Cheap speaker tweak

I was going to post this under " misc audio " but since I did only tweak my speakers I thought I would place it here. I have speakers that come with spikes from the factory, I'm sure many of you have encounter this situation. But I also have carpet in my listening room. When I initially bought my speakers I read the manual, which suggested I let the spikes go right into my carpet. What???!!! Not a chance I thought, I just put in new carpet.

So I purchased some of those carpet saver pads, you know the ones you use to put under sofa feet. I set my speakers on these but the spikes were always causing the pads to lean one way or the other. Then one day surfing somewhere on a audio site I saw a maple board ( that's right just a board ) for sale. The claim of course guaranteed to give your piece of equipment guaranteed " superior sound " I knowing a few things about wood also knew that this was merely a $2.00 piece of maple that someone had routed an edge on, selling for $70! Yikes what will be believe next? So I got to thinking " hey I think I'll go to the local Home Depot and buy a couple of pieces of wood to place my speakers on, then they won't lean "

Well to make a long story short ( I know too late ) I couldn't find any wood the right size. So I went over to the ceramic tiles and began looking. Eventually I found a 12X12 tile that was visibly expectable. I bought a pair @ 99 cents each and took them home and put them under my speakers. I only wanted to provide my speakers with a more stable base, but I got more than that. The first time I listened to my system I thought wow! Everything is more transparent, the sound stage is deeper, the highs and mids were smoother and the bass was tighter. So I got to thinking when I was at the Depot I also saw some marble tiles 12x12 @ $5.49 but 3 times as thick, of course I went back and bought a pair. And yes things improved even more, and the appearance isn't bad either. I can see it now someone is going to read this and make a fortune selling these special speaker tiles.

So if your into cheap tweaks and your speakers are under 1 foot square. I would suggest shopping at your local lumber company. If you do post your results, I would be curious to know if it is just my setup. But now that I think about it, and if my ears are not deceiving me. I'll bet their are other things like this that will work under my equipment.
Nice post - these can be good for amps, too, YMMV, depensing on setup etc.
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.
Audiophile knew about this tweak for years. Sunos Faber even sell a piece of stone for a ridiculous $500 option on one of thier model.
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.
been doing that for years, also put rubbermaid shelf liner
(rubber?) between speakers and stands. don't forget to
fill the stands with sand, leadshot if you can. i too, use a marble baking slab? under the cd player.

garys, i am into the concrete patio paver as well. i put a set of arios bearings under the concrete and put my turntable and cd player on top of the concrete units. since my house is all concrete, they look perfect. twisted taste...
Just got back from home depot and bought 2 pc. of marble and WOW!!!!! Thanks Kt_88. Best tweak I have bought in years.
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.
KT_88; Nice thread, thanks. Cheers. Craig
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. :)
I might add, however, that a "tile" considerably LARGER than the base of the speaker would give the carpeting more "leverage" to avoid compression, effectively increasing the footprint of the speaker.
Thanks for the tip Kt 88! I already have my Thiel 3.5 speakers on spikes - but will certainly give this tweak a
try! Hope it works out well - as it would certainly make
exact positioning of my speakers a lot easier.
You may find granite or marble for free if you have a local store that sells the stuff for sinks and counter tops. These places make bad cuts and/or have pieces break in the wrong place and discard same in a dumpsters. Its never to early to develop skills for retirement !
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 :)
Do you guys put the spikes directly on the slabs of rock, or do you take them off before setting the speakers directly on the rock?
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.