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Inexpensive Upgrades for Every System

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Customer email newsletter dated: April 16, 2010.


Inexpensive Upgrades for Every System April 15, 2010
At some point during almost every conversation about audio, the question is asked " so what's the best (or latest) tweak?" A "tweak" is generally considered to be an inexpensive addition to a system that will improve the quality of the sound. The word "tweak" tends to trivialize the level of improvement that can be obtained by some of these products, so for purposes of this newsletter, we will call them inexpensive system upgrades.
L'Art du Son Cleaning Fluids
Stillpoints ERS Cloth
Cardas RCA Shorting Pin RCA Protection Caps
Last Call for the Furutech DeStat
Gutwire Notepad II
Vibration Control Devices - Component Footers
HiFi Tuning Fuses

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L'Art du Son Cleaning Fluids
As most of us in this hobby know (but sometimes forget), cleanliness is one of the absolute keys to getting good sound. No matter how phenomenal the system, cables, power, and room treatment, if the source material is not pristinely clean, you are not going to get the sound quality that the system is capable of producing. Nothing can make up for the inability of the laser or diamond to extract all of the music from the source of the recording you are playing back.

While there are some amazingly good expensive products to accomplish this, we are focused in this newsletter on reasonably priced products that really work. We have found that the cleaning products from L'Art du Son are among the very best. L'Art du Son makes a cleaner for CD/DVD as well as for LP.

The CD/DVD cleaner sells for $55 and is both a cleaner and a conditioner for these plastic discs. Just a squirt or two on a cd or dvd is sufficient to remove all traces of grease, dirt, grime, and smudges so that the laser of whatever player you use can accurately read all of the information on the disk. Just because a disk plays without stopping or hesitating does NOT mean that you are getting all of the sound or video quality that is captured on the disk - you are hearing (or seeing) part disk and part error correction fill-in. You can easily prove this to yourself with cd's or dvd's that you have duplicates of - play one the way it is and then clean the other and play it!

The Record Cleaning Fluid is most often used with record cleaning machines, but can also be useful even without a machine. Selling for $45, this concentrate makes 5 liters of cleaning solution when combined with distilled water. It is a non toxic fluid containing no alcohol which removes surface impurities form an LP with just a bit of brushing and a rinse. Surface noise is greatly reduced and the bass response and dynamic contrasts are greatly improved.

Stillpoints ERS Cloth
An effective improvement that you can make for a very low cost is to use some of this ERS cloth in and around your system.  The $24.95 ERS cloth is a metals-coated carbon and polyester fiber -based 8 1/2" x 11" - for lack of a better term - "paper." This ERS (Emi & Rfi Supression) cloth can be used in many ways in and around a system to soak up and disperse both RF and EMI.  Cut a small 3" x 5" piece and place it over your cd player, transport, or DAC  - you will hear changes in the playback that change the soundstage, imaging, and resolution.  We recommend that you tape a whole sheet of ERS cloth to the cover of your electrical panel for a cleaner, more dynamic sound.  There are a number of cable manufacturers that use this product around the inside housing for their power cords to get rid of RF and EMI, but customers can do this as well by taping a piece around the outside of the plug or iec.  We do not recommend that you use ERS cloth inside of your components because it is somewhat conductive and could cause a short, but experiment anywhere on the outside of your components.
Cardas RCA Shorting Pin RCA Protection Caps
Cardas has made their RCA protection caps for a number of years now and many of our customers have purchased a couple of sets to seal off their unused RCA inputs and outputs in their components. Their RCA Cap with a shorting pin, is a more recent product that, among other things, can have a significant enhancing effect to a stand alone cd player. Try putting one of these $11.95/pr RCA SP Caps on the unused digital OUT jack of your cd player. By closing off this circuit, your cd playback should gain some additional resolution and clarity, particularly in the upper midrange to high frequencies. One of the least expensive improvements you can make, the RCA SP Caps really work!

