Wood blocks underneath components?? snake oil?

Hi, I have read that putting some sort of woood blocks underneath components helps in the sound. In particular, I believe Ayre actually suggests doing this. Can anyone explain to me how this helps?
No snake oil at all, great for resonance control and added dampening. Very inexpensive DIY techniques, I would even go 1 step further and try Frank Tchang's feet, beautifully designed stacked and insulated wood feet with holes drilled throught the structure, really tunes your sound.
If you go on to the Cardas.com website to read about the Cardas Myrtlewood Golden Cuboids, the basis for this product introduction is explained. It is hidden in the "accesories" section.
Ayre has these labelled for them, I believe.
Basically, vibration absorbing, and an apparent tuning effect, combine to improve performance. Works well where I have placed them, but no single brand of reasonably priced footer is "perfect" for every component, so you have to listen when trying the myriad of footer choices out there.
The Cardas Myrtlewood Golden Cuboids (the rather Biblical sounding name kind of gets you in the mood to hear better performance, don't you think?) are inexpensive, don't add any instability to the supported component, and do not add much height, compared to the original equipment feet.
There are now very many support products competing to create the best support for a given item. If you never try any variations in component support, then you may never "miss" them, but fascinating to hear differences, if that is a part of the audio hobby you might enjoy.
The idea is that different kinds of wood have different energy absorption properties. So unless you live in a cave and hang upside down maybe just maybe you will hear a difference in sound change. I would just get a very good rack or an attractive piece of heavy furniture to your liking and enjoy the music.
No more snake oil than the alternative methods (theories) of 'draining' vibrations or isolating from incoming vibrations.

You have some kind of metal pointy things at one end of the spectrum and soft squishy things at the other end. Seems like wood blocks of some type would be a nice intermediary position. But why Myrtle wood would be better or worse than plywood, pine, birch, mahogany, oak etc, I couldn't begin to fathom, except that each has different densities and might work better for draining vibrations at certain critical frequencies.

BTW Cardas sells those little blocks also and makes the blocks that Ayre sells. Uses the same magic formula as he uses in his cables. I use his cables, maybe.......

If I might make make a suggetion - go to Home Depot, or some such, buy a board ft of soft pine and a board ft of hard oak, cut it into 4 pieces, put them under your component and see for your self if it will make a meaningfull difference to you. If you can hear anything at all get in line for some of those Myrtlewood specials, they are cheap enuf as tweeks go.
For an explanation go to: http://www.stereotimes.com/

the "Archives" section and the article "The Art and Science of Audio System Tuning, Part 4."

I've experimented with their recommendations, and found that wood blocks make changes in your system and those changes vary with the type of wood used. I've even measured the differences with my SPL meter using a test record and different frequencies yield higher or lower Db levels depanding on the type of wood. But you don;t need a meeter because the differences are clearly audible. I found zebrawood to be my favorite and is now under all of my equipment - I wouldn't be without them. I did find an even greater improvement with something like a Vibrapod placed between the wood block and the equipment shelf - equipment on top of wood block on top of soft absorber on top of shelf. V-Pads - rubber/cork absorbers - make a good cushion under the wood block (or under anything, for that matter)- V-pads are cheap @$2. and available heating/airconditioning suppliers.

But you don't need to spend a lot to experiment with wood. Simply go to a local hardwood retailer and buy 1-2' of a few types of wood, cut them into 1"x1"x2" or larger blocks; at lease one dimension should be longer than the length of your equipment feet so that the block can be placed directly in contact with the equipment chassis completely avoiding the equipment feet. And, it seems best not to set the equipment in end grain.

Give it a try. You'll be amazed what changes such a simple and cheap tweak can bring. Depending on your system and the type of wood you use the change can be very positive. Have fun!

p.s. If you can't find any hardwood, let me know and I'll send you some of my extra blocks at no cost.
I agree with Newbee, your equipment will sound different with wood footers compared to Sorbothane or brass points. Some Audiogon members say Maple is best and others like composite materials.

As pointed out, you can cut up a few pieces at Home Depot or maybe pick up scraps of various woods at your local lumber yard. These scraps should be free.

If you don't like the sound, use them to start your next BBQ :^).
thanks guys...i was just curious. home depot here i come...
OH NO!!! Don't go to Home Depot. The scrap lumber at Lowes is much more musical.

