistic HFT’s and Atmosphere
When I first heard both of these products at audio shows I knew I had to have them. I first bought HFT’s and despite following the directions as best as I could based on the layout of my previous residence, I never found the improvements I heard at the audio show where they were first demo’d. Same goes for the Atmosphere. I so badly wanted it to work, and it was in no way an inexpensive device, but unfortunately, no matter what I did, where I placed it or how hard I tired I got nothing. What puzzles me is I HEARD both of these products work with my own ears at multiple audio shows before I bought them. Despite this, in not one but two different residences, I found they did not work at all. Both the HFT’s and Atmosphere now reside in a closet.
Synergistic UEF Acoustical Panels
When I moved into my new home in 2016, it took me about ten seconds to realize I needed room treatments. These panels were my opening salvo. I purchased twelve of them, placed them around my room as suggested by Synergistic, and did, in fact, notice an improvement in some of the “sonic nasties.” Standing waves, need I say more? However, they were not a complete solution. After meeting with a company specializing in acoustical panels, I outfitted my audio room with a complete, front to back system of room treatments. Combining UEF panels with the other room treatments did tighten up and improve things. I like to say the main panels are steak and the UEF panels the “sizzle” on the steak. I have removed, reinstalled, and moved these panels around enough to be convinced they do, in fact, work as advertised.
Speaker Cable Elevators
Ever heard of insurance? It’s one of those things we have but hope we never need to use. This is how I see cable elevators. I once, for about two months, allowed my speaker cables to lie directly on the carpet – carpet, in fact, woven with polyester so static was a very real thing. Guess what I heard? Yep, absolutely nothing. No change at all. No perceptible increase in distortion or heightening of the noise floor. I then tried a variety of cable elevators. Again, no discernable change. I have tried Styrofoam cups turned upside down. I’ve tried products that sell for hundreds of dollars each. Currently I am using Cardas Multi Blocks. I am reasonably sure I paid about $40.00 for six but I believe they now cost just over $50.00. Do I notice a difference? No. But again, my cables are very high quality with excellent dielectric properties. So maybe I won’t. Even still, for such a nominal investment, I basically consider the use of these products just like an insurance policy.
Vibration Control Devices
I see these products as icing on the cake. I am so convinced of their redeeming properties I would not use a primary component without them. I basically run the gamut of them – from the BDR Pyramid Cones under my CD player, to Nordost Sort Kones, to Symposium Super Plus Platforms to Stillpoints Ultra 6 w/base, I have in them a very substantial investment. It does not take a lot of listening to hear the difference they make. All electrical products vibrate – especially power supplies, transformers and circuit boards. Preventing mechanical energy from being converted to electrical energy is a roadmap to a lower noise floor. It is true some of these products are quite expensive, but there are many options now on the market that represent a great value. Bottom line, I would not add any electrical component without also planning to use some type of vibrational control device.
“Our product uses quantum technology and aligns the sub atomic vertices in a precise molecular fashion so that the musical signal is diametrically distributed and enhanced.” Does that sound like a bunch of nonsense? Well, it is. I made it up. I did so to illustrate how silly some of these tweaks may sound. And despite however hopefully optimistic we audiophiles may be, the bottom line is this – some of these things work, some don’t. The trick is finding out which.
I think the IsoAcoustic speaker feet for my floorstanders were worthwhile.
Bob, I am currently using the Gaia I’s under my Blades. They make a substantial difference. I could have mentioned them, as well as others but I wanted to keep the article a certain length. But yes, I like the IsoAcoustic product very well.
Try the Omicron accessories for vibration control … These really work.
I still have some green pens if anyone want to improve the soind of their CD’s.
The basic reason I gave up the subscriptions to all my audio magazines back then. If they were that dumb, they didn’t need my money. It took at least 5 years before I was willing to read any audio material – and then just online. Ain’t willing to pay still.
Magic feather to help you fly?
Thanks Jerry for your honesty. Readers should keep in mind that you, did, find some tweaks to work. Those who pan everything may be missing out. I see all the arguments on forums and social media, tweaks, cables, etc. these are things each person needs to try for themselves and results do vary depending on equipment used and even the surroundings the gear is in.
I found room treatments one of the best improvements ever.
When I try something new, I ask myself, will I be happy still when whatever is removed from my system. Then is the improvement large enough to justify what I would have to pay.