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Fifty Ways To Tweak Your Lover.


Leveling Your System

Vinyl Cleaning Formulas

Balanced Power


Stop the Noises in Your Room

Inspecting/Cleaning You Cartridge

Quieting Your Environment

Cleaning Your Ears

Sweeping Your Cartridge Clean

Resonance deadening Devices

Additions/Update to "Resonance deadening Devices"

Wire Organization

Dedicated Power

Room Acoustics

Abandon Your Lowly RCA Connectors

Caig Pro Gold and Other Contact Cleaners/Enhancers

Electrical Equipment Plug Orientation


Are You "Level Headed"???

  MAN-O-MAN, this move has surly made me get "back to the basics". This week i've had to take out the bubble level (a standard 3 bubble level device like carpenters use to make sure their construction is level in the full three dimensions) and make sure all my items are nice and level. Over time your system may get out of level due to the foundation of your home settling or due to the stand itself aging. By carefully leveling your system you enable your music reproduction system to better reproduce music in my humble opinion. With special care taken with regards to your turntable, it's stand, and your speakers. Please read on to learn more about this "level headed" system tweak.

To have the best possible chance of getting the most out of your vinyl recordings my feelings are to start out with a good foundation. Different tables prefer different types of stands, yet ALL of them prefer to be level. What i do FIRST is level the stand itself with the FULLY ASSEMBLED turntable on it. This way i KNOW the stand is level with the weight of the turntable placed in it's proper place. Secondly, if you have a Linn, a VOYD or other floating suspension type turntable is to then level the foundation of the turntable itself. Last, but also very important in this task, is to level the actual platter itself with an average weight vinyl record on it. Please use a record which you don't mind if it gets kinda scratched up and stuff. MAKE SURE THE LEVEL'S WEIGHT IS VERY CENTERED ON THE PLATTER OR IT WILL NEGATIVELY EFFECT YOUR RESULTS!!!

Next we have out equipment rack. You probably know what to do there after reading what to do with the turntable. Same stuff applies generally speaking. Pay close attention to the CD transport please.

Now your speakers can be pesky because, in my humble opinion, you need to do more than just leveling them. FIRST make sure they are exactly the same height, width, and depth from their surroundings in your room. Timing and balance problems abound when this step is not followed precisely. Also, if you have a precisely mirror imaged listening room then you stand a far better chance of gettin' the most out of your music reproduction system. Once you have made sure of the above, then level the speakers per the manufacturers suggestion. For example, my KEF 104/2's like to have their tweeter at ear level and the entire system's right and left channel perfectly matched. Some speaker manufactures prefer you lean the speakers. ALWAYS follow the manufacturers suggestion FIRST. Then if you dislike the results make the appropriate changes. If all else fails here and you're just not satisfied with the speakers, sell them and start again with one's you do enjoy. Please keep in mind speakers can have the most influence on the way your system reproduces music.

As ALWAYS, if you have any questions please feel free to e-mail them to me. Thanks for your time. It IS appreciated. After all, what REALLY matters to me is that you...

Enjoy the Music!


And Now It's Time For Some Liquid Refreshment!


  For all you vinyl junkies out there, i have gathered a few suggested cleaning concoctions from the internet and other mailing lists i belong to. i offer NO responsibility for these formulations. Quite a few dudes swear by certain one's. Me? Well, being too lazy i just buy Nitty Gritty (Kitty Litter) or VPI's stuff. LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!!


   distilled water            alcohol                 detergent
1)      1 part           1 part isopropyl              none
2)      1 part           1 part isopropyl      a drop of Triton X-100
3)      1 quart         1 pint denatured        10 drops Photoflo
4)      3 parts               1 part               a few drops
5)      3 parts           1 part rubbing            a few drops
6)      4 parts           1 part ethanol                some

Don't forget to use your Hunt EDA brush! Remember: a clean needle is a happy needle.


(Sang like Frank Sinatra)

Come Fly With Me Let's Fly, Let's Fly Away..."

  So there i was, about to embark on another fun filled flight to Lost Wages for the Winter Consumer Electronic Show (WCES) when i suddenly remembered how my ears go POP during air flight. YUP, you know what's next don't ya. That's RIGHT, all my upper frequency hearing gets attenuated and things sound muffled. Sometimes for hours, worse still, sometimes for DAYS :-{(+ . So i called my audiologists friends and begged, pleaded, groveled at their feet to help me. How can a dude spend all his hard earned car washin' money to see a show, yet not be able to hear a thing? Well, my audiologists friends made a few calls themselves and made this humble suggestion to me.

