What is vibration isolation for?

Where do these vibrations come from? From where I stand the earth doesn't shake too badly?! I would think that most vibrations would come via sound transmission through the air directly through the chassis of the components thus rendering the racks or other vibration isolation, uh, useless, no? (with the exception of actual thumping from walking etc)
Don't you realize there are over 400,000 earthquakes a year around the world and getting worse every year? They say (whoever 'they' are) the world is constantly shaking!!!!

Although the above is supposedly true, the vibrations you are concerned about have to do with what you state above.

Vibration isolation is the attempt to keep external energies from entering the component chassis as well as to retain supposedly necessary interal energies from escaping the component.

so they say.
So who says? It all started with something that makes sense, that is isolating a mechanical contraption called a turntable from vibration coming through the air and through whatever the tt was placed on. Makes a lot of sense when you consider the problem of acoustic feedback and the microscopic nature of a record groove. It then got crazy when people started believing that solid state electronics sounded better when somehow isolated, hence all kinds of stands costing way more than they should. Strange thing though, speakers are spiked to couple them to the floor and the building's structure so that the energy is dissipated and tiny little vibrations obscuring the sound removed. In a perfect audio world there would only be vibration where you want it. In the real world, it's a little less perfect. So you got your spikes, your Sorbothane feet, your ball bearings, your sand boxes, your lead filled tubes, your sand filled tubes, your equipment suspended from cables and on and on. But the best part of all that is your imagination which can let you create all kinds of HUGE improvements, the better for you to enjoy the music. The scary part to me is that the earth, apparently from what some science-type people proclaim, is revolving on its axis, and going round and round. If you add to that continental drift, seismic activity and the like, is it any wonder that true high-end subjective audiophiles fret so much?
Best tweak I have ever experienced was of all things... isolating my cd player with an Ariel Osiris stand. I really didn't expect much, but got it at a very good price, so I thought I might as well try it. My system came to life in a way that everyone noticed. Could be there were more intrusive vibrations in my system than in some other situations, but I'm very happy with it now, and that says a lot.
First they put springs under a turntable and claim success. Next they'll be putting springs under automobile suspensions, claiming it makes the ride smoother.

What next?
Anybody here tried one of them new fangled "Levitator" isolation doohickies from www.GR-Research.com/levitator.htm?

Acrylic plate floating in air based on repelling magnets...

Looks really cool but does it work????
I will be more specific - I can understand the use of isolation with mechanical things like turntables(of course), cd players, and speakers, - but people are doing this to amplifiers and pre-amps. I understand the concept of microphonics and that sort of thing, but my point is wouldn't most of the vibrations be coming via the chassis of the component itself - not the table it is standing on?
Insofar as solid state electronic components, the whole vibration thing is bogus to start with. Tubes may be microphonic and a damping ring around them can't hurt, but solid state circuitry is for all practical applications relating to reproducing music in the home not helped by vibration reducing gizmos. You are right in assuming that the music itself will cause airborne vibration to act directly on the chassis. But, hey, that does not stop real believers in spending a bundle to reduce vibration and claiming they can hear positive effects. Geez, folks in these threads keep asserting all the time that they can hear HUGE differences for passive components. Once you start making claims that everything has an effect on the quality of the sound you hear from your system, the slope is so slippery that you can very easily believe that mass loading or isolating with some form of compliant suspension will act on the circuitry. The tweakers will possibly come down hard when hearing this: amp stands et al are a crock. Good listening and don't let the buzzards bother you.
many users laughed at component isolation & vibration control until they tried it for themselves - I was one of those myself, until I tried it.

Bob, (you don't mind if I call you Bob? Calling yourself buzzard is quite radical, I think). The users of the devices are no longer laughing because of the amounts they paid for them and the emotional attachment such an expenditure usually provokes. The manufacturers, on the other hand, are still in stitches. I know full well there is no point in getting into any kind of discussion or debate over improvements perceived on a totally individual or subjective basis. Worst yet is when a group of individuals reinforce one another's views and a cabal is born where the upshot verges on collective hysteria. I find it very different to adopt a "it can't hoit" attitude while tweaking to your heart's content; I find it another thing to assert, based solely on one's personal uncontrolled observations, that HUGE improvements occur for no logical reason. If we could actually hear electrons bobbing up and down inside cables, or the effect of vibration on solid state circuitry as believed by some, life would, indeed, be unbearable. I prefer to recognize the limits of my hearing and that of humans in general, and spend my time and limited monetary resources on software, read "music". Are present day devices used in the reproduction of music perfect? No. Is tweaking the answer? I don't think so, but, then again, if "it can't hoit", who am I to blow against the 'Agon wind. Coming back to the initial question asked: yes, indeed, airborne vibration acts on the chassis. Should we care? Nothing indicates we should, but if you fret over this the marketplace offers "solutions", how much you are willing to spend on these is entirely up to you. My bet is that one's belief in the significant improvements brought about will be in direct proportion to the amount of money spent, so strong is the belief in audiophile circles that great sound must be filtered through one's wallet.
Pbb, I am coming into this discussion a bit late, but do I understand you are saying that any device placed under amps or other electronics have no audible affect?

If so, you have either never conducted an experiment or your system is in dire need of improvement. There is no question as to the benefit of isolation.

Certainly some equipment benefits more than others, and there are a few rare pieces that are best left alone. But to say that ALL equipment is NEVER improved with ANY isolation device is just wrong.

