Speaker Spikes - do the shake test

Everyone by now knows that speaker spikes improve the sound. The theory is that the tweeter excursion is so short, that any speaker cabinet front to back movement creates Doppler / intermodulation distortion. That movement can exceeed, by many times, the excursion of the tweeter. So, the effect is most pronounced up top and then towards the bottom most frequencies. Or so they say.

I have some C4 series II speakers that come with four “spikes” in the plinths. But, the people in Denmark seem to think we all have hardwood floors. The so-called spikes are dull “lugs" that really are meant to sit into four small aluminum floor bot dots, for any better term for them. Many have speakers on carpet, and the so-called spikes sitting on those four round aluminum discs still are pretty wobbly on carpet.

Last week, I pulled all eight of the spikes (not nearly sharp enough, with a 30 degree rounded tip, to be called a spike) and had the guys in the machine shop at work lath them to 60-degree POINTS!

OK, re-installed and speakers leveled (four point level is a pain). WOW, now they are stable as a rock when you push and tug on them. What was NOT expected, was that the BASS response is significantly better. Not that bass is easy to do, but the contribution to the C4’s bass that spikes that are now planted into the concrete floor and under the carpet is amazing. The bass can now place a black dot on a white background as needed. Everything isn’t a shade of gray in the bass. I always felt that the C4’s weakness was bass definition, but the weakness is that Dynaudio doesn’t supply two sets of spikes, those for hard surfaces and those for carpet. That’s too bad, as the supplied spikes don’t cut it on carpet. My spikes are now good enough to pierce down below the carpet and rest on the concrete. But, real spikes should be like half-inch ten-penny nails that don’t chew-up the carper as much as my 60-degree spikes. But, I can’t find this spikes for the C4’s.

If you are like me and haven’t given your speakers the shake test, go do it! If they wobble around any at all see what you can do to fix it. The rewards are well worth as close to free upgrade as I’ve ever done. Don’t think for a second that it seems, “good enough”. If they move around, it isn’t.
I think spikes have more to do with bass energy in the cabinet than movement. Take a look at Vandersteen model 2 speakers while playing music with a lot of bass energy. Even with the speaker sitting on stands with spikes the top of the speaker has an enormous amount of movement. There used to be a product on the market called Microscan. It was a resonance control device that attached to the back of the speaker cabinet. The perceived improvement was better upper frequencies, however, this was due to draining resonance from the cabinet and removing unwanted lower frequencies.
Spikes have different affects in different situations depending on the speaker, system and the type of floor. If Dynaudio only supplies one type of spike for their speakers they have apparently voiced their speaker that way.
Starting with the CD3 MKII Audio Research has built in isolation so their CD player sounds the same regardless of what the CD player is sitting on. I guess this is their way of controlling the sound since the sound of a component can change dramatically depending on what it is sitting on. Maybe this is what Dynaudio is attempting to do also.
...If Dynaudio only supplies one type of spike for their speakers they have apparently voiced their speaker that way...

No way that's true as big a difference as it makes in the sound based on the coupling to the floor. That, and you won't like what you hear when the speakers are perched-up on carpet verses firmly in place on a solid floor material.

C4 cabinets have next to ZERO resonance even when played hard, so it's the WHOLE unit being moved by the woofers in my case.

I do agree that different methods will diminish either cabinet resonances or the entire speaker moving about. What ever keeps things still is going to be best.
The best spikes -

None at all.

IMO, of course. :)
"C4 cabinets have next to ZERO resonance even when played hard, so it's the WHOLE unit being moved by the woofers in my case."

Then explain why the spikes make a difference at any volume level.
Rower30 Aren't your C4's fairly new. Not sure if the dealer mentioned it but check the screws holding the drivers (not tweeters) and make sure they are snug. They do seem to get a little loose after a while. That reminds me I'll need to check mine again.
Rrog you are so right. Snell supplied weak, wobbly spikes that were prone to bending with their models. You had to crank a lock nut against the bottom of the cabinet and they would still wiggle. Replacing them with outriggers made a huge improvement.

