Coupling or Decoupling speakers?


I have always coupled my loudspeakers to the listening room floor with cones/spikes and thought that is how it should be.  I recently stumbled on a discussion of the issue.  After reading a good bit I decided to decouple my Vandersteen Treo CT speakers using Herbie's Audio Lab Titanium Cone/Spike Decoupling Gliders.  So now, instead of having my speakers spiked into the concrete slab under my carpeted listening room, the cones and spike fit into the decoupling gliders and ride on the carpet.

I was assuming I would hear a difference with music containing bass, especially as my 2wq subwoofers sit right behind each speaker.  The unexpected outcome is that even music with virtually no bass sounds smoother/cleaner and more "real".  The frequency balance does not seem to have been altered, everything, and I mean everything I play is smoother and cleaner.  The soundspace is more open and the decay into the recesses is just a bit l o n g e r.

Please share your experience/ideas/opinions about what is happening with decoupling versus coupling speakers.

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Everything changes the sound envelope in audio.  I have Vandersteen 5A's on a Travertine floor.  I will continue with the spikes on "protectors".  Carpets are different. Over the years I've tried so many resonance control devices....most of them remain in my "junk" drawer...but how great it is when you find the right gizmo that actually improves the system.
Decoupling...we have to be careful how we use this word. I like to use the words vibration draining. I have my large floorstanders on Starsound SP101 platforms, and I experience the same thing. The speakers disappear much more, music is smoother and clearer, bass more controlled. If I understand the way it works correctly, the vibrational energy of the speaker enclosure is being drained via the cones into the platform which is then dissipating it. I have heard of so many audio gimmicks over the years, but this is the real thing and I'll never give it up. Sounds like your Herbies gliders may be doing the same thing.   
This is really surprising to me, as my experiments with added weight seemed to indicate speakers moved back and forth somewhat in reaction to woofer movement.

If I was rich I'd try them. :)

Erik
I bought Townshend Audio speaker bars to put under my Analysis Epsilon and the result is stunning especially in the bass but also in other areas. It was just for a try but I kept them and very happy. My opinion is not based on argument or theory w
that is what I heard.
have a look at the videos on their website.

@barbapapa I just took a look at the Townshend Seismic Bars.  They are very impressive!  From what I can tell from the site, they look really robust and present with a very high end appearance.  They are also expensive.  That's not a slam.  I can see why based on the elegance of the design and the machining that goes into their construction.  

By contrast the Herbie's Titanium Cone/Spike Decoupling Gliders are rather "pedestrian". I must say, however, that everything I listen to is cleaner, up and down the frequency range.  I originally anticipated hearing only improvements with music containing a significant bass component, but it is cleaner and more open on everything.  Listening to Schubert's Trout Quintet has never been more satisfying.  Pink Floyd's Division Bell, McCartney's remastered "Ram", Pink Martini, AKUS. It doesn't matter what type of music.  It's just better. 

I would encourage anyone with spiked speakers to try decoupling.  I haven't detected a downside yet.  If anyone has, please share your experience.  I am still surprised by the magnitude of the improvement.  Disappointed I didn't come to this understanding sooner.
The Townshend Seismic isolators are also available without the bars, just the Pods themselves. If they work with your speaker cabinets, three of them are much cheaper than are the bars. 
 I have Sistrum stands under my speakers and mono blocks which are between the speakers to excellent effect. 
My DIY rack is 3 3/4" Butcher Block with brass threaded rod through to the floor using acorn nuts top and bottom.  At some point, about a year ago I decided to use some Herbie's Giant Cone Decoupling Gliders under the acorns on the floor, hardwood. They make the equipment much easier to move as well as preserve the floor. A definite clearing up of the musical resolution. 
Roxy54, I have yet to completely understand if the Sistrum stands couple or decouple, but like you they are in my system to stay.
In What's Best Forum, garylkoh has an extensive paper on the coupling/decoupling subject, quite extensive and informative .I read the whole thread and the splitting hairs and opinions abound throughout. 
And Eric, yes the decoupling does leave the situation of back and fro movement or rather the stability of the speaker in doubt, according to Mr Koh.
Bottom line, if it sounds better go with it. I mean, it's a hobby so fiddle away, right?
Herbie's are good products. I use Iso cups and balls for my amps, Baby booties under the Step-up and Tender feet under the Computer Audio Design transport (CAT).
I also use Shun Mook Ultra Diamond (bought used) under the preamp and it's another story, another way to couple with music.
But responding to the initial question I believev in decoupling the speakers.
I have BMC Arcadia speakers, but I have experience with Tidals also. Initially with both I tried the provided feet which were non-brass points. In both cases Audio Points (the 2 inchers) from Star Sound sounded much better.  Later I got Stillpoints Ultra SSs that were clearly superior which are decoupling I guess as all vertical vibration is turned into horizontal and then into heat. Up to this point I had experience with both the BMC Arcadias and the Tidals.

