Monday, November 10, 2014

3 New Tweaks to Transform Your Audio Streaming Experience

I stream music all day long in my office.  My office system is simple. It consists of the Logitech Transporter, highly modified with a tubed output stage, I run this into an NAD 3020 integrated amp, and finally through Ryan 610 loudspeakers. It's all plugged in to a Tweek Geek Power Distributor with no active filtering. I stream Pandora, Digitally Imported, and my own music collection which is in lossless FLAC or WAV format.

The tonal qualities of the system are quite nice, and I know that it is capable of  high resolution and producing a holographic soundstage. I could hear it on my lossless music, but was having a harder time getting satisfactory results from online streaming. The sound from streaming was edgier, flatter, and less involving altogether. Not being terribly satisfied with the streaming situation, I decided to try some tweaks on the system to eek a bit more resolution, and smooth out the rough edges. Below is what I found.

Bybee Quantum Signal Enhancer  - $119.95 each
The Bybee Quantum Signal Enhancer is completely passive, requiring no battery or power supply. The crystals embedded in the Quantum Signal Enhancer absorb energy from the signal source, be that a signal carrying wire or component, and align the electrons flowing through a wire or component to enhance the purity and energy of the video or audio signal. It improves the efficiency of the flow of electrons in other words. Sonically, they aid in the transparency and speed department. Not quite the smoothing effect as the Akiko or Stein E-Pads, but they work very well with both to create neutrality, resolution, dynamics, with a quiet background. You can overdo it with the QSE's, the sound will become forward and unnatural when  you do. It usually takes more than 5 concentrated closely in a system to reach this point.


Akiko Triple AC Power Enhancer - $394.95
The Triple AC Power Enhancer plugs in to any spare receptacle in your power distributor/conditioner and connects the ground leg of the incoming AC to their proprietary blend of noise absorbing crystals/metals/minerals that audibly lowers the noise floor in a significant way. Plugging this into my office system, I was able to hear a smoothness to streaming music that was not there before. Imaging and soundstaging improved as well. The background was just a bit darker, allowing those ambient details to emerge and be more evident.

Steinmusic E-pad +s - $99 each
The Steinmusic E-pads are relatively inexpensive, and super effective at making any component sound a little less electronic, and more organic. I place these directly adjacent to a component's IEC inlet. In this case, I placed them on my Power Distributor,  Transporter, and the NAD 3020.  Do not underestimate the effectiveness of these little "stickers".  They are potent, and additive.

The combination of these tweaks took my system to a new level of listenability. Streaming music  from online sources was now smoother, more resolving of ambient information and detail and had a very natural ease and flow to it. Streaming music from my personal music collection added the same benefits to the already great sound. I couldn't believe the quality of sound I was getting from this small system I cobbled together.  The tweaks were relatively inexpensive (the Akiko was pushing the upper bounds) and very effective. I was most surprised by the E-Pads. It had been some time since I used them, and had forgotten just what a small wonder they are in  allowing the music being played to "relax".

I will be placing all of these tweaks in the larger system, and reporting my findings here in Tweek Geek Speek.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Telltale Signs of Online Fraud


Fraud. If you accept online transactions, it is a reality you must deal with. It sucks being burned, and as a business owner you are twice burned. First, the fraudulent purchase funds are returned to the card issuing bank, and second you also lose product that you paid for. It hurts. I've learned a thing or two about preventing falling for fraudulent orders. I thought this information would be helpful to my fellow audio store owners.  Below are the telltale signs that someone is using a stolen identity or credit card to make a fraudulent purchase.

Telltale sign #1: Billing vs. Shipping address

If your store receives an online order where the billing and shipping address are different, do the following.

  1. Do a Google Maps search on the shipping address - Many times fraudulent purchases are sent to vacant homes, or businesses that receive shipments for people. These businesses are more than a PO box, they can also accept Fedex, UPS etc. A quick Google Maps search can reveal this. If you find it is a business that accepts packages, call them and alert them that the person who owns a drop box there is committing fraud. They are well equipped to deal with those individuals in most cases.
  2. Call the phone number on the order - talking to the person is the absolute best method for clearing things up. If it is a fraudulent order, chances are the perpetrator will not want to talk to you.

