I gave up on tweaks... done

The extremes that some Audiophiles go to never ceases to amaze me… Cables hanging from wires, sandpits, slabs of slate, marble, concrete, etc, etc… ‘Magic dots’ !!
The way I see it, ‘all objects in the universe resonate at their natural frequency when excited’. High mass stores energy and releases it slowly, so I cannot see how the addition of a solid lump of marble or slate, etc. with a low resonant frequency - then decouple it with rubber or sorbothane, which will trap-in and severely slow down the escape route of energy, that this can improve musicality! Energy cannot be destroyed – but you want it released as quickly as possible and not trapped in the system setup… Surely all that is happening is that all those high mass objects are adding their own signature hence coloration to the music!
What’s wrong with coupling rigid, lightweight wooden tables and dumping the energy into the highest mass — the floor…

When I buy a new piece of equipment I always try it with basic mains and interconnect cables. When I auditioned the DS DAC I was told by a dealer that the DS only really comes on song with such and such interconnects…! Statements like that bug me: When I connected the DS up to my system with budget interconnects the DS comprehensively trounced my Linn Klimax DAC complete with top spec interconnects… I always expect / want the equipment to shine and deliver the goods devoid of expensive sundries - then, hopefully, it might shine a bit more brightly with said expensive cables, etc…

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I am always surprised at what a difference a simple change to volume produces.

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This time Terry walked in on me while I was lifting my cable off the floor with little tea cups. She’s a psychiatric hospital administrator so she has some experience with things like this. I asked her if it sounded better to her. She listened for a minute, maybe two and said “We’re out of eggs and laundry detergent. I’m going to the store”.
I didn’t hear a difference either.


I’ve always found tweaks fascinating, not so much for what they do, but for what people think they do. I’ve tried several items in the mid-level vibration reduction arena and have, maybe, heard a slight difference. I’ve kept Aurios MIB’s since they were fairly cheap ($100/set 3 on sale) and the basic premise made sense to me, but some of the more wild stuff. e.g., Synergistic, just makes me shake my head. The last couple of years I’ve gone to AXPONA I’ve searched out tweak demos and found ones for Synergistic, Nordost, and ISO-Acoustics. In the Synergistic and Nordost demos I might have heard a change, but given how much they cost I just thought this is ridiculous. On the other hand, I have heard the ISO-Acoustics GAIA isolators it was glaringly obvious it helped. Assuming this was a legitimate demo (not saying it wasn’t) then some tweaks are very worthwhile. But unless you are being hypercritical, there isn’t much, if any, benefit for moving to the flavor of the week, say going from Aurios to Stillpoints (an extreme example). If I can do something on the cheap, I’ll try it to keep those racing thoughts of “what could be” at bay. But hundreds if not thousands to get the slightest of improvements? Not happening. The race to the top (of profits) certainly can make you a cynic …

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I literally just added a pair of Herbie’s SS-9 tube dampers to the stock PSVANE tubes in the BHK preamp. Night and day, no, worth the $30, definitely!

I like to tweak but only in the DIY or reasonably priced realm. I think the real $ are better spent on better components. There’s mental trickery in that last 2-3% of ‘improvement’.

I also go weeks and weeks simply enjoying listening to the music my system reproduces without a thought of tweaking. Balance in everything.

RonP, it depends on the flooring surface for cable lifts to make a significant difference.

Yes, you’re right. On hardwood, don’t waste your time.

Thanks! Now I need tube dampers!

I also have tinnitus and mine is constant. When I was shopping for new speakers, there were some that I eliminated right away because the ringing in my ears nearly doubled. When I mentioned this to one salesman, he played a pair for me that I considered the high end to be soft (not bright at all) and they made the ringing in my ears worse right away.

Do you have a theory about what might cause ringing in the ears to change level significantly? My own theory is emphasis of some resonant frequency or some type of distortion or phase differences. Just a wild guess.

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It’s known as recruitment. I suffer from it in my right ear, along with constant tinnitus. In the past, I’ve used notch filters to drop out 4-6kHz region, the area I’m sensitive.


I think we have a definition issue on what is a “tweak”.

How about anything that is not an amp/preamp/DAC/Speaker/Cable/Interconnect/turntable/player ?

Reagrding resonances… unless you have a turntable… phoohy! I took my big VTLs with 16 yes, 16! 6550 power tubes and had a friend tap on the chassis and metal parts with a dull implement and could not hear anything in the speakers. No microphonics. If tube condoms make a difference (I am not saying the don’t), then the value is so small that it is a waste of my money, time, and brain processing cycles.

If putting magnets on an interconnect helps, then …see above.

If you have equipment that can be affected by placement of an M&M, condom, cryogenically frozen milk carton, you purchased the wrong equipment.