I just experienced a similar jump in performance after spending a few days placing my new (to me) Von Schweikerts. When I put proper spikes in them the bass blew me away. Never mind the soundstage. :)
On the other hand Dunlavy speakers did not come with spikes at all. However, my SCIVs had no problem with imaging or bass. My CLS only had spikes in the front, no spikes on Maggies, but Vandersteen 2 and 3s are sensitive to spikes and the type of stand that is used. This list could go on and on, but what it comes down to is speaker design.
How heavy are those Dunlavys? I suspect that heavier speakers benefit less from spikes. Or, to be more specific, I think weight vs. driver size is likely key.
180 pounds each with dual 12" woofers.
Correction; Dual 10" woofers.
...Then explain why the spikes make a difference at any volume level...

Don't need to. It's the same answer as when they are louder. Different people will hear the degradation of sound depending on their ears pleasure center based on driver movement. There is no "magic" to reducing cabinet movement (spikes do not address vibration so much).
"Don't need to. It's the same answer as when they are louder."

I couldn't disagree with you more. Spikes will make a difference at any volume, however, it will require high volume and significant bass energy to move the speakers.
Cabinet resonances are logarithmic with volume. To say they make a difference down low is pointing out the diminishing effect of the cabinet. No one is challenging your superb hearing, but most will hear the difference only when their is enough energy to actually move the cabinet and it doesn't move for free.

The problem with audio, is everyone's challenged to claim they hear everything. So disagree some more as it makes no difference when you do the math. Cabinets are much more inert at low volumes so they contribute little to the sound. Not so at higher SPL's.

But if you're a human phase response / SPL meter...hey, hear away at 30 dB SPL. No one's challenging that.
Everyone but me apparently. The "decoupling" movement (sorbothane or whatever energy absorbtion/dissipation feet instead of spikes under speakers) is utterly in opposition to the spikers. As a former spiker (for MANY years), I found sort of by accident that (on wood floors anyway) vibrapods under my speakers made 'em sound better than the spikes, and don't poke holes in anything. And then...I convinced a friend to put sorbothane pods under his speakers (large Thiels) then stick them on a block of wood on his carpeted floor. Same thing. Sounded amazingly better. I say unspike that thing! Go soft!
Just remember you are poking holes in your floor under the carpet. Years ago when I lifted the carpet I found about 50 tiny holes (Each side) in the nice hardwood floors.

What I do now is purchased those concrete patio blocks 8"x18" for $2 each (2x for each speaker) and place them on the floor then the spiked speaker to the blocks.

I noticed a big improvement. I have full range speakers and when I turned it up before the floor would vibrate, with these blocks that doesnt happen creating a more solid foundation.
Your reviews have lost all credibility.
Am I really the only "rubber-head" anti spiker out here?
There are many things that will work, but everything is relative. For a more natural sound with high end extension and low end dynamics check out the NASA grade ceramic DH Cones from Golden Sound. The next hardest material to diamond. You can keep all the carbon fiber, brass, steel, Sorbothane, etc.
I'm coming to your rescue. I have to concur with you findings. I've tried multiple, and I mean multiple support systems under my Avantgarde speakers, includ. cones, Stillpoints, NVS, Herbies sliders, etc.
All of them do change the sound, and not always to the better.
Just to save time and space here; the worst are the OEM cones on brass discs (to protect hardwood floor)- soundstage collapsed, sound became stringent and brightish.
Surprisingly, I like Herbies Titanium Spike Decoupling Gliders ($22.49 each). Very natural and kind of effortless sound. Are they perfect? I think not, the bass could benefit from more articulation still.
My next step is Symposium Super Plus platforms- they essentially operate on a similar principle, as Herbies- designed to dissipate internal cabinet's vibrations. Reportedly, they should be much more effective at that task.
Will it translate into a better sound?- remains to be seen.
I will report on how they "sound" later.
I must again inquire why one places a generic performance value on spikes when there are so many different types and shapes of conical structures manufactured from as many diverse materials available for purchase in this marketplace.

How does one determine the opinion where spikes never work? In defense of spikes we have found that the choice in material coupled by the geometrical shape of the cone is extremely important to performance. Spikes should not be placed into a single category of understanding. I have never found the two-dollar spike that provides the same level of accomplishment as a fifty-dollar spike.

