Shelf Material

I have tried so many different shelf materials, and some are better than others, but I feel like I am just spraying bullets that always miss the bulls-eye. So far, I cannot live with the brightness of glass, the ringing of marble or granite, the sluggishness of acrylic, the muddiness of mdf etc. Light and rigid seems better than heavy and dense - in that I can live with the downsides more easily. I use heavily constructed welded steel racks - spiked to the floor and upward spikes supporting the shelves - and I reckon this is right. I like the way bladder products get rid of the resonances that plague shelves, but find that the way they slow down the pace of the music is hard to accept. Does anyone have some answers on this?
Try and get two thin pieces (ie two pieces that combined make up the dimensions of one solid piece) of whatever material you select and bond them with a suitable adhesive/sealant (Dow Corning RTV or clear silicone), aligning the two pieces at 90 deg to each other. Use a spiral pattern of adhesive/sealant starting from the center, this way you will get an air/sealant cushion. Good luck! Richard.
I've tried just about everything too, I use solid 1" thick oak, seems to give me the best results so far. The Brightstar Audio stuff seems to sound better in my system than the Seismic sinks do. As always, your mileage may vary...Jeff
The same shelf and devices will not have the same sound on different components. There are a lot of variables such as stock feet, cones, pods , etc., as well as the shelf (or layers of shelves and isolators) and also included into the equation is the specific component that you are isolating. My layer for my CD player is 3/4" Persimmon (the cabinet itself), Vibrapods, 3/4" MDF, stock feet on CAL Icon II and it sounds great. The cabinet construction as well as it's location from the speakers must influence the sound as well. I have also used 1" thick marble in the equation and found it to be too bright though a friend preferred that sound, probably because the setup sounded more like his Marantz 67 Mk II player which was his reference and taste. I once added stick on floor tiles to the bottom of an extended "plastic" shelf with good results (to me) and the tiles were not visible unless you were laying on the floor. I think that it is all up to individual tailoring for each component, and when taking into consideration individual taste, that there is no answer. I can even imagine in some cases that added resonance may even improve the sound depending on what the sound is that one is looking for.
My thoughts are that you want a shelf to be dead rather than resonant, but that it released its energy very quickly. Dead means the least effect on tonality - ie. no resonant peaks. Releasing its energy quickly means no perceived slowing of the music. I suspect that engineering-wise, getting these two things at the same time is very difficult, if not impossible, hence the difficulty I am having getting something that sounds right. I concur with all of the above posts to some degree, but think the most fruitful approach may be to get a shelf that releases its energy quickly - ie. is light and rigid - and use some form of damping that does not add weight, and hence energy storage. This aligns with the suggestions from Dekay and Vantageaudio. So I will work on that avenue I think. Perhaps two layers of 6mm perspex bonded together - but perpexes rigidity:weight ratio is not great. Perhaps Corian is worth investigating. Any ideas? Of course Dekay is right that the exact answer each time is equipment dependent, but the general strategy ought to have some consistency in my mind. Thanks for the ideas so far.
If you can get two pieces of perspex made up similar to a double-glazed window unit with the air gap evacuated and replaced with an inert gas, this may give you the rigidity and damping/energy release properties you are looking for. If you use Corian then in our experience there is no need to "layer" this material, but use some other material to frame the Corian to vary the damping/energy release properties (you can experiment with large section rubber "o-ring" material set into grooves in the Corian) but this gets expensive! Richard,
Redkiwi, Try checking out products that meet exactly the rigid/low mass/fast dissipation isolation philosophies you are looking for at company) or respected competitor)as well as the RATA/Torlyte of Russ Andrews,UK(the man that wrote the book on low mass supports).Each has an unique manner in which resonant energies are controlled but all do so very effectively without destroying pace, rhythm and timing.Bladder devices have the disadvantage of poor location in space on a microscopic level and thus present new problems for turntables and digital reading mechanisms such as transports and cdp's. Cetech uses a carbon graphite/aluminum honeycomb composite for fast evacuation, while Torlyte is of low energy storage and internally damped.Neuance is a low mass decoupled monocoque of via constrained layer principles with a high ceramic content and internally damped.I firmly believe that any one of these products will satisfy your needs and tastes. Best, Ken Lyon GreaterRanges/Neuance
Wow, those last two posts sound on the right track to me - I will check them out. Many thanks to all that posted.