It seems the American Military had a hand in this one (like some other products/tweaks which are now available to Formula 1 racers and music lovers). This small item is CHEAP too :-{)+ . For $3.29 you can have your very own set! If you really need your hearing, or even if you just dislike the discomfort from the pressure changes to your ears during air flight then listen up! Go to your local Target store. In the pharmacist section is a cool product called EarPlanes. They are basically a translucent blue coloured ear plug, but with a difference. This difference consists of their patented CeramX filter. The filter lessens the speed of the pressure changes that effect my ears during air flight. One pair is good for two flight segments. All ya gotta do is put them in your ears as you board the plane, then take them out once you've landed and the cabin door is opened. Simple!

May i humbly suggest you parlay some of your stash and buy this no-nonsense product if you experience hearing/ear discomfort during those plane trips from one electronic show to another? Now if i could only solve the problem of speakers that are too bright. As always, if you have any questions please feel free to lemme know.

Cirrus Air Technologies
PO Box 469
Locust Valley, NY 11560


(Said like a circus Ringmaster)

And Now We Present To You
The Amazing Ballini With His
Mystifying Balancing Act!

  Balanced. Are ya down with it? Yeah, we gots our balanced circuitry, our balanced cables, our... Heck, we even have our balanced tonearm! So why have most of my brothers missed this next balancing act? For it's this next "recommended tweak" that will solve some of the grunge from effecting your system. i say, down with "THE MAN". Let's join together like brothers and bring back harmony to our electronics. Most studios have heard of, or even use this "tweak". Even Sony ran ALL NEW balanced stuff for their brannie newie kajillion dollar New York City studio. So what kinda "balancing act" am i referring to? Why it's balanced power!

Well, i GOTTA tell ya, i read about this little ditty from the professional 'zines i read about a year or so ago. Felt that SOME "audiophile/videophile" 'zine SOMEWHERE would jump on it, yet maybe they've been busy over the past year. Well, i reckon i gotta tell you, my brother, about it. Groovy! After MUCH discussion with a few brothers in the studio biz and a lot of research, here's this "tweak ditty" for ya.

So what IS "balanced power". Well, technically (please shoot me), it's when you have a 60+ volt line, a 60-- volt line, and then your ground (this is vs. the usual 120+ line, neutral line, and ground line). Typically, this gives your power a 16 db lower background noise when your FULL system is wired this way. Balanced power can also reduce the line noise, the EMI, and also the hum pickup from your power wires. Ya see, how our homes are wired now was established over A CENTURY ago!!! Back then they didn't have 200 MHz computers, huge radio towers, and other "modern day" nasties that oppress our "music loving brothers" and muck up our precious power lines. What we want is nice, clean power. Right? SHAFT (dammmn right).

Furthermore, the 120 + line in our homes can actually _induce hum_ in nearby wires. No new news there folks. Then we have to deal with the impedance of the chassis of our goodies and the shield of our cables with respect to ground (please see the "Cease and Resist --- A Courting Order" article below for stuff that's kinda associated with this situation). What's ideal is a zero resistance in our grounding scheme. Well, what's ideal and what's fact may be different at times, so what CAN we do? (Please give me a "Down with the man". DOWN WITH THE MAN!) Well, balanced power helps greatly to eliminate the need for the grounding schemes used (ie. star-grounding or massive bus bars). Lemme tell, ya, balanced power is even recognized by the National Electronic Code (Article 530). So here's to the man :-{>) ptfptfptfptf.

Are Ya Down With It?

Bottom line is, some folks do all they can with cabling, buying stuff with lots of regulated power stages, that use star-grounding, etc., yet may forget that the cleanliness of the power reaching their equipment is also worth looking into. One manufacture that seems to be big in the pro audio scene is Furman. These dudes seem to know what they're doin' so ya may wanna give 'em a call. (Sang like the cool song "Shaft" by Issac Hayes) Who's the cool brother man that brings balanced power to all the sexy chicks? FURMAN! Right on. He's a complicated man, but no understands him like the EE's... Can ya dig?

Furman Sound, Inc.
1997 South McDowell Blvd.
Petaluma, California 94954
U. S. A.

voice (707) 763-1010


Woe, oh, oh, feeeelings!

  So what the heck does this haveta do with a tweak? Simple, if you feel bad, odds are that your system just won't seem to reproduce music as well as if you're feeling good. It's called "the human factor". An how many of us as well as manufacturers have forgotten the human factor? Is the environment our music reproduction system is in fun? Is it fun to use our toys? When you put that record on the turntable is it easy and fun or is it the ritual of: clean the record, turn the vacuum hold down motor on, lift the dust cover, remove the record clamp, put the record on the platter, secure the record with the clamp, close the lid, quickly run to our chair before the music begins... Does THAT sound like fun?

This tweak is also a cry for manufacturers and dudettes/dudes to NOT forget the "human factor". For your home music reproduction system could be the best, yet if it's not fun and easy to use, how much fun is it really? Maybe a nice change of decoration is in order? Maybe a live plant, a fresh bouquet of flowers, a cool Zeppelin poster, a good wine... Just SOMETHING that helps bring you joy while listening to music. And after all, what REALLY matters to me is that you...

