I agree 100%. I have had good results with tubed gear in particular. I had a fire breathing dragon of a SET amp in a previous system, and I noted that the room stayed cooler (which the stand manufacturer, Starsound Technologies confirmed in their own experiments).
Some people also claim some capacitors can be microphonic or at least their is a theoretical piezoelectrical relationship between vibration and electrical performance, but I am not an engineer and have no idea of the veracity of such claims.
I've always found that stands with speakers on them must have zero back and forward motion, as the drivers move this way.
Any back and forward motion of the stand will be lost energy being projected into the room, being waisted by the drivers instead trying to make the stand move back and forward, even in unmeasurable amounts.
You loose micro detail and screw up your imaging.
I think the state of our socialized knowledge is something like this:
Have you ever noticed the speed at which we are rotating thru space 465 meters per second? You will notice the speed change when it suddenly stops. We as humans have adjusted to that speed over millions of years just as we have to the background noise level the Earth makes some 50 db below the ambient noise level of your living environment. If you notice your chandelier in motion (well it's really your house that's moving) then you may want to step outside and have a drink or a smoke or even a panic attack...because you may then be in the midst of a earthquake.
Other than those extremes sudden stops and an actual Earthquake humans have adjusted to these ambient sensory levels of information over millions of years. Tom
actually we're not rotating through space. We're rotating about the Earth’s axis. The speed around the sun of the Earth is a different story. Care to take a gander how fast that is? Then there’s the speed of the Earth as part of the Milky Way Galaxy, rotating in the spiral galaxy. In addition let’s not forget the speed that the Milky Galaxy is traveling towards what, the Great Attractor? Anyone care to take a gander at the speed of the expanding universe? The Earth is moving at great speed away from the Big Bang along with everything else. The take away from all this is that speed is relative to your frame of reference.
pop quiz: if the universe slows down and starts to contract does time start to go backward?
Had a few racks, homemade with nice wood and bought online, which held the equipment but offered little in sound quality improvements. Then I bought a Star Sound Sistrum rack and SP-101 platforms for my speakers. Both the rack and the speakers improved the sound considerably so that I was able to remove some traps and get great increases in clarity, transparency, and dynamics with no drawbacks.
A Star Sound Rhythm RP5 rack and Starsound Apprentice amp platforms made a huge improvement for me. Underneath unsuspended turntables I’m into Stillpoints Ultra Fives on a heavy sandbox over soft springs (borrowed from Geoff Kait’s Machina Dynamica idea.) As a finishing touch, racks and platforms pull my chain much harder than expensive cables.
I used to have troubles with footfalls when I ran my turntable.
I got a Sound Anchors stand which helped quite a lot but did not solve it.
I used to have a Sota Cosmos; replaced it with a modified Empire 208 turntable (equipped with an SME5 arm). It sounded better than the Cosmos until you turned up the volume, then the Cosmos sounded better at volumes above that (the Cosmos had a fair amount of damping control; the Empire did not).
I solved that by going back to Sound Anchors and had them build a stand that was customized to accept an anti-vibration platform (Ultraresolution Technologies) for not just the turntable but also the preamp. Now I could play much higher volumes without strain using the 'Empire' (which was further customized with a new plinth machined of solid aluminum, damped platter which was machined to accommodate a better platter pad and the arm was replaced with a Triplanar). I still got some footfalls. I added some Aurios Pro bearings beneath the footers of the stand and the footfalls were gone.
Now I can play the system to some really high volumes (+105db) and it always sounds relaxed with no hint of strain, and its really hard to tell how loud its playing unless you try to talk to someone beside you.
IMO/IME its really important that that the system have the ability to not sound loud even when it really is. An orchestra can play peaks of 115db; the stereo should not add anything of its own during playback. At high sound pressure levels vibration can affect turntables, CD players and all electronics whether tube or solid state (if you think transistors are immune to microphonics you've not spent time working with them!).
So a stand with vibration control for the front end of the system (sources and preamp) is not only in the signal chain but can be considered a component in its own right.
