The IKEA stuff will not perform like real butcher block. It's like airplane food -- looks and smells like the real thing but has no nutritional value! Your MDF is probably at least just as good.
If you want a sonic improvement, you need "end grain" maple butcher block. It's REALLY EXPENSIVE. (It's even more expensive than the solid maple "butcher block" counter tops, where the wood is laid in strips.)
If you just like the IKEA stuff for cosmetic reasons, go for it, but just remember, it's 100% phony.
FWIW, I don't really agree w/Nsgarch's comments, and feel that you will get some improvement with Ikea maple. If you stick with your plan, try a couple of coats of tung oil, with light sanding after each couple, then finish with a light paste wax. This is the finish you will see on my rack if you click on my system. Cheers,
The IKEA product is not maple, it's cheap beech. And it has a hollow core, and I'll betcha ten bucks it makes a nice hollow sound when you rap your knuckles on it. Tung oil and wax makes a nice finish, if you don't think you might ever have to repair it -- wax doesn't come out, ever. Try 2 light coats of Flecto Natural Oil and Sealer. You can buff it out 30 min after application, and it makes the nicest, waterproof, Danish "hand rubbed" finish. In the future, you can always sand it lightly and do it again. Great stuff! Available at all Ace Hardware stores But you may have to order it as they don't often stock it. Don't let them tell you they don't have it, I just got some last week!
Nsgarch is correct. These are constructed of beech, which is an open grain, 'soft' hardwood, and does not share many sonic characteristics with solid maple.
If you've already taken the beech shelves, you can salvage them by drilling a suitable sized hole in what will be the underside, fill them with silica sand and plug the hole with with a chunk of dowel and some wood glue. Sand, stain to match and lay on a couple coats of Minwax wipe-on poly. Voila! Instant shelves...
I am somewhere in the middle with the above comments, having experimented with the very product you have under consideration. No, it's not maple, it's beech, but it ain't cheap beech, it's heavy and solid - try drilling through it.
The idea of several suitable-size holes on the underside filled with silica is a good idea.
Even stock, it is a damn sight better than what is passed off these days, in a lot of cases as MDF.
My advice (FWIW) is real rock maple, edge glued butcher block from http://www.johnboos.com
Slipknot1: Thanks for putting some links where my mouth was :~)
I'm with Slipknot1, the BoosBlocks are what I'm using (on top of certain shelves, depending on component)
I coupled them to my 3/4" acrylic shelves with a dab of Mortite (rope caulk) on each corner and one in the middle, then set the block in place and pressed it down, till it was firm and even, then let it set up.
If you want to stop vibration Beech, Maple, Oak, a bowling alley...all of these are way too hard. Unfortunately there are several schools of thought but I would recomend using 1/2 inch mdf glued with 1/2 or 3/4 spacer and glue edge strips all around and put sand on the inside.
They will be heavy, but they will stop vibration.
When you add mass, you simply lower the resonant frequency. On top of that, you also make it harder to stop the resonance once excited. By lowering the center frequency of the resonance, you also increase the potential to excite this resonance in the listening room. Why is that? Simple.
Bass is both the most potent part of most any recording and it is also omni-directional in the frequency range where most "weighted" devices will resonate. The end result is that the low frequencies will "float" to wherever your equipment is located and resonate the rack, adding bloat and ringing bass. This makes music sound slow, thick and lifeless, just like "over-damping" the room acoustically does.
You need to find a way to damp / absorb vibration without adding mass. The higher in frequency that you can get the system to resonate, the less likely it is to be sonically noticeable. Not only do signals become more directional as frequency rises, they also lose intensity as distance increases at a faster rate due to their shorter wavelengths. As such, there's less potential to excite these resonances due to directionality. The energy that is able to excite them isn't as potent due to the wavelengths, reduced intensity and shorter duration of the signals involved.
As such, something that is rigid yet light in weight and has a high level of "self damping" i.e. is a "lossy material" is FAR superior to something that is rigid and a good conductor of vibration. Materials that tend to ring or oscillate quite easily, even if at a higher frequency, should be avoided. That's because you'll not only hear the sound coming from your speakers, but also the secondary oscillation as a source of sonic energy. Why in the world someone would want to put something that is "ringy" and easily excited in the same room as their audio system, i don't know. It just doesn't make any sense to me.
