In praise of isolation.


Isolation as in components, not personal.

(although, that’s not necessarily bad either)

There has been much praise, and discussion on the forum with regards to spring isolation.

Well, all this praise, caused me to look into how to approach this for myself.

I like to try things before I pass judgment on an idea.

The whole coupling/decoupling thing has been of interest to me for a while.

I get the desire to couple (yeah, I know,,,) as it plants the gear firmly in the ground, and if the base is heavy enough and made of a material that absorbs vibrations, you should be golden.

Then there is the problem of 7.83hz. Nope, not audible, but that doesn’t matter. Anyone who has used a test record to check for tonearm resonance can see quite clearly how an 8hz frequency can make the tonearm shake like a belly dancers belly.

So, decoupling. Springs made logical sense. Except, there was the problem of vintage turntables with their springy/bouncy top plates/platters. That just didn’t seem right.

I made an isolation platform and put springs underneath it. Figured out the proper spring rate and ordered 4 springs to support the 90lbs sitting above them. 
It’s crazy the clear and obvious difference it made. For the nominal price of $100 for the 4 industrial springs, the sonic improvements were off the charts! When coupling, and making changes to the materials used under the TT, and the types of feet used, there was a difference with the clarity of the highs, their brightness and with the bottom end being muddy or lacking depth.

With the springs however, the whole presentation opened up. Everything sounded better, clearer and more defined. Faster, less shrill and I could go on.

Not only am I divorced, but I’m a firm believer in decoupling.

(see what I did there?)

Damned 7.83hz…
perkri
Welcome to the springs club!
Hmmm. When it comes to components, vibration can really not be helpful so why not? I splurged on some super high end ultra high fidelity practice foam hockey pucks placed under some regular hockey pucks for all the components. The Subs have the nicer svs decouplers mounted.
They do let a bit more air move around. I have to say, Yes Alex, I will take isolation for 500. (RIP)
Sounds great try Critical Mass 2M 1 1/2 inch feet for a real improvement.
Try hanging everything from the ceiling. Assuming you have strength from ceiling mounting, every piece of equipment may benefit. Previously, did this with cd players, amazing! I've heard of people hanging speakers with great results, TT's? I'd  try with every piece except having to drill many holes in ceiling, wish I had exposed joists.

My phono stage is on the Nobsound springs, will try on other pieces, although I'm content with present isolation system.
Love the hockey pucks :)

I made some wooden donuts and put street hockey balls in the holes and placed under my speakers. The weight was sadly too great for the balls, but I wil, be putting some industrial springs under them when I get around to placing another order for springs.

The critical mass pods look very interesting, thanks for that.

And I had considered using extension springs instead of compression springs and hang the platform that way. Damping the bounce was going to be more challenging I figured.
Good for you - I am glad it worked out.  Not everyone is willing or capable of doing the work necessary to figure that stuff out.  Fortunately there are commercial solutions that work well too.  Did you do anything to damp the springs?  If not, you might try encasing them with somewhat loosely shrunk, thin-wall, non-adhesive, heat shrink; or placing a chunk of soft foam inside of each spring.  If you try the heat shrink, use a nail set to put a couple of small holes in the side of the heat shrink to prevent an air lock inside the spring.  See my system page for a pic of the heat shrink casing with holes.
Thanks! 
I had thought about using shrink, and thank you for suggesting poking holes. Had not thought about foam. 
The journey continues…
I used springs also, 8 for each speaker, with one set under the speaker and one set on top of speaker with a heavy load of concrete on top of them (80 pounds fine tuned to near under 100 gram).

The difference of the compression between of the 2 sets is equal to the weight of the speakers...

This dissymetric compressive force decrease the resonance of the speaker...

Springs are more powerful than my "sandwich" multiple plate coupling/ decoupling layered platform : quartz granite plate sorbothane bamboo cork plates...

I use the sandwich under the first pair of spring with succeess to decrease vibration coming from the desk and floor... All my gear is on my big desk...

Springs are the cheapest way and one of the best way to control vibration...





The " sandwich" only under my gear was a great improvement 5 years ago....

There is a great difference though between a set of four springs only under the speaker, compared to no springs and only my "sandwich"...

And a set with a heavy fine tune concrete load on top of the speakers,improve it very much more,

And a greater improvement come after when  i added another set of 4 springs boxes under the load...

