Damping the analogue "setup"


Friends,
I am fighting this issue for the last 1 year or so with my TT setup. I am a beginner in analogue playback but I use some decent equipments to play music. My setup is:
Nouvelle Platine Verdier
Naim ARO Tonearm
Lyra Skala cartridge
RCM Sensor Prelude phonostage

All the equipments are placed on wooden rack (made of Ebony) with spikes. The problem is, the overall sound can vary vastly from lean-strident to round-warm very quickly based on what kind of spike base I use underneath the rack. A typical metal (aluminium, steel, brass) spike base makes the sound lean and fast to an extent where it really bites. Whereas using a softer metal (cast iron) or rubbery/woody substance below the rack makes for a slow and boring sound.

It is not just the turntable that reacts so severely but also the phonostage. Placing the phonostage on a softer or a more damped isolation footer immediately reduces the grit in the sound. I do not hear such drastic reactions from my preamp or power amp. My guess is, the complete analog front end needs some level of damping. How do you go about it ? How do you choose the platform that will support the turntable setup firmly so that the sound doesnt lose its energy but still damp it adequately ?

For the moment (thankfully) my ARO is an un-damped unipivot designed to work without any damping fluid.
pani
You may still want to play with "sweet spot" for your VTF and VTA.
Using a record clamp is also encouraged.
The short sweet answer is.......get the turntable off the floor and onto a wall-mounted shelf.
The structure-borne feedback in the suspended floor will continue to haunt you if you dally with stands, spikes, feet etc.
Well, for one thing, ebony resonates like a bastard, so you are kind of fighting the rack, as it were.
If you mount it on a wall, you want it to be a 'bearing' wall.
Try the rubber between your stand and the floor . Put a sheet of cork under your TT and phono stage . Go back to the original factory feet for your TT and try again . Then , try the different footers under the TT if needed . Easy and cheap to try , the cork sheets should only be a few bucks for a pkg.

Good luck .
Yes, cork works very well. If u buy a roll of it (very inexpensive) you may need to double it into 2 layers.

If you want to try some excellent isolation feet, try Herbie's Big Tall Tenderfeet. I have them under all my components including TT.

http://herbiesaudiolab.net/compfeet.htm
Try putting some squash balls from your local sporting goods store under the turntable resting up against the plinth. The feet of the table still need to rest on the stand but the balls squished between the table and stand absorb and turn to heat a lot of vibrational energy.
The short sweet answer is.......get the turntable off the floor and onto a wall-mounted shelf.
The structure-borne feedback in the suspended floor will continue to haunt you if you dally with stands, spikes, feet etc.

My floor is not suspended. It is concrete floor with hard wood flooring.

Well, for one thing, ebony resonates like a bastard, so you are kind of fighting the rack, as it were.

Isnt it true that Ebony is one of the most preferred exotic wood for audio related accessories ? Many TT manufacturer (including my own) suggest building tonearm board using Ebony. It is also a preferred wood on many wood based tonearms like Reed and Schroder, isnt it ? I thought it should be a good one to be used as rack material too.

Try the rubber between your stand and the floor . Put a sheet of cork under your TT and phono stage . Go back to the original factory feet for your TT and try again . Then , try the different footers under the TT if needed . Easy and cheap to try , the cork sheets should only be a few bucks for a pkg.

I will definitely give that a try.