Enjoy the music.


(Said Like A Pirate)

Batten It Down Ya' Land Lubber!

  Aaaaaaarrrr maties, we're gonna batten down arr "treasures", then hoist up the anchor and sail away to enjoy our desert island music. Ya land lubbers know the drill too! Make sher all ye treasures arr secured in the Captain's quarters so that nothing makes a resonant sound. Then we ocean pirates keep the anchor from draggin' us along as we sail away to our destiny.

As my continuing maintenance on my system and settin' up the new rooms transpire, here a few more things i humbly suggest that you may wanna do to your "treasures" too. FIRST, we have all those nasty things that go buzz in the night. A great tool to use is the THX "WOW!" Laserdisc. On one of its tracks is a slow frequency sweep track. This track is basically a very slow sweep upward from about 10 Hz to 100 Hz or so. This way as each frequency is achieved, one can track down and eliminate the extraneous things that buzz and sympathetically vibrate. Yes, i've discussed how to lower your noise floor before, yet not in this manner.

Light fixtures, various furniture, even components have their own resonant frequency(s) and by lowering their audibility we then may enjoy more MUSIC! There are times when only a frequency sweep such as the "WOW!" laserdisc contains may allow you to really hear, let alone track down resonating devices. Ya' see, the ear perceives sound in such a way that some of these resonances may be "hidden" by the actual musical note your speakers are producing. Since the speakers are producing the frequency louder than the resonating device and the harmonics thereof, only a pure frequency may allow you hunt down these nasties. Let's call it a ye' ol' "seek an' destroy" mission. Then we'll raise the "anchor" and allow our components to "sail to freedom".

Now some components like our precious turntables, or the laser assemblies in our CD players, for example, need to "hoist their anchor". This way the natural room resonant frequencies don't interfere with their operation. This effect can be altered by somehow either coupling or decouple the component, OR by placing it on a stand or some such where the resonant frequency is decreased to a good degree. Some component racks allow you to tune the resonant frequency to change the effect the resonant frequency may have. Resonant controlling can be found with Tube Sox for vacuum tubes, Michael Greens component racks for components, and even the stuff i humbly suggested in my "Dead Ringer" article for quite a few applications. Why these tweaks work can be guessed or postulated, yet they DO seem to make an audible effect to my ears. Therefore i kinda don't care as to "why" as much as "how to" at this time in my life.

Shiver me timbers but NOT my tonearm! Let's hoist the main anchor and sail away to enjoy our desert island music. So vast yon maties, there may be rough waters ahead! And YOU, YES YOU, swab the poop deck or it's walk the plank fer ya'. Yo ho, yo ho a pirates life for me!


I'm Armed And Dangerous

  Yeah, i'm tone (arm) deaf right now :-{(+ . Ya see, my main rig is down during this transitional period yet i STILL find things to do. Proof: i must be nuts, stupid, masochistic, or just love music and am using this "down time" to maintain my music reproduction system. Like a Formula 1 car, there's always something to maintain or tweak. Well there's no better place to start the maintainin'/tweakin' like the beginning. This slammatocious yummy will cover what i've done to my Audio Note Io-2 cartridge and Audio Note silver wired tone arm. Some of this might apply to your rig too so i felt you may gain from my late night fest. If all else fails, go to a live concert like i have done almost every night this past week. Live music RULES, um huh huh um huh!!!

First up is the cartridge. After all, it's where the music jammin' begins right? After removing my tone arm from the turntable, i carefully viewed the cartridge with a magnifying glass. Well, there was some slight debris buildup just underneath the cantilever so here's what i did... First may i humbly say PLEASE BE VERY VERY CAREFUL TO NOT DAMAGE YOUR EQUIPMENT!!! Normal disclaimers apply here. Well, with the assistance of some micro screwdrivers purchased from Radio Shack (Tandy), i was able to lightly remove all that nasty ol' debris just above the cantilever, yet below the main body of the cartridge.

This removal was done by VERY CAREFULLY by using a lint free cloth also known as a lens cleaning cloth available from most camera shops. With it slightly moistened with Generation 2000 contact cleaner on it i began... This moistened towel was wrapped once around the micro flat head screwdriver. Now VERY CAREFULLY start to lightly rub off all that nasty ol' rubbish that has accumulated over time. This buildup was probably due to all the natural rubbish that happens when one plays vinyl for hours and hours and hours. By the way, did i remind you to


Once all the debris was gone i inspected the cantilever and needle under a microscope. Fortunately things looked nice and clean :-{)+ . Therefore no cleaning was necessary thank goodness. Breaking a cantilever has a way or ruining one's day in my humble opinion.

