Isolation stands: snakeoil?


I understand that turntables are uniquely effected by vibrations due thier sensitivity to that kind of energy. But here’s the thing: most turntables, especially decent ones, have vibration control measures built into them via footers and various construction techniques. So, the question is: are turntable stands / shelves with isolation features actually beneficial or are they just horrendously overpriced accessories for audiophiles?
madavid0
My answer to your question is going to be a bit obtuse. I just got back into TT after a 33 year absence, see my post on this subject (https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/second-system-that-sounds-and-looks-spectacular-i-am-there) . The TT I have now, Michell Engineering GyroDec, is in some ways similar to the one I sold 33 years ago (Michell Engineering Transcriptor Hydraulic Reference). Both TT were fitted with SME arms (SME IV now, SME 3009 S2 33 year ago). The big difference in the setup now is, I use a TT isolation stand, Core Audio plyKraft 3L. With the previous TT setup I could clearly hear feedback at high playback levels with a muddling of the sound. Not now. The sound of my new TT setup is like night and day; I simply can’t believe LP playback can sound this good. Part of the improvement is due to the TT/Arm/Cartridge improvements coupled with improvements in vinyl pressing. I am also firmly convinced the isolation stand has made a significant improvement to the sound quality. I can now play vinyl at ridiculous sound levels and the sound quality stays crystal clear. In fact, and don’t try this at home, if I kick the TT stand, nothing happens, the LP continues to play perfectly.

So in answer to your question, TT isolation stands make a considerable improvement to TT performance. I am 100% convinced and love the sound and look of my Core Audio isolation stand.
Why do you have a such a glim view or you just enjoy stirring the pot?

Your previous posters....

Integrateds: Why do they all SUCK?
Mapleshade Isolation: Does Nothing?
Cartridges: Complete Scam?
Soundstage and explosive dynamics?
Basis Turntables: Worth it or Ripoff?
Synergestic Research: SCAM
Class D = Trash?
Rega and ProAc: Bad?
Anticables: Scam?

And yes, isolation accessories and well designed stands do make a difference to all those components that are prone to chassis born and external vibrations.

+1, Core Audio Designs PlyKraft component and isolation stands. 
My main reply to your question is:

I don’t know.

Though since high end audio is rife with snake oil I have little doubt this applies to some (or many) isolation products.

Bit having recently bought a new high end turntable, it did make at least theoretical sense to ensure it sat on a surface that minimized the transfer of vibration to the turntable (and hence to the stylus - I don’t buy in to the necessity of vibration control for other components, e.g. CD players, amps etc that work on different principles than turntables).

So I tried all sorts of vibration minimization strategies, products and materials, measuring their effects via a seismometer app on my iPad (all I had, but I at least wanted to see some objective verification).

In the end I used some springs and constrained layer-type material combinations to create a platform for the turntable.   In terms of what is measurable via the seismometer, not to mention what I can feel by hand, the reduction of vibration getting to the turntable are easily seen.
For instance, without the platform stomping on the ground by the equipment rack produces huge ringing spikes of vibration.  With the platform, when stomping the they are almost gone.

I got similar results for reducing other types of vibration (eg rapid higher level buzzing vibration from an electric toothbrush).

Therefore I wouldn’t be surprised if an isolation product using similar principles actually did increase isolation from vibration.

The big question is of course: are the effects audible?

In my case I have no idea if my new turntable would sound different with or without the isolation base I built.  I’d need to blind test it with/without the base to feel comfortable making such a claim.  But that would be an impossible test given the ergonomics and other issues involved.
So I just use my experience as a “peace of mind” factor that I did my best to reduce the influence of gross level vibrations.

I can say the sound of records on the turntable has been astonishly low in noise!
I can’t believe how “black” the background is on records of all types vs my previous turntable set up, and that includes even older worn records.  Again, without being able to test in a way that reduces the variables I can’t pinpoint what to attribute to these changes.


