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.


Oops - I think I may have missed responding to a couple of people ...

@n80 ...
williewonka, I made some feet for my preamp out of walnut that I had lying around. The rubber feet of the pre-amp sit in the little divots on top, the wood blocks sit on 1/4" sorbothane pads. Does any of this make any difference? I have no idea. Kind of doubt it, but total cost was about $12.
I originally had sorbothane on some DIY feet I positioned under the components foot, but after trying the same feet placed directly under the components case I found the image became much more focussed and larger, with more clarity

Steve (Williewonka), After reading your suggestion, I might try using my piece of leftover marble, and set it on the top shelf under the turntable with a piece of tool drawer liner, or constrained layer damping in between, once I figure out what that is and how to get it., Thanks for your ideas.

There is a company that builds shelves for components racks that utilize the constrained layer damping for their shelves made from foam filled stainless steel - but I have forgotten their name.

Here’s one that makes complete racks

But since I am all about using  an affordable DIY approach I found the tool drawer liner "sandwich" approach to be very effective - but the above rack does look very nice :-)

I also take a similar approach with my speakers because they are on carpet...
- Speaker has cone feet and sits on a ceramic tile
- then a layer of drawer liner under the tile
- then a granite tile with one of the multispiked carpet protector feet at each corner

I didn’t want to allow the speakers coned feet to penetrate the carpet/underlay

It is a very stable solution once the carpet and underlay compresses, which takes about a month - my speakers weigh around 50 lbs each

WRT cone feet - I have had a chance to experiment a little more and found the position of feet makes a difference e.g.
- my amp has a foot either side of the large transformer and the third foot positioned for optimum stability
- my phono stage has one foot under the transformer, another under the circuit board and the third foot positioned for optimum stability
- My Turntable - was a little more complex - please see
  • "Rega Custom Turntable Foot Placement" (last entry)
  • on My System...

I only use three feet - for stability

The larger feet are not attached to the component - the component simply rests on top of the cones

The smaller feet however, are attached with a piece of double-sided tape.

Hope that helps - Steve

Bamboo is vibration absorbing and pretty cheap too. I use bamboo chopping boards under my components. They come in various sizes too and are stocked in a lot of places which is handy.
Slaw, I'm going to build the shelving like described earlier in the thread and use under the marble for the turntable shelf, some constrained layer damping. Sorry for the late response, but this thread did get away from me. Still not sure what to use between the tops of the metal clips holding up the shelves and the shelves themselves to dampen vibration, maybe some leftover scraps of the constrained layer stuff. Thganks for asking.

If think you mentioned you have a VPI Classic? That's a lot of weight for those tiny clips to hold up?
Slaw, the top shelf for the turntable is already exists and was built in place to hold one of those heavy old big screen TV's that pre-date the flat screens, You know the type. I could set the Titanic on it. I'm building the shelves for the rest of the equipment underneath it. 

Any idea what I should place on those metal clips to damp vibration under the other shelves? 

Cocobolo...not sure if it would make any difference, but I just like saying "cocobolo"...I just bought a cocobolo guitar so that might explain everything.
There's a vinyl based damping material that is pressure sensitive that I've found to work well in certain situations that's available from that may work for you.
Slaw, thanks, I'll check out your link.

Wolf_garcia, I wish I could say the same for your Cocobolo suggestion. It does roll off the tongue though, in a Bananarama sorta way.

granite is sold as surface plate used for inspection in machine shops...look  at grizzly tools website
@williewonka, the brass cones look beautiful. A set of brass "audiophile approved" cones would fetch hundreds of dollars. Great that they’re performing so well, and well done on admitting you've made mistakes along the way.
Lots of good reading on your website as well.

I went all in on maple platforms for my components after reading so many recommendations. It’s like I upgraded my components; the imaging is very focused with XL separation of instruments, micro-dynamics such as the attack and decay of drums are now more revealed, and the top-end of my digital sounds smooth and organic. Music is much more realistic.
I’m using the suggested setup of hard footers under the components which drain vibration into the maple plinth. Then pliable damping material between the maple board and the wood shelf.

