Top 10 HiFi system tweaks to get your system sounding its best

Screen Shot 2018-04-19 at 11.18.38 AM    By Mike Marko

No matter what kind of an audio system you have, be it state-of-the-art two channel or entry level, there are some basic system set-up and maintenance techniques that can significantly enhance your listening pleasure. Some of these common sense improvements are easier to implement than others, but by not paying attention to these basic system tweaks, you’ll never coax the best performance out of the components you already own. In no particular order, here are 10 of the most useful tweaks you can make to get your system sounding its best:

 


 

1) Level All Components

Make sure your loudspeakers and electrical components are as level as possible.  Be precise.  Stability is critical to performance too— it makes a big difference!   It is vital to make sure your speakers are stable and not rocking on their stands or feet.

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2) Proper Listening Position

Where you sit in the room is very important in relation to your speakers and room boundaries. Stereo imaging and frequency response can be greatly affected if this detail is not considered. Normally, it is best to position your listening chair away from room boundaries. Too close to the back wall can result in boomy bass, but be careful, placing your chair two-thirds back from the front wall can make the system thin and unnatural.  Make sure to try a few locations to determine what’s best for your unique space.

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3) Reduce Electrical Static Charges

Depending on the season and your location, static charge build-up on components, cables, carpets, and speakers can be a real problem. Both static charges from components, using digital circuitry that scrambles their microprocessors, and cables, attracting dust and dirt that affects their signal transfer, need to be eliminated for good performance. Nordost’s Eco 3X is an effective tool to remove static build up.

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4) Speaker Selection and Placement

If you’re playing dubstep at club levels in a large room but are using small, stand-mount speakers, you’re going to be an unhappy camper. Conversely, large floor standers in a tiny room will be just as problematic. Properly positioning your speakers, relative to walls, your listening chair, and other objects in your room, will be critical to your listening experience. Professional help from a trusted dealer can help you optimize your set-up with these variables in mind. For more information, take a look at at our “Speaker Placement in 5 Easy Steps” blog.

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5) Electrical and Mechanical Grounding

One can hardly over emphasize the importance of system grounding. The advantages of a dramatically lowered noise floor have to be heard to be fully understood. Greater dynamic range, and the ability to hear nuances that are often buried in electrical noise, are some of the greatest benefits of proper grounding. If you can’t practically install a local grounding rod into the earth, there are solutions available that can provide an artificial earth ground for your system. Nordost QKORE Ground Units allow you to enjoy proper grounding, hassle free.

 

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6) Keep All Electrical Contact Points Clean

All electrical contacts can be subject to corrosion over time. Keeping these contacts clean and free of oxidation is very important to good signal and power transfer. Periodically cleaning and tightening all the connections in your system, from the AC connection of the wall plug, to the pins on a moving-coil phono cartridge, will improve its performance. CAIG Laboratories’ selection of deoxidizing and cleaning products work very well on these issues.

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7) Good Cables

Much has been said about cabling in systems. Some have said that, past the most basic level, improving cables will not make any noticeable difference in your system.  You might as well just go wireless, right?  Others know that you’ll never get the most from the components you already own without optimizing their connections. Wired systems always outperform their wireless counterparts. Find a good dealer that will lend you some cables to take home and try in your own system, in your own home. Only then will you hear for yourself how important these critical links in your system are.

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8) Listening Room Acoustic Treatment

Imagine setting up any audio system in a stark room with no furniture or window coverings. There will be echo and excessive reverb, as well as uneven frequency response and poor stereo imaging, no matter how good the system is. Now imagine a nicely furnished normal room with couches and chairs, framed art on the walls, lamps and drapes, crown moulding, and nice carpeting. The difference in sound will be startling, whether listening to music or simply carrying on a normal conversation. For more problematic rooms, you may need to take the extra step of adding acoustic panels, either diffusive, absorbent, or a combination of the two. Again, your local shop can provide analysis and recommendations for best performance.

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9) Resonance Control

In order for your equipment to perform its best, it is important to keep micro-vibrations (or resonance) away from the electrical components on any circuit boards. Certain components, like capacitors, are physical devices whose measured tolerance can vary significantly when subject to vibration.  Internally generated vibrations, like those from power transformers or disc drives, and externally generated vibrations, like those from speakers and subwoofers, can both pose problems. Thankfully there are many solutions in the marketplace to address these issues. A good choice is Nordost’s range of Sort products.