My comment that some resonance may improve the sound quality was based on the assumption that many products have been "voiced" when under the influence of a certain amount of resonance. To remove all or more realistically much/most of the resonance may in fact degrade the sound. This is hypothetical.
redwiki: you've already received some excellent advice, which i have no intention of undercutting or disparaging. in my younger days, i, as you, had a compulsion to create for myself bits of my audio system that seemed within my means, ability and understanding to produce. among these were shelves and racks for my equipment. as i've grown older and, unexpectantly, have less leisure time than i did in my younger days, i've relied less on my own abilities and more on those i judge as "experts" in whatever field is necessary to my ends at that juncture. hence, i've looked toward commercial developers of racks and the shelves that go with them. the company i've come to trust in for this aspect of my audio system is zoethecus. their shelves are top-notch and manifest the qualities your last 2 posters recommend. they are not, however, what i would call lightweight (actually, not figuretively). you can, tho, come close to replicating them. as with others, they comprise a "sandwich" of several materials. the idea is to use different "dead" materials of varying intrinsic resonances, all of very low hz., to cancel out the resonace of any single layer. i do not know the actual formulation used by zoethecus in their "z-slabs," but suspect that they include alternating layers of mdf-like pieces and absortive layers resembling sorbothane. these layers, topped off with a metallic uppermost platform that can withstand the weight of heavy "spiked" equipment, are wrapped with what i expect is a heat-activated edging that makes a tidy, handsome package. you can find these shelves alone on audiogon every so often. you might wish to buy one (or "borrow" a copy from your nz dealer) to investigate their properties. i've found nothing better for all equipment, from tt's to amps (my main amp weighs in at > 150#). in any event, i wish you good hunting. your posts are invariably among the most useful, interesting and polite among all of the "regulars" on audiogon. i hope someday to visit your island that, in my mind's eye, must be a heaven on earth. cheers.
Thanks for your kind words and advice Cornfedboy. The sad reality is that the only racks/shelves that reach these shores are of the basic variety, with the exceptions being Mana Acoustics and Townshend (and I own examples of each - most of which are in "the closet"). There are importers of cones from BDR and Polycrystal, but noone brings in the shelves. And noone brings in Zoethecus so far as I know. For example, I wanted two amp stands for my monoblocks and called around all of the better dealers in New Zealand - or at least that was what I intended, but truthfully I gave up after the first six because I was sick of explaining what an amp stand was... if you get the picture. In the end I did what every other audiofile does here - got them made. I would indeed prefer to just try and buy, but I am much less keen on importing one, only for it to end up in "the closet" - I am sure we all have one of those. Having come to this point with shelves (ie. needing to splash out and hope), I posted here hoping optimistically that there might be a concensus as to the best shelf material/product so that the chances of success could be improved. I think Albert Porter has done a lot of experimenting with vibration control, but his posts indicate he agrees pretty much with Dekay ie. that there is no universal answer. Perhaps I am being too optimistic. Anyway, I will investigate Zoethecus from here, and perhaps that is what I may end up trying. I hope you do get to New Zealand one day. I have known many Americans who have come here - some stay, some get homesick and go back. The ones that stay are adamant there is no place better. Personally I don't think it is a place to spend all one's life, but it is a wonderful place when you are a kid, when you have kids, and when you want to live a quieter life later on. In between, most of us Kiwis travel a lot and I have been forunate to visit your lucky country a number of times - picking up audio gear every time of course.
Hi Redkiwi. Found your opening remarks very interesting. I'm trying to struggle through with an old Rotel 855 while mulling new digital front end options, and am trying to reduce high frequency roughness now apparent in my new otherwise-highly-resolving system. I'm using an air bladder suspension under the CDP, and am not aware of any change in PRT, as you suggest is possible/probable. Before I try reusing my old cones, or sorbothane feet, etc., and struggle to hear changes, do any of you guys have suggestions for improving CDP isolation (esp HF grain) WITHOUT compromising rhythm?...and indeed is it true that non-rigid setups (like airbladders) risk timing anomolies? Thanks. Ernie
Only the Townshend are available in this part of the world, and they are not light compared with a light rigid shelf. I hear them as slowing things up. I am not familiar with the 855 so it is difficult to comment further on the problem you are experiencing. Currently, I use a very light and rigid chip-board shelf under my transport - the sort that is small chips of wood glued together and which includes a lot of air. It is much lighter and more rigid than particle board. It is clad with a very hard surface of compressed wood and so cones and spikes make no impression on it. I then use BDR #4 cones under the transport. In general I find that the right cone depends on the shelf being used, and that this combination works quite well. However, the reason for this post is that, although the result is fine, it is still a trade-off. It is definitely still more resonant than using a bladder product, but I prefer its more accurate pacing.
