I think I use them in the following order:
Analog Sources (i.e. CD player)
I have three Nordost Sort Kones under my SACD player and actually think that they made a real difference, but doing a quick A/B comparison is impossible so it's difficult the be sure.
Turntables, so I'm told, are very sensitive to vibration as are tube based equipment. I think I remember reading somewhere that Nordost recommended starting with the analog sources and working from that end.
My personal opinion is that I wouldn't bother using isolation for digial sources, but some will tell you differently.
There are several different types of isolation devices. Some decouple the equipment and others couple it like the Sort Kones. I think different ones can work better or worse for different pieces of equipment.
I know the guys at my local hi fi store went mad when they got the Sort Kones. The finally sent me home with a set to try out with the promise of a free return. They have almost every piece of equipment on them to the point that they had to steal from equipment to find three for me to take home.
I liked the effect of BDR cones under my SS preamp, but I found them even more
effective when used with Herbie's Grounding Bases.
Under the power amps, I use Herbie's Iso Cups. These are tube monoblock units,
so I would guess you stood to gain too if you used Iso Cups under your own
I tried myrtle blocks under my CDP and they helped, but Herbie helped even
more. Tenderfoot footers this time. Another thing that will help your CDP is
electrical isolation: a small isolation transformer. Also, a reasonably-priced
aftermarket power cord is worthwhile on a CDP. I use an Acoustic Zen El Niño.
I use Herbie;s Tenderfeet under everything I have except my Burson integrated. It has a thick and heavy case (6mm) that not only serves as the heat sink but is so effective at isolation that it makes the Tenderfeet a moot point, otherwise, I'd use them there as well.
I use Herbie's products under everything. The items used, placement and number vary by the piece of equipment.
I have tried uncusccesfully to "mix 'n match" manufacturers when it comes to isolation devices. In my opinion, I find it better to ID a manufacturer you like through some auditioning and then build your isolation approach with that manufacturer. Most I have spoken with, including Steve at Herbie's are very helpful.
For example, my TT rests on a Gingko isolation device that itself sits on a slightly larger 4" thik solid maple platform due to size issues: the foot print of my TT is larger than the top shelf of my Billy Bags equipment rack. Herbie was very helpful in working with me on products he does not even sell.
My two cents...
I use devices under everything and believe everything seems to benefit, including speakers. I use a range and don't believe myself, you need to use the same throughout.
Herbies products are always good value, I use the Isocups. I also have some Stillpoints and Black Ravioli, a UK product. Both are excellent and better than the Isocups, but a lot more expensive, even second hand. I have used or tried some brands I did'nt like, particularly HRS. In my system, they did'nt have much impact.
I am sure the way to go is to look out for second hand products on the Gon or other sites and just try them out.
The type of isolation/coupling to use, and where, and the "amount" of such is a matter of tuning (trial and error). I have never found it to be the case that more is necessarily better. It is possible to end up with a dry, sterile and harmonically bleached sound with too much of what is supposedly a good thing.
I have generally found the biggest effect to be under speakers. Often, the most commonly used device, the pointed spike (really a coupler, not an isolation device), is NOT the right approach over something like a suspended wood floor. In those instances, a platform with a foam type core to absorbs vibration is better than coupling through spikes (e.g., a Symposium Svelte shelf).
After speakers, I would address source components like turntables and CD players. These are sensitive components, but again, sometimes additional isolation is not what a system needs so it is a case of trying different things. I once helped with a trial of different shelves/devices under an Aero Capitole CD player that sounded surprisingly much worse with almost anything under it that is suppose to help with supression of vibration. The designer must have tuned his component for just what was needed (it came with something like Black Diamond cones for feet). My own CD player is somewhat immune to treatment--it doesn't sound that much different with special shelves, rollerblocks, etc.
In short, every system and component is different, so no single magic bullet works in all cases.
I would put everything on Audiopoints to begin with and see what happens. Personally, I use various devices under everything: Audiopoints, Polycrystal footers and speaker spikes, Boston Audio tuneblocks, Mapleshade isoblocks and some inexpensive German steel cones.
Some good responses, thanks. The latest isolation device I was able to try recently was the Nordost Sort Kones. The shop I went to said that he would be money on the fact that I could hear the difference between a cd player without anything, and then with the Sort Kones....well he was right. I heard a lot of difference with the Sort Kones in regards to inner detail, more decay with the cymbals and drums, and I guess a little more air around everything. They are cheap at 60$...I am going to get three for my cd player to start out with.
Sean34, the Sort Kones are actually a coupling device that is in fact the opposite of an isolation device. The coupling devices, in theory, provide a path for any vibration to leave the equipment while isolation devices should isolate the component from the surrounding environment. Having said that, they are used for the same purpose. I have three sort kones and believe that I hear a difference as well.
I wish I had two identical CD players that I could setup identically for an A/B test that didn't involve the delay of installing and removing them.