Most speaker manufacturers provide very inexpensive steel spikes with their products to raise the speaker off the floor in order to avoid an acoustic coupling of the speaker enclosure with the flooring mass. Compact monitors arrive with either nothing at all or everything from hardened rubber dots, soft squishy discs or whatever materials fit into the final retail price for the speaker system. Wishing to avoid arguments over costing issues we have yet to find any low cost device such as steel spikes, tacky stuff purchased at a hardware store and such that affords a robust increase in musical performance.

The recording business is built on providing the best sound quality for our clients so we elected to test various coupling and de-coupling devices in order to make a more informed decision and investment into the overall sonic of the facility.

In order to challenge the ‘myths’ of spike functionalities, testing in the studio was instrumented using real time analyzers (RTA) and sound pressure level metering (SPL) employing two stationary microphone positions. We implemented a pair of compact monitors employing steel stands (filled) and two floor born speaker systems. The electronics testing package provided much the same outcome as our ears in presenting the clear cut winners.

We chose brass as the material of choice and these smallest sized products were not cheap by any means but the end result was very audible enhancing the overall musical presentation from top to bottom.

In our humble opinion, spikes should not be placed into such a vast category nor judged upon in the same fashion. There is a proven success history of companies selling thousands of ‘spikes’ and in business for many years proving there is a viable positive result from the mechanical grounding of speaker systems and electronics.

It has become obvious to us through this testing procedure that a few companies know how to attain great sound from direct coupling methods.

We have also found that these products do cost more than most so search out the brand names with long time reputations for success and spend some of that hard earned money as we did. The proven winners all have financial return guarantees and it will not take much time before you know which ones provide the benefits! After all, this is High-End Audio – yes?

Disclaimer: My father works with a commercial company that employs various forms of vibration management so I am biased, have had greater access to knowledge from experience and have applied various techniques, multiple grounding principles and years of working in recording studio settings.
I will keep my sorbothane...right where it is! Golden Sound claims that hardness minimizes vibration in advanced military rockets, and "DH Cones reduce the listening fatigue created by vibration. You can play your music louder and longer. DH Cones creates an initial sonic excitement that does not fade away. You will love DH Cones for a long, long time."...and there's this: "Add extra balls to your Gingko 'Cloud' isolation gear. Gingko Audio Standard Rubber Balls are available in green or blue and fit the critically acclaimed 'Cloud' isolation platforms as well as Gingko's Platforma-series equipment racks and stands." So...exciting military rockets that don't fade away or more balls? Who knows?
I've worked in recording studios since 1967...I'm a professional musician, and I've had access to the speakers currently in my living room and they sound better with vibrapods. I am biased by the ears on my head (in my head?).
I love it when manufacturers claim they are using material developed by NASA. I bet the people at NASA are laughing their asses off.
I love it when manufacturers claim they are using material developed by NASA. I bet the people at NASA are laughing their asses off.
Or maybe they're saying, "Hey, I developed that!"
I do remember a family with conical structures for heads...they were from France.

Can you provide a detailed explanation of your test methods and results?
Although I wasn't asked, I don't need test results or a detailed explanation of Coneheads, they said they're from France and that's enough for me. By the way...recording studios have little to do with Audiophilia in the sense most hifi heads would recognize...spitty and boomy JBLs then Yamaha NS10 monitors that sound ridiculous became reference nearfield monitors, gigantic horn loaded monster speakers hanging from the ceiling, clueless engineers...it's amazing anything listenable comes out of studios...just fix it on the computer or in mastering.
"or maybe they're saying, "hey, i developed that!"

You are giving these con artists far too much credit.
Ranking of materials used for cones or feet, listed in descending order. No offense ito any manufacturers or audiophiles intended.

