I tried wood many years ago when a few supposedly knowledgeable guys said wood is the way to go. In a word, no.
The good and bad of wood is each type of wood has its own characteristic sound, which can be changed or tuned to some extent by varying the shape, size, dimensions and construction. Laminate, for example. It should come as no surprise I guess considering how many wooden instruments there are that a lot of people like the sound of wood.
But that's the bad of wood as well. It definitely imparts a sound of its own. Everything does. Concrete. Rock. Metal. Acrylic. Glass. Everything. Tried em all. Why I got what I got. Very little of which is wood. Turns out I like the sound of wood- in a violin. Not in a rack, cabinet, etc. When it comes to vibration control it turns out I lean more towards eliminating than tuning. That's after having tried a whole lot of different materials.
If you're wondering how that's possible, to have tried all that stuff, well its like this- each material has its own characteristic sound. Therefore its not necessary to make a whole complete rack, shelf, speaker, etc. You can simply test a small square or oval piece. Because what you will find, if you actually do this (hardly anyone does, lot easier talking than doing) you will find that while yes indeed it is a little different depending on size, construction, etc, that the fundamental character always remains.
This is why so many speakers are made out of laminates and MDF. These take the good qualities of wood, average them out, and give you something a lot less identifiably woody. But its still there, which is why pretty much all the very best speakers are composites.
Which is what works best. Except unfortunately DJ passed on so no more BDR. So you are on your own. At least I saved you the time you might have wasted on wood.
I’ve had excellent results with maple and Mpingo discs which are Gabon ebony and African rosewood. But I agree with the previous post that wood can be tricky to work with. The reason you don’t see any cones made of wood with a couple notable exceptions is that wood is relatively soft and will therefore store more energy. Thickness is an issue when using wood for support as thicker boards will resist bending forces better than thinner boards. Note: thank goodness there are no more carbon fiber cones. No offense to anyone. Just commenting on the material, too soft and too funky sounding.
Interestingly enough, Ayre supply their latest integrated amp, the EX8 , with 3 Myrtle wood blocks . And they are quite clear in the manual that the unit WILL benefit from them. Also of interest about Ayre, I rang them to ask what size fuse rating on my old Ayre ax7e as I wanted to buy a SR Blue fuse for it. They were extremely enthusiastic about aftermarket fuses and acknowledged it would be of benefit. How about that, an amp manufacturer who is actually on board with tweaks!
Purpleheart and African Padauk are both excellent. Both about equally hard and dense and heavy which I believe is key. I have two inch thick bases which also is important. The thicker the wood the better. For small components like macmini, modem, power supply, tube traps etc I use even thicker (3 inch thick) smaller blocks of wood of the needed size that were meant for wood turning or carving from EBay.
Yeah, right, tried it all. Wood doesn’t control vibration- wood vibrates! Its why musical instruments are built out of it, after all!
The thicker the better works because thicker vibrates less and at a higher frequency. So saying you like thicker better is saying you like the sound of wood- only you would like a little less of it. Which ultimately is why the industry long ago went to MDF- its got all the workability benefits of wood without the characteristic sonic signature of individual wood species.
This is a subject I dove deep into and figured out a very long time ago. Its tough because like I already said there’s a lot of supposedly knowledgeable people recommending pine, birch, coco bolo, whatever. Sounds great until you actually try it. Even worse there’s people spreading outright nonsense, like carbon fiber is soft. Yeah, that’s why they build F1 cars, airplanes and spacecraft out of it, nothing maintains precise geometry like a soft funky frame. Just beyond stupid. No offense to anyone.
Its probably true that wood vibrates. Some less than others though, and purpleheart perhaps less than others. And it may be that the resonance of wood is easier to live with than of other materials. An excellent material for damping is something that Marigo is now fabricating. This is what they use for their IT platforms, i.e., isothermal platforms. Not super cheap, but under my upper range open speaker baffles they are extremely effective. I believe Marigo suggests using this material for components is just as effective.