Neither is cost the controlling factor in this truth. There are devices that cost $6.00 which offer tremendous benefit, and some which cost $200.00 that are great benefit.

Your suggestion that money somehow attaches the user to the device has completely failed in my case. My preamp retails for more than $10,000.00 and is isolated by $10.00 devices.

My $30,000.00 speakers work best with $55.00 isolation devices, yet my stock Sony SACD player has Symposium Roller blocks which cost several hundred dollars.

Each device chosen for it performance benefit, dismissing cost all together as a factor.
price? Who even looks at the price? No true audiophile considers anything but the sonic improvements as long as there's food on the table & a roof over one's head :-)
After reading Pbb's thread I couldn't help but think of the old tale 'The Emperor's New Clothes'. I think that pretty much sums it up.
Albertporter, back to my original point. Anything UNDER the component is not isolation. Isolation would mean putting the components in another room - away from the air movement caused by the speakers. I don't care what you put under your electronics - as long as the bass is pounding on the chassis like a tin drum, aint no rack gonna fix that problem.
Neubilder, things under the chassis are isolation if they help reduce the effect of outside forces effecting performance.

A rubber foot under a preamp can alter the resonant frequency of both the preamp and the shelf it is resting on. The shelf and preamp may both be vibrated by the same bass pounding (your description), but as long as the foot reduces or alters the frequency of the vibration, there will (likely) be a change in sound.

I will not argue that all changes are good. Some rooms, shelves, equipment chassis (etc.) benefit from a certain isolation device or foot, and not another.

There are other ways to effect or isolate the equipment, such as shelf materials that block magnetic energy or RF. There are damping sheets that may be applied directly to the chassis, inside or out that reduce the ring of the materials it is attached to.

Some prefer the sound of equipment with a weight applied to the chassis. There are many ways to pull that off, some expensive and some for free. Again, this changes the resonance of the chassis and or the material it is sitting on.

My point is that there is a change, and all of the ways I have listed may make a sonic difference. Some will be perceived as good, some trade off and some as bad. The whole point of discussing tweaks like these are so others may experiment and find what works for them. I never dismiss any idea until I have put it to the test.
Albertporter, where are the vibrations coming from that audiophiles are trying to cancel/alter. The music within the room? Or is it something else?
Unless we're talking about turntable playback, the sound output from your speakers are not a likely source of vibration induced distortion in a hifi system. (I'm assuming reasonable sound levels and the avoidance of narrow band resonance excitations.) There simply isn't that much energy in the sound waves. A much more common problem is vibration transmitted from the speaker directly through the floor or walls. Rooms with wood floors in wood framed houses suffer this type of problem. I've placed my subwoofers on Vibrapods to isolate them from the floor. The total cost of this tweak was about $100 which is relatively cheap and a very small percentage of the value of my system.
Vibrations come from the speakers and particularly the bass, as was already stated. That energy shakes the audio chassis, the floor, the equipment stand and everything in the room to one degree or another.

A reviewer friend at Absolute Sound is so picky about this that he refuses to have his turntable and phono stage in the room with the speakers. He begins the track and walks back into the listening room and settles down for that side of the LP.

This stuff is very difficult to explain and probably even more difficult to measure. The easy way to see if there is a gain to be had is put aftermarket feet under equipment X and listen. The stock feet need not be removed to make the test unless they are so big that the aftermarket feet fail to touch the resting surface.

This is really very simple to do, costs almost nothing and will allow you to hear what the effect is. As I said before, you may have performance gain or loss depending on the many variables involved.

If you have no feet to try, I could ship you my spare Mod Squad Soft Shoes. They are my all time favorite low bucks device. They are successful on more types of equipment than any other foot I have tested.

I use more Squad feet in my system than other device, but still employ six other brands in one spot or another to get the desired results.
for a cheap experiment put some bubble wrap uner your CD player. With my ACR CD-2 there was a significant change. the sound tightened up and became quite dry. I didn't like it as much as the feet on the stand but the point is the difference is very noticable. cost of tweak if you like it...not being able to bust the bubbles on the packing wrap.
Good tip Piezo, right on! Pbb, here's a thought experiment, that might help understand the possible means by which vibrations can effect the sound of a component.

Firstly, let's consider sound waves, and the energy contained by them. Think about a system running at a "good" listening level, say 90db peaks at 10ft. What does that mean? If your ears are 10' away from the speaker, then some amount of sound energy defined as 90db is hitting your eardrum. Now, just how big is an eardrum? compare that to the surface area of a rectangular box. Then place that rectangular box not 10' away, but between or perhaps right next to one of the speakers. Clearly, the box is receiving many hundreds of times the energy, than the ears are.

Secondly, consider vibrations transmitted from speaker to component through floor, rack, etc. Almost all systems share the same "mechanical ground", and it is usually not a very good one at all - the floor of the listening room - which for most people is a skin of thin layers of wood attached at various points to a lattice of wooden beams. One can imagine that this floor resonates in various manners at various frequencies at various locations.

Clearly, vibrations EXIST. Now, the three more arguable questions: 1) How do the vibrations effect the sound? 2) How can tweaks stop/reduce/change those vibrations? and 3) even if the first two are possible, how could it be audible?