I think an idea setup just might be a chunk of marble or other heavy inert platform that is sitting on isolation devices with the component on coupling devices on top. Should be the best of both worlds, in theory.
I agree, it appears that the right combination of coupling and de-coupling devices gives the best result.
I am going to try this approach with speakers as well, that's spiked speakers with Boston Audio tuneblocks for speakers under them.
I tried herbies rubber cup and black ball footers under my Modright Sony 5400ES and did not like the results. I then placed black diamond racing cones into each of the herbies cups and wow this improved the SACD player ten fold. It got rid of the slight brightness of the black diamond cones yet kept the detail. I placed the herbies balls by themselves under the separate tube regulated power supply and am pleased with it.
Thanks Mceljo for the clarification. When I heard the Sort Kones, they were under a very high end Meridian cd player and the top of the line JM Lab Utopia's with some sort of expensive SS monoblocks. There was a lot of resolution and detail, so it was pretty easy to identify the difference.
Sean34 - I also heard a demo using Focal Utopia speakers (I think it was the Scala). It wasn't a perfect setup because it was during an event where there were a lot of people in the store, but I could convince myself that there was a difference. What I told the salesman was that I could hear the A/B difference, but I doubted that I'd ever notice if they were not installed and nobody let me in on the secret.
When I did some A/B stuff at home I can easily describe the difference that I hear. On one particular CD there are areas about half way to the center from each speaker where I can almost hear things overlapping without the kones, but with them installed everything has air around it. It sounds like snake oil to me when I say it out loud, but it's my placebo and I'm sticking with it.
Ironically, I installed foam corn pads (i.e. donuts) on the bottom of the SACD player to prevent it from sliding off of the kones and I swear it sounded worse than without. That's an even harder setup to A/B, but I took them out. My theory is that the foam pads were providing a level of damping that was directing the vibrations around the kones.
Have a question that runs a bit tangent to the above, but assuming specified weight limits are not surpassed, is it preferable to use as few isolation feet as possible? i.e. the logical arrangement is to put four feet under a piece of equipment for solid balance, but if going by specs, two is sufficient for the gear in terms of weight, on paper is that the way to go?
In real world of course such balancing acts on pricy gear may not be for the faint of heart, but I have been given the impression previously that if you could you should. Not sure if this is true or not. Would like to experiment myself at some point, but was just curious if anyone has any opinions on this, real world or theoretically.
I wouldn't call it an opinion but I always use three feet. It is stable and sounds better or the same as with four. One foot always goes under power supply or turntable motor if it is not totally separated. With cd player/transport or cassette deck I just move the feet under the component and listen.
I would see no reason to use only two feet and I doubt it would sound best.
Inna, when I purchased my Nordost Sort Kones I found it interesting that the Nordost website/white paper indicated that improvemetns could come from using a single Kone. They said that wine bottle corks could be used for the other two feet. This could be marketing hype to get people to at least purchase one or two of the Kones if three was too expensive, but it was an interesting concept. I can't see myself sitting my equipment on corks.
With your indulgence, a rant:
If I walk into a familiar room, full of knickknacks, Im much more likely to notice a newly acquired knickknack, than I am to notice the removal of one. Thats because, over time, we all become consciously blind to details that are very familiar to us; or at least, we lose some awareness. Okay, where am I going with this? There is no element of audio that I find more agonizing than the struggle with isolation devices. Chief among woes, is that there is usually a give and take factor; and I notice what they add to the music long before I notice what was subtracted. Heres the rub: since I can find no science to help me determine their proper usage - not to mention the outrages prices and snake-oil factor - I feel trapped. If I dont use them, then what am I missing? And if I do use them, then what am I missing? Thank you for your indulgence.
The purchase and support of products that Claim to isolate should be a buyer beware alert. Isolation only exists in the absence of matter. Products that claim to isolate are a failure from the start based on such a premise that cannot deliver. At best these products merely re-tune your system to the flavor of the day. Mixing several of these non -isolation products together is the audible equivalent of trying to eat a soup sandwich. Resonant energy is still trapped and slow to leave it really needs to be provided a grounding pathway. Tom
Re-tuning or, better, correct tuning is perfectly fine with me. What is correct? Well, I trust my ears, the ears that actually listen.
One Kone and two corks? That's funny but why not if it sounds right? Somehow I doubt it though.
I found using Herbies Tenderfeet under Digital, and Isocups under all tube equipment has made me stop thinking about isolation, and that is worth the price of admission (whether they make a difference or not).
Another tangent that I've found unfortunately true is the placement of third party footers under any component. Initially trying the logical route of placing feet under power supplies, transport mechanisms, etc did not always end up being the optimal configuration. Also, I can hear slight differences that are usually a matter of give and take (ie in one configuration bass is more solid but sound is muddier, opposite for another configuration). Experimentation can be maddening. But I have, for the most part, consistently heard a difference with using after market footers. Many times not necessarily better.
I wouldn't call the experimentation maddening, but it certainly takes time and patience. In my limited experience I never found stock feet to be good enough, just as stock power cords. But I don't own really expensive equipment so maybe at that level results can be different.