Telltale sign #2: Wonky email addresses

Many times Fraudsters will use a generic email address, or the name listed on the order is completely different from the name in the email ID. For example: you get an order from John Smith, and his email address is Tom.johnrson@outlook.com. This sends up two red flags for me. First and obviously the names don't match. Second it's an email address that can be totally made up out of thin air by using an online email service like hotmail, outlook, etc.  Again, calling the customer is the best bet, but if you cannot get in touch with them use the email address and see if they reply. If they do reply, look at the closing, did they sign it with their "name". If it is fraudulent, they probably left any closing off. These criminals are using so many names and email addresses they don't want to make the mistake of using the wrong name.

Telltale sign #3: Disconnected or Wrong Phone number

Often times, they will use a phone number that does not exist. The easiest way to find out is to call it.

Do you see a pattern emerging? 

On larger orders, calling the customer to confirm everything is good customer relations, and can keep you out of hot water with chargebacks.

Funny story. I actually had one fraudster put the actual number of the card owner in the order, thinking I wouldn't call it. It gave me a good feeling to let that person know that someone had stolen their card.

Set Yourself Up For Success

Aside from following these guidelines, choosing the right merchant card processing service can save you from trouble. Some processors such as Authorize.net allow you to set parameters for processing credit cards. You can set them to decline orders, or merely flag them for you, until you can investigate them. Then you manually process the transaction. Paypal merchant card processing services offer their own seller protection, as well as declining and flagging transactions that don't meet their criteria.

Other Things You Can Do If You Suspect Fraud

  1. Call your merchant card processor. They can give you information that may offer more clues as to the authenticity of the order. Tweek Geek's merchant card processor will authorize funds, but won't process a transaction if there is a billing/shipping address mismatch. They flag the transaction which lets me know I need to do some investigating.  I can manually process the transaction once my investigating satisfies my confidence in the authenticity of the order.
  2. Call the card issuing bank. - if you have the name of the card holder, and the card used, you may be able to call the card issuing bank to see if the card has been recently reported stolen.  Most merchant card processors are kept up to date on card thefts, and won't process a card that has been flagged as stolen. Of course it is up to the victim to report the card stolen, but they may not know.
  3. Google the person's name and location - Most everyone has SOME information about themselves online, and a Google search can reveal their business or employment, their linkedin or Facebook profiles for example, or public records. Yeah it's creepy that this stuff is out there, but you need to protect yourself. I only use this information to verify someone's existence and location if I have never received an order from them before. I also only do this if the order trips one of the above telltale signs. It can be a time saver. But I still feel the phone call is the best action one can take.

Other Resources

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mind. Blown. The Bybee AV Enhancers Synergize in a BIG way with Stein Harmonizers

I love accidental discoveries. Especially the kind that turn out in such a positive way. This is  one of those discoveries that really excites me for two reasons. 1) it outperforms the previous method of implementing my tweaks beyond my expectations, and 2) it is not as expensive to achieve as the previous method. Please read on.
Bybee AV Signal Enhancers
I have been experimenting with the Bybee AV Signal Enhancers as of late. It is a fairly new product from the mind of Jack Bybee. Quite simply, it is a 4"x 6" black plexiglass plaque filled with a blend of "stuff" that when placed under components, cables, and in close proximity to speakers seem to lower the noise floor much like his inline Bybee Quantum Purifiers do. Only these are completely passive. They are extremely effective, and inexpensive by audiophile standards ($119.95 each).



Steinmusic Harmonizers
I have been a huge proponent of the Steinmusic Harmonizer system since it's inception. They are one of the most effective tweaks I have ever come across, and they work. Every. Single. Time. In addition to creating a huge, wrap-around, holographic soundstage, they also clarify the midrange and high frequencies, allowing one to hear ultra low level information like never before, and doing so while sweetening the mids and highs. Something that really has to be heard to be believed.

The Synergy Discovery
My 4 Harmonizer system had been out on loan for some time, so when the Bybee AV Enhancers had arrived, I had no Stein Harmonizers. I was getting some nice results from using the AV Enhancers by themselves. I had them under my power conditioner, my digital sources, and my power cables.  Their was a nicer ease and flow to the music, with of course the lowered noise floor and accompanying enlarged soundstage. Pretty damn good considering the investment.

