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.