Check out Mapleshade’s VCS Vibration control systems and racks. I find them very effective. I use their 4" thick maple VCS under my turntable and it made a very big improvement. Also have a 2" under my amp. I’m sold. But it is a system. You need to use the whole system with the brass feet and ISO Blocks to get the full effect. You can use them without the brass feet and it's quite good but better with them. Sure wood vibrates but it also will absorb and dissipate energy when used correctly. And yes it needs to be thick. 3/4 shelving is not thick enough. The thicker the better. Maple seems to be the best. Just try to get a 4" thick slab of maple to resonate like a thin shelf does. Metal, stone and glass ring and do not absorb or really dissipate energy like thick wood, instead they reflect the energy back into the components. Sure nothing is perfect but we have to set our equipment on something.
The entire building is vibrating. So, even if there were a material that didn’t vibrate much the component on the rack or platform would still be vibrating, right long with the entire building. Thus, the theory that wood is no good because it vibrates doesn’t hold water. The trick, gentle readers, is to decouple (isolate) the component from the building AND use very hard cone materials, I.e., not wood or carbon fiber or even brass, underneath both the component and the iso device to allow “residual vibration” to rapidly exit stage left. Cryogenically treated heat tempered steel would be a good place to start.
Hell the Earth is constantly vibrating and ringing from earthquakes etc. It’s a matter of degrees really. It seems all of audio is managing vibrations.
Mapleshade’s footers are not cone shaped because cone tips can resonate at the wrong frequencies. They are cylinder shaped with a shallow point instead. You will get lots of opinions on this as with most topics. This comes down to tweeks really. In the grand scheme of audio things it is better to get the bigger issues of equipment synergy and the room/speaker setup dialed in before worrying to much about fine tuning with racks and cone and such. The exception being for turntables. Very important to have a good support under a TT.
I'd agree with GeoffKait about set up. The cones I use under the purpleheart and padauk bases are Golden Sound cones with squares. And between my components and the wood bases I put springs that Geoff sells. It's a set up (not the wood type itself, but the springs and cones) that Geoff recommends. And I can say it all works very well.
At a somewhat higher price point, the fabricated Marigo Isothermal platforms might be worth looking at. As I said before they do work extremely well to steady up my speaker baffles. I haven't tried them under electronics myself, but I am going to guess that they are very good for those too.
For audio cones there is a direct relationship between performance and hardness. Check it out. The Moh’s scale of hardness has diamond as a perfect 10.0 The best sounding audio cones are high on the Moh scale, less sonically effective cones are lower on the Moh scale. The NASA grade ceramics DH (diamond hardness) cones are right below diamond on the Moh scale. The Shun Mook Diamond Resonators use diamond tips on highly resonant Mpingo wood. Then we have hardened high carbon steel, with aluminum, carbon fiber and brass much farther on down the scale. Followed by soft rubber type materials, which by and large tend to store energy as opposed to allow energy to exist the system rapidly.
I built a custom rack with wood shelves using a vintage, heavy and stable welded iron frame I found at auction. The supporting brackets are simple 90 degree L bars welded to corner verticals. I needed to isolate all three shelves from direct contact with the iron frame which had a small but perceptible harmonic when hit.
The shelves are a layered concept consisting of a bottom layer of 3/4 inch Baltic plywood with an upper layer of 1 inch (finished thickness) tiger maple.
The edges of the plywood cannot be seen as it is recessed into the L bars.
The two layers are isolated from the frame and from each other with Fat Dots from Herbie's Audio Lab. The decoupling is near perfect and there is little to no transmission of vibration to the maple. By using this "sandwich" design with two discrete layers of isolating/decoupling material I seem to have eliminated the need for using 2+ inch wood stock.
Other than having to cover most of what is great looking tiger maple with equipment, I am super pleased with the results. The experiment paid off well.
The oft mentioned analogy between an audio system and a musical instrument is completely wrong. A logical fallacy. The real analogy is between audio systems and electron microscopes. The audio system needs to be isolated from building structure vibrations for the same reason electron microscopes require vibration isolation in order to take photos of the specimen under the scope without the picture coming out all blurry. Unless you like your music blurry, gentle readers, better head on down to your local isolation store. The only good vibration is a dead vibration. RIP. And, no, speakers are not like guitars. Cabinets resonances are completely unwelcome in a high end system. Nor are the mechanical feedback from speakers welcome, either. I’m pretty sure we’ve known that since the 70s. Hel-loo! Wake up and smell the coffee, guys! ☕️ Go, ahead, give me your best shot.
Isolating components from vibrations is an audio fetish IMHO that is exploited by charlatans marketing to the worst of the nervosa syndrome.
