Is There a Way to Lessen Vibration On Cables From Powered Speakers
I noticed that the interconnects, power and speaker cables that are plugged into the powered speaker have constant vibration. Is there any way to nullify or reduce that vibration? I was thinking about buying some form of rubber or foam pad and cut out holes for the cables to go. Then place it at the source of connection in an attempt to stop the vibrations from going down the cable.
I can tell you what that will sound like but it is a cheap experiment and that way you learn from experience. The more effective answer is route the cables in such a way that the vibration is crosswise rather than axial. In other words put a bend in them near the speaker. This will help prevent the majority of vibration from traveling as far.
Put the speakers themselves on Townshend Podiums. This will reduce ringing in the speaker, which will reduce ringing in the wires. Use cable elevators with rubber bands or other similar means of isolating the cables.
In spite of appearances the best approach is to allow them to move, but in a way that allows them to dissipate energy without transmitting it to other stuff, which always results in ringing to some degree or other.
I would be scared to bend the wire. It's silver and I am not wholly certain how they crimped or soldered the connectors.
Would foam pads inserted between the connectors absorb some of the vibration? I did a small experiment with a foam pad I had laying around. I cut a few squares and placed them between the connectors. Now those foam pads vibrate along with the connectors. So, I can't really tell if I offloaded any vibration or made it worse. :)
Have you considered dismantling the Audioengine speaker and damping/isolating the different components/drivers?
You are attempting to minimize the cable vibration, which is actually the manifestation of the vibrating speaker. Its the speaker you should be addressing and then maybe the cables wouldn't vibrate? The computer speakers you are working with will have natural limitations regarding cabinet integrity, etc.
Am I the only one sensing a bit of dejavu....somewhat of a Kenjit 2.0 vibe?
I have discovered it also happens on the Passive speaker as well. So it seems to me more indicative of the driver. However, the amp plate is what is vibrating and not the entire cabinet, which is interesting.
I hadn't considered dismantling the speaker, although that makes sense. I would have to be super careful as the design of the box is situated to take the air generated and use it to cool the amp. I seem to recall in a different group where people dismantled the Audioquest Nighthawk to remove paper and cotton dampening that was used to roll off high frequencies. If I add dampening, would it threaten the speaker's ability to produce high frequencies?
@gaukus I'm suggesting that you dismantle and maybe add a MINIMAL continuos bead blu tak or map putty....it will work like a gasket or weatherstripping. I would not, as you correctly point out, stuff anything inside. You want to dampen vibration which will help the speaker do its thing. A little goes a long way. Additionally the putty will expand when you tighten the screws...
Im not sure how many people here have heard the audioengine speakers but I have a pair that I used for many years in a workstation setup. They punch waaaay above their weightclass. Good luck and best wishes.
First get the angles and path figured out as best you're able. Then figure out how to suspend all the cables so they are free to bounce and move. Easiest way I know is to stretch a rubber band across something so the cable lays on it kind of like a hammock. Look at mine on my system page. Hard to get a camera angle but the cable lays on the rubber band not touching the ceramic insulator at all, and if you tap it will bounce freely. This works so well I have done demos where people can hear the effect from removing just one of these. Ceramic is probably best but people have gone as cheap as cardboard and still heard improvement.
Remember, once you get the angles right like you did then free unrestrained movement (aka, isolation) is the key.
The trick with rubber bands is that just like springs they have to be sized to the load. My first ones were whatever I grabbed from the kitchen drawer. Once I heard it work then I experimented to find the right thickness and tension. Nowhere near as hard as it seems. Just stretch the rubber band lay the cable on it see how it bounces. Just like a spring it works best if the cable is heavy enough to stretch the band, because otherwise if the band is too strong it doesn't isolate much. But not so heavy it stretches it too much, because then it won't work as well and probably break all the time anyway.
Do it right tecknik they will last a very long time. Mine are going on a year or so. They are after all rubber bands so not gonna last forever but easy and dirt cheap to replace because they are after all rubber bands.
I would try the putty in steps. Again, think of it as installing a gasket or absorptive buffer. You describe the plate amp portion of the speaker as the part that is transferring the energy so start there. form/roll the putty into a very small diameter continuous piece and then place the putty between the cabinet and the plate amp and reinstall. The act of screwing down the screws should squeeze the putty into position. Then, see if that reduces the vibrations.
My recollection is only one speaker has the plate amp and the other simply receives the signal through speaker wire correct? Does the second speaker vibrate like the one with the plate amp? If so, then you are transferring energy in other areas as well. While you have it open, see if you can possibly tighten the drivers, some of those screws may have come loose over time.
The law of diminishing returns really kicks in when you are dealing with a $2-300 speaker. Additionally, it sounds like you are listening at very high volumes. There is a point where you are likely listening outside their intended volume range.
Correct, one speaker has the amp, the other is passive. The vibration also occurs on the passive, but very minimal.
