To couple or decouple? That is the question.


This is one of my favorite subjects and pet peeves.Is this just a matter of semantics or a misrepresentation of the principles applied in the set-up of equipment. My experience tells me that coupling is what you work for. This is the principle that is expoused in the early Linn literature. The mechanical connection that doesn't introduce or take away any information. This seems important with componets with transducers primarily turntables and speakers. Different materials, like sorbothane, are used to attenuate frequencies but are used in conjunction with metal cups to physically couple to your stand, shelf, floor, etc. Coupling also allows mechanical/acoustical energy to travel away from a componet. The designers at Mission in the early 80's were right on to this. Questions or comments please.
rickmac
Have you ever heard a fully decoupled system? My guess is not.
"The mechanical connection that doesn't introduce or take away any information." If that is the definition of coupling then coupling were the same as decoupling. Even decoupling needs some sort of mechanical connection unless someone invents gear that magically floats in the air.
I would guess that most buildings are pretty well coupled to earth, otherwise they'd fall down. Yet, you have feel an earthquake or even a nearby moving train through them. This would definitely add 'information' to the component you are trying to drain vibration from because coupling is a two-way street, not a mechanical diode. (Some buildings are floated, mounted on rollers, etc. to deal with vibration, like Frank Lloyd Wright's earthquake-resistant Imperial Hotel in Japan.)

No easy answer would be my response and my stereo has been extensively experimented upon since I first owned a Linn turntable, with its footfall problem, 26 years ago.
I would guess that most buildings are pretty well coupled to earth, otherwise they'd fall down. Yet, you have feel an earthquake or even a nearby moving train through them. This would definitely add 'information' to the component you are trying to drain vibration from because coupling is a two-way street, not a mechanical diode. (Some buildings are floated, mounted on rollers, etc. to deal with vibration, like Frank Lloyd Wright's earthquake-resistant Imperial Hotel in Japan.)

No easy answer would be my response and my stereo has been extensively experimented upon since I first owned a Linn turntable, with its footfall problem, 26 years ago.
Man, here we go again. Coupling is the way to go. It can be achieved fairly inexpensively. Decoupling or isolating, as it's well known, is impossible to achieve. The isolating principles alone, store the nasty airborne resonances, and inherent resonances of the electronics. If you want to get tons of info about this goto audiopoints.com's website. There's enough white paper to get you intoxicated with the idea of coupling. Then call Robert and he will set you free. Tom, the audiotweak will be on the 'gon shortly, I'm sure, to put in, his eloquent sense. My entire system, including my Plateau Speaker Cables, are coupled to mother earth. peace, warren
I love to "couple" but quite often she's not around *sigh*
I feel there is more mystical mumbo-jumbo and outright BS surrounding this issue than just about any other in the high end - and that almost no one talking about this stuff either knows what's really going on or is rigorously intent on finding out. I don't claim to know either, except to say that if audiophiles were actually seriously bothered by the effects of vibration, and serious about doing something about it, they would be taking much more decisive and drastic steps than simply playing around with various toys they place their components on top of.

Personally, I don't buy 95% of the claims made for most of these products, and am not particularly bothered by whatever slight effects are present in my system for not having spent a small fortune trying to make myself feel better about it. The one fairly significant thing I think can be done, most audiophiles - myself included - won't consider for practical reasons, which is moving your turntable completely out of the listening room. Other than the area of turntables generally, I am convinced that almost all the rest of it is largely marketing. The best thing you can do for your system in most cases is to install it on a foundational ground floor if available. Beyond that, the differences made by various kinds of supports, racks, shelves, etc. are not only quite small, but more importantly, almost wholly subjective. In other words, you 'pick your poison' without ever really 'eliminating' or 'controlling' whatever effects of resonance do exist - you're just mildly shuffling them around.
Hey Z, we've gone this route adnauseam. I don't have the strength; this time. I know what I hear. It's not placebic. Your thoughts, do, resonate with me, however. peace, warren
The argument seems to be couple because it's easy, as opposed to very hard to decople. The truth lies within your own perception. I have heard the difference between coupled components including speakers and decoupled on two planes, and I prefer the decoupled. It's expensive to do well, and I can see that some wouldn't consider it a good value. Try to borrow some Aurios, if you can, and decide for yourself.
Warren, I did not say that whatever audiophiles are putting their components on top of won't make any sonic differences - What I am saying is that audiophiles who buy into the concept that particularly shaped pieces of metal constitute some sort of scientific, rational approach to the issue are being led by the nose, and are probably paying through it too.
Is it fair to say that most acoustical energy introduced into a system comes from the speakers? Unless you live by a subway station or live in a disco. If you could put your source componets in a separate room with no speaker interaction that would be the best example of decoupling I think. Sony made magnetic componet isolators in the Esprit line in the early 80's and did extensive research on the effects of vibration and microphonics on componets. It seems that the control of resonances, microphonics, and RFI is best addressed by the equipment designer. Obviously I don't want to place my turntable next to my speakers but I do want to have both firmly planted on the ground through spikes or stand.
I don't think I've ever made a better improvement in my system's sound than placing my Oracle Delphi Mk.2 on a fishing line suspended slab of acrylic. The suspension even worked more precisely and it now maintains almost perfect vertical motion when disturbed.
I've done alot of different things with my system(s) over the years. Right now I use coupling, and generally coupling has given me the best results for all my systems.