Each object has a resonant frequency, and it's going to resonate in the presence of that frequency, and there's nothing you can do about it. You can change the resonant frequency, such as by putting sand or lead shot in a speaker stand, putting a bag of sand on top of a component, etc.
Buildings vibrate at frequencies that are inaudible. Carnegie Hall vibrates, but it affects neither the performance nor recording of the performance.
Isolating components from vibrations is an audio fetish IMHO that is exploited by charlatans marketing to the worst of the nervosa syndrome.
Each object has a resonant frequency, and it’s going to resonate in the presence of that frequency, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can change the resonant frequency, such as by putting sand or lead shot in a speaker stand, putting a bag of sand on top of a component, etc.
>>>>Actually, there is something you can do about. That’s the whole point! Let’s take a straightforward example, shall we? Tonearms and cartridges are designed to have resonant frequencies circa 10-12 Hz. The reason for that is so acoustic waves won’t excite those resonant frequencies, as they well below the acoustic output of most speakers. But guess what? The range of Seismic frequencies which is 0 to 100 Hz includes the Fr 10-12 Hz so can obviously excite those resonant frequencies. You agree that’s not a good thing, right? So, isn’t it logical to conclude that isolating the turntable from seismic frequencies will reduce vibration of the tonearm and cartridge. No one ever said isolation is perfect but it’s a lot better than nothing.
I prefer maple butcher block under my Joule Musicwood amps and a harder material under the Joule Mk III amps.The rest of my shelves are Black Diamond Racing carbon fiber shelves under the TT, pre, phono and CD.
Ironically perhaps the type of wood is much less important when used as the top plate of an isolation stand due to the fact that the top plate is isolated right along with the component sitting on the top plate. Obviously, you still have to deal with induced vibration from motors, etc. as well as airborne vibration. But they are relatively easy to deal with by appropriate damping techniques. Marigo VTS Dots (constrained layer dampers), for example oh, and correct mounting techniques for the component and iso stand. Thus establishing a comprehensive vibration management program. Hint if you can’t decide on which type of wood to use, don’t fret as nice 3” thick slabs of granite or bluestone work very well, indeed, either as a support or as top plate for an iso stand.
If it's not vibrating you would hear nothing at all. I personally have never seen or heard of an isolated audio system. I've only seen HEA marketing using the term isolation as a sales tool.
Repeatedly the simple question is asked, if you kill the vibration than what are you listening to? Audio is vibration and has been described as nothing but vibratory on any scientific level ever taught unless HEA has created it's own science.
Maybe it's time we set up our in-room listening labs and reference this.
michaelgreenaudio If it’s not vibrating you would hear nothing at all. I personally have never seen or heard of an isolated audio system. I’ve only seen HEA marketing using the term isolation as a sales tool.
Strawman argument alert!
Obviously we’re not talking about the acoustic waves, at least I’m not. I’m talking about the vibrations that interfere or distort the pure signal produced by the speakers. This includes, again obviously, speaker cabinet vibrations, vibrations that interferes with the electrical audio signal running through power cords, fuses, wires, capacitors, speaker crossovers, etc. I’m not sure why some folks are so wrapped up on this false logic. It’s a mystery to me.
Now, if by the word “tuning” you mean reducing vibration or changing the Fr by applying pressure I’m all for it. But, come on, people! Anyone who hasn’t gotten the memo regarding isolation of speakers yet is living in the proverbial Stone Age, gentle readers. This isn’t rocket science, folks! 🚀
The word isolation strikes fear into the hearts of pro audio enthusiasts. 👻
Ay carumba! Does it really need to be stated that a, say, CD player (or amplifier) does NOT make sound by "vibrating"? Sure, like a turntable, it has a mechanical component (the CD spinner), followed by lots of electronics. If those electronic circuits were to be prevented from vibrating, would you then "hear nothing at all" coming out of the CD player? Who would believe such an obviously preposterous notion?
The fact that my Townshend Rock turntable (and the arm mounted on it) "vibrates" less than most other tables allows me to better hear what is on the LP. (Max Townshend likens the mechanical damping the Rock provides, to the tripod you mount a camera to in order to prevent blurring). If the table "vibrated" more, that vibration would be added to or subtracted from that which the phono cartridge is sensing in the LP groove. You don’t have to be a genius to know that is obviously an anti-high fidelity notion.
