One System For Speakers, Another For Components
We have two Vibration Control Systems, one for speakers and one for components. Our speaker system has three elements: hefty brass footers under the speaker to efficiently drain vibration out of the speaker cabinet and down into its platform; a massive air-dried maple platform to receive and dissipate that vibration; and another set of brass footers under the platform for rigidly supporting everything above so that the speaker can't rock, even microscopically. Our component system design differs in only one important respect: because components are not affected by slight rocking, instead of rigid brass footers under the maple we use Isoblocks as a tuned compliant suspension to isolate the platform from resonances in the shelf or furniture below. Each of our three elements used alone will upgrade your sound. Used together as a system, they yield startling improvements in bass, midrange and treble.
Our systems serve the above three functions of transferring, dissipating and isolating using three single purpose elements, each optimized for its one function. Vibration control components that combine transferring and damping vibration, or damping and isolating it, lead to compromised sound.
Hybrid isolation/coupling devices like Roller Blocks, IsoBearings, magnetic couplers, etc. purport to serve three essential functions—vibration transfer, vibration dissipation and external isolation—all in one convenient footer. Unfortunately, these all-in-one devices serve none of the three functions well. They change, perhaps even improve, sound a bit in one area, but with penalties in other areas, e.g better midrange detail but soggier bass, less edgy treble but slower, duller transients, etc.
Brass Footers Drain Distortion-Causing Internal Vibrations
Electrical signal currents create unwanted vibrations (through both magnetic and/or piezo-electric forces) inside every electronic component. Equally unwanted are the strongly distorting vibrations generated inside turntables by belts or rim drives, bearings, motors and above all by the stylus oscillating in the vinyl groove. In speakers, the mechanical movement of the cone or diaphragm transfers vibration into the speaker cabinet or frame. Our carefully controlled, easily duplicated listening experiments have proven that all these internally generated vibrations distort and muddy the music signal far more significantly than speaker-driven external airborne or floor-borne vibrations, quite contrary to the common wisdom.
Our brass footers are designed for the single purpose of cleanly draining as much internal vibrational energy as possible from electronics, turntables and speakers. We specifically optimized, by ear, our footers' shapes, contact points, material, alloy, and mass to maximize the vibrational energy transferred out of the gear and to minimize the energy reflected back. They do so more effectively and sound better than any competing footer or hybrid at any price.
Mounting components or speakers on standard isolating and damping devices (like springs, rubber feet, sand boxes, magnetic suspensions, or air cylinders/bladders) does the opposite of draining vibrational energy: it traps the sound-degrading vibrations inside the component or speaker, exacerbating the muddying of the music signals, especially in the bass frequencies.
Air-Dried, Old-Growth Ambrosia Maple
Air-dried maple platforms, SAMSON shelves, and speaker stands serve as the optimal sink for receiving and dissipating the vibrational energy transferred out of the electronics or speaker by the footers. Our exhaustive tests of every space age damping material and composite used in high-end platforms today prove solid wood (not plywood or MDF) always sounds better. But each wood species—walnut, cherry, myrtle, mahogany, oak, bubinga, jatoba, etc.—sounds somewhat different and most sound somewhat colored. The same listening test series showed maple to always have, by a sizable margin, the most detailed, transparent and uncolored sound.
Because commercial kiln-drying deadens and weakens wood fibers, the maple used for every platform, shelf and stand we sell has be air-dried for 3-6 years. See here for more details on this and the significant superiority of our old growth, air-dried Ambrosian maple over standard young plantation-grown, kiln-dried lumberyard maple.
The Optimum Suspension For Platforms: Isoblocks
For our component vibration control system (but not our speaker system) the specific footprint, height, compliance and laminate composition of Isoblocks was designed by ear to best isolate the maple platform from resonances or vibrations in the supporting shelf or floor below. The final six-laminate design proved to sound better, in head-to-head tests, than any of the myriad suspension systems we've tested, even exotic and vastly more expensive magnetic or air suspensions.
We do not recommend using Isoblocks directly under electronics or speakers even though they sound better than Sorbothane or rubbery footers—nor should they be used on carpeted floors. They were designed only to be used as the optimum suspension under maple platforms mounted on shelves and hard flooring.