NASA grade ceramics


Roller bearing assemblies (isolation devices)

Happy Balls (aka "Super Balls")

Brass, large, Michael Green


Brass, other

Carbon fiber


Shouldn't you state that you're a manufacturer in all of your posts?
I will add my 2 cents as an engineer with experience in dealing with vibration from machinery. Elastomers are used to absorb/isolate/dissipate vibration and certainly help with components like CD players. Spikes made from metal or exotic hard materials do nothing but transmit vibration and couple the speaker to the floor. This will alter the resonant frequency of the vibrating speaker panel which will affect the sound for the better or worse. A dense, heavy, well designed cabinet may have no need for spikes, in that case you may very well prefer vibration isolators under the speakers like Wolf Garcia does.
In my professional opinion, ranking materials for feet has no scientific basis because you are not taking into account the actual cabinet the feet are attached to. It would only make sense if we all had identical speakers!
Wolf, I must ask:

While working for years as a professional musician one wonders why you have such a negative opinion for the equipment and people who assist in manufacturing your paycheck. Are you still working because in my opinion the professional sound industry has definitely evolved since the 70’s?

Unfortunately I disagree with you on many fronts from resonance research and development in professional audio equipment, recording people who participate as hobbyists in consumer high-end audio (they do exist), and those clueless engineers? I thought the cluelessness title was still held by producers.

Most “hi-fi heads” I know recognize the difference in recorded materials and sound. They can learn much for the pros, especially sitting in a great sounding room without “spitty & boomy” loudspeakers.

Resonance affects sound quality from the mixing desk, recording mechanism, processors, microphones and stands, guitar amplifiers on down to the musical instrument. Resonance also affects CD transports and DAC’s, pre and power amps, carts mounted on turntables and loudspeakers therefore forming a common bond to the negatives caused from vibrations in audio equipment.

Hello Ketchup,

We sold all rights and data from our tests to a manufacturer. There appears to be a tremendous gap in the consumer audio industry for ‘affordable’ third party research.

It was once pointed out to us that high-end audio is filled with graphs and charts almost always originating from the company selling you their products. Anyone can make a beautiful graphic representation showing off their own prowess which proves nothing other than a printed means to increasing their sales pitch. Third party research is incredibly expensive unless you find a way to make it affordable. In this case we got lucky and turned our time and documentation into a small profit.

By the way, nice racking approach in your system.
France. They're from France. Also, I point out the lack of an audiophile propensity among many pro producers and engineers because it's interesting that in spite of that fact great stuff gets done. I've worked with people with great ears for recording and astonishingly sophisticated technical skill who think much of audio geekdom is madness. MADNESS...
Wolf Man, one can't help wondering if the recording engineers you've worked with, the ones with "great ears and astonishingly sophisticated technical skills," are the same ones responsible for compressing the sound on many modern CDs.
I prefer to work on both professional and consumer sides of the audio fence. Madness limits ones abilities for discovery.

Every industry has its share of madness but it is the people who avoid this lack of common sense that raise the level of recording music and the appreciation thereof.

Vive le France
Yes, the engineers I've known are utterly responsible for ruining pop music as we know it. Bastards! But then I don't listen to much pop music...
Hello Ketchup,

Per your request for information, we spoke with the owners of our footer experiment and were granted the right to publish some of the criterion in order to further understanding in audio. Please keep in mind that this test was an original concept to further the knowledge of the staff and to increase the quality of sound in our facility. At the time of the test the company had no intentions for the commercial sale or use from the assessment.

Test Criterion:

Day s: 10, average one hour per day electronics metering with each footer system, approximately two hours per day listening session per each footer system. The results from electronic testing were combined with listening sessions where each individual took notes on performance. The totals of participating products were reduced to a top three finalists in each category. The final three days of testing varied on listening time where the top three products were switched in and out and without regard for time requirements to insure mechanical break in period.

Electronic Test Data: RTA and SPL

Sets of Human Ears: 3

Footer Requirements: Floor born speaker systems Pair #1 ¼”-20 threading, Pair #2 6M-1.0 threading, compact monitors were tested with non threaded products placed between speaker cabinet and steel stand top only (floor spikes on monitor stands never changed).

Price Range: $25.00 to $100.00 per single cone or device, products were chosen by staff with bias placed on manufacture 30-60 day return guarantees. Products were also selected based on positive Audiogon forum feedback and reviews, longevity in service and reputation of the manufacturer. Products were purchased without the manufacturer’s knowledge of impending experiment and seven companies were represented.

Control Room:

Mixer - Microphone channel input s were calibrated and never changed, channel output faders were set for optimum house mix (varied slightly), all EQ and Processing throughout the chain were bypassed (never changed).

