Is this Placebo or something real?

Recently I purchased three Nordost Sort Kones and put them under my Elite SACD player. When I first brought them home I spent a few days doing A/B comparisons and was convinced that I could hear a distinct different. One of the downsides to the Sort Kones was the fact that they are a metal on metal support that makes pushing buttons on the SACD player difficult. In an effort to make sure that it wouldn't fall off of the supports I put some foot corn pads (i.e. foam donuts) on the underside of the SACD player to give the kones a "bumper" to limit the possible movement. I made sure the pads were not touching the kones, but after installing them I was never convinced of the difference in sound quality when doing A/B comparisons. Today I took the pads off and it appears that the magic is back. I know that there is some level of vibration damping from the pads, but is it really possible for it to direct the vibrations around the Sort Kones or is this a negative placebo defeating a positive placebo? I won't be putting them back on anytime soon, that's for sure.
Does it make a difference whether it's placebo or real? I too took the "red pill" instead of the "blue pill" when I decided to become an audio nut and went down the rabbit hole of Audio Matrix. Remember we all live in the Matrix, and as long as the Matrix tells us it is real, it is real!...
Agree with Avguy, if what you hear is am improvement just go with it; attempt to stop analyzing. Try to get involved in the music.
I really don't plan to stop analyzing things like this simply because I'm an engineer and actually enjoy trying to figure stuff out. The world is full of people that don't care to know why and just bumble through life. I realize that I have partaken of the cool aid in the audio world, but everything should have an explaination.

Note: I almost felt like a moron even posting this question because it seems stupid, but such is life.
Don't worry Mceljo, the Matrix has us all!!!
I've no experience with the Nordost product, but I've had a similar experience with Boston Audio's Tuneblocks under my SACD player. I didn't need to do any A/B-ing comparisons with those, it immediately was as obvious as could be that the footers were having a good effect on playback. Sometimes tweaks are a placebo, sometimes it's very much for real. FWIW, I've also improved digital playback by applying vibration damping sheets to various parts of cd transports. I've even seen articles detailing the application of little sandbags to various parts of DACs in the never ending search for ultimate performance.
Photon46 - I guess the biggest part of my question is if I assume that the Sort Kones made an improvement, could the addition of three toe corn pads eliminate the benefit? It seems that if the concept of the sort kones is to remove micro vibrations then it might not take much of a damper to keep the vibrations from getting to the kones at all.
I'm not an engineer, but this sounds like placebo to me. The concept of the Nordost Sort Kones is very simple and works exactly the same way as all other products of its class. The ceramic ball damps and decouples vibrational energy from within the system going out, or external energies going in.

The marketing literature seems to imply that the most harmful vibrations are internet; how then, would cones underneath the component affect vibrations within the system? Like I said, I'm not an engineer, but this sounds like snake oil to my 101 understanding of basic mechanical physics principles.

The only way a foam donut could affect this as I see it is if it prevents the metal piece on top of the dome to move freely. Minimizing its displacement minimizes its damping ability.
Internet = internal. Sorry, typo.
as long as our senses and nervous system is imperfect one can never be certain that one is hearing what exists, or hearing what doesn't exist (hearing things).

there is no way to definitively answer your question without aid of objective measurement, which eliminates, to some extent the imperfections of our sense organs.

by the way, your dilemma applies to perceptions of changes in the sound of any component.

i would go with my ears and not worry about intellectual matters.
Rakuennow - There are two general types of support devices. One type decouples the equipment from the surroundings (i.e. sitting on foam, rubber mounts, etc.) and the other couples the equipment to whatever it's sitting on (i.e. spikes, etc.).

The ceramic ball (the other material option is steel) in the Sort Kones is a very hard material so I would put it into the type that couples rather than decouples.

I do work around vibration reduction materials and can comprehend how the foam just might create a negative effect. It could be argued that this is exactly why I wondered if there would be a negative effect when I first put them on.

Tomorrow night my EE buddy is coming over that is my best set of ears to see what he thinks. He appreciates music more than just about anyone else I know (i.e. plays piano, symphony ticket holder for several years, etc.) and also a very smart electrical engineer so I always value his opinion. He listens to every piece of equipment that I purchase and many before I do.
So Mceljo, it's the question that drives you, isn't it - "What is the Matrix?", and it's the answer that you've been searching for all your life... So how can we ever be sure that what we seeing, hearing or touching is real, and not the work of the Matrix?...:-):-):-)
Symposium rollerblock Jr with Tungsten Carbide balls Much better under CD.
Would this be a bad time to admit that I've managed to never see the Matrix? Not really on purpose, just seemed to work out that way.
Yes Mceljo, you definitely should see the movie "The Matrix". It is a must see, and one of the best sci-fi movies ever with incredible home-theater effects!!! But only the first original episode, and not the subsequent sequals, as the story then gets off onto a tangent. The movie will help you understand why we audiophiles are incessantly obsessed with the QUESTION, and it is that QUESTION that impels us to always searching for the answer of whether it is reality or not!!!
Mceljo: The ceramic ball might couple when it is sitting still, but it was definitely designed as a spring/damper along the horizontal axis. The ball will roll up the incline in the small "cup" given enough displacement, then gravity will act as damping. It's like a miniature version of this:

I am still skeptical that an external component could reduce internal vibrations within the system (which is what Nordost claims the Sort Kones will do). Being an engineer, could you please explain that?
by the way, the placebo is something real, since we are imperfect beings and subject to error.
Rakuennow - Being an engineer causes me to always wonder and try to understand things, but I certainly don't claim to understand vibrations. In fact, I switched from mechanic engineering to civil engineering after two weeks in feedback and controls which preceeded vibrations. It was beyond my ability, at least in a finite amount of time.

Having said that, the Sort Kones give the vibrations an exit path from the equipment, but I'm not sure how to make it "fit" exactly with their description. Sometimes audio marketing uses pseudo science to make things sound a lot more impressive than a simple explaination could, but that doesn't mean that the product works any better or worse. I think the goal is to make the explaination beyond the vast majority so that it unlikely that anyone would debunk their story.

My friend stopped by tonight and confirmed that he could hear a difference with the Sort Kones, but it isn't such a significant change that he wasn't wishing for two identical systems to do an immediate A/B comparison.

He was listening to my new Mr. Paganini SACD and commented on hearing the violinist moving relative to the mic as he played. He said it was something that he was used to hearing live (i.e. change in sound with the movement), but not on a stereo system. I'd never hear this which is why I like him to listen to my new toys and provide an opinion.