Free TWEAK that works

For those who have still not decided if I'm certifiably crazy, I have your proof. The latest tweak I've tried is beyond belief, I just have to tell the world. I use all Neuance shelves to support my equipment. I wrote a review on the benefits of using Neuance on a light rigid steel rack with up-turned spikes to support the shelves. The results were quite incredible and I strongly urge people to try this product.
Anyway, I was sitting in my music room the other day looking at a pile of bubble wrap that was protecting my latest toy (another story) when I got to thinking that bubble wrap might make a great support for the Neuance, allowing the shelf to act on the component alone. The vibrations from the rack would be isolated from the shelf by air! After trying a few sizes of bubbles I settled on the 1" diameter wrap. First off I used a MDF shelf supported by the up-turned rack points. Then a sheet of bubble wrap (bubble side up) that covered the entire shelf, next the Neuance. This provides an extremely even weight distribution, thus even pressure to the under side of the shelf. The equipment sits on the Neuance as it did in my review. I first tried the pre-amp, this was good so I went to the cd player. I listened for a day and decided to do the amps and power conditioner too.
The results are stunning. The depth of the sound stage is at least twice as deep. The bass is deeper and better defined, midrange and treble are not as noticeably altered in this regard. What is most noticeable across the entire frequency band is the clarity. Now I'm sure you've all read about the removal of layers of fog or haze from the presentation, this is quite different. I'm talking about the focus, like a camera. Everything appears clearer and much crisper. Now this is not subtle, it's stunning! The space between images is clear, the image itself is better defined, everything is simply easier to see. The bass is tight, I mean it's pin point now where it was a round note before. It's not like anything I've experienced before in audio, maybe like a different speaker with the exact same tonal qualities as before. All this but not artificial in any sense, no simply more palpable, more life like.
Yes, the tone has not changes what so ever. The system simply is better by a large amount. I wrote Ken Lyons of Neuance with my findings and he had stated that he has tried air suspension and he found it smeared the leading edge of the notes. He feels that any sideways motion will effect the signal, especially with the digital. I have experienced just the opposite. The pace is superb, the music is alive, exciting and extremely involving. More so than at any time in my past. I believe it's the bubbles and the size. My theory is the bubbles are large enough to produce separation. The bottom of the bubbles is fixed so the walls of a bubble when weighted are in tension in an outward direction 360 degrees. The bubble next to the first bubble is also in tension in the opposite direction. Given that my shelves are 15"x 17" that makes for approx. 250 bubbles working with opposing forces to each other. I'm thinking that the sideways motion is not possible, I know it takes a lot of sideways force to make the shelf move with my hands. I believe the smaller bubbles had much less side wall to work with and thus the lesser result with them.
I'm wondering if simple MDF shelves would experience similar results if set up in a similar fashion, or are the qualities of the Neuance enhanced by this form of isolation?
One concern, I have had this up for a week now. I see no signs of the bubbles deflating, but I'm thinking they might. This could make for a real pain if it happened too often, time will tell.


you are INFECTED. DO you have a job?
keep up the good work!!
I used to use bubblepak under MDF before I got into the BDR products. I also found that bubblepak worked and have suggested it to some budget minded audio friends.
Hi JD:
Well, I certainly have respect for your tweaks after reading Bob Bundus' remarks. Here is a quote from a site about equipment racks I'd like your opinion on.

[start quote]
" Every material has a resonant frequency which is determined by its mass. Every object or substance converts energy into its resonant frequency and so stores energy. The willingness of a material to resonate cleanly and loudly at one frequency is called its "Q". A low Q is desirable for Hi-Fi furniture as this means the material resonates over a wide frequency band with no one dominate resonance. Metal not only has a high mass, but also a high Q, which is why bells are made of metal, and why it is an unsuitable material for equipment supports." [end quote]

Of the many things in hifi I haven't thought much about this is surely another one. Is the reason the tweak is so pronounced in your system because you are starting with metal racks that need damping? Have you tried the bubble wrap on different racks? I'm curious, have others had great success with metal racks? Does the quote make sense?