Amplifiers: Three stereo same make and model of amplifiers were dedicated as one amplifier per paired speaker system, amplifier outputs were run at full open. Amplifiers were rack mounted in ATA flight cases and rested on the flooring; speaker wire length varied slightly between pairs. Amplifiers remained ‘turned on’ and signal was passed without interruption throughout testing period.

Prerecorded Instruments Chosen: Channel 1 – Piano, Channel 2 – French horn, Channel 3 – Cello, Channel 4 – Acoustic Guitar, Channel 5– Electric Guitar, Channel 6 – Bass Guitar, Channel 7 – Kick Drum, Channel 8 – Snare, Channel 9 – Hi-Hat, Channel 10 – Over Head Ride Cymbal, Channel 11 – Synthesizer, Channel 12 – Male Vocal, Channel 13 – Female Vocal, Channel 14 – Female Vocal

Instrument Room:

Loudspeaker Placement: Away from all wall surfaces centrally located left and right from center, speaker placement did not change over test period

Microphone and Stand Placement: Mic 1 near field three feet off flooring (never moved), mic 2 distanced at a six foot height (never moved).

Speakers: For fairness, each speaker was allotted a 24 hour period ‘post part installation’ with constant feed of current passed through providing an equal time period electronic and mechanical break in for each product.

Human Listening Test Protocol: Testing was conducted involving individual instruments, combinations thereof with a focus on routine progression for each product. Eliminations were based on feel, emotion and overall audible presentation with crossover analogies from electronic documentation. Listening tests were first procured in studio control room. The top three finalists testing included both the control center and reviews in the instrument suite where the loudspeakers and amplifiers were located.

We will respond to any questions provided we do not breech our Agreement from the sale of this result. Product name branding is strictly prohibited.

There were no First, Second or Third Place product awards given here. The results provided us a higher level of understanding sonic differences between isolation (decoupling) and energy movement (direct coupling) processes. We state that the direct coupling method and products were chosen for our studio applications.
Wolf, No, you are not the only anti-spiker. Sometimes I spike and sometimes I don't. It depends on the situation. I do whatever it takes to get the best sound, but I know spiking is not always the answer as some folks believe.
The entire test noted above was not performed in my house with my ears, and thus is rendered useless, especially since it didn't test my speakers or any other floorstanding speakers on wood floors using vibrapods. Also, the text of the post was clearly written by a robot.
And a thoughtful robot at that. Tom

The ‘useless test information’ listed above was posted in reply to a member’s request.

It was not meant to offend or disparage you in any way and definitely not intended to bring out more of your unmistakable talent for journalism.

Can’t wait to hear the encore!

Yours truly,

Arnold & the Terminators
I was merely pointing out that the test procedure, as carefully managed as it was, resulted in results that are useless to ME. After all, it's me that matters. I have done my own tests on my stuff with myself, and the result of de-coupling my Silverlines has had positive effects on me, my wood floors, and everything around me and my floors...I can only hope this wonderfulness will spread across the world...or at least into my garage.

I think we have TWO evolutionary paths, speakers placed on "soft" floors, and those placed on "hard" floors. A soft floor being a typical floor is a house supported with joists. A hard floor being (in my case) ten inches of concrete.

I would certainly agree that as different as these surfaces are, the method to tune the sound would be, too. The agruments probably have to be very specific as to what general floor type is being addressed.

I do hear this, big tall wobbly C4's like sharp steel SPIKES on concrete to tighten-up the sound.

My point of the post is to EXPERIMENT and not accept what's thrown your way. There is no harm in going back to your original set-up if you don't like what you hear.
I have a so-called "soft" floor, one atop joists with a basement beneath. The floor is carpeted. I used to have sharp spikes in all four corners under my Unity Audio Sig 1's. Just thought one day "Let's try Vibrapods." Removed the spikes, placed granite floor tiles (12"x12") under the speakers with the Vibrapods between speaker and tile. Huge difference!! Images were clearer, much better bass, maybe because there was no wobble on the spikes, I can't really say, but the difference was not subtle.
I like to think speaker manufacturers, especially those with a proven track record, know what they are doing when they assemble a speaker system and provide specific accessories.
If you think about what is going on, the effects of a neutral cabinet motion are critical to getting the best from your speakers.