The expense of isolation stands is often, but not always, a function of the resonant frequency and to some extent appearance. 
Vibration damping or isolation products make a very significant difference in the sound.  The thing is, so many believe "more" is necessarily better; I have not found that to be the case.  There can be too much, which results in a dry, lifeless and analytically clean and non-musical sound.  So, it is like so much else in audio, a matter of taste and tuning and experimentation.  I don't know of any magic formula.
Here we go again ...
https://forum.audiogon.com/users/madavid0/discussions
Turntables are sensitive to vibration which affect the sound and performance, more so than any other audio component.    

Some products/solutions solve the problem better and for less cost than others.   So not all solutions created equal.  


The Symposium Ultra Stealth edition is a BIG sound improvement.It improves imaging ,bass,dynamics and stage snake oil not really.You should get one asap or not.Enjoy anyway!!

Agree with mapman.  Some turntables (my basis Ovation. for example) have a suspension system capable of essentially eliminating the need for a complex isolation stand, but some (my old original Well Tempered TT, to a lesser extent, but many inexpensive TTs) could be susceptible to outside vibrations and benefit from a dedicated stand.  I had an old table that would transmit footsteps when I walked across the floor until I put it on a wall-mounted stand, which solved the problem. There are, of course, other ways to deal with the problem, some more effective than others.

lalitk:  I think that the OP probably has a job writing for the National Enquirer, hence his choice of sensationalist titles for his threads.

My SOTA Cosmos table has a pretty good suspended set up for isolating it from the stand/environment.  But when I was able to buy an active vibration canceling table (a Herzan, pinched off of Ebay for peanuts), I was rather astonished at the improvement in sound quality once placed upon that table.  Every aspect of the music got cleaner, sharper, and less colored - - it just sounded much truer to live music with that one change.

I'm guessing that SOTA's are less prone to issues than most tables, so I'm also guessing that the platform supporting just about any table is going to matter, maybe even a lot.
Some isolation products and turntable footers, primarily those using soft materials, can be very effective at eliminating vibrations entering the component from the rack/stand, but they also trap the vibrations generated inside the component with no path for dissipation. 

That is where Symposium’s approach is different. Using a firm layer of absorption material constrained on each side by a SS layer, they address the external vibrations while also dissipating internal vibrations away from the component when coupled to their platform using their aluminum footers or roller blocks. This can be very meaningful sonically, especially with transports and turntables.

Dave


I am unwilling to issue an opinion until we all agree that snake oil is two words.
If they’re based on mass-on-spring you’re good. Or negative stiffness. That’s what the big boys use. Everything else is a big compromise. There is no harm in using damping for the top plate and isolation.

Sceptic A: ''one thing is sure, my dear, nothing is for sure!''

Sceptic B: ''Are you sure about that?''

@nandric,

Amen brother!

OP and many others are stuck in this loop instead of giving it a try. That’s why we are coming across more and more posters like this 😉
In order to get to the bottom of turntable isolation stands, one needs look to..............."the bottom".

Bottom meaning what are they standing, sitting, resting on?

Lets assume we have two rooms

1) Two identical turntable stands, 2) two same audio kits and 3) two same rooms (3- highly unlikely but used to reinforce the example)

Now one room has a concrete floor, the other is a suspended wood floor.

Findings will be either this <--------- or ---------> that.

Just saying. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

some of these forum threads can go 30, 60, 70 + posts, + pages, before the dreaded loop mentioned above is realized.

********

Audiophiles have been known to go to great lengths to deal with the suspended floor issue.
This paves the way to higher prices (and mark up) by the stand makers.


Okay here’s what’s going on. I have a MoFi StudioDeck which has sprung feet built in. The turntable is sitting on the top shelf of a Pangea Vulcan rack which was selected for being cheap as opposed to being especially well regarded for audio performance ($150 with extra shelf). I have not bothered to to perfectly level the rack’s feet so there is some play / wobble if disturbed. I have leveled the turntable obviously.

