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Many Beltists, myself included, will probably know about the relevance of “reef knots”. It is an old P.W.B. idea to tie a reef knot in an audio cable to improve one’s sound. Most everyone else however, might think you're out to lunch. But yeah, it’s a real thing. And whenever I want a cheap, quick and dirty fix for a friend's sickly sounding audio system, that’s my go-to. 

It’s been a long time since I played around with the knots though, so I thought it might need revisiting. The reef knot is tied into audio cables, such as phono cables or speaker wires - which are normally placed within the signal path of the audio system. But it will also work just on rope (that has no direct connection to your stereo). It just won’t work as well, very likely. 

Actually, I was going to write an article about a different knot, since I went about seeing if I could improve upon the reliable old standard of the reef knot, coming up with a couple of variations. And maybe I came close, but in the end, I was not so sure mine was as good as Peter’s, let alone better. I'll leave that notion for another time. Instead, this will article will focus on the reef knot, as used in Beltism. This should help even if you are a Belter and you’ve been doing these reef knots in cables for years. For this article will detail a new method of using it. 

Because, instead of trying to vary or improve on the reef knot, I thought I would start with that and see if I could find a better way to use it. That much I succeeded in doing. Actually, if I say so myself  I went beyond my expectations. I found a method that gives (what I recognize as) a “correct” sound. Which to my mind, has implications far beyond reef knots or minor audio tweaks. For (done right), it is a sound that most manufacturers don’t, and perhaps can’t, quite achieve. Let’s just say, I hear the absence of this sound in their audio products. And I know why. But the reasons are beyond the scope of this article to explain, and more than I want to explain, anyway.

I don’t know if others will be able to replicate all that I was able to achieve with this simple reef knot technique in a cheap audio cable. I'm putting in enough details here to explain most of the things that I do during the process, in order to come close as possible to replicating what I'm able to do. So if you dare to try this 'tweak'/'treatment', here’s how to tell if you have succeeded: 

First, if you’ve been listening carefully to your system before the change, the upgrade in sound quality is quite apparent (to my ears, anyway). It’s a balanced sound, that has it all. Sharpness, clarity (without fatigue), timbre, taut and musical bass notes, the perfect doses of attack and decay, resolution and, most importantly, musicality. So basically, its everything I could possibly want in a sound, in one sitting. On to business….


So for this revised Reef Knot Tweak, you will need one pair of RCA phono cables (I used the garden variety sort), and one old tape deck you don’t plan on using. (If you haven’t a tape deck, it could be any other audio component that has one pair of both left/right INPUTS and OUTPUTS. Such as a receiver). In this experiment, the component won’t be connected in the stereo chain, because you’ll be plugging the input to the output. Effectively making it impossible to connect the device to anything else (unless you have several input/output jacks on the component). The hard part, is getting past the idea that it needs to be connected to the stereo to have an effect on your perceived sound. But that shouldn’t be too difficult. You’ve already gone a long ways toward that, if you’re putting a reef knot in an RCA cable!

In any case, I prefer to use an unconnected component, because I suspect that when the component is plugged into an outlet, the box itself will automatically sound worse (because of what pulling juice does to its energy signature). So if it sounds worse, then the knotted cable's effect will probably suffer as well. 

Here’s how to create the reef knot:

This method is a revised version of the reef knot technique I originally showed on the main website of AA. That earlier method wasn't quite right, in fact. (Time moves on, you learn new things!). I suspect it will be preferable to use a standard black cable with red and white plugs here. It comes free with most audio video equipment. No need to separate these 2 wires. The knot you will be tying will be using both wires, and it will be a single knot at one end. (One end of the wire will be superior to the other, but for the sake of simplicity and making this doable for most people, let’s pretend I didn’t just say that. Whichever end you go with, try to make the finished knot as close to the end as possible).

