DeoxIT or Zinfandel

September 29, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

“DeoxIT or Zinfandel – the struggle is real” — Sameer Verma c. 2021

When reader Sameer sent me a note about his struggles with upgrading and tweaking vs. simply sitting and listening I laughed out loud.

Clean your connectors or sip a glass of fine wine and enjoy the music?

What happens when we think everything in the system is perfect enough to relax and enjoy only to discover yet another flaw? For some, it’s easy enough to let small deficiencies go and just start their feet tapping to the music. For others, it might be impossible to relax knowing it could be better.

For me, I have to consciously recognize the faults I am listening through and determine to ignore them in order to relax. It’s sometimes hard.

The best moments are when we let it all go and just enjoy the bounty of what we have.

Tomorrow’s soon enough to tweak.

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38 comments on “DeoxIT or Zinfandel”

  1. It depends on how hard the tweaking or cleaning (DetoxIT) ‘bug’ has bitten you.
    There’s no reason that you can’t enjoy a couple of large glasses of ‘McLaren Vale’
    or ‘707’ whilst cleaning your contacts & adjusting your home audio rig.
    The 2 are not mutually exclusive.
    And then by the time that you’re ready to sit down for some serious
    listening, your in the right frame of mind.

    Personally, if I’d written the heading for today’s PP it would be:
    ‘KONTAK or Weed’ 🙂

    1. Yeah, Penfolds 707 Cab Sauv, I’ve had it twice, as memorable as a couple of satori moments at a hifi show. For A$700 it was a good friend’s share. Very good friend.

      Was I thinking, ‘For what this costs I could get a length of Kimnber silver interconnect.” No I was not.

      Ken Kessler (bless his soul, back in Copper) after a hifi show spotted Catherine Deneuve, an extraordinarily beautiful woman, reflected that hifi is but a low level pleasure.

      #If he denies the accuracy of this — and he well might, I have a story about when I pranked Ken. Ask me.

    2. Forget the wine, not my thing. I’m more inclined to queue up an oil can of Fosters poured into a tall frosted glass. That, or any of the myriad of local craft brews available in my area. And unlike many of the others here once I plug my interconnects in or hook up my speakers unless I change something they might very well sit there for 10 years without being touched again. Oops, I probably have just turned in my audiophile card.

  2. I’ve never drunk either DeoxIT or Zinfandel. The former would probably be bad for my health and the latter peculiar to the USA. Mr Veerma clearly has a severe neurosis and should sell his audio system immediately as it is clearly giving him no pleasure at all. He is clearly listening to the system and not the music.

    I have possibly discovered a cure buy buying a small audio cabinet, measuring internally 50cm x 50cm and 66cm high. Everything fits inside, including my server as I now also use it as a streamer, and the record player sits on top. The largest item is the mains conditioner. So the options for changing anything are very limited, so it doesn’t cross my mind.

  3. Great post Paul, thank you – after your post last Thursday i downloaded a trial month of Audirvana (still finding my way around the app) and ‘ooh my’ what a difference – its outstanding the difference its made…i just need to pull through more of my music.
    I will sign up at the end of the trial month….hi fi heaven on Earth !

    THANKS.

    Richard Peace

  4. Oh it is extremely hard. I have been in full analytical mode quite a few times where by i side step listening to the music for what it truly is to diagnose the problem.

    As an audiophile. I hate to say this, but in order to truly better your system you kind of can’t be all about the music all the time. You have to pay attention to your equipment. You don’t have to do it all the time, but one truly has to know how to switch off ones analytical tendencies and that is truly Paul’s point.
    For me. When I hear a problem and I know the root cause of that problem I have a way easier time accepting that problem.
    Now, if it was the other way around where I heard a problem and didn’t know why or how it is a problem, that would make me nuts. Quite frankly, my system is really decent and more often than not I hear recording flaws then equipment flaws. I just hope for the many out there that they can distinguish from the two. 😉

  5. I read Paul’s posts everyday. I’ve responded only once over the many months since joining the group.

    Today, I will accept his prescription, accept all the little flaws my Marantz, Klipsch, Pioneer RT909 R2R, and 1200 TT have, and there are a few, and just enjoy.