The rack and turntable are sitting outside of my listening room. A set of balanced interconnects run from the pre in the rack, under the room door, across the floor and into my amps which shot between my speakers.

Since the turntable is placed outside of the listening room, I expect it will only pick up highly attenuated sound from the speakers (sound passing through walls / cracks around door edges, etc). Obviously it can still be effected by floor-borne vibrations, street noise, air conditioner noise, etc and so on. Also, having my system outside of my listening room is annoying.
Every time I add something to TT chassis to improve suspension or sturdiness of it, I get sonic benefits. I don't like to spend a fortune on these and I don't dig onto that yuppy market of cool toys, but I experiment to position and settle right. Some manufacturers are perfecting some so so.
Good feet even from another better quality turntable on lower quality turntable brings positive and audible sonic benefits just like differences in sound between 2 grand pianos for instance.
I think the issues with most things deemed "Snake Oil" is with the terminology used to promote each particular brand of snake oil.

e.g. "this gadget reduces (or eliminates) vibration"

What kind of vibration?
- airborne vibrations
- floor vibrations
- arm vibrations
- cartridge vibrations
- TT vibrations
- vinyl vibrations
- stand vibrations
- etc...

But the "unsuspecting audiophile" buys the said gadget, only to proclaim it is useless and therefore it must be "snake oil"

As for
But here’s the thing: most turntables, especially decent ones, have vibration control measures built into them via footers and various construction techniques.
The vibration control measures applied in the vast majority of turntables is only partially effective and only addresses a very limited range of vibration issues actually present in the interface between the shelf and the TT.

It is only the very best TT’s that offer the type of "vibration control" most people are seeking - i.e. total elimination. Even then they require a substantial rack or shelf as a foundation

Complete vibration control is a product of ...
- Good TT design techniques e.g.
...Sound absorbing feet (an over simplification),
...foot positioning
...Platter/plinth rigidity
...bearing design and materials
...Arm/headshell design
...The use of sound absorption materials
...The use of "acoustically inert" materials/techniques
...Employing vibration control throughout the design

- Good equipment rack design (including wall mount shelves)
...good support for shelving components
...The use of sound absorption frame materials/techniques
...The use of sound absorption shelving materials/techniques

- Good individual shelf design (i.e. within a rack)
...e.g. the use of a "sandwich" design for each shelf

So, before you splurge on that next vibration "fix"
- look at the claims of the gadget manufacturer
- ensure you actually have the problem they claim to address.

It’s a bit like buying a hammer and then using it to hammer home nails - it works, but it will never achieve that really strong joint.

WRT:
Some isolation products and turntable footers, primarily those using soft materials, can be very effective at eliminating vibrations entering the component from the rack/stand
The use soft materials can be very effective, I use them myself, however it has been my experience that using "too much of a good thing" can actually deaden the sound, i.e. the sound becomes less vibrant
- so apply them wisely

WRT:
OP and many others are stuck in this loop instead of giving it a try
Granted, giving it a try is one option, but can lead to the proclamation "it’s snake oil" if it does not meet expectations and it can get expensive

I will agree there are a lot of vibration control products out there that may assist in the reduction of certain vibrations.

But how to gauge their effectiveness is the real challenge
- first you have to understand the "root cause" of YOUR specific "problem".