Let's consider how vibrations can effect the sound, in a solid state phono stage for example. A device of this nature is a set of electronic components (transistors, capacitors, etc), SWIMMING in an electro-magnetic field of complex structure. The power supply components, the copper foils conducting current, and the transistors themselves, are bathing each other is em energy. Sure, designers work to reduce the thickness of this soup, but in reality, the "sound" of the phono stage is derived with the effect of this soup already considered. Now comes the imprtant part - MOVE that transistor, within that EM field it is sitting in. High school physics tells us that the very movement will create a current. Thus, if the box is vibrated/resonated in some manner, one can clearly conclude that the electrical signal is being effected to some extent. Next, consider the fact that the vibration is RELATED and caused by the VERY SIGNAL that passed through that transistor some milliseconds ago. The vibration's amplititude and frequency are thus harmonically related to the very signal the transistor is currently trying to pass. Thus, it seems quite clear that "vibrations" can effect the "sound" of a component, and the harmonic relationship may multiply the effect by several factors. So far, we have no conclusion as to whether the "change" is audible or not, but clearly we can conclude that the type of statement "vibrations can not change the sound" is false. Further, I think it is almost impossible to see how these vibrations can FAIL to change the sound.

The physics behind tweaks of this nature are pretty clear. Some of them convert vibrational energy into heat, thereby attenuating the vibration. Others transmit vibrations very effectively, and in theory "remove" vibrations from within a box, and prevent them from "returning" to the box. If a 20lb metal box is well coupled to an 80lb rack, then it will vibrate with less amplitude, and resonate at different frequencies. I can't say much about the removing and preventing return part, but clearly, COUPLING or ISOLATING components will CHANGE the nature of the vibrational problem.

So far then, we have the conclusions that vibrations CAN effect the sound, and that various tweaks CAN change the nature/magnitude of that effect. I would go so far as to change the CAN to WILL.

In terms of actually perceiving the effect, we are back to square zero. I hear it, others don't, and some don't even try, yet proclaim it can't happen. Nothing new there.

Nothing new in this statement by Pbb either: " I find it another thing to assert, based solely on one's personal uncontrolled observations, that HUGE improvements occur for no logical reason. "

The last phrase is clearly false, yet it is thrown around like some ultimate postulate of the universe. The logical reasons clearly exist, and even if we are not currently aware of them, that does not mean they do not exist. (the reasons, not the sounds or perceptions).

"huge" is clearly a relative term. If one has never gotten to know "excellent" wine (like me), the difference between two bottles of similar wines would escape me, let alone the difference after one glass has sat on the table for a few minutes. Yet, a wine connissuer would go on and on about the "huge" differences between those same two bottles of wine, and how one of them needs to decant a little longer. After a little learning and some experience, I would also notice at least some of those differences in the boquet and the body of those wines.

What is getting REALLY old and boring is the attitude "ho hum, you fools are enjoying your circle of mutual masturbation, and who am I to stop your fun. But here I am anyway, with this pamphlet I have about blindness."
beautifully explained Audiophile9: but somehow I also get the feeling that some others will never hear you - not because they cannot, but rather because they choose not to...
Isolation in the purist term does not exsist, so why waste your time. Speaking of time,everything moves and vibrates. These artificially induced motions create their own current of noise which are regurgitated, and again misproduced by your equipment, over and over again. Look to the Coloumb law of physics. Yes you can damp it down and move it around and change its sound, but it never left town.{ Damn I couldn"t resist the rhyme.} Its still trapped and reaping havoc on your system. If you want to give it a ticket to ride, check out the Sistrum platforms. They work. I have been using them for three years now. And all is better.
Audiofile9, you are making this up as you go, no? Your techno babble sounds almost convincing. The problem is you have nothing quantified. Just because something is a theoretical possibility does not mean that it has any practical implications. As an analogy (for what it's worth) the world is chockfull of bacteria and viruses. Their mere presence does not signify that the carrier is diseased. My point is, and always has been, whatever turns you on. I draw the line when leaps of faith brings one to conclude that HUGE benefits can be heard from any kind of change anywhere down the line, only if one is gifted with golden ears. To my mind, assuming that there is such a gift as better quality ears allied with a superior brain capacity to resolve musical detail,it is not much of a gift since it seems to induce way more neurotic anxiety about physics and things than true musical enjoyment. I have never seen a hobby that provokes such needlesss discussion as audio. It's about enjoying music, not fretting over imagined problems and so-called solutions. I will trot out the usual question-to-end-it-all (and will probably get the usual stock answer): why would the manufacturers of ultra-high-end transistor amps sold for kilo bucks not build the best isolated chassis possible if this is such a concern? Again to get back to the original question, yes there are vibrations, yes they travel through the air and through whatever materials are in and around the room. No, I don't think we should worry ourselves sick over it. Like all issues concerning audio blowing things out of all proportion gives one a feeling of importance, of being in- the-know. There is no percentage in doing otherwise. The "if a little is good then a lot has to be better" attitude (read disproportioned power supplies, power cables, high current power amps etc.) has taken over some time ago and is seen as being the future of audio by high-enders. I just think that this escalation is making audio what it is now: a very marginal proposition at best, with very few new devotees. A sense of proportion is sorely lacking. When does attention to detail, to minutiae becomes more of a hindrance than a source of advancement? I truly wonder.
Pbb, strawmen, irony, apples, oranges, and lack of knowledge. Thus is a summary of your response, and that of your comments in general. Let me explain.