This isolation story for me took place in these 4 successive stages....
Perk,
I had a spring epiphany as well. I put 4 Nobsound springs under my integrated tube amplifier and immediately heard some of the things you described. This spurred me to put the same springs under my loudspeakers. I was blown away by the additional transparency, dynamics and the imaging and sound staging improvements. As some described to me, you can get an effect that is similar to a component upgrade or a room treatment.
Larry
As some described to me, you can get an effect that is similar to a component upgrade or a room treatment.
Thanks for your post... You are right...

Save for an important correction...

Nothing compare to a room passive material treatment and an active mechanical acoustic control of the room...

No vibration control compare to Acoustic ....Acoustic cannot replace vibration control for sure; but the converse is more true than anything...No mechanical treatment could ever adapt your specific room to your specific speaker never.... Imaging, soundstage, listener envelopment, source width,dynamic,timbre etc all is better after vibration control... But after acoustic rightly done it is not better, it is a complete transformation....

I know i use the two...

I only add that to counterbalance the general trend where GEAR and "tweaks" related to the gear are the main reason behing high S.Q....

Acoustic is the underestimated potential and only real queen in audiophile experience... Acoustic equal Half of ANY other "tweaks" at least in S.Q. improvement  and half of all of them together anyway most of the times...


Mahgister, 
agreed The room is the first thing to get right
The first yes....But also the last...

It is very hard to create acoustic right, especially on only one try, in a small room...

And with only material passive treatment...It takes me active mechanical Helmoltz devices in my small square bad room...

Like medecine or lute making, acoustic is an art, not a commercial recipe....
I suppose I'm a contrarian 

Let's take a power trsnsformer

If you bolt it hard to the chassis it will sound bad.

Overly tight sound and all the parts on the chassis will vibrate

The transformer will sound better loosely coupled to the chassis so it is permitted to vibrate and does not try to vibrate the entire chassis.

But then not securely mounted.

I use compression springs so it it is loosely coupled to the chassis so it can freely vibrate 
But the wide bottom of the springs sits on a wood block.  This acts as a sink to minimize the vibration transmitter to the chassis 

Pure isolation like an sir bearing platter duo.ds bad

Micro vibrations of stylus and record bounce around the platter with no where to go

Better if bearing anchored in a large plinth to absorb bad  vibrations

If the Plinth is heavy enough and absorbs bad vibrations then you could isolate the plinth on a floating stand 
This you need isolation and path for vibrations to travel and be absorbed 
This has been determined by listening alone 






Kinda doing something similar. The plinth is just shy of 60lbs. It sits on roller blocks which allows for lateral movement. They sit on a 30lb platform made of MDF and sand filled. The plinth is coupled via the rollers to the platform. The whole rig rests on springs which are in desperate need of damping. That is for the next round of DIY.
I suppose I'm a contrarian 

Let's take a power trsnsformer

If you bolt it hard to the chassis it will sound bad.

Overly tight sound and all the parts on the chassis will vibrate

The transformer will sound better loosely coupled to the chassis so it is permitted to vibrate and does not try to vibrate the entire chassis.

But then not securely mounted.

I use compression springs so it it is loosely coupled to the chassis so it can freely vibrate 
But the wide bottom of the springs sits on a wood block.  This acts as a sink to minimize the vibration transmitter to the chassis 

Pure isolation like an sir bearing platter duo.ds bad

Micro vibrations of stylus and record bounce around the platter with no where to go

Better if bearing anchored in a large plinth to absorb bad  vibrations

If the Plinth is heavy enough and absorbs bad vibrations then you could isolate the plinth on a floating stand 
This you need isolation and path for vibrations to travel and be absorbed 
This has been determined by listening alone 






The critical mass systems footers will free your system in ways you cannot imagine...
Microphonics affect everything. I heard a comparison of 2 powers amps where the only difference was the material of the bottom and the end of the amp with the connections. It was as big a difference as if the amps came from two completely different companies. For what it's worth the material was a VERY expensive plastic replacing sheet metal and the 'plastic' amplifier was much cleaner and better defined.

It isn't just transducers like speakers and turntables that vibration control can have profound affects.

