What are your favourite 2-channel tweaks for under £100?

Michael Larkin

Active Member
Here's my attempt to start a new thread that I know I'd find interesting, and hopefully others would too. I'll start with a few of my own favourite tweaks.

My system is built around a Dell Laptop containing all my ripped FLACs with some 320K MP3s, an Audiolab 6000A amplifier (£599), and Quad S2 speakers (also £599). The first sub-£100 worthwhile tweak came when I replaced my Behringer USB to Toslink convertor (£21) with a Douk Audio XMOS XU208 convertor (which I got for £49). My system is appreciably cleaner and better sounding as a result.

The second tweak I did quite recently was replace my AudioQuest FLX/SLiP 14/4 speaker cables (£37.71 inc p&p for a 2.5m pair) with Tellurium Q Blue II cables (£98.45 inc p&p for a 2.5m pair), both purchased from futureshop.

To say that this completely transformed my system would not be an exaggeration. It was like I'd bought amp and speakers at twice the price -- I kid you not. I'd more or less despaired of my classical collection (around 15% of the total) as they sounded so lacklustre. I put that down to the CDs they'd been ripped from being quite ancient, up to 35 years old. No, I don't think the digital data would have been any different then than now, but maybe, being early examples, they hadn't been particularly well recorded.

I soon discovered, after breaking the cables in for a few hours, that they significantly improved the sound of my popular tracks, so with trepidation I checked out my classical ones -- and lo and behold! They too sounded interesting and enjoyable again.

In what way? Well, first off, I was listening to music a good 3-4dB lower on the Audiolab display for the same perceived volume as before. But beyond that, everything seemed more spacious, richer, more engaging and dynamic. Once I start listening, I often find myself still there after several hours, finding great difficulty in tearing myself away from the music. You see, I start my listening every day when I put on the playlist for my Tai Chi routine, and then sit down and listen for a while. In the past, I would listen for maybe an average of 1.5 to 2 hours, but now it's often more. If you can afford it, I can heartily recommend them.

My final and cheapest tweak (£0.00) came when I discovered that the AIMP free software player for my laptop had a built-in equaliser and other facilities. I started by playing with the equaliser, but it was very hard to tweak the sound without messing it up. Then I stumbled across the enhancer facility: click the "options" menu button, followed by the "transform" item (yours might look a bit different if you use a different skin):

AIMP DSP.gif


See the "Enhancer" button on the "Sound Effects" tab? It drags from 1.00 to 5.00, showing the value as you do so on a little pop-up. I've been playing with it and it seems to make the sound progressively more 3D in nature. Providing one doesn't take it too far, it can sound wonderful with old favourites such as 10cc tracks - Dreadlock holiday, Good morning judge, I'm Mandy, fly me, etc. Even with classical, with just a slight adjustment, it can add a wider soundstage without changing the overall quality of the timbres of instruments. I'm still experimenting, and maybe I will use it only for certain genres, but I think it's worth checking out. I'm not messing with the other options for now, but leaving them at their defaults. I might go looking for additional DSP plugins just for fun...

I hope some of you will find my suggested tweaks useful. I look forward to reading about other people's tweaks, with a bit of luck benefitting from them myself.
 

Fred Smith

Well-known Member
Tower black granite chopping board at £6.99. To put under my Rega Planar 1, as it is so lightweight compared to my old Technics SL-QL1.
 

nomorelandings

Active Member
Tellurium Q Black 2 links - think they were @£70.
judiciously placed rubber plant diffuses potential primary reflection from a bay window.
 

robotron

Active Member
How much is it to get your ears cleaned out?
Genuine question, I've always wondered if a good old clear out of years of wax build up would make things sound better.
 

andycc72

Active Member
How much is it to get your ears cleaned out?
Genuine question, I've always wondered if a good old clear out of years of wax build up would make things sound better.
I read on another forum someone paid £70 and for that they come to your house apparently !!
 

Hixs

Distinguished Member
20210827_223549.jpg
 

Michael Larkin

Active Member
How much is it to get your ears cleaned out?
Genuine question, I've always wondered if a good old clear out of years of wax build up would make things sound better.

If you're serious, search for "ear wax removal" on Amazon. Otex is one of the results and only costs £4.00, but has mixed reviews. Some swear by it and others curse it. You pays your money and takes your choice. ;)
 
To get your speakers setup properly, this is great to have:-


Free software:-

 

Michael Larkin

Active Member
Tower black granite chopping board at £6.99. To put under my Rega Planar 1, as it is so lightweight compared to my old Technics SL-QL1.
I have a couple of similar blocks in black granite about 1/2" thick. One is used in the kitchen for chopping, etc., but the other was at the bottom of something serving no particular purpose, so I thought I'd try it under my amp. In addition, I supported the block with 4 vibrapods that were lying around not doing much -- they hadn't in the past seemed to help.

Blow me down. It noticeably improved the imagery of my system. For example, for the first time I could clearly distinguish electronic organ from backing singers at one point in Aled Jones' bouncy rendition of Whenever God shines his light. And in Barb Jungr's Who do you love, the piano, guitar and percussive elements were noticeably more separate and distinct.

I'm curious: does it help the sound in your system over and above providing support for the turntable?

Whatever, it's been a worthwhile improvement that cost me very little, so thanks for your post. :)
 
Last edited:

Fred Smith

Well-known Member
Pleased to hear it helped.

My primary Hi-FI system is on a metal Habitat (was four then seven shelf) vertical rack I purchased over thirty years ago. Showing my age!

The shelves are perforated metal, so the chopping board was to add weight and possibly add damping. Not really tried with and without it will do when I get time.

Rega P1 weight 4.2 kg
Tower chopping board 5.4 kg

Technics SL-Ql1 weight: 7.4kg
 

Michael Larkin

Active Member
Pleased to hear it helped.

My primary Hi-FI system is on a metal Habitat (was four then seven shelf) vertical rack I purchased over thirty years ago. Showing my age!

The shelves are perforated metal, so the chopping board was to add weight and possibly add damping. Not really tried with and without it will do when I get time.

Rega P1 weight 4.2 kg
Tower chopping board 5.4 kg

Technics SL-Ql1 weight: 7.4kg

Thanks. If and when you test it, please do let us know how it pans out.
 

ItsNotAllSnakeOil

Active Member
Plugging my Quad Vena 2 amp back directly into the mains after having had it plugged into a Tacima mains filter for the last year or so. Also being able to move my Oberon 5’s further out into the room following a reshuffle of everything.
 

FootHealer

Active Member
Placing home-made vibration reducing pads under my Project Xpression Carbon turntable. I used 3 sorbithane discs (2mm thick) and cut out 3 rounds of 4mm medical-grade sponge rubber (sticky backed) that I use in my medical practice. Stuck them together and presto, playing vinyl sounds better than ever. Cost less than £10.
 

Mr.D

Distinguished Member
cement paving slabs , cover in felt of your choice using a hot glue gun , put your floorstanders on spiked feet on top of them .
 

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