"The problem is you have nothing quantified."
If we consider the spectrum of [ Possible > Probable > Audible ], the thought experiment defines a nice sharp position, somewhere around the right side of the second >. We arrived at that point with incontrovertible logic, whereas your statement of the type ".. for no logical reason" places us somewhere left of the entire spectrum above, and worse yet, does not even define a spectrum.

".. for no logical reason" is a statement made for no logical reason, or at least with no logical reasoning put forth. Nor is there any logical reasoning put forth to move the pointer back towards the left even a bit, even though your desired position requires considerable movement all the way to the left.

If by "quantified" you mean "assigned numbers", my thought experiment can be easily turned into a physical experiment. Here's one that requires no lab equipment: Fire up some music with a beat to it. Turn up the volume until you can just begin to feel the bass a little, in your chest (80-100hz does that well). Now, place your finger tips, very lightly, on the top metal plate of your CD player. Do we need to assign a number to that vibration which you will surely feel? If so, buy an accelerometer and a scope, and measure it yourself. Then you could tell us how small those numbers are, and how in-audible that should be. At least then, you could comment with SOMETHING. Something more than the strawmen that you stand up and kick down in such a definitive manner.

"As an analogy (for what it's worth) the world is chockfull of bacteria and viruses. Their mere presence does not signify that the carrier is diseased."

Your analogy, upon any inspection, is not worth much at all. It completely fails to anologize the situation at hand. A more accurate analogy would be "someone who voluntarily exposes themselves to high concentrations of very particular bacteria and viruses on a daily basis, may or may not be able to tell the difference between two slightly different diseases."

With that more accurate analogy, you could at least argue numbers. I can imagine something like "if your intra-oral body temperature is exactly 102.6 F, when infected with the nemulo coccus as well as when infected with the nebulo coccus, then your headache could not possibly be different".

Now, the names of bacteria I did indeed make up as I went, whereas the rest is from experience. I find it much more usefull for a discussion to progress along some path, rather than be stifled by the same three mantras repeatedly repeatedly.

"I will trot out the usual question-to-end-it-all (and will probably get the usual stock answer): why would the manufacturers of ultra-high-end transistor amps sold for kilo bucks not build the best isolated chassis possible if this is such a concern? "

That question "ends" only one thing: any shred of credibility of the argument that uses such a statement, simply because it shows the lack of knowledge of the very industry one is discussing. It shows that you have never looked inside a Rowland amplifier, nor a Conrad Johnson tube preamplifier. Nor have you placed the 1 lb mass on the CD in a CEC transport. Apparently, you have not even gone so far as to visit Aria Audio's website (Michael Elliot's new company), to have noticed the images of his circuits with bracing and dampening of the capacitors. Not having done ANY of the above (examples from my very limited knowledge), we can only assume that you have never actually put bubble wrap under your preamplifier, just to prove to yourself that it will not make a difference.

But I guess that would necessitate the owning of a preamplifier, or doing some research, or actually partaking in the hobby that you are so keen to debunk.

It seems you almost had a point with "I don't think we should worry ourselves sick over it...[cut].. When does attention to detail, to minutiae becomes more of a hindrance than a source of advancement? I truly wonder."

But the point is pointless, because "attention to detail, to minutiae" is the VERY definition of ANY hobby or enthusiasm, is it not? Car fanatics discuss the type of alloy used for the screws affixing their front brake pads. Fishing enthusiasts discuss the balance of their fly rod when casting with 10 lb line, especially on humid days. Shutterbugs discuss the dynamics of the sparkle from a car window, given a particular polarization of the filter, color temperature, and film speed. That is what hobbyists do, they pay attention to the details and discuss the minutiae.

What is rather UNUSUAL about the audio hobby is that it seems to attract so many NON-hobbyists, who receive so much satisfaction from constantly telling hobbyists they are barking up the wrong tree.
While your post is not aimed at me specifically, I am going to take it on. Your comments are copied and pasted below.

"I will trot out the usual question-to-end-it-all (and will probably get the usual stock answer): why would the manufacturers of ultra-high-end transistor amps sold for kilo bucks not build the best isolated chassis possible if this is such a concern?

My response:

First, your question begs the same answer as the previous posts that question why high end manufacturers do not include audiophile power cords with their products. I will answer BOTH of these issues, because they can both be answered by the same response.

First, there ARE manufacturers that in order to keep the performance to price ratio in line for their place in the market, choose NOT to include these additional cost items.

However, there ARE manufacturers that charge enough for their superior performing products THAT DO include these.

Examples are manufacturers such as Walker Audio, who include two very high end aftermarket power cords with his best turntable. One goes from the wall outlet to the motor controller and one from the motor controller to the turntable motor. This is an example of two power cords improving a rotating motor, turning a belt, driving a 70 pound platter. Not only is it audible, it is necessary to the performance of the product.

Second, there are manufacturers that DO use special damping, copper cladding and / or high grade machined chassis's to improve isolation.

A quick look on the internet will allow you to view examples from Pioneer who use honeycomb embossed low resonance chassis for their high end products, many of which are clad in copper.

Machined aluminum billet construction is employed by Rowland for their transistor amps. By CTC in their Blow Torch transistor preamp, and Rockport in their isolated transistor motor drive for their turntable. These are a fraction of the companies that believe in this technology and use it in their production.

