Coupling/Decoupling Electronics


All the posts I’m making are due to my recent purchase of KEF LS50s and my attempts to optimize them. I’m now the first to admit that little changes make a big difference. At 12” from the wall behind then, the bass gets a little muddy. At 13”, I get nice reinforcement without any muddiness. A couple of weeks ago, if you had told me that an inch would make a difference, you’d get a very skeptical look. 

Inevitably, I wandered into the coupling/decoupling, spikes/pads battle. After much reading and a lot of lessons in physics-lite, I have determined that there are too many variables at work—speakers, stands, carpets, floors—for any kind of blanket statement to be made. 

There seems to be less controversy about electronics. The word is: Isolate! Those same speakers that are producing so much vibration are a deleterious force. We must do our best to keep those vibrations away from our finely tuned electronics. 

So here is my question: Don’t electronics produce their own vibration? CDs spin, amplifiers amp. Lots of energy being produced. Like speakers, is isolating them from the world around the right thing to do? Shouldn’t that energy inside the boxes be passed off, as speaker energy is passed off by spikes?


I suspect that, like the speaker question, there’s too many variables at play for a simple answer but I thought I’d ask.


Here’s another, more mystifying question. I just traded up from KEF Q150s. Black ones can be had for $300 from Amazon. White ones—the identical speaker—are out of stock everywhere and cost $5-$600 if you can track down a pair. This seems not to be an example of an efficient market, as Adam Smith might define it. (I’m not complaining. I had white ones.) (And I think that Adam Smith’s ideas are long out of date, having been surpassed by managerial capitalism, advanced capitalism, and whatever is en vogue at this University of Chicago these days.)
paul6001
Yes, components do produce their own vibration. Usually the stock footers don’t provide enough isolation and don’t drain vibration from the component. The component can also pick up acoustic energy from the speakers and vibration from the rack/furniture.

Two schools of thought are to either drain vibration into a platform by using cones or spikes placed under the component. The platform is often a hardwood such as maple and is isolated from the shelf. There are many audio racks which have shelves which provide their own isolation.

Or by decoupling; devices are used to isolate the component from it’s environment and also absorb vibration. Decoupling devices include footers that absorb the vibrations, platforms and shelves designed to isolate the component, placing springs underneath, and shock absorber type footers.
This is only an overview of techniques.


Component vibrations, unless airborne, tend to emanate from power supplies. These not only vibrate but also generate EMI. The most effective way I have found for draining these is to use a combination of Black Ravioli pads with isolating footers (Stillpoints, Black Racing Cones et all). Use them under the chassis, not the component’s footers, though. Against EMI I found Acoustic Revive REM-8 highly effective.
I agree with the above posters about draining vibrations and all, but always keep in mind that ultimately you may prefer the sound of the component sitting on it's own feet.  In some cases, putting footers or platforms under the component may harden or soften the sound in a way that is not pleasing to your ear.  So IMO, it's a good idea to try these things, but always put your musical preference above the intellectually-appealing concept of draining the vibrations out of a component.  
Speaker energy is not passed off by spikes.  Spikes minimize the contact area to the floor, making transmission harder vs. full surface contact. Richard Vandersteen wrote an excellent article on the subject on his blog.
I use with great success springs sets finely adjusted on top of a sandwiches of coupling/decoupling varied materials: bamboo,granite,cork,sorbothane....

I use 2 sets of 4 springs boxes dyssemetrically compressed by some heavy load damping the speakers and the 2 sets of 4 springs boxes for each speakers one set under the load and another set under the speakers+the load.... Natural timbre of instrument and minimal interference between speakers sitting on my desk.... Cost: peanuts...
I wouldn't worry about it with LS50 speakers and digital playback. Turntables are affected by vibrations. I can't see anyone sitting around listening to streaming music through a bookshelf speaker chiming in telling you the vibrations are really messing up the amplifier and streamer. 

@mahgister

Yes, springs despite possible accidental impact instability issues may well be the best way to go.

As you say the cost is negligible.


Richard Vandersteen on the other hand doesn't seem to like any introduction of compliance between speakers and resting surface.

I can see where his argument is coming from in regard to the loss of treble information introduced by additional compliance.  

On the other hand I would that think movement of the treble dome, which can be measured in microns, is far too small in size and mass to be affected by any form of compliance placed underneath the loudspeaker.

--------

Ask Richard

Richard, I've seen a lot of discussion about coupling vs decoupling, a lot of people suggest decoupling speakers especially on wood suspended floors like I have (also carpeted with cement board). 

