Improved Contacts Sound Better

  DeoxIT® Gold G100L Brush Applicator, 100% solution, 7.4 mL  

 

DeoxIT® Gold G100L Brush Applicator, 100% solution, 7.4 mL

 

Here we go again -- another simple and cheap improvement that makes all your music sound better, possibly way better, no matter how humble or grandiose your audio gear may be.  I was listening to some piano stylings by Fabrizio Paterlini when I heard this little crackle happening in the higher, softer passages.  What a spoiler when I wanted nothing to intrude on the experience.

I ordered what proves to be a new secret weapon in the war on audio grunge.  I was rearranging my listening room anyway, which meant pulling my system apart. So while I was re-connecting all the wires, I applied this contact enhancer fluid from an established producer who has a great reputation for results.  I felt skeptical but hopeful that it would chase the crackles away.

I brushed a thin film of this golden fluid, which very mildly smells a like an oil of some kind, onto each and every signal and power connection during the re-setup -- digital, analog, DC, AC, every connector contact.  The instructions assured me this product can be used on any and every kind of electrical power or electronic signal connector, emphasizing that it is OK on circuit boards and plastics.

At this moment, I’m replaying the same Paterlini music that had broken up subtly before.  Now it’s crystal clear.  No crackles! Revenge is mine.  However, that’s not the end of this happy-ending story.  I’m going through a lot of different kinds of music now and -- oh, wow.  This is one of those little wonders that suddenly makes everything better.  

And I do mean e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g.  Musical timbres, speed, articulation, soundstage, clarity . . . everything I listen for is improved again and not just slightly.  I was dissatisfied with some soft highs in very subtle piano solo passages and the payoff for fixing the little crackles also helps 60’s rock and roll, electronic works, solo guitar. . . The works.

Not long ago, I started listening to Hang artists like Danny Cudd, David Charrier, and Dante Bucci.  What an interesting new instrument they play.  It's kind of a scaled-down, reworked, lap-sized Steel Drum.  It looks like an upside-down wok with dimples in it.  Or maybe a UFO.  It has a most interesting and complex set of timbres.  It blends well with other percussion.  I’m now hearing additional timbral qualities and signature timbral components that have been enabled by the improved signal path all the way through the system from sources to speakers. I'm almost ready to put some of this fluid in my ears.  But no, not quite.

Front row: Ghatam (right) and the first idea of the Hang from November 1999 (left); second row: first generation Hang built 2005 (right), second generation Hang built 2006 (middle), second generation Hang built 2007 (left) Michael Paschko www.hangblog.org

Front row: Ghatam (right) and the first idea of the Hang from November 1999 (left); second row: first generation Hang built 2005 (right), second generation Hang built 2006 (middle), second generation Hang built 2007 (left)

Michael Paschko www.hangblog.org

Sometimes an improvement sounds like more music is getting out of a system.  Like with a amp power increase.  What I’m hearing now may be the result of getting more into the system on the low-voltage front end, which is especially susceptible to restive connector contacts.  I think more music is getting through the system as well.  Bass also sounds faster and more crisp and lively than ever before.  Percussion and symbols sound holographic now.

Adam Hurst, the renowned concert cellist, has become a legend by working the cello’s timbral nuances in his expressions, producing some of the most emotional music I’ve found.  Now I hear more depth and breadth of expression than ever before in Hurst's Elegy, with every part of every note cleanly sounded no matter how he tortures his cello to make it weep.

If you have an audio system that runs on electricity, you might want to consider investing a couple hours in totally disconnecting the wiring and re-connecting it while treating every single connection, from the 30-pin connector on your iPad to the speaker power terminals and wall plugs. 

You’ll love this contact enhancer if you care how music sounds and like big improvements in your music, across the board, cheaply and easily.  It only takes a little extra resistance in audio connections to degrade your music.  Contact enhancement works, yes it does, and it’s quite easy to do. Simply brush it on the contacts sparingly, then cycle the connector few times.  You’ll probably notice connectors plug in more easily, with lighter pressure.

The particular product I use is G Series Deoxit Gold from CAIG labs -- www.caig.com.  Which is not to say that other products don't work. This fluid  is the one that reviewed best among several choices during my web research before ordering. It appears to be "the kind."

I paid $32.95 plus shipping for a small bottle (7.4 ml) of 100% concentrate with a handy brush applicator cap.  At the end of my treatment of 5 audio components and two sets of speakers, I could barely see that any liquid had been taken from the bottle.  I may be able to pass this on to my heirs.

It only takes a little schmutz to make an analog or digital signal contact resistive and spoil your listening experience.  Fortunately, it only takes a little contact enhancer to clear that up for a long time.  What you get for the effort will most likely be far more than your cost and effort.

In case you're wondering, I don't sell this contact enhancer or have any connection with CAIG labs.  I'm just glad I found this great little problem-solver and want to pass on the good news.