...Resonant energy is still trapped and slow to leave it really needs to be provided a grounding pathway.
... which may explain why my turntable sound improved so much when I placed my coned and footer'd turntable on top of a massive 30+ lb. butcher block cutting board. In fact, I'd been using a 10-lb. cutting board and the swap to a much more massive one made a dramatic improvement in lowering the noise floor and bringing out inner detail, dynamics everywhere, and truth of timbre.
The amount of sink mass needed is probably proportional to the amount of vibration in the device, and of course turntables have the most.
You now need to ground/terminate the 30 lb. slab it has an even greater reserve to fill of unwanted resonance. It can sound even better yet. The whole process should be to direct the energy to ground/the mass of your floor. These pathways to ground should be reactive in material and geometry. Vibration can be given direction. What turntable are you using? Tom
You now need to ground/terminate the 30 lb. slab it has an even greater reserve to fill of unwanted resonance. It can sound even better yet. ...
I'm currently using the butcher block as an isolation platform. My turntable is a Technics SL1210 M5G. I replaced the stock feet with M6 threaded brass cones which have detachable points. When the points are removed the bottom of the cone presents a concave surface. I place the cone's concave surface on the steel ball of the Vibrapod Cone, which then rests on a Vibrapod Isolator. This assembly then rests on the 15"x20"x3.5" rock maple end grain butcher block, which is isolated from below by a pair of 3"x20" silicone gel wristpads designed for computer keyboards. This assembly rests on the top shelf of my rather budget but rigid equipment rack. I isolated the butcher block from below as well because the turntable's pickup could send finger taps on the shelf out to the speakers. This is much reduced now.
You can see the whole assembly here
You could experiment with something different under your maple platform, I mean cones or perhaps Mapleshade isoblocks. I certainly would.
You could experiment with something different under your maple platform, I mean cones or perhaps Mapleshade isoblocks. I certainly would.
Well, I do have a drawer full of Vibrapod Isolators I could try in lieu of the silicone gel pads. Looking at those two options from an isolation standpoint, the gel pads look like they have far more damping mass to absorb vibrations, though.
I first picked up the gel pad tip from a DJ who used them under his Technics SL1200s in dance clubs. He said it made a huge difference in how far he could turn up the volume (and bass) without getting feedback. They're very effective at that.
This cannot be answered definitively. Sometimes the Cardas blox or Racing Cones may be better than the other, but sometimes not. Each will change the sound somewhat, and you must determine which you like better. I had the Cardas blox under my preamp, I switched power cords, and they didn't work well for that configurtion. I got my preamp updated and the Cardas blox went back into their position under the preamp again. There are many of these kinds of devices..each has their place..could be in a drawer. You must listen and decide for yourself.
I use the resonance grounding method. You could describe it as a grounding rod or lightening rod. Vibration itself can be given direction with the use of similar hard materials all reactive by nature. These reactive materials also need proper geometry to help in the collection and re focusing of this collected energy. As in a relay race the pass of the baton is the the critical factor in maintaining the timing and the speed. All has to be similar and coherent, the less touches there are by different materials the better and more real is the result. Your thirty pound butcher block base is large in capacity and is similar to a tub or a sink with much water or energy quickly filling it from the top but it's drain is restricted on the bottom from the use of very slow materials, its nearly clogged in effect. I would use cones made of brass, materials of music they are. Even if you had 10 different brass cones from 5 different vendors they would all sound different based on mass and geometry. The cones also need to be terminated in kind and with like materials. These methods when activated throughout your system will make it come alive. All this works for me. Tom
The demo Nordost did in the Toronto show provide a very good example what the change in sound will be like. I found one set of these is the best and should be put in the CD player. I also heard similar result in friend's house, tighter image, better black and noise, with BC kone. In the show, the TC kone give a much better pace and dynamic but the BC kone has a warmer tone.
Alleung - How did they do the comparison of the Sort Kones at the show? I've always wanted to hear two identical sources sitting side by side with one having Sort Kones for an immediate A/B change. Taking out the kones are swapping their location should give some confirmation of the actual change. Since I only have one SACD player it takes a few minutes to swap the Kones in and out and I'm convinced that the placebo levels increase in anticipation of whatever the expected result is. It's almost impossible for the average joe to own duplicate equipment...
Using Nordost sort kones -- in placement priority FIRST: the AC power conditioner/distributer (like a Shunyata Hydra, etc.), then your phono stage preamp, then source equipment (SACD player, DAC, server, etc.) then your amp/preamp/integrated, etc. I received this priority list from NORDOST at T.H.E. Show at Newport Beach 2015. I bought 12 bronze kones at the show and WOW, what a huge difference. Highly recommended.
I use Nordost cones as well and yes they are very good.
But they actually made the sound worse when placed on
MDF shelves , on 4" maple they are outstanding .
IMO the Bronze are so much better than the entry level AC I would not consider them.