I've always found that stands with speakers on them must have zero back and forward motion, as the drivers move this way.Hi George (of Lightspeed fame). That is an interesting point. I am a big fan of time/phase alignment of speakers. It would be an interesting thing to measure.
Had a few racks, homemade with nice wood and bought online, which held the equipment but offered little in sound quality improvements. Then I bought a Star Sound Sistrum rack and SP-101 platforms for my speakers. Both the rack and the speakers improved the sound considerably so that I was able to remove some traps and get great increases in clarity, transparency, and dynamics with no drawbacks.dorkwad, that is also a good observation. So less of a need for in-room energy management. That has been my experience as well.
IMO/IME its really important that that the system have the ability to not sound loud even when it really is. An orchestra can play peaks of 115db; the stereo should not add anything of its own during playback. At high sound pressure levels vibration can affect turntables, CD players and all electronics whether tube or solid state (if you think transistors are immune to microphonics you've not spent time working with them!).That's great feedback Ralph and describes precisely what I have experienced. Since you are an engineer and manufacturer like Geoff, any thoughts on why SS devices would be vulnerable?
I believe that maple has a profound affect with electronics, more so with electronics than with speakers. Try maple before you decide.
one thing to consider is that the material used for the top plate of an isolation device, for example one placed on a shelf of a rack, is considerably less important than when used alone, supported by cones. For example, many folks complain that granite and marble ring too much and shouldn’t be used for audio. In fact - for isolation applications - granite and marble are very appropriate for isolation device top plates since they are very stiff and hard materials. Hardness and stiffness are important attributes when resisting rotational forces. The potential for ringing is minimized by virtue of the fact the top plate itself is isolated along with the component. I’m also a big fan of bluestone for use as a top plate on springs or air bladders as it’s inexpensive and can be found in nice 3" thick slabs. I think you’ll find 3" slabs of bluestone don’t ring a whole lot.
I can't say about hi-fi platforms, but maple is the preferred wood for drum shells because of it's desirable (for drums) resonance and timbre. Maple's resonance characteristic is of long sustain (when you hit a piece of maple, it rings for a long time), it's timbral character brightness. If one desires their support structure to produce no sound of it's own, I don't know why a wood known for it's long sustain and bright timbre would be a desirable material from which to build one. I am NOT saying I know why it shouldn't be used!
I can’t say about hi-fi platforms, but maple is the preferred wood for drum shells because of it’s desirable (for drums) resonance and timbre.
Take a gander at Charlie Watts’ snare drum video,
I can't say about hi-fi platforms, but maple is the preferred wood for drum shells because of it's desirable (for drums) resonance and timbre. Maple's resonance characteristic is of long sustain (when you hit a piece of maple, it rings for a long time), it's timbral character brightness. If one desires their support structure to produce no sound of it's own, I don't know why a wood known for it's long sustain and bright timbre would be a desirable material from which to build one. I am NOT saying I know why it shouldn't be used!Maybe such stands could be incorporated as system tuning devices.....nothing wrong with that concept. I know some speaker manufactures ascribe to that philosophy.
Thanks Geoff, great video. The drums I was describing are traditional wood ones, which is how bass drums (kicks) and toms are pretty much all made. Snare drums are a different matter, available in many different woods and metals.
Charlie Watts likes old Gretsch drum sets (he’s been playing a natural maple finish set on stage since the early-70’s), the "round badge" ones made in the original Brooklyn factory in the 50’s and 60’s. In the 50’s the shells were 3-ply, the outer two maple, the inner gumwood. In the 60’s the shells were 6-ply, with alternating layers of same. They sound fantastic! A lot of Pro drummers having endorsement deals with other drum companies play those drums on stage, but record with Gretsch.