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10) Clean AC Power

Every bit of power needed to drive your sound system, from the source, to the amplifiers, to the speakers, originates from the AC signal coming from the wall. The quality of that power can quite dramatically affect the ultimate performance of your components. Proper power delivery must reduce the RFI and electromagnetic interference that contaminates the AC signal, without limiting the peak current that components require. Nordost QRT products can be very effective at establishing this balance.

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Whenever you see one of us Nordost folks giving demonstrations at HiFi shows all around the world, know that we take all of these points and more into consideration when setting up our systems. Stop by the Nordost demo room next time we’re in town, and let us show you what we mean!

-  Mike Marko


 

For more information about tweaks you can make to improve your system, check out our “Tiny Tweaks, Big Pay-Offs — Simple Adjustments That Make a Difference” download HERE.


 

Dealer Spotlight: Le Domaine du Son

By Bruno de Lorimier

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Nestled in the heart of the Mauricie region, in the province of Quebec, is a true gem of a store.  Currently run by Mr. Michel Périgny, and originally founded by Mr. Luc Marcotte, Le Domaine du Son has been a destination for music lovers and audiophiles seeking professional advice and quality brands for over 40 years.  As a multi-instrumental musician, Michel appreciates good sound reproduction. Since starting his carrier at Le Domaine du Son in 1987, Michel’s love of music has been infectious, and his skills increasingly appreciated by a clientele intent on finding “audio nirvana”. In 1989, Michel and his friend, Marc Richard, purchased the store as partners.  Soon after acquiring Le Domaine du Son, Michel and Marc rounded out their sales team with the very passionate Lorrain Plante.

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I first met Michel and Lorrain years ago in the mid 90′s.  I immediately felt a very palpable and unequivocal level of energy and passion emanating from both of them.  It’s not hard to see why they have succeeded in rounding-up and maintaining their overwhelmingly loyal customers over the years.  Le Domain du Son is scrupulous when it comes to selecting the brands that they carry, careful to not only sell products, but to build long term relationships with their suppliers and manufacturers. While the 20+ brands they have chosen to carry surely play a major role in their success, it’s more than that.  Just watch Michel and Lorrain interact with their clients, and you’ll witness the level of trust and mutual appreciation between them and their customers that is rarely seen. This respect and attentiveness doesn’t end when a purchase is made; Le Domaine du Son offers fabulous after-sale service, resulting in matchless customer satisfaction. It’s only been a few months since Nordost has found a home at Domaine du Son, but we’re already off to a great start!  We are very pleased to be associated with such a great retailer.

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Nordost is headed to High End 2018 in Munich!

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Nordost is thrilled to be exhibiting at the High End 2018 show in Munich once again, held at the MOC May 10th – 13th. Be sure to visit us in (Halle 4) Atrium 4, Room E114 to hear live demonstrations and cable comparisons, featuring Nordost’s extensive range of products. In addition to our demonstrations, this year we will be spinning LPs produced by our friends at Newvelle Records, an exciting new company who create original, high quality, vinyl recordings, which are distributed as seasonal subscriptions. Join us in what will prove to be a very exciting show.

Nordost Playlist – April 2018


Nordost is lucky to have a wonderful team of representatives and product trainers who travel around the world educating and demonstrating the effects of Nordost’s products. As part of these demonstrations, it is our job to find an interesting and diverse selection of music to showcase our cables, power devices, sort system and accessories. Whether at shows, visiting our dealers and distributors or even in our own listening room in our headquarters in Holliston, we are constantly getting asked what music we are playing (or if our audience is not so bold to ask, we can see their Shazams working overtime). So we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to share our favorite songs of the moment. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your taste, but one thing is for sure …it’s all great music.

Here are some of the songs that we will have on rotation this April.

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You can now listen to our monthly playlist here:  TIDAL  |  SPOTIFY


  1. Hallelujah I Love Her So-2016 Mono Remastered—Ray Charles—The Atlantic Studio Albums In Mono (Remastered)
  2. Messaien’s Gumbo—John Patitucci—Remembrance
  3. I Choose You—Sara Bareilles—The Blessed Unrest
  4. Call Out My Name—The Weeknd—My Dear Melancholy
  5. My Way—Ivy Sole—West
  6. Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye—Feist—Hey, That’s No Way To Say Goodbye
  7. Stravinsky: Le Sacre du Printemps—Igor Stravinsky, Teodor Currentzis—The Rige of Spring : Part One : Adoration of the Earth: Spring Rounds
  8. Astonished Man—Thao & The Get Down Stay Down—A Man Alive
  9. Follow My Voice—Julie Byrne—Not Even Happiness
  10. Kill My Sorrow—Joy Kill’s Sorrow—Darkness Sure Becomes This City