The one exception to this is when you use a "ringy" material ( like thin yet relatively stiff metal sheets ) in conjuction with another material that is low in mass and high in "self damping" traits. Constrained layer damping definitely works and can offer excellent rigidity with a high level of damping / absorption, but finding the right combination of materials can be tricky, time-consuming and you still have the potential for increased mass with a lower resonant frequency.
Quite honestly, i would not have believed that any of this could have affected the sonics of my system until i learned the hard way. That is, i changed racks in one of my systems and the sound of that system turned to crapola. After putting 2+2 together, i was on yet another search in terms of how i could solve this problem while moving forward.
It should be noted that different woods have varying "loss factors" i.e. rigidity to density ratios. Same goes for different types of "styrofoam". There are also different grades of Carbon Fiber, Fiberglass, plastics, metals, etc... Even the glues that one might use to bond specific materials together have different traits.
I know that some of you will think that this is crazy, but if you build a rack or shelf and keep it light yet rigid and moderatly damped rather than resonant, you'll instantly be able to hear the benefits. Sean
I'm impressed by your analysis. Any specific recommendations about materials, i.e. brands? I just used 3/4" plywood with adjustable clip strips in my current rack, but then I'm not into tubes or vinyl either. Still, I suspect the Sony 9000ES CD/SACD/DVD player is subject to vibrations, although even so the system is open and transparent, and generates a large soundstage with precise imaging.
Go and buy a sheet of high-ply birtch or oak (or any other good looking one-sided plywood) and make your self retangular boxes a little wider and longer than your componets and about 2-4" high. Fill it with play sand and place a final board on top "floating" in the sand. Place your componet on top. You can round the corners and the tops to make it look nice: either clear-coat it or your chioce of finishes. Cost around $60 for 3-4 boxes and a few hours of work and can look real nice. YOu can get all pro and dove tail where the boards meet if you have the skill and equipment. Make sure you epoxy the seams inside or you'll have sand eveywhere!
Works better than most commercial isolation products.
Optimally, a person should use a platform that has as little sonic character of its as possible AND that platform should absorb as much of the vibration and resonance out of the component as possible. Preferably, the platform would efficiently convert the mechanical energy (vibration) to a more benign form of energy (such as thermal energy - heat).
In addition, the support for the component should provide an effective barrier to stop vibration from entering the component from the floor/rack/shelf. In addition, there needs some mechanism to minimize the effects of air-borne vibration that is striking the component's chassis directly from the speaker AND addresses internally generated vibration within the component (motors, humming transformers and cooling fans).
Please be aware that natural wood, plexiglass, acrylic and many other similar materials are resonant and stone (granite, marble, corian, cement, concrete, glass, tile and other very rigid materials - IE: metal) will ring. The ringing and resonance will be transferred into the component and will negatively alter the signal flowing through the component.
Some people are confused about the fact that even though natural wood may be the right choice for a musical instrument (because it has distinct resonances) it is not appropriate for vibration control because of that very same reason. The components which comprise audio systems ARE NOT musical instruments. They should not have their own personalities (colorations) or have resonances imparted upon them by inappropriate choices in vibration control materials. The components in our audio systems are used to reproduce the sound of the original musical instrument as it has been captured in the recording. Anything that alters the signal flowing through our system's components takes us further away from being able to faithfully reproduce the signal in the recording.
Disclaimer: I am a manufacturer of vibration control products.
Donbellphd, Neuance at http://www.neuanceaudio.com is the only product I know of that is designed to the philosophy Sean is discussing. GREAT PRODUCT
Wow, Jadem6, WELCOME BACK!!! One of the most truly thorough, obsessive (I mean that in the best way) audiophiles in the history of Audiogon. Very nice to see you chime in here once again, it's been a long, long, long time.
Good observation Jadem6 and welcome back. Glad to see a familiar moniker from the past show up again : )
Much of what led me down the path to investigate this area of system building were "bad experiences" with a specific rack and timely posts made by / conversations with Ken of Neuance. Ken's comments / suggestions / experiences were of a great help to me and what prompted me to do my own research on the subject. The fact that we ended up coming to many of the same conclusions shouldn't come as a surprise. Then again, i also think that the approach that Barry of Bright Star mentions has validity, but it is a more complex system with quite a few more variables involved.