Seriously, pretty much anything under your stuff will make it sound different. I agree to try the cheap tweaks like tennis balls, scrap wood, super balls, sandwich bags with sand in them, etc. before spending any serious money to see if it makes any difference to you.
It will sound woody if you believe.
If you have Jenga you can give them a try. Very similar looking to the myrtle blocks. If you don't have Jenga you should try it, it's good for a few laughs.
I put a 2 inch maple block with black diamond racing cones under my CDP and it makes a big positive difference. I took it out the other day when I was working on some stuff and I was suprised at the difference. I will admit, I haven't tried with just the cones or just the block.
oddly enough I just picked up my Ayre C5XE from Ayre Acoustics in Boulder after a small repair. The gentleman there asked if I had ever tried the myrtle wood blocks and gave me three to try. Why not,Right? I still have my minds jury deliberating, but my first impression was more Bass. So I will keep experimenting and determine if there is an improvement. The whole isolation from vibration makes sense, it just comes down to which is best. I have freind that swears by Black Diamond. I have used AQ Sorbethane feet for years under my TT and DVD-recorder. So why not a natural substance like wood? Hmm, maybe Aloe Stalk.....
I use a combination of cocobolo, zebrawood, and mahagony blocks from an old Van Evers kit and I get great results. I used a lot of other types of feet and some work better than others in specific applications. But my favorite footers are the wood blocks and I can't imagine not taking advantage of the improvements in bass, immediacy, and focus they typically provide.

I think Sorbothane is my least favorite type of material as it tends to soften the sound and compress dynamics. BDR cones have also worked well for me in certain applications (mostly the number 4 cones).

One thing that Mike Van Evers mentioned in the aforementioned Stereo Times article is that you can use only one foot to prop up the front or rear of a given component. This will yield a high percentage of the improvement that a tripod arrangement of the same feet would make. At least that's what I've observed. A lot of my components rest on their rear feet and a single block in the front. I usually try the block in the front and then the rear of a given component to determine where it's more effective.
Not snake oil.

There are three materials people use: woods, stones and synthetics. What I have learned is that I like wood - mostly myrtle but lets not overlook ebony and maple. I find that metal cones, blocks etc that sound gawd awful when placed on stone (so component, device, base) sound just dandy when placed on wood platforms.

The most cost effective tweak I use are a set of three myrtle wood blocks between an amp and my rack shelf which is basically some kind of stone.

Stone in my (limited) experience is a fine damper - great for mass loading from the top.

Synthetics are all over the place - there are so many kinds. Generally whether they be Polys, Vibrapods, or Isonodes they work to either stone or wood though IMHO they sound better touching wood.

Ummm, wood resonates, right? Isn't that why they use the stuff for oboes, violins, guitars, mandolins, drum shells, etc? If your equipment is resonating that badly, wouldn't a purpose built dampening material be much more effective?
Hmmmmm, wood resonates but everything resonates at some frequency.

Do a little searching and you will see that this topic (drain it? damp it?) has been debated endlessly.
Please don't mislead people by telling them you hear audible differences, it's just snake oil. I'm not even going to entertain an arguement here, there is no way any of you could pass a blind listening test. If it makes you feel better go ahead and do it, you might convince yourself something changed through the power of suggestion, but saying otherwise is just wrong.
Well there you are. The matter is finally settled.

I guess all of you who thought you heard a difference are feeling pretty silly right about now.
There are two truths. The truth when the non-believers are in the room, and the truth when the non-believers are out of the room.
Perkadin, Re: "I'm not even going to entertain an argument here...."

To paraphrase a famous line from Gone With the Wind, frankly my dear, I don't give a damm, what you entertain, or not!
This type of "discussion" comes up a lot with regard to cables as well. Is there a way we could implement a 2 step approach to determine whether the wood blocks are making a difference? For example, could we use a real time analyzer to look at the systems in-room characteristics with an without the wood blocks (or cables, or magic clocks, etc...) in place, then with the wood blocks in place. Obviously you may need to schieve a baseline via averaging repeated measurements, but hyptothetically could we establish whether or not, in room there is any difference, even if it is as minute as "80 hz is always -1db when the wood blocks are in place". If there was any consistent difference proceed to step 2, which would be to determine whether or not the human ear / brain interface is capable of distinguishing between the 2 scanarios.

I have never seen great data on what the human ear can and cannot detect, and I guess it could be different for any 2 individuals. Still I think there are probably some general characteristics regarding hearing that could help determine whether a reported difference is plausible or not.

