Jun 2017

Home Stereo

I would like to pass along some tips for people that are looking for ways to improve the quality of the home audio listening experience. Just basic things and modest priced upgrades can really improve the quality of your music through your stereo.

Here are some things I've done that have really helped. I changed my amplifier. For years I used a Cambridge Audio amp which I found to be too sterile sounding. Bass replication was not that great and it almost sounded cold. Changed to a inexpensive Qinpu A3 for a few years and that was an improvement. It is a integrated amp which combines a tube stage that leads to the solid state output stage. Only problem is that it has only two audio inputs and I need three right now and ultimately four when I add a turntable. It also only has two speaker outputs but I have four speakers. To add insult to injury the Qinpu amp broke during my move to the Cincinnati area. Have been using a Dayton T120 which is a D Class integrated amp Very nice sound but again, only two audio inputs and only capable of handling two speakers, not four. I decided to purchase a 15 year old Yamaha RX 596 Receiver which runs at 80 watts per channel into 8 ohm speakers. This unit has several audio inputs and can handle all of my gear now. What I thought might be a temporary fix may actually be a permanent solution after the results I am seeing with my current gear.

The first upgrade that I did after buying the Qinpu and Dayton amps was adding Audio Quest Type 4 Speaker cables. After the speaker cables included buying Audio Art Interconnect cable (IC-3) for my CD Player (Yamaha S300). Also added a Pangea AC-9 MKII power cable to the Yamaha CD player. These two upgrades yield immediate improvement in the sound stage which became wider and gave better separation to the instruments in virtually all recordings. And it also results in less noise in the audio. And another noticeable difference was to be heard in some of the instruments in some songs actually becoming more layered. Sustains in guitars and piano licks were now more discernible than before. Keyboards sounded a bit "fatter" and bass in some songs became a bit more prevalent than previously.

Fast forward to today. I decided to Bi Wire my Castle Conway 3 Tower speakers (also 15 years old) with some Audio Quest Type 4 Speaker cables to the Yamaha RX 596 Receiver. Still using the Yamaha S300 CD player and all the aforementioned cables. I can't believe the sound I am hearing. As good as the Dayton sounded the Yamaha along with Bi Wiring has brought up the sound quality another full notch. Bass is now much tighter in the Castles than when they were wired with a single pair of cables. And I am definitely hearing more details in the music than before and the separation of the instruments has improved a bit more!

I also have a pair of Mirage OM 10 Tower speakers that are about 17 years old. They still sound great. I am ordering some Blue Jeans Cable Speaker Cables to hook up to this pair of speakers with the hope that it will help improve the sound in these from the regular 12 gauge speaker wire I have been using. Had used Type 4 speaker wire with these at one time but the Spade connectors did not fit the speakers properly. They need pins or a larger spade connector or bare wire. Having learned that Blue Jeans Cable can custom build cables I am going to purchase cables with Bananas on one side and either Pins or bare wire on the speaker side with the hope that they can sound the way they were intended. Also have just ordered a pair of the Blue Jeans Cable LC-i Interconnects to use with my cassette deck with the hope that it will improve the sound of my old cassette recordings.

Hope some of these suggestions will help some other people out there improve their home stereo listening experience. You don't have to spend thousands to see an improvement in you home audio system if you put your mind to it.