Hi Redkiwi. I just went through a similar situation in my own system. The sound that I found worked best for me was suggested by a turntable manufacturer. There is a food grade solid hard rock Maple butcher block shelf, that is factory fitted and glued. In the USA, McMaster Carr supplies this and is available in two and a half inch thick material. This comes in both 24" and 36" depth, and is available in a variety of lengths. I ordered mine in 6 foot, and had a local woodworker rip and sand this into the shelves for my system. I also had him laminate the front and top surfaces with gray Formica. The Formica seems to have no affect on the sound, it merely provided the finish I wanted. Please post your results, especially if you choose to try the suggestions provided by Caterham1700. I would like to know if it is worth considering starting over on my own project.
I have not heard it mentioned so far, and I have not tried yet, but maple butcher block is supposed to work great. I have tried the sandboxes, homemade and bought and the seismic sinks too, as well as a lot of diffrent footers. Hidiously expensive and heavy, though in terms of the improvment brought out a great deal is the Vibraplane. It is hands down the best isolation device I have ever used. It is sort of similar to the seismic sink exept that it has seperate chambers so that the air can move freely between the foot and the storage chanber, it also weighs 150lbs. The improvment it brings out is undeniably huge. You can order them factory direct from Sounds of Silence, Steve is a great guy to work with.
I'm currently using 1/2 thick glass slabs with either BDR cones or Vibrapods. I'm very satisfied with the combination, however, nothing is perfect and I don't believe any single material works in every situation. Consider this -- the best shelf material may be no material at all. Instead of placing components on a shelf, have the equipment suspended by small diameter cables. The energy storage capabilites of the suspending cables is practically zero, hence they should have negligible negative effect on the sound of the component. This method will work only if the suspended component has an extremely rigid case. A few years back a product like this was manufactured (can't remember by who), but I never had any first hand experience with it, but the concept does sound intriguing.
Interesting post Onhwy61. I have never thought of hanging/suspending components other than speakers (which I have done in the past with good results. I am in a postition to try this on my CD source and amplifier(s) that are in an enclosed piece of furniture with a cap or top that would support the cables. I would have to make holes in the top shelf to allow the support cables to run through to the bottom shelf, but other than proper alignment I do not see this as a problem. I am in the process of making templates for the top shelf (which with this feature would require two shelves - top and bottem) and may include this feature in the design. Guess that I would still use Vibrapods between the shelf and the gear. Has anyone "hung" their equipment, and is this a sound idea?
check out it may help!
I will look for some Maple butchers block Albert but I doubt I can get it here. I have seen such blocks made out of NZ native timbers, mainly in Rimu - how hard/soft is Maple? I have always heard good things about the Vibraplane, and the item at sounds like a similarly impressive product. Not only are they expensive, but the freight to NZ will add even more, and hence I need to take a biggish risk going down that path - but maybe a risk I will have to take. Suspending with string is novel (at least to me). That is something I can try very quickly and will have a go at it soon. I have also located some off-cuts of Corian, so will try those in the next week as well. Strangely I have never liked Vibrapods in any application, and similarly do not like the Sorbothane or Sorbogel stuff. A friend of mine says I am on the wrong track and insists that I have to damp the components directly first, and he may have a point. Are there any decent damping sheets available? I notice that the Sonic Frontiers stuff has damping pads inside, and I have found their gear to be relatively immune to the effects of cones, shelves etc.
Redkiwi: If you try hanging or suspending a component, please post your results. I just realized that in my setup I would have to include small line tighteners in order to level the platforms. Can't think of a better way.
I tried hanging equipment back in 95 with very good results.I even hung the cables.Wild looking to say the lest.But remember the celing moves more than the floor.I am working on a full multi-suspension system for CES,with the rack of stainless steel and the shelves of Corrian.Very George Jetsonish
Redkiwi, Hard Maple butcher block is commonly used in the food industry in the USA, but I don't know availability in your native NZ. Maple, although relatively light (compared to MDF or particle board), is dense, and when large solid lumber strips are glued together, the combined grain structures, glue bonds and naturally occurring differences in density in the various pieces, makes for a unique shelf material. You can visit McMaster Carr via the internet to look for yourself. Go to: WWW:MCMASTER.COM. The shelf material to look up to begin with is #4882T52. It is two and a quarter inches thick, thirty inched deep, and six feet long. The price is $271.10 (US) and will make multiple shelves for that price. I had three six foot pieces of this material shipped to me, half way across the USA for about $75.00. It is also possible that they have distributors that deliver in NZ. Their site says "worldwide," so who knows? Long distance air shipment is not always out of the question, I once had Flying Tigers ship a four hundred pound, 8 foot long item from Holland (Amsterdam) to DFW Airport (Dallas) for only about $135.00. Granted it took almost two weeks, as I bought the most economical (stand by) service, but it certainly made it affordable. Obviously, if this or a similar item is available nearby, this would be ideal. In any case, I wish you the best, and hope that some of the information I have provided will give you alternatives.
