Blue Tak: The Duct Tape of High
In Canada, we have a TV show that
is best described as the Canadian version of Home
Improvement. The show is called Red Green and
its star, a gentleman named Red Green, uses duct tape to make
just about everything. You know its a Canadian show
because, unlike Home Improvement, Red Green wears a plaid shirt.
In fact, I think everyone on the show wears a plaid shirt. Red
Greens favorite sayings are:
- if a woman
doesnt find you handsome, she should at least find
- duct tape, the
handymans secret weapon...
You may be asking what exactly
this has to do with audio. I believe that Blue Tak is as useful
in high end audio as duct tape is around the house. Im a
little too thrifty to actually drop the 15 or so dollars for the
audio version of the stuff, so I head out to the local office
supply store for the nearest equivalent. In whatever incarnation
it comes, be it Blue Tak, Fun Tak, Wall Tak,
etc., that little blue gob of goo has got to be the most useful
audio accessory on the face of the planet. I call it the
duct tape of high end audio. For simplicitys
sake, I will simply refer to it as Tak.
Why is this stuff so incredibly
handy? It has some very important qualities that are highly
prized in this crazy hobby: it sticks to things without leaving
marks when its removed (mostly!), it sticks things together
even if they arent smooth or flat, and it is low in
resonance. These combinations make it very useful to stick any
combination of things together while reducing vibrations.
Here are some uses, some
common, some a little different:
- Speakers to speaker
stands - for best results use four small pieces
rolled into little balls about the size of a pea - not
those awful little soft British peas - they should be
about 3/8" in diameter. Put them on the four corners
of the stands and place the speakers where you want them
to sit, then put as much weight on the speakers as you
can without breaking anything. I have used this technique
and the contact is so strong I can pick up my speakers
and the stands wont fall off - and the stands are
filled with 40lbs of sand! The best way to pull something
off that is Taked down is to twist first, then
- Audio cones to equipment,
speakers and racks - the same thing, less is more.
With audio cones it is especially important to make sure
the pieces of Tak are the same size or youre
equipment wont level correctly. In these cases
its best to use a fresh piece as they are already
in uniform strips, cut the pieces from the same strip for
best results. You can also use them UNDER the cones (the
pointy part) to protect the finish on your equipment
I even used it to put my rack on Tender Feet. I
have a modified version of the Rack and Roll
project and didnt want to machine screw holes in
the bottom of my threaded steel rods so I just Taked
them in place.
- Along the edge of poorly
made speaker stands to keep the sand in - I have a
friend with the four post Atlantis stands and they leak
sand out the top and bottom when they are full. He makes
strings that are about an 8th of an inch
thick and pushes them into the edges of the posts. No
more leaks. It doesnt look the best, but you could
probably paint it or even cover it with black electrical
- Hold down cable duct to
the floor - it is dangerous to have long runs of
cable or wiring run across the floor when people are
going to be stepping on or over them. There is specially
designed floor duct for this, but you have to stick it to
the floor. Double sided tape would probably do the job,
but I know someone who Taked it to the floor.
- In cartridges to help
hold your cables in - some people put Tak on
the cartridge where the cables plug in. You plug the
cables in first and put a small amount around the cable
to help hold it in. It supposedly helps with the contact
of the cables to cartridge and, again helps reduce
vibration. Be careful around that cartridge though, you
dont want to turn an inexpensive tweak into a
- Between your cartridge
and the mounting shell on your tonearm- This makes
for better contact between the two and apparently has
limited use on the better tonearms out there.
- To elevate speaker cable
off the floor - there are a number of people who are
obsessed with how all their cabling interacts with other
cables and, eek!, the floor. There are various theories
such as making sure all cables dont touch or
ensuring that they cross at right angles, elevating them
off the floor is another common practice. Tak can
facilitate each of these.
- Tak your
nickels to the floor - so when the cleaning ladies
come in, you dont have to put your speakers back in
alignment. I found that my speakers were too easily moved
by careless people and the nickels I use under my spikes
slide across the hardwood floor too easily. A little Tak
under each nickel solved that problem.
- Attach mdf to the floor
- to keep spikes from ruining your hardwood and not
having to worry about trying to keep those *&^%$#!!
nickels under your spikes. As a reviewer, I have often
lamented the practice of having my spikes sitting on
nickels. Sure it works and saves the floor, but when you
are trying to swap and compare speaker stands or even
speakers, I really wish I had carpeting with plywood
underflooring. One weekend, when I was doing a fair bit
of comparison between stands, I Taked a couple of
large pieces of MDF to the floor so I could shuffle those
spiked beasts around without trying to line those
bleeping nickels up!
- On AIG
Imagers Andrew Marshalls Audio Ideas Guide magazine sells some foam rings
that fit around the edge of your tweeters to improve
imaging by reducing dispersion. They actually work quite
well on most speakers and they are an inexpensive tweak -
6 bucks. I have used Tak on these to try them out
on review speakers that I didnt want them
permanently adhered to.
- Keep pictures from
rattling - if you have pictures that rattle when your
subwoofer kicks in, use a little Tak at the bottom
of the frame. This goes for anything that may rattle on a
shelf or a bookcase as well.
- Reinforce your CD rack
- a fellow reviewer at SoundStage! cant
afford a decent CD rack, so he uses Tak in the
spots where the wood doesnt fit together
particularly well, it also adds structural strength.
- Keep your subwoofer from
jumping around - Another reviewer has a Sunfire
subwoofer, a particularly small and powerful sub which
has no accommodation for spikes. He found that not only
did it improve the sound, but it kept the sub from
- Tak Tube
Hats - on the tip top of most 9 pin tubes which are
not running scalding hot, you can make a cone shaped
"hat" of Tak... do not let it get too
far down around the edge/lip of the top of the tube or it
will melt from the heat. This works on most 6DJ8/6922 and
12A_7 tube types. It is about as effective as any other
tube damping. The heat does something to the Tak over
time, it gets less resilient so it should be thrown away
with the tube - or if the tube lasts a long time,
changing the Tak before the tube wears out might
- Hanging things on the
wall - at the Montreal show, I even noticed that one
of the distributors had put up a poster using Tak.
Actually, this was its original use. If youre
old enough (or young enough!) you may have actually seen
it first used by the teacher in grade school to hang up
the stuff he/she just wrote on the easel. Who knew you
were learning an important audio technique at the age of
Most of what I have described are
almost identical situations - something needing a damped
attachment that is easily removed. Here are some uses that are a
little more fun:
- Tak the cat
- I know someone who has a cat thats quite
intrigued with his turntable while its playing.
Its hard to listen to music when youre
worried about a swat that could cost several
thousand dollars. He has often lamented that he has not
yet found an effective way to keep the cat at bay while
listening to music. Tak your cat to the ceiling -
- In your spouses
ears - sometimes cotton just isnt dense enough
for a good listening session.
- In your ears - when
your spouse finds out how much you spent on your new
- Tak behind
the ear to push the ear out - increases the ratio of
direct sound to reflected sound.
- Tak on the
ear lobe and/or inside pinnea - tunes the response of
the ear, dampens unwanted fleshy resonances.
- Tak Caps - A
set to give you beautiful teeth without an expensive trip
to the dentist.
- Chewing Gum - add a
little mint... who knows?
Do you have a use for Tak?
Let us know