Third, there ARE companies that manufacture their products with SPECIAL ISOLATION FEET as part of normal product production. Prime examples are the Number Cruncher D to A manufactured by Entec which is equipped with the Vibrapod aftermarket isolation foot as standard issue.

McCormack Audio supplied Soft Shoes (Trade Mark) as an OEM part. They were sold by the thousands and installed as the standard issue isolation foot on many audio products.

This is not alchemy or fiction, many of these product's were inspired from Military and or NASA space research programs.

Audio products benefit from trickle down technology from better funded sources that are working to solve isolation and vibration problems. These are real problems and the solutions wind up helping those of us that care about making things the best they can be.

Audiogon is a site that is frequented by audiophiles who concern themselves with the passion for music and the tools necessary to make it the best it can possibly be.

There are visitors who are content with bedside radio, and those who will pay any amount to retrieve the last bit of realism from their music systems.

No crazier than musicians who seek vintage Genelex KT88 tubes in order to achieve vintage sound from their electric guitars.

The passion for "getting it right" is not new, even if in conflict with your idea as to what constitutes good value.

You may dismiss these advancements, call them frivolous and doubt those who seek to make the experience better, but until you become open minded enough to listen to these products work their magic in a direct listening session, you will never understand.
Audiofile9, it appears you and I posted answers to the Pbb posting at the same time.

Our responses from similar positions, hoping to explain what should be obvious.
Albert, indeed we must have been posting simultaneously. Interestingly, our thoughts were as harmonious as our timing :)
You cannot fight mother nature so the best thing to do, is to let it vibrate. I will be happy to tell you why.. later, but for now I have to meet a client. Great discussion...Tom

We are not fighting mother nature, we are fighting one man made invention with another. If we could hear human powered music exclusively and not have to deal with electronics, the vibrations would be fun.
My experience before and after adding an isolation platform under my CD player: originally had very "impressive" and clear sound. After trying an Ariel Osiris isolation platform: low level details became much clearer. Third and fourth background singers could be heard accurately, orchestral instruments occupied their own space, yet blended perfectly without any "etching". The emotion of the performers now comes through consistently. I haven't had as much fun listening to music for a decade. Conclusion: Isolation works for me.
Audiofile9, " What is rather UNUSUAL about the audio hobby is that it seems to attract so many NON-hobbyists, who receive so much satisfaction from constantly telling hobbyists they are barking up the wrong tree." Couldn't agree more.

Must say that debating the obvious is getting to be so tedious that I don't spend as much time here as I used to. If we can't help each other enjoy music more by trading experience and information what are we here for? It always seems to become a pissing contest. To those too skeptical to even try what they enjoy repudiating, get real for a change. I'd rather hear Miles blow his horn then continue to read another boring blowhard's rant. I think that one of the difficulties in internet forums is that it tends to equalize all participants, since it offers a high degree of anonymity. If these conversations were held one to one, or in a small group, I could use my sense of the person speaking to help evaluate their statements. I think we all have a 5 million year old, refined by evolution, highly accurate "bull***" detector that is not fully operational in print only. Why does it seem so hard for some people to simply trust their ears?
In case someone says that if I am bored here, why bother? My answer is that for over four years I have enjoyed the company of some highly articulate, well informed, intelligent and good humored people here at Audiogon. I don't care to see the time invested in getting to know some of the people here undermined, so I am attempting to offer some much needed perspective. Can't say if I have succeeded or not. I've never been one to quote song lyrics but, It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away" says it best for me at this moment. Or perhaps I should quote the silly commercial "try it, you'll like it". Later.
Reading the above, I notice a resurgence of, "deductive logic vs. experience". "It cannot be so, give me proof (numbers)" vs. "I tried it and experienced (heard) differences"
I respectfully submit that deductive logic, well intentioned (as I wish to believe pbb's to be) when not based on knowledge, can be simple extrapolation at best, sophistic at worst. An ancient example: "All Cretans are liars. I am Cretan." Based on this premise, are Cretans liars or not? Similarly here: "all audiophiles using (so called) isolation devices to affect sound reproduction contend these are beneficial, and they are liars. I am an audiophile using sound reproduction devices."

The earth looking and thereby being flat, by deductive logic we can walk (drive, etc) far enough to reach the end of the world -- and drop off (somewhere south of N Zealand in fact! -- where's Redkiwi of old to refute...:)).

BTW, there is vibration not only from ambient energy from speakers that move air after all, but also (allegedly) from components in the electronics as current passes.

