The Bookshelf Equalizer

Have you ushered in the digital age with reckless abandon, leaving behind the analogue one? Have you neglected your CD’s for digital music files, or your books for e-readers? Well then hang on to them either way, because they will help you improve the sound of whatever you do listen to! Plus, they look cool doing so. I bring you the world’s first ‘bookshelf equalizer’. With this experiment, I promise you will never look at your books and CD’s the same way again!


This experiment involves arranging items on a bookshelf in very deliberate ways, to acheive unique improvements in sound quality. The method can work with CD’s, books, DVD’s (yes, including Blu-Ray….), video tapes, cassette tapes, and similar items. Below, you will find a number of variations, covering single-shelf layouts to more intricate multiple shelf layout patterns.

As with all experiments, you must listen to your sound before changing anything, then again after changing something, to see if you can determine any changes in sound quality.



Parity = Whether there should be an odd or even number of items on a given shelf.
Pattern = The arrangement of the items. (n.b. If, ie., I reference “CD’s”, the instructions are the same as applies to books, DVD’s, videotapes, etc.)
Sound = Type of sound that pattern produces
Spine =


* Remove all bookmarks from the pages of books, and shelf dividers. They impede the flow of energy.
* Start with all CD’s (or books, etc) right side up, vertical on the shelf. This means, spine facing you (you can read the title), title reads left to right. Thus any items not rearranged, should remain in this default position.
* In all cases, its best to push the CD’s/books toward the back of the shelf, unless otherwise stated in the pattern instructions. However, after I push them back, I like to pull them out just a hair, so that they don’t actually touch the back of the shelf (else it creates interface tension, resulting in a slightly less desirable sound quality).


Sound: Musical, tonally grounded. May have a toy-soundstage (ref. to small)
Parity: Even
Pattern: Note: In this variation, the items will be placed horizontally on the shelf. So, divide CDs on shelf in half. Turn the right half so that the spine is facing the rear (away from you). (e.g. For 7 cd’s on the left, spine is facing you, the next 7, spine is facing the shelf.)


Sound: Quite musical, fluid, well-balanced, beyond the usual criticisms.
Parity: Even
First shelf: Same as “Half Empty”
Second shelf (adjacent, to the right of first shelf): Same
Third shelf (below first shelf): same, but placed vertically

n.b. I consider this variation a standard of comparison. It is the best of all those listed in this article. Note, if it isn’t reproduced just as shown in the photo, with 3 shelves, comprising the adjacent shelf and the one below the first shelf, then I can’t speak for what sort of sound will come from a modification of this layout. Although, if you have a single piece of furniture, you should be able to achieve similarly good results from doing 3 shelves, one below the other (ie. horizontal, vertical, horizontal; or vice versa).

n.b. The CD’s on the second shelf are empty jewel cases. Showing that it isn’t simply informational fields in play here (although that is part of it).

: Starting with an even number of CD’s, turn the CD to the left of the middle CD around.

Sound: Will retain the original timbral colour of instruments and integrity of the sonic structure. But will not significantly increase definition-resolution-information and-or musicality, as the other variations will.
Parity: Even
Pattern: Find the middle CD, turn the CD to the immediate right of that CD, so that the spine faces the shelf. (e.g. Out of 16 CD’s, turn the 9th).


Sound: Does not sound right, with inverted attack and decay characteristics, making for rolled-off edges. You may not care, as its musicality is enveloping.
Parity: Odd
Pattern: Turn all CD’s on the shelf so that spines face towards the shelf, then find the middle CD, and turn the one just to the right of it, so that spine faces you. (e.g. Out of 15 CD’s, turn no. 8).

THE ROMANTIC, Pepe Le Pew Edition:

Sound: Similar to “The Romantic”, with softer strings and a complete lack of harshness.
Parity: Odd
Pattern: Find the middle CD and turn the one just to the left of it, so that spine faces shelf. (e.g. Out of 15 CD’s, turn no. 7 and 8).


Sound: Good resolution and balance of highs/lows, neutral tone, not the most engaging however.
Parity: Odd
Pattern: Leave the CD’s on either end of the bookshelf, as is (with the spine toward you). Start from the 2nd CD, turn that one so that the spine faces the shelf. The next CD leave as is, and continue alternating so that each other CD is turned, ensuring the last CD remains with the spine facing you.


Sound: Neutral sort of sound.
Parity: Odd
Pattern: Same as “Insy Outsy”, except the CD’s that are turned, are turned so that the spine faces the ceiling (first and last CD, spine faces the ceiling).


Sound: You tell me and we’ll both know.
Parity: Odd
Pattern: On the first shelf, all CD’s are left as normal and pushed back except: first CD is pulled out to the edge of the shelf. On the second shelf, all CD’s are pulled out to the edge, except the last CD is pushed in.

· the advanced audiophile

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Hello, i am a firm believer and first i must thank you for all your trips…. Must admit that i use a lot of pwb stuff too.

    I have tiddied up my disc shelves, putting all Discs in the default up right position : real improvment….. with softer natural sound

    I want now to try the arrangement you propose.

    One question : how do i count a jewel box with 2 or 3 cds as 2 or 3 Discs or a single box ? What about carboard sleeves ? with two CDS ? Shall i count one sleeve or 2 cds ?
    I must try with lps too.

    I will let you know
    Again thanks for all

    Philippe from france

  2. Count all multiple CD's (or LPs), whether cardboard or plastic, as ONE CD or LP. Just as a book would have many pages, but be considered 1 book.

  3. Thank you for your comment ! I actually thought choosing your solution by default ! have to actually do it now !
    What surprises me is that no one make any commentaries about these "wonders" !
    Take care

  4. "What surprises me is that no one make any commentaries about these "wonders" !"

    I'm waiting for the world to catch up.

    As usual. 😉

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