Regards - Steve

I have not bothered to to perfectly level the rack’s feet so there is some play / wobble if disturbed.
Until you bother to set up the equipment you have effectively, why are you asking about other products?  
The problem with thinking you’re safe if you’re on a concrete slab is the entire building is shaking due to very powerful seismic forces, including the cement slab. And shaking in all six directions. The very stiff cement slab helps relative to suspended floors, nevertheless....That’s why a very stiff top plate is recommended for whatever isolation stand you want to talk about, to help deal with bending forces.
I have not experimented with my TT isolation since it is a mass loaded TT which weighs about 120 lbs. For it, I borrowed Chris Brady's design which includes a sandbox at the top with legs filled with concrete which makes for a dead surface upon which to place the Teres 340.. Dance, jump, do whatever in front of the TT while its playing and there will be no effect. One person criticized the setup as being dead. Yet all I can say is that if my grin got any bigger it would bust my face open.
That said, I have played with CDP footings and when I had a lighter TT, different shelf materials. I can tell you that harder materials make for as brighter sound. Wood makes for a softer sound on the highs. This includes the rollerballs I use under my cdp. My wife was recently shocked at the sound difference of the different ball materials of the rollerblocks used under the CDP. I can increase or decrease the highs especially just by the material used in the rollerballs. Therefore I am a firm believe in footers for source equipment especially
Ooops - a typo - should have been....

It’s a bit like buying a hammer and then using it to hammer home SCREWS - it works, but it will never achieve that really strong joint.
Old Age :-)
"Soft materials?" You mean sorbothane? Why the circumlocution?
I worked with airborne sonars at one time and am sceptical about the transfer of acoustic energy to turntables through the air, since depending on frequencies and the size of the turntable or its components, the sound may bounce back or pass right by. Also the impedance mismatch between air and solid objects is considerable, so I can't see much energy getting in that way.
In any case why are there no measurements of this phenomenon to clarify what is going on?



The best turntable islolaters are the doors between the speaker room and the electronics room.  My ex-laundry room has all but the speakers. Of course, guests are not as impressed with the array of electronics, but that was never my goal. Another big benefit of this is the dryer's 10 guage wiring that now comes from a 30 amp 110 volt dedicated breaker.
I have my TT suspended through the ceiling by four cables into eye hook lag bolts threaded through a 1/2 inch glass shelf with nuts on the underside for leveling. Eliminates all vibration except for what travels through the atmosphere of the listening room. Cables are secured in the attic to conduit pipe that spans the roof trusses and is held in place with conduit brackets. I can't think of a better way to isolate a TT other than having it in another room far from the listening room.
I am moving my equipment, including a turntable, to a room other than where I have my speakers.  I have a wooden floor, with a crawl-space below. I have to drill holes thru the floor to run speaker cables underneath. I was thinking of drilling 4 more holes, each for one leg of my stand, and running rebar, or similar material right down into the ground, and suspending my stand on those steel rods with no floor contact. Thus, for vibration purposes, I am truly grounded, and the washer and dryer on other side of the wall will not affect my system. Thoughts?
What’s shakin’? Uh, the whole house is shaking! Not just the listening room. You know, due to all the traffic, Earth crust motion, wind, ocean waves hitting the shore, what have you. Besides it’s a no brainer to isolate the speakers these days, it’s really quite the fad. Saves a lot of time and effort.
After reading warpig2112 and kavakat1 posts, thank goodness I do not own a TT 😳

My digital setup is way too good, nicely housed in PlyKraft 4 🤓
@lalitk hate to break it to you but digital equipment is just as susceptible to vibration.

Just this morning I tried swapping a set of <.5mm constrained layer damping sheets below the base under my master clock (this is a 10Mhz clock that drives the system clock in my DCS stack) -- the effect was quite audible (and in this case negative)

Surprised no one has brought up active isolation (herzan etc) -- you can see the measurable impact via the pics in my virtual system
https://systems.audiogon.com/systems/5707#&gid=1&pid=14
Cool measurements!  I only reported the sound quality improvements with a Herzan under my turntable, but your measures imply the "why".
@jbrrp1 I'd missed your post, sorry

btw have you tried changing the power cable on your Herzan? Shouldn't make a difference but it does! I've only gone up to a $300 or so cable, I can't find it in myself to go further (although maybe I'll try if I liberate a spare from the rest of my system)
folkfreak That is one impressive system! What's the distance between the listening position and the speakers?
For heavens sake PLEASE stop empowering the OP!

His threads should come with a warning sign....

Please do not feed the trolls!


