Simple system tweaks

Improving your hi-fi system is not always about spending money. Sometimes it’s about investing a little time and care into installation and maintenance. Here are a few tips to help you get the best out of what you already have

Perhaps the simplest ever tip

If you’re the kind of listener who hardly ever changes the volume level or the balance control, simply turning the controls to their maximum and minimum a few times can clean the potentiometer wipers, improve conductivity and reduce noise. Just remember to have the amplifier switched off when you wind the volume up to eleven.

For your Loudspeakers: Spiked feet ensure that a speaker is properly grounded on the floor. But even when you’ve levelled the spikes to minimize rocking, there’s a little more you can do. The less spike, the better, so when adjusting them, always aim to reduce, rather than increase, the length of the exposed spike. The limit comes when the speaker (or stand) begins to “float” on the carpet, or the lock-nut can’t be tightened.

For Vinyl Junkies:

If you’re a vinyl junkie, making sure that your cartridge is firmly bolted to the headshell and that its connection pins are clean can make your vinyl habit even more satisfying. If you have the correct tools – and make sure you do before you start – tightening the cartridge mounting bolts is usually pretty straightforward. Don’t over-tighten, however, as a broken cartridge body is a backward step.

Cleaning the cartridge connection pins by sliding each connection tag off and on a couple of times can result in worthwhile gains. You should also ensure that the tags fit tightly on the pins. However, it’s not for the faint-hearted or clumsy as an expensive and delicate stylus will be millimetres away from a fatal slip. So if you’re not sure it’s your kind of job, leave well alone and ask your hi-fi retailer to do it.

Cable installation tips

Interconnect cables, as demonstrated by the Hi-Line, are highly sensitive to their physical environment. If you’re using Hi-Line interconnect cables, make sure they hang unimpeded. The Hi-Line works by managing vibrational energy transmission to sensitive electronics, and having it squashed against the walls risks compromising its performance. SNAIC, Hi-Line and Burndy cables benefit from not being under rotational stress when connected. Before plugging them in, orient them to ensure the correct plug alignment at each end without imparting any twist. Hi-Line again. Once a Hi-Line DIN plug is inserted in its socket, try withdrawing it slightly – say 0.5 to 1mm. Hear the difference?

For Naim Fraim owners:

If you use a Naim Fraim equipment support, a simple bit of maintenance may bring benefits. Absolute cleanliness between the shelf support ball bearings, cups, and the shelves is vital to ensure the best possible mechanical coupling, so lift the equipment and shelves away and get cleaning.

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