No matter what kind of an audio system you have, be it state-of-the-art two channel or an entry level system, 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 get the best performance out of the components you already own.
We talked about it in the office… no we debated it long and hard over a few days. After not much consensus, we then threw some ideas on the whiteboard. From here we came up with the top 10 of the most useful HiFi tweaks we feel you can make to get your system sounding its best.
Level All Components
This is a pretty simple one, but you’d be suprised the number times we have to deal with wonky-wobbly gear. 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, so make sure your speakers are stable and not rocking on their stands or feet.
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 you are sitting somewhere weird or not in the right spot. Normally, it is best to position your listening chair away from room boundaries. Too close to the back wall can result in boomy loose 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 you and your ears. And remember, everyone hears differently. So what works for your mate, may not work for you.
Speaker Selection & 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. Alternatively, 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. We will always recommend you demo speakers before you buy them where possible. So you can actually TRY the music you listen too on the speakers you are buying. It does make a difference and saves heart-ache when you get home and the bass sounds like a mouse tapping its foot on the floor.
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. The greatest benefits of proper grounding are a greater dynamic range and the ability to hear nuances that are often buried in electrical noise. 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.
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. Its a bit like the servicing on your car, every now and again it pays to check all the connected parts and ensure they are all in good order.
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.
Maybe speak to us about lending 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.
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 molding, 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 We can provide analysis and recommendations for best performance, plus we can print imagery on some brands of acoustic panels, so you can have them made into movies posters or a scenic image. This is much nicer than a boring beige or grey panel.
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. We highly recommend and personally use IsoTek power Conditioners, they really do make a profound difference. Much like the cables, we do have a limited stock of demo products you could try.
Folded Motion Tweeters are a variation of speakers that is used to produce very high frequency sounds, as in the tweeters (but you knew that anyway right?) They differ quite a bit in design and function from a standard dome tweeter you'd find on most of the mainstream...
Recently we took on a new brand, not a new audio company as you will read below, but a new company to Rapallo. After having some demo stock delivered, we got to listen and experience the brand and its products. Very rarely does an audio brand surprise us as much as...
A huge part of Rapallo is our staff, as we are only a small team. All our team are crucial to the operation of the business but more importantly, they are the people that deal with you... our customer. We understand that your experience and your needs are unique. We...