Steel is a commonly used material for snare drums, but not usually high end ones. Brass is the preferred metal for snare drums by many, myself included. Saxes and other musical horns aren't made of brass for no reason---it sounds good! Can you imagine a steel sax?! How about steel cymbals (they too are brass)? I have three Ludwig’s made in the 1920’s (14 X 5/8-lug, 14 X 5/10-lug, 14 X 6.5/10-lug), one in the 30’s (14 X 6.5/8-lug), all nickel over brass (NOB), and fantastic. I had a spare 14 X 5/10-lug Ludwig Standard that Abe Laborial Jr., McCartneys drummer, bought (I used to deal in vintage drums) and played when they did the Super Bowl Half-Time show about ten years ago. Look for it!
Years ago I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by musical instruments of all kinds and had a few friends who also spent their lifetimes involved in music. Among those, Jay Thomas, a sound engineer by trade and incredible cabinet maker along with Dick Boak of the famed Martin Guitar Company. During those early years Dick was in charge of purchasing the exotic woods and adobe for the Martin Company. He exposed the looks of those woods to Jay who as a cabinetmaker would purchase some and build racks to elegantly hold all of our stereo gear. Initially we had no clue what was going on but soon realized that the denser the wood used in the equipment racks, the better our hi-fi gear sounded.
Fast forward to today. I am no longer a fan of wood racking when absolute sonic performance is the goal. A block of wood or shelving vibrates and produces frequencies well within the audible range of human hearing. We commonly refer to this noise as ‘rack chatter’. The company I represent prefers to use metals for the building of equipment racks where the frequency range of the shelves, support rods and metal cones vibrating is well above or far below that of the human ear’s capability of detection. We prefer to entirely remove the audibility of vibrating wood racks from the overall environmental formula.
Example: listeners always state that MDF sounds OK but a hardened maple sounds much better. When comparing the two, MDF is made of sawdust, air and glue (polymers-plastics) and produces a very wide and very audible frequency range when subjected to vibration. Maple is denser containing less air molecules, no glues and has the advantage of a grain structure where laminar resonance will flow along the grains pathway and locate an exit via metal rods (shelf supports) or cones hence establishing an energy transfer methodology similar to the technology we are developing for use in audio and video equipment racking.
As Maple produces less audible frequency byproduct compared to MDF, the question remains… Does the solid wood actually sound better or are we just hearing much less of the audible frequencies caused from the density of the Maple wood vibrating?
Second Example: We have worked with clients where the aesthetics of steel is not an option; to them wood is preferable. I generally suggest they sample mahogany. Mahogany is much more difficult to work with due to its high density as compared to maple but the end result in every case to date: the listeners preferred the mahogany.
Questions to ponder:
Do the audible effects from a more dense wood reduce the sonic signature that vibrating wood adds in a sound room?
Do denser woods actually sound more musical or are we hearing less colorations or noise? Keep in mind we are listening to a block of wood vibrate in a listening room environment and not that of a spruce inlay on a tuned up Martin guitar.
As evidenced here on AudioGon feedback, clients repeatedly state Sistrum Platforms dramatically lower floor noise. As well, the soundstage immediately grows north, south, east and west. Despite other technical functions present within the Sistrum design, metals used in racking reduce the resonant frequency of wood via mechanical grounding and remove the effects leading to audible rack chatter hence providing the speaker system with more open space to play into.
There are many who say they prefer the sound of wood in their systems and there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that assessment or enjoyment, however until one attempts to remove or reduce rack chatter one may never know the full sound capability of their electronics and loudspeakers. We are extremely confident one will definitely and easily hear the differences.
Questions to ponder:
Q - Do the audible effects from a more dense wood reduce the sonic signature that vibrating wood adds in a sound room?
A - Maple generally sounds "good" better than many materials yet is not particularly dense. Going one step further materials like hardwoods that vibrate when excited by external forces are not necessarily bad for the sound inasmuch as the wood, maple or whatever acts like a resonator, dissipating the vibration in the rack or stand. Similarly stand or racks that are less rigid than others can actually sound better since seismic type vibration will not be transmitted quite so easily as rigid structures. Thus, the popularity of the Flexy Rack, for example. Isolation effectiveness is a function of how easily a stand or rack can move in the direction of interest. A flexible, or wobbly stand would approximate or approach the behavior of mass on spring systems, one might observe.
