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.


The use of beads to isolate the plates was a pretty big gain in reducing internal and external noise transmission.  In my earlier models you can see a simple stack of acrylic on corian with 3 beads separating them.  The TT just sits on top.  It does more than you think.  Way before all that I just sat it on a sheet of 5/8 quality plywood.  My preamp still sits on just that. Plywood.  My DAC and server are on a piece of corian with my isolating bead on a square of corian on a piece of loose felt.  Not the sticky back type.  I got the corian as waste from a second ha d reuse shop.  The acrylic from tap plastic.  A drill press helps to make good holes, but clamp the 2 pieces together and just drill 3 holes strait through.  A small hole.  Them take a larger bit and dimple the hole a little larger to hold the bead.  If you screw up, reclamp it, drill another hole next to it. 
@lowrider57 - the difference between various woods depends on their grain. Oak has two common varieties white and red and while both are considered harwood they have very different properties.

I’ve forgotten which is which, but one of them is actually much more porous than the other and would result in resonance from airborne vibrations

For feet there are several good hardwoods to choose from - like ash, maple, beech ebony and rosewood, but again they have quite different properties.

The verdict is still out on man-made products

Problem with hardwoods used for shelving is they tend to resonate with a different frequencies. To prevent resonance you can glue two or more pieces together, but you have to clamp them tightly

An easier way to successfully eliminate most all of the vibrations, I have found that if you place a layer of drawer liner on the shelf and then something heavy on top of the drawer liner - I use a granite tile, but a butcher block will work, then the "sandwich" formed prevents a great deal of airborne vibrations from resonating.

Any type of plywood is not a great solution mainly because you do not know what woods have been used in their contruction. Solid wood is better, but more expensive.

Marine ply is perhaps better than most because it is well constructed with quality wood and very good glue.- but it is expensive

Hope that helps
Actually, we DO know what wood Baltic Birch plywood is made from. Can you guess? ;-). It is the wood preferred by serious DIY speaker and subwoofer builders, and by a number who have made bases for their Thorens TD-124 tables (Art Dudley built his with BB). The 3/4"/19mm plywood is made of 13 very thin ply's, each ply cross-grain orientated relative to the ply on either side. Two pieces of BB with constrained layer damping between them makes a great shelf, turntable base, and/or speaker enclosure. 
@williewonka, thanks for the info. I've been reading that the density of the wood is the main criteria for isolation and preventing transfer of vibration. As you stated, porous wood will result in resonances and less isolation.

I built a shelf for a heavy SS amp using finished ash from Lowes. I doubled it and used wood glue to create a 3 inch platform. I then used Herbies soft dots underneath.
   The wood looked beautiful, but was not very dense like maple. However, it had a nice tonal quality.
Maple is a known good sounding wood for use as a platform. Yet it is not a particularly dense wood. It is a medium density wood. Mahogany is much denser, for example. One of the best Woods for sound, but not really for a platform, is Gabon ebony, a particularly dense wood and also very resonant. I think balsa would be interesting for a platform, a very thick slab of balsa.
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I have heard that there is a lot of wood being imported from South America that is being called "mahogany" which isn't the real thing. I'd say if the price seems right, it probably isn't the real deal. Mahogany is expensive.
Shelves made of a material named Torlyte were all the rage in the UK in the 1980's. It's a very stiff, very low mass manufactured product specifically for hi-fi use. Russ Andrews still sells platforms and whole racks made of Torlyte, for not outrageous money.
Hi Mike,  It sounds like you are on your way.  My hightech consultant emphasized the need to 'fill the hole' because all kinds of reverb gets collected in there.  I was advised to fill that hole above the TT and behind the TV.  Even if you just filled a pillow case with packing peanuts or puffy packing material or an old blanket and hang it behind the TV you can take the space away from the echo.  The biggest source of vibration comes first from your machines and second from the sound waves generated, especially the bass.  Where ever you can dampen those waves the better the room.  If those waves are 'in the box' they are banging up against your stylus and platter too.  If there is a whole lot of shaken going on I want it to be on the dance floor.
That’s weird. I’ve never ever heard of anyone using mahogany for an audio platform. I’ve used oak, grade AA white maple, pine, cherry, walnut, Baltic birch ply, and I’ve used African Blackwood in other application and Gabon ebony. But never mahogany. 
@lowrider57 - a couple of weeks ago I had feet that had a layer of sorbothane between them and the amp and they seemed to isolate the amp from the shelf quite well.