As a side note, this thread and another thread have somewhat become inter-twined in content and reference points. I wish there was some way to "pick and choose" parts of individual threads and combine them into one, but there's not. That is, other than cutting and pasting, which duplicates the info at multiple points. Given that some of the comments made in the posts that would be transplanted into another thread may have been made in response to previous comments, that gets too confusing. As such, i'm providing a link to the other thread for reference purposes. Those interested can read it at their own peril : ) Sean
>coupling vs isolation vs damping/ self-absorption
A quick note on my system as it stood prior to the arrival of the Aesthetix. My system starts with a Sony SCD-1 (heavily modified by Richard Kern and Audiocom-UK) fed through a Great Northern Sound Passive Audio Signal Isolator into a Placette active line stage. I then have two Plinius SA-102 amplifiers bi-amped vertically. Meaning one amp drives the bass and the second amp the mid-range and tweeters. Both amps are played in true class A. The speakers remain Dunlavy IV-A. (No longer manufactured) All interconnects and speaker wires are Nordost Valhalla. Power cables include Nordost Valhalla (SCD-1), David Elrod ESP-2 Signature (Pre-amp) and NBS Statement (amplifiers). I use two dedicated circuits, one for the amps and one to a Shunyata Research Hydra power conditioner fed by an Anaconda power cord. Both Circuits use Wattgate 381 outlets.
My racks sit on 4 sandstone slabs that rest on Aurios Pro isolators. Both my Mana (SCD-1) and Apollo racks are spiked to the slabs. Each component sits on a shelf sandwich comprised of 3/8 Aluminum shelves resting on upturned spikes from the rack. I then use a sheet of anti-static Bubble Wrap with a Neuance shelf sitting on the Bubble Wrap. The Hydra uses EAR feet between it and the Neuance shelf. The SCD-1 and both amps are supported by three Orchard Bay titanium cones (no longer available) and Aurios Pro isolators. The Placette sat on its factory footers, the Aesthetix sits on a Tightrope isolation system that in turn sits on a Neuance shelf sandwich The Dunlavy IV-A speakers sit on #3 Black Diamond Racing pucks and #4 BDR cones that then sit on Aurios Pros. Both the base and midrange/tweeter binding posts use Walker Audio High Definition Links II. All cables are raised off the floor using Cable Elevators
I use AudioPrism Quite-line system on the refrigerator, computer and T.V. outlets to cancel line noise at the source. I have home made acoustic panels in the vertical corners with triangle panels at the ceiling corners. I have one round home made acoustic column between me and an untreated window. Other windows are treated with Marigo window dots and wool curtains. The wood floors have thick wool rugs. I use an assortment of Walker Audio brass and lead pucks on much of the equipment and on two wood furniture pieces in the room. The 14-6 x 20-0 room is used only for the stereo and is isolated from the house with French doors. The doors are covers by acoustic panels on the room side to reduce the glass surface. The house side of the glass appears as natural glass in that there is a dark surface behind the glass. The speakers are placed on the long wall approx. nine feet apart and 1/5 into the room. The listening chair is 1/3 into the room. Behind the listening chair is a teddy bear collection (acoustic bears) with book shelves on each side. There are a number of other acoustic bears that have been positioned in very specific locations to help focus the system. (REALLY!) Now you all have the evidence needed, I am certifiably nuts.
P.S. Sean you are one of the brightest most enjoyable people here. I have always learned from you, it means alot to have you welcome me back. Matbe if Audiogon could use some magic and combine the two threads....
I remeber this often happening and feeling half the members would miss out on some good stuff. I sometimes tried to start a third thread to combine the others, that never did work.
anyway thanks again:)
Greetings JD: it's great to hear from you here as well - a warm welcome home to you sir!
I'll never forget your old 'The Winters' Lessons' post; a reference quality archive indeedy.
By the way, JD, have you had any contact with the wonderful Bruce Lee Armstrong (brulee)?