    Mrs. B, thanks you. The room won’t look like a pawn shop.

    Mr. V.

  6. Audio neurosis. A disease many of us suffer from. A pandemic among audiophiles.
    Here are some simple rules to give you the best chance of recovery :
    – keep your (5 ft.) distance from audio stores and other people with the same symptoms (red ears)
    – always wear an earmask
    – don’t read these daily posts and magazines about audio.
    – do as mr. SntbcwS, buy a small audio cabinet (maybe even smaller than his) where only a Tivoli radio fits in.
    For mr. Verma, I’m afraid all help will come too late 🙁

  7. It’s a vicious cycle !
    You tweak and reach an acceptable level of sound quality and then you sit down with the glass of wine to enjoy the music………till one day you hear something that didn’t go down well ! A cymbal that doesn’t shimmer, a snare drum that’s no longer thwacking, a guitar that could have had more twang which makes you put down that glass and on your knees checking/cleaning every connection down the line !

    1. BINGO! Your comment is exactly what I needed to bring out my inner feelings regarding this topic. Your post has brought out my personal experience for decades. It’s only been about six months since I decided that when I sit down to listen for enjoyment I put myself in the moment and allow myself be happy instead of being drawn into ‘that vicious cycle’. I turn my cell phone off, bring my amplifier up to it’s quiescent state and while it’s coming to temperature pick out a couple of recordings that I want to listen to straight through. Then I sit down and do a few seconds of relaxed breathing before I begin playing my music.

      It’s so easy to be distracted from allowing musical pleasure into my being that I somehow need to give myself permission to let the pleasure come to me instead of listening for the imperfections in the recordings. Most likely it’s the quality of recordings that may lack shimmer in a Cymbal or bring out the full body of Paganini’s Violin.

      There’s time to reap and a time to sow and I have finally come to that understanding so when I listen to music I’m all in, good bad or indifferent.

      I also keep a schedule to maintain my system integrity at a high level by making sure all contacts are clean and firmly in place and that all Cables are still routed properly and kept apart where possible, check Turntable speed and Stylus pressure and replace Tubes when necessary. It’s taken a lot of relaxed discipline to move away from my old habits and slowly but surely my listening sessions have become much more pleasurable.

      Time to call a friend and find that bottle of ‘82 Margaux to share the musical enjoyment….Thanks lilichat.

        1. Unfortunately not. That wine is for my and my friends’ drinking pleasure. I need to make a butterflied leg of lamb for this wine or I may just do a bread, cheese and fruit plate.

  8. And why I keep switching between Windom and Sunlight. They sound so different in so many ways. The switch is so easy. I seem to favor the richness of Windom but sometimes like the analytical precision of Sunlight. Recording dependent of course. Great to have the options. Then you have the tube rolling and interconnects to find a balance between the two. It seems impossible but it’s fun to play and listen. When the sound hooks me in the soul I know I’m there. The music is my guide and my goal. And why not do this with sip of wine. It’s all good and why I call it a hobby. Although my wife calls it an obsession- lol.

  9. My favorite Zinfandel is Outpost from Howell Mountain. I have several cases from various vintages. My wife’s favorite is Carlisle Zinfandel. We are drinking our way through a case of Carlisle Papera Ranch 2017. The Outpost is always firm and full bodied ( not for the faint of heart ) whereas the Carlisle is more refined and elegant. And, of course, we routinely drink one of the several Zinfandel offerings from Ridge, the people who first put quality Zin on the map. If you really want to go whole hog you can step up to Turley Zinfandel, however, I have found their wines to be in decline here of late.

    I constantly fret about the fact that I do not adjust my tonearm VTA (SRA) for each and every record I play. What can I say, I have always been lazy and it is getting worse in my old age.