For a scientific paper on what the purpose of coupling is, look at the website http://www.audiopoints.com.

I use Audiopoints and Sistrum products, and they work better in my system than anything I tried before. I haven't tried everything in the world, but I know when I'm going in the right direction.
One of my main contentions regarding the overall approach of our hobby toward this issue is that if we were really serious or bothered about it, we wouldn't accept components whose total build methodology didn't address it right from the ground floor.

There are some that try, but very few. In the vast majority of electronic audio components made (high end or not), circuit boards and chassis are for the most part entirely free to do their (entirely random) thing. And look at how few conventional speakers either pot their crossovers in resin, or better yet take them out of the cabinet box altogether.

The oft-propounded idea that certain footers and shelves can somehow 'evacuate' the alleged self-generated vibrations which are supposedly killing the performance of our electronics, whilst simultaneously preventing air- and ground-borne stimuli from ever reaching them, is to me a bunch of bunk, and I've never seen any good data in support of these claims.

Once again, I am not saying that what you put your electronics on can't make a small difference in the way they sound. I'm just saying that the magnitude of this difference is routinely oversold, as is the scientific (or non-scientific, as the case may be) basis for thinking that what's done is systematic or predictable. There's plenty of snake-oil sold throughout the high end, of course, but IMO this sub-area is probably the worst offender, even more so than a lot of what goes on concerning wire.

For the record, I've played with modestly-priced cones and elastomer isolators (plus racks), with appropriately modest results, so if you want to slam me for not having experience with 'the best' (read: the most expensive), go right ahead. The areas I think merit general application are rigidly spiking speakers to foundational floors, and decoupling of turntables. What one does with the rest of the electronics is to me mostly a crap-shoot given the status quo of their construction.
In my opinion it depends on your room construction. If you live in an old victorian with a suspended hardwood trampoline floor then decouple, seismic retrofit or whatever. If you live in a concrete bunker or steel reinforced highrise then you have the option to experiment. With this scenario coupling makes sense, unless of course you want to enjoy your vinyl rig during an earthquake, then by all means decouple your turntable at least. I've lived in both and I'm currently coupling. Just use common sense before you get talked into the latest overpriced "it's like I bought a new amp" isolation component because in your situation it might be a total waste of money.
The best situation is when vibration has an easier time travelling in one direction and a harder time in the other. This should be the case when you use spikes under your equipment. The reason, I believe, is that you are creating a situation where there is low physical impedance from your equipment to the table, as the small surface area of the tip creates high effective mass (by making your equipment seem much heavier to the table). There is then high physical impedance for vibrations going from the table to the equipment, as these vibrations now have to travel up into what seems like a heavier object.
I grow tired of this techno-babble. True coupling would be to run a long I beam below your equipment into bedrock. This would add the mass of that bedrock to your system mass. There is no real isolation as everything you use has a resonant frequency and your choice is where you want it. This is true for air and magnetic isolation also. In fact coupling is also isolation but with a very low resonant frequency.

Most of my equipment is coupled to my wooden floor, but my speakers have a soft cushion between spikes below and above. My experience is that you need to try both solutions and choose what is best sounding.
Words of wisdom:

True coupling would be to run a long I beam below your equipment into bedrock. This would add the mass of that bedrock to your system mass. There is no real isolation as everything you use has a resonant frequency and your choice is where you want it. This is true for air and magnetic isolation also. In fact coupling is also isolation but with a very low resonant frequency.