The Ultra Fives later displaced the Ultra SSs clearly. Somewhat later I tried the original Star Sound Audio Points that are 1.5"used both on top the Apprentice platform and bottom. I found this had better leading edge and bass. Later yet I got the new Star Sound Rhythm rack and the new 2.5 Audio Points. This is the best I've heard in terms of realism.

Obviously, I ultimately believe in coupling everything, not just speakers, but with the Stillpoints Ultra Fives I think the sound stage is more resolved unless you have all the High Fidelity cables that I have. With the BMC M2 amps especially if used with the Koda K-10 preamp and in balanced you can get very loud and realistic sound with the Star Sound platforms.

Coupling or Decoupling speakers?

hifiman5

Aways couple speakers to a slab or cement floor, never couple to a suspended wood or sheet ply that has joists, always de-couple from these.

If you couple to a suspended wooden or ply sheet floor you are sending energy into it and making it an additional sound board for the speaker, and you can actually feel it through your feet, you want to only hear what the bass driver is giving you, not the floor as well.

Cheers George
See my thread Symposium and Magico.
I tried the Herbie gliders under my speakers on a second story suspended wood floor with carpet.  My audio buddy and I liked them spiked directly to the floor instead.  It kind of surprised us.  the bass was actually tighter when we spiked them directly.  Go figure.  
+1 for the Sistrum stands which works best in my 2nd system on concrete floor and I have Star Sound gear under my DAC and mono blocks. Very neutral sound.
Under my heavy speakers in my main system, the Stillpoints Ultra 5 works best on suspended floor.
@georgelofi  I'm not sure what variable determines whether coupling or decoupling on a slab sounds better but I have carpet and pad on a slab in a dedicated basement listening room and decoupling with the Herbie gliders does lend a new clarity and smoothness to the sound.  I wonder if having a coupled subwoofer behind each speaker makes a difference as that sub energy is not traveling up the speaker cones/spike into the speaker cabinet and thus to the drivers and crossover components.

Next decision...to try decoupling the subs??

hifiman5

Seeing you have a cement slab, this is the best. I would spike all speakers directly into it, mains and subs. As there’s no way your going to vibrate a cement slab. And doing this you’ll have absolutely no back and foreword or sideways movement of the speaker/s, and the imaging will be as good as it gets doing this. As any waisted movements of the speaker will take away from the imagining by the drivers making the speakers move ever so slightly.

Unfortunately on a suspended floor the last thing you want is to couple to the floor with a spike, as then the floor then becomes a sound board especially the bass as well. So decouple (no spikes into them) for these types of floors and try to make the speaker not rock as best you can.

I’ve found on a suspended floor the best was to put a thick oversized cement paving slab (paint it black or whatever for the wife factor) )on the carpet under the speaker and spike the speakers into it. This way the paving slab is still de-coupled from the floor by the carpet and you can still get the speakers quite steady on it.
And paving slabs are cheap only a couple of bucks each but you want them to be around 2" or more thick and larger than the speaker the speaker that's going on them.

Cheers George
I had Eden Sound make some Terrastone plinths to put under my B&Ws. "Floating" the speaker achieves much better sound than the spikes, IMHO.
decouple. always.