Isolation Feet Recommendation for Equipment Rack


I just bought a 4-tier equipment rack to set up a 2nd system. It’s not audiophile standard and comes with standard spikes. The sound quality of the system is decent with this rack but I intend to replace the spikes on the rack with something else in the near future and was wondering about the available options.

The target support weight inclusive of the rack is up to 150 lbs (on a more accurate level it's around 130lbs). Apart from the Isoacoustics Gaia, are there any other worthy options around the same price range? What about the Finite Elemente stuff such as Cerabase and Cerapuc? I have the FE Cerapuc installed on the equipment rack in the main system but did not compare the Cerapuc with anything else for the past 15 years of ownership.

I would appreciate experiences from folks who have switched from spikes to any of the "audiophile standard" isolator options on the equipment rack, going from coupling to decoupling. These isolation feet will need to bring some noticeable if not significant change or improvement to the sound quality of the system after they replaced the spikes on the equipment rack. If the difference is subtle to the point of negligible, or the sound becomes worse instead of better, I’d say forget it.
ryder
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You might try Townshend Support Corners if you don’t need to constantly move the rack.

I have gone from spikes and cones to springs and Townshend Pods. My turntable rack is 750lbs. https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/8367 For most of the 20+ years it was on BDR Cones, with the turntable and phono stage on BDR Shelf and Cones, like in these pictures. Then first the turntable and gradually everything else was upgraded to Nobsound springs. Dirt cheap but incredibly effective, way better than BDR and that is saying something. Not just under turntables by the way, but everything- phono stage, amp, DAC, everything. 

Next I tried Townshend Pods, and they were so much better everything gradually upgraded to Pods. See the lower pictures for Pods. Huge improvement!

I haven't directly compared Nobsound or Pods with stuff like Gaia, but those who have Pods are much better than Gaia.

Finally, the last thing was to put the entire 750lb rack on Pods. Townshend makes ones for racks, basically 2 Pods per corner with a frame, two types depending on your rack. Neither style was quite right for me so I just took em apart ditched the bracket and put the Pods two per corner. No pics of that yet.

Based on my experience I would say the biggest bang for the buck is directly under the component. Doing the whole rack is nice, but don't think you do the rack instead of the components, not like that at all. Pods are way better than Nobsound but Nobsound under everything would probably be better than Pods under the rack. I would put Pods under as many components as possible, Nobsound under the rest, and not even worry about the rack. Unless you can do Pods under everything, that is awesome, for sure.

Also don't forget about the rest. Podiums under speakers is more improvement than everything you can do to your rack and all the components combined. This is based on actually trying all these different things- except Gaia, I rely on reliable reports. Basically between Nobsound and Townshend is all kinds of stuff hardly any better than Nobsound just a lot more expensive, so the main thing is to avoid paying a lot more without getting a lot more. 
Thanks for the recommendation. These look pretty unique with a pair consisting of 2 units supporting a point load. One feet looks better than a pair of feet but I guess that’s the way Townshend products work.

If I ever end up with these, they will likely go to the main system as I suspect they are better than the Finite Elemente Cerapuc which I currently own. The Townshend Support Corners are surely premium isolators as they cost multiple times more than my newly bought rack.
Neither style was quite right for me so I just took em apart ditched the bracket and put the Pods two per corner. No pics of that yet.

I’m not sure how it will look like after you took them apart but you will still need 2 units supporting 1 pillar of the rack isn’t it? Similarly I thought the Support Corners look a little odd in the photos but they might look completely fine in real world installations.

Based on my experience I would say the biggest bang for the buck is directly under the component. Doing the whole rack is nice, but don’t think you do the rack instead of the components, not like that at all. Pods are way better than Nobsound but Nobsound under everything would probably be better than Pods under the rack. I would put Pods under as many components as possible, Nobsound under the rest, and not even worry about the rack. Unless you can do Pods under everything, that is awesome, for sure.

It’s useful to know that having isolation directly under components is more effective than isolation on the rack. However, I don’t think I have the budget to do both at the same time at this point of time, especially if going with the "audiophile standard" Townshend stuff which don’t come cheap. It is ideal to do both but cost is always a factor.

