One Small Step ... That Transforms Your System

I just had an interesting thing happen to my system that I wanted to share.

I use PCs, SCs and ICs in series. I have talked about this in other threads and will not restate this here. Some of the patch wiring I use is Supra LoRad that I attach to other wires using a burn-in adapter. I use mostly Oyaide plugs and IECs for the DIY LoRad cables.

I am near the end of a long audio journey. After 6 years of upgrades and changes my system is finally sounding great. But, being an inveterate tinkerer, I wanted to hear the difference between an Oyaide M1 and an Oyaide P-079 upstream. The other day I substituted an F1 IEC for a C-004 IEC and the former was a big improvement. What would switching the M1 and the P-079 do to the sound? Which one would sound better upstream? I was curious. Before making the switch the P-079 was upstream. I figured there was an even chance the M1 would improve the sound. After all, it is the top of the Oyaide line, and deservedly so. I have three M1s and 3 F1s in my system.

How important is location with these little Oyaide miracle makers? Well, if you think you know about your audio system you should try a similar experiment. The M1 upstream killed the sound. Even with all the high end cables in my system humming the sound became lifeless and thin. The synergy was awful. My system needed the warmth and fullness of the P-079 upstream of the M1 to give it the beautiful sound I had been enjoying before making the change.

The fact that a single plug can change the sound so profoundly -- completely transforming it for the better or the worst in the face of high end components and cables -- is both surprising and humbling. The moral of the story is that you can never do too much tinkering to find the very best sound that your system is capable of producing.

Needless to say, back the M1 and P-79 went to their original places. Have you had an experience with your system where one small step completely made -- or ruined -- the sound?

Disclosure: I have no connection with any audio company except as a customer.
Post removed 
In my system the change I described was much more than a slight variation. It transformed the sound from lifeless to highly musical -- not a subtle change. Amazing, really -- just by changing the location of two plugs.
Just curious if you gave the new configuration a little time to settle in before deciding you didn't like it. Maybe a day or so?
one of the problems with this thread is the indefinite nayure of "large" and small changes in one's audio system.

two listeners may disagree as to whether the affect of a change is large or small.

without a more descriptive grounding of the aforementioned terms, makes this discussion moot.

what is a small step-- the change of one component ?

could one argue that a change of an interconnect is a small step ?

there is too much ambiguity here.

perhaps there is a genre of changes that would be considered small, while others, say a speaker would be considered large.

i have heard a significant change from moving one speaker one half an inch. is that a small step ??
I believe one would have to be present to understand and appreciate small and large changes in someone else's system. In one's personal system, all one can do is relate the findings. Others have to take their word on it or move on or call on it. We all know what happens next: threads for days, threads with legs, ruminations that border on epic.

Having said that and keeping with the OPs question, yes, I have witnessed a rather large change just by going back to some older cables I had stored away.
The best change I've had in a great while.

All the best,
'changes' or 'differences' do not mean much unless you put them in context. Since almost everyone has a cd or lp of Beethoven's 9th sym, why not describe for fellow members the impact your precevived 'differences' or 'changes' made when listening to the LvB Masterpiece.
I didn't allow any break-in time because both plugs were well broken in -- thousands of hours.

This is subjective. Each person is judging his own system. Who knows your system better than you, after all? It is not a matter of disagreeing if a change is large or small. It is up to each person to report what they hear in the system they know best -- their own. No one else is there to tell anyone what they are hearing is other than what they are hearing.

One small step -- we are obviously not talking about changing components here. They cannot be considered small. We are talking cables and tweaks and half inches. Would anyone consider one half inch a big step?

The perceived changes were observable with all recordings. The sound was thin and lifeless, lacking the body, fullness and naturalness that the system is capable of producing.
It took you six years to put together a thin and lifeless sounding system. Contradicting yourself you also describe your system as sounding great. Then you make a subtle change and the system is transformed and is now highly musical.

How many other transformative tweaks have you experimented with?
"I am near the end of a long audio journey. After 6 years of upgrades and changes my system is finally sounding great."

So was it great, or "thin and lifeless, lacking the body, fullness and naturalness that the system is capable of producing?"

I'm guessing maybe whatever it is it ain't the location of the plugs. But it's just a guess.
Onhwy61 and Sebrof,
Of course, I knew this was coming. It was too obvious. With all due respect, your comments show a complete misunderstanding. There is absolutely no contradiction at all -- except that which is caused by elements that do not match.

Both sides of the audio coin can easily be made evident in a highly resolving system -- especially a system such as mine that uses cables in series and that uses plugs and IECs patched into the system. Have you tried to create a system using cables in series? With all due respect, if you had you would know exactly what I am talking about.

One small change can ruin a system. If you used Oyaide plugs and IECs you would know this. Even a highly resolving, wonderfully musical system has to have all the elements working in synergy. Each element has to be in its proper place.

Oyaide plugs and IECs are a powerful tool in complex systems like mine. They can create enormous changes to a system. I have been working with them, as well as Bybee products and other Quantum products for 6 years. I have upwards of 20 Oyaide plugs and IECs in my system and upwards of 20 Bybee products in my system.

Absolutely -- it was both. Depending on the location of the elements. With all due respect, this is elementary. My dear Watson. If you used Oyaide plugs you would know this. IMO.

