Tag Archives: turntables

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

Vibration isolation products are snake oil

We’ve saved perhaps the best for last. “Best” because this is a subject that genuinely gets the hairs on the back of some necks to stand at stiff attention, yet there’s ample proof that it works.

Some weeks ago I published this video of a vibration control product demonstration I saw while at RMAF. Nearly 30,000 people have viewed this video and the number of commenters is one of the highest of all my many videos. Passions run high and I think I know why. The idea that reducing vibrations has an audible impact runs so counter to what we consider normal as to inflame emotions often to the burning point. “It just doesn’t make any sense!” is a rallying cry to get the tar heated up and the feathers collected. Yet, the differences are easy to hear.

Few knowledgeable people would dispute that quieting vibration prone equipment matters: turntables, vacuum tubes would come to mind right away. Perhaps less obvious are capacitors that proliferate within equipment, but these are generally accepted by even the propellerhead measurementists. No, what really freaks people out is speakers.

Speakers make the noise we hear in our rooms and systems. They generate sound pressure and should be immune to their own vibrations, dammit!

Ahh, but sadly, the boxes that hold our speakers add to the melee of sound in the room. At the same time they radiate sound waves those same boxes add time audible vibrations through the floor. As well, some would claim those same floor vibrations are reflected back up into the box to muddle the music even more. If you have the time to closely look at the graphs Dave Morrison shows at the end of the video you’ll gain a better understanding of how isolation products—legit isolation products, that is—actually contribute to good sound.

Is there snake oil in accessories? Oh my, yes. Claims and counterclaims that match Carter and his little pills abound with abandon. Yet, I would encourage the person interested in good sound to wade through the bullcrap to find the truth.

As in any of these Fact or Fiction questions, there’s truth to be found if you’re interested in finding it.

Good hunting!

Asheville, Walnut Cove, Biltmore Forrest and Western North Carolina’s Audio and Home Theater specialists present Cane Creek AV and Paul McGowan – PS Audio, Intl.

I’m very picky about how my stereo system sounds, but like Paul, I don’t fret over an occasional tick, or pop, or even a not so great recording.

However, if things don’t sound great to me, for whatever reason, like relative humidity, power delivery to my system, breaking in a component or part, I just turn the system off and look forward to trying again the next day.

If I ever quit screwing with my system, it would probably sound great every day, but such is being an Asheville audiophile. Always looking for a little better and willing to try new things, although at this point, the big things are set in stone, like Rogue Audio and Aragon power amplifiers, Rogue RP-7 preamps, Well Tempered Labs turntable, PS Audio DSD DAC, etc.

Finding irregularities

We love smooth and perfect and shy away from irregularities. When I find a smooth surface, like a kitchen countertop, I feel compelled to rub my hand on its face to appreciate its perfection. Bumps and blits underhand are noticed immediately and I want to get a wet rag and scrub them clean.

It’s almost as if we expect perfection to be the norm, rather than the extraordinary, and we work at eliminating all that does not qualify. Yet, when you think about it, most of what we see, hear, taste, feel, and smell is unremarkable; normal, as in having its fair share of irregularities.

On a good day, I am a tolerant listener ignoring the occasional bloated bass peak or tick and pop heard in Music Room One. On other days it’s all I can do to not to cringe when I hear them.

I have come to a sort of peace with the matter by developing an internal switch I can mostly toggle at will. On days when all I want to do is kick back and enjoy the music, I turn off my irregularity microscope. On days where I need the laser focus required for voicing equipment, back on it goes.

Indeed, our internal measurement systems are far more variable than the machines that attempt to emulate us. Learning that my sensor’s tolerance levels are adjustable through training has been a big help to me in my quest to both build better equipment and enjoy it too.