With such a low mass load e.g. a turntable and such limited movement in micrometres, the springs will not act as springs but more like a solid piece of metal.
It would be interesting to know what floor people have and if the springs under speakers are required on a solid concrete floor as opposed to a suspended wooden floor?


to plumptonvinyl: I have my TT on a cement pedestal of sorts which sits on a cement floor. I see how any other type of floor could offer the same stability.
correction: I do not see how any other type of floor could offer better stability
Well, seeing as how the TT weighs in just shy of 90lbs, and that the spring rate used on the 4 springs is set of a load of 96lbs, there is plenty of ease of movement. The trick is, getting the spring rate right.  
I can't believe anyone could hear vibration.  The Hi-Fi industry certainly was able to prey on gullible individuals.  It would be fun to do a blind testing on this.
@henry53 
With such a low mass load e.g. a turntable and such limited movement in micrometres, the springs will not act as springs but more like a solid piece of metal.
That is why sizing the springs makes the difference between a successful isolation application and..."a solid piece of metal".  Maximum spring capacity, spring constant, and even the spring height and number of winds make a difference.  So do damping and preloading.  For light gear, the springs need to be lighter so they are operating in the mid range of their capacity.

Regarding suspended wood floors vs. concrete floors on-grade, the circumstances are different as the suspended wood floor is already somewhat damped from seismic vibrations that would have a greater impact on the SOG floor, but the wood floor is less stiff and more susceptible to local vibrations from footfalls and other activities.  Resonant frequencies of the two floors will be different and the concrete floor may be more susceptible to ringing.  However, I suspect decoupling with springs would be effective in both situations.  I found springs under my main speakers and subs to improve sonics in my current situation, which has my system on a concrete grade slab. 
@larry5729 

Funny you should mention that

Was just at an audio show on the weekend, and isoacoustics had a room set up with one amp driving two separate sets of identical speakers. 
One pair had the Gaia footers, the others were on spikes. 
Eyes closed as they switched back and forth between A/B, there was a marked difference. I kept my eyes closed as I didn’t want to see body language as the guy switched with a remote, nor did I want to see lights changing. 
So yeah, much bigger difference than one would expect. Greater transparency, accuracy, detail and bigger soundstage.
Brought a friend with me and I have been selling him on the benefits of isolation - he could not believe these little feet made such a big difference. 
So yeah, it matters and makes a difference 
I have owned a couple of sprung tables (currently a contemporary Linn LP12) and for over 20 years heavy belt drive (VPI Aries). They could not sound more different. The VPI… heavy bass and good detail… but not as much as the Linn. The Linn has an air about it, sense of space. But something bothered me about it… as if the images were a bit ghosty, like there where faint secondary sounds about the main image… let me be clear… this was very, very subtle. Added to the airiness, I don’t think most people would have noticed it.


I recently got a SRA Ohio XL++2 isolation platform built specifically for the Linn LP12. This has had a strong positive effect on the sound of the table. It has added solidity to the bass, quieted the background noise, and the ghosting disappeared. A very positive improvement.

To me at an intuitive level this makes sense. The isolation platform eliminated really small vibrations that the springs of the turntable were unable to respond to. Effectively making the system act like a high mass sprung system. Regardless of the logic… it sounds much better.
I have concrete basement flooring and my gear sits on a Butcher Block Acoustics rack on spikes.  The rack is rock solid. I put carpet on my basement listening room floor a couple of weeks ago.  

My speakers are on spikes.  I’m quite happy with my system’s sound. Yesterday, I ordered Gaia III footers and spikes. @perkri - “Greater transparency, accuracy, detail and bigger soundstage” would be nice.  

I’ve been trying to decide between isoacoustics or ingress engineering component isolation products.  I still use stock footers on everything but my Zenith streamer where I use ingress engineering level 3 rollerblocks.

The whole idea of springs is a new concept to me.  Is the application of springs an either or isolation method, or should springs be used primarily with certain components?
Congratulations on the IsoAcoustics

Hearing the demo confirmed everything for me!
My turntable has springs between a base and the surface of the rack. Ingress roller blocks between the base and the TT. I polished some steel and cut it down as a smooth surface for the balls to roll against under the plinth. 
I feel like a combo like what I did seems to solve a couple of problems. The plinth is coupled to a base via the roller blocks that will help dissipate “local” vibrations. The roller blocks also deal with lateral movement. The springs decouple the whole thing while dealing with vertical movements. Now I just have to sort out the damping. 
The Gaias are a one stop shop :)
Compare Gaia to Nobsound. Then compare with Townshend. What I think you will find, Nobsound gets very close to Gaia for a fraction of the price. Might even be better. Nobsound are just springs, no damping, and so depend a lot on tuning the load to the springs. Get it just right and you may find ordinary springs better than Gaia.  

Townshend on the other hand are precision damped to about 1%, just enough to eliminate a lot of instrumental tone being colored by resonance, while at the same time making them a lot less sensitive to loading. In other words they work the same under a wider range of components.  