Also don’t forget about the rest. Podiums under speakers is more improvement than everything you can do to your rack and all the components combined. This is based on actually trying all these different things- except Gaia, I rely on reliable reports. Basically between Nobsound and Townshend is all kinds of stuff hardly any better than Nobsound just a lot more expensive, so the main thing is to avoid paying a lot more without getting a lot more.

I already have the Gaias under the speakers. Although they are not Townshend, they truly transformed the sound of the system. Previously on spikes before I switched to the Gaias on the speakers.

I am aware that the Townshend Podium is superior to the Isoacoustics Gaia but I did not have the budget for the Podiums. Having said that, I suppose the Podiums may be too good for my speakers if looking at the cost ratio between the two.

There are so many other options other than Townshend. Have you looked at all the isolation and vibration control threads in the archives?


There are so many other options other than Townshend. Have you looked at all the isolation and vibration control threads in the archives?


Yes, I have searched the archives but did not find many options on isolation for the rack. I read about Nobsound, Herbies and Stillpoints, that’s about it. Most threads are mainly discussing on the merits of isolation and not on specific product recommendation.
One thing you could try is to increase the mass of your rack by adding concrete (paving) slabs under each component. Lay the slab on a sheet of cork or rubber to damp the concrete and protect surface. I tried granite and it did not sound good at all. You can see what I've done on my details page.
A/V Room Service EVPs are another option. Jim Smith, author of "Get Better Sound" approves of them.

Available in 2" or 4" squares (your 150lb loaded rack would require four 4" high density EVPs), or in custom EVP platforms.

Absolute Sound Editors Choice Award 2021/2020/2019.

Read the website. Lots of information backed by data (like Townshend).

Sold with 30 day money back home trial.


EVP’s are fantastic. I use a set of three under my preamp. They provide isolation from vibration, add no colouration, and allow the component to open up with increased dynamics and soundstaging.

I’d like to buy more but my other components are already vibration free using DH Cones on a maple platforms.


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DH Cones use the principle of draining vibration from a component to a hardwood platform. My platforms float on the shelf using a gel material underneath. Sorbethane is what's commonly used. Component sits on its own island. 

@tvad 
I will buy more EVP's. The price was raised, that's what stopped me for now. A set of DH cones only set me back about $180.

Grant, are you using EVPs? 


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I paid $45 per footer. They're now $90. I wanted to order four for my power conditioner and 3 for my DAC, but I'll wait til I can afford it.

There are so many different ways to go but they all boil down to 
a) springs are best (without getting into expensive specialized stuff)
b) the best springs are damped
c) directly under a component has far more impact than under a rack.

You can easily make your own springs for your rack. First calculate your weight load per corner. Then search eBay for suitable springs. Nobsound are nice because they are compact and easily adjustable but you can find individual springs exactly what you want. I did this with my Moabs and some subs. Not that hard, just the search is time-consuming.

What you will find, everything between ordinary springs (Nobsound are just ordinary undamped springs) and Townshend is anywhere from a lot more expensive to hugely more expensive than springs, but not that much better. You do not in other words get your money's worth. For that you have to bite the bullet. Go big or go home, etc.

On a budget, to save money, I strongly recommend Nobsound under every component (but speakers, those really should be Pods, and yes totally worth it) EXCEPT the stand. The stand I would leave alone. Cones, spikes, whatever you want. Not because it won't help, but because it is so much less important that what you do directly beneath each component.

If you are still determined to do the rack, something to keep in mind- it is gonna sway. Mine even at 750lbs sways back and forth usually about a half an inch but sometimes more at the top, just from lightly touching it to cue a record. This motion is so slow (around 1Hz!) and smooth it affects nothing- except that you see it. Notice my rack is relatively squat- short, wide and deep. If yours is narrow or tall it will sway even more. Springs are best in terms of sound but sound isn't everything. You need to consider this. Because what it means is springs are best, but in this case really, really need to be damped, or the rack is gonna be swaying all the time! So either Pods, or plan on damping using something like Dave's foam inside the spring trick.

