As some of you may know, I recently got divorced, so the audio-fun budget got shrank to almost nothing. So swapping around DACs, amps, preamps etc, is OUT, and smaller, cheaper changes are IN. Plus I have a soldering gun and a LOT more free time now Improving the Signal Path INSIDE Your Gear
I realized that it makes no sense to have the best interconnects in the world, if you've got mediocre wire connecting things inside your gear. In my Dennis Had Inspire Monoblocks, I'd already put in some great hookup wire - Neotech UP-OCC with a teflon jacket. This is ultrapure copper with a very low crystalline structure. Great wire, certainly among the best materials and construction in the world. But, like the inveterate experimenter that I am, I had to give the VH Audio hookup wire a try. It uses a somewhat different OCC type copper as well as a foamed teflon jacket instead of a solid one. It certainly seemed promising.
OK, side note time. As a person that used to think that speaker wire and interconnects made large differences, I've actually modified that opinion in recent years. Nowadays I thing wiring makes relatively small changes to the sound of a system. So I was not expecting much of this particular wire change and really did it on more of a lark than anything else. In fact the improvement was not massive, but it was larger than I was expecting. Even compared to the Neotech UP OCC wire, the VH Audio hookup wire was just as detailed sounding, but made the Neotech sound bright and harmonically thin. Now, I don't think wiring can improve anything, they can only make things worse. Obviously the VH Audio wiring is letting more of the signal through than the Neotech. So less of the beauty is being stripped away. Net result? Big smile on my face. Brass Is Not Your Friend
The other area I’ve been experimenting with revolves around the connectors for input and output signals. I realized that the large majority of binding posts and RCA inputs are made of brass. And they are also usually big hunks of brass with lots of mass and unnecessary metal glomming up the signal path. How to fix that? Hmmmm.....
Easy – ETI Research and Furutech to the rescue! For RCA inputs, the ETI low mass jacks are great – no brass at all in the signal path, only pure copper. And only enough copper to pass the signal efficiently. Much closer to a “straight wire” approach than what was originally in my amp (and in the large majority of amps).
Same with the binding posts. In fact the binding posts tend to be even worse than the RCA jacks. Much more massive, way more brass. And even if they’re made out of copper, there’s just too much of it. I found some nice low mass Furutech 865 wirewound low mass high purity copper binding posts on clearance at Parts Connexion and bought a couple pairs. One of the few posts I’m aware of that actually uses OCC copper. Nice.
Took an hour, opened up the amp, replaced the RCA jacks and the binding posts at the same time. Put it all back together and.... a small but notable improvement in liveliness and openness. Really just sounds like a small veil has been lifted and the music just breathes easier and is more alive.
So, there you have it – 3 small changes, which cumulatively give a very nice improvement to the sound in my system. For my $$ these are way better bang for the buck than upgrading speaker wire or interconnects, because I’ve already got pretty good speaker wire and interconnects in place. These “inside the amp” improvements give you a bump in performance that simply isn’t possible with other tweaks. Now the quality of wire and connectors inside my amp match the quality of wire outside my amp (interconnects and speaker wire).