    If this horrible pandemic ever ends and I survive it you are all welcome to stop by and have a listen to the system and sample some of my Zin’s.

    1. Good morning Tony!
      Perhaps you can tell this blind Audiophile/technician how to do something.
      Lets just say that, you have some knobs and switches that makes static every other time you work them.
      And also, you’re very handy with a can of contact cleaner.
      You use the contact cleaner to spray the contacts on the knobs and switches right after you opened up the unit to service it.
      You give it a test run in a few minutes, after you’ve treated it.
      But you find that they’re still giving you static, but not nearly as bad as it was before you performed the service.
      How do you cure that technical illness?
      Thanks in advance!

      1. John,
        Am I being under-analytical, but here is what ‘everyone knows.’

        Turn the knobs vigorously back and forth a few times.
        (Expert tip: Power off)

        Frightens the gremlins out.

        1. Good morning Peter!
          For what it’s worth, I’ve tried doing that.
          I guess what it is, is I can’t see where to spray the contact cleaner in to where the pots and switches have their contacts at.
          But I do know that I’m getting some of it down in there, but I still think I’m missing them.
          My JVC receiver has two rotary switches that sometimes takes the sound away from one of the speakers.
          Some times, I have to give them a good whack to get the sound in that speaker back.
          But please understand, that this is a 47 year old quadraphonic receiver.
          I’ve had it sense I was a 2 year old baby boy.
          But anyhow, those switches are the ones that I can’t seem to get right.

  10. I admit to feeling a little disheartened to hear that Paul makes conscious decisions to screen out faults in a system whose cost must be close the US national average house price. I wonder how that’s possible? I listen to live music at local bars and it is always mic’d through Pro equipment and never needs conscious adjustment. I’m left wondering if the visual cues are the missing link ie it’s between our ears.

  11. It’s what I think of as “reviewer’s syndrome”…you can’t shut your analytical mind off and just simply listen without trying to analyze what you’re hearing. I’ve noted that, for this reason, you sometimes get more pleasure out of listening to your second system or a system you “know” is “inferior.” The expectation level is lower and your analytical mind shuts off.

    On another note, judging by the taste, I wonder if Thunderbird would make a good contact cleaner.

    1. Frank, while you were tapping out your reply I was tapping out mine. You used much less words to say the same thing that tried to express and did it more eloquently but you’ve been at this ‘listen and report’ game for quite some time.

      Another great reply!

  12. Well i do both, sip the Zinfandel Spray the deoxit, only thing is to remember keep them on opposite sides of your bench or you’ll end up cleaning your mouth/teeth, never tried it, but would you get that bright whiteness people are after?

  13. My tipple is a nice Malbec and enjoyed when playing records on occasions but I also use De-oxit and clean my contacts and rca and speaker inputs with it every 3 months or so as a regular cleaning schedule . Its just a routine like I clean my stylus and records.

    1. Malbec is the audiophiles’ wine because it has a split personality. In France its production is largely limited to the Cahors region, a place memorable because after drinking a bottle of wine in the Tarne area my wife arranged for us to be thrown out of the hotel so we arrived at 3am at Chateau de Mercues after my driving exceedingly fast for a couple of hours tailgating a little Renault whilst severely under the influence. It is also where my wife took up paragliding, bless her, jumping off a cliff into the Lot Valley. Malbec from Cahors is aged for at least 12 years and is rich in tannins and has a very deep colour with a hint of tobacco brown. It is also fiendishly expensive, at least the good ones are. Argentinian Malbec is the complete opposite, drunk young and fresh, cheap, a deep purple, a pleasing drink but little refinement. So the same grape but off-the-scale different results, which would give those fools at ASR a mental breakdown.

      1. Did you ever read the book “The Wine Avenger” by Willie Gluckstern? it’s funny as hell, quite easy to find used online and the author absolutely loves Malbec.

        I used to invest in Bordeux and Port futures and had several conversations with the author of this book because he knows his stuff.