Would it be advisable to use a flexible puck or something under or instead of cones with my 5 A's in that instance? 

In Richards ears I trust.


(2-15-20) 

THERE HAS BEEN A LOT OF MISINFORMATION ON FOOTERS FOR SPEAKERS. A SPEAKERS JOB IS TO MOVE AIR SO THAT WE CAN HEAR SOUNDS. THIS PRESSURE WAVE IS CAUSED BY POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE MOVEMENTS OF THE CONES AND DOMES MOUNTED INTO A SPEAKER ENCLOSURE. 

WE CAN SEE THE LARGE MOVEMENTS A WOOFER MAKES BUT THE TWEETER IS ALSO MOVING MICRONS DOING ITS WORK. FOR THIS TO MOVE AIR THE ENCLOSURE OF THE SPEAKER MUST BE HELD RIGIDLY IN SPACE OR SOME OF THIS WORK WILL BE LOST. KINETIC ENERGY CAUSED MOSTLY BY THE MOVING MASS OF THE WOOFER WILL TRY TO MOVE THE SPEAKER ENCLOSURE ANTI PHASE WHICH CANCELS SOME OF THE SIGNAL. 

ONE PAYS A LOT OF MONEY ON THE OTHER COMPONENTS OF THE SYSTEM JUST TO BE THROWING SOME OF IT AWAY AT THE SPEAKER. THE RESULT IS CANCELED DYNAMICS AND TIME SMEAR. 

SO WHY ARE MANY HAPPY WITH THE SOUND WHEN USING COMPLIANT FOOTERS? MANY SPEAKERS ARE DESIGNED DELIBERATELY BRIGHT SO THEY WILL MAKE AN IMPRESSION DURING THE DEMO BUT ONCE THEY ARE INSTALLED IN THE SYSTEM THE EXCESSIVE HIGH FREQUENCIES BECOME BOTHERSOME. 

PUTTING A COMPLIANT FOOTER UNDER SUCH A SPEAKER AND THROWING AWAY SOME OF THE EXCESSIVE HIGH FREQUIENCY ENERGY MAY BE MORE MUSICAL AND PREFERRED BY MOST LISTENERS. 

WE INSTALL 3 POINTS UNDER OUR SPEAKERS BECAUSE 3 POINTS (POINTS DRAMATICLLY INCREASE THE EFECTIVE MASS OF THE SPEAKER) DEFINE A PLANE AND ASSURES EQUALL LOADING ON ALL OF THE FEET.  


THE RESULT IS LESS TIME SMEAR, LOWER DISTORTION, INCREASED DYNAMICS AND HIGHER RESOLUTION BECAUSE THERE IS LESS FORE AND AFT MOVEMENT. (RV)

https://www.vandersteen.com/support/ask-richard

ahgister

Yes, springs despite possible accidental impact instability issues may well be the best way to go.

As you say the cost is negligible.


Richard Vandersteen on the other hand doesn’t seem to like any introduction of compliance between speakers and resting surface.

I can see where his argument is coming from in regard to the loss of treble information introduced by additional compliance.

On the other hand I would that think movement of the treble dome, which can be measured in microns, is far too small in size and mass to be affected by any form of compliance placed underneath the loudspeaker.

My speakers are heavily damped (75 pounds) and with 2 set of springs for each speaker dyssemetrically compressed the advantages of the springs is not only that they isolate well but that it decrease also the negative power of internal resonance of the speakers rectangular boxes which is more impactful than the alleged compliance of the springs boxes which according to Vandersteen is supposed to decrease the highs....I obtain way better highs frequencies with this method.... No spike can beat that....Isolation from external vibrations is not all the story to tell.... Internal resonance is also a story....

I put my springs on top of varied materials in sandwich(cork-granite-sorbothane-bamboo) because my dac and amp are beside on the same desk.... It is very efficient.... Almost no vibrations to my knowledge comes from speakers or go to them, minute some unmeasurable by me anyway....My other gear is on top of the same sandwich....

In the beginning i tried 4 spings boxes by speaker like all people .... It was an improvement.... Then i read about damping tuning mass in building architecture.... That gives me the idea to tune the springs by changing the compressive force acting on one set and on the other...The only way was putting a set directly on top of the speaker under the delicately tuned damping load  weight compressing this set of springs....(we must fine  tune the load near 1% of the required mass i did it with my ears no calculus necessary) The other set directly under the speaker is more compressed because the weigh of the speaker itself add to his compression and not only the damping load....The resulting improvement was on the same scale than the first improvement proving to me that only using a set of springs under the speaker is not enough....