The Corian hasn't arrived yet so a report on that will have to wait, and it sounds like I should go directly for the Maple rather than try a native NZ wood - thanks Albert. BUT - I bought some 100lb strain guage nylon from the local sports shop today and suspended my source and preamp components (three of them, but each suspended separately) by merely tying the nylon to the steel frame of my rack - ie. I removed the shelf above the component and tied the nylon to the frame that had supported that shelf and then looped the nylon under the component below and tied it to the other side. I used two pieces of nylon for each component, going side to side, and used a trusted fishing knot each end, rigged up a twist arrangement to deal with fine levelling and sat back to listen. I have only listened to two CDs so far, but I am excited. Resolution is better, soundstaging is remarkable, bass is more extended and more punchy, and the sound is slightly more forward, but with oodles of depth. The sound is definitely more natural - applause sounding much more like hands clapping than rice crispies. There is none of the swimminess that the bladder products have, and there is no part of the spectrum that has any apparent resonance or suck-out effect (all shelves seem to suffer the former and bladder products suffer the latter). Before I get carried away however, while listening I could objectively say it was better than before, but I had a slightly nagging doubt whether it was in fact more musical than before. I will have to get more acquainted with the sound, because the source of that feeling may reveal itself given more time - on the other hand it may have been because I had to turn the equipment off and on, and it needs to settle again. While it was quick and cheap to do, it was very fiddly and if I decide to follow this up further I will need to come to a better arrangement - perhaps involving shelves (that Corian and/or Maple may be useful after all) - taking components in and out of the rack at present would be quite painful and probably require three or four hands. I will report on this again when I have listened some more, and played around with some variations on the theme. Dekay and Sound_decisions, thanks for the idea and recommendations - the results are very intriguing at this point.
OOPS - it was Onhwy61 that suggested the suspension idea - thanks Highway Man!
I have a demo Neuance Alpha sized 18-1/2" x 14-1/2"(fits Mana Mini/Reference Table) that I would be happy to let you have for the cost of shipping.Let me know if this is something you'd like to investigate. Best, Ken GreaterRanges/Neuance
I've tried Corian, Redkiwi. And I didn't like it. It ruined dynamics, sounded slow and muddy. The maple butcher blocks that Albert describe work MUCH better. You may want to call the local restaurant supply businesses close to you and compare prices. I got mine for a little less than the McMaster Carr price. Good luck!
Redkiwi: Thanks for the update. I just screwed up my left shoulder and am going to have to wait on the project, but here are a few ideas that I have had. Using small maybe 1/64th piano wire with line tightners for the cables (they should not stretch like braided wire or plastic line)and should pretty much remain level after the frame settles in. If I can squeeze the extra height in my cabinet I would also like to try double shelves that layer as follows (MDF/Vibrapods/MDF/component with stock feet resting on top) and a sheet of aluminum on the bottom side of the bottom layer to help shield my amps from the power supply in my CD player wich will rest directly below the amps. I figure that if it doesn't work I can always reinstall the same shelves by placing lips on the inside sides of the cabinet and resting the shelves on them. Then just play with isolation teqniques between the shelf and the lip. In the meantime I am going to have to rest my amps in "cat territory" on the outside top of my cabinet.
I love it. You guys are all freaks. I should know, we can smell our own. I am following the thread closely, as I will be re-positioning my stuff soon enough. Something you may want to try is Lexan, which is similar to plexiglass. A thick piece of plexiglass is much lighter than glass, and shouldnt ring. Good luck!!!!