@lowrider57 ,

Might I suggest, if you have room enough....below your maple plinth, recess springs into another recessed hole into the wood shelf.
Slaw, I dont have room to try springs in my rack which has fixed shelves. On each component I have damping weights on top, next are the footers, a 1 inch maple plinth, then a decoupling layer. I also need space for the heat from tubes.
For footers I’m using some DH Cones and also footers utilizing brass bearings.

Between the maple and shelf I’m using Herbies Grungebusters which are compliant and recommended for platform decoupling. I’m not damping the entire platform, only the four corners to get a lively sound from each component.

My springs are smaller than DH Cones so can usually fit under components in tight situations. Having said that, I’m a big fan of DH Cones and usually use BOTH springs and DH Cones in critical installations, springs to decouple and the cones to couple.
@lowrider57 , @geoffkait ,

OK, this is a rare moment in time where we can agree.

I was in a similar position not long ago when I bought my heavy new Transrotor turntable and had to modify my existing flimsy rack to accommodate it and create an isolation base.

Reading the many threads and forums, and soliciting info from other audiophiles was enough to make me start tearing my hair out because you encounter so many different views and advice.

I took some of the info, and then the rest in to my own hands, bought tons of isolation materials and footers, and tried them out, especially measuring with seismometer apps on my ipad/iphone.

FWIW, here’s what I ended up with:

I re-enforced the top (thin) mdf shelf of my Lovan rack with 1/8" steel. It’s quite remarkable how much solidity that steel creates when bonded to the mdf (I used a product called "wall damp" used to damp vibrations in walls, as the bond).

Isolation base:

2 1/2" Maple block
1/8" steel sheet
MDF layer of 3/4" and 1/2" sheet, bonded by wall damping
sitting on Townshend Isolation Pods (spring based pods)

(Actually, I also threw in some thin sound-damped steel discs that I had ordered to test, between the pods and the MDF, mostly because I had them to use).

As far as reducing external vibrations reaching the isolation base/turntable, nothing - sorbothane sheets, footers etc - came close to the performance of the spring-based Townshend pods. You can see in seismometer measurements, and feel, huge reductions in vibration getting through to whatever they are holding up. If I put the seismometer/ipad on top of one of my other av rack shelves and stomp the wood floor around the base, it registers huge ringing spikes on the read-out. Place it on the isolation base held up by the pods, and almost nothing at all registers stomping hard around the base, and almost nothing at all is felt with a hand on the base.

All the rest of the material below the Maple block is just there to add thickness, weight, more reduction of isolation through combining various materials, and to provide the right weight for the springs to work optimally. I have to emphasize again btw how much bang for the buck stiffness you get just throwing in even a 1/8" sheet of steel in the mix. It even made the whole base layer obviously more solid, no matter where I through it in within the layering.

Don’t ask me if all this had benefits on the sound as I don’t know. There was no practical way to do a before and after. But in terms of a peace-of-mind project, and knowing how much vibrations were reduced, I’m quite happy with the results.


I don't think of Daedalus as a tweaky company, but he does purvey these.

The wood insert sits on 3 ball bearings inside.

Prof, thanks for you suggestions. It is confusing when you try figuring out what to do when you’re researching online. So much contradictory advice, all well meaning, but difficult to sort out. I got a estimate on some wall damping material just the other day. It turned out to be prohibitively expensive $400+ for just a small quantity of one inch squares.

I do like your idea of using a layer of sheet steel, Do you have the sheets steel connected to one the other materials with anything but the stickiness of the wall damp material?

I’m trying making a sandwich of two pieces of solid Baltic Birch 3/4" plywood with some better quality shelf liner in between as damping. These shelves will be for the CD player, amp, and power conditioner. The bottom piece of Baltic Birch will be screwed into dadoed (slotted) uprights, next the shelf liner, then the upper piece of Baltic Birch will float on the on top of the liner, not in contact with anything else. Next Isopods and cones. Well see if that works. This evening I’ll look up the Townsend Isolation Pods, as you’ve gotten good , measurable results with them.

