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 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. 🥜
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?

@skyscraper---yeah, though very effective, the Townshend Audio Seismic Pods are not cheap. But Geoff Kait's isolation springs ARE. Consider trying a set.
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. 



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 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,



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.

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.


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

The wood insert sits on 3 ball bearings inside.


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.


@lowrider57 , @geoffkait ,

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

@lowrider57 ,

Might I suggest, if you have room enough....below your maple plinth, recess springs into another recessed hole into the wood shelf.
@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.

granite is sold as surface plate used for inspection in machine shops...look  at grizzly tools website
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.

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.
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.
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? 

If think you mentioned you have a VPI Classic? That's a lot of weight for those tiny clips to hold up?
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.

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.
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


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?

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.

Hey Slaw,
Yes planning that the TT will be located between the speakers & on top of the rack. 
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?
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.
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?

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. 
@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.
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.

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.

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.

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.....
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.
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. 
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.
@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!
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.