Caterham1700 - thanks for your generosity, if you will allow me to be a little generous in return. I will send you an email directly. Recres - I have heard similar comments about Corian, but am curious to try because I think it will ping less than perspex. On the other hand "slow" is what I fear most about it as a material, being so dense and heavy. Did you use up-turned spikes underneath the Corian? Great to hear confirmation of the butchers block idea, and given Albert's recommendation I have tried to source some locally. However, I have found that no one brings it in and that our native South Island Beach is used universally in this country. If I can get some I will try it - but I think I will now have to begin investigating bringing some Maple in from the US. Dekay, I definitely recommend you use up-turned spikes between lips and shelf for your plan B, over any compliant material. But so far plan A (ie. suspension) sounds better still. Apart from issues of stretching, is there any reason to believe that a taut wire like the piano wire you mention will sound better than a wire that has a little give, such as the nylon I have used? Oh yeah, Gthirteen, this really defines the freaks among us, but whether it is my room or my hearing, this area of vibration appears to me to be as utterly critical as room treatment, yet unlike room treatment in that there does not seem to be any conventional wisdom on the best strategy. As I indicated when starting this thread, this is the one area of this hobby where I feel I am still way off achieving decent results (let alone understanding). I did try plexiglass and found it to be better than glass but not as good as perspex, but I might try a thicker piece and see what happens.
Redkiwi: I do not know what sonic difference the solid core piano wire will offer. I suspect that any braided or elastic cable whether metal or nylon will stretch from the weight of the gear/platforms and that the amount of stretch will not be uniform per cable. This stretching would necessitate constant leveling of the platform on which the CD player rests. I was just trying to be "practical" with the suggestion. ROFL. And yes, spikes sound like a good way to go with plan B. The aluminum sheeting on the bottom of the shelves should hold up to them.
Redkiwi: I should warn you that I designed and built all of the curtain rod/window treatment accessories for our apartment and ended up using blue rubber "dog balls" for the finials in the dining room. I do have a tendancy to cut corners.
What about the polycrystal and black diamond products in the audio market? Are these worthwhile?
While I won't pretend to have an ability to attribute sonic characteristics to any of the proposed construction techniques; I will make the following comment. Anything that increases the mass that does not have a corresponding increase in stiffness (high Young’s modulus) will result in an increase in the amplitude of deflection. In simpler terms, as stiff as possible, without unnecessary mass. Kevin Halverson
High Young's modulus and low mass.... hmmm...doesn't that describe sitka spruce, universally used for piano soundboards?...and guitars, etc.? Whereas I'm tending to agree with these requirements, the additional critical requirement is that this wonder-shelf also drain or absorb energy (as heat), rather than reradiate it like a musical instrument, no? Caterham's analysis and resultant highly-evolved product seems attractive. I just spoke with a friend (Ken Parker) who is a custom luthier, and currently produces carbon-fiber covered wooden-body guitars as well. His whole life is currently wrapped up in making 3 lb ultra-stiff $3000 musical instruments that "sing" loudly even before making use of their piezo pickups. I mentioned to him all these suspension/isolation/damping options, and his initial thoughts are to try clamping the hell out a CDP by mass-loading the top and then thin-skin binding it (sorbothane sheet or 1/8" gum rubber you can buy cheap) to a 3" granite base that you can buy from machine shops (who use them as precision flat surfaces, discarding them after they get nicked or chipped).......... Yet again that old bumper sticker "Think Globally, Act Locally" comes to mind: what about damping/tuning the interior and suspension parts of CDPs and transports...y'know, getting right into the heart of it? A guy in CT (Virtual Mode) uses a Rotel 855 he damps internally as his reference CDP for the design oh his well-respected passive attenuators! most CDP problems are mechanical, not DAC related. I'm tempted to send him my 855 for tweaking before replacing it with a Bel Canto DAC/DVD setup, etc. Yet Caterham speaks of not upsetting the original voicing of a product by such internal damping in lieu of vetting its vibrations through his shelf, which, with additional hard cones, further isolates the component from externally-generated vibratory spuriae, as well. Christ, I don't really know where to start here...still using that 5 buck wheel barrow inner tube from Home Depot! Redkiwi--the deal with maple butcherblock is that the individual strips of wood are glued together in opposing-grain arrays to provide mechanical integrity--no warping, and controlled expansion/contraction. I suppose it won't ring like spruce, of course, but don't see why it would be better than cheap MDF in this regard. It's VERY hard, and will require carbide tools to cut, dulling them readily because of the glue in the joints, as well. It's beautiful and lasts forever, though, so you'll get furniture-grade shelves as a bonus...... Anyone familiar with Virtual Mode's $200 CDP mods? Thanks for these thoughtful and educational posts, guys. Ernie
As for Subaruguru's comment about the sitka spruce, if it does have a high Young's modulus, then it would be an excellent "shelf material". My original comment applied only to the selection of the shelf, as the title of this thread states. Once a shelf has been chosen, then a suspension system can be applied to decouple the component / shelf from the structure which it resides upon. The goal of the shelf should be to rigidly couple the energy from / to the equipment into the suspension system. The lower the mass (for the combination of the shelf and product), the lower the amplitude (and higher the frequency of the resonant system) assuming that the compliance remains constant. Another concept to consider is the "Q" of the suspension and the use of any damping (lossy) properties. A good field of study would be to take a look at what turntable manufacturers are doing. They have had to deal with suspension / decoupling systems and have a wealth of practical experience. Kevin Halverson
It seems to me that MDF would make a very good shelf material - low mass and high rigitidy. I use 3/4" instead of 1/2" with good results as a standard (non-suspended) platform. It also has no grain. Am I thinking correctly? I have a 5' x 2 1/2' x 2 1/2" maple glue-lam butcher block that I salvaged from a restaurant but would rather go with MDF based on the info in these posts.