Springs work beautifully everywhere I have tried them, including under cables. It seems logical they would work best under a turntable, but they work equally well under amps, etc. The one that really stands out as remarkable is Townshend Podiums under speakers. This is like a total system/room upgrade.   

I have tried a lot of stuff over the years. The most concise advice: springs beat all, and the best springs are Townshend.
Post removed 
In my engineering degree we studied the effect of machinery vibrations on adjacent machinery and how it effected its performance, it can be very significant working with precision machinery, hifi needs to be ridiculously precise. Speakers are essentially the same, they vibrate, transfer those to the floor and therefor to the other speaker(s) and equipment. Isolation is thus necessary as is mass loading or inversely mass elimination. Wharfedale made a product called Aerolam to produce extremely lightweight speakers for just this reason. I have tried spikes, mass loading, isolation and dampening but have never found substantially differences, possibly because it is a multi dimensional problem. For instance if you use springs or dampers they let the speakers move, even minutely this can well produce a doppler effect to which our hearing is extremely sensitive. Thus allowing them to move may 'solve' one issue merely to introduce another?
@henry53. 
What I heard at the show was very much a real thing. Eyes closed, 100% accurate when identifying the speakers and the difference in presentation. 
I’m a believer now.  I just added a picture and a paragraph or two on my system page. I made my own speaker isolation platforms using hardwood butcher blocks and coil springs.  Imaging is more focused and the clarity much improved.  I am blown away by the improvement. Wow. Just wow.  A very big bang for the buck tweak.  
I can't believe anyone could hear vibration.
@larry5729 - I am astounded that you believe you can hear anything that isn't a vibration, directly caused by vibrations, and perceived by vibrations. It's entirely vibrations that we hear.




Hello Perkri,

What is it with spring companies and their love for the cheap ultra low-end spike?

I saw the same demo a few years back and could not believe their unethical approach to a sound demonstration. 

Think about it, a “multi-hundred dollar” set of springs tested and compared next to an “eight-dollar” set of spikes. The fix is in before note one is sounded!

I hope your opinion favoring isolation theorems and springs is not based on this degrading type of display.

Robert

Sound engineer for Star Sound      



I have never heard any spike, expensive or inexpensive, whatever materials, perform as well under loudspeakers as well tuned springs.
I have Smalleys wave springs that cost me something like $25 , they sit between my 92lb stand mount speakers and approx 90lb stands which are now (not always) on conical shaped steel spikes.

If I ever hear spikes produce as clean a sound as springs, rest assured I'll man up and declare whatever truth I can hear.

I am sorry you have not heard it, experienced it, however it's a very cost effective vibration control device, used in all transportation sectors under vehicles for that very purpose.

The concept simplified, is that if an object is moving relative to your position, the sound emanating from it will have variations of pitch. One very notable sounds is that of a formula one race car, as it approaches, passes and leaves, has a distinct sounding change of pitch.
Allowing the enclosure to expand inwardly and outwardly whilst maintaining it's position relative to center of gravity, the smearing is lessened, or removed.

Done correctly, sprung isolation is very effective, and highly audible.
I hope perkris opinion is based upon favorable personal experience, which has been repeated by many others. Other Agoners who have used both, have shared that Star Sound are an effective technology as well.

Cheers,Rick


@rixthetrick - Of course you are aware that Robert sells Star Sound products, including Audio Point spikes.  Their points, stands, and other products have many enthusiastic customers.  I have owned several of their products and years ago Robert talked me into purchasing Audio Points to replace the hardened steel spikes (intended for Ramset anchors) that came with the Sound Anchor stands under my 100+ pound speakers.  The Audio Points worked fine, as did the original Sound Anchor spikes, as did the edenSound Bear Paws I have also tried - however, I could never distinguish any sonic difference whatsoever between those three types of footers/spikes.

It seems Robert is referring to an Audio Show demonstration by IsoAcoustics that might be similar to this oneThis one from Credo Audio is also interesting in that it compares more conventional springs with spikes.
I have yet to try springs under my speakers, but am intrigued. Our last house had a carpeted concrete slab in the livingroom....coupling 100# speakers by spiking through the carpet to the heavy mass of the slab seemed to work well vs no spikes.