Then a fellow DIYer pointed out that the feet were not allowing internal vibrations from the transformer or airborn vibrations that might vibrate the cabinet, from being "drained" from the amp - he suggested I try brass cones or wood cones without any "cushion" material between them and the amp.

Take a look at this site on drainage and isolation

I now have wood feet under the amp and the improvement in sound changed the mind of this old skeptic :-)

I’m now having brass and bronze cones made to see how they change the sound.

I did try steel ball bearing feet, but the result was far too harse and bright and the image was pushed far in the distance - the wood cones are a little  more forward.

I have also used glass marbles mounted in a steel washer and the effect is a little brighter and more detailed than the wood, but no where near as harsh as the steel ball bearings

I’ll kjeep you posted as to how the brass/bronze cones turn out

Hope you find this useful - Steve
If different types of wood and metal, not to mention polymers and various shapes have such a profound effect on SQ, one has to wonder why multi-thousand dollar amps and pre-amps don't come from the manufacturer with better isolation? 

And why don't critics pan them when they don't.

Seems fundamental. 

I mean, other than providing a firm level surface, why should I have to spend time, money and effort trying to make a $5000 component sound right.................unless that's where the fun is...............
@williewonka , I don't believe Sorbethane or rubber should ever touch the component or footer. It may be used as a layer between a platform or plinth and the shelf.

I'm familiar with that link and I'm a believer. Geoffkait has also provided many comments on the benefit of draining vibration, (Yes our Geoff really does know physics).
I took his advice a while back and ordered DH cones. I'm using them under my PWT transport and the sound is more open and detailed with no harshness. BDR Racing cones sounded harsh. 

So, I'm now sold on isolating all my components in this manner.

Yes Steve, keep me posted.

What kind of steel ball bearing feet did you use? You’ve got me worried since I ordered some footers today on a close-out...

Maybe I should have stayed with cones.

@lowrider57  - many years ago when I first started looking into isolating my components I "created" my own low tech version of a foot using a steel washer and a hardened steel ball bearing - see...

My thoughts were - I figured cone  anchors the component to the shelf, even if the small protective disks were used to prevent the spike digging into the shelf - whereas the ball is less prone to digging in.

It did a great job of isolating the component from the shelf, but a lousy job of draining vibration from the component, because of the sorbothane

Since I now use a piece of granite under the component, using  cone would have less tendency to dig in.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I started looking into "draining" and I thought - what if I remove the sorbothane and just used the washer/ball "foot" attached directly to the case of the component.

It does drain - e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g!

The resulting image was presented so far back behind the wall (i.e. behind the speakers ) it resulted in lower volume. I had to crank the amp to 1 o'clock (normally between 8 and 10 o/clock.) to bring the image back into the listening room But it was very detailed and crystal clear, it just sounded very far off. It also sounded quite "harsh" or "Brittle"

I found the wood cones have the same clarity and a warmer, but the image is more forward and as a result the listening level is back between  8-10 

I have also tried the washer with a glass marble - this is very much better than the steel ball - it does not have the harshness or image issues

The Terrastone looks as though the ball is either steel, brass or ceramic  (from the images on the web) - not sure what the body is made of though and cannot find any details - could be an alloy of some kind?

I've heard aluminum cones are very much like wood, but I have not tried any to date

Maplegate uses brass - like the Bear Paw,

I now have a guy turning some cones from brass and bronze in different sizes - fiigured I would give them a try, see which material provides the best sound.

Hope that helps - Steve
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@williewonka; cool website, I bookmarked it.
The Terrastone is a proprietary composite as are many of these offerings from specialty companies. They get good online user reviews and VPI recommends them as feet for their TT's.
   I don't know about the construction of the TerraStone Roller Bearing, but it is a brass ball. In a review it's compared to Symposium rollerblocks.
I will definitely report my results.