I have the volume on the speaker set to 2/3s and half-way on the subwoofer. I control the volume through Windows. Since I am going through the Audioquest Dragonfly Cobalt, it is also amplifying the signal, which could account for additional loudness. The thing that does impress me the most about these speakers is their ability to resolve detailed and heavy sound at high volumes. All other speakers I have ever owned or listened to had a peak point where they would distort at that volume. These speakers can cross over that and keep going O_O. No, I don't casually listen at those volumes. If max volume (100) is unbearable, I listen at level 30 max and it's plenty loud. If the track was recorded at low volume, I have increased to level 60 before, but never any higher.
I might also add that I have $4000+ in cables and power equipment behind these.
Others may chime in because I am far from an expert. You can prevent/minimize vibration or drain vibration. Given your feedback on the second speaker behavior, you may need to do both.
You will achieve dampening/preventing with the putty and tightening all screws you can get to.
Do you have the speakers sitting on any type of stand or support? You may also consider when you get the putty to roll 4 balls of the putty and place underneath the speaker and the surface (be mindful of the surface since the putty could possibly make a spot on your surface it is happens to be a nice surface). Maybe a cutting board as a base might improve things some?
You can probably tell that I am trying to be careful with recommendations given I don't really know the vibration characteristics and whether they originate from your cabinets, your drivers being loose or backwaves from the drivers. I am also trying to recommend things that are on the cheap and arent a total loss if they dont achieve your goals ie: a cutting board, etc. Another potential solution would be to swing by a best buy or car stereo shop and see if they have a small sheet of dynamat. You could cut it up to place in several locations within the speaker cabinet to absorb some of the internal reflections/vibrations. Beware, this could kill the liveness of the speaker as I havent tried it with this speaker as well as I dont know if thats the source of the vibration.
It is actually a lot better to have the speaker on springs or even better Podiums. Either of those is way better than anything firm or rigid as anything that couples like that brings ringing, smearing, and harmonics that color timbre and tone altering natural instrumental character.
I wonder if there are different qualities to the use of rubber bands. Whilst awaiting my bag of rubber bands, I had two wide rubber bands from a bunch of asparagus. I tried using those and they not only didn't impact the vibrations, they took on no vibration. It didn't seem to matter what the tension or lack of tension was. I began to consider that there maybe something in those bands that makes them food-safe and therefore not adapted to vibration absorption? The typical rubber bands are rather "squishy" and these food rubber bands are stiff and relatively unyielding.
I also was thinking about how Shunyata's "Dark Field" risers are designed. They seem to have something of a larger component with a stretch of rubber. It could be that the structure has internal filler or shock absorbing material?
@millercarbon is right, those kinds of bands would be far from ideal.
Once again, its your experiment and your money but if you can't tweak your Audioengine speakers to vibrate less for very, very little money, you will be throwing good money after bad. After checking to see if they can be tightened properly in the right ways and appropriately damped in the right ways to avoid killing the liveness of the presentation then you will likely need to recognize that you are potentially exceeding the speaker's capabilities regarding vibration control at given volume levels.
Getting a speaker to scale is tough...and its tougher still when its a small box, built to a price point and houses all the amplification as well, which was also built to a pricepoint. The Audioengine speakers are really nice for the money...but spending hundreds of dollars on tweaks might initiate the law of diminishing returns quickly and could lead to the law of absolutely no returns kicking in.
Well, the interesting thing is, folks would say that my spending 10 times the value of the speaker system on cables and power distributors was ill-advisable, but these speakers wouldn't sound as good without them. *shrug*
So the only time diminishing returns are a factor is when spending money on tweaks that don't work.
Therefore, I am prone to determine whether or not rubber bands and putty make a difference for school-lunch money amounts, versus investing in $300+ in premium risers. :)
The salient point is stretch. Spring. It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that spring.
The tried and true method is to test for cheap or free. When I first heard about vibration control the idea seemed preposterous. But if there is anything to it then a phone book or bag of sugar on a component would make a difference you could hear. It did. Not much. Hardly any. Not the point. It proved the concept valid. However preposterous it seemed, nevertheless it did in fact work.
One of the many advantages in doing things this way is you become a seriously good listener. Straining first to hear and then identify and evaluate the microscopically minor influence of a phone book means when you hear something really good you are not straining at all. You know it is really good. And right away, too!
So the only time diminishing returns are a factor is when spending money on tweaks that don't work.
Winner winner chicken dinner! Diminishing returns is a canard, a red herring, close enough for horseshoes and government work at best.
When spent on tweaks that work there are things like Nobsound springs that are a huge improvement, and when you can significantly improve a $3k component with $30 springs that is hardly diminishing returns. The reason that lame old cliche is around is people try stuff that costs ten times Nobsound but are only slightly better. But then Townshend Pods are only slightly more than that and yet so much better they shatter the whole idea of diminishing returns. Moab on Podium outperforms Ulfberht on floor, and for less. That is hardly diminishing returns.
