A reappearance of Black Diamond Racing?


I received an email from Music Direct a couple weeks ago offering the BDR shelves again. Anyone else notice this? I use them extensively in my system and actually use carbon fiber sheets in DIY projects. I'm a big fan of CF's usefulness in audio.
slaw
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FYI: Saw an AGon listing for "Shelf for the Source" for $900. Too small for my VPI. Not sure it would make any difference.
I've been a long time customer. The have always has the discs, etc for sale...not the shelves...IE: my inquiry?
Every single component in my system is on Cones. Everything but the speakers are on the Shelf. With Cones and Those Things. Speakers on Cones with Pucks. CDP and phono stage each have a small Shelf on top. Still never have heard anything better. DJ died some years ago, thought he took the secret with him. Makes me wonder if its still being made how its being made and who knows how to do it?
The shelves are pretty expensive, but sets of Those Things (2.75" square by 0.75" thick blocks) show up used occasionally for around $100, and may be just as effective. The cones new were only $60/3, and are even cheaper used.
I knew DJ.  Very intelligent and creative.  I use BDR products all over my system.

I've tried just about everything out there over the past 40 years and the BDR stuff is probably the most effective that I've used.  I really believe in it.

WONDERFUL and highly recommended!
Never got off on em. It wasn’t due to lack of trying, either. I find BDR cones to be toward the bottom of my short list with NASA grade ceramics at the top. I have found extremely hard cones sound best, more open and more dynamic and more natural, whereas relatively soft materials sound relatively uh, worse, blunted and compressed. Relatively soft materials such as carbon fiber, brass and hardwood (kind of an oxymoron in this example). The shape of BDR cones is all wrong, too. The correct shape is a ballistic shape a la Super DH (Diamond Hardness) Cone or the robust Michael Green brass cone.

“Because it’s what I choose to believe.” - Dr. Elizabeth Shaw in Prometheus

”Everything is relative.” - A. Einstein 
@geoffkait ,

You only list BDR cones as your reference. I have the cones but my experience with them is not as positive as the shelves, or in my DIY projects with cf sheets.

@mofimadness ,
+1
Do I detect a typo or something in that last post? 🤔
Goldensound is discontinuing their line of DH Cones. I was told this a few weeks ago when I ordered a set. I got the last set of Super cones in the US. They have stock in their Taiwan facility, but that's the last of it.
Thanks to @geoffkait for turning me on to these amazing devices. 
IMO, they add more realism than the BDR.

mofimadness, a man who clearly has ears and knows how to use them, writes:
I knew DJ. Very intelligent and creative. I use BDR products all over my system.

I’ve tried just about everything out there over the past 40 years and the BDR stuff is probably the most effective that I’ve used. I really believe in it.

WONDERFUL and highly recommended!


Right. Excellent. Same here. And totally agree.
BDR is so good, when first discovered I showed it to a friend. A driven, highly motivated audiophile with 30+ years experience constantly trying to find and reverse engineer and DIY every tweak he could find, he rolled his eye at me. "Yeah I’ll try em. But do you have any idea how many times I’ve heard that?" He then proceeded to rattle off a seemingly endless list of stuff he had tried. "It won’t be any good. I’m not paying for anything that doesn’t work." On and on.

Next day, same guy calls and you can’t shut him up, just going on and on and on about all the great things he’s hearing, how much better than anything else he’s ever tried, how in the world is this even possible, on and on.

This was way back in 92, 93, something like that. Nobody in Washington State had any. DJ agreed to sell to me wholesale until a "real" area retailer came along.

Being a stupid stoked audiophile I took them to audio clubs and spent the next year or three taking these into scads of audiophiles homes where they were auditioned under literally hundreds of different components. In all that there were maybe one or two times when the improvement was hard to hear. All the rest of the time it was immediate and obvious.

At $60 for 3 BDR Cones are still the best tweak for the buck.