Q - Do denser woods actually sound more musical or are we hearing less colorations or noise? Keep in mind we are listening to a block of wood vibrate in a listening room environment and not that of a spruce inlay on a tuned up Martin guitar.
A - Density is not the most desirable characteristic of the material, otherwise maple wouldn’t sound so good. It’s a medium density wood. Let’s look at Moingo as in Mpingo disc for a second, which IIRC is African rosewood, a rather dense wood AND it resonates like a son of a gun. Yet, used sparingly, it’s very good for the sound. A resonator? You decide.
By the way, I would like to see Graphene used more widely in audio applications. Graphene is now used in fuses and high end tennis racquets since it’s *extremely* strong and lightweight. How about tonearms, cartridges, iso platforms....hmmmmmm.
Here is a description of what I did some years ago...
Massive and rigid speaker stands are much in vogue today, precipitated by the desire to minimize relative motion of the speaker and listener. I have largely overcome this relative motion by mounting the speaker stands directly into the granitic bedrock underlying the listening building. An expanse of about two acres of solid granite was selected as the site for the listening building and all topsoil was removed from the area. Four mounting holes for the stands of each speaker were then drilled to a depth of seven feet into the bedrock and stainless steel supports were press fit into the drill holes. Glues and cements were rejected as interfering with coupling of the stands and bedrock; instead, the supports were cooled to cryogenic temperatures to shrink them. Expansion locked the supports in place as they warmed to room temperature. Speakers sit atop the supports on diamond points. I am currently contemplating the use of large counterweights from a drawbridge to clamp the speakers securely to the supports.
Despite the considerable attention given to speaker movement, no provisions have heretofore been made for isolating the listener's head. As "all motion is relative", I elected to purchase a head and jaw clamp assembly from a retiring brain surgeon. This is mounted to bedrock as described above and provides a secure and stable support for the listener's head. An ancillary benefit is that it completely prevents any jaw motion during serious listening, thereby eliminating changes in the shape of the ear canal documented by psychoacoustic studies.
YES beyond any doubt. I have generally stayed away from woods no matter how well aged, etc..as my system and others never sounded quite right (to my ears) but that's a personal bias and should not be counted on in any way for anyone else's system. I have taken the approach of using at least 2 levels of isolation/equipment stands, (1) coarse grade for stability, think heavy duty stands, multi-layer platforms, etc...and (2) component platforms on each stand shelf for full frequency spectrum vibration absorption and dissipation. There are lots of ways and products to go about this; given when I started on this many years ago, the weight of all my components and budget, I found it most effective to go with Adona AV45 line stands and platforms adding Composite Audio platforms over and above the Adona to tick the box on both coarse and fine-grain as mentioned above. There is still much airborne vibration in the room (at higher SPLs for certain) and from the world itself and the components so I am going to be giving HRS Dampening plates a test in the next 1-2 weeks on all my gear. It should provide the 3 layer of vibration control/absorption I am looking for. That stated there are alot of other fine solutions out there to accomplish all 3 goals...
I have used many products over the years and found just about everything makes a difference, some good most bad. I have settled on making stands out of Maple wood, I have been doing woodworking for many years and found Maple to have the effect I like. I have a Maple stand up for sale, that is solid as a rock which also is very important to improving the sound of all components. But here is why I am responding, I also have for sale Maple blocks for those who want to try Maple and its effect on the sound with out having a big old slab of a rebranded cutting board. I hope that after a few people try the Maple blocks they will then try a solid Maple stand.
It matters very much and the higher the level the more it matters.