Honestly, looking at your system (which is pretty darn nice by the way) I would remove the spikes from the speaker stands and put them on Townshend Podiums. Yes I know you think that doesn't make sense. Because you haven't heard it. All this other stuff combined will pale in comparison. Then I would put as many of the other components as I could on Nobsound. The combination will elevate your entire system like you won't believe. 
Question.  If sonic vibration can cause degradation in the sound quality emanating from my turntable, how does placing the TT on springs solve the problem?  Would not the sonic vibration also be hitting the tonearm directly and causing the same issues regardless of the springs under the feet?  Answers appreciated.  
Right. Not only turntables, all our components have to contend with a plethora of vibration sources.

There are, at a minimum:

1. Vibrations generated within the component itself. Even zero moving parts components like amps and DACs generate a lot of vibration. With turntables there is at minimum motor, bearing, arm and cartridge. The cartridge alone generates so much vibration you can hear music coming right off the cartridge.

2. Mechanical environmental structural vibrations. This is everything from traffic outside, wind acting on trees and structures, that all adds together into seismic vibrations, mixed into which we have speakers mechanically transmitting vibration into the floor, and from there to walls, ceiling, rack, combining with seismic and into components.

3. Acoustic, the air, what we call sound. All the noise in the room. Hopefully mostly music but for this purpose it really does not matter it is all noise.

This is actually the least of the three, something you will appreciate if you ever put your speakers on Podiums and feel the difference. But acoustic energy being air affects different structures differently. Sound waves vary in length by frequency. A tweeter can be small, because the wavelength is very short. Tweeters will move at lower frequencies of course, you just won’t hear it. What happens is the pressure wave instead of being driven forward dissipates around the sides. A speaker cabinet is basically a means of preventing this. Without it, speaker in open air, loses all lower frequencies.

Now we have what we need to know to answer your question. The tone arm is so small the only frequencies that even "see" it are ultrasonic. Everything else goes right around it. Plus it is curved, makes it even harder for acoustic energy to go into the arm.

Turntable, bigger, is easier. Now it should be clear why a dust cover is so bad, great big thing practically designed to collect acoustic energy and channel it into the turntable.

Springs under turntables and other components don’t have much to do with acoustic energy. Mostly they isolate from environmental seismic vibrations. The biggest source usually being the component itself. Springs allow vibrations generated within the component to be dissipated within the component. This might not seem so great but it is a lot better than the alternative, which is vibrations travel beyond the component creating ringing in the rack and exciting all the other components until every component is causing every other component to ring in a great big smeary mess. This is the real reason springs work so well. They break that whole messy cycle.
@millercarbon

Thanks for that thoughtful answer.  Makes perfect sense that my Rega P8 does not come with any attached dust cover.  I have just ordered 3 Giai feet to try under the turntable.  Stunning that some of the isolation units for speakers cost more than some speakers I've owned.  I'm sure the law of diminishing returns applies to these.  
Townshend Seismic Isolation Corners. Mike drop.

Rack and components in/on the rack are isolated down to 3Hz from all external vibrations.

To take it 1 step further, listen to millercarbon, for springs under every component for individual component vibration control.

Or reach for the stars with Townshend pods under every component. Sub and amps included.

I’ve done all of the above(and Townshend podiums and platforms and Symposium Platforms where inadequate height for pods).

Do not allow component feet to be the isolation.

Best of luck.
I have brass cones and granite on the bottom shelf and 2 inch thick maple shelf’s ,I use Stillpoints  which are excellent under 
my gear.
Bigtwin:

  "Stunning that some of the isolation units for speakers cost more than some speakers I've owned. I'm sure the law of diminishing returns applies to these" 

Simply not correct.  Critical Mass Systems footers are so much ahead of all other isolation devices (I've tried everything) you should think of them as component upgrades.....in that context they are great value. 

One more point: any kind of rubber is bad (including the long fibre jobs like sorbothane) anywhere in your support system. Forget all that BS about rubber converting vibration to heat.  Rubber does not absorb, but simply returns a large portion of the bad vibes after a slight delay. This is far more apparent as you move up the sound quality gradient. 

