Tag Archives: vacuum tubes

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.

Too much?

The race for dynamic range in the recording industry is over. We won.

At the beginning of the 20th century the first sound recordings achieved about 15dB of dynamic range. 30 years later, following the Roaring Twenties and the advent of vacuum tubes, we had doubled that number to 30dB. The march ever forward has continued to where today, with the benefit of digital recording, we can boast 120dB and beyond.

And here’s the thing. We do not benefit from greater dynamic range in audio recordings. Already we can capture everything from the movement of a few molecules of air to the sound pressure of a jet engine.

Loudspeakers have yet to catch up but they cannot be too far behind.

The question then is why, after beating THD and IM below the level of audibility, increasing dynamic range past the point of absurdity, laying flat frequency response beyond measure by our ears, are we so danged far from fooling ourselves that music is live in our rooms?

Should we blame the microphones that captured the music? The rooms we play them in? Or just question the viability of the task altogether?

As engineers, we often get mired in minutiae that doesn’t move the needle any closer to the goal—like building better roads on the wrong path.

I have my guesses. You?