For example, look at a high-end scan speak tweeter, the one's I call the cone-heads. That big spike in the middle of the tweeter is designed to make sure the CENTER of the tweeter move about when the EDGES of the tweeter, where the voice coil is attached, moves. And, to beam the energy more sideways so it's arrival time is more room "reflections than direct, improving resolution. A mechanical device is not infinitely stiff, so the middle of a round object, with the "push" coming from the edges will have a ripple effect towards the tweeter (in this case) center. If the middle of the tweeter is mechanically "soft" it will actually lag behind and dimple inward compared to the edges and add significant Doppler / intermodulation distortion.

Some tweeters use central phase plugs to damp this out, but all of them are aware of the shortcomings of a too soft structure and manage it somehow...apparent or not. The stiffer a structure is however, the harder it is to damp once it gets going.

Look at the distance a tweeter moves...Well, you do it, I can't see that well anymore. Its motion is virtually invisible to the naked eye. Want crisper sharper imaging? Add a bunch of cabinet resonance to the speaker front panel that is orders of magnitude worse than the tweeters full excursion. The tweeter doesn't stand a change to be at it's best.

Bass is more controlled by the cabinet itself as the wavelength / excursions of the driver are at the opposite end of the spectrum, much longer than the cabinet resonance. Lets hope so anyway. Still important, but not the pinnacle of perfection the mids and tweeter demand.

Look at speakers as they get larger, and harder to damp. A HUGE part of the price is stopping the darn cabinet from moving. Big speakers carry a lot of extra "loose" baggage that has to be managed, at a big cost. Internal braces and exotic shapes all to simply get the drivers to stand still. When the braces are added, it steal cabinet volume from the drivers and the cycle feeds on itself as the cabinet is made bigger to account for the lost internal volume the braces removed. OK, use carbon fiber and it feeds on your bank account. You pay all that money, and then let the speaker wobble all over the floor? Want to know why so many fantastic smaller speakers exist? Well, now you know...the cabinet is order of magnitude stiffer as they get smaller all things being the same in the design. A panel half as long is four times stiffer.

But, once you select a speaker what ever it takes to keep that front panel from moving back and fourth (the speaker cabinet itself is a done deal) is as important as any component in your system, probably in the top three (and it's actually pretty cheap to optimize).
My experience is quite similar to Mrmitch.

I have a suspended floor. My best results with my monitors is on Vibrapods. This decoupling without much absorption retains the microdynamic energy of the music and results in more presence and better bass definition and heft. Amazingly clarity did not suffer like it did on blue tack. Brass cones gave the most clarity.

Vibrapods on my floorstanders resulted in sloppy bass. I compromised by using cork/rubber isolpads which gave the best balance of warmth, microdynamics and clarity.
The factory spikes made the floorstanders rather cold sounding in comparison.
Interestingly, or not, the "pods" under my speakers isolate them somewhat from floor vibration from the front firing (older) REL sub that is has small felt skid pads under it...right behind one of the main speakers. That may be part of what's making the whole thing work. Tight, pitch correct, and well defined bass.
One thing to be mindful of as you experiment is that any change you make in the height of the speaker or its rake angle will affect the sound.
OK, Spiked my DD10+ subs. I used Dayton Audio spikes into the concrete floor beneath the carpet. Here, like the speakers, the spikes force the speaker / subs to become "one" with the floor so the speaker can't shake near as much. The hand on the cabinet test say so big time, too.

The AUTO EQ shows less boost at all frequencies suggesting that more energy is going into the room than before.

The soft feet are more than likely best for keeping vibration FROM a unit where the sharp steel spikes adhere the object INTO the substrate below them, and that in turn determines how hard the spiked object is to move relative to the surface it is spiked into. When they are spike into a conctere floor, they have too "push" the whole house around to move, which is kind of hard to do. Sitting on the carpet? They shook away on that springy surface.

Anyone with Velodyne subs, the Dayton Audio DSS3-BK spike kit fit perfectly. Screw out the old insert with the wrong threads / inch, screw in the same type inserts with the right threads / inch that come with the kit, and screw in the spikes. Done.