The question is, is adequate damping of turntable, cartridge and phonostage really that difficult to achieve ? How does one really go about it ?
If the purpose is to dampen unwanted resonances then it is not that hard to achieve adequate damping. However, it is possible to overdampen, which results in a dead sounding system. the notes are all there, but the sparkle is gone. think of walking in water as opposed to air. You are still walking, but everything is in slow motion. Over damping can have the same effect. Some materials have a greater damping effect at certain frequencies, so if you start to overload damping at those frequencies, you can create an imbalance.
Hopefully you are starting with a system that is not in dire need of damping, and you are just trying to tweek for maximum performance. Try playing a white noise test track into one of the recording programs and see if there are any peaks in the response at certain frequencies. That will give you an idea of what you might need to address. there are different solutions for different frequencies.
Is your concrete floor on the ground or is there a room under it?
If it's not on the ground.....it is suspended.
Having a timber floor on top of the concrete can introduce many of the problems of suspended floors as well.
take a look at some of the products from herbie's audio. They have a wide variety of damping products that may suit your needs. I am using some terrastone footers and a terrastone plinth for my table that was made by edensound. They also make a good selection of footers and isolation products. Dan is great to work with. I highly recommend his terrastone products.
Is your concrete floor on the ground or is there a room under it?
If it's not on the ground.....it is suspended.
Having a timber floor on top of the concrete can introduce many of the problems of suspended floors as well.

Oh!, I didnt know that. I live on 24th floor, so it surely falls under the category of suspended floor by that definition then. But then my little daughter dances all day in the same room where my LP is playing but there are no audible distortions or skipping of stylus, so I assumed it is not such a serious issue.
I assumed it is not such a serious issue.
It is a most serious issue......
We have found that suspended concrete floors have intense inbuilt stresses because of the spans......and these stresses cause lower ever-present Structure-Borne sound than those present in suspended timber floors.
Modern high-rise apartment buildings are particularly susceptible because of the prevalent use of prestressed concrete floor slabs which allow for thinner thicknesses and less steel reinforcement.....but also permit greater movements, bounce and structure-borne sound between 2 Hz-10 Hz.
These frequencies are almost impossible to eliminate from floor-mounted stands and that is why your turntable and phonostage are sounding differently with each and every change in support material.
Hi Pani, I do read your posts, also those over at AA. I may miss your conclusions of some of your post questions. Have you found a replacement for your Tannoys yet? (I do 300B & 45 amplification)
Hi Pani, I do read your posts, also those over at AA. I may miss your conclusions of some of your post questions. Have you found a replacement for your Tannoys yet? (I do 300B & 45 amplification)

Hi, I went around looking for alternatives for a short period. Turned out that Tannoy Alnico magnet versions would work well with my amp, so will Altec 604 and Audio Note ANJ speakers. However I have realised that it will not be easy for me to leave the Tannoy presentation. Also, it is difficult to get an Altec 604 because it will need to be custom made and mostly will have to be bought without an audition. Audio note is an alternative that I have saved for the last. In the mean time I have stopped worrying too much about this and just started listening to music and made sure I dont pump it up too loud for the amp to be stressed. I also realized that moving from a traditional SS amp to an SET made the music very direct which is exciting the room nodes to a much higher degree hence it needs some treatment before I could go any louder.

It is a most serious issue......
We have found that suspended concrete floors have intense inbuilt stresses because of the spans......and these stresses cause lower ever-present Structure-Borne sound than those present in suspended timber floors.
Modern high-rise apartment buildings are particularly susceptible because of the prevalent use of prestressed concrete floor slabs which allow for thinner thicknesses and less steel reinforcement.....but also permit greater movements, bounce and structure-borne sound between 2 Hz-10 Hz.
These frequencies are almost impossible to eliminate from floor-mounted stands and that is why your turntable and phonostage are sounding differently with each and every change in support material.

Thanks for that gyan Halcro. It makes my life easier to think that it is an issue that is too far embedded in the structure for me to be able to solve it, so I need to kind of ignore it and move on. May be I can just try some decent isolation platforms and see if it makes for a more enjoyble listen and settle down. I was considering a Vibraplane but a friend of mine who has heard a Verdier on Vibraplane said it leans out the sound a touch too much so it is not really a good match (according to him).

take a look at some of the products from herbie's audio. They have a wide variety of damping products that may suit your needs. I am using some terrastone footers and a terrastone plinth for my table that was made by edensound. They also make a good selection of footers and isolation products. Dan is great to work with. I highly recommend his terrastone products.

