Platforms: granite, marble, maple or other?

What's the best isolation material for equipment platforms (amp and speakers on a wood joist floor)?

Stone: granite, marble, concrete?
Wood: maple, etc.?

I can't comment on the speakers, but I just put a 15' X 20" X 2.25" thick maple cutting board under my McCormack DNA-0.5 Gold Rev. amp, and 1" thick cork/rubber footers from Rcreations (an A'Gon member) under the maple board. It's excellent w/ good detail and some warmth. The ones with horizontal grain rather than end grain are supposed to be the best sounding, and that's what I got.

Try for the John Boos maple cutting boards. They have a lot of different sizes, and prices are pretty good. Cheers. Craig
Hello.....You actually heard an improvement in the sound of your system when you put this maple board under your amp? Please share what differences were heard and how many times back and forth you went to confirm these improvements actually existed. And for all the physicists and materials engineers out there, please explain how the grain in the wood platform would affect the sound.
I can give you my experience. I've tried wood and MDF and Nordost Pulsar Points and GS DH cones and what I finally settled on is a granite platform on the carpet with Aurios on the granite beneath the speaker. Works great to tighten up the bass and open up the mids.
I have 2 granite blocks under speakers, with Audio Resolution platforms between the speaker and stand. LOVE the combo.

I have another granite slab (about 24" x 15" x 2" high) for under my amp, have good and bad results. Some loss of "life" to the music, though the bass tightens and it seems overall a little quieter in the background.

I haven't tried maple under the amp, but I think that granite under speakers and maple under amp might be extremely good.

Post if you try different combo's out.

PS: Marble would be big bucks. I got granite "extras" at a stone yard for cheap. 2 12" x 12" x 16" granite blocks, ~300lbs each (!) for $100; and 2 granite shelves, one is 1" and the other the 2" thick mentioned above, both for $25 !
Maple.....go to Home Depot, you'll find the John Boos cutting boards 18"x 20" x1.75" for $36 and change(the checkout gurl thought i was nutz buying 6)
for the money,use your imagination.... if you choose to use them under amps, oil them well with mineral oil keep them from drying, they are nice platens
Jafox; you're apparently a non-believer when it comes to vibration control/management, and I won't try to convince you here. I've already briefly stated the improvements I got using the maple board under my amp and stand by them. There was no need to go "back and forth", but I easily could.

To use Jeffloistarca's acronym, STFA. Prior to using the maple board, I had this very high performance amp sitting on a Townshend Seismic Sink with very good results-- but lacking the warmth, then the amp on the Sink on the maple board w/cork/rubber isolation footers. This combo added the pleasant warmth and worked very well, but finally I preferred it w/o the Seismic Sink in the stack-- more warmth. If interested, you might check the Mapleshade Music website for more info specifically on maple.

I would note that with the amp just sitting on the MDF of my stereo stand, music quality/character was muddy and sort of incoherent with poor detail and not very musical at all.

Consideration of vibration control/management really is essential in a high performance system (which I have) to get the full potential out of it. Personally, I think there are many potentially excellent stereo systems out there that are not optimally tweaked for best performance. IMO, the same kind of attention to detail needs to be applied to all system components that is typically used in a high performance analog system. Cheers. Craig

For speakers, I like the idea of iso bearings on a granite slab, but the bearings are $300/set ($150 set b-stock); a set for each speaker. That's a lot of money. Worth it?

Or is there a cheaper DIY bearing mechanism?

Thanks for all your advice and experience.

Garfish, what is between the amp and the maple cutting board. Does the amp sit on it's factory-installed feet, or did you change to something different?

Jim D.
Garfish, it was not that I am a believer or disbeliever here. But from all my experiences with "upgrading" my audio and HT systems, a piece at a time, after listening back and forth with and without the new item, it is often not as big a difference as I thought from the beginning.

There are times when the system sounds phenomenol and other times for whatever reason, not good at all......and nothing has changed. I can only assume it is the humidity, clean power or just my mood and interest at that moment.

I have done extensive cable comparisons from the line stage and amp, and yes, there can be big differences, but often they are difficult to hear as well. And this is between NBS, MIT and Cardas cable. So it is hard for me to imagine how simply putting a board or platform under a component can be so noticeable of a change unless you return briefly to how it was before for confirmation.