I have put all electronics on a heavy brick wall (1200kg/m2) and only the speakers are on the groundfloor. The floor is made of 5,5m3 concreet and is floating on 300mm polystyren. By taking the equipment away from the floor the level jumped up at once. After that i experimentet a lot with shelves, haveing diffrent, kinds of quartzsand and led build in the shelves, using birchplywood at lot. I did again help. The idear was that the sand i vibrating and through friktion is turned to heat and away from the equipment.I have also good expirience with ebony both under and also direct on the equipment, inspired by Shunk Moon.
Then all dampingacessories started and after many kond of difrent manufacturs i ended in the Stillpoint line, Universal => Ultra SS=> Ultra 5 where i stand now, the are very good. Even the powerdistributor gains from standing on a Ultra 5. They to reacts very much in relation to what you put under them.
Next step will probaly be the Ultra 6. Dampingvibration in equipment is a abselute must but also your windows give a lot eve n if you have the special ones with heavy argongass and 4 and 6 mm thick glass.
I am a firm advocate for isolation
it has made a large difference in my system
when you get it truly right individual sounds are isolated, transparency enhanced, low level details and imaging articulated and with no changes in tonality
the electronics are not being stressed by resonance
this occurs in both tube and solid state equipment
where you hear this is in detail and separation of instruments, with no smear and decay in time. There is a strong sense of silence between notes, natural decay and sharp attacks
One way you can hear this nicely is on a full swipe of a pianists hand across the keys or fast articulated playing with distict quick gaps between notes. The notes will sound out distinctly without overlap.
it real is like a veil removed in a time sense
things jump out ar you by their lack of resonace and enhanced separation
I have found two major products that have taken isolation to a great level in my system.
Silent Running Audio racks and isobases and Daedalus DIDs - Daedalus Isolation Devices footers.
Silent Running Audio is serious isolation. I have their Craz rack and a number of their isobase platforms. Kevin Tellekamp works on contracts dealing with precise control of resonance with the US nuclear submarines and with other groups including demanding micro level medical applications.
The Craz rack contains an indo-skeletion of titanium, custom material shelves and is a major investment, but it will make a huge difference and will be the last rack you ever buy. It is a work of art - very substantial..
you can also buy SRA isobases that go on any rack shelf or on the floor commonly with monoblocks. SRA custom makes each shelf to your specific equipment. My turntable base was designed around my Gavia Galibier and is a thing of beauty. Everything comes wood crated.
the bases come in three grade levels
another isolation device that is garnering great attention is Lou Hinkley at Daedalus DIDs - Daedalus Isolation Devices. Lou who build's exceptionally crafted hardwood speakers has come up with isolation footers that work very effectively.
I have utilized these on my Billy Bags digital rack and they provide enhanced resolution, transparency and isolation with no changes in tonality. Lou's comments - Resonance control is crucial in the design of great speaker systems, and now we have applied that knowledge to isolation devices (footers) for components. These devices utilize dissimilar materials to dissipate resonance coupled with bearings to also isolate the electronic component from vibration. Precision made of highly polished billet Aluminum, solid Cherry and Brass with steel bearings.
Lou has been effectively bringing these to audio shows and demonstrating their impact by adding them component by component to the system. Then removing as well. The sonic benefits are very apparent.
reading through this thread i did not see any mention of 'active isolation'.
passive isolation/decoupling can get the job done in most situations, which was where i was at. then I switched speaker systems to a 2 tower system which was -3db at 7hz and -6db at 3hz. and this bass tower was 6 feet from my turntable. it took me a couple of months to understand that the sudden occurrence of noticeable groove distortion on female vocals, cello's, and other previously wonderful passages was feedback from these massive 750 pound, 7 foot tall bass towers.
so I purchased 2 different Herzan TS active platforms. a TS-150 for my preamp and digital and a TS-140 for my Wave Kinetics NVS turntable. http://http//www.herzan.com/products/active-vibration-control/ts-series.html
since active isolation needs a grounded rack with zero compliance and some mass loading I also switched my rack system to the Adona GTX.