I remain,
The quote does indeed make sense.
I used to have a 6" sandstone base for my equipment to rest on. The problem as described to me is the ability of stone to "store" low frequency energy (high Q) and release it at unpredictable times. The same effect applies to wood shelves and wood racks, only at a higher frequency. In both these cases it's the large low frequency waves that cause the problems. The high frequencies are a different problem, mostly vibration from within the components and high frequency vibration from the air and frame. The concept of light rigid racks vs. shot or sand filled racks is to first stop the high Q. The high frequency would remain an issue, but is much easier to deal with. The old concept was to reduce the flow of vibration by using down turned points. The idea is cones will "drain" the components internal vibration and limit the vibrations coming from the shelf by only allowing the point as a conduit. I believe this is still a valid concept, and I continue to use cones on my amps (large transformer vibration).
The entire concept of the Neuance shelf is to absorb and disperse a large band of vibration frequency within it's foam core and thin rigid skin. The core has differing densities from the surface to the core giving it a low Q factor. The problem with Neuance is it's limited in it's low frequency performance. This is resolved with the light weight rigid steel rack It has low mass, thus it does not absorb or transfer low frequency vibration. The concept of the bubble wrap is to completely isolate the Neuance from any frame vibration. With the even weight distribution I believe the Neuance is able to preform more efficiently by not having the point load/ density the support spikes would cause, plus the shelf is not asked to absorb the frames vibration.
The concept of isolation is the same as used in the "bearing" support products. I have limited knowledge of these products but I'm evaluating them now. The concern with these products has been that they allow the component to move while releasing the inner vibrations. The fact that it is able to move gives the same isolation as the bubble wrap, but the movement could cause smearing of the leading edge of the note. Thus the incredible celerity I've discovered could be lost. Other air suspension concepts may also allow movement, again something we want to avoid. As I stated in the original post it appears to me the bubble wrap is not allowing any movement.
The concept of bearings used to isolate the floor (a huge low frequency vibration plane) from the speakers seems to hold the greatest promise. This is the focus of my trials right now. I will later try some different set-ups on the cd player to see if it performs better than what I now have.
I should also say that metal supports, cones and bearings tend to add a tonality to the sound. I have found titanium cones to be the smoothest with the least coloration. One concern with the bearing products is this very issue. This is why they offer high-carbon steel bearings, this could help tune the sound out of edgy. I'm trying different isolation from the bearings with wood, MDF and Black Diamond Racing pucks. The pucks are used with my reference speaker set-up in combination with BDR cones.
Hi again

Thanks JD. Very interesting.
Do you use cds vinyl or both? If both, have you noticed a difference in performance in your set-ups between the two sources? Are you particularly careful where you place your stuff - Nodes/anti-nodes etc... any generalizations on that?

TIA again

I remain,
Ken Kessler wrote years ago about using bubble wrap as a record mat. Try that some time for an interesting tweak.
I'm a CD and SACD guy. Placement and room acoustics are the most important to get right. All the tweaks in the world will go to waste unless your set-up right. I place my speakers on the long wall, 1/5th into the room. The speakers are that distance (1/5th) plus 1/3 of that amount away from the side wall. In other words, the tweeter is 34" from the back wall and 46" from the side wall. They are toes in about 30 degrees. My ear is 1/3 of the distance into the room. In the perfect world I'd have a room twice as large and have the speakers and myself 1/3 and 1/3. I use home made (acoustic ceiling tiles with carpet cover, $20.00 total)12" wide corner bass traps and home made accoustic panels on the side walls. The back wall (behind me) has a fur rug hanging over a hutch with a teddy bear collection on top of the hutch. Accoustic bears!
I use a test disk 'XLO' that is played on repeat to adjust (fine tune) the speaker location to avoid any node problems. Before I used my bass traps and accoustic panels I did have a few nodes. Now it's relitively flat across the spectrum. The listening position now has a range of about 6' front and back with very little change in the soundstage.
You can also use the small, 12" innertubes available at Target or the like for about $3 each. More sideways motion though, if that is a problem.