And of course a high resolution system will show this as well. But if an amplifier, of all pieces in a system, unless it is loaded with tubes, is susceptible to such problems when not on an isolation stand, that does not say much of the design/assembly of the amp.

I have experimented with a few platforms under my Clearaudio Ref Table and also BAT VK P10 / VK31SE and I have to be honest here, nothing has brought on any more detail or a change in the tonal character. This was the point of my question above as I went through all this myself recently.
Jafox; A good statement. The best way to explain my observations re audio, is actually by comparing it to a TV watching experience.

When the TV color balance is very slightly to the green side of neutral, viewing is vaguely unpleasant or even irritating, but with a slight turn of the color balance control, the viewing experience can be greatly improved, even to the point of now being very pleasant. So, in an absolute sence, the change was very small, but improvement in the level of enjoyment was quite significant, and some may even say great (my wife would say great).

When I added the maple boards, the improvement in music quality/character, in any absolute sense, was small, but the (subjective) improvement in listening pleasure or enjoyment was definitey worthwhile and fairly significant to me. Over the years I've developed what I think are very good "critical listening skills"-- and yes, sometimes this can be a curse;>)

As construction quality improves, potential performance improves, but so do the affects of negative outside influences such as poor AC supply, sensitivity to excess vibration, room acoustics, poor outlets (read .79 cents) and other associated AC conditions. Good manufacturers do their best to optimize their components musicality, but they cannot account for ALL conditions under which their equipment will be used. You can put $100K equipment in a cube shaped room and realize only poor performance.

Finally I would say that not all tweaks work, and I've rejected many either because their was no improvement or they actually made things worse. Cheers. Craig
Jdombrow; The McCormack amps all have large soft Sorbothane feet, and I now have the amp sitting directly on the maple board (spike not used), but I use-- and recommend-- Rcreations cork/rubber footers under the maple block. Cheers. Craig
Jafox, I haven't found many tweaks that have worked in my system. I will defend Garfish, not that you were attacking him, but because I have read many of his posts for the last couple of years and respect him and mainly because I caught a 5 pound gar in Reelfoot lake many years ago that could have been a relative. I do disagree with you when you state that you apparantly believe switching back and forth to determine what's best in a comparison. For me, I know my system so well that if it's an improvement I usually know fairly quickly. The only tweak that has worked for me is a couple of sandbags, one on the amp for internal resonance control and one on the preamp for the same. Everything else I've tried has either made things worse or made no difference but looks stupid as hell. But I'm probably lazier than most, I'm just not willing to try waterford crystal goblets on my speakers or cutting boards or bubblewrap, etc.... My equipment sits on target component and amp stands and sounds so damn good it brings me to tears sometimes. So IMHO through more than a few years of this psycho hobby - most of the time it's about the equipment hooked up to dedicated power and good rigid stands. Nuff said...
Thanks guys....I will continue to keep an open mind when it comes to tweaks. Ever since I borrowed an NBS Master interconnect and picked my jaw off the floor when it trounced a handful of other cables (Audioquest, Cardas, Transparent, Straighwire) so significantly have I learned an open mind here is a good thing.

As for me "knowing" the sound of my system, sometimes it just does not click for me at all and back upstairs I go to watch TV or do something else. And other times there is no way anybody can get me out of the basement as the music simply sounds so awesome. So this is why I "play" for 2-3 hours, swapping back and forth to confirm to me that there is or is not a difference ......and is the difference worth the price; I am a very value-conscious audiophile. And I like to feel good about a change or purchase I made or it will bug me forever to re-address that link in the system with an upgrade very soon after.
Jafox, I researched and purchased some maple cutting boards a few months ago. It was suggested to me to avoid butcher block type boards as audio shelves because the grain would transmit the vibration vertically rather than dissipate it. Also, there is a lot more glue involved with all the small pieces of wood. The problem with a thick solid piece of maple is the tendency it has to warp or crack.