Regarding your footer design, Sorbothane is a substance which dampens vibration, but in your case, restricts the vibration from being drained. It also imparts its own colourations.
And I just re-read your post..
Then a fellow DIYer pointed out that the feet were not allowing internal vibrations from the transformer or airborn vibrations that might vibrate the cabinet, from being "drained" from the amp - he suggested I try brass cones or wood cones without any "cushion" material between them and the amp.
So, you already know this.

I know you're a DIY'er, but I've used some Herbies to protect the surface of the plinth w/o any audible side effects...

@lowrider57 - RE:

@williewonka; cool website, I bookmarked it.
Thanks - hope you find some useful ponters - However, some of the information on there is a little dated and my current thoughts on a few of the DIY postings may have changed a little - e.g. the ball bearing foot with sorbothane is one that will get updated

The Helix cables psotings are still current and I stand by the KLE Innovations reviews, but some of the older DIY cable postings will require some updating, which I will tackle this coming winter season

The Herbies Grungebuster Dots look very interesting and very reasonably priced - I might just give them a try - Thanks

Regards - Steve

Actually, granite can be some of the cheapest building material you can get. ALL fabricators have piles of leftover granite for a song. One day when time permits I'll take advantage of those "scrap" piles and try my hand at finishing the edges to make my own shelves. It would be a nice little business for someone to do. Shipping would be impossible though. Joe
rcronk5, thanks for you relaying your sound engineers advice and your accompanying explanation. I will go ahead and fill the spaces in to suppress potential reverb effects. I enjoyed your Jerry Lee Lewis  "Whole lot of shakin' going on," reference too. 

kingrex,read your link and was impressed with the quality of your DIYset up underneath your turntable, and the diagrams provided. Nice work, you should be proud of. I'm thinking over your suggestions about using beads.

williewonka, I hope that shelf liner works as I'm headed that way for under my marble slab. And thanks for the link and explanation on draining internal vibrations. I hadn't quite understood that process, and how to drain them. Appreciate your explanations of your methods for doing this.

bdp24, hopefully Baltic Birch plywood is the way to go as you say. I've never heard of Torlyte before. 

geoffkait, I'd read years age there were concerns mahogany might be getting logged to extinction. So It's not surprising there's "fake" mahogany being imported. 

n80, VPI does draw attention to it's turntable isolation qualities and isolation feet. Also how could you over drain internal vibrations? You lost me there. I thought the idea was to get them down as much as possible. Is there such a thing as "good vibrations" (outside of the Beach Boys classic). OK, that's a bad joke, but I liked it.

lowrider57, I'll have to google those DH cones and the Herbies link too. I've checked them out before but don't remember much about them.

jnovak, good tip on accessing scraps of granite to use from yards that fabricate counter tops etc.. Been to several of them, but never connected the dots to ask for leftover scraps. I bet they sometimes toss them or their yards would be overflowing with leftovers and remains, Even the common double sink cutouts would be fairly substantial in size. 



I’m sorry for not replying to your earlier question.

I’ve posted a number of times on various threads on my ideas of isolating and /or decoupling which I believe would benefit you to research. If you want, look at my virtual system page. While it is in an ongoing state of testing and not complete, it will give you a visual idea of the direction I’m heading.

Good luck.
I picked up my brass/bronze feet (cones) today. I had them turned at a local metal fabrication shop the make bearing, spigots etc...

I purchased the bronze and brass from Metal Supermarkets - they have locations globally.

I had three diameters
- 2 1/2" bronze
- 2" brass
- 1 1/4" brass
- 3/4 " brass

The angle of the cone is 10 degrees from horizontal. I kept this angle shallow (less pointed) because from what I had read, maintaining mass seemed to be quite important.

The vertical shoulder
- on the 2" and 2 1/2" cones is 3/4"
- on the 1 1/4" cone is 3/8"
- on the 3/4" cone is 3/16"

Botom line - they improved the clarity and details and expanded the image over the Beech cones I had purchased

Bass seemed to have more tone without the loss of detail or texture

Some instruments seemed to be placed further back into the image - so they seemed to get lost a little compared to the Beeach cones

The Beech cones sounded a little richer in that you could hear more of background instruments

I think it’s all a matter of taste as to which ones each individual would prefer

There was no difference between the Brass and the Bronze cones - except the bronze was a little more expensive - there was also very little difference in appearance.

