How to Improve the Sound of Your Stereo System for Less Than $100

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Experimentation and free or inexpensive adjustments to your equipment can make a big difference in the sound quality of your stereo system - sometimes more than buying expensive equipment. Try these tweaks and see if your system sounds better.

Things You'll Need

  • CD Cleaning Kits
  • Endust For Electronics
  • Compressed Airs
  • Speaker Cables

Cleaning and Maintenance

  • Clean your stylus regularly. Clean records before each play and CDs periodically.

  • Make sure all interconnects have snug fits. Regularly clean all connection points in the system.

  • Periodically clean the laser lens on your CD player. Spray canned air or use a commercial lens cleaner.

Cables, Wiring and Power

  • Leave your receiver or amplifier on all the time, or warm it up for at least an hour before listening.

  • Make sure audio cables and power cables do not touch.

  • Be sure interconnects and speaker cables are not any longer than necessary.

  • Reverse your AC plugs if they aren't polarized.

  • Keep your CD player at least 1 foot away from analog equipment.

Vibration Reduction and Speakers

  • Put spikes or metal tiptoes under speakers and electronic components. Use stands for bookshelf or monitor speakers.

  • Replace component feet with soft pucks made of sorbothane or a similar material, or make your own from tennis balls, racquet balls, squash balls or flexible packaging foam. Cut balls into two identical pieces.

  • Place concrete blocks or bricks on top of components to add mass.

  • Use a rigid, nonresonant equipment rack.

  • Position your speakers carefully and correctly. See "Set Up Stereo Speakers" under Related eHows.

  • Remove grilles or grille cloths from your speakers.

  • Use absorptive wall hangings, such as rugs, behind the speakers in a "live" room.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure the vertical tracking angle (VTA) of your phono cartridge is adjusted correctly.
  • Use interconnects with gold-plated RCA plugs.
  • Place components well away from speakers.
  • Position speakers at least two feet away from back and side walls.
  • Use an LP or CD with test tones to evaluate flat frequency response as you move speakers or make other changes to your system.
  • Avoid using extension cords.
  • Avoid overloading a single circuit.
  • Avoid circuits shared with dimmer switches or major appliances.

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