What about carbon or carbon fiber?
I certainly don't like MDF in practise - a very muddy sound. I don't have the ability to try such things as the BDR or Polycrystal shelves before buying (since noone stocks them here), and hence this post. But I quite like the BDR cones and so bought some of the BDR pucks - and they sounded awful. If they represent the BDR shelf then no thanks. I have actually got a lot of good ideas from the above posts and am in the process of trying or acquiring some of the less expensive suggestions. I am happy to splash out on the expensive stuff, but would prefer to see a concensus of more than one before doing so. It looks like the Butchers block qualifies. I wonder if Kevin has a point. Caterham and I tend to concur that you want light and rigid, release the energy quickly but damp the main resonances. But Kevin is suggesting the light and rigid shelf, and then deal with the resonances with some form of compliance between shelf and component. This may very well be right, but I tended to think of the rack as doing the light and rigid task and that you would begin to damp the resonance with the shelf. I don't like two forms of compliance in a system and so I have tried to get "dead" sounding shelves and use cones. My theory may be right, but the practise is possibly too dificult to achieve - we will see. Kevin may have a more practical solution. Am I missing something Kevin?
Regarding the use of MDF for shelf material, experiment with two MDF pieces cut to suitable shelf/support size, try one "plain" and get the other one either hand lacquered or two-part spray lacquered in a piano black finish or similar. Use some type of "footer" above and below the MDF whilst you experiment. You may change your mind about using MDF. If you can try this and find that something is happening that you like with just this single "shelf" then let me know and I will let you have some drawings for a very cost effective support platform (we make our own similar, platforms but once shipping overseas gets involved they do not become cost effective - bit like shipping large loudspeakers all the way around the world, you end up paying to ship "air"). Hope this helps..?? Richard,
Redkiwi; I love this kind of gritty obsseviness-- makes me feel right at home. But my therapist thinks.......! What kind of shelves/rack do you actually use in your present system? Also what kind of floor do you have, and anything else relavant to the vibration control problem? A couple of years ago I decided to go with "mass" and made a 200+ lb. stereo stand-- concrete in the corner posts, well braced, MDF shelves,spiked to floor, etc-- works good, but can probably be critisized in some areas. Concrete in the corner posts was not the "absolute best" choice, but decisions had to be made if I was going to have music within a reasonable period of time (BTW, Sound Anchors Speaker Stands uses concrete in their stands, which are used by Vandersteen). Many other materials and design decisions had to be made if I was ever going to finish my project. So, I'm really curious as to what you've actually been using. Cheers. Craig.
I just finished a very informative telecon with a manufacturer that feels that hard maple is one of the best platform materials. I will not speak for him in detail and would just like to note his reccomendation in this thread. He sounded very busy with many calls but hopefully he will have the time to visit this site and elaborate. Suspended platforms for home use also got a thumbs up. I will be putting in a MDF shelf poised on spikes for now as my new amp arrives this Friday and our houseguest ,my stepdaughter, the following week. I am really just throwing this together for her benefit (and to show off a little). Otherwise it could have waited at least another week or so. LOL.
