Best building material for vibration free shelving

I am building some built into the wall shelves for my VPI Classic 2 SE turntable, amp, preamp, CD player, and old Burwen TNE 7000A transient noise eliminator (that’s one for you old-timers to remember), as well as my DISH Network receiver box. The shelves must match in appearance the typical looking built-in wood bookshelves already in the room. The shelves will be located directly under my 45" wide flat screen television. They will be wide enough to hold two components side by side, other than the VPI turntable which will have the top shelve to itself due to its extra width. I will be building the shelves high and deep to allow for plenty of air circulation around the components. They will be painted.

My question is, what materials might you suggest building the shelves with to minimize vibration? If they were for books I’d normally build the sides, and top out of 3/4" birch sided plywood, the back out of 1/4 inch luan plywood, and the shelves out of oak to deal with the weight of the books without bending. I will be adding vibration damping feet under each component and am not looking for suggestions along those lines, only material and perhaps design recommendations to reduce vibration.

I was researching this last night online and on site, and saw recommendations to use four thicknesses of 3/4 inch High Density (HD) MDF, also to use granite or marble under the turntable, among other recommendations. I was wondering how birch veneered plywood would work too, as it’s ply’s, I believe, have their grains running in opposite directions. Maybe there’s some way to isolate the uprights from the horizontal shelves to reduce vibration transmission.

What would you think would work best for these built-ins. I’d appreciate any recommendations you have or your experience on this subject. Thank you for any ideas.


Hi, a few years ago I had built a table and an accompanying amp stand out of three sheets of 3/4” MDF.  I trimmed it with poplar and stained it all. The legs of the table are 3”x3” pine legs. The platform for the amp stand rest on wide strips of the mdf that was scrap from the construction. On the table my CD player sits on a maple board in turn rests on brass high hats resting on rubber footers, and tube pre rests on the table similarly except no board. I was trying to go for a mission style along with a stable platform. To do it over I would have sandwiched BB between the outer MDF. I also like the idea of membrane between the layers. My equipment is between speakers but is open around the equipment pieces. Interesting is that the equip testing directly on the MDF is muddy as opposed to the current config that does activates the high freqs. In lieu of the pine I would now consider some type of steel or aluminum tubing filled. I do have wall and corner treatments. Anyway I still am tweaking. Just thought I’d share my experiment.
I think your question is misguided... You should be asking ..How can I isolate my TT shelf from my built-in's?

slaw’s point is well taken. While a stiff shelf is better than a weak one, neither provide isolation to any appreciable degree. Baltic Birch is not only stiffer than MDF, it is lower in mass, so it exhibits a higher-frequency resonance, and absorbs, stores, and releases less energy. The problem with Sorbothane-type rubber products is that they isolate down to a corner frequency of around only 10Hz, below which their isolation properties roll off, becoming a low-pass filter (very low frequencies pass right through). A turntable benefits from isolation to as low a frequency as possible---10Hz is not nearly enough.

The best turntable isolation is that provided by the electron microscope platforms made by a number of companies, but they aren’t cheap---over two grand. Roller bearings (Symposium Acoustics, Ingress Engineering, FIM) provide good lateral isolation, but couple in the vertical plane. The best lower-cost alternative I am aware of is the Townshend Audio Seismic Pod, at around $100 a piece. Put a set of those under your turntable shelf (and/or speakers, CD player, and electronics) for isolation to a pretty-low frequency---2-3Hz. Watch the Townshend video demonstration of the Pod on You Tube.

If you’re determined to build a structure for isolation I would turn to the Flexy Rack of yore. Contrary to popular opinion very rigid structures do not isolate as well as flimsy flexible structures. The easier it is to move an object in a given direction the better the isolation in that direction. Another example of a flexible structure is the Mana stand, also of yore, that employed multiple glass shelves on a rigid frame.
BDP24 has some very good points.  

I hear pods pushed all over.  Some like them, others do not. Its gonna be hit or miss.  

I have a friend with a full set of SRA stands. Huge and heavy.  Vibration can be turned into heat and dissipated if done right.  

Electron microscope stands were the rage but kind of fell out.  Of course people like Mike Lavigne use them, but they are rebuilt with linear PS and other mods.  Far to expensive for the average guy.  

Build your stand.  Try Isopods.  Try my inexpensive feet. Make them with acrylic from tap plastic.   Something will jump out as right.

In all honesty,  I don't know I could make the first big step on my own.  Once your setup properly, the small tweeks become more apparent and easier to gauge as good or bad.  I guess my best suggestion would be, if the music is strident and hard, you probably have to much high frequency. Rhodium power cords were a problem in my system.  Try just plain pure copper. If the sound is flat and blotted, your stand will help.  Try footers of different types.  Spongy gel types will probably go the wrong direction.