What is Neuance?
Neuance, check out my review.
OK Jadem6, I'm gonna try your tweak this weekend. On the advice of Dekay, last year I bought a Neuance shelf for my transport and have really liked the air and spaciousness it's added along with the improved focus. I'll try anything for that little extra edge, especially since them thar bubbles are so cheap.
You used the big bubbles that are about 3/4 to 1" in diameter right?
An intereting tweak. Regarding your discussion of cones, I tried to promote the use of Cocobolo wood cones for awhile on the forum. Nobody seemed interested. The Cocobolo wood is an extremely good material for cones. I use them under my TT, and they surpass all other materials that I have used. The cone shape should have the length of the sides much longer than the length of the vertical distance. The vibrations will travel up the skin of the cone faster, and more un-damped than the vibrations that travel through the inside of the cone. The longer skin path will allow the material to have more time to better damp the vibrations before they reach the top, and into the component. This skin-effect of cones is not talked about too much. My cones are shaped like an inverted Hershey's Kiss, to dramatically lengthen the skin path. I'm no longer selling them, so you'll have to make your own.
Gunbie, the best results came from the largest I had, 1". The 3/4" was close but not as jaw dropping and the little ones were nothing great. I did not try larger bubbles (if they make them).
Twl, I would guess the Cocobolo is a great match for anolog and for tubes maybe. A softer, warmer sound? I never thought about the skin vs core but what you say makes sense.

BTW, I had a friend over tonight, less than thirty seconds and he simply stated "this is amazing, your system has never sounded like this. What did you really do? Bubble wrap couldn't be all." This is the same guy who always finds flaws in my system, it was fun to have such a strong reaction.
Okay, I tired it just now[before the thunderstorm hits....I did some listening before then put i" bubblewrap under the maple harwood. I have three homemade diyrumas on that with the cd player foating. I have a sandbag on the top of the player.....well, well, I'm a tweaker at heart but the improvement through especailly the mid bass was very worhtwhile....After listening to several cds, I've got a handle on what it is doing in my system. You can actually hear the way the brushes move and wood sounds believely wasn't bad before but this is just more...... I'll listen some more but I didn't seem to lose anything with this tweak...gotta run Dianna Krall is sounding sexy again....Thanks Jadem6
Has anyone run across any "audiophile grade" bubble wrap? I know they make different colors, are there different sonic signitures associated with different brands? What's the psi per bubble? Am I a total smart ass? Please let me know :^)
Jade, do you set your gear directly on Nueance shelf using whatever feet come with gear? If so aren't there better ways to directly couple gear to Nueance shelf and bypass stock feet?
Going back to your Nueance review I see you have tried some other devices to couple gear to Nueance shelf and bypass stock feet, although you say sometimes the stock feet sound best (which I find surprising)
Well, I got the MDF, but apparently bubble wrap cannot be purchased in Canada on a Saturday. I was able to find bubble gum and bubble bath - does anyone think that either would work?
We make beer. DO we make bubble wrap too? When did that happen?
Jadem: Interesting. I have everything on hand (an extra "stock" shelf, the Neuance shelf under the CD player and 1" bubble wrap) to try this out.

Perhaps when a friend/phile stops by in a couple of weeks we will give it a go?
Bluenote, that was one big storm. It hit here too, I thought I was dead when the lightning made for one bad sound from my system. After turning on again today all is fine.
Magasam, Footers are an odd thing. It seams with the Neuance footers can do more damage than good. My Sony SCD-1 and Placette pre-amp were both designed with vibration as a large consideration. I still have yet to improve on the stock footers for either. Hard rubber and metal on the SCD-1 and the Placette uses Sorbothane (I think). I do use Orchard Bay titanium cones and puck, titanium puck are no longer available :-( I use EAR footers under my Hydra. I have found footers always do something, often change the tonal quality from the neutral I'm trying to achieve. Believe me I've tried most of what is available. The Orchard Bay titanium are my favorite cone but under anything but the amps the sound became too forward and detailed. It all must have a lot to do with the Neuance, before getting Neuance shelves I used BDR cones and pucks, a number of brass cones, Nordost titanium points, Walker....... on all my equipment. Sense changing to rigid light weight with Neuance I've left those products behind.
Glen, I have spent a couple days trying to locate bubble wrap type products. They do make a heavy duty bubble for storage use that might last longer. My bubbles are starting to loose air so something must be found. I have located a bubble type rubber product that is inflatable with a nozzle. It appears to be about 1 1/4" bubbles, of course it's used in the medical industry so the cost is worse than the Audio industry. I think I'll order two to try out, maybe I can find someone to make us some and save some money. If anyone has any ideas....
Dekay, nice to see you here. I haven't seen you lately.