Mind you I don't know if this is even possible, but I had to ask.
Sdatch, Why would you think that vibration control would effect the frequency balance of a components output? Perhaps it has a greater effect on vibration induced distortions which while audible to those sensitive to their presence do not alter the frequency response at all. Just a thought...........

Perhaps a better test would be to get something super sensitive and measure a components intrinsic vibrations both under static as well as live conditions (stuff in use in a system) with and without the vibration controlling devise in place. Probably you would have to spend some bucks to get the instrument (maybe a seismograph) and set up a place to do the tests.

That would be step 1. Now, assuming you measured a change in the vibrations, perhaps you will be able to figure out a way to determine the effect, if any, of these vibrations on the sound of components and system. I have no real suggestions to resolve that issue but others may.

Think of all of the rest you would give to the minds of the naysayers who insist on telling other that its not in their hearing, its in their minds. Perhaps you can take up a collection from these naysayers and move forward.

I'll look forward to hearing the results. :-)
I always like the "I don't believe in dbt - I know what I hear" (I just don't have the cojones to objectively prove it apparently). Sorbothane is most effective against vibration, but apparently many don't like it - go figure

The emperor is naked, no wait, maybe he's got clothes on, hmmmm, I can't really see (or hear) that good, maybe I don't know after all, damn, for this amount of money they better do something, or I got suckered, oh well, Mr. Golden Ears says they work, and who am I to argue.

If it makes you feel good, do it.

Next discussion, "soundstage champ power cords - on wood blocks or not".
Tone woods really can make a difference under your components. I was very skeptical myself until I tried a few products from Monument Reference. www.monref.com and was blown away at what it did in my system. They were definitely more expensive than the Cardas Blocks but the results were worth the money in my setup.

This company uses wood like Cocobolo and Brazilian Rosewood to make their products which are treated with a varnish very similiar to what is used on Violins. Being a guitar enthusiast and familiar with these woods, it just makes sense to me..

Anyway, I now use the signature posts (Brazilian Rosewood) under my Amp, CD Transport, and DAC. My system is a different animal entirely without them.

Anyway, huge believer in the wood!

The_kid: do the Monument Ref just sit underneath the component? Are they physically attached in any way? Also, I noticed that only 3 posts are given in a set. I assume 1 is positioned at the front center position and the other 2 in the rear side position making a triangle?

Yes, they sit under the component and not attached in anyway. You are correct on the positioning of the three SoundPosts as well. They actually come with a tool and a thread which assist you in mapping out the actual center/circumference of each component. It is really quite intelligent as the initial setup is very detailed.

There are several different sizes and choices of wood too for different applications. As, I mentioned I was quite skeptical in the beginning but now use them under every one of my components in my two channel set up. I have tried several vibration tweeks (Sorbothane, Vibrapods, Ceramic Cones, Black Diamond Racing, Myrtle blocks, etc) and the Monument Reference stuff is in a league of its own.

My system is in the virtual systems if you want to check it out..


Newbee, the reason I thought of frequency response accross the audible spectrum is that I am not sure how else to quanitfy an audible change at the listening position. I suspect it is this difficulty to quantify that brings everyone back around to DBTs, which I suspect would be hard to set up for resonance control products. Nonetheless I DO use resonance control devices in my own system with my turntable. I think the Walker Resonance Control Discs improve the sound, but I suspect I might go mad trying to find the exact difference with and without.
The Kid (Chris): you said you were blown away by what it did to your system. What exactly did it do? what sonic impact does it have on your components? I assume you found some real audible changes. What were they?
You guys are putting me on, right?
Kenyonbm, nope. This is serious business for some. I checked your system, beautiful. You ain't missin a thing.
To all non believers;

If you tap an electronic component, circuit board, tube, etc. it will be amplified and you can hear this come through the speaker. This is not open to debate, it is a fact that can be easily demonstrated. Some tubes are so susceptible to this that just speaking loudly near the tube can be heard through the speakers, but all components are affected to some degree.

If the vibration induced in the component by tapping is audible, isn't it logical that any other induced vibrations such as those being fed back from the speakers would also be audible? If I change how my equipment vibrates by damping it or some other means shouldn't this also be audible?

