If a speaker stand is mass-loading, how much does it matter what they're made of?


Looking for speaker stands. At this point, I'm not sure of the height of my long term listening chair/couch, so I don't want to break the bank on stands.

Looking over different options (Sanus, Monoprice, Pangea, Skylan) raises a question — if a stand is can be filled (shot, sand, etc.), does it make much difference what it's made from (steel, MDF)? What is that difference, in your experience? (Listening, durability, aesthetics, etc.)

With the above in mind, any opinions on modestly priced stands? Perhaps 20" - 22" high?

(Again, I'm not in the market for expensive stands, right now.)
8700e65e 845e 4b1b 91cc df27687f9454hilde45
It matters, because everything has its own peculiar set of vibrations, resonances, sounds it makes- whatever you want to call it they are different from one to another. 

Easiest way to get this is to hit em and listen. A nice sharp knock that has no real tone or character (can't tell if you hit steel, plastic or wood, doesn't really sound like anything identifiable) and dies real fast is ideal. 

But really, even if you get one that isn't all that great you can still be fine it just means a little more work selecting the right cone or material to use between the speaker and the rack. Use springs for example and the speaker will float and then what the stand is made of will matter much less as long as its massive.

Its been a long time since I was in the market for a stand. But even back then I was surprised how much better an inexpensive professionally designed stand was than the jury rigged stand I was using. Which basically was putting the speaker on top of something the right height. Not really a stand. 

So the happy ending of this long story is you will probably be fine to just get the one you like the looks of, that looks well made. Whatever it is, you will almost certainly be able to make it even better with something as simple as blue-tack, cones, or springs.
millercarbon -- thanks, that’s helpful. I’m trying to decide what to buy, so I am don’t have stands to compare. I have MDF stands -- I know how they sound. I don't have other kinds of stands, including steel. But knowing how fill material could affect resonance might help with a choice, and reduce cost, possibly. I’ll be curious to hear what people have found. If you have a view on that, I welcome hearing it.
@hilde45
With the above in mind, any opinions on modestly priced stands? Perhaps 20" - 22" high?


(Again, I'm not in the market for expensive stands, right now.)

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Yes. Support your local metal shop.  Call and shop a few local metal shops/fabricators. Easy to build, two plates for top and bottom, metal posts, weld, add screw-in spike nut-serts or tap threads, paint, done. Super easy for average fabricators.

With people out of work in a pandemic, any reasonable shop still open can handle this. Thicker metal, weighty, custom height, can be lower price than buying cheap thin metal junk online and USA Made! :) 


@hilde45 what price point are you looking at? Sound Anchors makes some fantastic stands that are prefilled with some sort of dampening material.
What kind of speakers do you have?  Certain speakers work well with certain stands.  Some speakers, such as Harbeth, often work well with very light open-frame stands, so you might take that into consideration. 
@chayro My speakers are Salk SS 6M bookshelves.
Dimensions 9 W x 20 H x 14 D

@decooney Good advice. Not sure how to look that up, but surely it's a good way to proceed.

@rsf507 I checked out the anchors and they're a bit too much. I'm really look to keep it below 300 dollars. Their quote to me was nearly $900. From an email:  "The stands will be $693 per pair. Shipping will be about $170. Our current lead time is about 6 weeks from order to shipment."

@hilde45
@decooney Good advice. Not sure how to look that up, but surely it's a good way to proceed.


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Local CL Craigslist > Services > type in Metal Fabrication

Several will pop up, checking your area.  Draw up a simple design and dimensions on a document, .pdf, -or- hand drawn take a photo of it. Call a few, ask or an email address, email it to them, ask for bid on a pair. Might take 10 or so calls/emails, but much cheaper than fancy expensive stands made with light weight tin pot metal. Any local fabricator worth a salt can do this as a side job, easy peasy.  Helps locals to make income :) 
No comment on "material" as the only "fillable" stands I own and have used/liked are Target HR's (once briefly used a pair of inexpensive "fillable" metal stands that were crap, but forget the name).

Not many 20" stands available right now (it seems based upon a quick Google).

Skylan (from your list) is a bit over budget @ around $340/pair delivered for the SP-20, but due to the large 8x10 top plate (and their reputation) they may be a good readily available option.

Did Pangea and Mono ever offer "decent" 20" stands?

My only comment on the Skylan's is that the floor spikes would seem to "only" be adjustable from the bottom (same as my older Target stands) and leveling the Target's was a PITA.

This said, I didn't go through the trouble of leveling them properly until I found their proper placement by ear (this was with Reynaud Twin MkII's) so it was a reasonably painful ordeal (back then when I was younger, hipper and smarter;-).

As far as "fill" goes I tried gobs of stuff (lead shot/lead shot + sand/sand) and I ended up with the stands filled 1/3 of the way up with silica sand.