Now comes the tone arm. Well, the anti skate was is desperate need of repair. The material which is connected from the anti skate wheel to the base of the tone arm holder was deteriorated due to age and wear. Therefore i used some precision five pound test fishing line. The stock substance seemed to be along the lines of fishing line (five pound test grade or so). Since i haven't yet heard the effect of this tweak due to the substance change i can't, therefore, comment if it changed the way the tone arm performs. In other words i simply don't know if this change will be constructive. Just an idea i hope works in general, let alone improve the performance of my tone arm. Your results may vary. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to e-mail them to me. Thanks!

The remainder of the tone arm looked quite good so it was simply a matter of disassembling most of the tone arm and the ?usual? cleaning and maintenance. By using some very light oil sparingly on the screws and the appropriate lubricants on other moving parts where appropriate. If you have any doubts as to where to apply lubricant then DO NOT APPLY it. If you have ANY questions, may i humbly suggest you call, fax, e-mail the manufacturer of your tone arm. One mistake may ruin your equipment (let alone your day and possibly cost you money as well). With MUCH hesitation i'm posting this tweak due to the fact that it just might remind you that good maintenance is a MUST in most anything with moving parts exposed to the natural elements.

i CAN NOT stress enough that this tweak is for those who are mechanically inclined with VERY STEADY hands and who are familiar with this type of maintenance. If your not 100% sure of what your doing please, pretty please DO NOT do ANYTHING to your arm/cartridge. No matter how skilled/knowledgeable you may be, please consult with the manufacturer of your arm/cartridge for advice. This tweak article is just a way of me sharing what i did to my set up. Also, some of you may not have the required equipment (i.e. a microscope to view the diamond stylus) and therefore should not take lightly the care and tools needed for these tweaks. Heck, even i got VERY VERY VERY SCARED when i did this! If in doubt please do nothing. As the sayin' goes, "If it aint broke, don't fix it." If you have ANY questions about this tweak, please e-mail them to me before you do ANYTHING. Thanks!



A "Dead Ringer"

  On the previous article titled "A Dead Ringer" there seems to be MORE to it! A recent private conversation with a professional audio reviewer had some more suggestions (please see the entire article below). He tried the high heat version on his tube amplifier and tubes. Basically we discussed how he also cut the dampening material into small round pieces and placed them on the socket of the tubes. He also custom made a few pieces to fit the circuit boards in a tube amplifier he had on hand (READ: Not on the signal traces but around them on certain sections). It seems that a humbly suggested tweak he read here led him to try a few things with good results. You may also want to try this stuff to dampen the enclosure of your components.

Many thanks go out to this reviewer who chooses to rename anonymous. It amazes me how many dudettes/dudes actually read my rubbish here on the internet. Well, that's all the news that's fit to print for now. After all, what REALLY matters to me is that you...

Enjoy the Music.


The Sound Of Silence

  There are times in my travels that a "tweak" is discovered even when i wasn't listening for it! Ya see, we went to my grandparents home years ago for a weekend. Good food, good conversation, lots of laughs... Upon awakening the next morning, i discovered that i could hear things better. How could this be? Did grandma (Bubbie) have some secret formula in those brownies? Was it the cool discussion with grandpa reminiscing about his old Pilot tube radio? Hmmm, no. Then it hit me... The sound of silence!!!

Living in Florida can be tough with all this heat. My grandparents owned the quietest ceiling fan i had never heard (pun intended). After 8 hours of restful quiet sleep, my ears were refreshed. The ambient noises that bombard my ears all night at my home weren't present. Less ear fatigue leads to better hearing. Sounds simple huh? The quietest ceiling fan i have found is by Hunter. They offer a wide variety of styles/quality. The ones made in the United States of America seem to be their highest quality line. Since there are quite a few old radios in my bedroom the choice was simple. The model "1930's Original" was a shoe in.

Here's just a few details about this Hunter ceiling fan: The motor is the largest used in the industry. A dynamically balanced rotor is also incorporated which uses a precision ground ball bearing. WAIT A MINUTE HERE!!! A balanced motor? Precision ground ball bearing? Are we talking about a turntable or a ceiling fan here! Since i needed a easier accessible speed control i purchased their model 22691 3-speed fan control. It seems to use resistors in leu of a buzzing transformer.

So c'mon Steve, what the bloody heck does this have to do with being a "tweak". Well, recently i have seen the results of hearing damage in other individuals :-{(+ . If you "feed" your ears correctly, they should serve you well. By lowering your exposure to extraneous noises, your ears are more refreshed to enjoy the music. Sounds simple huh? Now if we could get it to spin at 33 1/3...

Hunter Fan Company
2500 Frisco Avenue
Memphis, TN 38114

voice  (901) 743-1360


(Said like Pee-Wee Herman)

What? WHAT?

  What was it you said? Sorry, i didn't hear that. Now what if i shared with you a way to improve your music/movie/sound reproduction system in less than 10 minutes? And what if i also shared with you that it would possibly improve your upper frequencies, increase the apparent inner-resolution of your system, enhance the lower level resolution, increase the image/soundscape, and also make you a healthier person? How would you feel if this "tweak" only costs you $10?

