How do you deal with vibration?

Greetings all,

Many of us work very hard to keep vibration out of our equipment. I was hoping we could share our experiences with each other. I was wondering what other DIY methods people are using?

I personally have had good luck with shipping open cell foam under plywood. I find that about 60-70 percent compression works best. I place the foam underneath some plywood (Using spruce 3/4 inch). Then I place the component on the plywood. However, I think this more isolates the component from outside vibration. I don't think it does much to drain internal vibrations, especially in a CD transport.

Also I can not find open cell foam in town any more. I am ashamed to say that I actually went to Wal-mart to buy some. Now they don't carry it any more. So I was wondering where else I can get some?

I am currently thinking about building a Sandbox for my CD player and amp. Then putting the sand box on top of some sort of isolation material (open cell foam or cork rubber etc.) My thoughts are the foam or cork or etc should help keep the vibrations from getting into the equipment and the box should drain the internal vibrations.

Also, what are peoples experience with different woods. I live in BC so I can get most wood fairly cheap. I imagine every wood has it's own sonic signature due to it's resonant frequency. What works best? Solid maple, birch ply, MDF, walnut, mahogany etc...?\

Anyways, feel free to through ideas and experience (both good and bad) out there. It would be good to know what works and what doesn't.

Happy tweaking,
Tvad, another great question and one I would only be speculating to answer. There are three vibration issues (at least) regarding the speaker. First is that produced by the speaker and is retained within the speaker itself. For example within the MDF enclosure and absorbed by insulation products within the speaker casing. Second, the vibration created by the driver that has an ability to move the entire speaker cabinet in the room. If this was exaggerated we would physically see this movement. Third is the impact of the room and floor vibration, or call it the environmental elements. The bearing type products are designed to isolate or decouple the component from the environment. In the case of a speaker the floor and room vibration is isolated from the speaker. This is the area you said you understood. The second is the speaker physically moving from the vibration created by the driver itself. I’ll assume you can see how this happens, so the question is why does a bearing product stop this vibration? My speakers weigh 200 pounds each. They are being supported by a bearing. For the sake of discussion let’s simplify the bearing to a ball resting in a cupped base and a cupped top. In order for the speaker to move, it requires a sideways force large enough to move the ball “uphill” within the cup itself. If I walk up to the speaker and push it, I can easily move the speaker, and it will rock a couple times before it settles back into the cup. The question is, can the drives create enough sideways force to in effect push the speaker uphill. In my case, the drives appear to not have the force to move 200 pounds uphill. I assume if I had my first speakers from high school, (Jensen with 15” woofers, yet they weighed maybe 40 pounds) they would move “uphill” and thus I would feel the vibration. So my assumption is the movement associated with the drivers sideways forces are being dealt with within the ball in the cup. The only way I can see that happening is to assume the ball must move (vibrate) in place and release the energy as heat. I actually have no idea if this is true, just my speculation. At any rate, the cabinet movement created by the sideways force of the driver is no longer present. That leaves us with the internal vibrations created by all five speaker cones in my cabinets. I assume the bearing product has little effect on this vibration, and that this is being absorbed and or stored within the cabinets materials. I suppose some of the vibration could be transferred/ drained to the bearing, but I can not imagine it’s too much. My guess is the cabinet is significant enough in its storage capacity that when I put my hand on the cabinet side I feel very little vibration. That’s my best guess; I’m more than happy to hear other theories.

Nickway, you asked what I thought would work better; foam, bike tube, cork, bubble-wrap, other?? My personal observations and theories are derived from years of threads like this one. I believe the inner tube isolation is fundamentally flawed for two reasons. The platform that is being supported is allowed to “roll” or move sideways. This movement we have theorized smears the leading edge of the note and thus creates a tempo change and lack of clarity. The second issue is the inner tube material itself. It is a relatively thick rubber, used twice once under a shelf and once on the supporting surface. My personal experience is rubber has a negative effect in a number of areas, air, clarity, tempo, bass resolution and so on. (This is not scientific or provable. I understand that point, and I appreciate that there will always be those who will demand proof. I am not a scientist and am in no position to prove any of my finding. I’m simply sharing my personal experiences and those theories arrived at over many, many years here at A’gon.) Cork I have no real experience with, foam might have a positive effect, I never played with foam because of looks. Bubble Wrap as far as I know is my personal crusade. I ran across its effects and theorized it’s benefits on my own and reported the results over about a year and a half ago here at A’gon. I love Bubble Wrap and so any comment I make is highly slanted. First I love it because it’s cheap. Second it improved my system, when place as the center of a shelf sandwich. I recommend looking under my threads to research the actual effects if you’re interested. For now I’ll simply claim it improved my system My theory is that when Bubble Wrap is compressed and weighted between two flat surfaces each bubble (I use aprox. 5/8” bubbles) is in compression and the surfaces not in contact with the flat surfaces are in tension. When a horizontal force is applied to the top surface a single bubble would try to roll, much like a bike inner tube. In the case of Bubble Wrap, the bubble’s movement is oppose by the bubble next to it, in that it is under compression and is in effect pushing out in 360 degrees. My theory is each bubble is reacting with the neighboring bubble, this cancels the original horizontal force. The top layer is not allowed to move sideways. The second benefit of Bubble Wrap is the extremely thin wall material, thus having little ability to absorb or have a sonic signature. I think Bubble Wrap is one of the best DIY, super cheep isolation products. So my answer to your question, start with Bubble Wrap at the massive sum of maybe $1.00 and work from there.
Please keep us informed as your experiments move forward, I have found if a number of us work on a similar projects together and report in to a certain thread (this one) we all learn and grow. Thus my endless comments about trying to only have real shared experiences, not simple opinions without any experience. What your doing right now Nickway is in my opinion the best benefit of this site. Learning and sharing together, its fun and challenges our thinking plus we can enjoy our hobby with friends. Thanks for creating this post.