Finally, we can add CAT, YBA and Symphonic Line to the list of manufacturers playing with isolation inside & outside their products. Cheers!
Circling the wagons, closing ranks. Nothing that I wrote previously in this thread has been seriously challenged. The debate is fundamentally the same as in most if not all previous threads. The only added twist is the hobby aspect, which, as far as I can tell, is a rehash of the "you don't belong here, you are bothering the good people in this town and you should leave" diatribe. My position is quite reasonable and can be summed up by saying that the ends vs. means reversal that is high end audio à la Audiogon crowd, TAS, Stereophile etc is incurable. Worst yet, it is perceived as being the gist of the hobby. To me the hobby is about listening to reproduced music that brings enjoyment and sounds like a very good facsimile of the real thing. Maybe, just maybe, some advancement will come from the more leading edge, no holds barred fanatics. That it would come from uncontrolled, haphazard listening sessions is a stretch as far as I can tell, but great discoveries have come from chance. The subjective side in high end audio has won. That is obvious. The arguments are very repetitive by now (and I surely include mine in that comment). The only problem is the person new to the pursuit, asking questions that are honest, sometimes simple, sometimes not, having only one side responding. And then you have threads asking why people are not attracted to audio. High end audio is a faith based pursuit with a tip of the hat to pseudo scientific mumbo jumbo and bafflegab. No one is arguing your right to isolate your solid state equipment as you see fit. I am simply unconvinced of the benefits on solid state equipment that can be derived thereform and any resultant improvement in the quality of reproduced music in a home system. I will refrain from any argument on the burden of proof for any such benefit, the quality of evidence to be put forward and so on. That someone would argue the additive benefits of numerous tweaks and upgrades would be a change and a better argument, I think, but no, every tweak or just about, is said to produce HUGE improvements even when no plausible explanation exists. Albertporter, I admire, in a way, your single minded purpose. I simply do not have the time, the financial resources nor the unflinching belief in my ear/brain processor you have in yours. Ultra high end audio of the subjective, any fleeting perceived improvement is worth it at any cost, stripe is, as you people have so well realised, pearls to swine, in my case.
Pbb -- have you tried any of the free/dirt-cheap means of isolation mentioned above? Or even any of the expensive ones? Yes, no, if yes then with what type of equipment (e.g., CD player)? Just curious.
Pbb, I hope your hearing ability is not as bad as your reading ability. EVERY assertion you have made in this thread has been addressed and proven to be either factually false, or logically corrupt. Yet, you say "Nothing that I wrote previously in this thread has been seriously challenged."

Are you reading the same thread that everyone else is?
While not caring at all about what the ignoramuses continually espouse above, I only tried to answer the originally posted question based upon my own experiences. Yes the stuff works, no we don't always understand why.
But what bothers me is that the poster is being so misinformed with absolute disinformation being posted by the absolutely clueless, who claim that they "know it all", "it can't possibly work because I don't understand why", " those who have experienced improvements are imagining it all because they spent the $ but I didn't".
Audiofile9, you will have to speak louder my hearing aid batteries have died. I postulate that even if one admits for sake of argument that vibration can affect solid state circuitry by the mechanism you indicated in your post, you leap to the conclusion that it has an effect on the reproduced sound which you can perceive even if such effect is so small that it is below the threshold of human hearing. I ask a simple question: what is the magnitude of this effect? Where is the straw man? Your argument simply means, unless I am thick, that it is so obvious to the trained ear, that nothing else should be required in the way of evidence. Even assuming your observation is right, for sake of argument, a causal link between what you deem to be an incontrovertible observation and the mechanism you describe would be appropriate. Is it enough to say I put my XYZ amp on an ABC stand, it sounded way better to my superior trained ear, I have this nice explanation about vibration acting on solid state equipment, so that one is the cause of the other and obviously the reason why it sounds better?

I, somehow, prefer the honesty of posters who say who cares why, I hear it and that's enough for me, I don't need any explanation. PBB is a deaf jerk anyway and a know-nothing raining on our parade.

The "irony" statement is rather strange but no stranger than the "experiment" you suggest. I never said that vibration did not affect the chassis of a component. I merely stated that even if it did, the ill effects would not be audible in the normal reproduction of music in the home. Your pronouncement that the vibrations are such that they affect the electronic components inside the box and cause audible ill effects is supported only by your claim that you hear it and that this should be proof enough, sounds way more ironic than anything written by me. Is there anything outside the lunatic audio press, published by someone who knows what the hell he is talking about (which seems to exclude you and me both) supporting your, for want of a better word, theory?

The analogy I drew was simply to point out that because something exists which we associate with undesirable effects, we need not worry about it unless it is over a certain threshold. Did you know that there apparently are government regulations concerning the presence of insects in raspberry jam? That's what Kraft Foods told me years ago when I complained I found a bug in my new jam jar. Gives one pause no? Jam is still jam even if a jar in a million contains recognizable bug parts. I for one no longer eat Kraft jam. Too risky. I may not "anologize" to your liking, but I have difficulty following your writing. What you are saying is that in audio no matter how infinitesimal a physical phenomena is, good ears can always pick it up. I say how unfortunate. Don't eat that jam.

Insofar as knowledge of the industry is concerned, I know enough. The mere fact that one or a number of manufacturers of whatever stripe includes this or that in their equipment does not mean too much, since the inclusion could be for marketing purposes more than anything else. Think about it, they have to sell this stuff to people like you. So there is no hard data on this or that going into the product, just say it sounds better and chances are if the planets and stars align just right and your special good friend at high-end magazine such and such endorses it, it will become truth. Moreover, how do you know that any specific piece of gear produced by a manufacturer sounds better because of the vibration suppressing chassis. Would this not require auditioning two identical amps, save for the chassis? I will rephrase my question: why are only a handful of solid state amplifier manufacturers offering vibration reducing chassis? And tell me honestly, if you got yourself a Rowland amplifier with the tweaked out chassis would you not try it out on an expensive base and rave about how much better the whole thing is and what marvellous synergy you have just encountered. When is one done reducing vibration? Borrowing from the Stones: love is just a kiss away... Oh and by the way, I love the Frick and Frack rapport between you and Albertporter.
Pbb, your discussion in this thread can be summarized as follows:

"Tweaks can not possibly make a difference".
- well, yes, they can, and here's the physics.

"That's just techno-babble"
- no, it's pretty solid physics, with no contrary theories.