You start creating the first loop by placing one end of the cable over top of itself, like so:

Next, twist the cable around the left side, like so:

Next, a second twist on that side, like so:

Next, you bring the wire underneath and across the loop, like so:

Then, you create a single twist on the opposite side, starting with: 

And a second twist on that side:

Notice that both ends of the cable are underneath the loop at this point. Now, to finish things up and improve the sound, you will tighten the knot by grasping it and both wires, and pulling until it tightens up, like so:

Finally, make the end loop smaller by placing your pinky finger in it and pulling on the opposite, longer length of wire, to result in the finished product, pictured below. 

n.b. Note the arrow pointing to the closed loop wrapping around the bottom of the knot. It's important for good sound, that this be the side that should be laying up (facing the ceiling), when you install the cable:

Ok, so wasn't that easy? You now have what I consider the right way to do the "classic reef knot" technique in Beltism. You can now employ this "treated" cable in any number of ways, such as by simply plugging the end which contains the knot, into the input jacks of various audio components (red to red, white to white). At least, this was more or less how it was always done. But now I'm more inclined to think that while it passes the "improvement" test, the sound won't be "right", with just the one cable, no matter how its installed. Fortunately, I've got 2 solutions for that below.....

Input/Output Variation:  Now for my twist on the reef knot effect: Place the red plug closest to the reef knot in the RIGHT OUTPUT of an unused audio component with input/output jacks. Place the WHITE plug on the opposite end of the cable into the RIGHT INPUT of the machine. (See photo of tape deck at the beginning of this article). Place the machine back on the shelf system containing your main audio components, correctly and with the faceplate facing you.

Part 2: 

Notice the 2nd set of cables in the above photo? This is Part 2, my attempt to improve what is already a considerable improvement over the usual single knotted cable. It is only possible here, because I have a 2nd set of inputs and outputs on the cassette deck. So, on a second reef-knotted phono cable, the red plug goes into the RIGHT OUTPUT (#2), the white plug into the RIGHT INPUT (#1).

So what does this do? It completes the circle, in a sense. IMO, the sound of the one knotted cable can stand by itself, and is very attractive alone. But the sound of two knotted cables, installed this way? That's a whole 'nuther kettle of fish. 

Some listeners might not like these fish, because the mids and highs are sound very rolled off, with no sparkle or extension whatsover. But then once you listen to this, you have to ask, is every sound you're getting off of other audio devices wrong? Because there is evidently a lot right about this sound. It kind of reminds me of the sound of the Meitner DAC, back in the day, in case that's a reference for anyone... 

For one thing, it will never be fatiguing. The highs are very 'sweet' and muted, but at the same time extended. The entire range of resolution is extended, over the single cable solution. This means big bass, big deeper soundstage, and overall, the sound is even less analytical and more engaging than with the single cable solution. In fact, it doesn't sound like anything at all, it would seem. 

With the 2 cable setup, it just sounds very natural, you lose yourself in it, and even if it may have twice the resolution, you have no inclination to be sitting there picking out details. It's all about the music, with this one.  So it's the sound that I'm sticking with, at the end of this experiment.  BTW, I chose the jacks I did for a reason. So I don't know if this sound can be replicated in a device without 2 sets of input/outputs.

A few rules to live by:

- Don't be tempted to put a dozen knots into the cable. Just one - the others will mess things up.

- Don't be tempted to randomly plug up every empty RCA jack you see in your system with such a cable. Your sound will likely suffer, rather than improve. Sometimes, less really is more.

There are specific ways the energy we're manipulating here travels. This is in fact, how this whole thing works. (When this energy travels through the reef knot, it helps create a benign pattern. When the same energy travels through, say, a simple knot, or most other types of knots, it creates a pattern less appealing to human senses. Resulting in a worse, not better sound). 

If it's going to be used on inputs, I recommend just one reef knot cable per component. With the exception of the input/output variation described in this article, if more than one reef knotted cable is used, it should be an odd number of cables. And I would probably want to stop at a maximum of 3, anyway.

Much like using numerous knots within a cable, the compound effect of too many knotted cables in a system is not ideal. Yes, you may note the sound does improve exponentially, the more such cables are installed. It gets deeper, darker, richer, with better resolution of timbre. At the same time, there are negative effects; ie. the midrange gets choked, increasingly. This makes you less able to follow and get into vocals, for example.

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