Best sounding screws?

suekraft -- Fri, 06/16/2006 - 11:35

I have to admit, listening to screws is not high on my list of priorities right now, but my friend insists that replacing steel screws with brass will improve the sound of your system. He replaced the factory screws holding in the drivers on his Avalon speakers with brass and heard a difference. He said the difference wasn't dramatic, but definitely audible and definitely an improvement. The only caution is to make sure the screw is snug, but don't over tighten it. Also, brass does not have the strength of steel, so it would be a good idea to put the factory screws back in if you were going to ever ship the speakers. My friend is now going to experiment using brass screws with his other gear. A cheap tweak to try for those of us with too much time on our hands :-) Sue

Robert Harley -- Sat, 06/17/2006 - 11:09

One reason replacing the screws improved the sound could have nothing to do with the material and everything to do with the fact that the new screws were probably put in tighter than the factory screws. Periodically tightening the screws holding the woofers is a good idea; they work themselves loose over time (and occassionally during shipping). Obviously, if the woofer isn't securely mounted to the baffle, the sound will suffer.

A similar phenemoneon occurs when replacing cables or interconnects and hearing an improvement. The new interconnect may not be intrinsically better, but the act of removing and replacing the interconnect cleans the RCA jack and makes a better electrical connection.

Robert Harley
The Absolute Sound
The Perfect Vision

Bruce -- Sat, 06/17/2006 - 14:31

I had one of those "How the hell did that happen?" experiences this past Christmas. My wife needed to use the outlets on one my dedicated lines to run Christmas lights around the fireplace (priorities being what they are and all). That meant I had to put a four plug adapter in so I could continue running my sub. Once I connected my "expensive" power cord into that cheap adapter, my sub came to life and sounded wonderful!

I can only surmise that what made the difference was unplugging the power cord and plugging it in again.

Robert Harley -- Mon, 06/19/2006 - 22:27

To follow up on Bruce's experience, I've learned to stop being surprised by what makes a difference in audio. The most unexpected phenomenon occur that affect sound quality. The cause may not be understood, and in fact, may fly in the face of reason, but that's no reason to reject the listening experience.

A classic example is the difference between coaxial and TosLink digital connection. They both transmit the digital data with perfect bit-for-bit accuracy, but they sound different. It was an article of faith among the audio engineering establishment that if the ones and zeros are the same, the sound must be the same. Anyone who claimed otherwise was on the lunatic fringe of audio.

Until the groundbreaking Audio Engineering Society paper "Is the AES/EBU/SPDIF Interface Flawed" by Chris Dunn and Malcolm Hawksford. The paper details the precise mechanism by which TosLink's limited bandwidth produces an analog-like variability in the sound (caused by clock jitter). The paper's rigor and technical expertise are beyond reproach.

Now clock jitter is accepted as a source of variability in sound quality. The lunatic fringe becomes the conventional wisdom. But the phenomenon was first reported by audiophiles, which prompted the investigation by Dunn and Hawksford.

Robert Harley
The Absolute Sound
The Perfect Vision

Barry Willis -- Wed, 06/21/2006 - 01:03

There's a small chance that the non-magnetic character of the brass screws made for a more focussed hysteresis field in the loudspeaker. Steel screws and hardware are contraindicated near magnetic circuits. Brass also has different resonance characteristics than steel, but any audible effect would be very small compared to the overall design and construction of any electronic component.

Barry Willis

Bruce -- Sun, 06/25/2006 - 17:30

I obviously have to get out more. I had no idea of the study Robert referred to. Everything I had read and conventional logic had told me that a coax digital cable had to sound better than toslink. Yet, when I set up my second system, I preferred the toslink connection.

Thanks, Robert, for pointing me towards some form of vindication.

Chris Martens -- Wed, 06/28/2006 - 10:38

Back to the topic of driver hold-down screws for a moment: Let me second Robert's observations on the importance of cinching down driver fasteners.

Does it make a difference you can really hear? In some case, it certainly does. You might hear small but worthwhile improvements in reproduction of low-level textural and transient details, and in overall focus.

Consider this: Speaker manufacturers sometimes personally deliver review equipment to The Absolute Sound and The Perfect Vision. When they do, it's not uncommon for the delivery person to take out a screwdriver and check all the fasteners on the speakers for tightness.

Try checking and tightening the driver hold-down screws on your speakers; it can be a rewarding low-to-no-cost tune-up.


Chris Martens
Audio Editor, The Perfect Vision
Senior Writer, The Absolute Sound

Chris Martens
Editor, Perfect Vision 

frd (not verified) -- Thu, 05/14/2009 - 09:52

how tighten the screws are will definitely effect on sound(muddy to kicking sound you may experience) .tighten them just to make screws hold speakers and a half way turn to make em little sniff and listen to sound muddy ? a quarter round sniff and check u get the decent sound. go check now because new speakers mostly need re tightening (at the most of time they are too sniff and maybe take them many years to get in right place)
anyone experiencing the same ?

Steven Stone -- Fri, 05/15/2009 - 11:12

This thread is beginning to look like something Larry Flynt would publish in his letters section.
If the screws holding a driver are too loose the driver will move. If the screws are tightened too much the wood holding them will strip or the driver's rim will crack or deform. 
If you spend your time tightening and loosening screws, you have too much time on your hands and I suggest reading a good book, such as Robert Harley's seminal tome. Loosening and retightening screws is surefire way to eventually strip them and insure that your speaker will perform less than optimally.

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

paskinn -- Thu, 04/07/2011 - 12:04

  But, but, ...suppose the very act of paying attention to your system (in any way that, legally, takes your fancy) makes it sound 'different.' I recollect that it was Hamlet who said ''nothing be giod nor bad but thinking make it so''.....and look what happened to him.

Steven Stone -- Thu, 04/07/2011 - 12:29

Does a system make a sound in the woods if there's no one to hear it?

what is the sound of one woofer flapping? :)

Steven Stone
Contributor to The Absolute Sound,, Vintage Guitar Magazine, and other fine publications

TheArt (not verified) -- Thu, 04/07/2011 - 13:08

Does it tell you anything that this thread has devolved into the psychological effects of paying attention to how your system, sounds?  Sue, you really shouldn't waste our time on what your friend thinks he can hear.  I'm sure that brass screws make a difference... because EVERYTHING makes a difference!  I'm also sure that difference is pretty much inaudible.  Surely, there are a hundred things your friend could do that would improve the sound of his system more than brass screws... for example, upgrading just one A/C cord.  Instead of this thread, you should be sterring your friend in a saner and more productive direction.
I DO love that we have folks quoting Shakespeare, and Steve Stone making upo new Zen koans!  Steve, I'm applauding you... but only with one hand.
Happy Listening to all,   Art

All content, design, and layout are Copyright © 1999 - 2011 NextScreen. All Rights Reserved.
Reproduction in whole or part in any form or medium without specific written permission is prohibited.