You can improve the sound of your audio system without even considering maxing out your credit cards. These tips and tweaks can make the music sparkle without compromising your budget, your sound system, or your good sense.
- Speakers should be 6 to 8 feet apart
- Keep some space behind the speakers – 1 to 3 feet is best
- Keep the speakers away from side walls
Better cables make a difference –for both analog and digital
- When connecting a digital source, connect to a DAC with a digital cable (coax or optical)
- When connecting a turntable, use the phono input or use a phono pre-amp
- Maintain polarity (red to red, black to black)
- Converts a digital signal to an analog signal
- Improves the sound of a digital source
- Make sure it has inputs that match the digital outputs of your CD player, audio streamer, or other digital audio devices
- Reduce or eliminate noise and cut-outs
- For CDs, use a soft lintless cloth with a light application of CD cleaner on it and (on the side opposite the label) wipe from the hole to the outer edge of the disc
- For records, use Spin Clean; dry with a soft lintless cloth
High resolution (lossless) digital files sound better than MP3s or standard AAC files
- Use a streaming service such as Pandora
- Use iTunes or another music manager (JRiver Media Center, Amarra, etc.)
- Highest resolution files are in ALAC, FLAC, WAV, AIFF, or DSD format
- iTunes cannot play high-resolution music files, except for Apple Lossless (ALAC)
- Purchase from iTunes, audioquest.com, acousticsounds.com, hdtracks.com, etc.
- Vibrations in audio equipment can cause distortion in the music being reproduced; vibrations can be air-borne or disseminated through the surface on which the equipment sits
- Keep the electronics and turntable out of room corners and away from the speakers
- Place the gear on mechanically dense or dampened surfaces
- Use cones, spikes, or rubbery pucks beneath equipment feet to limit vibration
Audio Fun Fact: 6,000 BBs Can Make All the Difference!
Researchers reporting in the December issue of The Absolute Sound found that placing 5-pound containers of 6,000 zinc-coated steel BBs on top of and even beneath audio equipment resulted in clearly detectable improvements in sound quality. Some commentators believe just the sheer weight of the BBs sufficiently dampens vibrations in equipment for an audible effect while others posit there’s a magnetic component that improves sound quality. We haven’t tested this, but feel free to give it a try!
Want to know more about how to get beautiful sounds from your audio system equipment? Come to our Free Presentation and Demo: Beautiful Sound on a Budget.
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