Archived from Audio Direction Ltd
A PRESENT FOR OUR CUSTOMERS: CHARCOAL ???!!
ADL has developed a new audiophile tweak to increase performance. This is a very inexpensive but cost effective one and it involves charcoal: plain ol’ ordinary charcoal, and even briquettes will work just fine (actually Briquettes work better than the popular kiawe charcoal !). Simply place a couple in a plastic bag (The dust is atrocious otherwise), and place on top of your speakers.
The sound benefits tremendously: at least in our systems it does. Detail increases, top end increases and bass has more definition and weight. Dynamics also increase and this with the charcoal on the top closest to the tweeter. The improvement is across the board, frequency wise. Subtle nuances in voices become evident, and individual voices in massed choirs are more easily delineated, making them easier to follow.
We crush our briquettes because we can then make finer adjustments for the amount of charcoal to use. Too much and the tone vbecomes too dark, too little and only the treble is helped.
We are not quite sure what the mechanism causing this change is due to, but we suspect it is the carbon content. Other allotropic forms of carbon are graphite, diamonds ( a little too rich for our blood !), and fullerenes, carbon atoms arranged into a spherical shape (C-60, C-70, C-84). We suspect that all these forms will work as well as something more mundane like coal.
Graphite and coal tend to create a brighter sound, possibly because the carbon in them is fixed. Diamonds ( we used 60 point flawless Siberian diamonds , on temporary loan) had tremendous bass.
A number of years ago, the British speaker manufacturer, KEF, built a line of speakers whose cabinets were filled with activate charcoal. The claim is that the pores in the activated charcoal presented a longer pathway to the sound coming off the back of the driver and thus the driver would see a larger cabinet and thus reinforce the bass.
Since, in our experimentation, the charcoal is in a sealed bag (ziplock) and outside the cabinet, quite obviously the KEF explanation would not be viable. Hence there must be another explanation which escapes us for the moment. The suspicion is that the slight conductivity of carbon may be capturing some of the EMI field. As further evidence to that end, we note that placement next to strong magnetic fields is not very audible, but placement over circuit board electronics is more beneficial.
The tweak is a cheap one as we all either have or know someone with a hibachi and some charcoal lying around. The sonic results are out of proportion to the cost, and you can be one of the first audiophiles anywhere to try this tweak. Hint: if you use a nice decorative box, the effect is still effective, so long as the box is made of organic materials (cardboard or wood)
As such, accept it a Christmas present from Audio Direction (2012).
An update : 12/24/12
I recently received some anthracite coal. It has superb top end,The highs become super articulate, and clearly distinct in terms of the individual tonalities and overtones and ambience details. Bottom end gets a bit light however, so a combination of the charcoal briquettes and the coal seems to combine the best of the two. The sound becomes very natural and very relaxing, so much so that removing the carbonaceous objects makes the system sound broken !
Should also add that the Charcoal briquettes seem to work better than both activated charcoal and the wood charcoal. That was interesting as I did not expect any difference, to tell the truth. I suspect the briquettes conversion into charcoal can be more carefully controlled than the raw wood, although it must be noted that the briquettes are impregnated with a flammable material ( fast starting) usually based on hydro carbons. Research shows that all chemicals are extracted from the wood used for briquettes, important as much of the wood used is recycled.
So far we have tried this tweak on a pair of MG3.6’s ( on the crossover seems to be the most effective), a pair of Klipsch corner horns ( on top of the cabinet directly above the compression driver), a PA sound reinforcement speaker ( on top the control panel seems to be most effective here), and, of course, all the speakers in the shop. It has been equally effective in every case we’ve tried.
Of course, a couple of lumps of charcoal on those expensive speakers is not, ahhh….., cosmetically very effective. But Christmas is the perfect time as many will get festive cardboard boxes with their presents. Place the charcoal inside a couple of them and you’ll be all set up !