"OK, Tweaks can not make a measurable difference"
- well, here's how you could measure it and tell us what those numbers are.

"You can not possibly hear the difference they make".
- actually, we do. repeatedly, predictably, and 'blinded'.

"No way they make a HUGE difference"
- Pbb, YOU are the ONLY one to use that word in this thread.

"It's like saying every single bacterium diseases someone"
- no it's more like saying some bacteria eaters taste differences.

"Ok, wiseguy, then why don't manufacturers isolate?"
- well, they do, here's a few examples

"Why don't MORE manufacturers isolate?"
- well, here's some more that do.

"Why don't ALL manufacturers isolate?"
- not all products are designed to squeeze the last 5% at 50% more cost
- but for 1-5% of the cost of the product, tweaks can help.

"You haven't proven anything"
- no, because I don't have to. You need to prove the negatives you assert.


Please take your childish comments elsewhere, and leave this discussion to users who can a) READ before responding, b) respond to the POINTS raised, c) make claims based upon experience or research, and D) most importantly, actually partake in the hobby being discussed.
Pbb, still haven't noticed a list of what you have tried in your own system and what effect if any, you noticed. Listening to music is not about "hard data", it is about engaging your spirit. Maybe the manufacturers must be as scientific as they can be, but the result is what is important, and it is your ears that cast the final vote. Can't you get off the show me the numbers dogma? I said earlier "try it, you'll like it". What have you tried, and what were your experiences?
Bmpncyc, the only store bought isolation device I have are four rather ancient Audio-Technica feet under my Arcam FMJ CD 23. The speakers are spiked to the concrete floor of my listening room. In all honesty I can tell you that whether the AT feet are under the cd player or not, it sounds the same to my ears. The same goes for the spikes. Whether they are there or not, the speakers sound the same to my ears. No great and sudden revelation image-wise, up, down, depth, height no change in bloom, tunefulness, and all the other expressions I could use to describe the quality of the reproduced sound.

The preamp is on a makeshift stand, metal tubing on casters. The power amps are on ancient Radio Shack speaker stands, with crappy casters, the stands are not even welded but put together with carriage bolts. I have vinyl bumpers from Home Depot on the upper portion of the metal plate on which rests the preamp and on the upper portion of the square tubing where the power amps rest. That's it, that's all. I have never heard in normal listening of music any effect of having any or all of these things there or not.

Curiously enough, one of the improvements of the Arcam cd player over its predecessor is the use of isolating materials. Since I have never heard the former and since other changes have been made between the two models, I can't tell you if this better isolation has brought about better sound. One sure thing, I am not going out to borrow one in order to compare it to the CD23. If something is cheap and will provide me with an extra measure of peace of mind, I will try it. Like I said if it can't hoit. But, at the risk of repeating myself, I have not heard any significant (or insignificant for that matter) improvement with any of these devices. Again, if vibration was the cause of such problems on ss amps and preamps as believed by many here, the mere fact of displacing the equipment in the room would affect the sound. Again, whether the amps are in front of the room, to the side, to the back, I have never heard any change in the sound they produce. I have excluded turntables from any statement I made on the audible effects of vibration. I have done likewise for cd players, although it would be impossible to argue that they are anywhere near as prone to the ill effects from airborne or structure borne vibrations as the analogue tt. I have even excluded valve equipment, which has a reputation of being somewhat microphonic, although I did not notice this when I bought my AR preamp.

It is strange to realise time after time that hidebound people think that the hobby has got to match their conception. As far as I can tell the person making claims of the existence of a phenomena should have the burden of proving it in some fashion. Repeating that it is so because it is so or that any half-wit can hear, see, feel, taste or smell something is not proof, but merely arrogance. Assuming on the flimsiest of observation that something exists and then saying that it is up to the opposing side to prove it does not does not advance one's case very much.

In closing I have a sub-question to those familiar with the "industry": are powered or active speakers the antithesis of high-fidelity since the amps have no place to hide from the dreaded vibrations or are the amps used therein specially protected from vibration by esoteric and heroic means such as braced capacitors. Maybe someone with such speakers could share his/her concerns over living with such calamitous devices.
This continuing discussion reminds me of the story of the big game hunter stalking the grizzly bear.

The hunter drawing near the beast, levels his weapon to fire but is suddenly overpowered and sexually abused.

Returning to the same spot the next day, the bear again gets the jump on the hunter and is sexually abused again.

The third time the hunter returns he is startled when the grizzly suddenly rises up from the bushes, getting the jump on him once more.

Just before the bear begins to take advantage again he asks, "You don't really come here to hunt do you?"