Well, this "tweak" isn't for your electronic reproduction system but is for your human system. May i humbly suggest you go to your local store and purchase some ear cleaning supplies? My most valued asset of my electronic system is my human system. If my human system isn't functioning correctly, then my electronic system doesn't stand a chance no matter what i do to it. Please go out and get an ear cleaning system and follow the directions it humbly suggests. The "system" i humbly suggest comes with fluid and a water rinsing bottle. Basically the fluid cleans your ears and the water bottle rinses the fluid and foreign matter out. Thank you.


A Sweeping Statement

(Said like your mum) "Clean your cantilever young man or they'll be no dinner for you tonight!" Well, it's time to clean your cantilever and adjust your skatin' tone arm too. Yeah, there's quite a few electronic devices available to clean your cantee, but few for your slippin' and a-slidin' arm. Cardas has one that's actually good for a couple of things AND will only set cha back the price of a tank of gasoline. Not bad either considering it's pressed on 180 gram vinyl. What i'm referring to is The Cardas Sweep Record. Basically it has a bunch of sweep tones on it, though what's REALLY COOL is that it's got these big blank spaces for my liein', kanivin', cheatin', skatin' tone arm.

If you don't have a cantilever cleaner for your cartridge then please, pretty please, with sugar on top and a cherry go out right this instant and get one. All i can say it that it seems to rejuvenate my cartridge. Some claim that this also helps extend the life of your cartridge. Can't verify that statement personally. The point is, if something allows me to enjoy the music i say GO FOR IT!!!

The really cool part about this record is all the blank space it contains. Ya see, it can be really tricky at times to align a linear tracking air bearing arm. In vinyl's heyday there were plenty of "test records". Unfortunately there are VERY few new ones out there. The Cardas record is available RIGHT NOW and i say "Get it while the gettin's good." Peace, i'm outta here.

The Cardas Sweep Record

480 Eleventh Street, South East
Bandon, Oregon 97411

voice (503) 347-2484
 fax  (503) 347-2301

Please click here to go to Cardas' www site.


A "Dead Ringer"

  Have ya' ever spent $400 on those wooden hockey pucks? No?!?!? Me either. There's possibly a better, MUCH cheaper way to do it in my humble opinion. Yes, the resonant frequencies of your room, your equipment, and what-have-you CAN make a subtle or not so subtle change to the music your system reproduces. In fact, some components are designed with certain resonant frequencies to enhance their performance. Snell speakers come to mind. So what if i told you there's a way to possibly enhance you enjoyment for under $100? Please read on and you'll partake in the yummies.

In the mobile audio field they have been dealing with resonant frequencies for YEARS. You see, when you put subwoofers in your trunk, the trunk is effectively another "box" and can become a big resonant device itself! Have you ever heard a "boom" car's trunk rattle? Well then you too have heard this hypothesis in action! Now what if we took this information given to us from the mobile audio field and applied it to our home systems?

Here's the easy part. It's inexpensive, easy to apply, relatively simple to take off if it subjectively degrades your reproduction system. May i humbly suggest you seek out you local "high-end" mobile audio store and buy a product along these lines? The product in question is called "Road Kill" and sold by Stinger. Rockford Fosgate also sells a product called "Punch Mat" that is along these same lines. The Stinger company offers "Road Kill" in 6 different forms...

SO what does this stuff look like you ask. Well, it's looks basically like that totally flat black stuff used for roofing! NO, please don't ignore the rest of this article!!! (Phew) Felt like i almost lost ya there. Anyway, seek and ye shall find. And you may just find more that one version of this humble suggested tweak too. This stuff is so inexpensive that you and your home-brew friends can cash in on all those empty beer cans to buy some. Now go out to your pick-'em-up truck and find those cans!

One of these products are specifically designed for the basket of your speakers. Another is designer for high temperature applications. Still another is for "normal" applications. The good news is that the average costs is about $50 for enough Road Kill for this project. The most expensive is the Road Kill for high temperature applications which retails for $88 for nine square feet. The basic one retails for $8 for a 1/2 x 48 x 1/8 inch piece for your speaker baskets.

The REALLY GOOD news is that you can apply most of these with a high wattage hair dryer! Odds are you have that tool in your humble abode. Also it's fairly easy to take off as well if that "love vibe" aint happenin' after applying it to the device in question. Life IS good. So what are you doing still here? Go, leave, run, don't walk to your local "high-end" mobile audio store and please get some of this gooood stuff. And while your there, why not give your mobile audio system a little upgrade too? Those stock speakers could possibly use a little upgrading don't cha feel?

Please remember that some devices are made with their inherent resonant frequencies in mind. Therefore not EVERYTHING in EVERY application will benefit from this tweak. As always... There are NO "hard and fast" rules here. This is just another stupid tweak i use. Your mileage may vary. See store for details. While supplies last. Please remember to tip your waitresses and bartenders. As ALWAYS, if you have any questions please feel free to e-mail them to me BEFORE you do ANYTHING. Thanks! Remember, you heard it here FIRST, on Roller Derby.