Other applications include unused preamp inputs, although you are generally better off with the non-shorting RCA Caps on unused analog outputs.
Last Call for the Furutech DeStat
We recently received word that the popular $430 Furutech DeStat is out of production and when current supplies are exhausted, there will be no more. I know that the subject of this newsletter is "inexpensive system upgrades" and that $430 doe not fit MY definition of inexpensive, BUT - this is a very effective device that removes static from cd/dvd/lp and is unique in that it is battery powered and easy to use. Removing the static charge really does make an improvement in the performance of your system. If you have always wanted one of the DeStats, now is the time to act before they are all gone.
Gutwire Notepad II
Gutwire of Canada makes a very interesting and effective system improvement product called the Notepad II ($45.00). This is a 5"x7" "beanbag" type of product that is actually a high molecular polymer gel filled bag that is designed to be used on top of your components. The material within the Notepad II is designed to absorb RF and EMI, while at the same time it dampens resonance/vibrations. Because it is used on top of components, it also tends to add mass to the device as well, which makes the footers used under the component more effective as well. Try some on top of your cd player, amplifier, preamplifier and/or dvd player - they are a very low cost, high value accessory that will amaze you with the effectiveness and cause you to wonder why no one ever thought of this before!
Vibration Control Devices - Component Footers
Every single stereo component, no matter how exotic or expensive it might be, will benefit from using a set of footers. These benefits are in the form of reduced distortion, increased clarity , better spatial presentation, and better dynamics. The trick is to find the set of footers that gives the component the maximum sonic benefit for the cost - ie, the best value.

The Vibrapods ($5.99 each) and Vibrapod Cones ($7.99 each) are the least expensive, effective footers that we have found on the market. The Cones serve to couple the component using the steel ball bearing to the Vibrapod material and turn vibrational energy into heat. Use the Vibrapods alone, but better yet, combine Vibrapods with the Vibrapod Cones to make what we call "Super-Vibrapods."

The Synergistic Research MIG's at $150/set of 3 use their unique bowl shape to re-tune a component's mechanical resonance to an even order harmonic, while providing a lightning fast drain of mechanical energy to ground. As a result, spatial characteristics and resolution are increased. Regardless of whether the component is tube or solid state, light or heavy in weight, the MIGs are effective everywhere in the system.

The Symposium Rollerblock Jr's at $169/set of 3 work on the principal of converting vibrational energy from the component into work (motion) by using extremely low friction cup and bearing principals. Both halves of the Rollerblock body are designed to tightly couple to either the shelf or the component, with the bearing in-between. As vibration occurs in the component, the bearing moves freely and dissipates the energy. Like most resonance control devices, these footers are the most effective under source components, but are sturdy enough for any component - even under speakers.
HiFi Tuning Fuses
We have mentioned the HiFi-Tuning fuses in numerous articles in the past, but the fact is many customers have dismissed out of hand the idea of a high quality fuse making an audible, significant improvement in their systems.  The sonic improvement that comes as a result of installing these fuses into your cd player, DAC, preamplifier, amplifier and in some cases speakers is not subtle. In a high resolution system, the improvement can be just as significant as upgrading a power cord, but for a lot less money.  There are now  a number of component manufacturers using the HiFi Tuning fuses in their statement products and the reason is simple - the are made from the best materials, have consistent quality, and come in the widest variety of values and sizes.  We also now have been provide with The World's Largest Fuse Measurements Report as of January 2010 in which an independent testing agency compared HiFi Tuning fuses to many of the other fuses on the market. Interesting reading!

Prices for the HiFi Tuning fuses are:
 $39.95 each for Small size, either  SilverStar (all silver tip to tip) or Original Gold-plated
 $49.95 for the Large size Original Gold-plated
 $59.95 for the Large SilverStar fuses

To order fuses you will need the following information which can be obtained by looking at the current fuse, or from the product manual, or by emailing the manufacturer:
1) physical size of the fuse (usually .75" or 1.25" = 20mm or 32mm)
2) amperage rating of the fuse
3) whether the fuse is a fast blow or slow blow type

For additional information on these offers and frequent updates speak with your Cable Company consultant, or visit our websites: and www.ultrasystem.comFor hundreds of specials on used and demo cables, visit

Or call us Mon.- Fri. 10 -6; Sat. 11-5 Eastern time on 800-328-9973 (or 215-862-4870). Fax: 215-862-4871
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