Suppose you have a high-end sound system in your living room. How can you guarantee that your setup is performing at its optimal level? In many cases, it’s possible that the sound quality just doesn’t meet your expectations in terms of bass, volume, treble, stereo, or any other factor.
One of the most important things to know about a Hi-Fi multimedia speaker system is that, no matter how hard you try, you can’t obtain optimal performance by simply combining the best equipment.
In the world of acoustics, you’ll learn, just as I did, that it’s all about finding the right synergy without overhauling your entire system.
So, if you’ve got a few minutes to spare, I can share how to HiFi sound quality with some tricks I’ve picked up in the last few years working with hundreds of audiophile products and systems.
Why Your System Isn’t Cutting It? 7 Possible Reasons
Don’t get me wrong; you’ve probably spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a system. However, as mentioned above, high-quality equipment doesn’t necessarily guarantee high-quality sound.
If you’re unhappy with how your favorite song sounds and think it’s probably because you didn’t spend enough money, snap out of it. Just because you didn’t buy the best amp, speakers, and media player in the market doesn’t mean you should leave it be. Most audiophiles start small and study the nuances of sound before upgrading their HiFi system.
So, summon your inner audio engineer and get ready to play detective and experiment with your system. In most cases, there are several other explanations for the sub-par or unsatisfactory performance apart from crappy equipment.
Let’s check out the seven possible reasons your system’s sound quality sucks:
1. Your Room’s Sonic Signature
Your room’s size, construction material, furniture, ventilation, and layout greatly affect your system’s sound quality. Every space has a distinct sonic signature that determines how sound waves bounce from surface to surface and generate resonances.
For instance, small spaces tend to experience uneven frequency distribution. Moreover, concrete floors and brick walls absorb and hold on to bass. In contrast, wooden floors and hardboard walls let it escape and cause noise.
This one was a bit tricky to understand. I was moving to a new apartment, so I figured why not play some feel-good songs about moving away. When I started packing, I noticed the sound was dull, and the bass was somewhat heavy.
I was considering an upgrade, but as I gradually loaded the truck and emptied the room, the music started sounding more aggressive and bright with every box or piece of furniture leaving the room. However, it got worse after a while as the room gradually became empty. At this moment, I realized that it’s all about balance in furnishing.
If you want to set up your Hi-FI multimedia speaker system, you should do it in a room with not too many or too few pieces. I recommend carpeting, heavy curtains, and maybe a stuffed couch or soft bed.
If you want to try out this theory, set up your equipment in different rooms. If you’re too lazy to do that, grab your phone and a portable wireless speaker if you have one. Play loud music in different rooms and pay attention to where the music sounds best.
That’s the spot!
3. Cable Quality
If you’ve come across the same type of cables with different price points, it’s not always due to the brand or demand. Not all cables are created equal. Thus, you can find several options on every point of the quality spectrum.
I wasn’t too sure about this one, but it didn’t burn a hole in my pocket to spend a few bucks more on high-end audio cables.
4. Speaker Placement
How and where you place your speakers can also affect the sound quality. Most manufacturers design speakers in a way that they function at optimal levels when they’re positioned correctly. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way, considering they don’t tell you these things in the manual.
After several rounds of trial and error, I learned that placing your speakers close to your wall increases the bass. Unfortunately, when I brought them too close, the bass ruined the mid-range sounds. I’ve placed mine a few inches away from the wall and far from the corner.
5. Amp, Receiver, and Other Electronics’ Position
Most people like to set their equipment together to make their system more organized, centralized, and aesthetically pleasing. However, placing different electronics near your speakers can alter the sound quality due to the vibrations created.
So, if you’re one of those who like a symmetrical presentation, maybe it’s time to try a different setup, especially if you own a HiFi audio stereo system.
If you own an old HiFi system, check the contact points for dust, rust, and other signs of deterioration. Over time, these points begin to alter the sound quality after frequent metal-to-metal contact. All it takes to fix or prevent this is regular cleaning.
If you live in Florida or any other humid place, I recommend using a deoxidizing contact cleaner to maintain conductivity.
7. Listening Position
Just like your walls and furnishing, your position in the room also affects your HiFi system’s sound quality. For instance, if you sit too close to the wall, you’ll experience a boomy bass. Similarly, if you listen from the center of the room, you’ll notice the sound becoming thinner and unnatural.
So, move around to see which spot in your room gives you the best spot.
10 Low or No-Cost Ways to Improve Your Hi-Fi Multimedia Speaker System
Now that you understand the possible reasons for sub-par HiFi performance, let’s move on to the business end of this post – learning how to improve HiFi quality. Here are ten highly recommended tips or tricks.
1. Check Your Hi-Fi System
The first thing you should do is check your HiFi equipment and setup to know everything’s functioning properly. This is fairly simple to do. Look behind the deck and electronics for loose wiring and cables. Grab a screwdriver to remove your speaker grilles and check for dust or foam rot.
If you find some, grab a utility knife and scrape the old foam by applying some rubbing alcohol to get the adhesive off. You might want to steer clear of the speaker cone to prevent damage. All you need to do from there is watch a DIY speaker re-foam video and follow the same instructions.