However, on cement slab floors (mine are wood frame filled with plaster) for a friend we ended up using sand and lead shot, so like most everything else in this hobby - it depends.

Anyway, interesting speakers - good luck.

DeKay
Monoprice stands are very well made and heavy,but they don't have a 20" size. Esty is a good site for browsing sturdy metal table legs.They can be custom made to whatever size you need,then you just need a board for the top.I've had some metal items made for me from a couple of artisans on Esty.Timbernation has some really nice looking stands that they will make in custom sizes too.
VTI makes a couple of 19 inch steel stands you can use fill. Try standsandmounts.com
millercarbon has it right

each material rings differently - just tap it and see

try again with media filling, rings less ya? but still rings huh? ... so they will sound different supporting speakers even if the diff is slight

i have found skylan stands work well... made of pvc which i think has a relatively benign resonance, esp, if filled... i know harbeth dealers tend of pooh on them relative to sound anchors, tontragers, targets... but i think thats cuz they are the cheapest... not sure, but my guess... sometimes your friendly retailer isn’t just working for you LOL
Good suggestions. Thanks. $340 for MDF may be ok but almost feels like too much. Will ponder. 
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In my house, that would not fly. 
hilde45:

I did not realize they were an MDF polymer mix (just researched them) and thought they were some sort of hard plastic.

Pangea has 20" steel stands (currently out of stock) @ Crutchfield that are coming back  in late September, but the top plate is rather small.

The VTI's (mentioned) look good, but for the top place size and orientation.

DeKay 
Thanks. Consulting with Timbernation, too.

I know a local woodworker and might also try a local metal fabricator, too. It should really fit properly, right? Otherwise, a lot of the other factors are much less effective.
@hilde45
In your state, hmmm.  Custom speakers deserve nice custom stands. 

Deer Creek Audio Custom Steel Stands Hand Crafted by Master Artisans - Colorado USA  h t t p s : // deercreekaudio .com/ p / custom-stands

squish spaces back together, link should work and not get filtered.  
@hilde45 

Take a look at the adjustable stands from Reference 3A.  Galen Carol is a dealer and I am sure there are others.

http://www.reference3a.com/stands.html
@decooney @jackd Thanks for the suggestions.
These 20" high Pangea LS 300 stands should fit the bill. They sure won’t break the bank!
https://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=PGLS300&variation=20
If you want 22" high stands the Sanus is another option!!
https://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=SASF
Thanks, @yogiboy 

I may go that route. Exploring Skylan, Timbernation, Deer Creek. Local fabricators.

It's hard to spend a little more and not a *lot* more to get something decent. 
I have experimented with & constructed my own speaker stands for 30 +years...Wood always seems to suck some life out of midrange tone..Hollow steel rings like a church bell even full of lead/sand or cat litter..ABSOLUTELY hands down best I’ve heard are ANY Hollow Steel stand,filled with Spray In Foam Sound Deadener,from the construction industry....Don’t spend big bucks,Pangea or Sanus Steel Foundations(as recommended above by Yogiboy) for $100.00(+-),spray in foam sound deadener from Home Depot or Amazon,some masking tape & a few new single edge commercial razor blades along with 30 minutes to build the stands & fill...Use Herebies Big Squares on the top plate for speaker interface & done deal..
@ hilde45
I own both of those brands. I use the Pangea DS 400 28" high with my Harbeth P3s. Since your speakers are 20" high you should try to get the shortest stand that you can find. You can always make a short stand taller but you can’t make a tall stand shorter. BTW, I have owned the Skylan stands and in my opinion they are overpriced. I’ve also have owned Target and I find no difference between those and the other steel stands that I recommended. Good luck with your choice!
^^^ Regarding correct height you can't generalize based on cabinet height..You MUST account for how far down the cabinet face the center of tweeter is..Ideally you want that about same as your ears,IMO about 36"high +-2"...My Harbeth M30.1's are 18" high BUT the tweeter sits almost 7" down the cabinet face,making 24" stands perfect for them..
@freediver and @yogiboy 
Thanks for the advice. You own speakers deserving of respect and you clearly have thought about this a lot. I will do careful measuring and will heed the advice not to get too tall a stand, nor one that rings like a church bell. 
For positioning of 2-way metal dome type tweeter applications, I sometimes prefer the tweeter just slightly above the ear and next driver down midrange/woofer just below it. Yes, centered between the two, yet the difference can be distinguishable on some speakers, particularly with midrange frequency and sometimes a tad more fullness achieved.

May not apply in @hilde45 ’s lower ceiling situation , but it’s easy to try.