Thanks for passing on your ideas and how they’ve worked out. I was wondering if I screwed some sheet steel like yours to the underside of the floating piece of Baltic Birch, rather than letting the sheet steel also float, whether that would dampen that shelf it in any way.



It turned out I found no need to actually bond the steel sheet to the base.  It seemed simply placing it between the maple block and the MDF  - no glue or damping to bond - worked fine.  Whatever type of wood I sat on to the steel sheet, the combination immediately became more solid - the wood having a slight ringing "knock, knock" tone when rapped without the steel, and a very dead, dense "thunk, thunk" sound when placed on the steel.

That was the isolation base though.  When I added the other steel sheet to the very thin MDF top shelf on my lovan rack, in that case bonding it (with all damp) made more sense, because the MDF shelf was so thin it could slide a bit over the steel if the turntable above it happened to be pushed.  But with the steel sheet in the turntable isolation base, just the natural weight of the wood placed above it (and the turntable) provided tons of friction and it's really solid.

Thanks prof, I'll have to give it a try. I've had a few sheets of steel cut for some of my vintage woodworking machine restorations, missing door panels fabricated etc, I've two more pieces for the steel fabricators to cut out on their laser machine, so I'll have them crank out a shelf at the same to to experiment with. Appreciate the follow-up,



One more detail in case it makes any difference:

I just remembered upon looking at my turntable base:  As I said, I have the Maple Block (on which the turntable sits), sitting atop the stainless steel sheet, and then beneath that, the two layer sandwich of MDF held up by the pods.

I actually undercut the size of the steel/MDF beneath the maple block so the maple block overhangs the rest by around an inch or so.  The reason is, the Maple block is the pretty part of the whole thing and I wanted it just floating with the turntable above it.  MDF isn't exactly beautiful.  So in cutting it inset about an inch under the maple block, and painting the MDF and stainless steel with matte black paint,  they completely disappear from view under the shadow of the maple block.  So all you see above the rack, sort of floating, is the maple block and turntable.

So actually, not too long after painting the steel on both sides with the paint (it was dry), the paint also provided something of a bond-like friction to both the maple block above it, and the MDF below it.

Thanks for the tip prof. Appearance is important. What I'm planning on doing is cutting a thin piece of veneer on my band saw and gluing that to the front edges. I'll then paint that the same color as the shelving, and put the whole operation behind raised panel doors when not being used. the veneer should cover every front edge including the edge of the marble slab my turntable will rest on. Sounds like yours came out nicely.

I looked up the Townsend Isolaton pods. If I hadn't already spent myself into oblivion on a whole new stereo system, I might have been able to afford those pricey little beauties. Unfortunately after I buy the power conditioner being discussed on another thread and a pair of speaker cables, I have to take a deep breath and impound my checkbook for awhile. Thanks again. 

@skyscraper---yeah, though very effective, the Townshend Audio Seismic Pods are not cheap. But Geoff Kait's isolation springs ARE. Consider trying a set.
Bdp. I’ll look into them. Were you refererring to the Super Baby Promethean Mini Isolators he wrote up on Stereophile or a variation on those?

The Baby Prometheans are rated for moderate weight components. The newer Super Stiff Springs are rated for moderately heavy and very heavy components like Subwoofers, big VPI and Verdier turntables and monster amps like Classe and Lamm. Four Super Stiff Springs will isolate items weighing 75-100 lb. Resonant frequency of iso system circa 2 Hz. For heavier items add one or more springs. For heavy items with high center of gravity you might have to employ a large maple board to obtain a wider footprint for the springs. Four Baby Prometheans are designed to isolate items in range 30-50 lb. For a 60 lb thing add another spring. For small to medium size speakers the Baby Prometheans directly under the speakers should be fine. All springs $12 each. You can now isolate everything in the system for peanuts. 🥜