Isolation devices and CDPs

Do isolation devices really work under CDPs (I own an EAR Acute)? If so, which isolation devices work best? And how/why do they work?
bright star audio big rock. you will not believe the difference when you put this under your cd player or any other piece of equipment
This is one of those "results vary" issues. Some people get an improvement, others don't. A few may even end up worse off.

First, some CDPs may be more sensitive to vibration than others. This could include the laser reading circuit, the DSP and analog circuitry or all of them.

Second, what is the source of any vibrations? Bass from speakers? Walking across the floor? An elevator in the apartment building? Heavy traffic on a nearby street?

Third, how is the vibration being transmitted to the player? Airborne only? Floor joists? Is the equipment stand for the CDP picking up or damping vibration?

One can continue to analyze this at even more detailed levels. The point is that there is not a one-size-fits-all answer. The product that cures a problem for one person may actually aggravate issues for another, while a third person may not even have a problem that needs fixing.

It certainly never hurts to experiment with something on a trial basis, but avoid approaching the issue with the idea that you MUST have an isolation platform.
Thanks. What about vibration from within the CDP itself and not from outside sources? Some manufacturers of isolation devices claim that their products act as sinks to bleed vibrations from within the CDP itself. My floor is 12+" thick concrete; and the CDP is housed within a cabinet that is built-in, made from solid cherry, and has a soapstone top.
While one may not actually hear a difference in very rare cases, virtually all components and turntables do benefit from properly engineered isolation and damping.

At minimum, prospective buyers of vibration control products should know the basic definitions of, and the distinctions between ISOLATION and DAMPING to enable them to make informed purchases.

ISOLATION refers to the process of preventing (minimizing) externally generated vibratory energy from reaching a component. Although this includes acoustic or air-borne vibration that is difficult to manage in exposed audio/video equipment, we are primarily concerned with the transfer of mechanical vibration. And, it is essential to understand that there is no significant mechanical isolation possible unless there is relative movement between the component and its supporting structure, to prevent sympathetic movement with the supporting structure. Therefore, only a device or material that can compress like a spring or deform like an air-bag or a viscoelastic part, or “roll” like a bearing, can be an isolator. Exceptions to these “passive” examples include “active” systems that have electromechanical “self-leveling” capabilities. Obviously, hard “spikes” are not isolators! And, bearings only islolate in the lateral plane!

DAMPING refers to the process of removing (minimizing) internally generated vibration that is inherent in a component AND any external vibration that, for lack of adequate isolation, may enter the component, by converting the mechanical vibratory energy of solids into heat energy - a process called hysteresis. Damping is generally accomplished by the bonding or coupling of viscoelastic sheet materials to the (vibrating) surfaces, mechanisms and parts of a component. There MUST be direct contact to provide damping!

I recommend that individuals intent on understanding the fundamentals of vibration control seek information outside of the audio arena by reading "white papers" online and books in libraries to become self-educated. Once the actual facts are known, one can evaluate products by their inclusion or lack thereof of properly engineered designs.