Now I didn’t just buy and sell and use. I also tried my best to reverse engineer. Nor did I just use the stuff as intended. I fabricated with it. Had DJ make me some custom bits. Never did find anything or any place the super stiff, highly damped, moderately massive material didn’t perform beyond expectations.

Here’s a prime example of what I’m talking about. https://www.theanalogdept.com/c_miller.htm

It looks a lot different now with a Conqueror arm and new motor drive, but that’s my table. Built from a Source Shelf. Tried building the same from scratch, tried different methods of carbon fiber. Probably have a hard time finding anyone this side of DJ who knows more about this stuff than me. Fairly hard even just to make it look as good. Then use it, never sounds anywhere near as good. Built a plinth or two, built a bunch of Cones, Pucks, etc. Mostly all I got to show for it is a healthy respect for how much work goes into developing something as good as BDR.

Well, that and one pretty darn fine turntable.

I had the cones under a component and also under a pair of older Kharma speakers. Wasnt much of a fan. I agree with geof in that I think the shape was wrong for many applications. I have never found a one size fits all solution in this realm, however.

Oy millercarbon, a lead shot loaded acrylic turntable platter! Geoff also disapproves of lead. Both of my VPI’s have the 1.25" thick TNT platter with a thin sheet of lead bonded to the bottom of the aluminum, a very effective vibration sink. I have both BDR and Goldensound DH cones, using the DH as feet for my Townshend Rock Elite table, whose plinth is an upside-down "baking pan" filled with gypsum. The ceramic DH feet are a better mechanical impedance match for the table’s gypsum bottom surface, but if I had a carbon fiber plinth I imagine the BDR cones might prevail. A carbon fiber turntable plinth---brilliant!

Just about any cone is superior to the Mod Squad Tip Toe, which are fabricated of a very soft aluminum. Under a heavy load, in very short order the tips of the cones become compressed and flattened. Okay design, terrible execution.

The lead platter is mostly for looks. Chris came out with a much better platter, but it was all black and my lead shot platter just looks so good especially spinning..... besides, that upgrade would have been in my eyes a half-measure. The Full Monty which I still may do one day, is to have the platter machined out of a Source Shelf.

Right around the time I would have done that DJ decided it would be a good idea to steal my turntable design, and so never did get one thick enough for a platter. Could still be done easily enough, bonding a couple Shelf together for thickness then machining the platter. Chris’s brother Bryce did the Teres platters and could probably do one for me easily enough. Just need to get up the motivation to get into it again.
mc, Groovetracer makes both an acrylic and Delrin version of their Rega replacement platter, which are reported to sound quite different. VPI switched to acrylic for their platters for a while, but quickly considered it a step backwards from the Delrin they were using (for the top layer of the TNT 2-5 and Aries 1 platters, and the entire HW-19), and switched again to first stainless steel (in the TNT-5) and then aluminum.
“Geoff disapproves of lead.”

You can say that again. Where lead is the most obvious for anyone who’s never figured it out, the bass gets all messed up, unnatural sounding and glumpy. It’s one of the very worst materials ever foisted on young naive audiophiles. It even happened to Pierre at Mapleshade and yes very far from naive. He used a ton of it at the shows. He even had a guy on staff who’s duty it was to make sure all the lead arrived at the Shows. Of course, when you look at my scheme how materials sound, from best to worst, according to hardness guess which material brings up the rear!
One Teres platter version, the black one, was I think Delrin. Most of these materials- acrylic, Delrin, aluminum, MDF, stainless, all the usual suspects - are used more because they are affordable and easily worked with than anything. In other words its not like they are the best materials, its they are the least bad materials that can be used cost-effectively. That is why those few materials keep showing up and being used again and again.

Its like the band-aid or system matching MyFi approach to cables- instead of doing the hard work of finding something genuinely across the board excellent we'll take the easy way out and try and balance a lack here with a surplus there.

That's why you keep seeing these things being laminated together. Its like wine or whiskey. This one's too sharp, that one's too mellow, hey but if we blend em all together.... Only at least the wineries are honest and up front about it. In audio for some reason they feel compelled to make up BS like constrained layer damping. Please. Its a blend. Because you don't really know what you're doing. Just come out and admit it.

