As An Experiment I Stuck A Few Things Under My Pre-Amp And Am Now On A Quest

My system is built out, got the pieces I want in place, and struggled a bit with how it sounds. With certain recordings it was sublime and with others it could be a bit sterile or mechanical sounding. These are all solid state components in a Salamander cabinet, and up to this point I have never been a fan of isolation devices with SS gear. Now with tube components I did use spike type devices under amps and preamps, so I have had a bit of experience.

Last night I rounded up a few wayward isolation devices I had from previous systems and thought I would experiment a bit. The pre-amp contains the DAC also, so I thought I would start here. Put in some Wagner type pads, and got a different sound with some improved focus but the bass was lean and a bit odd. But things changed. I tried some magnetic pods I had, no change with them.

Then as a whim I cut two sections of foam pool noodle I had laying around and put it under the front and back of the preamp. I oriented them lengthwise. Something fantastic happened here! I got spooky precise focus to instruments, the bass response became impactful, the sound is more relaxed...perhaps a bit too smooth but I will take this over that mechanical presentation any day. This is sounding very nice.

So, after dinner I decide to cut a third one and perhaps the bass gets better. I put it in and all the gains are gone, it sounds worse than the first set of Wagner pads I put in. The bass literally vanishes and the soundstage collapses. Pull it out and things are good again. I listen to disc after disc last night and am pleased with the sound. I am spinning vinyl this morning and still feel the same way.

So now I have a plan of action. On one hand I am content to leave the noodles in place and roll with that for awhile. It would be nice to have a permanent solution though. It seems like I am looking for a compliant solution. I remember Brightstar used to build a little shelf that housed a bike inner tube in it, and I think Townshend Audio also had a bladder type platform.

It would be interesting to know what products folks have used that functioned in a similar manner.

Thanks for sharing any thoughts or experiences.


@neonknight Your experience suggests that your preamp is picking up vibration from the shelf on which it sits. The pads you made are providing some isolation. By adding more pads, they were not loaded as much and so vibration was simply being transferred.

As a general rule of thumb, squishies like Sorbathane isolate; pointies couple. It sounds like whatever your preamp is sitting on is vibrating so the squishies are working for you.

A good quality platform might be the next step. Such a platform can be made DIY; if you look into this here's a tip: it must not be made of a single material, like a block of wood, cement or the like. Its better if two different materials are coupled together to form the platform; each material vibrates differently and so rob each other of energy.

Even with a good platform, it should be isolated from the shelf beneath; the preamp then would have pointies beneath it to couple it to the platform.

Obviously there are better squishies than bits of pool noodles. Look into Sorbathane pads. 

In order of increasing efficacy. vibrapods, NobSound springs, Townsend Seismic Isolation Pods, Silent Running Isolation Base.


The last is by far the best. They are custom made for your particular component. I have one on my turntable… highly recommended.

Townshend all the way. A little pricey, but the improvements are evident. I have my turntable on the platform and speakers on the bars. Tightens the bass up and gives more detail and soundstage. My highs seem crisper and cymbals really sound accurate. The sound jumps more into the room. Love em. 

Townshend Seismic spring-based products get universal praise in reviews and from users, but their stuff don’t come cheap. Other people here looking for a much cheaper spring-based isolation device have used these and have been very happy with the results…

And they’re easily returnable thru Amazon if they don’t work out.  Hey, for 30 bucks they’re worth a try and look a helluva lot better looking than pool noodles!

That's why I have all Townshend Seismics under everything in my system. Speakers, sub, equipment rack, amps, preamps, processors, turntable, DVD player. Everything...The Seismic pods are the least expensive, biggest bang for the buck going. 

Also have Townshend cable loom throughout.