The Brass/Bronze cones (5 sets of three) cost a little over $330 CDN.

The wood cones (3 sets of three) cost $100 CDN

All of the cones worked great on my Granite/Foam/MDF shelves.

The brass/bronze cones looks so much nicer than the Beech wood

Hope you find this info useful

This isn’t an exhaustive comaprison into Feet/Cones - just something I was able to try to satisfy my curiosity:-)

I will try to post pictures in a couple of weeks on my system page

Regards - Steve

I know this might not be practical for most people but when I placed my Denon 51f turntable on my handmade console with a 250# granite top there was a very notable improvement from the 3/4" ply shelving it previously perched on. I say push the boundaries of normal and use some different materials. There I had my say! Good luck 
Has anyone used carbon fiber to set their equipment on? I noticed dragonplate has balsa sandwiched inside two layers of .030 carbon fiber. It looks like it would work well for smaller platforms (strength wise), but not sure how effective that would be. 

Here I am. I’m a big proponent of carbon fiber. I’ve dealt with Dragonplate for years. Never tried their balsa products. I use carbon fiber extensively in my system. Plan on using it in my TT project.
I am not a fan of carbon fiber based on the sound of those Black Diamond Racing cones. They more or less kill the sound. No offense. They look cool, though.
@geoffkait, @boxer12,

I’m unsure of the make-up of the BDR cones. I’m a huge fan of their shelves. They would never disclose the proprietary innards of those shelves...I have a feeling the cones may not be carbon fiber at all...just guessing.

I just scored a pair of custom made (BDR (stands w/ feet) that were originally made for a pair of Thor amplifiers). They’ll work great in my upcoming wall mount for an additional isolation platform for my Townshend Rock 7. Good things DO come to those that wait!
Both BDR Cones and BDR Shelf are made of special carbon fiber composite that includes resin. According to the BDR pages on Music Direct, anyway. Comparing both types of BDR cones to cones that are *very hard* such as steel cones or NASA grade ceramics, carbon fiber cones sound closed in and compressed, relatively speaking.
What are your thoughts on the combination of 1/2" balsa covered with .030 carbon fiber to use as "shelves" for lighter (<25lbs) electronics? Obviously the proper feet would still need to be used as would the interface between the shelf itself & the rack. 
I already mentioned I’m not a fan of carbon fiber. For wood I suggest using only a thickness greater than 1 1/2 inch for stiffness. I’m also a fan of granite and bluestone for their mass and stiffness, especially very thick slabs. Balsa is an unknown for me but I do think a 1 1/2 inch balsa platform would be interesting. I am a fan of The Golden Sound shelf which is also a composite but not carbon fiber, especially in conjunction with their DH diamond hardness cones.
skyscraper, I was poking us...there have already been assertions that over damping causes some undesirable sonic qualities....why not over draining? Surely the concept would make room for another new and hopefully expensive and exotic product....surely we all recognize that in addition to actual physical properties there needs to be an element of mystique in order to produce desired results for audiophiles....;-)

If we can't laugh at ourselves...........then the only people laughing will be.... everyone else.....
N80, thanks for pointing out you were goofing around. Some of this audio and audio engineering talk gets a bit over my head at times. I used have a good sense of humor, and didn’t need jokes explained. A saving grace is that I still laugh at all my own jokes, good or bad. My wife used to find that amusing.Take it easy, Geoff. I’ll catch the next one, maybe.

I still think of myself as an audiophile outsider, so its easy to poke fun looking from the outside in. I've got other hobbies about which I obsess and that likely seem silly to others so I get both sides.

Material for a turntable shelf..
There is no general answer, I believe. I just keep my Nottingham on 3" thick maple platform on the floor with Boston Audio big graphite tuning feet under the platform. I also use Boston Audio graphite record mat. I hear nothing wrong. You could try different woods under your VPI to compare before building shelves. Turntables sound different, what is good for Nottingham might be not so good for VPI.
I have no idea how African Blackwood platform would work with my table, though. It is also a matter of preference. Do you want a very tight sound or a little loose one ? I like it to be slightly bluesy but controlled, definitely not tight and analytical. We are in fact talking about tuning or even fine tuning the sound.