2. Tweak Your Furnishing
As mentioned above, your room’s acoustics and sonic signature play a critical role in sound output. Thus, you need to reduce the reflections from hard surfaces, such as wood, tiles, or windows, for a better listening experience.
Otherwise, it simply won’t matter how powerful your HiFi multimedia speaker system is. If you have tables, lamps, a couch, carpeting, and other furniture items in your room, ideally, you should set your system in your biggest room.
If you have a lot of windows, cover them with curtains when listening to music. Similarly, keep your thickly-upholstered furniture, such as a couch or bed, as far as possible from your speakers. Otherwise, they’ll absorb all the bass, resulting in poor quality.
3. Reposition Your Speakers
As mentioned above, speakers perform optimally when placed away from the wall. So, all you need to do is pull them a few inches away from the wall for better bass. If you don’t mind the asymmetry, you can also place them a couple of meters away from the other electronics for a wider soundstage and minimum interference.
Side Tip: Try turning your speakers a few degrees inwards with your position as the focal point. I tried this by placing two speakers at the opposite ends of my TV stand and positioning my couch in the center.
4. Take Off Your Speaker Grilles
Many people claim that grilles are just for show, and they don’t help improve the sound quality in any way. So, if you’re more into the sound than the aesthetics, take the grilles off and see if the music sounds better.
5. Go High
I was never a fan of wall-mounted speakers. So, instead, I opted for a couple of bookshelf speakers for more height. Of course, you can always consider speaker stands if you don’t want to buy new speakers. Doing this will simply bring the sound waves closer to your ear level from your listening position. That’s right: Science!
If you opt for floor-standing speaker stands, they need to be equipped with spikes or rubber pads, so your speaker doesn’t rock or wobble. This will only make the sound worse than it is.
6. Get Better Cables
Earlier, I said that not all cables are created equal; you might end up with bad cables. On my quest to become an audiophile, I learned that spending a few more bucks does make a difference. Unfortunately, our casual listeners can’t tell the difference, but that’s alright.
These people don’t travel business class, appreciate custom rims, or upsize their McDonald’s meal. Their favorite ice cream is probably vanilla. I’m sorry; I get carried away sometimes.
Most HiFi kits, especially low-budget ones, often come with poor to mid-quality cables. Hence, one trick to making your music sound crisper, louder, and better is by upgrading to better interconnects. You’ll notice that they’re thicker, more shielded, and have a premium feel to them.
Next, you want to make sure the signal and main cables are at a fair distance from each other. You don’t want them touching each other since they affect the sound quality via additional coarseness. Lastly, don’t keep your cables hanging and off the floor to minimize vibrations.
7. Separate the Electrical Source
HiFi equipment requires more power than the average speaker system. Therefore, I recommend using an independent electrical outlet to plug it in. Using the same outlet for plugging in other appliances, such as your dryer, computer, microwave, fridge, etc., will lead to electrical interference.
If you have no choice, equip your outlet with a high-quality power conditioner. It’ll help!
8. Regular Cleaning
One of the best ways to make your appliances more durable is by cleaning them regularly. The same logic applies to your HiFi system. Electrical contact points are susceptible to rust and corrosion over time.
Similarly, if you live in Arizona, New Mexico, or any other desert state, your speakers and amp can accumulate dust much faster. Therefore, you need to clean your HiFi equipment regularly to ensure they’re safe.
If you haven’t cleaned your system since you got it, do it and try listening to your playlist then. I promise you’ll experience a noticeable difference in performance.
9. Let Your System Warm-Up
Do you go to the gym and start lifting weights right away? Probably not. You spend a few minutes on the treadmill or do some cardio to warm up first. Similarly, your HiFi system will work better if you turn it on for 10-15 minutes before playing music.
I won’t bore you with the physics. Try it for yourself and feel the difference.
10. Try Playing Music in a Dark Room
I don’t know about you guys but I love listening to music in a dark room. There are two reasons why darkness improves sound quality. The first is related to the refraction of sound waves. I know; more physics. The second one, however, made more sense to me.
In dark rooms or environments, our brain sends signals to our body that help prepare us for sleep physiologically. When this happens, our muscles begin to relax, our body temperature drops, and we become increasingly drowsy.
This trick might not physically improve your system’s sound quality. However, it might help improve the immersion and feel-good sensation when listening to your favorite beats and songs.
So, there you have it – how to improve HiFi sound quality with 10 low-cost or no-cost tips/tricks. However, to notice a difference in sound quality after applying these tips, you need to learn how to listen to the subtle changes in sound. Only then can you know what sounds good or terrible.
Having a sharp ear is one of the most important traits of a veteran audiophile. It’s not just about buying the best equipment or learning about the different technical terms and jargon, even though they help, a lot!.
Any questions – fire away in the comments below.
Endless hours of experimentation, professional work, and personal investment in Home Theatre, Hi-Fi, Smart Home Automation and Headphones have come to this.
Former owner of Headphones Canada, a high-end headphone specialty retailer.