The dramatic change introduced by the rightly use of the 8 springs boxes for each speaker is then the key.....16 spring boxes in all but they are chinese cheap one very well made and like the Nobsound one....Under 100 bucks for the 16 boxes then not much more than peanuts for this... 😁😊😎
Points isolate in one direction. unless they are setting on a bed of springs, and then you have to dampen the springs, they will ring..
The problem is the box.. It is alway the enclosure and the width of the baffle face. Its ability to deflect waves coming BACK and waves from inside. You can isolate the internal waves but the box resonance.. That requires some thinking..  Rounded corners, panel breaks, and surface treatment inside and on the way out, is the best way. 

Springs, airbags, earthen foundation, flotation, magnetic repulsion, suspensions and ALL types of devices still leave THEIR mark on the sound... It really depends whether you like it or not.. The simpler the better for me.. Heavy, thick, quiet, enclosures work..

Remove ALL the unwanted resonance by removing the drivers from the enclosure. That is the only good way.. Everything else is a compromise.
Once you understand that you can build a DIFFERENT type of system..
Things like boundys become a lot less of a problem just like driver time alignment and phase shift. ALL the gobbledegook, like filling the room with ugly ass acoustical STUFF becomes a lot easier. I use separate narrower columns NOW.. Just works better.. It is a work in progress..
Just not an UGLY one.. 

Like I said before, "she can only be so ugly" (or he if you prefer) and they will get a bag over the head.. Put some lipstick on the bag I'm fine.

Regards
Remove ALL the unwanted resonance by removing the drivers from the enclosure. That is the only good way.. Everything else is a compromise.
You are right for sure....

But i am not very crafty and my compromise did it for me.... If i was more crafty i will try your idea....

My best to you....
Funny, but where is Millercarbon?
He has a thread on Townshend platforms that the OP should look at.

In any case, I never got to try spring isolation under my Treo's due to space issues, but did use them under my components. 
Long story short, they did improve 'clarity' and bass.
YMMV
Bob
I agree with @mahgister - springs.
I would first try them without all the other suggested doo-dads.
However, you may want to try damping them with some foam inside each spring or thin heat shrink outside each (but not shrunk down too tight).

 may 
All electronics produce vibration as well as speakers and there are a lot of schools about how to isolate decouple them from their environment but i can say that if you put your gear on a heavy all wood rack you can naturally let the resonances disperse without the detail bright consequences that a lot of isolation products produce.
Sorry for the dumb question,  but what is a compliant footer?
Post removed 
If you think the 1" from the wall was big, wait till you hear the image focus improve when the speakers are precisely equidistant and symmetrical.

Please note I said precisely. Not within 1/4". Not within 1/16". Precisely equidistant and symmetrical.  

Don’t electronics produce their own vibration? 

Sure they do. Lots of it. Not just the obvious moving parts either. Every component is chock full of alternating currents and fields of constantly varying strength. Signal fields push and pull against themselves resulting in all kinds of physical vibrations. 

Then once those vibrations do get created, the amp or whatever is vibrating on its own, some of that goes down into the shelf or whatever and so now that is vibrating. Vibrations never just flow off into infinity, they always reach a point where they reflect or refract back, and this results in ringing. Beautifully demonstrated with speakers and a seismograph in the Townshend video, but the same applies to everything. 

Shouldn’t that energy inside the boxes be passed off, as speaker energy is passed off by spikes?

So, we just answered that one: speaker energy is NOT passed off by spikes! Watch the video. Couldn't be more obvious. 

What happens is, the speaker is really no different than anything else, they are the same only more so. If the speaker is on springs then it vibrates, but only the drivers and cabinet, not the floor, etc. Because of this its vibrations die down faster and there is no ringing. Sounds are clean and clear. Unbelievably so. Without springs, does not really matter what cone or spike, all they can do is tune the character of the ringing but never eliminate it. Watch the video! Or better yet, try Townshend Podiums and hear for yourself.

There are a lot of variables, but not so much so that a blanket statement cannot be made. Springs will achieve far greater sound quality performance, both per dollar and in absolute terms, compared to cones, spikes, etc. Springs are so much better that for just $30 you can have a set of Nobsound that will perform better under more components than anything else you can find for ten times the price.  

