Author Topic: Garyís DIY and Tweaks  (Read 1818 times)

Offline gander

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Garyís DIY and Tweaks
« on: January 11, 2018, 12:34:41 PM »
 Hi, Iím Gary kind of new here and a friend of NickĎs. I have done a lot of crazy things in audio and build my own audio gear, such as cables and speakers, and other tweaks such as anti-vibration mats, etc. I will share some of my simple things that anybody can do if you donít mind.
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Offline HAL

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Re: Garyís DIY and Tweaks
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2018, 12:59:39 PM »
Welcome Gary!

Post away.  Always fun to see others tweaks that worked for them.

Offline gander

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Room noise
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 01:02:09 PM »
 It is not true that you can make an audio signal better. It is true that you can try to reduce or eliminate noise that would get in the way of hearing what the signal really is. A lot of time and money is put into buying better cables and gear, and that better gear and even expensive tweaks can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Here is something that cost very little but could make a huge difference in your listening.

Get rid of as much noise in the room as you can, even noise you donít realize is there. The first step I would suggest is to turn off the refrigerator while you listen. Even if it seems far from your listening room and you donít think you can hear it, the hum from the motor can make a huge difference in how you perceive the sound. For example, make sure the refrigerator is on, do some serious listening for about 5 or 10 minutes (Even if you donít think you are hearing the fridge), go shut the refrigerator off, and then come back and do the same listening. You may have an Ah Ha! moment and notice a big difference in how you perceive the music, or even a not so big difference. But anything counts. Try this even though you donít think you can hear the refrigerator.

When I first noticed this difference I would open the fridge door and manually turn the thing off. But then I forgot to turn the refrigerator back on one time, and the next morning I found that most of my food had spoiled and gone bad or was is on its way to being bad. It cost me a lot of money to replace all that, so I got a 24 hour timer and a 3 foot air conditioning extension cord.  I unplugged the fridge, plugged in the extension cord, plugged the timer into the extension cord and plugged the fridge into the timer, then set the timer to the correct time and the switch on the timer to the ďtimerď setting. The extension cord to the timer goes in the gap between the fridge and the countertop. Now, whenever I do serious listening I flip a few tabs on the timer to turn the refrigerator off for a while, and then when I am done listening the timer automatically will turn the fridge back on. And the whole thing costs maybe $10.

Similarly for the Air Conditioning or the heat, but unfortunately you have to go to the thermostat and just shut the thing off and then remember later to turn it back on. Fortunately not turning that back on wonít destroy your food.

Try it. I know a lot of serious audio phools donít think about that kind of thing, but why try to get rid of microvolts of noise by spending $1000 on a better cable when you can first get rid of many decibels of noise by spending $10?

Happy listening! And if you try this, let me know how it works out for you.
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Offline richidoo

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Re: Garyís DIY and Tweaks
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2018, 04:57:53 PM »
That's pretty good idea! Thanks.
I've ruined food by shutting it off too. Back when it was a normal fridge.

But now it's frankenfridge. It used to just make normal motor noise when running. Then when it was about 3 years old the compressor broke (while my inlaws were visiting, of course) and the new compressor was required by the greenie weenies and their tool GWB to be higher efficiency. The original part was not available. The new compressor is too high efficiency for the old fridge. So it overcharges the system each cycle, then when the compressor stops running, the excess pressure makes flowing gas noises as it leaks past the valve or through the motor, it sounds like a big cartoon steam train coming to a stop at the station. Chug, chug, chug,  siiiiiiighhhhhhhh, spread out over 5 minutes. Just whenit finally shuts up, then it's time for the motor to run again. This repair was about 10 years ago so I don't even hear it anymore. And I know that AlGore compressor will never die. So I built a sound absorbing folding partition wall to block out the kitchen noises.

Glad to have you here, looking forward to more tips.  :thumb:
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Offline gander

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Re: Garyís DIY and Tweaks
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2018, 01:47:32 PM »
 Wow! Never heard of a Franken fridge. Did you put a bolt through its neck?