Stinger Products
Distributed by AAMPS of America
13160 56 Court
Suite 502-508
Clearwater, Florida 34620

voice (813) 572-9255
 fax  (813) 573-9326

Click here to go to their www site.
(HINT: See their RoadKill Pro Sound Dampening Page)


Lift and Separate

  So you have those new power cables i see. Nice! And those new silver interconnects... So if you spent soooo much on all this cool stuff why do you have then all looking like puh-scetti behind your equipment rack??? Well this "tweak" is really a "no brainer" yet i've seen this "rule" broken by quite a few folks and felt it should be discussed here.

Please keep your power wires as far away as possible from your low level signal cables. Also, please do your best to keep your speaker wire away from your power cords as well. If you MUST have them cross each other, please have them do so at a 90 degree angle. There is a sound reason (pun intended) why "twisted pair" speaker cables are common. By having even the positive and negative lead of your speaker cables twisted, it helps to reduce them "talkin'" to each other and other electrical nasties.

So basically this quickie is basically tellin' you to straighten out your room or they'll be no dinner for you. Some folks claim to hear a difference when they have their cables off the ground. Well, we're NOT going there right now. So please clean your "room". (Said like my parents, with humor) DON'T make me come in there young man!!!


And Now Ladies and Gentlemen, the "High Wire" Act.

  Snap, crackle and pop? Buzzzzzzzzz (kill)? Radio activity? Does your music/movie/sound reproduction system suffer from any of these nasty habits? If so, here's a "do whop ditty" for ya'. It's time to play 'round with some high voltages. i say, "Power to the people!!!"

Got two words for ya'... dedicated power. So what's "dedicated power" you ask. Well, simply said it's having a QUALIFIED electrical engineer install a few dedicated electrical outlets for your electronic goodies. Usually this service will set a dudette/dude back about $150 + parts or so. What it may result in is the equivalent of a $1000 component upgrade! This is really a "no brainer" per se. Better/cleaner power should equal better performance. Here's a few humbly suggested guidelines:

1) Hospital grade isolated ground electrical outlets such as
    those made by Levitron or Hubbble

2) Use solid core "Romex" type unshielded wire with ground

3) Use 12-2 wire for circuits with a load of 20 amperes.
    Use 10-2 for loads of up to 30 amperes.

4) Use separate dedicated lines for digital and analogue

5) Have the electrician use ONLY one side of the box for
    ALL your dedicated electrical lines

6) Use the slots closest to the main line coming into your
    fuse box for your dedicated lines

7) Have a dedicated ground also installed for your dedicated
    electrical lines

8) Please be sure to have your dedicated fuses on the other
   side of the electrical box where the air conditioner and other
   "power pigs" DO NOT reside


By following the simple guidelines above you should be on your way to happyville! Your power amplifier(s) "breathe" easier. Your CD players power supply won't harass your turntable as much... Though what REALLY matters is that you'll hopefully enjoy your precious investment more. And what more could one desire (maybe a live band, a Ferrari F50, and a corn beef on rye from Carnegies in NY). As i said before, power to the people!!! Like most of my humbly suggested tweaks, if you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail them to me BEFORE you do ANYTHING. Thanks!


The Place Where i Belong... A Padded "Cell".

  Aaaaaah, the fun of havin' slam dancing fests in a listening room. It's just one of the cool byproducts of acoustically re-engineering some rooms. The way a room effects what we hear from the output of our speakers can have quite a large effect! Pretty please DO NOT underestimate the effect a room can have. Now i wouldn't under ANY circumstances put a pair of Wilson X-1's in a 8 by 8 foot room. On the other hand, i personally wouldn't put a pair of small bookshelf speakers in a 20 by 40 foot room either. Would Shea Stadium be good acoustically for a small jazz band? Would a small club be good acoustically for a complete orchestra? By properly mating appropriately sized speakers in a room, you have taken the first step towards musical nirvana. But then we have the room...

If your a "lucky dog", you've got a dedicated room of good proportions where you can do ANYTHING you so desire. If you want 100 Lava lamps in there, so be it. Now maybe "i" wouldn't want 100 Lava lamps, though i WOULD like to acoustically re-engineer the room in the hopes of gaining better music/movie/sound reproduction. This article will not cover ALL the aspects of this. Nor is it to be considered 100% complete in any way, shape, or form. Like the engineers who renovated Carnegie Hall, even folks who are considered to know what they're doin' can MESS THINGS UP (and what a pity too). So we gots a room. Let's hope it has good dimensions and one with matched sides (perfectly "mirror imaged" from one half to the other). The best rooms, to my ears, seem to be those that have 8 or 10 foot ceilings with dimensions in the ratio of 3 : 4.5 (i.e. 12 by 18).