Enjoy the Listening.

iHi-Fi.com is your online high-end audio store.  Shop from anywhere in the USA without leaving home.  Receive expert advice and audition whatever you buy with return and refund privileges. All the computer audio gear at iHi-Fi.com delivers exceptional to stunning performance at value prices. Authorized Dealer for Audioengine, Acoustic System International, Bravo Audio, and HighEnd Novum.   Custom Audio Furnishings design, manufacture, distribution and sales.

Audioengine D2 Wireless DAC Price Drops

D2 24/96 Wireless DAC Sender.  D2 connects wirelessly up to 100 ft. with solid wireless performance.

D2 24/96 Wireless DAC Sender.  D2 connects wirelessly up to 100 ft. with solid wireless performance.

Big news about the D2 24/96 DAC -- Audioengine has reduced the retail price $100, from $499 to $399.  They also dropped the cost for the D2 Receiver Kit $75, from $325 to $275.  So if you've been waiting for the prices to come down on these items, that would be now.  This the time to get what you want because there will probably not be another price reduction coming on these items for some time.

Think of the possibilities.  

I work with a laptop on my lap, not at a desk.  So I use a D2 to send music wirelessly from a side table, across the room from my easy chair workstation, to a pair of Audioengine A5+ Powered Speakers and an S8 Powered Subwoofer.  The cost for this setup has dropped by $100, desk or no desk.

There are advanced applications where the D2 really shines -- AV setups and Whole House Music.  You can send and receive the same stereo program without loss of music quality to as many as three D2 receivers.  Each D2 is a Sender and Receiver Pair.  The D2 performs very well as the basis for whole house music with 3 audio zones or as the Front and Rear speakers in a multi-channel AV installation.  Even the S8 Subwoofer (with LFE) can be driven if you select at least one pair of A5+ Powered Speakers, which have an Output for a Sub.

The wireless channels are similar to Wi-Fi and rock solid reliable without dropouts or noise and a range of up 100 feet.  I've used my D2 to transmit music flawlessly through 3 steel-reinforced concrete walls.

You'll also save $75 each on any Add-on D2R Receiver Kits you need to complete your advanced setup.  So again, the time is now.  Shop iHi-Fi (an authorized Dealer) and receive the same factory warranty and money-back, 30 day audition period as from Audioengine.  I will personally provide setup support and suggestions on how to achieve the very best sound from your setups.

Carpe Diem!

iHi-Fi.com is your online high-end audio store.  Shop from anywhere in the USA without leaving home.  Receive expert advice and audition whatever you buy with return and refund privileges. All the computer audio gear at iHi-Fi.com delivers exceptional to stunning performance at value prices. Authorized Dealer for Audioengine, Acoustic System International, Bravo Audio, and HighEnd Novum.   Custom Audio Furnishings design, manufacture, distribution and sales.

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Does Anti-Vibration Really Improve Audio?

Two of four Round Small Fat Dots from Herbie's Audio Lab.  Easy peasy.  But will the music sound better?

In my unending quest for ever-higher levels of musical authenticity, once in a while I discover something that makes a gigantic improvement.  This is a most rewarding moment for any audio enthusiast -- when you realize the whole game has suddenly changed for the better.  Then we want to re-play all our most familiar and favorite music to see how it sounds with the new improvement in place.  We note things we never heard before now found in familiar recordings.  For your sake, I assume you know what I’m talking about.

Usually, such a quantum leap in sound quality comes with a major (read expensive) change, like a much-improved audio component or maybe new speakers.  This is the story of how I recently enjoyed a Moon-landing leap in music quality with a modest Hi-Fi system.  It only took about 15 minutes to set up. The effort was simply adding a dozen small, drop-in parts.  Four each under the left and right speakers and the subwoofer.  For a skinflint like me, the best part may be the paltry cost -- $111.  In the world of audiophilia, that’s like, almost free.  

Now every measure of music quality I know how to describe has improved so that overall the music sounds marvelously better and more real.  I feel bewildered when this happens because I steadily enjoy fabulously authentic audio as the baseline for daily listening.  On that plateau, it’s hard to think audio could get better.  Then some unexpected confluence of fortunate events resets my baseline. I do the Snoopy dance while I challenge the new improvement with every great recording I can queue up.

A couple weeks into this audio system “tweak,” I’m still finding new things in familiar recordings.  I’ve been listening to a set of Audioengine A5+ Powered Speakers for quite some time now.  There’s an Audioengine S8 Subwoofer sitting between them, handling deep bass.  These well-reviewed speakers serve the music up fresh and tight for a cost that’s only a fraction of their performance.  A MacBook Pro feeds them music through an Audioengine D2 DAC.  These are all-time best buy powered speakers and widely recognized for quality sound.