I found a list of quiet refrigerators but I think this misses the point. Less noise isnít the issue, zero noise is. But here is the list.

https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/10/the-quietest-dishwashers-and-cooking-appliances/index.htm


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Offline richidoo

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Re: Garyís DIY and Tweaks
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2018, 03:06:15 PM »
Thanks for the list. The dishwasher recommendations are surprising. I paid a few hundred extra for a deluxe quiet kitchenaid (by whirlpool) with extra sound deadening. It was a piece of junk and it wasn't very quiet. When it finally died after 10 years I got the cheapest Bosch and it is half the noise. But the list is mostly whirlpool made dishwashers they all have the same guts.

You're right, zero noise is better than any quiet appliance noise.
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Offline mfsoa

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Re: Garyís DIY and Tweaks
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2018, 07:31:29 AM »
I think that a lot of the old "You can't hear differences in gear because you are either deaf of your equipment is not up to par" misses the "Do you have a quiet listening environment" question.

Not always possible but always desirable. Hmmmm...a quiet listening room is like sex...

Offline gander

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Re: Gary’s DIY and Tweaks
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2018, 08:14:05 AM »
 Right, and what I was originally suggesting is to eliminate as much extraneous sound as you can that you can control. If you can, no refrigerator running, no air-conditioning or heater running, no dishwasher going, no ceiling fans (this surprisingly diminishes the listening experience), and no laundry going during a listening session. If you live near an airport, no serious listening during prime time landing and takeoff. A good friend of mine had his listening room made with the air ducts extra quiet.  I turn the air system completely off during listening sometimes. The possibilities are endless…

We are near Las Vegas and unfortunately the heat can be an issue. I’m currently running a tube amp, but that may not work in the summer. You’ve got to have the cooling on or it’s way too hot. And if tubes heat up the room too much and the air conditioning turns on, that defeats the purpose of serious listening.  Which means we need to go solid-state amp in the summer, which kind of sucks but it’s not too bad.


« Last Edit: January 13, 2018, 08:19:38 AM by gander »
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Offline gander

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Gary’s DIY and Tweaks: Speaker Rollers
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2018, 11:46:50 AM »
Speaker rollers???

What the heck am I talking about? There is this idea that if you bolt speakers down to the floor, or put speaker spikes in the floor, or something like that somehow it is better. The idea that the firmer the speaker cabinet is, then there will be less interference with the speaker cone itself.  On the surface that seems correct but I think it is completely wrong.
Refer to Newton’s third law of motion: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. 
So, for every motion that a speaker cone makes along its axis of motion, the speaker frame wants to move in the opposite direction along the same axis, proportional to the mass of the moving cone, vs the frame and the cabinet.  So, if the speaker frame and cabinet is kept artificially still, then this will actually hinder the movement of the cone and will result in a dulling of the sound.

What needs to happen is that the cabinet needs to be able to move in the opposite direction of the cone along the axis of the movement of the cone, even just a tiny bit, proportional in distance to the mass of the cabinet in the speaker frame versus the mass of the cone.  For example, if the cone moves 10 mm outward and the mass of the cabinet and speaker frame is 1000 times that of the cone, then the cabinet wants to move at the same time inward .01 mm, and vice versa when the cone is moving the other direction. In real life terms, the cabinet moving like this allows the speaker cone to move more freely and this really helps the sound, especially the bass.

But it is very important to make sure that the cabinet is only allowed to move along one directional axis, and not all three, and that direction is the back-and-forth direction of the speaker cone.

There is a company that sells speaker stands that they say uses this principle, and I actually purchased the stands, and I did notice an improvement in my sound. But it occurred to me that they way they are designed, not only did they allow the speaker to move in a front and backward motion, but it also slightly made the speaker move up and down in an arc, which is not desirable for this purpose. I believe this up and down motion could make the cone movement be slightly unstable and move not in a direction favorable to good sound. I wanted an even better sound.