We miss him dearly, me especially. A truly remarkable human being, who should really come back to us here.
I have not heard from brulee in years. I do try to keep some contact with Redkiwi, one of my true mentors. I guess we all get caught up in our lives and move on. With Audiogon, it's not possible to totaly stay away. My problem is once I visit I must check the stuff for sale and having not worked in two years, that is really not a good thing for me to do. I just cann't resist a good deal.
Yes, those Winters Lessons are a classic!
Maybe I should look into your (teddy) bears scheme..:)
Still crazy after all these years! (isn't there a song along these lines?) Cheers
Having played around with vibration isolation systems for a while, I thought I'd add my two cents worth to this thread. A while ago I got a 16" x 16" x 2" piece of granite, and used an epoxy glue to mate it with a 3/4" thick piece of 661T aluminum. The two pieces are separated by an extensional damping polymer to inhibit the transmission of vibrations between the two pieces. Then I got 3 air pistions from Fabreeca, which have a resonance frequency of ~ 6 Hz. This combination of components was rather expensive, but an order of magnitude less than a MinusK system or a Vibraplane, with the added advantage that no compressor is required. To be fair, both of the above a much lower naturaly frequency. The MinusK system is amazing, but also a lot more expensive more than my homemade system. The air pistions are very stable, and have not needed refilling for a couple of years. If you want to isolate one component, a CD player, let's say, then this seems like a reasonable option. I did Fourier transform analysis of the vibrational modes of the final piece, and it was very quiet above 6 Hz. It also made a quite noticable difference in the sound of my SCD-1, and while this is surely a matter of taste, it seemed like an improvement to me. On the other hand I use a Mapleknoll platform under my turntable, and I like that too, but I suspect that it provides very little vibration isolation. On the other hand, my turntable's platter (a Verdier Platine) is magnetically suspended, so perhaps it doesn't matter.
Lapaix: I don't doubt that your homebrew air suspension device works quite well. The problem with many homebrew damping / isolation systems is that they either don't take the system / component resonance low enough in frequency ( like yours does ) or that they only address part of the problem, bringing other side effects with them. Sean
Lapaix -- Sean or others... you might provide some insight: when I tried using an air bladder (bicycle inner tube) sandwiched between two maple shelves and alternatively used a Neuance on top, both sources SUBJECTIVELY seemed to slow down. I *did* use dividers between the top & bottom shelves (otherwise I'd be just compressing the air in the tube).
I know that's a very sloppy way of describing the sonic result; as I neither FFT'd the thing nor did I measure (too lazy) I have nothing else descriptive to go upon:(
Any ideas as to why?/what this is due?
When I tried a similar project I discussed the results with Ken at Neuance, Arnie (Audiogon founder) and a couple Agon members privately. It appears that the inner tube does fine at isolation, but the problem with this type of isolation, including air blotters, is the upper shelf is still able to roll on the air suspension. If you recall when you tried this project, the shelf was quite easy to move in a sideways motion. This motion, no matter how small will create smear of the leading edge of the note. Its effect in tempo is this smear. A second possibility is the thickness of the rubber has potential to dampen in a place we do not want dampening. We are trying to drain or isolate vibration at this point; using a dampening product may be effecting tempo too and being counterproductive.
My bubble wrap does not have this effect, and Ive theorized its because each bubble is in tension, and the motion of one bubble is in opposition to the bubble next to it. Thus the 100 or so bubbles are canceling each other to the degree that it is not possible for any movement. Now add to this the sidewall thickness if each bubble is so thin that the dampening effect described above is essentially eliminated. It turns out to be an ultra light weight, absolutely neutral suspension (at least in my opinion). If you try a bubble wrap sandwich and weight it by pushing down on it, try moving it sideways, its virtually impossible. Now try it on a blotter or inner tube type product, it moves all around.