This phenomenon is firmly rooted in the scientific principles of basic physics, not snake oil.
That's a good point, Herman. I have noticed the effect you describe with highly microphonic tubes.
Shoot me down in flames here, but is'nt the main point about the Ayre/Cardas blocks not the wood bit(be it myrtle, apple MDF), but the golden bit. I don't use Cardas, but he works on the principal of using the Golden Section. I won't bother to explain it, there is a good bit on it in the Da Vinci Code, if you can get through the rest of the book.
The blocks are made(sorry sawed in bits)in golden section proportions. I am not sure if that is snake oil, but tend to think that if it was good enough for genii like Leonardo or Poussin, it's good enough for me

Seeing how the entire chassis is susceptible to other harmonic resonate frequencies, thus further transfer into the main component mounting frame which the wooden blocks are attempting to minimize, shouldn't we be treating the entire component package for resonance issues?

What other aftermarket products are available, or DIY remedies?
You know, its quite a list and there are lots of things available to address virtually every step of the signal chain from the wall to the ear. I just started writing stuff down and its pretty amazing how much there is...

Cones and spikes for draining the vibration out from the chassis whatever the source

Rubber/sorbothane like substances for isolating the chassis from sources of vibration

Rubber/sorbothane materials for damping cable ends which are said to be microphonic

Things like BlueTack for coupling component and base (esp speakers on stands) to minimize vibrations - some of Herbies stuff fits here

Dynamat and other damping materials to put inside the chassis or enclosure particularly on long metal or wood spans to absorb vibration - Verastarr also has a cool material

Other damping materials for use specifically on tubes to drain and isolate them - includes brass, Herbie stuff, titanium and ceramics

Specialized damping/absorbent materials like EMI shielding tape from 3M and Stillpoint ERS sheets

High tech wall receptacle cover plates and plugs by companies like Oyaide that seek to eliminate structural born vibration from affecting the flow of electrons. Adding to this is the use of ceramic and wood devices to lift cables from the floor where they can be affected by structural vibration, static and the family cat. Consider too that power conditioner manufacturers all recommend isolating their units with cones and bases...

Beyond the spikes and cones that come between object and surface are a whole class of vibration absorbing isolating devices including granite, wood (typically maple), sand, inner tubes and composite materials by companies like Symposium, PolyCrystal and Silent Running which uses acoustic damping techniques derived from those used aboard nuclear subs.

Then you come to the whole subject of the surface that the component sits on - which includes the subject of stands. The Mapleshade Samson and the Grand Prizx Monaco are two that point at the range of possible solutions

In addition there are speaker manufacturers like Green Mountain and NOrh working with cast marble and similar stone-like materials who seek to eliminate vibration by making a container that doesn't vibrate.

Add to that the use of granite, brass and other dense materials for mass loading from the top and of course the irresistible Mpingo dots, Shakti stones etc and you have a monument to man's ingenuity...

Which brings us to the final WAF frontier of room treatments where the waves we have so carefully formed wreak havoc in our undesigned, undamped environment - increasing the need to isolate everything from them too LOL

Sorry for the delay of my response but I just hit the thread again and saw your post. What blew me away was the dramatic change in my systems sound. I first tried the Large SoundPosts under my Cary SLI-80 and was imediately taken back by the change in tonality.

Strings were suddenly more detailed, the bass went deeper and was cleaner, and the treble was more detailed but still had this sweetness to it. Not to mention, the soundstage now went way back behind the speakers. Also, things were more quiet. I could play my system louder yet talk over it with easy. Things were much calmer and accurate. Almost hard to explain.

Being so pleased with my purchase. I ordered a second set for my CD Player at the time. A XA777ES. Results were similiar to the amp but it really made the CD player sound more Analog. The soundstage also just grew. I really wish I had taken some notes to better describe it.

I know use a DAC and a Transport and use them under both. If you were to listen to my setup with the SoundPosts and without. It is cleary an audible difference. I will say that these vibration treatments really make as much as a difference as changing cables in my setup if not more.

Being a hack guitarist and being familiar with tone woods, this product's theory makes sense to me. Hearing a guitar made of Brazilian Rosewood being played versus let's say a Saple Guitar is just huge. Different woods sound different with vibration and posses characteristics.

I believe that Monument Reference has a Money Back Guarantee but you would have to check their Web Page. Give them a try and see for yourself. They are really an amazing product. No BS, No Snake Oil..


Let's see if I've got this right -

1) Vibration induced into a component's chassis can be heard through the system in some form, and it's a bad thing.