I thought about it and the solution I came up with was rollers. Simple, elegant, and perfectly serves the purpose, allowing speaker cabinets to move along only one axis. I went to a hardware store, found a 1 inch diameter poplar dowel, cut it into 12 inch lengths, put the lengths underneath my speakers so that it would allow the speaker cabinet to move away from and toward me just a little bit, put some clay under there to limit the movement of the speaker so they couldn’t roll off of the rollers, and fired up my system.  There was a very noticeable difference that I really liked. I heard a clearer sound and a firmer more solid bass; more zing to the sound.  Generally, more musical. And for just a few dollars and a little elbow grease. Try it and let me know what you think. Don’t think about theory and cabinet design and all that stuff, just try it.

The undersides of the speakers need to be flat and the surface the rollers set on needs to be flat. And the axis of the cone movement needs to be parallel with the floor - it won’t work well with speakers that have drivers that face slightly upward, for example. Also, rollers on carpet won’t work so well.  there will need to be some sort of platform underneath. I have hardwood floor so that works fine. And this won’t work with downward firing drivers.

With that being said, have fun!

— Gary

« Last Edit: January 15, 2018, 11:55:36 AM by gander »
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Offline DRN

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Re: Garyís DIY and Tweaks
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2018, 01:50:57 PM »
Wowzers..... Rich has a fridge that farts, "a quiet listening room is like sex" ?
You guys got sumtin' a band aid cant fix neither can DR. Phil.  :duh
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Offline P.I.

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Re: Garyís DIY and Tweaks
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2018, 03:13:56 PM »
Right, and what I was originally suggesting is to eliminate as much extraneous sound as you can that you can control. If you can, no refrigerator running, no air-conditioning or heater running, no dishwasher going, no ceiling fans (this surprisingly diminishes the listening experience), and no laundry going during a listening session. If you live near an airport, no serious listening during prime time landing and takeoff. A good friend of mine had his listening room made with the air ducts extra quiet.  I turn the air system completely off during listening sometimes. The possibilities are endlessÖ

We are near Las Vegas and unfortunately the heat can be an issue. Iím currently running a tube amp, but that may not work in the summer. Youíve got to have the cooling on or itís way too hot. And if tubes heat up the room too much and the air conditioning turns on, that defeats the purpose of serious listening.  Which means we need to go solid-state amp in the summer, which kind of sucks but itís not too bad.
Our oldest daughter has an expression that says: You just do you.  Simple in concept, difficut in application.  What this approach does is let the speaker be the speaker or the piece of gear be all they can be.

Over the years I have used every approach I could think of to let the speaker be itself.  Spikes, pads, goo, I tried it all.  I have found that the roller approach to gear, on almost every level, works the best.  Let the vibes out: don't trap them, smash them or un-naturally diminish them over time.  Every one of these approaches has a less than subtle effect, but letting gear breathe...dissipate as it will... is a more favorable  approach to energy storage/dissipation.  All of this presupposes that a piece of gear is not a POS in mechanical design.

Some years ago, we (yeah, that 'fuzzy" we) tried different footer materials at an LSAF show.  "We" demonstrated how different materials effected the SQ in everything from speaker footers to electronics.  We live in an organic world and our findings were that woods sounded best, with different species yielding different effects.  I remember the look on Danny Richie and Gary Dodd's faces as we changed isolators out.  We tried different materials to include silicon carbide and metal ball bearings in a stacked configuration.  Wood materials were the most musical. Bearings, being either metallic or ceramic, were much more clinical in sound than the musical character of woods.  Stands to reason. Strike a piece of wood and the sound that results is primarily even order products.  Metals, stone and ceramics are primarily odd order products.

