One of my golden rules in hi-fi is ‘never assume’. It’s a good rule to apply to life in general as well but seems particularly well suited to the strange world of audio equipment.
Case in point – bi-wiring. I’ve tried about six different sets of speaker cables in my system over the past few years. My Theophany M5 speakers are intended to be biwired, Garth Murray at Theophany doesn’t supply them with jumper cables or links between the connectors (or at least he didn’t when I last spoke to him about this) because he reckons they should ideally be driven with decent cables in a biwire configuration.
With my Yamaha A-S2000 integrated amplifier, all of the cables I tried sounded better biwired. However, when my Sachem monoblocks arrived and the Yamaha was allocated to do preamplifier duty, all of the cables bar one set sounded better single wired with short lengths of cable used as jumpers. The bass weight suffered slightly with most of the bi-wired cables.
So that’s the way I’ve run the system and I left it like that when I installed the StereoKnight Silverstone Balance transformer volume control. It sounded great but it was only when I got a bee in my bonnet on the weekend and thought that I should take another punt with biwiring that I found the equation had shifted once again. The improvement isn’t startling but it’s obviously there, with more detail and an increased sense of delicacy to the sonics. There’s no change in bass weight or impact either.
So the assumption that the Sachem/Theophany combination needed to be single wired was flawed.
Another example – I automatically assumed that a set of Black Diamond Racing cones or Finite Elemente Ceraballs would prove more beneficial to the sound of some of my components than the basic Audio Technica isolation feet I picked up for a song. After all, the Audio Technicas aren’t exactly applying any rocket science to the way they go about their business.
It turns out that the rubbery old Audio Technicas are actually better under most of my components, yet I persisted with the Black Diamond cones under my CD player for ages. Of course, the complex interactions of individual components to the audio rack are the real issues here – on a different rack, the results may be completely different.
In short – sometimes more expensive is just more expensive, not better.
Also – just because you assume that things should work a certain way doesn’t mean that they will.
Experiment and have fun tweaking the little things in and around your system. Noticeable improvements in audio quality don’t have to cost heaps.