My main music sources are all digital at this point -- streaming content from Spotify using the Ogg Vorbis file format, which is audibly superior to what I heard from MOG.com when it was alive or ever from Qobuz.com.  I also have a library of selected 24-bit recordings on local hard drive.  I moved beyond physical media a few years ago and never looked back.  So much is available streaming now it’s like a flame to a moth.  There are many sources for 24-bit recordings now and even DSD is available.

The gigantic mix of music on Spotify crosses all genres and runs from pedestrian to superb quality in performance, recording and mixing.  It’s an ideal test bed for a new audio system addition.  There you can hear exactly the same music I tested with and find your own gems for $10 per month Premium or even listen for free if you prefer.

I tend to listen “by the artist.”  If you want to repeat my experiment, I suggest Adam Hurst, renowned Cellist, “Elegy” and other albums; Fabrizio Paterlini, Pianist, “Art of the Piano” and more; Mo Foster, Bassist, “Bass Themes” and the rest.  These artists each have a special knack for capturing emotion in engaging performances.  Emotion equates to teasing instruments and stretching performances to the limits of expression and nuance.  Foster especially helps explore the bass realm.

A very welcome remedy happened under the subwoofer.  Before the change, it was wildly uncontrolled at any appreciable volume.  I had to keep the volume too low because the bass tended to break up into wretched noise and booming at higher volume.  It would even levitate slightly and scoot around the floor.  I was rather disappointed with it.

The special Extra Thick Hush Puckies in place under the Audioengine S8 Subwoofer -- see the text.

With anti-vibration treatment, the sub not only stays put, it now pounds out fast, clean bass all the way past the limits of tolerable volume.  It’s a night and day difference.  Now I can enjoy the bottom end of every piece I listen to rather than lopping it off for safety’s sake.  

This transformation came from placing a set of four Herbie’s Audio Lab “Extra-thick Hush Puckies” under the plastic cones that come with this down-firing unit.  Steve Herbelin made me a special set of Puckies with larger-than-usual spike receivers to fit the S8’s blunt cones.

The A5+ Speakers sit on cinder blocks (to ground them properly) while I wait for my new iHi-Fi IsoVybra Speaker Stands to be fabricated. I thought these  speakers already sounded great but I was intensely curious to see if anti-vibration treatment would make great even better.  The left and right speakers each received four Herbie’s Audio Lab round “Small Fat Dots.”  No question, great can get better.

With the anti-vibration treatment in place, I hear many subtleties that were buried in long-familiar recordings.  Musical detail and clarity are markedly improved.  True timbres ring without distortion.  “Speed” is also improved, making notes audibly crisper with sharper attack and decay and more discernable sustain.  Bass passages now walk tall and sing out boldly and transparently on Foster’s “Bass Themes” album.  Hurst’s somber overtones in the low range come through, darkly brooding in the depths of grief. 

Soundstage now reaches new dimensions.  My listening room is 16 ft. wide, 14 ft. tall, and 18 ft. deep -- not a small volume.  The L and R speakers are 8 ft. apart and my listening chair is about 9 ft. from the center between them.  The soundstage was smaller before treatment.  It now fills a full 120-degree arc when a recording supports that, extending well past the speakers laterally.  The vertical angle is about 60 degrees.  Instruments have better focus and are more discernibly located.

In summary, my answer to the question asked in the title of this post is most assuredly a resounding “Yes!”  If you like to cry while listening to opera, anti-vibration is the mod for you.  If you love rousing rock-n-roll that makes your hips move or wild, Gypsy violin, you need this “tweak,” no matter what gear is in your audio system.

I believe in the anti-vibration products from Herbie’s Audio Lab enough to include some of Steven’s components in every piece of audio furniture I make at iHi-Fi.  Steven Herbelin is competent, deeply experienced, ever-polite and incredibly helpful, providing individualized advice and key suggestions.  Orders ship the next day and arrive promptly.  The products are marvels of molecular science that look ordinary but result from decades of experimentation that make them small, easy to implement, and quite affordable.  Calling Herbie’s a world-class anti-vibration source is an understatement.

Steven does business as I do, with a 30-day audition and unconditional money-back satisfaction guarantee.  For my money, anti-vibration not only works, it’s probably the best buy in all of audio and no system should run without it. 

Now that my speakers have settled down and they finally work as-designed, I’m exploring what happens when I suspend each piece of gear in my whole system on Herbie’s component feet, one by one.  Rationally, I expect not much more potential remains to be realized.  But after what happened with the speakers, I could be wrong -- that blissful kind of wrong I welcome.

Your Thoughts?  Click to comment.

iHi-Fi.com is your online high-end audio store.  Shop from anywhere in the USA without leaving home.  Receive expert advice and audition whatever you buy with return and refund privileges. All the computer audio gear at iHi-Fi.com delivers exceptional to stunning performance at value prices. Authorized Dealer for Audioengine, Acoustic System International, Bravo Audio, and HighEnd Novum.   Custom Audio Furnishings design, manufacture, distribution and sales.