Thanks for the pointer, I will check out Herbie's products.
Pani,
If you can find a concrete wall or column in your listening room......then you can mount a support shelf for the turntable.
The columns and supporting walls are not subject to the spanning stresses that the suspended floors are and thus do not carry the same low frequencies within.
From the OP:

The problem is, the overall sound can vary vastly from lean-strident to round-warm very quickly based on what kind of spike base I use underneath the rack.
Most of the comments above, including Halcro's insights, assume that the sonic character of Pani's table varies with the spikes beneath his rack because the spikes provide different degrees of isolation from floor-borne vibrations. While such vibrations certainly exist, in my opinion they're not the main source of what Pani described. Other vibration sources are more likely to produce the described effects.

The other gear on the rack is a noise source, both from its native vibrations and from the musical energies it's reproducing. The turntable motor is another noise source, and some PV motors are notoriously noisy. Stray energies leaching from the stylus-groove interface are the most influential noise source of all, since they're closest to the pickup.

These noise sources produce stray energies in the audible band, not just at 2-10Hz, and they're physically and acoustically closer to the TT than vibrations from the floor. The footers beneath a rack have a profound influence in a setup's ability to drain these vibrations away from the TT - or not.

Reducing stray energies in the 2-10Hz range will lower the system's sound floor, but it's unlikely to change the sound "from from lean-strident to round-warm" or vice-versa. IMO, such changes are more likely due to changing stray vibrations in the audible frequency range, such as are caused by the factors noted above.

That said, a wall mount such as Halcro suggests would address both structure-borne and equipment-borne vibrations, as it would isolate the TT from both. They'll have less effect on TT motor noise and vibrations emanating from the stylus-groove interface, which must be addressed by other means.

It's far from a simple problem and there is no single solution.
Just in case ,it hasn't been mentiooned already on this thread i suspect in most cases the best sonic results will be obtained with no rack, i.e., placing the components directly on the floor (on spikes). Most racks actually amplify and exacerbate the structureborne vibrations. Yes, I realize racks look cool and are excellent for organizing things. Another source of vibration, again, in case it hasn't been mentioned, is the acoustic waves generated in the room by the speakers, you know, depending on how loud the music is playing. Sound pressure Peaks in the room can be 6 to 8 dB or higher than the average level in the room.
I have found that Doug/D is right again. I live in Arzona with many dry riverbeds close by. In these beds lie rounded rocks. i was floored how these really help my electronics. I should post pictures of these 5-8 pound or so rocks. They look a bit silly on my amp, preamp, CD player, but boy do they help.
String,

Judging by the photo on Joel Durand's homepage, one of his tonearms would totally rock your world. ;-)

Seriously, a bowling ball on top of my washer or dryer provides a similar benefit. The additional weight lowers the frequency and amplitude of spurious vibrations, and it has nothing to do with vibrations emanating from the floor.
Seriously, a bowling ball on top of my washer or dryer provides a similar benefit.
Now there's an idea.....
Perhaps a cricket ball on top of the turntable will solve all structure-borne feedback problems?
Hi Pani - just saw your thread.

interesting that you got the TT to sound fast as it was sounding slow on your other Verdier thread ?

wall mounts are great as long as what you are bolting into is indeed part of the load bearing wall - not just 2 x 6 wood studs screwed to the wall that have been put up quickly on a frame by the builder. These move, are flexible and a very bad solution. I have friends who tried bolting to the wood studs, it didnt work well - they declared the wall mount solution as no good - which is obviously not the case.

fwiw - I recommend you try something that I feel is easy to do minimal cost and time.
Go to the building supply store and obtain a small sheet of plywood to make a box big enough to hold the motor and TT, a sheet of plastic to line the box and some sand (in bags).