In some applications, simply found getting some speakers up off the floor a bit more than traditional preferences can render some mediocre sounding speakers into something more, just by lifting them "up" a tad, fwiw and ymmv.
I just ordered some Skylan stands made in Canada. 

http://www.skylanstands.com/
@djones  I’m interested in your opinions. Didn’t you have a stand already?
Not for awhile but I just sold my Joseph audio Perspectives and went with Dutch and Dutch 8c which are about 55 lbs. The Skylan stands were recommended to me by someone who has the same speakers. They look like well made stands and you can load them. They reccomend rice of all things. 
I’ll be curious. I balk a bit at paying hundreds for MDF. But perhaps the end product is worth it. It seems that D&D make a stand for your speaker, too. 
They do but they would have to be shipped from Europe and the time frame was months for getting them. It seems noone stocks the stands I guess because the speakers are sold in pro shops. At least that’s the only place I could find them. I made an offer and got them on reverb. Those stands were over $800. A lot of speakers are made from MDF, in my opinion it controls vibrations better than steel stands, you'll get a lot of opinions on that and the Skylan look pretty substantial which is something I need.
Thanks @djones. I really do wish for a report. They’re on my short list. The Timbernation folks do similar stands, all wood, for a similar price. I know that "everything resonates" (and of course "everything matters", cough cough), but I like the idea of solid wood. But if MDF is acoustically better, and fillable, then that is probably the ticket.

FWIW, I asked Mr. Nolan why he thought MDF was better than steel and he said this to me:

"The Steel Stands will always ring any some place as the Tops and Bases can not be Dampened easily.Think of it this way, placing a Wooden Cabinet on a Steel Tuning Fork is not the best idea."

This sentence could be clearer and the idea that well made steel stands are like "tuning forks" seems overdrawn as analogy. His view runs counter to what some have said here about heavy steel stands, but then again, he sells MDF not steel, so...
Better is in the ear of the beholder. I've used steel and MDF I never noticed any ringing but I was using them for small surround speakers. I just liked the look of the Skylan and he can make the top to fit the speaker. 
I am with yogiboy. Given your cost considerations and ceiling height I would try the 20" Pangea stands.  
@mesch The only issue is that the Pangea stands won't fit my speaker base very well. The 20" Pangea has a 6" x 9" steel top plate and my speaker has a 10" x 14" base. That's a lot hanging off there. The Skylan base could be custom sized.
Yea, I understand that concern. One would probably want to add mass to the base  plate and use bluetack to bond speaker to top plate. I am going to look into the Skylan stands as I am not familiar. 
i think pangea sells a larger top plate to go with some of their models

i have not had personal experience with pangea stands (audio advisor direct to china copy of target stands) but i have heard two cases i know personally where the quality of the stands ordered was felt to be poor, so ymmv
@twoleftears Thanks! Quite an array of options!
So I have owned a number of stands in this price range. Skylan is overrated imo. People love or hate the aesthetics but these Solid Steel were actually the best stands I ever used (I have floorstanders now):

https://solidsteel.it/my-product/ss-5-vintage-hi-fi-speaker-stands/

They supported very large and heavy ATC SCM19’s very well. And they look great imo. Available at music direct, crutchfield, upscale, etc. SS-5 is the 20" version. Made in Italy. I got mine from a local dealer for $450 all in.

They are basically a pre-welded steel tripod (no screwing together) with a secure but floating mdf top plate that sits on ball bearings. Attached by an o-ring to the base. It’s a really smart idea.
Because they are tripods they are not tippy. With the weight of the ATC’s they were incredibly stable like a rock. You can fill the tubes if you really want to. Everyone who has ever used them seems to love them (again, aesthetics aside).

Thanks for the suggestion. One member on this forum suggested a fairly inexpensive way to make rollers with furniture cups and ball bearings which could decouple any number of things, including speakers. 

I'm kind of suspended in indecision at this point. The solidity of Deer Creek stands (similar to Anchor but made locally and less expensive for some models) appeals, as do the aesthetics. Price is high. The Skylans could be custom fit and are at a good price, but aesthetically, meh. If I wanted to get a "meh" stand, I could get an inexpensive Pangea stand, fill it, add a heavy top plate bought locally, some blue tak and I'd be done. 

People are split about wood. It looks nice and some is clearly resonant, but some is rather hard, inert. 

At the moment, the sweet spot for me is to wait and shop used. Or just forget about it.
@twoleftears Chris from Kemala called me at home and we had a really nice conversation about this stand:

http://customdesign.kemela.com/prod-pages/spk-fs106.php

Thanks for the tip.
I saw several models from Custom Design when I was in England a couple of years ago.  They struck me as extraordinarily well made.
Very tempted by Deer Creek Audio stuff, too. Simplicity. 
So, just a follow up on the speaker stands I chose. I went with Deer Creek Audio for 20" stands. They were $730 for the stands plus another $110 to drill 8 holes in the bottoms for 8 screw/spikes. Total, then, was $840 because I picked them up, locally. Otherwise, they would have been about $940. Other models are less expensive, so keep in mind there are additional options.

I really like the way they look. I will say they wound up being about $240 more than the the upper level Target stands. I have no comparisons about how they sound with other comparable stands, but I like what I'm hearing.