I wonder what the Sistrum cult followers have to say...
Tbg, that is why people are beginning to build stands built for certain resonant frequencies. The designs are made so that the bases resonant frequency is below that of the gear on it. If the resonant frequency of the base is below that of the gear placed upon it, the gear cannot resonate.
Unless it is generating the movement and assuming it is tightly coupled to the stand. I do like the Neuance shelves on my Mana stands, however, as they have continuously variable resonance frequencies and are on the Mana spikes.
I actually worked on a project where I contracted a mason to lay cement block in a customers basement.The block went from this guys basement up through a hole or a square I cut in his living room floor.The block then went about knee high in the living room and his Oricle turntable was mounted on the block that went from his basement floor to his living room.He was able to get unreal SPL's out of the damn system based on a turntable.
Isolation by nature of materials used is a storage medium. Why would one, find it desireable to have unwanted energy stored in or around their electro-mechanical devices? I think having this unwanted energy present would reduce the efficiency of the device, in, under or surrounded by the isolation vessel. Also, now the surrounding storage vessel, not infinite in its capacity will release stored collected energy over a unpredictable amount of time and with unpredictable amplitude. This unpredictable storage and release behavior becomes even more problomatic when some of this stored energy will be released back into the very device it is trying to isolate.The sonic signature of the storage vessel will be blended with the intrinsic sound of the nearby electro-mechanical device..Whats worse than having the influences of one unpredictable storage medium? How about two or several or lets retune our whole system with a multitude of unpredictability.Tom
In response to 11-28-03: Psychicanimal

Good-day:

Robert from Star Sound Technologies, LLC here as I feel the need to respond and request that a correct understanding and terminology be employed here.

This “cult” image and proper name calling as some of the members here have assigned to our clients is rather absurd and intellectually incorrect wouldn’t one think? Shall we call our clients audiocults or philecults or better yet - Starcults?

We have manufactured the Audio Points® product for fifteen years as they remain the oldest surviving yet flourishing retail product of its kind in this industry. Sistrum Platforms are a well defined advancement of that invention. Would not all these Audio Point clients be labeled cultists as well? That would mean there are now over 80,000 satisfied cult members out there, somewhere.

Plus, let us not forget to include some of the finest writers and editors in our industry who review and employ our products within their reference rooms, shall we label them and their publications as cultists too?

We always relate to our clients as passionate listening enthusiasts or even more so our very good friends. In order to achieve such a high standard amongst these people, who always seem to rally around each other, you must first have to provide them a product that musters all that energy, vitality and musical feel and always be there to answer all of their questions maintaining customer service as the premium product within our inventories.

We do take a very personal offense to this on-going negative correlation between our products and clients who favor them. Therefore we request that this name association stop. We value our client’s reputations and recognize them as some of the keenest listeners in the world.

Please do not associate our clients or products again with the term “cult”.

Thank you and as always – Good Listening!

Robert Maicks
Star Sound Technologies, LLC
If I respond to you in my unique style Audiogon will throw you the towel once more and delete this entire thread.

I own your Audiopoints and I plan to buy more. They do not work best in all scenarios, but they do have a place in my system. Given my previous sales experience (including audio/video and industrial international sales) I have privately spoken to TWL of products and ways you guys can improve sales and market penetration--just ask him. As to how I call a few of your fanatic customers, that does not concern you at all.
Robert,

Perhaps you could explain your insistent need to come onto the Audiogon discussion forums and argue with its members. As far as I can tell, you are the only manufacturer who engages in this type of business practice. What do you feel will be gained by your actions. Do you feel your techno-babble and sales pitches are going to change people's minds about your products? I would have thought after the last embarrassing exchange (Sistrum vs. GPA)that was thrown out, you would refrain from these types of exchanges. The fact that you, one of your employees, and a couple of your dealers appear to be monitoring/lurking in these forums for just these threads IMHO, is an act of desperation. You need to get a thicker skin.
If one is coupling to the floor, doesn't the floor itself have a resonance and resonate? Can't energy from the floor be passed back up the rack into the component? What is to stop vibration floating in the air from resonating the rack itself? Since a cone point is a "coupler" of energy, doesn't having the cone point facing into the gear couple energy that the rack picks up from vibration in the air and through the floor couple that energy into the component? What direction does a cone transfer energy the most efficiently? Inquiring minds want to know. Vinylphile