I think you can get a system to 98% potential through simple speaker placement and addressing obvious room problems (bare hardwood foors etc.). After that, I am out. Pursuit of that last 2% is a massive waste with no musical enjoyment value.

On and on.

Bruce in Philly

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“I am always surprised at what a difference a simple change to volume produces.”

Ain’t that the truth!!! I was comparing hi-rez files against my CD rips of the same tunes… each was mastered at different volumes…

I could hear differences, but could not really tell which was “better” because volume differences have a big effect on how we perceive in general. Given this, how can I then place a Lucky Charm on my DAC and say it is “better”?

Bruce in Philly

Wow! Magnets on my interconnects?! hmmm… Big magnets?

The only tweaks I’m using are 3 sets Goldmund cones (DS, PWT and Melco) and this one:

The Melco is provided with a good ‘ethernet purifier’ but lacks galvanic isolation, for that I’ve put this one on its input.

Not really, yes it could be some unfortunate resonance, but speaker resonances aren’t usually bad enough that I’d expect that to be the whole story. Not that it’s directly relevant but the perceived pitch of tinnitus is usually an octave above where any physical damage happened in the ear. As brett66 mentioned recruitment is perhaps the bigger problem - it can exaggerate the loudness of some (or even all) of the frequencies you hear. In the limit any sound from the affected frequencies can be painful and even if not painful, very tiring in a short amount of time. I don’t know why one speaker would be noticeably worse than another, but recruitment is still probably part of the problem.

As Brodric stated earlier, this is a “hobby.”. Think about that for a second. You name me one hobby where there isn’t extremes - universes apart - between what one is willing to do or not to do for pleasure or enjoyment.

That being said… it is not about whether or not any “tweaks” work, are necessary, or are cost effective. If you are thinking of it in those terms, you are missing the point.

And the question about which is more important, the equipment or the music?.. is plain silly. They are both important. If you didn’t believe this to be the case, you would not be reading my post here in the PS Audio forum. How much value one puts into the equipment is defined by personal preference and should not have to be justified. Nobody has a gun to our head compelling us to buy anything we don’t want/need. It is a hobby and meant to bring enjoyment. Whether this pleasure stems from simply hearing the right song at the right time, or geeking out over a “tweak” makes no difference. The enjoyment they bring makes all the difference.

Let’s look at Ted for example. He is the ultimate “tweaker.” How do you think we got to Red Cloud? Was Huron great, and just fine acccording to many people’s standards? Yes. Does everyone think Red Cloud made a difference? No. Subjectivity at play. I will go out on a limb and say there is probably nobody here that would want Ted to stop tweaking our DirectStream DAC’s with regard to improving sound quality.

If you are into audio, you can’t decouple equipment (including tweaks) from the music. You can decide on a personal level how much you want to invest in each, but there is nothing wrong with tipping the scales heavily in one direction or the other. They are both requisite elements of our hobby that results in a level of personal satisfaction understood by nobody but ourselves.

With that, LISTEN AWAY and/or TWEAK AWAY - they are both incredible aspects of this thing we call listening.


My $0.02 on the subject is that that the first 95% any monies spent on “tweaks” should go into acoustical treatment for the room - diffusion or absorption based on some rudimentary analysis of room behavior. The tools to do that (such as Studio Six’s Audio Tools app for the iPhone and iPad) are readily available and cheap.

The one almost free “tweak” I can readily hear is when the interconnect and speaker cable contacts need cleaning.

Beyond that, for me the view is not worth the climb.

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The question about which is more important, the equipment or the music? is far from silly. A good number of us are interested in the equipment only to the extent is allows us to hear more of the music. Others are, of course, similarly obsessed with the equipment itself and enjoy nothing more than buying/trading for new stuff.

Thus, I find timbre and microdynamics by far the most important. It allows me to hear the subtleties of what a good musician is doing.

Audiophile fascinations with soundstage and other artifacts of the recording process hold zero fascination for me, other than a I enjoy physics. But it has nothing to do with music.


I guess my point is, there is no absolute to that question so it is rather a futile exercise to ask and answer from a categorical perspective. It only has relevance to each of us, as individuals. So what any of us believe the “right” answer to that questions be, has no relevance to anyone else. It is subjective, and personal - therefore there is no right answer.

Now, using the question as an internal mechanism to determine where one’s personal resources be best allocated - that has purpose. Where we should spend our time and money has everything to do with that question. Therefore, that question can only act as a personal tool and has no relevance as a public discussion point. What you believe will not change my opinion as to what I believe - and vice versa. I am convinced that no matter what argument I pose, you will not stray from the opinion you stated in your last post. In the context of public opinion, it is a silly question.

It’s funny that you mention soundstage, I’ve been playing with off axis vs on or in or whatever. And I’m kind of liking them staring me right in the face—lately----opinion to change soon, probably.