The Harmonizers arrived from Audition a few days later at my home, and I put them in my system there in the evening. The effect with the 4 Harmonizers and AV Enhancers placed under the components was like having 6 to 8 harmonizers with a full compliment of Blue diamonds and Stones.  Mind you I hadn't even strategically placed the AV Enhancers to work with the Harmonizers in the room! They were still located under my system's components and cables.

Moving the AV enhancers out into the room really opened up the soundstage. To the point of the room boundaries nearly disappearing, and creating a surround-sound type of effect. Crazy!

I was actually able to remove 2 of the Harmonizers, and still maintain more of a  holographic sound, resolution and balance that was normally associated with 4 Harmonizers and a full compliment of stones.  At that point I knew I had really stumbled on to something.  There was a very powerful synergy between the Stein Harmonizers and AV Enhancers. So much so that I actually experienced better results with 4 or 5 AV Enhancers and only 2 Stein Harmonizers than I ever experienced with 4 Harmonizers, 10 stones, and 4 Blue Diamonds.

So for less money, I could achieve a much better result.

The Math
  • My previous reference system: Stein Harmonizer Platinum system (4 Harmonizers, 10 Stones) with 4 additional blue diamonds: $4700
  • The new reference system: 2 Stein Harmonizers with 5 Bybee AV Enhancers: $2648
The new reference system is SIGNIFICANTLY better, and costs $2100 less. If you feel the need to spend more, invest in more Bybee AV Enhancers.

Placement
I placed the Harmonizers (1 "A" version, 1 "B" version) in the corners of the room behind and to the outside of the loudspeakers from where I sat to listen. I put an AV enhancer atop each loudspeaker, and one in the corners of the room behind my listening position. I had one also on the ceiling, centered between my listening position and the speakers.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Tinnitus: What Can Be Done (holistically) to Alleviate the Ring


Tinnitus is an awful, joy killing gremlin for the audiophile. While there is no cure, there are some ways to help alleviate the irritation of tinnitus.

What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is an annoying condition affecting the ears, which can seriously diminish a person's hearing. A multitude of distracting sounds such as ringing, hissing and buzzing can be heard which are often maddening and interfere with daily life. Tinnitus often develops after exposure to loud noise, ear infections or injuries affecting nerve endings.

I have recently had 3 of my good customers either discover they had it, or it had resurfaced after many years. It can spell the end of enjoyment of music for the audiophile if it is bad enough. I too have a bit of the ringing in the ears, and it can be aggravated by listening to music at moderate to high listening levels for long periods of time. I am also very sensitive to high frequency noises, such as the noise from an old Cathode Ray Tube television or monitor, power lines that carry a lot of current (and noise), and more recently air conditioner fans.

I am lucky, I still can hear very well. I just have to be aware of irritants and try to avoid them. For others the sound can impair hearing, and end the joy of listening to music.

No Cure. But There Are Treatments
Conventional medicine has no cure; however, there are certain holistic and natural treatments for tinnitus, that can alleviate its effects, making it easier to hear. I wanted to share them with my audiophile friends so that they may get a little relief from their ailment and enjoy listening to music once again.

Supplements and Foods - The Helpers

Please consult your natural health practitioner for personalized dosing guidelines.

1. Ginko Biloba - Often used as an herbal memory aid, Ginko Biloba helps increase blood flow to the neck, head and brain. Additionally, it reduces inflammation in blood vessels, promoting better circulation to the capillaries feeding the nerves surrounding the ear. Taking ginkgo is not a fast fix for tinnitus, and it takes time to relieve the problem. It's best to use it in combination with other remedies to relieve ringing or other noises in the ears from tinnitus.

2. CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10) - Previous clinical trials were conducted to ascertain the effects of CoEnzyme Q10 on patients with tinnitus. In 2007, the journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery reported those findings, noting that CoQ10 may be helpful for certain people for reducing noises in the ears from tinnitus depending on the nature of their condition.

