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.


First of all I do want to thank all those who have taken the time and effort to respond with their experiences and what pathways they have chosen. 

As we can see there is very little consensus on how to tackle this issue. There is a whole gamut of methods to choose from. 

Aside from one or two companies I haven't seen a lot of measurement behind the equipment. And I certainly apologize if I have missed some, I have spent time reading and looking, but I am sure there is bits and pieces of theory and design I have missed. 

What I find fascinating is how this whole issue came to light to start with. In the past the SS gear I have owned has never had sonic issues related to isolation, and when using isolation devices the results were inconclusive at best. So my interest in exploring them was quite minimal. 

The Classe Omega monoblock amps I use and the Trinov Amethyst never showed these issues when using a pair of JBL 4365 speakers. This only became an issue when I installed  a pair of Martin Logan CLX ART speakers. Now it could also be that the subwoofers ended up having increased output from 50 HZ with the JBL to 80 HZ with the CLX. But now this issue has been brought to the light of day. 

I ahve been busy on and off today, but I have had time to sit down and listen and the foam material below the preamp/DAC is consistent in its results, and its effects still follow the same pathway. I have removed them to verify its not my internal want for this result, But the effects are consistent and noticeable. 

These experiences does point me to the idea that squishy isolation is going to provide the results I need. The Townshend pods look like a viable choice. The EVP pads look intriguing, wish I could get a bit more information on them. A friend of mine swears by the Synergistic Research bullet thingies, and there is an isolation shelf on USAM I believe. But I have a hard time accepting the pathway they work, and that they are a reasonable solution for my issue. However he did bring a set of those bullets once, and they certainly had an audble effect, so I am not able to easily discount them. 

Oh as a side note I do use a get o IsoAcoustics Gaia I feet under the Martin Logan CLX ART speakers. The subwoofers do have a set of Auralex isolation bases under them. I remember when I first brought them home, I was dialing them in and had them turned up fairly strong. We have a tri-level house, and our bedroom is upstairs and on the the other end. My wife texts me "what are you doing? Whatever it is stop it you are making me queasy!" The isolation bases broke the coupling with the frame of the house, and she is happy now. 

Looking forward to whatever else you choose to share. 

Please don't end the quest without giving

a fair chance.

Aka Star Sound Technologies. I have been using them for years under speakers and electronics. Truly opens the sound up.

Several good choices here, try several and see what YOU think!

I really like some chinese copies of Finite Elements "Ceraballs" (of course if you have the dollars you can buy the real thing) in combination with Ikea Aptitlig bamboo cutting boards


Critical Mass footers under my LUMIN T3 have really changed my view on isolation. They aren't cheap but work very very well.  

I use granite 17x13x1.25 and 17x17x1.25 under every component. I also have a 2 piece under TT and 1 for the motor and 1 for the plinth then spiked them to the rack shelves. I also use spray glue and aluminum foil on the bottom of each component that totally eliminates any RF between components. Wish I had done that to the shelves when I put it together. That really tightened things up and got rid of some background noise. Then I use foam pipe insulation for the speaker wires, you can either cut into small sections or cover completely.