Discalimer: I manufacture vibration control devices.
Nice piece of equipment that deserves special attention. What we all need is what Equa is referring to, namely a device that isolates and dampens. The latter is oftentimes forgotten. I have used many expensive isolation devices over the years and typically there is an improvement in clarity. However, the greatest improvement I have experienced to date is use of EquaRack footers which isolate and dampen. Bearing footers are the best for front end equipment like your CDP. I use them under my transport. I use regular footers under the rest of my equipment. The improved resolution and inner detail is amazing. I like you have my equipment stand sitting on a concrete basement floor and my transport is built like a tank weighing 65 lbs. Yet the bearing footers created a marked improvement. So isolation, though important, is not enough. Don’t forget about dampening.
My Acute sounds best with a large buckwheat pillow under it (also under my EAR 324 phono stage). However, I would eventually like to use a Townsend Seismic Sink. Otherwise, the Acute (and most of the 100+ CD players I've tried at home from the 80s) sounded worse on their own legs/feet, best with the buckwheat, sometimes better on navcom or silicone types and worse with Aurios. Stillpoints were okay but buckwheat (inexpensive but uglier) beat them all. Ask Tom Port of Better Records-his top choice.
This is a great topic. I thoroughly enjoyed Equa's technical explanation of damping and isolation. Very well done. I realize these are not on the same par as Equa's "Footers" but I've invested in Vibrapod Isolators. I have 3 sets in use (two CD players and one DVD player). No question they make a sonic difference (improved soundstage and more defined bass) as well as eliminating skipping and jittering. More of a budget isolator.
good read on isolation devices and comparison of products.
Also check out Herbie's Audio Lab... a number of interesting, low cost options. One thing I've been trying to good effect is placing his grungebuster dots between my cones and components. Seems to make a nice improvement - particularly under my CDP. YMMV
I think the EAR Acute in particular benefits greatly from 2 things. 1. Tube rolling, I found the Amperex US 7308 very good and the Seimens early CCa excellent when compared to tubes provided. Several others I tried did not beat the stock tubes. 2. Vibration isolation and mass loading.
Overall I feel the Acute really sounds excellent with these 2 tweaks. My only criticism is it could have been built a little better but then the price probably would have been a lot higher.
Rja: What have you tried for vibration isolation?
A Gingko Cloud and VPI brick over the transport. I was thinking about a total resonance control package from GNSC but it would have voided the warranty.
Owning four Vibraplanes, I can testify that when properly set up, these babies really do the job. Have had these under my amps and sources for a decade and they work wonders. Use brass footers or cones between 'plane and equipment, although Golden Sound's feet supposedly are wonderful, too. The footer interface is up to you based on sonic preference. But as a platform, the Vibraplane is great for sucking up those unwanted vibrations from multiple sources. Remember: the 'plane eliminates both horizontal and vertical vibrational energy.
I wonder what is more important for the cdp, isolation of damping or both? I noticed that most devices are mainly focused on one or the other.
Sorry, I meant to say isolation OR damping OR both?
As always, the whole system is important; in this case, the subsystem. For example, the HRS components that I'm using deal with external structure vibration (M3 bases), internal component vibration (Nimbus products) and airborne vibration (Damping Plate).
I know I sound like a broken record, but with one exception all dampening and isolating device are springs with some resonant frequency. Some do provide horizontal benefits and others really don't. All this really means is that you choose your poison. Some may like the benefits of a high resonance and others a low one. In my experience everything has an impact on the sound you hear. Racks, feet, and shelves all go into this, as does your flooring. In my old house I had a audio room on the slab of the house--concrete over earth. In my present house I am on the second floor with suspended wood floors. This is a much more difficult circumstance to be in. But even if you are tightly coupled to the earth, it moves and you still have the need to deal with dampening. It is, of course, possible to use multiple materials to have multiple resonance points. I remain unimpressed with these solutions.

I have never, ever, liked soft isolation feet. They rob the sound of all dynamics. I would include in this the majority of wood shelves and racks. Butcher block using maple seems to be the explanation for the few that sound good. The old Tiptoes, especially newer one using special brass seem best. I once had tungsten-carbide tiptoes made to use under my Final Audio, 250 pound turntable. The tips were so sharp that I had to put triple Nickels under them to keep them from penetrating wood or cracking my tile floors. They were great with that turntable.

Long ago I tried Mana stands, having read all their rave reviews. I continue to use them, but I have long since altered their ideas by using shelves on the top layer that are not the plate glass they use. I have found the Neuance shelves are great on the Mana stands, but presently use the Acapella Silencio shelves with their special feet between the component and the shelf. The shelf lies directly on the glass shelf. On this shelf their feet outperform the Roller Blocks, Aurios, Valid Points, and others I have tried.

The exception to all of this that I noted above is the active isolation base by Halcyonics. I have owned two now for several years and wish I could own more. This device has sensors in both horizontal and vertical plains that have voice coils associated with each to vibrate the shelf 180 degree out of phase with any sound sensed by the sensors whether they are internal or external to the device place on top. My oldest unit has leds that shine when a vibration is sensed. You can see when the unit is active in these lights. Especially women's voice aggravate them, although if I walk near the stands, you can see footfalls. Were these Halcyonics to cost $2000 each, they would dominate audio. Their performance eclipses all others, IMHO.
I had mini-clouds, but the Yamamoto isolation blocks I wound up using ... the ebony, not the maple ... offered an impact that was undeniable. Now using Isol-pads. Not displeased, but wouldn't mind having another set of the Yamamoto's.
Starsound sistrum 101 = Pure musical enjoyment-Dennis
I use U.S. Amperex 7308s. I've tube rolled about 15 brands including other 7DJ8s, Valvo, Telefunken, Mullards, etc. and found most Amperex gold pin and 7308s sounded best overall in dynamics and tonal balance. Siemens is the one top brand I haven't tried. Telefunkens sounded too harmonically thin and the Valvos too lush and soft. Mullards were also too lush. I forgot which ones were mushy and rolled off but the Amperexes were best. The stock tubes just don't make it though and I had a pair of older Tungsrams that were before I tried the Amperex and they were quite nice as well but too microphonic.
Tbg - You are right on target regarding Halcyonics. Hands down best platform I've ever seen. I too wish I could have more of them. Sadly they aren't cheap and have been made even more expensive because of the relationship of the dollar to the euro.