Mdp0430 I have tried marble and granite. With granite I tried two thicknesses, one was “tombstone” thickness, the other was ¾” countertop thickness. The marble was a bit thinner, just over ½’ bathroom vanity top thickness. I was not pleased with granite; it creates a bright, sharp, electronic, overly clear sound. For my system at the time that was the wrong direction. I might try it under a BAT product for example, because they tend to be a bit slow and dark compared to other products. That might be a perfect match. All of this “stuff” is so subjective in that I just gave a description to a very popular product that people might take offence to. Much like I might say Krell is bright and steely and would benefit from a maple shelf and soft rubber footers. These comments are where I get in trouble; I cast not judgment on these or any product, but opinion relative to my taste. That’s tough to justify. Anyway, I found sandstone to be a nice middle of the road, between the slower, darker wood shelf, verse the bright sharp granite. Reading the above paragraph I know why people feel the need to jump in and say…. I sound like a nut case.

I choose to write a separate post for this comment. I was thinking last night about how to equate this thread to some other topic. I came up with fruit. Let’s say three of us are discussing the sonic qualities of our systems. Now let’s equate the sonic qualities to the physical properties of the inside of fruit. In both cases none of us ever explain what our system is (or in this case explain what fruit we are holding.) In my case I have an apple, Nickway has an orange and Eldartford has a banana. I explain that when I cut my fruit it’s crisp and juice. After tasting, it was sweet with a tinge of sour. Nickway doubts my findings and posts a nasty comment stating that I had no idea what I was talking about because the inside was juice like mine but clearly not crispy. He did however agree with my findings of taste. Now Eldartford writes in and slams both us because his is not crispy or juice, his was mushy and soft and very flavorful but neither sweet or sour.
You see the point; we all have completely different fruit. We all are right; but we discount the others comments because they do not have the same characteristics. Well, if we try to explain the effects of vibration control on our stereos, and not discuss the components, we will be arguing over nothing rational, and advising when it’s possible my findings will not match someone else’s. In the case of this thread, Eldartford has a nice entry level system. (Please do not take offence) and Nickway has a very strong middle level system. I have a low/middle high level system. I’m trying to share my many years of experiments in this area of vibration control, yet my system is extremely sensitive and thus my findings may not translate to Eldartford. Again no one is wrong, we all have had these experiences as we describe. It simply can not be assumed that each of us will have the same result. On top of this, each of us has strengths and weaknesses in our systems. What I consider a strength may not be what Nickway sees as a strength. This is why I feel strongly that we share real live experiences and trials of our tweaks, and not discount the findings. If we share experiences, and put it into context by looking into each others system as listed on the Audiogon system section, then we are able to draw our own conclusions. The only thing I know for sure is my apple is not mushy and soft.
I've decided that everything is imagined, even that I'm imagining.

So therefore, since everything in "reality" is imagined, it matters not whether we are imagining it or not, because everything we know is imagined. Even double-blind testing is no answer, because we could be imagining that we are doing double-blind testing, and imagining the results, and imagining that we are typing the results on the page.

Now that we've established that since I'm imagining my audio system, and that my system sounds better when I buy a new component, or put some cones under it, or use different cables, then it is quite ok that I'm imagining that it sounds better.

And there's really no cost to anything because we are only imagining that we are paying for anything anyway. So, buy anything you want no matter what the cost, because the money is imaginary, so spend to your heart's content.

See, it actually is simple.
You can never "prove" anything, because no matter what you do, you could be imagining it.
This only becomes a problem if one needs to live in a provable universe.

I'd rather take the Algonquin Round Table, United Nations, or ecumenical council approach.

We all weigh in, let the questioning poster sort it out.
Newbee --

Excellent overview of the two different mind-sets and their attendant concerns.

>>The original post here concerned how do people deal with vibration, not whether it is meaningful to do so.<<

True, but when a topic like this comes up, others lurk or peruse the thread as well. I think it is useful for people who come to this forum because they are interested in audio to know that there are people here with different philosophies and approaches. Otherwise, it would give the false appearance of a concensus around things like expensive cabling, vibration control, etc.

I think we're a better forum if people interested in audio know that there isn't any such concensus among audiophiles, that these topics are controversial at best, and that there is a place in this forum for skepticism, that it isn't a "church" for believers only. I think the "church" approach would make this forum weaker, less inclusive, more limited in its appeal.

I don't think we want that.

At least, I don't.