active devices are stiff and very fast. they use piezoelectric sensors and actuators, and sense resonance and compensate for it. and that happens in real time. they are designed primarily for using electron microscopes in laboratory conditions. which happens to be the same job we need done for our electronics. the feedback from music and background hash of reality needs to be eliminated from our reproduction chain so it does not overlay our music.
passive devices settle and overshoot since they are soft. an active device is stiff since they can stop and start. active is 500x stiffer than passive devices. they can attenuate noise down to .5hz. there is a graphical display on the side of the Herzan TS platforms that displays noise in horizontal lines that is being attenuated. if you clap your hands you will see the lines get squiggly and get sensed and compensated for. it's that sensitive. these active devices are built to also auto level. when you turn them on they first level the top platform. after that they just do their thing.
while not cheap to buy, when combined with a modestly priced grounded rack they are not much more costly than the more spendy racks used by many audiophiles and in the context of uber systems they are sensible products. and science and industry proves that they really work.
any system will get a boost with an active shelf since they objectively out-perform any passive device. period. OTOH some systems and specific situations actually 'need' active to solve specific problems like I had.
ive had both my Herzan's for 4 years now and they have been flawless. they bring a level of nuance and solidity to the music in the ultra dynamic system that must be heard to be believed. coherence on musical peaks at warp 9 is outstanding and allows the music to have an ease and authority not otherwise possible. they do require a good foundation ideally; I have 6 inches of concrete as my floor. a suspended wood floor might compromise an active device as it would be continually compensating for the sensed compliance and burn out.
yes; for a few reasons the active isolation does yield a greater payoff on the vinyl. obviously the most significant issue is the mechanical nature of the stylus in the groove and so the delta of improvement is greatest, then you have simply more information and nuance from the vinyl so further to take things. the true payoff has to do with a sort of spooky level of ’suspension of disbelief’ that happens with voice, cellos, piano’s......or musical peaks.....you hear farther into the music. decays and ambient information seems unlimited. like a light turned on rendering more info on familiar tracks. and at spots of musical peaks where you might otherwise cringe expecting things to get hard and edgy the music just sails thru with ease. this retains the musical flow with large scale music which tends to make you play more of it.
the more dynamic and vivid the pressing the greater the degree of improvement. direct to disc pressings seem to particularly benefit.
digital dacs do benefit, while silver disc playing benefits even more (again, a mechanical process).
obviously the better the passive isolation that it replaces the less the improvement that is heard. there are some very good passive devices out there.
I will repeat that active isolation is system dependent; whether it is a good ROI depends on the dynamic and full range capability of one’s system. if you have small monitors and play small scale music then the benefits will be marginal.
and at spots of musical peaks where you might otherwise cringe expecting things to get hard and edgy the music just sails thru with ease. this retains the musical flow with large scale music which tends to make you play more of it.That is interesting. That illustrates what I have always recognized in top tier systems: "dynamic ease." Loud but not loud. Full but not strained. Another conversation (or it could be part of this conversation) would be the application of active isolation or any of these energy management technologies to room engineering. I have toyed with that, and the results are compelling to say the least.
There are a bunch of really interesting designs for audiophile and non-audiophile iso stands, many of which are actually not active designs, not the least of which is the complicated Minus K negative stiffness stand and the magentic levitation types. I appreciate any device with very low resonant frequency, for example 0.5 Hz is a very good number. The Vibraplane and Minus K both came to audiophiles courtesy of Newport Corp, the mother of vibration isolation devices for industry, active and passive.
I also like the idea of dual mass-spring layers and even sapphire threads or even fishing line for want of sapphire thread. Lol I’m also a fan of DIY bungee cord device in lieu of the usual DIY tennis ball or bicycle inner tube type stuff. I also like to suspend all cables and power cords using springy rubber bands or thread with rubber bands on the ends.
finally, as I’ve intimated before, aside from the technical aspects, there is an art to isolation: how much internal damping, how much damping for the top plate, how to interface the component to the top plate, how to interface the iso device to the floor or rack, all these issues are critical for obtaining the best sound.