Supplements and Foods - Things to Avoid

Caffeine
Caffeine may reduce the flow of blood to the head, neck and ears constricting capillaries and other small blood vessels. This can, in turn, aggravate your tinnitus symptoms.

Salt

High salt intake can raise blood pressure, causing tinnitus and hypertension. If you are susceptible to the effects of sodium, reducing your salt intake is an important step in helping to lower your blood pressure and possibly reduce the intensity of the ringing in your ears.

Non Food consumables to avoid
1. Smoking
2. Alcohol
Both of these are thought to affect sufferers of Tinnitus, as they have a tendency to affect blood pressure and flow.
3. Aspirin - Aspirin, which is made with salicylic acid, is known to cause ringing in some people's ears

Last, pay attention to what triggers your Tinnitus. Is it food, drink, lack of sleep? Perhaps a certain noise or activity?

Do you have tinnitus? What do you do to help alleviate your suffering? Please share!


References
WikiHow - How to Reduce Tinnitus Naturally
Natural News - The eight best home remedies and holistic treatments to relieve tinnitus and ringing in the ears





Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bybee Power Cord and the High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate Part 2

In Part 1 we covered the High Fidelity CT-1 Ultimate and Bybee power cord construction, design principles, and a review of the CT-1 power cord performance. These were 2 similar approaches to power cord design, with 2 distinct executions of these approaches. I really didn't want to compare cables directly, although in listening to both I could not really avoid it.

In comparison to the High Fidelity CT-1 Ultimate power cable, the first thing I noticed right off the bat was that the Bybee had a more forward  balance that suited the Auralic Vega DAC and Ryan Speakers a little better. The CT-1 Ultimate seemed a dB or two more recessed in the highs, lending a warm and smooth character of the sound, and pushing the soundstage a few feet behind the loudspeakers. The Bybee had the same depth and soundstaging, but the starting point of the soundstage was about a foot forward of the CT-1 Ultimate.

In the resolution department, the Bybee was very, very good. I heard every bit of detail that I heard with the CT-1 Ultimate. Dynamics were there, harmonics too. There might have been a slight bit of grain, but mind you we are splitting nanotubes here. In my modest system, the Bybee holds it's own quite well against the CT-1 Ultimate. This may prove different in a more exotic system, but nontheless the Bybee is a very good cord. Perhaps raising the performance bar for cords in the $1500 price range.

I could live with either of these cords for a long time. They help my audio components perform magic in my listening room. Creating an experience that is relaxing and very enjoyable. It really comes down to preferences and budget. I can't really call the Bybee "the poor man's CT-1 Ultimate" because it is simply different in it's presentation. But I can say that if you are looking to spend $1500 to $10,000 on a power cord for your audio component (s), you absolutely owe it to yourself to try the Bybee power cord in your system. You might just find musical bliss, and save a hell of a lot of cash...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bybee Power Cord and the High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate Part 1

Cutting Edge Audiophile Power Cables

First off, this is not a shootout. It's not even a fair comparison if you look at the price points of the two cables. This is more of an informative piece on what these cables are capable of achieving in a good high end audio system. Both cables are cutting edge designs that offer tangible sonic benefits.

The Bybee power cord retails at $1499 for a 6 foot cord, and the CT-1 Ultimate power cord of the same length would be $8200.  They both are trying to accomplish the same end, lower noise, and achieving better conduction of the AC waveform, they both have unique ways of accomplishing this that no other cables I know of do.

High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate

The CT-1 Ultimate power cord utilizes powerful  ‘pre-applied’ magnetic fields to the conductors to reduce noise and distortion in the power cable. The magnets encircle each conductor, creating what is called a "wave guide" around each conductor. Each end of the cable contains the rare-earth magnets as well, operating on all of the conductors simultaneously.  The conductors are impregnated with material that is activated by the powerful rare earth magnets. Our guess is the magnets align the particles at the atomic level, creating better signal flow.

The cables come in a very nice Pelican style hard case, with a foam insert. A nice touch. The cables themselves are very attractively designed, with beautiful terminations and thin, white jacketed conductors. The conductors are kept separate throughout the cable run. Fortunately since they are thin and fairly flexible this poses no trouble in placing them, but it does make it look like you have 3 cables, when only 1 is there. They offer lengths as short as 1/2 meter, so you can get pretty close to a custom "fit" in outfitting your audio system, eliminating much of the spaghetti effect behind your audio system.