In the case of BDR its not just the carbon fiber. A lot of it is the material in between. Which I know for a fact because DJ sent me a Shelf with no carbon fiber that works as well as the more expensive ones with. Hard to say exactly since you cannot compare different sizes and this one was an odd size but it sure seemed to work just as expected only without the CF.


I purchased (7) from Music Direct back in the day. Both TTs, the preamp, both phonostages and a pair of Pass monos. Benefit from "The Shelf ". Yes, they were spendy but worth it.
George Merrill was at one time (in the 1980’s, at least) putting a top layer of lead on his turntable platters, in support of the notion that lead provides a better mechanical impedance to the vinyl of LP’s than does any other material. That was followed by the carbon graphite mats made by a couple of companies. Like everything else, everyone has their opinion, with theory to back it up.
Lead is the sort of material audiophiles instantly fall in love 🥰 with. Not too hard. Not too soft. 😬
@millercarbon,

I've thought about doing the same thing (using one of my circular SFTS platforms for my tt project' plinth.
Well if you are building a plinth, I really don't think you can do any better than a BDR Source Shelf. Even the thinner Shelf would be better than pretty much anything else you could find. I built a few and nothing came even close to the Source Shelf. The stuff is just so damn stiff and dense and highly damped- perfect for a plinth!

Don't be put off by it being carbon fiber. There is really only one layer of carbon fiber on each side. As far as cutting, shaping, machining, sanding, polishing, it works just like wood. Very, very hard wood. Not as hard as aluminum. But I have some very dense hardwood in my shop that is actually harder to cut and sand. Very doable.

Mine was cut first on a band saw, then hand sanded. Other parts were routered, drilled, and cut and threaded just like any other material. 

If you decide to try it first wrap the whole Shelf in blue painters tape. Leave the tape in place all the way to the end. That way only the areas you work get exposed and you wind up with a perfect blemish-free finish.




I just unpacked a couple of Torlyte shelves I bought back in the 80's or early-90's. I'm going to try one under my Townshend Rock Elite table, to see if Torlyte is still a contender. VERY low mass, high stiffness-to-mass ratio, but made of wood (fabricated into a honeycomb structure). Torlyte was popular when the Linn Sondek ruled the world.
I still have a couple of Torlyte products from back in the day.

Russ Andrews is a...interesting gentleman.

Torlyte was the talk of the town 30 years ago.  You don't hear much about it now?
@millercarbon,
Thanks for the tips!

Ideally slaw you would find a used Shelf, or two, or even better a Source Shelf. If you are unsure a simple proof of concept will remove all doubt. Simply drill a hole or two to mount a bearing, add arm and motor, see how it sounds. I bet even without being careful, just slapping a motor on, piece of wood or MDF for the arm board, hardly even trying you will still be hearing a deep dark noise floor and more inner detail than ever. I mean it just kills it in terms of dropping the noise floor. 

This way if for any reason you don't want to go on well you still have a Shelf only with a hole in it but still perfectly good for sitting components on. But that won't happen. You will want to go on.

If you look at mine one of the top images shows the Miller Carbon sitting on a Source Shelf. https://www.theanalogdept.com/c_miller.htm The table itself was all built from one Source Shelf. The plinth was cut out of a Shelf much like it looks in the photo. The left corner was then cut into a 5" diameter circle to be used for the nut that screws onto the bearing. Scroll down the page to a side view to see this. The right corner was cut into a smaller 3" circle to make the tone arm mount. Those Things and Cones thread right into the plinth. 

This is all based on a modification of Chris Brady's Teres turntable. http://www.teresaudio.com/fame/index.html Chris no longer makes the tables but he used an arm board so you could run virtually any length arm. https://www.usaudiomart.com/details/649452242-teres-255-baltic-birch-turntable-with-signature-motor-... Mine goes for maximum strength and stability by making the sides more curved and using a solid arm base instead of the board. Either way works fine it just depends on what you want.