Ok, so we have this room and found our speakers. Where ARE we gonna place them? Should we get a sound pressure level meter and find the place where the speakers measure the "flattest" throughout the frequency range? Perhaps. Should we find the "null" point in the room where the speakers interact the lest with the present, non treated room, room boundaries? Perhaps. Should we put on a set of headphones and drink large quantities or our favorite beverage? Hmmmm... Well, my humble opinion is to place the speakers where they reproduce music/movies/sound the best to your ears AT THIS POINT. Then listen.

Now comes the fun part! Go to your local store and find some of that cheap and cheesy bed foam egg crate stuff. Get LOTS of it!!! At least get enough to totally cover the walls to the right, left, and behind the speakers. If you're as nutty as i am (uh oh), get an extra one for putting on the ceiling too! Now here comes the tricky part. Cover the walls to the right, left, and behind the speakers. As for that ceiling tile, it should be placed at the axis directly in front of the speakers and extend outward towards the listening position.

Listen. Listen for the changes and take away and/or move the tiles about. Cut a tile in half if need be (though by cutting it you have just voided your returning for mula privileges). What worked for me is to leave the bottom most part of the back wall behind the speakers uncovered. Also, make sure your foam tiles cover the side wall in front of the speakers. Ya' know, the place where the first reflection point lies or there abouts. Listen. With a bit of experimentation you may wind up with some awesome sound OR you may wind up with the room too dead and lifeless. Wash, lather, rinse, repeat. If all else fails, relax, drink your favorite beverage, and return the foam tiles and get your hard earned mula back. And if it DOES work out, then can a few of my closest buds stop by for a slam dancin' fest??? Just wonderin'.



Mr. Lowly RCA Connector.

  Poor ol' lowly RCA connector. Virtually all our goodies have 'em. Barring a balanced connection via XLR, which is actually WORSE than an RCA connector, how else would we connect our "high-end" equipment? Well folks, i say DUMP YOUR RCA CONNECTORS!!! Huh?? How can one do that Steve? Well, it's actually quite easy as long as you know how to solder. If you're not familiar with soldering, then i suggest you learn somewhere else BEFORE you do the following humbly suggested tweak or seek professional help.

What i'm basically suggesting is to directly soldier your cables to each component and eliminate the male RCA connector on your cable as well as the female RCA connector on your prized "high-end" component. First of all, the RCA was NOT specifically designed for transmitting an audio signal. Then we have to deal with whatever substance the male and female RCA connectors are made of and their inherent impedance, resistance, inductance. Add all that stuff up and then include insertion loss, the inevitable possibility of the connection gettin' dirty... What a bloody mess of rubbish it adds to your prized reproduction system!

First you need to find out if the component in question used the "cheap and cheesy" board mounted female RCA connectors. If it does, your life just got that much harder. If the component used the usual higher quality insulated RCA plug then your life just got easier (and the crowd goes wild). Simply said, use a high quality soldering gun, i.e. a temperature controlled Weller like i got, and unsolder that rascal from the component making a WRITTEN NOTE as to which is electrical positive (center connector of the RCA) on the circuit board and which is negative (the outer thingy of the female RCA connector). Please make sure to use a clean soldering gun tip and use either a solder suckin' thing or a solder wick to get rid of the solder on the circuit board. You want your work to be as perfect as possible, right?

Once you have clean out all that icky old solder from the circuit board, simply solder your interconnect wire's positive and negative leads to the appropriate positive and negative inputs on the circuit board. Please make sure that your wire DOES NOT touch any other part of the component in question! The solder i humbly suggest is the Audio Note silver solder. i won't go into details as to why i chose this solder over that. May i simply say that it's the best stuff i have used (and i've been solderin' since i was 5 folks and i'm now an ancient 30). Audio Note Silver solder is available at Angela Instruments and let it be known that i have ZERO financial interest in suggesting them. AGAIN, if you do not know how to solder, please seek professional help. My dad always sez "Do a job right or not at all." G-D, i HATE IT when he's right all the time! As always, if you have any questions please feel free to e-mail them to me BEFORE you do ANYTHING!!! Thanks!

Angela Instruments
10830 Guilford Rd.
Suite 309
Annapolis Junction, Maryland 20701
 U S A

voice  (301) 725-0451
fax    (301) 725-8823

Click here to go to Angela Instruments www site.


Caig Pro Gold and Other Contact Cleaners/Enhancers

  Yeah, you just read how much i hate RCA connectors and now i'm writing about contact cleaners/enhancers. Let it be written here and now that NO ONE ever certified me as sane %-{)+ . Well, even if we DO eliminate our RCA connectors, or better yet the XLR connectors, we still have stuff like cartridge clips, ribbon cable connectors, etc. Heck, even i WILL NOT solder wire to my prized turntable cartridge. So what's a woman to do? Well, simply seek and ye shall find. Lemme give you a bit of background on this concoction.