Springs are so good in absolute terms that if you pay for really well engineered ones like Townshend Pods and Podiums they perform so well you will have a hard time finding better at any price. Not saying you won't or can't. Saying it won't be easy.
Just a few remarks to hopefully finalize this discussion. The effects of speaker spikes seems relatively straightforward but it really is remarkable how often it’s misunderstood. The effects of spikes is to couple the speaker to the floor on which it stands, the theory being that the energy produced by the speaker travels down through the spike into the floor, which being a much larger, usually stronger material than the speaker, can dissipate it more easily than the speaker alone. Thus we see the real nuts, I mean the strongly motivated audiophiles trying to drill down and plant their spikes in a concrete floor. 

Concrete regards a little buzzing from a speaker to be a minor annoyance, like a fly buzzing around. The concrete makes short work of speaker energy. (Citations omitted because it’s late but they would fill many pages.)


As to the equipment, the consensus seems to be that energy is produced and that the best way to handle it is to isolate the component with pads, springs, or whatever. That’s what I was planning to do. I wonder, though, whether I’ll hit the same problem common to people who tried to isolate speakers. They found that the cushioning and the ability to shed energy by rocking back and forth on the pads caused the music to sound lifeless Particularly in the upper registers, if I remember correctly. 

Well, there’s always something to worry about. I’ll know the answer when I try inserting some (not cheap) sorbothane pads.
They found that the cushioning and the ability to shed energy by rocking back and forth on the pads caused the music to sound lifeless Particularly in the upper registers, if I remember correctly.

Cushioning is exactly what you're doing if you use Sorbethane, it's too soft and pliable. I suppose there may be some benefit by placing it under the stock footers, but there's no benefit when placed directly under the chassis. 
Hard substances such as ceramic DH Cones or BDR Cones will drain vibration.
For decoupling look at Herbies Tenderfeet which are much harder than Sorbethane and rubber. Energy is absorbed and will not be shared with the component like the above materials.
Isoacoustics are excellent at decoupling horizontally and vertically.
@millercarbon can recommend a set of effective springs.

Go to the forum archives and search the many threads on isolation.


Sorbothane hemi-spheres under my Tannoy Berkeley's (4x 50 duro for 35kg) enhanced the bass / mid-bass of my speakers. 

That in itself seemed to marginally clear up the entire frequency range.

As far as I could tell there were only gains, no losses.

Springs might be even better, but are not really practical in their current domestic location.
Sorbothane hemi-spheres under my Tannoy Berkeley’s (4x 50 duro for 35kg) enhanced the bass / mid-bass of my speakers.
In my experience with sorbothane, i advise you one day to try instead duro 70.... Select the right hemisphere diameter for the weight of your speakers but take duro 70.... It will be better for sound i am pretty sure, i use them for all my headphones damping and duro 70 was surprizingly the better to damp the sound because of his higher density....😊 Wait a year and replace them... Anyway the sorbothane material suffer fatigue with time.... It is a good idea to replace it one or 2 years apart especially under heavy load....I dont use my 7 headphones at all they are way less good than my speakers now.... Thanks to my embeddings controls....

Springs indeed would be better but it is not always possible because of some unstability ....In a living room i could never use them save at risk from children or even adult accident.... My speakers are even on heavy damping load .... Results are amazing but stability is good only not ultra safe....But anyway it is in my audio room and all is ok here...even my wife knock at the door and my grand children were even fearful of my audio room at first, now everyone is fascinated by my "madness" and my high quality sound also tough....

😊😁😊😎😊😉


Spikes on concrete are one thing, on wooden floora thy are something else, namely useless because of the unwanted resonances they create. On the latter damping is necessary. I have used Black Ravioli and Symposium Svelteshelf, the latter having a less dampening impact on trebble performance given the intermediate metal layer.

And the OP makes his final statement:


When I first got my new (used) LS50s, I plunked them down on the stands where the old speakers used to stand. They sounded great. 

Since then I’ve tried every tweak possible including moving them 1/4 inch in every possible direction, putting pennies under the spikes, using sorbothane pads under the feet of the electronics, turning the speakers to face Mecca, on and on. 

Nothing worked. I’m quite relieved that removing the sorbothane brought the life back to the system that had so completely been removed. Once again, Morrissey sounds like Morrissey. So much thought, so much work, so many posts only to realize that everything—EVERYTHING—I had been monkeying around with was only doing harm. 

It was all fun, in a certain sense, but the bottom line is that NAD knows what they’re doing. If their stuff sounded better on mushy feet, they would have put it on mushy feet. If I had bought a Ferrari, would I have spent two weeks trying to outdo the Ferrari mechanics? Probably. But I’m sure that I would have learned the same lesson that I just did: Let the pros do their thing then sit back and enjoy what I just spent all that money on. If I wanted to tinker, I should have bought one of those kits from Radio Shack.