Every time I go back to that site it reminds me how long I've had my table. More than 16 years now!

@millercarbon,
My project has been in the works for several years, some in actual building/testing but mostly in my mind. I own several BDR shelves/SFTSs. I just bought two 14" diameter SFTS a year ago that were originally made for Thor monoblocks. These, I got at a great deal and aren’t cosmetically great. So they will be great candidates for my project. Mine will be based on VPI’s Super Platter w/inverted bearing. I have the design of the motor enclosure mostly figured out. I’m going to go for the SOTA/Phoenix Engineering set-up. This motor will bolt perfectly to my already machined plate. Planning on two separate arm pods, one for my ET 2.5 and one for my Moerch DP-8.

Sounds like you are most of the way there. Whatever you build, will work great on a Shelf. Think you'll be able to finish it this year?

Honestly, I doubt it, the way things have been going..... of coarse if I'd quit listening as much as I do, I could.
Know what you mean. Every time the choice is sit and listen and enjoy what you got or do something else to maybe make it better. But its so much easier to sit and listen, so much work to make it better. It seems I am more lazy than energetic so often its a little surprising I have a stereo to listen to at all.
Just talked with the folks at Music Direct. They are not stocking the BDR shelves, but will order them for you. Looking at the BDR website, all size shelves are available, including custom sizes. The regular shelfs are 3/4" thick, the Source, The Shelf is 1 1/4 " thick. They are introducing a "Cloud Shelf "  They are Spendy, but worth the price.
Oh yeah, definitely worth the price.

Something very important that never seems to come across in any of the websites. The BDR vibration control approach is modular, flexible and progressively complimentary. In other words the stuff is designed to work together, and the more, the better.

The first and most cost-effective step is three Cones under everything. The next step up from Cones is Pits, Pucks or Those Things- but they are all slightly different versions of the same thing, basically a pad or base that spreads and improves the effectiveness of the Cones. A Cone can go between the component and a Pit, or be screwed into a Puck and placed under the component. The improvement either way is big but like everything else you just have to experiment to find which way is bigger. One thing you learn doing this, the conventional wisdom about points and vibration flowing is just bonkers.

The next step up from this is to add three more Pits or Pucks. So at this point it goes component, Puck, Cone, Pit. Huge improvement. By the time you get to this point you have added something like $500 in BDR but have a component that sounds something like $2500 better. 

Only when you get to this level does it make sense to go to a Shelf. Then you are back with the same deal of adding Cones and Pucks under the Shelf. Doing the same thing only now at an impressively higher level as the Shelf drops the noise floor, grain and glare letting you hear impressively deep into the recording. 

I know everyone says that about everything. But the Cones alone deliver the same, only less, but enough so that at only $60 for a set they are still one of the best bargain tweaks in audio.
This is a good lesson for the newbies how audiophiles sometimes get carried away with things. Once they commit to an idea there’s no stopping them! 🔙 The same thing happens to lead as a filler or support or node damper or whatever. It seems like such a good idea, right? Not too soft, not too hard. And SONEX. 🤮 And room treatment in general. Foam padding in chairs. Sorbothane. Gawd! Look, I did not fall off the turnip truck yesterday and have evaluated all manner of cones, including the BDR Cones for ages, at least going back more than twenty years.

I have an advantage, admittedly, since I evaluated various materials & cones in conjunction with my advanced isolation stands including the sub-Hertz Nimbus platform. Now, one big advantage to being able to evaluate cones under the platform and cones under the component is all the differences are much more obvious in the context of component isolation and the drawbacks of certain materials are more obvious. The super hard DH Cones from Golden Sound outperform BDR cones hands down, it’s not really close. Very hard materials beat relatively softer materials every time. And the DH Squares, graphite composite and DH Shelves also outperform BDR shelves. The NASA grade ceramics are analogous to Rafa Nadal on clay. Nobody comes close.