Pbb, the reason that active speakers are not more popular is because they would preclude the use of esoteric cables, isolation devices, etc. There would be nothing to tweak, audiophiles would not be able to experience the sonic virtues of various tweaks because they would be redundant. Now that's no fun is it? ;-)
Neubilder, that has been my take on this for a while now. I even, tongue-in-cheek, once proposed that we go back to stereo consoles with everything hardwired. I would love to hear improvements brought about by tweaks. Unfortunately, I can't just fib to be part of the club. Do I hear improvements when I change things: yes I do. When my cd player was changed, I got a home trial and was happy to discover a great improvement over my previous one. I had no great qualms about the fact that the specs didn't show much of an improvement. The power amps I bought because the ARC preamp I purchased sounded with the power amps I then had a bit shy in reproducing the snap, splash and tinkle of percussion. Had I had the money' I would have dumped the preamp then and there in favour of a Sim Audio. I chose to buy Bryston 7b STs and the snap was back with the most controlled bass I had ever heard. The break in period was for my ear/brain processor and not the hardware. So I am happy. I would like to upgrade the speakers, but that is mostly because I heard Vandy fives and was impressed. An anachronism probably, but I think it better to leave well enough alone most of the time and to buy as many new recordings as I can. When I have to sit on the edge of my sofa and squint while getting a now I hear it now I don't feeling, I know that it's my imagination doing the work. A host of tweaks in any given system might produce by an additive effect a measure of improvement, but I fear it would still be marginal compared to changing a major component. I just don't have the time and resources, let alone the patience for a long trial and error process. At one point you have to stop fretting about the gear and enjoy the music. If that means that I am not a true audiophile, so be it; maybe I should start a club for music devotees of limited financial means. Cheers one and all.
Pbb, it does take time and patience to become aware of some changes in sound quality. If you walk into a new room, it takes time to notice the flaws, even if first impressions are great. If you were at my place for a few days, listened to my system a lot, I am sure you would notice a degradation in sound quality if I removed my isolation stand under my CD player and you would also notice the improvement upon its return. Not being a scientist I can't offer measurements, but my positive results are enough to satisfy me at the moment.
Once I am settled into my new place and I have a more controlled listening environment... I herebye solemnly plege to invest the time and funds (2.25$) to invest in some bubble pack (maybe even some other freebies) in order to try to discern differences resulting from vibration isolation. (though logic and common sense STILL tells me stands ARE NOT ISOLATION when the room is filled with vibrations - but I will cast aside common sense ;-) and give it a shot.

My perspective going into this is as follows:

- that isolation for speakers is a given (though differences may be very subtle depending on set-up)

- isolation for turntables? Naturally. - well, according to Ivor (at Linn) and REGA - a lightweight wooden IKEA table is perfect. But that is because the engineers have already solved isolation issues in the design of the table itself.

- isolation for CD player? - Well.., theoretically I guess because things are moving in there.

- amplifiers/ preamplifiers? Ha! - er, I mean, I'll find out for myself when I do the test.

I do admit that I used to be skeptical about speaker stands for bookshelf speakers - until I tried them. They did (he says sheepishly) make a noticeable difference - but the concept behind speaker stands is much easier for me to get my head around. They stabilize the speaker as well as place it in the best location in the sound field - away from sound refracting objects and things that will resonate. Basic stuff.

My present place is cluttered because I'm getting ready to move. I also have an nearly-finished pair of floorstanding speakers that I am building that are standing next to my Keilidhs. They look a bit like frankenstein in their present state - wires and crossovers hanging out all over the place. I think this is not the best scenario for doing an experiment such as this - not that I would be doing this test using my homemade speakers, but they say passive transducers muck up the sound quite a bit. - this too, is a concept I can believe.

Despite the occasional mud-slinging I think this is a very good thread. Toodles.
In my opinion, vibration isolation offers probably the largest improvement per dollar that one can make to a sound system. Start with speakers first, especially subwoofers. And proceed from there.

What we would like is for only the transducers to vibrate (loudspeaker drivers, cartridge stylus) - and of course the air - but nothing else. Every other bit of vibration will in one way or another add "grunge" or coloration which obscures or masks the music we wish to hear. Many of these effects are well described above, by Audiofile9, Albertporter, and others.

If you live in a wood frame house, the likelyhood is that you will have a lot of vibration of floor and walls which originates from the motion (desireable vibration) of the drivers in the speakers. Maybe Pbb listens in a basement with concrete floor and walls? A simple, fun way to learn about this is to explore your listening room with your hands. Feel your speakers, the floor, walls, equipment racks, and components.

Start with your speakers. You need something soft (and preferably linear - but that is a refinement...) under you speakers. The bubblewrap is a great way to start. When you are successful, the floor near your speakers (and as a result - all the rest of your room) will have no perceptible vibration due to mechanical contact with the speakers. Now what do you hear? In my case the improvement in sound quality is almost shocking (since I have flexible floors, etc). Some times it is helpful to add mass to speaker boxes to reduce motion (reaction mass). Speakers, when isolated on soft "springs", should be bouncy like a turntable (rigid body modes of around 8-10Hz) when you push on them by hand.

Remember that floors and walls have thousands of times the radiating surface area as a speaker driver, and they sound terrible, so the above should not be surprising.

Next, you can sense the need for or effectiveness of equipment isolation racks or platforms the same way: feel with your hands. In some cases, vibration of cables and interconnects can make a difference.

So why do people use pointed feet under speakers? Maybe they have concrete floors, and the vibration of the speaker boxes is reduced. We don't want speaker boxes to vibrate either...

So try it if you like, and share your success with us. What approaches work best? What materials? Has anyone compared metal springs vs sorbothane?
Crp raises some very legitimate issues; I'll share my experiences in that regard.
My floors are concrete & outer walls are cinderblock - very "dead" stuff indeed. Previously when I used a soft / flexible base under the speakers, there was enhancement of perceived bass but at the expense of articulation (some call this 'sloppy' or 'loose' bass; an accurate description.
Changing to spikes atop the concrete actually enhanced deep bass extension, improved articulation across the full frequency band, & reduced some resonance issues.