I have more tweaks in my system than you can shake a stick at. When everything is in its proper place everything works together beautifully. When things are not in their proper place, the system is potentially great but may sound awful.

It's like so many things in life. For example. What would you look like if you went to a party and you had your right shoe on your left foot and your left shoe on your right foot. You'd try to walk properly but things would not be going too well for you. Everyone would get a good laugh. Now what would you say about the situation? Would you say your shoes were no good? Would you beat yourself up about your ineptness? Would you be embarrassed about your misfortune and try to figure out why you had done such a foolish thing? Or would you do the obvious? This is too simple, really. IMO.
The OP did not rule out changing the stock tubes as a small change. I experienced a very big change using the electrically equivalent 12AX7 stock tubes in a Jolida CDP output phase for 12AX7 Mullards. Both sets of tubes were close to new so it wasn't a burn in vs non burn in issue and a 12AX7 is a 12AX7 isbn't it. Anyone was able to hear a big change in the sound for the better of course.
Thanks for this observation. I will be rolling tubes soon and look forward to listening to the difference between various 6DJ8 tubes.
Sabai - Your system was as it was and you said it was both "sounding great" and "thin and lifeless..." at the same time. Very contrasting descriptions (since you don't prefer contradicting).
Simply confuses me, that's all.
With all due respect, my system did not sound "at the same time" both great and lifeless. How can a system sound like two opposites "at the same time"? This is impossible. Changing the plugs transformed the sound. And this happened at two distinct times.

With all due respect, if you had experience with using cables in series and Oyaide plugs and IECs you would understand exactly what I am talking about. Your confusion comes from not having experience with my kind of system.
That's many many words to back out of a hole you dug for yourself.

Why don't you list your system. It might serve as a guide, or a warning, for people about resolving systems with many many tweaks that sounds potentially great, but can sound awful.

Have you ever thought of becoming a professional audio equipment reviewer?
With all due respect, there is no hole anywhere -- except the hole that is perceived by those who wish to see one where there is none.

There is just a lack of understanding by those who do not know what having a system based on using cables and other elements in series is all about. I will be glad to list my components but listing my whole system would be of absolutely no use because the sound depends on the synergy provided by cables and tweaks and other elements and unless you have a system like this you can only speculate -- which has little value. It's like talking about vanilla when you have never tasted it. Everyone has the right to his or her opinion -- but some opinions are more valid than others -- especially those based on direct experience.


1. Marantz PM 15 integrated amplifier (original 1993 version).
2. Joseph Audio Pulsar monitor speakers.
3. AMR DP-777 DAC.
4. PS Audio PerfectWave transport.

I have upwards of 20 Bybee products in my system and upwards of 20 Oyaide products in my system -- plus many other tweaks including Shakti Hallographs and many so-called quantum tweaks.

By the way, I also run an isolation transformer (non-balanced) from a Tesla Plex SE wall receptacle into another Tesla Plex wall receptacle into a Monarchy power regenerator into a Synergistic Research PowerCell Mark II power conditioner into a Bybee Stealth power conditioner.

Would anyone like to comment? All opinions are welcome.
When I stated that the sound was awful -- thin and lifeless -- with the switch in Oyaide plugs, I should have clarified my statement. I did not say that the sound stage collapsed. It did not. I did not say that the holography disappeared. It did not. I did not say that the detail was no longer there. It still is there. I did not say that the dynamics disappeared. They did not. I did not say that the transparency was no longer there. It still is there. What I was referring was that ineffable thing we call musicality -- the fullness and the realness and the sense of being there. When my system was less developed I would not have perceived this change in sound with the change in plugs. But I do now, thanks to the evolution of my system over the past 6 years.

Have you ever tried or considered a separate power and pre_amp as a possible tweak?

From what i read about your joseph speakers, a heftier power amp + the ability to physically isolate preamp from power amp better might offer an advantage.

Good power conditioning is a good tweak usually. With power amps or even integrateds be sure the output current delivery capabilities of the conditioner does not introduce a bottleneck for performance that might not exist otherwise.
No, I have not. My Marantz PM 15 (original 1993 model) is amazing. If I make any changes in this area in the future it will be to purchase a VAC tube amp.
Yes, I have had the experience where one "step" so to speak has the power to confer far more than expected change to a rig. In fact I wrote about it and have been using it as I described in my Audio Blast article on Discrete Opamp Rolling the Eastern Electric Minimax DAC Plus.

I call the use of aftermarket discrete Opamps like the DEXA NewClassD or the Burson with the EE DAC a "digital toolkit," which is able to fundamentally alter the source, and thereby the system. I have literally saved the sound of systems costing many tens of thousands by simply rolling discrete Opamps and thereby playing to the strengths of the components.

Do I care if others can't figure out why that can be? No. Do I argue over it? No. People will either accept my advice or not. So be it. The ones who do will discover an exceptionally powerful way to make any system quite appealing to their ears for the grand price of about $1,500 for the DAC and four sets of discrete Opamps.

I disagree, however, with the premise that you can never do too much tinkering. When non-efficacious items outside the signal path are used in a vain attempt to alter the sound, then one has entered the realm of too much tinkering. There are a lot of audiophiles wasting their time and money on ridiculous "tweaks" instead of conducting serious system building, which would move their rig toward a different sound.
09-01-12: Sabai writes:


1. Marantz PM 15 integrated amplifier (original 1993 version).

Interesting. Is this the model amplifier you have?