The dealer who first started teaching me about all this, Stewart Marcantoni, once let me hear a system with twice the money in wire as components. Say again, the speaker cables, interconnects, and power conditioner all together cost twice the speakers, amp, pre-amp, and source. Twice. Not 50%. Not a little more. Twice. It was the best system I heard at that point in time, and for a good many years thereafter.
Yup. I lucked out in that I had the financial option to explore my idea. I used to be relegated to only being able to afford a $300 dollar cable, maximum. Which did improve sound, but only by small steps, but a step none the less. I finally decided to go as big as I could and for this application, Kimber Kable's Summit Palladian was as high as one can go with a C7 connection. The return on investment was immediate and light years what I had been using before, Audioquest NRG Z2.
I have since spoken to Synergistic Research, who claim they can make a cable as high up as they can go with a C7 connection, but since I am unable to find any example of a C7 connector on any of their cables, I am left a bit skeptical. Even Shunyata won't go very far in their cable line with a C7 connection.
It's eventually going to give me trouble in the future because I do plan on upgrading to Audioengine's HD6 speaker system, which still uses C7 connection, albeit directly and not through a power brick. The Kimber Kable Palladian likely won't do well dangling from any height. It was clearly designed to remain horizontal. If I want to maintain this level of power clarity, I am going to have to test Synergistic's claim of using a C7 connection at a higher tier.
I had looked into Nordost, but it's confusing. Some power cables have a C7 option and some don't. The Cable Company's list of options for some of those cables are contradictory. They offer the Frey 2 with a C7 connection, but Nordost's website does not. *Shrug*
Remember those foam pads? They came from some electrical component shipping packing. They're like EVA craft foam sheets.
Anyway, I discovered that if I sandwiched the cables between two sheets and used a rubber band to tightly apply pressure to the sheets, the cable that comes after that had significantly reduced vibration. You could touch the cable before it and the cable after it and easily sense the loss of vibration.
I would need to get more foam sheets. At present I have sandwiched about a foot, just before the cables go off the desk.
The sound got better. It seemed as though there was more "depth" to the sound added. Like the sound was thicker; if that makes any sense.
To be honest, I thought bunching them together would be detrimental to the sound. That the frequencies from each cable would somehow interact. After all, the higher tier Synergistic Research speaker cables, all the conductors are separated by a carbon fiber disk.
@gaukus That’s great. Did it solve the problem or mitigate the problem? I still suspect that if you address and solve the source of the vibration then you might be able to avoid the majority of the tweaky encroachments into your living space.
I would say mitigated. The vibrations are not 100% gone. The deep bass vibrations are still felt all the way down the line, but the higher frequency vibrations are gone.
Right now the technique I used is very ugly and looks down right cavemanish. What I think I will do is track down larger sheets of this foam and make a full blanket. Also, I found that zip-ties are better for applying the necessary force. Also, you need to put additional strips of foam between the cables.
True, but it seems less risky to offload the vibrations from the cables than it is to dismantle a powered speaker. The vibrations begin with the speaker drivers and how they interact with the cabinet and sockets. I suppose that is the trade off for making small speakers that have a ton of power. There simply isn't a lot of space and room to contain the vibrations.
Even if you completely solved the vibrating cables, that's not the only problems caused by the vibrations. I haven't looked at the Audioengines in years, are there specialized screws, et al to which you don't have the appropriate tool to unscrew/rescrew?
The EVA foam only did a minimal job. I found the solution in Neoprene rubber sheets. Just one thin sheet made a difference. Eventually, I used the entire roll and wrapped it around the cables. Vibration gone.
The only thing I need to look out for is heat. The Neoprene can handle extreme temperatures, but it insulates and keeps heat trapped. So if heat is generated by the cables, it could build up.
But...vibrations solved. :)
This is what I bought in case others are interested:
Buy some long troughs and make up thick custard to put in. Add a heating element to keep the custard nice and warm. Make sure the cables are suspended so they are covered by the custard but not sitting on the bottom or sides of the troughs.
@gaukus you have treated the symptom but no solved the problem. Thats cool but it still doesnt mean you solved the vibration issue. Is the plate amp a class d or a/b? The reason I ask is if its a class d and getting hot enough to melt putty….you must play louder than most.
In about two years I will upgrade to their HD6 speaker system, so for now, getting inside the plate might be a step too far for me. I have thought about cutting some strips of Neoprene and placing them along the inside of the amp’s internal ridge where the screws go, but I am not confident that it will work.
Without opening it, I surmise the issue will be whatever harness or frame the speaker drivers are attached to. The drivers are obviously the source of vibration. So the harness they are attached to is not decoupling the vibration. If I add material to that, there is a strong chance of harming the actual acoustics of the speakers, which I do happen to like.
In my mind, I have formulated a much better solution to the symptom. Two pieces of heavy steel, with Neoprene on one side of each. Then sandwich the cable. The blocks shouldn’t need to be more than 3 or 4 inches in width. I say that because, adding a little of the rubber and gripping it hard, also stopped the vibration. So one needs pressure, but spread across a larger area than zip ties were offering.