        1. Sorry, no. The only book I remember reading about wine, or at least wine was the vehicle for the plot, was “The Irresistible Inheritance of Wilberforce”, by Paul Torday, who wrote the very successful book “Salmon Fishing in Yemen”. The latter is brilliant, but the former is also very good and quite evil, so I recall. Worth reading.

      2. Have not been lucky enough to have a Cahors Malbec as yet Steven will certainly put it on my to do list in the meantime Argentinian and Chilean will suffice. From your story it (Cahores)certainly improves the highs it would seem

        1. I’m not surprised, as the head oeneologist at Mercues told me they had real trouble marketing the stuff. They are few and far between in the UK, prices a bit lower than I expected around $70, and they are now selling young stuff much cheaper, which defeats the object of their wines. The better ones are pure Malbec (they have a special name that I forget), others have 10% to 15% Tannat or Merlot. The other place I remember is Chateau Lagrezette, very pretty, been making wine for 500 years. Mercues is often called “Mercues 6666”, being the density of the vines, which are typically 10,000/hectare. So they get one third less production, which contributes to the higher prices.

            1. Jason told me they were going to limit these events to interested parties and, as he’s cleaned me out, I was surprised to get an invite. Then I got another. Is no one going? Has anyone got any petrol? Smug me has an electric car. I will call him in the morning, he owes me some locking nuts for my speakers.

              We do occasionally drink the Argentinian stuff. My elder son had a soft spot for Beefsteak, I used to get it by the dozen from Majestic and he used to drink it or take it to parties. We drank the odd bottle at home.

  14. Once again, Paul, you’ve scratched the surface of a rather deep issue, and perhaps one of the more important issues for those of us who are interested more in the experience of beauty and mystery than the “mere” miracle of reproduction in our homes. The audiophile pursuit is asymptotic in most ways except perhaps one: the moment of engagement with the music in its creative potential to fix and transform. I’ve come to think that, just as the room and the system determines so much of how a particular component will perform for me, it is the internal work of my mind and body that is essential to the experience of beauty of any type, especially music. As you are someone who practices Buddhism, perhaps there is something in that tradition that is helpful for all of us in achieving one of our ultimate audiophile goals: contentment.

  15. The fact that Mr. Verma continuously upgrades and tweaks his system means that he has not yet achieved the sound he would like and will continue to do so until he does and then and only then will he be able to sit back and enjoy his system without distraction. So he should continue to improve his system to the best of his ability and in the meantime also enjoy it even if it is not what he would like it to be. Regards.

  16. It reminds me of when I sit to play my pipe organ but rather than just enjoy it I often have to stop to correct notes out of tune (unless it is a celeste or vox humana pipe, which are intentionally out of tune). I have a program called Hauptwerk which offers real time playback of actual hi-rez recorded notes of actual pipe organs. Despite those organs being well-tuned and regulated, none of them are in perfect tune and regulation at the time of recording. A single slightly out-of-tune pipe when played with other pipes of similar pitch creates a beating that drives me crazy. It takes hours of digital tuning to get them to my liking. Fortunately, all the tuning data is saved to hard drive and backup so I don’t lose all my hard work. Out of thousands of pipes, I always miss a few and discover them when I’m playing in certain keys or with certain combinations of stops. I can live with the slight out-of-tuneness of equal temperament, which allows music to be played in all intervals. My ears, like those of most musicians, are accustomed to that. One thing I have learned: I would hate to tune pipe organs for a living.

  17. Thanks for bringing this up. In fact, I’m an audiophile and it was always hard for me to hear some kind of interference, especially when I know that it shouldn’t be there and I can fix it. Can you imagine what a picnic with me turns into? My wife doesn’t really like those moments when I am completely focused on the purity of the sounds that I hear, but in this case, I am indispensable when buying headphones, at least it pleases. But seriously, sometimes I just want to listen to the music, and not look for any interference in the sounds.
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