@john_g its about 8-9’ from speakers to listening seat. A near field configuration but the walls are all designed and built to minimize issues so it’s as if the front wall really disappears
Uh...those Herzan platforms cost 9k and up...


Yes, they are expensive, but I cannot imagine a more dramatic proof of the influence that the surface your turntable sits upon has.  Eliminating vibration is a great thing, just so long as you do it evenly (i.e. don't let some specific frequency ranges through).

And I got my two Herzans for a grand total of $800 + shipping from a Silicon Valley liquidation house, so keep your eyes open!
Just get yourself even a basic cd player. It will beat any turntable (however much I dearly love their mechanical beauty).
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If CD player beat any turntable then something wrong with your turntables @willemj 

chakster
"If CD player beat any turntable then something wrong with your turntable"

Not necessarily it could be another demonstrated example of simple confirmation bias which is very common among those who some call "measurementalists" and also it is a silly remark on the face of it because a CD player can not play vinyl!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Untreated CDs on untreated CD players almost always sound thin, wiry, airless, synthetic, boomy, rolled off, unnatural, bland, two dimensional, undynamic, metallic, electronic, congealed, uninvolving, unmusical, cold, tizzy, irritating and like paper mache. But I can certainly understand how some folks can get used to the sound and think, well, that must be the perfect sound they were talking about.
Post removed 
I don’t like pneumatic systems either for the same reason. Once they develop a leak they will never sound right because there’s a certain design pressure that obviously goes bye bye once a leak appears. And if you have to prop one side up then the thing isn’t really isolating, is it? However, if you or anyone you know is good with Teflon tape, the type for air fittings or the paste for air fittings the leak can be fixed. Both are found at Home Despot. No reason to live without isolation. That’s no way to live. 😬
willemj, unfortunately my basic CD player won't read my LP grooves.
@OP madavid0

Proper setup trumps all, and has the most potential.

you said in your opening post.

most turntables, especially decent ones, have vibration control measures built into them via footers and various construction techniques.

This shows to me, that you understand that manufacturers consider vibration control important.
  
but then you say in your next post.  

I have not bothered to perfectly level the rack’s feet so there is some play / wobble if disturbed.


Well, one can wonder if this is due to laziness ? Who knows, but it is wrong for basic 101 turntable set up, and no one questioned it. The TT platform/stand, whatever type/s - plural - as some use multiple products, under the TT, is/are but an extension of the turntable. Adding an isolation platform/s *whatever cost' under it may get better results, but it is a band aid, if the basics are not in order to begin with.

The big Basis TT has proper isolation built in but it’s $100K. The Rockport TT if it’s still made has a dedicated isolation system built in but it’s $80K. All the rest of them, the squishy feet, the springy feet, are Masquerading as built-in isolation as their spring rates are too high to do anything. The resonant frequencies of the platter, the tonearm and the cartridge are quite low, so it’s the very low frequency vibration that’s the real problem.
I deleted my earlier post because it was too snarky. But I applaud the patience of the other posters on this thread.
@chakster Your remark is not "silly", despite clearthink's opinion to the contrary. Go on and continue your posts.

clearthink has unmitigated gall.

First he states the impossible.

Then he is presented with a genuine and no obligation challenge to demonstrate the impossible.

Then he tentatively accepts challenge.

Then he attempts to dictate the terms of the challenge.

Then he is asked to act privately, and with the inclusion of legal council.

Then he refuses.

Then he cry's fraud.

Then he repeats himself.
gdhal has all the appearances of a Nigeream scammer he has promoted a phony $25,000 USD scam fraud on these forums.

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There are many variations of this type of scam, including the 419 scam, the Spanish Prisoner scam, the black money scam, Fifo's Fraud and the Detroit-Buffalo scam.[2] The scam has been used with fax and traditional mail, and is now prevalent in online communications like emails.

While Nigeria is most often the nation referred to in these scams, they originate in other nations as well. In 2006, 61% of internet criminals were traced to locations in the United States,