Dekay, Since your mdf shelf on spikes is a temporary setup, would you do a little experiment and report back here your findings? Just use your mdf shelf as planned for a while till you get a pretty firm handle on it's qualities.Then cut the 5"-6 "(larger if your mdf is in excess of 3/4" thick) hole as I recommended in the related CDP isolation thread to remove mass.Thanks. Best, Ken
Caterham: Thanks for reminding me, I knew that there was something that I had forgot. I use 3/4" MDF which should still be tuff enough with a 5" hole. The hole is to be random and not on center, is this correct? I have been told that the shielding that I was going to add with an aluminum sheet will deteriorate the sound (resonance wise) more than the shielding will improve it, so a hole is now not a problem. If I still loose sleep over nastiness from my source's power supply bothering my amps it will be easier to place a shield inside the CD player. I own it and it's out of warranty. We are tidying up with a back hoe at this point and I have located my scroll saw and power drill as well as a bubble level. My finishing saw is still under the surface somewhere. The lumber yard cuts to order even on scraps, so this is not a problem and is the easy way to go. I have to pick up my additional Kimber Kable this week (I decided to stick with the 4VS until I can shorten the runs) and the shop should have a supply of spikes to choose from. I would like to try brass if they have them. I am also going to try the "best" cones from the Mapleshade website ($110.00) under the CD player as well. I had less than good results with another cone manufacturer and have been close minded on the subject, now it's time to get over it and try something else other than the Vibrapods. If I have time I will make notes on the various isolators as well as the mass reducing hole.
Dekay, I tried using a very thin steel wire, coated in nylon, with a breaking strain of 90 lbs. I did this roughly first - as per my nylon experiment, and then used it to suspend a shelf properly. The results were fine except for the Transport, which needed a soft footer between it and the shelf or it sounded hideous - and I mean unlistenable. Finally I have found a use for the Vibrapods! I will have to experiment further, but I can tell you there really was a very significant difference between the nylon and the nylon coated steel. There is certainly an advantage in that the steel wire did not stretch at all, so I will try and make it work if I can. Garfield - I have found in the past that a welded steel rack is very important, and so employ one in both my systems. I find thick guage steel like 3mm is better than the flimsy store-bought racks. I also find that if you have a concrete floor (as in my beach house) then filling the stand with sand and lead shot (or something else) is a good thing, but if you have a floppy floor (as I have at home) then leaving the stand empty is preferable. So I have followed both of these in the present. It is in the area of shelves and footers that I don't feel I am getting it right. The best shelf I have come across is a low density board with a very hard veneer. It is very light and rigid and is fast and detailed, but sounds a bit crisp and crunchy - and it is not unlike how I remember the Torlyte shelf I owned many years ago. If using this board, I prefer using cones rather than soft footers, else the sound gets muddy. The other strategy I use is to put bladder products on the same board. This gets rid of the crisp and crunchy sound, but has a suck-out that tends to fall in the bass region somewhere, depending on the mass of the component and the bladder product used. Either way the suck-out tends to take away some of the propulsion that bass instruments provide to non-classical music, and therefore the rhythm suffers. There is also a slight impact on pace - probably due to the mass of the bladder products. Currently I use combinations of the board I refer to, Townshend Seismic Sinks and cones from Walker and BDR. I own soft footers but do not use any of them. Vantage audio, I have tried all kinds of ideas with MDF, including using a thick and hard lacquer, without success. One possibility is that our locally made MDF is just not the same as you use in the US. I once had a pommie rack and its MDF shelves were harder and denser than what is made in NZ. The Corian has finally arrived and I slipped a piece under each of my monoblocks - and I kind of liked it. It will take me a little longer to figure out what it does with the line level components given the gantry it is now all suspended from, but will report back soon. I have a feeling it will work better at the beach house sitting on a damped heavy rack, because this Corian stuff is very heavy indeed and has a ping a bit like marble and is more 'live' than perspex. Garfield - maybe it is the floppy floor at home that has caused me to suffer extreme structure borne vibration, and hence an obsession to deal with it.
Redkiwi, You mention that you once had a TATA Torlyte(assuming Russ's original design).Could you elaborate in more detail what you remember of it's sonic character for my own information?It might give me a better handle on the specific "sound" you are after.I have a small range of voicing capabilities with Neaunce that might possibly be applied. Best, Ken
lol.damn keys keep movin' late at nite. (RATA & Neuance) Ken
It is a long time ago that I used the Torlyte shelf Ken and it was under a Linn Turntable, which was just an ideal match. By memory the Torlyte was great with light components - say under 15 lbs, but sagged with anything heavier. Also spikes pierced its surface. It sounded fast and agile, if a little light in the bass. There was a slight thunk to the middle of the midrange and a slight crispness to the top end. Not nearly as bad as the crispy crunchy stuff of my current board. That Torlyte board I had would have trouble with my heavy Theta gear. I have been listening to the Corian and hear none of the dynamics or other problems that Recres reports above - this may be due to either the racks being different or the footers used. The Corian is not perfect - there is a slight recession of the mid-range, a slight flattening of images and a bit of grain. But it has wonderful bass and hardly any smearing of highs. Selection of the right footer or damping of the Corian may give decent results. But right now I would say tantalisingly close, but without some improvement in harmonics in the midrange, it would be hard for me to live with. A bit like marble or perspex, it has something going on in the mids that lets it down, but it is definitely better than either marble or perspex.