Put up a temporary sandbox with the shelf your Verdier will be on leveled on it. If it works for you then a nicer one can be constructed.
The building suppliers of the wood will usually make 4 or 5 cuts for free for you as well from the plywood sheet.
Just bring your measurements to the store.
The sand comes in bags and is labeled as to be used in playgrounds for kids.
I use an elongated sandbox with my vintage Platine Granito.
My TT shelf is 14 inches up from the concrete floor that has an underpad and carpet on top.
It works really well.

Cheers and good luck.
There is one problem with the use of ‘sand boxes’.
Their perceived benefit is not the sand itself….but the ‘voids’ between the sand.
In other words…..full sound transmission through the sand is hampered by the ‘air’ between the individual sand pellets.
Now initially this may work to some extent….but sand has a propensity to ‘compact’ due to gravity, heat, moisture, load and time and many of the ‘voids’ become smaller and tighter and many disappear altogether thus obviating the initial benefits.
When sand becomes fully compacted……its density approaches that of concrete. In fact before the discovery of cement…..compacted sand was used as a base for laying glass mosaics and with the discovery of volcanic ash and pumice by the Minoans, Greeks and then the Romans…..the addition of Pozzolanic lime to fill the voids in the sand mix together with water created the first ‘mortar’ and then concrete.
Even today…..a compacted mix of 10:1 sand to cement (to fill the voids) can often be used to bed brick, concrete and stone paving.
As there is no really successful method for preventing the slow but inevitable compaction of the sand within a sand box…….its efficacy will slowly deteriorate to become virtually zero.
As there is no really successful method for preventing the slow but inevitable compaction of the sand within a sand box…….its efficacy will slowly deteriorate to become virtually zero.

Interesting info Henry - in a grim reaper sort of way :^(

Annual sandbox maintenance - once a year.
Difficulty level - 2 out of 10.
Procedure.
With a buddies help remove TT with shelf from the sand.
Remove sand with scooper and place into a secondary container (bucket)
Carefully check sand when removing to determine if audiophile cat has used it over the course of the year.
Pour sand back into box. Install shelf and TT back into sand.
Level as required.
Time required. One hour depending on whether sand was soiled.

Does this suffice ?

I am curious how often the air suspension shelves (i.e. vibraplane) need re-levelling from bladders losing air. Especially any bought used on the internet ?
Hi Pani

Dont waste time and just get a HRS platform. I got the cheapest R1X platform and it really isolated my turntable brilliantly. They cost about $1300 usd , but i say its the best turntable upgrade i have spent.I have tried stillpoints,Aurios, maple shelves, Springs and all had just minor isolation improvements. The HRS, when installed was one of those "WOW" moments. Noise floored dropped tremendously and the sound cleared up.

FYI i have a suspended wooden floor and my turntable is situated in the worse position possible ( Corner behind speakers).

BTW i am loving the Miyabi. got it installed on a Reed arm and hotted up Garrad 301.
The fact that you say you are a beginner in analogue playback, but have a lot invested in your analog playback equipment, just doesn't seem right to me.

I can only assume you don't or haven't taken the time required to evaluate any of your components in a 'end-user' way. This is of great concern. Other's haven't remarked on this. Maybe they know you personally?

If you are really new to analog playback, take a lot of time to get to 'know' your components. Then and only then, after trying some 'thoughtful' optimal other specific, planned, upgrades, initiate other's opinions on your dilemma.
Leicachamp's recommendation of "just get a hrs platform", wow, money must not be an object, or you are both good friends.

I'm on 25 years plus with my tt, and just now getting ready to build my own.

I could greatly reduce your money outlay based on what info you want to provide on your system that will be of greater sonic 'value' than the other poster's comment.

The best knowledge is that you learn yourself! Good luck!
Have you tried any of the suggestions?
I had a unsuspended table once that responded well to a 3lb plastic coated lead diver's weight placed on the plinth near the tonearm.
Again, try the squash balls.
-Mike
Try Symposium Ultra platform you will be amazed at the improvement.