So you might be wondering, why do Aurios or similar bearing products work so successfully when they move sideways too. Well again its my opinion and a theory that Arnie came up with one night when we were chatting over the phone. We were discussing the fact that I had placed Aurios under my speakers, and that I was amazed that the entire speaker was totally vibration less. This was on six foot tall speakers that had quite a large amount of vibration prior to the Aurios. Arnie theorized that the lack of vibration was due to the design of these bearing type products. The bearings are in a trough or cupped shape base. This means that for any vibration to create sideways movement, it must be of significant force to push the bearing uphill well the speaker is 200 lbs, so even the enormous force created through the bass drivers, a force strong enough to allow the listener to feel the vibration in the air, is still not adequate to push up hill or lift my speakers. Without this lift there is no sideways motion. We then theorized the bearing must vibrate at an ultra high speed as it tries to move, thus releasing the energy as heat????
Now then, take this same theory to a CD player or a turntable. These components might weight as little as 25 pounds or so, but the source of vibration within the component is far less severe, again the vibration is not of a great enough proportion to move the component uphill. That makes sense, but I have a second theory that effects the result, the bass waves within the room do have enough force to move 25 pounds on a bearing uphill, if only so slight. I believe that is why my SCD-1 player that weights 58 pounds sounds better with the 15 pound plate on top of it. I think the bass waves are significant enough to move even 58 pounds. The improvement is slight with the weight, and it appears in clarity, thus smear. My amps also benefit from these bearing products; they are 80 pounds each and are not helped with weight. In actuality the pace and tempo is slowed and the definition is muddied with weight. This may explain one of the points of contention between the light rigid and the mass loaded camps.
Im kind of thinking out loud now in that Ive never really thought about all of this to this degree, but this all might explain why my pre-amps have never benefited from bearing products. The pre-amp has always been a relatively light component. The Aesthetix Calypso is.39 pounds. If the magic weight is something around 70 pounds, as per my SCD-1 experience, then I would need to add some forty more pounds of mass to the units top. This would be a massive storage unit for vibration and would no doubt product a slow, muddy and fat sound. Without the weight the pre-amp would be allowed to move on the bearing product, creating a smear that would result in a lack of focus and a sense of tempo change.
On my system I guess these are the results of my findings. Again Im only theorizing with no science, but it makes sense to me. In my design; I have isolated the racks from the floor vibration with the bearings under sandstone slabs. These slams are hundreds of pounds and with equipment are even greater. Thus the actual movement of the floor is still not enough to lift the slabs on the bearings, so the bearings are isolating the racks successfully. The bearings used between the shelf sandwiches and components over 70 pounds are able to be isolated from further vibration that is picked up from airborne vibration through the rack its self.. The pre-amp does not benefit in the same way, which explains why my old Placette always sounded best on its factory feet. Today my Aesthetix is on a string suspension product, but after this discussion, I think I need further testing of other footer choices. The string product makes little sense given what Ive talked about above.
Well back to the laboratory.
That's a good observation that Jadem made about the horizontal displacement of energy in an air bladder type device.
As to bearing type devices, i think that they act as kind of a vertical coupler with a horizontal damping valve built in. That is, due to the mass forced down on the bearing, it pretty much will act as if the device is coupled to the support underneath it, at least in the vertical plane. If there is enough energy involved to displace the bearing, this energy would cause horizontal motion rather than vertical motion due to the mass loading effect.
In effect, the horizontal displacement would only come into play during severe situations, acting as kind of a "pressure relief valve". Obviously, i'm just babbling here as i've never studied this type of device or the principles that they are based on, so i could be completely off in left field on this one.
As to the comments about bubble wrap, i remember reading your first posts about this. I also remember Ric from EVS discussing using bubble wrap underneath his Millennium DAC's several years ago, so there has to be some validity to Jadem's results.
As to Greg's original question, see my response discussing combining mass loading / coupling / absorption in a random fashion in the other thread that discusses rack building, etc... For optimum results, you really need to do the math and look at the system as a whole. Without the math and everything taken into account, you're back into the "chaos theory" of system tweaks with anything being possible. Sean
Thanks JD & Sean. Actually put things into perspective -- much obliged!
As you suggest JD, there was horizontal motion that I tried to limit using cones etc inbetween the shelves -- but no cigar. But by sort of stabilising the horizontal motion I was defeating most of the purpose of the vertical isolation... and anyway, admittedly whatever I did, as you note, DID allow horizontal movement at some frequency(ies).