The High Fidelity CT-1 Ultimate delivers the goods for it's price point. Never have I heard my Auralic Vega sound so transparent, quiet, dynamic, musical and resolving. My current reference standard power cord was the Onda Rapture. It is a fantastic cable costing about $3000. My only gripes were the build quality wasn't quite up to the price point, and the 9awg solid core silver conductors were rather stiff.  I could overlook the negatives quite easily because it made any component powered by the Rapture sound really amazing. The CT-1 Ultimate seemed to have a similar tonal quality (which was utterly fantastic), it just seemed to be faster and even more musical than my reference. There was a stillness, ease and flow to the music that was very organic. The soundstage was huge, wrapping around my listening seat with a convincing illusion. Subtle musical textures were also revealed with a naturalness to them. Textures that might otherwise be sonically blurred over and ignored.

The Bybee Power Cord


Jack Bybee, now in his 80's, never stops inventing. His best known invention, the Quantum Purifier, has been around nearly 25 years. The controversial device has stood the test of time, and gone through many iterations over the years. So many that they are running out of names to indicate it's improvement. These devices have been used on both signal and AC. To the proponents, they swear by the Quantum Purifiers' ability to lower the noise floor, improve low level resolution, dynamics, and musical organic flow. To  engineering types, these devices are the source of much fury when subjected to the standard electrical measurement of inductance, capacitance, and resistance, the Quantum Purifiers offer up nothing (literally) to standard measurements.  To subjectivists, they are the greatest thing since sliced bread. Breathing life into their audio systems.

Jack has been intrigued by products like the Akiko tuning sticks, Stein Harmonizers, High Fidelity Cables, and the APC devices. These products were the beginning of his research.. There are many other tweaks currently available that make use of similar materials, all achieving different results at different levels. Most in my opinion are not "better", just "different". A lot like putting cones and footers under audio components. They are tuning devices, and therefore the impact and sonic effect are unpredictable. The Bybee "Stuff" as it is called is unique in that it uses a very special blend of materials and magnetics to achieve its effect. To my ears, the sonic effect is very similar to their Super Effect AC Quantum purifiers. That is, it is neutral and universally (so far) beneficial. The "Stuff" is impregnated on to an adhesive backed foil. This adhesive backing is a 3M based material known for it's damping properties, so one gets the benefit of the "Stuff" and some vibration damping material. There is quite a bit of "Stuff" in the Bybee Power Cord.

The Bybee Power Cord looks rather pedestrian with the exception of the very nice Gaofei carbon fiber dressed, aluminum billet milled connectors. The contacts are rhodium plated copper. This is an extremely nice audio connector that looks very similar to the nearly $300 Furutechs. The conductor itself is a 12awg stranded copper that has been treated with Jack's "Stuff". It comes in a zippered fabric bag with a transparent plastic front.

Next week: Part 2.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Auralic Vega Review: Tweaking the Vega

Auralic Vega

What can be said that hasn't already about the Auralic Vega DAC? There are so many reviews, and so much good information that it should be fairly easy to ascertain the caliber of this DAC just from reading. I want to take it a bit further and recommend some Tweaks that work very well with this fabulous high resolution DAC.

My previous favorite DAC was the Luxman DA-06. I'm not sure if the Auralic sounded better, but it sounded at least equally as good, and cost $1500 less. That accomplishment is what made it my new favorite. The Vega DAC has a very analog like quality to it when streaming music from your PC. The user has the capability of taking a standard redbook, 24/96,176,192, whatever PCM file you stream through it, and converts it to DSD on the fly. I liked this option when using the Auralic Vega as my DAC. The sound was was more relaxed with PCM recordings streamed as DSD.  The native DSD streams through Jriver and the Auralic were simply amazing. The room actually felt different, as if a tension or pressure in the room were released and allowed the music to breathe. Strange but true.