By the way, the original poster asked about a cdp with tubes. If you are addressing isolation/damping, the tubes need to be treated as well. Herbie makes devices that I recommend you try out on any tubes in your system. There are many tube dampers on the market and each may have it's own characteristics. I don't use tubes anymore, myself, but if I did I would experiment to see which dampers would tune your system to your liking.
Willster, I had been using Herbies on the tubes on my Reimyo PAT-777. After putting it on a Halcyonics, I found removing the Herbies on the WE310s were now hurting the sound. I had the same thing happen within my tube output cd players when they were on the Halcyonics. I guess what is going on is that the Halcyonic is removing some of the internal vibrations, negating the benefits of the dampeners.
Hi Tbg (Norm), very interesting insights and no doubt correct. When the cost of the isolation approaches or exceeds the cost of the components, though... :-)

Curious if you've had the opportunity to try any of the SK Research shelves and blocks. They're out of Austin.

Hope to see you at CES.

No, Brian, I have not tried the SK Research shelves or blocks. I just looked them up. All they say is that they are made of natural wood??

Would that Halcyonic bases cost as little as SK Research shelves; nobody else would be in business.
I've tried quite a few different kinds of "footer" devices under my transport and the best that works for me are the roller ball style. Pick one of the many types and try it out.

Bob, may i ask which roller ball type footer you tried and which one you prefer?

I just got two sets of Equa footers. One for my Spectron Musician SE and another one for my Krell 280cd and Benchmark DAC. The amount of clarity these devices brought to the sound is quite astonishing!

For the last two years, I've used Stillpoints cones and Finite Elemente footers. The Equa footers make them sound fuzzy by comparison. I've never introduced in my system any piece of equipment or accessory that makes so much of an improvement on the sound for so little money. This is the kind of revelation you get when you have a major equipment upgrade. Every nuance in the recording is now part of the performance.

I certainly didn't know I had a vibration problem until I inserted the Equa footers under the cdp. With the Stillpoints or the Finite Elemente under the cdp there was a slight but noticeable improvement in sound quality. With the Equa footers it is night and day.

The lower notes are much better defined with very nice articulation and texture. From the midrange to the top end, things could not get any better IMO. The voices emanate with more air and detail, reminiscent of a live performance instead of a reproduction of a performance. The upper notes are now more crystal clear with excellent timing and decay. I'm so glad I decided to give them a try and the only thing I regret is not trying the Equa footers before. I hope this helps.



Isanchez, I have the Spectron if you don't mind can you tell me how many footers you used and blue pellets for each footer was optimum? Thanks!
isanchez, can you please more a little more specific about this devices you have used? For example, did you use the Finite Elemente Cerabase or Cerapuc? Which Equarack footer are you using? Equabearing?

Snopro, I have four footers in total under the Spectron. The two footers in the back have 3 pellets each, the front right has 5 pellets, and the front left has 6 pellets.

I originally had 5 pellets under the front left corner, but noticed that the spacing was perhaps a hair lower than the right side footer. So I decided to add an extra one there to see if there was any change in the sound. I loose the slightest bit of resolution when I have 6 pellets on the front left side of the Spectron, but it all balanced out when I set up the Equa footers under the cdp.

While I was weighing the Spectron, I noticed that most of the weight goes to front, but also that some of the weight leans towards the left. In adding the extra pellet, I also took into account that the total amount of pellets I'm using (17) is still within the weight capacity of each pellet (3 lbs). The weight specs for the Spectron state a total of 52 lbs, which I confirmed with my home scale.



Tboooe, I own a set of three of the original Ceraball, and another set of three of the Cerapuc.

I'm using the multi-mount footer without the bearing at the moment. I have a preamp on order. After I get it, I'll get a new multi-mount footer with the bearing under the cdp.

