Nice post - these can be good for amps, too, YMMV, depensing on setup etc.
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Hello from Houston,
I agree. I have been using marble slabs/tiles for at least 15 years. I have a large marble cutting board (purchased at Crate and Barrel) under my turntable which in turn sits on a sand filled Arcici Lead Balloon stand, I have one under my OTL headphone amplifier (the exposed glowing tubes stand out and look particularly good in the dark), under the speakers etecetra. First and formost like you said, there is significant improvement in the quality of sound (after all it is all about sound isn't it ?). Secondly, they look fantastic dramatically improving the WAF. Lastly, the marble breaks the monotonous, stern look of the various black components.
I have been an avid "audiophile" since I was a kid and can only dream of having a system like Albert Porter's (or even listen to one as good as his) but two young kids and sundry other responsibilities only allow me these minor luxuries.
I did the same thing but instead of using marble I used granite which is a harder material. I had spike holes drilled in the marble and the edges flared. The marble is black with gold viens and looks beautiful. I use them under my Target speaker stands. Now the sound is outstanding on the Dynaudio Contour 1.1's and the look is as I said very nice. A lot of tile and marble outlets have scraps that can be used and this can lower the cost also.
If you stroll outdoors to the masonry section at the Depot, you may find 16" x 16" x 2.5" blocks, your choice of brick or concrete, and hey, the cost per pound is very low. They make pretty good speaker bases, especially if you want to raise your speakers a couple inches. Of course they have a low WAF, and if you use too many of them you may have to reinforce the floor. Hmm, guess that's why my system is in the basement.
Ok Ok! So I'm not the inverntor of the idea but it was new to me, and I found it purely by accident. I think that is the way the Mississippi river was discovered as well, by accident. So just like me, someone down here was screaming " I found it I found it! When they discovered the river. And God looked down and said. I've know where that was for years.
But none the less it was an exciting tweak for me. The more I learn about this high end stuff, the more I realize how simple ( and inexpensive ) it really is to obtain good sound. Ummm without owning a $30,000 system.
Machinery and tool supply houses such as Grizzly Products sell granite blocks that machinists use to set up work on. These blocks come in varied sizes up to about 16x20 and either 2 or 3 inches thick. They are black granite and finished in a smooth surface that is very level and precise (for machining). They are great for such applications as speaker or amp bases. They have considerable mass, the 12x20 amp blocks I use weigh about 60 to 75 pounds each. They are quite inexpensive and look quite good. I have used them under amps and speakers for some time and found a great improvement. I set mine on cones for even better isolation.
Been using tiles under my system for the last two years. These tiles have to be 2 to 3 inches thick to get the solidity you need. here's my take: Granite improves the soundstage but Marble makes the bass tighter, although it may add an occasional glassy tinge to the sound. I've been advised to get some maplewood blocks, apparently I'm told they're better than granite or marble.
If you really want to try the maple tiles, go to your local cabinet maker. Give him the measurements you would like, he/she can even put the fancy edge on for you if you would like. I know how we audiophiles are into looks :) I bought my amps based just as much on appearance, as I did performance. I will guarantee you the price will definitely be less than the $70 I saw on the net. Well now that I think about it, I think I will go buy one.
I'll let you know.
One of the ideas of spikes in the first place was so the speaker would be "anchored" to the flooring rather than floating on the carpet and perhaps wobbling ever so slightly on dynamic passages, thus reducing the impact. Floating the spiked speakers on a platform would seem to accomplish the same thing as just removing the spikes. Whatever floats your boat (or speakers), I guess. :)
Since this is a tweek that's been known about for awhile, maybe some one can anwser this question.
Will you get the same sound effect/improvement if you just bought four 4x4 inch sqaurs of marble, granite or maplewood and placed them under each speaker foot? Stability isn't my main concern since my speakers already sit on flat speaker stands.
Well I couldn't find any 1 1/2" thick maple at Home Depot, I guess I'll need to check out a cabinet maker for this. But of course since I was at Home Depot and me being a typical guy ( kid in a candy store ) I had a look around. And what do you know I came up with a great new idea ( I know, someone has beat me to it. )
Since I couldn't find a maple board to put my components on, I did the next best thing. ( This will drive you $1000+ stereo rack people crazy. ) I purchased some cheap pine boards, and some basic bricks, you know the kind they build little red school houses out of? Except mine aren't red, there brown. I do after all need to keep up with the decor in my house. 15 bucks this stuff cost me by the way.
Took all this stuff home, threw out my cheap $150 stereo rack and began building. Man was I tired when I was done! But it was well worth it, for the first time ( in my system anyway ) I got the black velvety background everyone was talking about. And bonus! Still better highs and mids, and the bass. Wow! Much improved, I can't belive I'm hearing this kind of bass from the same system. I had heard that concrete would help to kill the vibrations, but this definetely settles it for me. Maybe some day when I'm rich and famous I'll replace the pine with some maple.
Umm well of course your system and results may vary :)
Peter, is that a question or a hint? Nobody has mentioned height yet. The primary (some say only) function of a stand is to get the tweeters up to the right height, based on where the listener's ears are. My speakers are designed to be used with tweeters at ear height, so if they are a little low and I raise the stands, a whole new world will open up.
But do go on, discussing the sonic attributes of maple below metal stands as opposed to marble, or sandstone.
I had a similar problem, my listening room has a beautiful maple floor with a thick Tibetan rug on it and the optimum place for the speakers is on rug. Spikes would have gone through the rug and ruined the floor. I tried using the spikes set on a piece of wood cut to the size of the speaker bases but just didn't feel I was getting everything from the speakers I could.
I went to a marble and granite supply house and found a scrap of green slate about two inches thick which yielded two bases an inch longer and wider than the plinths for the speakers. Rather than put the spikes onto the slate I decided to try the isolation route and bought rubber and cork isolation pads from a source here on audiogon.
The improvement was dramatic, better bass, much more open mid-range and treble. Total cost of the slate was $20 cut to size and the isolation pads were another $20. I used an orbital sander to smooth and slightly round the edges of the slate and the soft green color with the cherry finish of the speakers looks very trick.