Classé Omega monoblock power amplifier Tricks'n'Tweaks
No—I didn't try swapping in nonmagnetic screws in the Omegas' chassis, or suspend them in a pool of mercury, or anything like that. I set them up, turned them on, and forgot about them. But I found, not surprisingly, that they provided a crystal-clear window into whatever else was happening in the system. Any—and I do mean any—changes were immediately and clearly audible. As a result, I was able to quickly and easily tweak my system to a significantly higher level of performance.
I did quite a bit of cable work during the Omegas' stay, and it was always easy to quickly isolate and identify the cables' contributions. At one point, I cleaned and treated all of my connections with Caig's R5 Deoxit, ProGold, and Power Booster ($29.95 for Caig's audio/video survival kit of products). I was surprised—no, stunned—by the amount of grunge that was removed from the sound, not to mention from the connectors themselves. And I finally got around to replacing my Home Depot 20A "Hospital Grade" AC outlet with FIM's model 880 "High Performance Wall-mount Power Outlet" ($69.95)—another big change. Not only does the FIM 880 grip a plug much more tightly, there was a slight improvement in image dimensionality—and I'd swear that the soundstage's rear corners moved a bit back and out.
Similarly, I found that my VAC CPA-1 Mk.III preamp sounded a bit more alive when sitting on rigid toes, but that the added life was just that: added. Replacing the spikes with Bright Star Isonodes ($19.95/set of four) under a Big Rock, which floated the assembly in a pneumatic-like compliance, noticeably cleaned up the sound, expanded and opened up the soundstage, and improved low-level detail. Ditto for slipping a set of Immedia's drum-like String Suspension Concept feet ($98/set of four) under my CD player—but the SSC pucks seemed to sharpen up transients as well, adding richness and precision to the Simaudio Moon Eclipse's sound.
A huge change, and one that I never would have expected, occurred when Immedia's Allen Perkins slipped a large set of SSC feet ($85/pair) under the Audio Physic Virgo IIIs' spikes, effectively decoupling the speakers from my all-too-springy wood floor. Although decoupling speakers runs counter to everything I know about speakers, the SSC pucks made a huge improvement in the Virgos' focus. Franz Helmerson's cello was suddenly shaped like a cello, in three dimensions, rather than like a vaguely oblong aura of sound. Another noticeable improvement in soundstage depth, another lowering of the noise floor—wow!
Last but not least, I fine-tuned the VPI TNT's setup using the full complement of Wally Tools. I second Michael Fremer's wholehearted endorsement of these gadgets. If you're into vinyl, you owe it to yourself to go the Wally route. The tools are simple and easy to use, and the peace of mind—that your setup is right—is worth the price, never mind the obvious sonic benefits.—Brian Damkroger