I'll also add that I currently have all my audio equipment on a high-density mdf credenza. I was in the market for a wall mount bracket for the plasma tv and a dedicated audio rack, when I decided to try the Equa footers. After what the Equa footers did for my system, I'm not longer looking to buy a new audio rack.

In my case at least, it doesn't make any sense to buy a 5K or 6K audio rack, which seems to be the average cost of a well thought out design, when I can get state of the art vibration control for a small fraction of the cost of a new audio rack.

With the money I'm saving, I just ordered another Spectron for my Maggies 3.6.



thanks for your reply, will make it alot easier when i purchase the footers.

Regards, Joe

I almost forgot about the last part of Gsm18439 question: And how/why do they work?

Some years ago, I attended a lecture given by a chemical engineer. The lecture was given to prospective chemical engineering students and it was about the different fields that a chemical engineer can be involved in as a professional.

Among other topics, he talked about the field of vibration control in the automobile industry. He showed two balls of some viscoelastic material of approximately 3/4" in diameter. Both balls were made from the same formula, but one of them had a different molecular configuration in the formula. The viscoelastic material was at the time being developed to be used in the design of car bumpers.

He dropped both balls to the floor. One ball bounced, the other one didn't. This was a memorable experience as I right away said to myself: I wonder how this would impact vibration control in the audio field.

The idea presented was that this material was designed to absorb a great amount of the energy generated in a car collision, if the bumper was involved. Hence transferring less of that energy to the rest of the structure of the vehicle. Another application was, he said, that it could also be used as a vibration control throughout the vehicle in order to prevent road vibrations and airborne vibrations from reaching the cabin.

I for some time searched into vibration control materials being used in the automobile industry. I found that it is a very popular field given the fact the sales of luxury vehicles was increasing. Eventually, I found that viscoelastic materials are greatly responsible for the quiet ride you can experience in most luxury cars in the market today.

I then started to look at the different companies that were using the same approach to control vibration in audio equipment. I found that HRS, EquaRack and Silent Running Audio were using viscoelastic materials in their vibration control designs.

All three companies take into account the weight of the audio equipment that requires vibration control. EquaRack and Silent Running Audio also take into account the weight distribution so that their devices can be optimized independently according the the weight balance of the audio equipment.

HRS platforms (I have one under my turntable), because they are mass-loaded, are less sensitive to weight imbalance, assuming that the equipment in isolation is within certain weight range. They have developed a viscoelastic disc and plate that can also dampen mechanical vibrations and airborne vibrations.

SRA platforms are custom designed for the exact equipment weight and weight distribution they are supposed to hold and, as far as I know, do not address airborne and mechanical vibrations, but only external mechanical vibration coming to the audio equipment.

The Equa Footer has an aluminum disc with a viscoelastic layer at the base. This disc holds various viscoelastic pellets on top. Each pellet can support up to three pounds. Then there is a top aluminum disc with another viscoelastic layer on its upper area. The pellets are sandwiched between the two aluminum discs.

The idea behind the Equa footers is that you weight your equipment with a home scale to determine the weight and weight distribution of your audio equipment. The wight distribution is for determining how many pellets each foot should hold in order to have the footers optimized for the weight balance of a particular equipment. This design also allows you to reconfigure the footers in case of an equipment change or upgrade.

Among the three products I mentioned, the Equa footer is the only design that tackles mechanical, airborne, and structure vibrations with a single device. Mechanical vibrations from the floor onto the audio rack is handled first by the viscoelastic layer at the bottom of the lower disc. Any vibration not being absorbed by the first viscoelastic layer is handled by the aluminum discs and the pellets. The pellets also contribute to absorbing horizontal vibration. The upper disc with its viscoelastic layer on top handles vibrations generated by the equipment itself, either self-generated or as a result of airborne energy producing a "ringing" effect on the exposed surfaces of the equipment, which is usually metal for most audio equipment in the market.

Let's keep in mind that vibration in most cases exhibits a random behavioral pattern. It's not just horizontal or vertical. Because of this, the vibration control device must be able to channel and absorb vibration energy from all directions. The device or platform must also be able to absorb vibration operating in a wide frequency range.

The HRS and SRA platforms, and the Equa footers are very clever designs. Only lots of research can yield solutions like these. I'm very satisfied with the my HRS platform and the Equa footers. The price, flexibility and performance of the Equa footers are hard to beat IMHO.

This turned out to be very long and I want to apologize for taking so much space.