Best wishes
Aubrey
Your answer is easy try the Pneuance Audio Pneupods. They will work with your weight and can screw right in to your existing stand. They are wonderful isolators check out their findings beat many contenders. 
Copper spikes will give the best sound.
Do you have a turntable? If not don't bother. Buy some music instead. 
Even if it sounds better initially that will go away as you get use to seeing them. Isolation in important for turntables only. Generalizing it to other equipment is just a ploy to make money. Remember, if it looks good it will sound better.....for a while. 
@aubreybobbI

 I agree there are affordable options.  My comment was referring to products like the Townshend Podiums at about $1000 per.  They almost fall into the furniture category.   
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I use steel spikes under my two racks into a 12" thick, 3000 psi steel reinforced concrete slab.   Nothing from the ground goes up into my racks.   However, the racks are welded steel with 50/50 mix of sand/shot.  They are relatively damped before getting to the shelves.  Most of my shelves are HDF 1 1/8" and others are 1" granite.   Then a mix of ultra and mini Stillpoints, one Audio Technica footer set and a Townshend Seismic Sink (turntable).  Some components are not footed (COS Engineering D1 DAC has excellent designed spikes/very solid cse and VPI 19-4 which has rubber & springs).   
I have just ordered 3 Giai feet to try under the turntable. Stunning that some of the isolation units for speakers cost more than some speakers I've owned. I'm sure the law of diminishing returns applies to these.

Sorry if I wasn't clear, it sure seems you got the wrong message. There is no such thing as diminishing returns, not if you do it right. If you compare for example going from dirt cheap Nobsound to Gaia then yes totally diminishing returns. You pay a small fortune for only slightly better, if that. Mostly what you get is convenience and appearance. Performance is a wash.

Going from Gaia to Townshend, now you pay a lot more but you also get a lot more. So no diminishing returns there. Actually the last time I heard this was moving Pendragon XL to Podiums, it was like a whole system upgrade. Brandon was saying it was like the whole room was treated.

That is why I abhor the diminishing returns canard, it is simply not there other than in the imagination. In reality you are as likely to find accelerating returns. If for example you had some expensive cones or spikes that cost more than $30/set of four then going to Nobsound will be better for less. So it can go both ways making diminishing returns more something comforting to say than anything connected with reality.

You can find out real easy, simply order a set of Nobsound and compare. It will take a bit of effort, they work a lot better after a little trial and error to get the number of springs just right for the load. Once you do that though I think you will find they come real close for a lot less. Then if you do Pods, they are not just a little better than Nobsound, but a lot.

Podiums are a big chunk of the cost of my Moabs. But they elevate them to Ulf level performance. So it is all question of adjusting to the fact the components themselves are not what it's all about, but what you put the component on is equally as important. 
Locking wheels are convenient.
OP: I just bought a 4-tier equipment rack to set up a 2nd system. It’s not audiophile standard and comes with standard spikes. Products are designed to perform at a certain level, period. Not convinced that adding something not originally part of the design will necessarily improve that product. Mounting Pirelli tires on a Yugo will not make it handle and brake like a Ferrari. Those characteristics would be supported by other parameters. Of course I could be wrong. I would have started with a better product in the beginning. Apologies for not helping so much.
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I have confirmed everything millercarbon has said using empirical measurements.  I don't know why I didn't isolate with springs before.  They are incredibly effective.  The nobsound spring isolators work well.  I am down to two springs per isolator and still cannot get them down to a system resonance of 3 Hz which is ideal, I think.  8 Hz is where they measure but they are still effective.  Using an accelerometer app on my iPad and iPhone I can see the difference with and without the spring isolators.  They are not just effective in isolating taps on the floor but I also see a large reduction in vibration levels on top of my preamps from airborne vibrations while the music is playing.  Granted, these vibration levels on the top of the preamp are already very small but an order of magnitude or two reduction in these already small vibration levels is still a very good thing.  The only negative effect I have seen is that while I have all of my components sitting on springs now, if I tap on one component all of the other components react at the same resonance frequency of 8 Hz.  I don't think that is a problem while listening.  For me, speaker and amp isolation was a big change- for the better.  I isolated my DAC, CD Transport and preamps.  The most noticeable component for me was isolating the phono preamp.