What tweak, what to do?

Hi. First time on this forum. I need advice.

The very quick version of my question is: what makes a bigger difference to resolution, bass extention, etc., an decent equipment rack or isolation devices like the vibrapods or tenderfoot?

I have a limited number of $ -- around $200 tops -- to spend to improve my system. I have: Naim Nait 3, Naim Flat cap, Rega Planet, Rega Planar 2 w/super bias (that's got at least 1000 hrs on it), ProAc Sig Tablette 50's with custom stands, Sunfire True Sig Subwoofer Mk2. The flat cap has a crossover that diverts low hz signal to the sub. Odd set up, but, if well positioned, can be fantastic. But it's quite sensitive to set up. The gear is placed on a none to rigid coffee table, with the turntable on a separate side table. All are on carpeted cement floor in basement.

I love vinyl. One obvious thing to do is replace the cartridge with something much better (e.g., Exact, Dynavector 10x5). But I just don't have the $ to do that now.

Another is to get an equipment rack. I can maybe get a used one -- perhaps a Standesign design 4. That will give better isolation to the whole system. (By the way, is it ok to put the t-table on the top shelf with other electronic below? or is it imperative to have a separate support for the 'table?) On the other hand, that would eat up the whole budget, and i wonder if I cant get as much or more benefit from a couple of sets of cheap isolation devices for under the CD player and t-table, and have a few $ left over for other tweaks -- such as herbies t-table mat and grungbuster (comments on these?.

Too many options, not enough $ or information. A chronic problem with a million faces.

Thanks for the input.

Richard M
First, see if vibration is being transmitted to and through the coffee table. If there is, is it floor borne or air borne. If it's floor borne take a look at the speakers and see if they are the source. If so, use some vibration control on them and try to provide some interface between the coffee table and the components to isolate them. You can buy commercial products, but home brew can also be effective. Almost any CD player will benefit from vibration control. Symposium products are good but above your budget. I'm using some rubber / cork / rubber blocks that I purchased through AudiogoN. They are definitely better than Vibrapods and cost less, only $10 for a set of four. Last time I looked there was always an ad for them. Also, consider mass loading the CDP as long its case can support the weight. I would suggest at least ten pounds.
Well, you could go to the lumber yard and get a few threaded inserts and install them on the bottom of your coffee table legs, etc. and install some points. That's the biggest bang for the buck.
Buy one set of used Aurios 1.1 or 1.2 and put them under the CDP. Should set you back less than 200 bucks here on Agon. That's a first step that should make a very audible difference. Of course, it's only the first step :)
I'm sorry that my first post was so short but my grandson needed attention. What I was trying to convey is that in all cases you need to penetrate the carpet and padding to have any chance of controling vibrations. I'm familiar with the Naim components and don't believe from my personal experience that you need to get carried away with isolation. The CDP may respond to mass loading and it's cheap to find out. If your turntable has a suspension then you need to use a light weight and rigid stand and if it's suspension-less you will need to couple it to the floor by way of a massive stand. I believe in a separate stand for your analog rig in either case.

If you can drill a hole and tap the inserts in with a mallet then this is your first step. An added benefit with adding the spikes to your coffee table is that it's removable if you wish to upgrade to a real equipment stand. The total cost for this is less than $10.

Better yet, go here and build this.
Check out the Flexy rack here Type in flexy rack in the search box then hit Go.

Review the following thread for rack ideas. My preference would be for the Ikea "Lack" DIY rack (fairly easy to assemble) which should run under $100 for a 4 shelf version.

It is important to follow the guidelines/instruction (short or no legs on the base/bottom shelf with spikes @ every level).

As the tables are already finished (you have a choice of colors) it can be quite attractive as well (even for those w/o a great deal of woodworking experience).

A cosmetic "tip" is to tape the legs to be cut with masking tape, in order to avoid chipping the finish, and to use use an appropriate fine toothed/finishing saw blade. A finishing hand saw should do fine if you do not have access to power tools.

A dedicated line would have the biggest bang for the buck and leave you some money for LP purchases.
Thanks all. Much to ponder. I'm no DYIer by nature -- my hanbdy skills are in the kitchen. It's often all i can do to built to ikea stuff itself, let alone modify it. But perhaps I'll try.

Viridian: dedicated line? Explain please. Is that a dedicated elctrical circuit?

If you are great in the kitchen then perhaps you could bribe a handyman friend to do some DIY in exchange for a great meal. For sure, if everything is sitting on carpet and not coupled to the concrete floor my first post is correct and a no brainer. Email if you would like photos sent to you for exactly what you need. Find the handyman and I'll send you the inserts and spikes for free. Can't get much cheaper than that!!!! Listen to Viridian too.
SAve your money and buy a good rack. Do not waste your money on isolation devices until you get a good foundation. For your gear I would go light and rigid. Check out Sound Organization or Target. I would also recommend a wall shelf for the TT even if you do not have major footfall problems. Once you get the rack then maybe look to cones, bearings... to manage airborn or internally dources vibration.
The first thing I would try is Ceraball isolation devices. Buy at least 2 from music direct for $100 each with a 30 day return policy. These thins work under anything including speakers and subwoofers. If you have a PLC try them under that as well. Even if you thought your system sounded good before the first thing you will say is how did I listen to that before.
A dedicated line is a direct electrical line from your breaker box to the electrical outlets that feed your hi-fi rig. Your fridge, lighting, air conditioner, etc. will not be on the line, only your hi-fi. The improvements that you can expect are in just those areas that component upgrades do not generally address, a reduction in hash and texture and a blackening of backgrounds leading to enhanced dimensionality. The cost is generally around $100.00 to $150.00 to have an electrical contractor do this for you. It is the best money spent at this stage of the game.

If the Ikea project is too taxing take a look @ Studio Tech's PS series rack (you have to assemble it). The 4 shelf version is usually available online for under $200 (shipped).

Run an online search of "Studio Tech" to find the lowest prices offered.

The Performance Series (PS) is the one to get as all 4 of the shelves are supported by adjustable upturned brass spikes (it also comes with floor spikes). ST's other rack series do not offer the spiked shelf(s) feature.

The adjustable spikes will allow you to level both your CD player and TT (many racks only offer a spiked top shelf, if that), plus such designs sound better.

I use an older version of the Studio Tech (same as the new version per online photos).

Installing a dedicated line is also a good suggestion, but as you use a TT I would start with a decent rack. If you do go with a dedicated line be certain to get a firm quote which includes materials/labor/permit-inspection expense. In my area this generally runs well over $200 as licensed electricians/contracters are not keen on doing small jobs (can't say that I blame them as they are not very profitable).