I am the Tweek Geek, and taking components further through tweeks and accessories is what excites me. I have experimented with several cables and tweaks for the Vega, and can say with confidence that the more you put into this DAC as far as tweaks, the more you will get out of it. The resolving power of the Vega appears to be quite good, far beyond it's price point. But more importantly, the Vega sounds like music, presenting not only the details, but creating a musical experience as a whole.

Taking the Vega Further

Stillpoints Ultra SS

Stillpoints Ultra SS - Stillpoints help to further resolve inner detail and harmonic structure. Mass loading by putting additional weight on the Vega DAC will most definitely help in this situation, as the DAC itself does not weigh much. $747 for a set of 3.

Bybee Quantum Signal Enhancer


Bybee Quantum Signal Enhancers - The Quantum Signal Enhancers help to clean up the noise floor. I set one underneath the Vega itself, and rested the interconnects on one as well. If you are at all familiar with Bybee Quantum Purifiers and their effects audio components, the effect is similar, except the AV enhancers are completely passive. Nothing is inserted into the signal path. $119.95 each.

Bybee Holographic AC Adapter


Bybee Holographic AC Adapter - This is a costly, but very effective tweak. This plugs into the back of the Auralic Vega DAC, then your favorite power cord plugs into the adapter. The AC current flows through the adapter and is cleaned up considerably. Even if you are using a power conditioner, the Holographic AC adapter will lower the noise floor dramatically further, enhance dynamics and help the connected audio component throw a huge soundstage. $2195 each.



Waveform Fidelity Balanced Interconnects - These are my favorite less than stratospherically priced  interconnects. Great tonal balance with a powerful, dynamic presence. The soundstage is fantastic through these as well. $1499 for 1 meter.

All of the above products can of course be found on TweekGeek.com, and we have them available for in-home auditions. We highly recommend trying our tweaks before buying, as they may not suit your system or musical tastes. It's really easy, we take your information, a credit card for security purposes, and you get to try the tweak out over the course of at least one weekend.

Other Reviews of the Auralic Vega




Sunday, July 13, 2014

Review: High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate Power Cords

CT-1 Ultimate Power Cord
High Fidelity Cables CT-1 Ultimate Power Cord

Rick Schultz was kind enough to send me a pair of High Fidelty Cables CT-1 Ultimate power cords for my evaluation. The cords arrived in a very nice case, and they should, the cost for a single one meter power cord is $6900. These cords are unusual. Quite unusual. They consist of conductors that are impregnated with a substance that when magnetized, aligns the signal flow at the atomic level. Each termination contains powerful neodymium magnets. At or near the center of the cable are three "tubes", one for the hot, neutral and ground. The tubes contain even more neodymium magnets. Everything is custom made for High fidelity cables. This, the patented technology, and the research involved in developing this technology are major factors in the high price tag of the CT-1 Ultimate power cords. The other factor is the sound that they allow your components to achieve.

Since I had two cords, I evaluated their performance on my Acoustic Imagery Atsah monoblock amplifiers. The Atsah amplifiers are extremely revealing, with a signal to noise ratio of 128 dB, they are also extremely quiet. I had been using the Onda Rapture power cords with them, and was very satisfied with the sound I was getting with the combination.

The Best?
The Onda Rapture power cords are the best power cords I have ever had in my system. They incorporate 9 AWG solid core silver conductors, and some proprietary tweaks. They use a lot of silver, and as a result have a high material cost. The drawbacks of the Rapture power cords were their weight, inflexibility, and the build quality at least aesthetically wasn't the best. The way they made my components sound allowed me to overlook and deal with those drawbacks. These are damn good power cords.

The cost of the Rapture power cord is about half of the CT-1 Ultimate power cords, but still not cheap by any means. The Ondas exude body, weight and organic richness. The noise floor is super quiet, and as a result ambient information and soundstaging are exceptional. The best I have heard.