Playing around with the Corian yielded some good results. I have the Corian shelves sitting on up-pointed spikes, and don't have any plans to try any alternative means of support. But sitting the components directly on the Corian is not great, as previously indicated. Using BDR cones is better, but still not liveable. But using soft footers like Vibrapods gives very good results - something I have not experienced before - I almost wish I hadn't given away so many of the things in the past. Interestingly the Vibrapods were much better than using bladder products under the transport, but the bladder products were a bit better (very close call - perhaps it will change after a recount) under the other equipment. Currently the sound is pretty damn good, but with some small vestiges of whitening and grain in the midrange. The huge bonus is a very powerful, fast and articulate bass, regardless of which footer is used. This may be what I live with for a while until I get to try a Neuance shelf from Ken (Caterham1700 - is that the racing car engine Ken? I used to race Lotus Europas and a S2 Seven, some of which had Caterham engines.), and get a good freight deal on bringing some Maple butchers block into the country. I have also begun to design what I am deducing is an ideal rack for putting the "stereo on a string" concept into practise properly, but I expect that to take some weeks before I will have a result to report on. One of the advantages of living in NZ is the low cost of getting stuff like this made up.
Redkiwi, Caterham Motors ,the factory authorized service arm for Lotus Components that supplied your motors purchased the manufacturing rights and tooling of the Lotus Seven after Colin Chapman bored of it.They produce to this day a highly refined but direct descendant to the Series III Super Seven. The lightweight 250hp Jonathan Palmer Evolution(JPE) is capable of 0-6omph times of 3.5sec,0-1oomph in 8.3sec,0-100 to 0 in 12.5sec and roadholding of 1.1 lateral G without benefit of ground effects.Way cool.Still saving my pennies for the more streetable Caterham Seven SuperSprint 1700(135hp). I still do some autocrossing(gymkhana) with a B-Stock Mazda Miata MX-5R when time allows and formerly road raced a Crossle Formula Ford, Lotus Cortina and karts. I actually was pretty good at it but gave it up after an incident at Sears Point Raceway,CA. in the 80's when I managed to cut my F-Ford in half with an aerial summersault atop a long stretch of steel barrier at a pretty good rate of speed. :^) Best, Ken
Caterham: I finished the MDF shelving yesterday and had two shelves cut. One with an off center hole and one solid. I could not hear a difference between the two though neither sounded very good with my Musical Fidelity amp resting on them with its stock "integral" feet. I am not very articulate at describing sound so I will just say that I lost HF shimmer and a little LF definition as well. The amp was previously resting on the Persimmon wood of the cabinet and this combo sounded much better. I tried mystery adjustable speaker spikes (free from a friend) between the lips and the shelving which also made very little difference. I suspect that the problem is that the 3/4" shelf is 24" in width and I will try 1" thick high density board next. My lumber yard did not charge me for the MDF or the cuts which means that I am probably due for a shave and haircut. I will keep my ten year old T-shirt and shorts though. The CD player is still resting on its original layering system below so it is just the amp shelf that muddled up the sound. I may try terra cotta and other ceramic tiles under the amp(s) (my second one arrives this morning) as I have never used these materials and they are dirt/clay cheap. I was also able to free up 2" of space below the source to try the Mapleshade cones which I will order today. Since I will be burning in a new amp and cable I will not be able to experiment for a while as there are too many variables to account for. If tiles or other thin layers do not work with the MDF the amps will be going back into kitty territory for the time being until I try a 1" shelf of MDF or another material. I only have a 12" height to work with in the cabinet which severely limits my options. I will save the good materials (2 1/2" maple and marble) for a freestanding rack that I will build when I am more active. The freestanding rack will allow me to have normal cable runs and better speaker placement but will have to wait until the spring/summer at the earliest. I can barely move after putting together this simple shelf and my wife is not very supportive of any more construction projects for the time being. I will be certain to copy this thread for future use and will add comments in regard to the Mapleshade cones, etc., when the accessories arrive and settle into the system. I wish that I had a way to "beam" my maple slab to Redkiwi, it must weigh at least 100 pounds.