2) Wooden blocks modify the frequency depending on the type of wood used, which will induce a chassis vibration at a frequency different than the original. (How could this be good if it was bad in #1?)

3) People don't like Sorbothane because it deadens the transfer of vibration into the chassis. (Ummm, isn't our goal to be closest to the original signal, and isn’t vibration bad?)

4) So, what I got from this is that if you want to change the vibration characteristics of your component to result in a different type of distortion or noise, then you should try different types of wood underneath.

You want to try a cheap and effective method of resonance control? Cut up old mouse pads and put underneath the cabinets. Orders of magnitude less vibration into a component’s chassis.
To Sonfun's point, hockey pucks have been used for this in the past, at much less expense. J10 documented this in Stereophile back in 2001 in his Fine Tunes column. And remember, the NHL cryoes all pucks prior to gametime!
The unignorable manifestation of this phenomena, using woods used as tuning devices, became highly apparent to me when I replaced my equipment rack. The very same rig, when placed on my new rack, sounds very different (and not in a good way) than my original rack sounded. I had to completely revise all of my platforms, footers, pods, cones, etc. in order to attain the sonic signature that I prefer. I still prefer the sound of my older rack but it was too small and way too overloaded for all my components.

Mike VansEvers offers an entire tuning kit, which is comprised of different woods fabricated into different shapes. The blocks are placed in various locations underneath components, &/or sometimes atop of or alongside of components (not so much for mass loading as) for resonance tuning.

Of course you may also place full size platforms made from different woods &/or other composite materials underneath of and atop of your componentry, which also accomplishes tuning adjustments. Anyone can easily discern the differences in sonic signature. Those who remain in denial may not have an adequate level of equipment or cabling quality, or perhaps listening skills may simply be deficient.
I've found that pine -- yes, pine -- makes a huge difference in the spatial presentation of my system. In fact, I recently took out the wall (non load -bearing) adjacent to my listening seat so that I could erect a pine tree I cut down. Occasionally it rustles, but the sonic trade-off is well worth it.
I too am very skeptical of certain tweaks. I mean the Magic Pebbles and Clock have been the source of much entertaining conversation with me and a few audio buddies but I have personally never tried them.

The way I see it, if you have not tried a tweak, your opinion is pretty much null and void. If you have tried it and did not hear or witness a difference, that is a whole different matter.

After seeing the Vibrapods and reading about them I was curious so I tried them. In my experience, they are the WORST sounding vibration treatment available. I see people using them and it makes me question their whole setup as they can make a perfectly good component sound like crap.

The fact that several manufacturer's are putting wood feet on they players should speak to this tweak. To anyone with a Tube Amp and a Digital Source, I would encourage you to try the Mon Ref SoundPosts and see for yourself what I described. Maybe it is just me but I seriously doubt it and no I do not work for the company. Just sharing my resuls.

Anyway, an open mind can discover a lot of things a closed mind misses along the path of life..


Are you still able to listen to John Mayall doing "Back To The Roots" with that tree there?

Funny you ask because this song sounds especially good with the tree in place, as do the old blues standards "Shake Yo' Limbs for Me" and "Ain't No Money Tree, Baby." Go figure.
Bojack, How does it work out when you play "Bark" by the Jefferson Airplane?
How about "Lemon Tree" by Peter Paul and Mary?
I've preferred norwegian wood for the last 30 yrs
I've just begun demolition on a wall in my room but the adjacent tree is oak...do you think it will have the same effect as pine?
Pops, I must warn you against using oak. The acorns act as mini diffusors, plus they are known to lose their leaves in the winter. Stick w/pine. You're on the right track though.
Well, this thread prompted me to try a bit of experimentation. I bought a bit of good quality mahogany and mpingo (african backwood) 1"x1" stock. My reasoning being that these woods are about as sonically dissimilar as any pairing. Mahogany is mellow & woody, Mpingo is so dense it sounds almost like a ceramic when you click two blocks together. I cut several sets of blocks in the small size, golden ratio size Cardas offers. When these are inserted under my cd transport & dac, they most obviously shift the tonal emphasis of the sound, more so than I expected. Mpingo, used exclusively, imparts a definite treble emphasis. I'd say that I like the transport sans blocks, on it's own feet but supported by a thick maple platform. A mixture of two mahogany blocks & one mpingo block under the dac does sound a little bit better that stock footers. Skeptics may scoff, but there is a definite tuning effect possible with wood footers.
Wood you believe?