Looks can be deceiving
We as audiophiles are surprisingly visual creatures. Looking at the CT-1 Ultimate power cords, with their thin conductors, white jacketing, and high bling factor terminations. I expected speed, dynamics and a highly resolved presentation. But they looked a little thin, so my assumptions were that it would sound thin as well. I was wrong. Dead wrong. The CT-1 Ultimate did have the speed and dynamics, but it also had body, warmth, organic flow and super quiet background. The improvement over the Onda's was a shock. I expected higher resolution, but at a cost of some type of tonal shift. Nope. No tonal shift, just MORE. More of everything musical and real, less (much less) of everything that is electronic, tense and fatiguing. The cables allow one to relax. Much like when one goes from redbook CD to DSD or vinyl. There is a physical relaxation that is in response to the sound being produced by one's audio system.  I hope that makes sense.

The question is this. Is a power cord ever worth paying $6900 for? For most of us, no. There are a few out there with the means and the audio systems that a $6900 power cord would bring a worthwhile improvement. Perhaps even a transformational one. In my opinion, the High Fidelity Cables line of products represent the current state of the art in cable design. If you have a super high performance audio system, and love trying bleeding edge technology when it comes to audio, you owe it to yourself to try the High Fidelity Cables power cords.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Does The Use Of Marijuana Enhance Your Listening Experience?

Not the usual blog topic for this industry, but two things make it interesting personally to me.
1. The legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado where I am located.
2. The abundance of opinions shared with me since legalization on how marijuana enhances the listening experience.

Many people like to relax with an alcoholic beverage while listening to audio. Does the beverage enhance your listening ability, or does it simply enhance the experience? For me, the latter is true. I can't hear a bit better after a glass of wine than I can before.

To regular users of marijuana, many senses appear to be heightened, which can make some activities more intense or pleasurable. Sex is better, food is better, and audio is better. Conversely, this intensity can cause anxiety or paranoia with other activities.

I want to know what your experience is if you do use marijuana and do enjoy listening to music. Does it enable your sense of hearing to hear more deeply into the music, does it enable you to focus more easily on listening to music, in what way if any does using marijuana while listening to music change the experience for you?

This is not a discussion about the morality of marijuana legalization or use.  I do not want  your opinion on that. I only want your opinion on what using marijuana does for your music listening experience while listening to your audio system. Thank you!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Liquify your AC

The Akiko Audio Tuning sticks have gotten much well deserved attention lately. They are highly effective, and the price is very reasonable by high end audio standards. I myself have been living with the Akiko Audio tuning sticks for over a month now. What I have learned is that they are extremely system dependent, and  every iteration, Universal, RCA, XLR, and AC, must be experimented with in each system. In my reference system, the only tuning sticks that benefited the sound without altering tonal balance were the AC devices. In other's systems the Universal,  RCA or XLR Tuning sticks worked wonderfully.

Akiko Audio AC Tuning Stick
Akiko AC Tuning Stick
What worked well for my system was placing one AC Tuning stick as close to my system as possible. This meant placing one in one of the vacant AC receptacles in my Bybee Stealth Power Conditioner. I immediately noticed a sense of ease and flow to the music that was less electronic, and a tiny bit more low-level detail coming through. I have had customers tell me that they benefitted even more by adding more AC Tuning Sticks to the same AC circuit by placing them in empty outlets adjacent to their system.
Akiko Audio E-Tuning Gold
The E-Tuning Gold works great when attached to the
AC conduit feeding your audio system's AC receptacle

I was also experimenting with the E-Tuning Gold AC Tuning Stick, which is about 4 times the diameter of the Universal Tuning Stick and meant to attach to power cords specifically. With my Onda Rapture power cords, I was not getting much of a benefit. The E-Tuning Gold seemed to overly smooth the sound. Sort of a Gaussian Girl effect. I had an idea for an experiment with the E-Tuning Gold. I have access to the wiring that runs to electrical outlet that feeds my system. I strapped the E-Tuning Gold cylinder directly to the conduit with the supplied velcro straps, and went back to the listening chair to evaluate.

This was the ideal setup for my system. I had an improvement in low level detail and dynamics (no more Gaussian Girl effect), and the music became even less electronic in nature, and more organic. There was a liquidity and flow that sounded much more like real music in a live venue.

If you are curious about the Tuning Sticks, I recommend experimenting with ALL of them in your system. Tweek Geek offers in-home trials of all of the Akiko Tuning Sticks, and can arrange to send you a system tuning package for you to experiment with over the course of one or two weekends.