I posit that different materials will give different results.  It is easy to try.  Go out and buy dowels from different materials.  Poplar, oak, maple, mahogany, pau ferro, ebony - ad infinitum - will all give different results.  Mind you. These changes are subtle.  I'm a mesquite guy.  Crazy hard, yet sounds amazing with a great combo of musicality and detail without losing anything in the presentation.

I can't think of a more cost / result experiment than what Gary has proposed.  Roller dowels are easy and sound great.  Cruise google for materials near you.  Me?  I'm prone to use maple, ebony and mahogany to begin.  Balls?  Yep, balls are the best once a species is determined.

I know: sounds nuts, but as I am prone to say; everything effects everything.  These kinds of tweaks are important only when we have determined a core sound and want to get to "IT".

Crazy? Sure.  Something to burn up time in "the Quest", absolutely.

It is the tweaks that determine ultimate presentation is our systems... those things that make "It" perfect.  IF that is possible. 

This is Audio Nervosa after all. 

Fun stuff, Gary!
« Last Edit: January 15, 2018, 03:19:40 PM by P.I. »
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Offline gander

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Re: Garyís DIY and Tweaks: speaker rollers
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2018, 03:44:48 PM »
Item: wooden dowels cut into rollers
Recommended length: 4 feet long per 2 speakers
Source: Home Depot, Or Lowes
Material: poplar; not oak, not plastic, not metal. I have found poplar to be the best
How long each roller: 12Ē, Depends on your speakers.
Diameter: at least 1 inch, again depending on your speakers.

My DIY speakers are 44 inches tall and about 16 inches deep and 16 inches wide.  My rollers are 12 inches long. I had three-quarter inch diameter dowels underneath but I substituted 1 inch diameter this morning and instantly the sound was clearer, bass was tighter and sound was more organic, even a little louder. It even caught my girlfriends attention from upstairs on a tune she said she originally didnít like.  She said she ended up nodding her head with the music and tapping her feet and didnít even know she was doing it.  By the way, I have 1000 to 1 odds bet on rollers or the refrigerator timer. If anybody tries either and reports on it with some sort of useful review, I owe her a penny. If nobody tries it and reports on it, she owes me $10.  Donít blame me, I didnít set the odds!

ó Gary
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Offline gander

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Re: Garyís DIY and Tweaks: speaker rollers
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2018, 03:59:14 PM »
I would not use balls as a speaker isolator. Cabinet motion should be restricted to along the long axis of the driver itself, but not allow the cabinet to move in any other direction. Balls allow a speaker to move in whatever direction it wants to go and they should not, or at least thatís my theory.

And I would recommend at least 1 inch diameter rollers for speakers, but you might try 1 1/8 inch, 1 1/4 inch or even 1 1/2 diameter.

ó Gary
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Offline rollo

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Re: Garyís DIY and Tweaks
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2018, 10:53:29 AM »
Great advice. For a non DIY solution check out Nasotec VEM footers. The frame and footers worked wonders for us at CAF. Gary of Border Patrol used them as well under his DAC after I lent him some to try.
Gary I really like your tweak thoughts, keep em coming. Now unground everything.


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Offline gander

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Re: Garyís DIY and Tweaks - Isolation Pads
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2018, 02:57:12 PM »
 Still nobody trying any of my suggestions? My girlfriend is going to owe me $10 real quick if nobody steps up and actually tries this stuff. Hee hee.

OK, here is another fun, inexpensive one. After hearing how much better my system sounded with Stillpoint mini footers, I decided to see what I could come up with myself. I tried all sorts of wooden things and Sorbothane, and they really didnít do that much. Then I literally got a small canvas project bag from Michaelís hobby store, applied some Velcro on the opening so it can be sealed up, put some cat litter inside of it (clean of course, Worlds Best Cat Litter), and put that under some of my gear. It was unanimous that it sounded better with the isolation pad then with Stillpoints.

 Of course you canít do this with something that runs hot and has air holes underneath. But I have them under everything except my tube amplifier.

 There you go, another tip that could save you hundreds of dollars and that works great.

Gary

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