Here’s another barely credible tale from my tweaking files. After getting back from my listening session with the Magico/Jeff Rowland/Wadia system yesterday, I decided to try and resolve an issue that’s been bugging me in my own far more humble system.
As I mentioned here, I’m regularly fiddling with my system but I’d hit a bit of a brick wall with something related to my new StereoKnight transformer volume control. There’s no doubt that this is the best preamp I’ve had in my system and that it does everything better than the Yamaha A-S2000 integrated that I’d been using for ages with the Sachem monoblock power amps. Better that is expect for one thing – the placement of vocals on the soundstage.
Any vocals were obviously coming from both speakers, there was no clearly defined central vocal image but instruments were properly placed and easily discernible. This really didn’t compute and it was driving me mad. I thought that I’d made a chunk of progress with this by changing speaker cables, and the move to longer runs of Monster cable definitely helped but I was only 50% of the way there and that’s where I was stuck.
In the process of trying to sort this out, I’d experimented with five different speaker cables, long and short runs, biwire and single wire. I’ve used at least four sets of interconnects, tried two lengths of the same interconnects in various locations and mixed and matched every cable I had.
I’ve changed the isolation feet under the preamp from the stock feet (with and without spikes) to Finite Elemente Ceraballs, Black Diamond Racing cones, Audio Technica Sorbathane feet and even popped in blobs of Blu-Tack.
I’ve messed around with the speaker positions, slotted in a few CD players and different phono stages and basically moved stuff around like an angry Tasmanian Devil on acid until my brains boggled and my blood boiled.
Then last night, in a fit of desperation, I removed the spikes under my Theophany M5 speakers and plonked these big floorstanders onto a pair of 2 inch thick laminated wood boards that I had lying around. I then moved the speakers a little into the room (in a position that I’d already tried mind you) and hey bleeding presto! Sorted like a sorted thing at the sorting convention.
I can’t even begin to explain how having the speakers on spikes didn’t gel with this specific preamplifier or how it only affected the vocals. If I popped another preamp into the system, the problem didn’t exist but until I lost the spikes and placed the speakers on boards, I thought that I might be doomed to start searching for a new preamp (shoot me now).
This is probably further evidence of the conspiracy to have me locked up in the white room because anyone reading this is likely to assume that I’m an audiophile who’s fallen way, way off the deep end. Could well be but I’m listening to The Watson Twin’s Fire Songs as I write this and my system is sounding as good as it ever has and I’m happy as Larry. If that counts as grounds to be put away for the protection of society, well then so be it.
(The moral of the story is never assume that you’ve exhausted all the possibilities of system tuning and tweaking – there’s always something else to fiddle with)