I ended up with 1 1/4" boards with three glued pieces and horizontal grain. I prefer the sound with my amp on the maple on top of Isolpads with my mdf amp stand rather than the amp directly on the mdf. I also now use the same style board as the shelf for a wall stand I made using steel supports. On top of that I have spikes supporting a Neuance shelf under my cdp. It is an even better improvement under the cdp than just the maple.
The wall stand provided an equally significant improvement compared to the floor standing audio rack it replaced as a solid base for the cdp. There are a couple of wall stands by Apollo that are a perfect fit with the Neuance, in the $125-150 price range not terribly expensive but a lot more than the cost of the one I made.

I have seen Garfish's John Boos boards and like them even better than the ones I got because they are thicker and have more squared off edges rather than radiused. I'll probably go to something like that if I can get a better fit for my amp and thicker support for the Neuance shelf. You can see the boards I got in my system pics. They are painted with a Krylon product, "Make It Stone", that looks like granite.
It matters a lot whether one has a concrete slab floor or a wood frame floor. My floor is wood frame, so it is very supect to mechanical vibration from the speakers. Most vibration originates at the speaker transducers. It gets to other equipment either by mechanical contact with the floor or through acoustic pressure (sound). Concrete slab floors greatly minimize the mechanical path between speakers and the equipment rack. This is all a pretty deep subject...

I have not tried the maple shelf yet. I have been using equipment shelves made from the Ikea Lak end tables ($10), which were suggested in an earlier post on the A'gon here. Try searching on "Ikea Lak". Has any one tried those? They are light, stiff and well damped.

I also have a wood floor and am using two schools of thought for isolating my gear.For my components I'm using a rack and shelves that dissapate energy rapidly-Apollo Aria equipment rack and Neuance Shelving.The rack is NOT mass loaded (filled w/ sand or lead)and works great with the Neuance Shelves.The addition of the Neuance shelving was a big upgrade for my system.
For my speakers I'm using mass loaded (filled 2/3 with sand/lead) Osiris speaker stands with blue tac underneath the speakers.Ken at Greater Ranges/Neuance has a head for isolating gear and his ideas worked great on my rig.
From what I learned from a few mechanical and electrical engineers, every material has its own native resonance frequency. To reduce material resonance from being transmitted, the best thing you can do is combine a variety of material that has varied native resonance frequencies together.

Have you ever experienced the phenomenon when you hit two identical tuning forks point them at each other? They will amplify each others resonance and ring tone will get louder. I think this is the philosophy behind most platforms ie neuance and symposium.

Of course, certain materials does not resonante but absorbs certain frequencies such as wood or most inert materials such as plastic or lead.

I've been wanting to purchase Symposium Svelte shevles for quite some time, but I haven't had the nerve to give them my cc #. Instead, I've experimented with placing books and wooden blocks under components to absorb resonance. I found books more effective in removing digital glare when placed under transports. Amps go deeper and throws a wider sound stage with a phone book underneath it but sounds a bit more sterile at the same time.

Lately, and please laugh with me not at me here, I am using $10 white and transparent plastic chopping boards underneath my transport and amp. You know, the culinary kind. The difference is less bass but also increased clarity. I like the plastic chopping blocks. You too can get yours at Target for $10 a piece. The clear ones I got have rubber feet underneath too.
Viggen-- I, too, tried plastic cutting boards under my power supplies (pre & cdp). Not as successful as you; tonality and upper & lower extremes went away... strange.
Gregm, I am using monitor speakers, so I don't have extreme lows in the first place. But, after adding the chopping boards, some of the lows diminished in my system too. But, I did get more clarity, and that is more important to me. Also, I am using a dejitter that adds 2 bit of noise/resolution, and this adds a bit of emphasis in the highs. So, I don't notice losing anything in the highs. Loss of tonality though... ?
Tonality is the wrong word -- sorry. What I meant to say is that instruments sounded less natural -- slightly "boxy" if you will... maybe related to the highs I lost? Cheers
Thanks for the tip on the John Boos items at Home Depot. Just picked up one, put it under my integrated amp (Pathos Twin Towers); I think I'm going to like this a little better than the granite stand I had.

More listening to do, but it looks liek a winner at cheap cost. Now I just wonder if maple boards made of less pieces (and less glue) would sound even BETTER ! Not worth it perhaps, but we'll see.