Years ago i met a head engineer for a big-time company. We discussed this and that and one day he told me about a company called Caig. Caig has been known for years by Boeing, MacIntosh Labs, Xerox, etc. for makin' stuff which not only cleans contacts, but also enhances the connection! Can we simply say that in the case of Boeing Airlines if the connection fails people may die! Also, insertion loss is also reduced as well. And i gotta tell ya' dudettes/dudes, i HATE insertion loss :-{)+ . Lets take a close look at just one of their offerings in this article shall we.

This product is called Pro Gold and is available in quite a few different ways to apply to your work. The one i choose to use, do to my high usage in many music reproduction systems, is their 100% pure formulation. Basically i dilute the 100% pure formulation with a non-Caig product called "Generation 2000". Generation 2000 is like another product, which is now illegal due to CFCs, was called Blue Shower. Basically what Blue Shower and Generation 2000 are is 100% pure contact cleaner in a spray can. A mixture of 25% Caig Pro Gold and 75% contact cleaner seems to do the trick for me. Your mileage may vary.

So Steeeve, how do i use this concoction? Well, now all ya' gotta do is get yourself some good quality 100% cotton pipe cleaners and use them as the applicator. REMEMBER, just a dab 'll do ya'! DO NOT soak your work with this stuff. IT IS ACTUALLY WORSE TO HAVE TOO MUCH THAN TOO LITTLE in my humble opinion. Once you apply this concoction to your work, please wait 30 seconds or so for the Generation 2000 to dissipate leaving a nice lil' ol' amount of the Pro Gold behind. Please use a new pipe cleaner with each piece of work. Pipe cleaners are "dirt cheap" so go ahead and be "livin' large" for once in your life. After all, you deserve a break today!

In about 6 months or so you may want to TOTALLY CLEAN your work with the Generation 2000 and then reapply my humble suggested concoction again as advised above. This re-cleaning/re-enhancing is not really necessary in situations where your work isn't exposed to the elements such as ribbon cables located inside your precious DAC or CD transport. Thin ribbon cables in particular use a VERY THIN layer of metal and it IS NOT ADVISED to continually remove and insert them. In a totally different situation such as my cartridge clips where i smoke and other air-born contaminants abound, this retreating is okey doekey in my humble opinion. Your mileage may vary. Some folks don't smoke and also use air cleaners in their music reproduction room so re-treatment isn't really necessary for a long, long time (like 3-5 years maybe). And please remember, a little dab 'll do ya'. As always, if you have any questions please feel free to e-mail them to me BEFORE you do ANYTHING. Thanks!

A QUICKIE!!! Caig also makes their Pro Gold in a spray can at 5% concentration. This goody is GREAT for sprayin' into those noisy ol' volume potentiometers in my humble opinion. Just make sure there's NO power goin' to the unit when you do this! Don't cha just love a good quickie?

Caig Laboratories, Inc
16744 West Bernardo Drive
San Diego, CA 92127
 U S A

voice  (619) 451-1799
fax    (619) 451-2799

Click here to go to Caig Laboratories www site.


Cease and Resist --- A "courting" order.

  So you're introducing that shiny new sexy amplifier to your preamplifier yet somethin's unhappy. They seem to fight each other day after day and you're not sure what to do. Well, you may wanna see if they're just resisting each others "love vibe". This little ditty below discusses how to enhance your systems love life through less resistance.

So here what cha need for this ditty: Just a simple multimeter that can measure DC resistance and a few "cheater plugs". Cheater plugs are available at most Home Depots, electrical supply huts, and even Radio Shack (known as Tandy to my European friends). File down the larger male prong on the cheater plug so that BOTH prongs are the same height. This way you can reverse the electrical phasing of the electrical plug of your component(s) by using this re-engineered cheater plug.

Now please unhook all your components from each other so that we are ONLY measuring the DC resistance of one component at a time which IS NOT connected to anything else. Please electrically plug in the component you want to test and do the following:

Turn on the product we are testing and give it a few moments to get warm and happy. Set your multimeter to DC resistance and insert one of the test probies to the GROUND of your electrical outlet (the rounder lookin' thing usually on the bottom for us American folks) . Then place the other probie so that it touches one of the OUTSIDE PART of the analogue audio RCAs. WRITE DOWN the DC resistance your meter sez. Now turn off the component and use the cheater plug to reverse the electrical phase of the component. Turn the component back on and again test the DC resistance. Whichever measurement is LOWER is usually the best. Now simply repeat this for every component in your music reproduction system.

REMEMBER, there are NO "hard and fast" rules here so one component may subjectively reproduce music better with higher DC resistance. Like some love affairs, a little more resistance may actually be a good thing! In the end, let your ears decide which electrical phase makes the "love vibe" work. As always, if you have any questions please feel free to e-mail them to me BEFORE you do ANYTHING. Thanks!












































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