@geoffkait ,@boxer12,

Of note... I don’t use the BDR cones in my system even though I’m a huge proponent of BDR shelves. Just wanted to put that out there.


I’m not sure of your tt or system, or if you have the equipment to do woodworking, etc....

I do and I found out it’s best to try things for yourself. Dragon Plate products are expensive. But what I’ve found out is they are somewhat of a value product if you have the ability to modify these types of things yourself. If you look closely at my TT support on my virtual page, you’ll see some squares under the springs that my TT platform rests on to the MANA wall shelf This material is no longer available but it is highly integral in handling resonances within my system at any point I’ve used it in. I’ve found that raw carbon fiber is extremely useful in dealing with resonances in my system. Most noticeable is the musical bass. This is a big deal in that along with musical bass...everything else seems to just fall in line. This is just my years of testing.
It sounds like we both do the same. I have a small machine shop in my basement along with wood cutting saws, etc. I'm designing a rack to build using aluminum, brass, & ceramic. Probably won't be done for a while, LOL. The platform for the table will be like what bdp24 described except three layers of the .750 12 ply birch instead of two. (My table is very heavy. I made it out of 4" solid aluminum with a 2" solid plinth & 1" marble between them) I'm thinking about trying balsa core (.500 thick) and carbon fiber for the electronics. Currently my electronics are sitting on either corian, walnut, or maple. 
Hey @boxer12,

What type of floor construction will the rack be sitting on? I think, unless your system will be located in your basement, it will be sitting on a suspended wood floor structure? Right?

I can give you some helpful tips if you want them?

My listening room is in the basement so it will be sitting on concrete with slate tile. Yes, I would love to hear your suggestions.
Are you committed to a rack for your TT to sit on top of? Or, is it a possibility for the TT to be wall mounted?

Right now, are you envisioning one rack w/ the TT on top? If so, will said rack be located in the center of your speakers?
Hey Slaw,
Yes planning that the TT will be located between the speakers & on top of the rack. 

I don’t want to, in any way, try to intrude on your rack plans that you’ve obviously spent a lot of time thinking and planning for. Maybe the best way I could give you tips is for isolation on your shelves. There are good ideas here from others on shelf material. Since you have the ability to make your own stuff, you may want to start very inexpensively and gradually go from there. This has benefits in being able to try different cones, materials and evaluating them before shelling out bigger bucks on something that may or may not work. I like to know/hear what the benefits, if any, are with any change I make. Always think about what you may want to do in the future and if possible, try to make your platforms within your rack or on top, interchangeable. This increases the value of them instantly and allows for further experimentation.

You could start inexpensively with MDF and use circles/squares of any material you buy from Dragon Plate as a starting point under your components feet to get an idea of how said material will benefit you.

Example: When I had my VPI Classic 3 on my Symposium Ultra a while back, (I was using Stillpoints SS for the VPI’s feet), I felt the sound was kind of sterile...I put four carbon fiber circles under the Stillpoints and that cured the issue. There are a lot of ways to experiment when you start thinking about it that are more cost effective.

One platform I really like is out of maple, I use 3", and underneath, I use springs slightly recessed into the bottom, ( I like a MDF board under that, that the springs will mate to it’s own recessed holes). On top, I recess the bottom half of a set of Symposium Rollerblock Jrs. flush with the maple’s top. This gives you both horizontal and vertical isolation.

I’m glad I bought my Symposiums years ago. I’ve noticed they have doubled in price now but they are available on the used market and there are other similar options.


BTW, I have a 2'x4' sheet of 1/16" quasitropic carbon fiber in my shop that I plan on using in my TT project I bought from Dragon Plate years ago. The motor enclosure and the platter's plinth will be layers of aluminum, carbon fiber and purpleheart. I know, there is a chance with's contracting/expanding with temperature changes, but I've had this wood curing in my house for years to try and minimize this. We'll see. This is what's fun about DIY?