Our current house has a large carpeted suspended frame floor with plywood floor panels....coupling the same speakers to that floor with spikes exaggerated floor resonance. Removing the spikes and letting the carpet and pad decouple the speakers offered better bass in that room. Springs would make sense in this case, but I have had success spiking into concrete slabs, so it may depend on the particular situation.
@mitch2 - thanks, I found the Credo Audio of particular interest.
Cheers,Rick
@audiopoint 

I have tried many different styles of supporting (mostly) my TT. As I stated above, I could tell the difference in varying spike materials and the “feet” they go into. (Wood/steel/aluminum - with and without sorbothane) and none of the cone combinations  gave me the open sound, with better dynamics and clarity like the spring/roller block combo.

im not saying springs/isolation devices are for everyone, but they have shown a marked improvement over anything I have previously tried. Granted, I have never purchased any high end spikes, and would of course be open to a listening comparison. And it should be mentioned that there are spikes in my set up. Sorbothane>aluminum disc>Spikes > board>springs>sand filled block>roller blocks>turntable. The spikes are mainly used for the purpose of being able to level the rig and to have as small a contact point to the rack as possible.
I isolated my amplifiers yesterday in the same fashion as my speakers.  I put the same four springs on butcher blocks as on my speakers.  Since my amps weigh 100 lbs apiece the resonance point shifts up just a couple tenths of a Hz.  The sound itself didn’t change but I started hearing more detail.  It’s both good and bad.  On digital music now the music decays forever.  It is especially noticeable on Chorale music.  Some digital songs that had a black background before now I can hear some noise deep down.  It’s ambient noise but also even quiet cable hum.  The bad is the extra detail distracts from the music at times.  One song had a quiet buzz off to the right.  I thought a tweeter was going.  Turned out to be the recording.  It took me a while to relax again.  
@tonywinga - maybe try some softer springs under the amplifiers.  Run them in the mid range or maybe a little softer.  I had good luck with springs under my modified DNA-1s and only switched because I sort of fell into a nice pair of SRA stands that I had custom configured for the DNA amps.
My experience with springs begins to be optimal ONLY after heavy load damping of the speakers and the use of 8 springs boxes for each speakers under the very  FINE TUNED load, using  100 gram  weight variation   apoproximation at the end  for my ears ...
I have a tube integrated sitting on an Ethan Allen stand. It's in our living room and fits nicely. I placed Nobsound springs under the amp and tried the Oreas as well, both with positive and different results. My question after reading this is why add the butcher block to the equation? Why create another large surface area?
I have had limited exposure to isolation options; my amplifiers are on a concrete slab, and my components are on a solid walnut sideboard. At this point, I’m somewhat skeptical that isolation would make much of a difference, except for possibly the CD player/transport and turntable, which both have isolation feet built in from the manufacturer. However, in the interest of "science," I’m going to try mounting my amplifiers on hockey pucks, and see if I can tell a difference. . .
As a follow-up to my previous post, I installed the Gaia III footers with Gaia footer spikes on my speakers (sitting on carpet over a concrete basement floor).  I immediately noticed improved accuracy and detail in instruments and voices. Soundstage not so much, but I still need to dial in my speakers again. 

The SQ with Gaia products is noticeably better than with spikes alone. For my power amp, I thinking of installing Butcher Block Acoustics spikes into my Butcher Block Acoustics amp stand and sitting the amp on isoacoustics OREA Bordeaux footers.  For all other components OREA Bronze footers or ingress engineering level 3 rollerblocks.

Anyone ever compared isoacoustics OREA products against ingress engineering level 3 rollerblocks?
@perkri

Damping the bounce was going to be more challenging I figured.

Take a look at Townshend springs, they damp it with rubber enclosures.


I stuffed foam inside the springs that I am using for dampening on my speakers and amps.  I believe you want the spring/mass system resonance to be between 3-4 Hz.  That seems to be effective at isolating the speakers, amps, etc from the floor. I am using butcher blocks for ease of fabrication and also because I want to use a combination of rubber feet/dampening with coil spring isolation.  
Another trial I made with only limited success were these spring loaded footers offered on the web.  I purchased some nobsound spring loaded footers to try on my CD Transport.  I am not totally satisfied with them.  While they were inexpensive the plastic upper and lower pieces cause the springs to squeak.  I wrapped the springs with teflon tape and that cured the squeaking.  These footers include 7 springs each but it is possible to use as little as one spring each.  I had to use 2 springs each to support my CD transport.  One spring is not strong enough to keep the footers from completely collapsing in my case.  That limits the lowest spring rate possible to use with these footers for a given mass.  In other words, a lower spring rate would require a longer spring to support a given mass.  Using the VibrationAnalysis app on my iPad, I determined that the resonance point of my CD Transport with these footers is about 8 Hz.  I can't make the spring rate any lower in order to lower the resonance point.  Because of that I also see that the isolation performance is not quite as good as what I have achieved on my speakers and amps.