Our recommended best "Bang for the Buck" upgrades:
Do you think all CD players sound the same,
or all editions of the same CD or vinyl (old vs. new vs. imports, etc)
sound the same? And do you think all cabling and cartridges make little
or no difference?
Then read on to learn how every little tweak can lead to better sound!
1: Move your speakers around!
This one is FREE! What? NO! We're not kidding! Try different placements
of your main speakers as described in your manual. The results can be
2: Identify the weakest link.
Ok, so you're saying: nothing obviously wrong, so what do I do now?
That guitar still sounds like a fishing line on a tuna-can! Talk to us!
We'll be happy to figure out what could be wrong.
As a rule the sound from your system is limited by its
3: Good speakers - we doubt there is another
factor aside from the turntable cartridge that is as significant in
truly changing the sound you get.
The speakers are so called "transducers" - electrical
energy is converted to mechanical energy. Many audiophiles will FIRST
select their speakers and use the remainder of their budget for the
other components. Placement of speakers can actually vastly change the
sound in a room and is directly related to your room's acoustics. Try
setting your speakers from half a foot to two feet away from the wall.
A better, more 3 dimensional sound stage will result in most cases,
especially when rear ported reflex designs are used (the speaker has a
"resonance" hole in its back).
4: A better cartridge - for the vinyl
enthusiast one of the most dramatic ways to improve sound. It does not
have to break the bank, will preserve your records longer, and simply
sounds better, than an old worn one.
5: Better cables - potentially the cheapest
stocking stuffer for any occasion for the audiophile.
are often overlooked, but are some of the more critical links in a
system. A $1000 CD player cannot pass good sound on a ten cent, frayed
flea market audio cable. Just passing good sound is just important as
amplifying or "transducing" it from, say, analog vinyl, or digital CD,
into the "electric" amplifier chain, and out as sound through your
speakers. Ask us about affordable high quality interconnect and speaker
cables. You may already have reasonably good equipment, with the
weakest link actually being in your cabling.
We make our own high grade interconnect and speaker cables in
house. Cut to the right length, with your choice of connectors. Crafted
and tested to ensure trouble free operation and the best sound possible
for your money.
6: A good amplifier - speakers are only as
good as the amplifier they are driven by - a bad driver cannot win the
Rallye Monte Carlo, not even with a Ferrari.
The amplifier is the heart of your system, whether
strictly audio, or audio/video. It must be pointed out that it is not
always the higher power rating that makes for a better amplifier or
receiver. Different manufacturers have over the years used different
ratings, which are not always compatible. Ever buy a car with a 90hp
engine that moved faster than a car with 160hp engine of similar
weight? In the audio world your amplifier is the engine that drives
Some of the world's best amplifiers ever were and are
comparatively diminutive in output !
Take for example a 30 Watt amplifier. Sounds dinky, right?
Hold on! The average modern speaker will produce somewhere close to 90
decibels (or just below) of sound pressure with 1 Watt power at a
distance of 1 meter. So with 30 Watts from an amplifier, that same
speaker will now produce 105 decibels of sound pressure. Pumped into
the average room of, say, 160 to 250 square feet, you just reached
Dance Club level sound pressures and are certain to have a formal
police complaint by your neighbors!
But, if it's not power that count, then how do you select an amplifier
or receiver? You must listen to it! Your ears are what is most
important. We make it easy for you to listen to different combinations
of speakers and amplifier that will best match your tastes.
tube gear enthusiasts are even known for using 1 or 2 Watt per channel
amplifiers with ultra efficient speakers for a very warm and
sweet sound! A few speaker manufacturers have developed the art of
producing better than 100 decibel per Watt speakers of extraordinary
sound qualities, specifically matched for these small tube amplifiers.
never knock a small amplifier until you try it - you may like it!
the other hand - your ears may like the dry quality of a higher powered
system with relatively inefficient, hard to move, but dead-on speakers.
Who can possibly know? You will - after an audition!
7: Your source device.
A source device would be your turntable, CD or DVD
player, tuner, or tape machine. Remember, your amplifier and
speakers can ONLY amplify and tickle your ears with they are being fed
by the source device.
Is your current CD player, turntable, radio receiver, DVD
player up to the task? Are you using a suitable antenna?
8: Source Material:
Needless to say: Your system can only sound as good as your
record, whether on vinyl, CD, DVD, video tape, or through good
reception of a station that uses good sources.
That makes it so important to preserve our rich heritage of
sound and music and take good care of your treasured favorites. Careful
handling can extend the lifetime of media in some cases to nearly
indefinite. Ask us how to take care of your treasured musical and other
recordings. There numerous ways to at least partially rescue some
otherwise potentially useless material. We highly encourage you to
assist in the task of keeping our musical heritage in good shape, as
the vast bulk of vinyl records will NEVER make it onto CD, meaning that
better than 80% of all music will be lost, unless we archive and
maintain our vinyl collections!
But maybe it is time to take advantage of that limited number
reissue on the market right now to replace the old worn album, or
scratched and skipping CD, or at least upgrade to a better preserved
vintage copy. House of Music, our record collection,
can meet your needs with advice and music media!
Your home can make any system
sound "dry" or "wet". Tell us about your room. Do you have a carpet, or
a wood floor? Ceramic tiles? Vinyl? Is there lots of furniture and
maybe a wall of bookshelves? Heavy curtains? What are your walls made
of, or covered with? Maybe you have that Gropius designer style home
with four walls and a functional chair group, all set to a Dali
painting next to the window wall and lots of ... nothing? More
"damping" with sound absorbing objects will tolerate (and maybe even
prefer) a different speaker and warmer amplifier from a barren room
with echo potential. The last is probably the trickiest one, but will
need a more precise amplifier and may do better with less bass and
midrange laden speakers, as they could easily sound "boomy" otherwise.
The barren room will have a brighter sound and can develop so called
"standing waves" or multiple sound reflections that over emphasize some
sounds and instruments in a bad way.
Like we already said: tricky. If
you noticed, a brighter speaker can be a better speaker for a brighter
room. Bright plus bright makes .. too bright? But is supposedly just
right, not bright? Sounds wrong? A paradox, isn't it? A large wall
carpet or some accoustic tiles will make a day and night difference.
Ultimately you will only know how your speakers and amplifier sound
once you set them up at home.
Ask us about recommendations.
We can arrange for a house call demo on our higher end speakers.
House of Records
Tacoma, WA 98406
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