The terms I see being used as marketing are the simplistic bumper sticker slogans of "low mass", "new paradigm" (reminds me of Tony Cordesman’s old reviews in TAS and Stereophile. He proclaimed every new amplifier he reviewed---the Adcom 555 comes to mind---to be a complete game changer, upsetting the amplifier world order prior to the introduction of the new paradigm-changing amp), and "HEA" used pejoratively. Hey, if you don’t have any real ideas, you have to come up with some bogus ones, right? Something no one else is offering (for a good reason ;-). Gotta have something to sell. Reminds me of entertainers who can't sing very well, and can't write a song to save their life, so they instead put a lot of dancing into their live show. You don't sell the steak, you sell the sizzle!
If tonearms and cartridges are engineered to have resonant frequencies circa 10-12 Hz, then it's absolutely illogical to conclude that isolating the turntable from seismic frequencies will reduce vibration of the tonearm and cartridge. Whatever hocus-pocus you apply to your turntable, you won't alter the resonant frequency of the tonearm and cartridge.
Good rule of thumb: Don't listen to your vinyl during an earthquake.
$3-8 bamboo bread boards/chopping blocks work very well.
Bamboo has natural vibration absorption qualities so you can put them on your glass shelf, cabinet top, racks or whatever. The boards even come in different sizes from 8x6" to 20x14" and some in between. Sometimes, cheap can be good. lol
jburidan If tonearms and cartridges are engineered to have resonant frequencies circa 10-12 Hz, then it’s absolutely illogical to conclude that isolating the turntable from seismic frequencies will reduce vibration of the tonearm and cartridge. Whatever hocus-pocus you apply to your turntable, you won’t alter the resonant frequency of the tonearm and cartridge.
Good rule of thumb: Don’t listen to your vinyl during an earthquake.
>>>>>You must not have gotten the memo. Seismic frequencies include all very low frequency vibrations from footfall, traffic, subways, wind and the continuous microseismic activity, all of which affect the tonearm and cartridge natural frequencies. Earthquakes have almost nothing to do with it. Better luck next time.
LOL, HEA is a trip. This is why it has gotten itself in so much trouble. No matter how many people post the definition of the Fundamental Interactions "the standard for interaction and a requirement for studying physics" HEA folks keep making their own rules and defend them to the audio forum death. A fascinating trait in this hobby.
If I may, some of you are far more interested in the arguing then the actual doing. All on-lookers have to do is read your posting, pretty simple (and they do). That said, have fun, but if you are talking about actually doing (practical application, science's proof) you need to step into that arena sooner or later. In other words when you say "it isn't happening" yet millions of people tune every day in their respective fields of interest and professions (anything we use that passes energy) throwing out pet names (strawman or slogan whatever) just roles off sounding inexperienced to those of us who practice the discipline of tuning the variables.
The funny part to these audio forums is instead of these guys actually doing they keep loading up with the same words to see if who is speaking more or louder than anyone else will work. The only thing that works is actually doing and studying.
If any of you can prove science is incorrect I say go for it and get in line for your award. However why come to the table if you're not prepared to dine. So here's what I say, I'm willing to once again do a real time lab testing these things and giving the listening proof. Are you?
Come on guys lets get past the talking and down to the actual doing.
Ladies and gentlemen lets take a look at the testing in-room systems you would like to use for your testing. I've done thousands of systems in the past but lets use our current in-room systems to talk about and explore tuning or lack of, anew.
How about we start at this very basic beginning of any audio discussion, what's your system?
thanks, looking forward to a constructive conversation with you folks
here's some brief history on my systems that bring you up to date
@jburidan when I use the term seismic vibration or seismic type vibration I’m referring to Earth crust motion (microseismic activity), as well as other very low frequency vibration produced by other sources, as I just explained. In urban areas cars, subways, buses, trucks are more important than Earth crust motion. Earthquakes are also seismic in nature, obviously, but they don’t occur very much so can be ignored. Follow?
How can we be in agreement that seismic vibrations affect the tonearm and cartridge? You just said,
“If tonearms and cartridges are engineered to have resonant frequencies circa 10-12 Hz, then it's absolutely illogical to conclude that isolating the turntable from seismic frequencies will reduce vibration of the tonearm and cartridge.”