My cdp is cumbersome (large & heavy, a bit like yours ~50 pounds). Suspended and sitting on its Neuance, I expect it resonates at a relatively low frequency (but have never measured it). If this premise holds, I should try adding mass to it, as you've tried, to gauge differences.
I'll try this WE and get back to you.
Speaking of extremely strange and VERY audible effects, let me relate the following:
I used to have a very large and front heavy pre (~60pounds the front plate was heavy). Inside behind the front plate in the middle, were "main" caps; on either side of these were more caps, one board for each channel. The motorised volume and relay-coupled selector were linked (as usual) to the back, and the actual circuit was suspended at the back, the plate holding the usual inputs outputs, and the power chord from the outboard PS.
The effect: when I placed a cone in the front, in between the component's two feet, the sound became LOUDER (and slghtly different).
I notice the same thing when I use Audiopoints(which are a type of brass cone).
I noticed about 1.5db more headroom on my system when I went to these points.
We are not the only ones who have noticed this.
Since I am in the sales dept at Starsound, I regularly talk to customers who use Audiopoints, and they also report this phenomenon.
The systems play a little bit louder on the same volume setting when the points are in place.
My take on it is that efficiency in the component is increased(less losses), because the vibration problems are decreased.
In some of our early testing, our engineers installed Audiopoints under a customer's industrial refrigeration compressors in his cold storage warehouse, and did an electrical usage comparison. His electrical use was reduced in his cold storage warehouse when Audiopoints were used under his compressors for a month. There is something about this reduction of vibrational effects which helps the operating efficiency of the device in some cases, especially ones with high vibration like motors and transformers.
It is an interesting effect, and one that I personally was very happy about, since I only have a 2 watt amplifier, and the added 1.5db was very welcome in my system.
I wonder if Sean has a scientific reason that he has found from his tests. I have the same, maybe even greater from the Orchard bay titanium cones. The titanium is far (louder) more efficient than the O.B. brass cones.
With respect to the inner tube suspension described above, I tried that once upon a time with unimpressive results. I think that the main reason for this is that the inner tube is not likely to have a natural frequency much below 6 Hz, which means that by the second overtone there is likely to be a significant interaction with the component placed upon it. That is, the inner tube does not isolate the system from vibration, it merely provides a spring upon which the system is placed, so that it adds vibrational energy to the system, which of course makes matters worse. Using extensional damping eliminates most of the resonances associated with the shelf itself, but that does not isolate the system from its environment. People who are using MDF shelving could probably make a noticable improvement if they got some extensional damping polymer material -- it's not expensive -- and then made a sandwhich between, let's say, an MDF shelf and a maple shelf. That composite shelf should not ring, i.e., it should be reasonably inert accoustically. This will probably change the sound. The problem is, as everyone knows, that anything one changes in an audio system changes the sound. However, eliminating resonances contributed by a system's components from the playback chain brings one closer to the original master tape, which is as close as one can come to the musical event itself.
Using an "off the shelf" inner tube as a vibration control device does pose a number of limitations. The wall thickness of the rubber, how the valve and it's reinforcement ring are designed and a number of different parameters are all critical to the ability of the tube to perform successfully. In addition, mass MUST be placed atop the tube which will allow it to achieve a low resonance frequency. The choice of the specific type of mass is very important as is making sure inner tube is inflated with the minimum amount of air pressure required for the load weight and the physical configuration of the tube.
We have found that most "off the shelf" inner tubes to be fairly mediocre and some have been rather poor in performance.
Interesting, Lapaix. My *thinking* was along the same lines -- but hardly as articulate as yours! Thanks
On a different note, using weight on top of the cdp did change the resulting sound somewhat. The only word I can give is "bolder", a bit like increasing the VTF on a TT. Unlike the later, however, some upper level detail dropped further to the background... wether or not this effect reflect correct phasing (or whatever, stored in the cd) I don't know. I'm going to work on this further.
Reducing "ringing" in a system, whether it is electrically or mechanically based, can change what one hears from a system. Whether or not one likes this is up to their personal preferences. Sean
Indeed, Sean -- In my case, I don't know if I was reducing ringing (although it seems likely). My objective however is to come closer to the original -- that being what's stored on the medium -- hence my remark about "what's actually on the cd":) Cheers!