Turntable Isolation Journey

Nearing the end of my journey to solve footfall & feedback issues in my small-room "home office" system with very bouncy floor and flexible walls. Turntable is the only source here -- and it’s a Clearaudio Innovation Compact with no suspension or special isolation feet. This system always sounded good, but was rendered nearly unusable at higher volumes due to turntable isolation that was inadequate relative to this room’s challenges. The worst artifact was when structure-borne feedback from the speakers would cause amp clipping on bass-heavy tracks. This clipping would manifest as an extremely loud singular POP sound, especially hitting the tweeters. It only occurred during the loudest parts of track with bass-heavy elements, and was so loud it was still significantly above the level of the music -- much louder than a POP you would hear from vinyl surface defects. The POP sound was startling, and clearly very bad for tweeters (fortunately my Tannoys seem to have survived several of these incidents). For a time I thought these POPs were from static electricity discharge, but they were NOT. In my quest I tried many solutions and tweaks over a few months, and I’d like to share a rundown of what worked versus what didn’t.

What Helped (MVP products & tweaks):

  1. Townshend Seismic Isolation platform -- Single biggest difference maker, for combating both footfalls and structure-borne feedback from speakers. Amazingly-well designed and built. Leveling was a snap. Well worth the price! If you spend money on isolation, spend it here. Highly Recommended. I’m now considering more Townshend products for under my speakers and in the big loft rig.
  2. Rack Bracing -- Pushed rack right up against the wall (stud / drywall) with a 2’x2’x2" Auralex foam panel tightly wedged in between the top half of rack & wall. This SIGNIFICANTLY cleaned up rack oscillation from footfalls. I see a LOT of folks with nice turntables atop tower-style audio racks, and they could benefit greatly from this "hack". It is cheap & free; the only downside is you may need to reposition your rack. I learned about this "hack" by a couple comments buried in "turntable isolation" threads searched via google. This really CANNOT be overstated.
  3. HOCKEY PUCKS -- Placed under rack spikes in place of the stock aluminum cups or Herbie’s Giant Gliders. Just let the spikes sink right in! This actually cleaned up the very last bit of energy from footfalls; foot stomps with needle-in-groove are now DEAD QUIET. super cheap and effective! Far superior to most audiophile footer devices. Might also help in rack bracing by tightly constraining the rack between wall & floor (Herbie’s Gliders were too slippery).
  4. Rack positioning -- Get your turntable & rack away from the speakers. If you can move the rack far enough behind your speakers, that might be OK, but most rooms cannot accommodate enough depth for this. Placing the rack several feet down a sidewall worked best in this room. Choosing a structural wall also aids in rack bracing. Make sure you don’t place the rack in a room "node" where bass is amplified. Walk around while music is playing to find a nice quiet-ish spot. I kept my amps by the speakers and ran 5 meter XLR cables from the preamp / rack.

What Underperformed:

  • Critical Mass Sotto Voce rack -- the rack is gorgeous and nicely rigid, but doesn’t have nearly enough mass to combat the bouncy floor in this room. Once braced against a wall, the rigidity of this rack was allowed to shine. However, before the bracing, its performance was poor. I will say I have Critical Mass’s Maxxum rack in my (main) loft system on a more solid floor, and the immense mass & rigidity of that rack was game-changer for that system. I do like CMS products, but they are dearly expensive.
  • Critical Mass Black Platinum filter -- Top shelf of the rack. This actually has a significant positive effect, but is limited to the midrange and treble frequencies. It cannot combat footfalls or low frequency feedback. I still like and use this platform, but at more than twice the cost of a Townshend platform it belongs in this category.
  • SOTA Nova V Turntable -- I thought this table’s suspension would render it impervious to room issues, but it’s not. It helped with footfalls but some structure-borne feedback was still getting through. I suspect the suspension needs a tune-up. Quite frankly I think the OLD suspension (it started life as a 1990s Star III) was better tuned and more stable before it came back as a fully rebuilt Nova V, circa 2018. The new vacuum platter was a huge improvement but the new suspension has been disappointing. The Clearaudio deck also sounds a bit better, so now with the Townshend platform it’s an easy choice. Note that the Townshend also uses springs as its isolation mechanism, but I noticed that the Townshend’s oscillation is far better controlled and damped versus the SOTA. You can SEE and HEAR its performance advantage.
  • ISOAcoustics Gaia III speaker feet -- these seemed to have some small positive benefit, but honestly not a lot. Not worth the money.
  • Lovan Sovereign modular rack (three 10" modules high) -- these are very similar to the VTI racks I see everywhere (which I’m also familiar with). These racks lack rigidity and stability. I would not recommend placing a nice turntable on one of these racks. However, if you do, please brace it against a wall (Auralex foam works great). They’re relatively cheap and look good, so I at least understand their popularity. If you have this rack, at least try hockey pucks under its spikes :)

What Was Worthless (Don’t waste your money like I did):
I’m not going to bother expanding upon these; suffice to say they had no discernible positive effect.

  • ISOAcoustics Orea Indigo feet (under maple board & turntable).
  • Symposium Segue ISO turntable platform
  • Herbie’s Lab Giant Gliders (steel) - Placed under Sotto Voce rack spikes
  • Speaker spikes -- at least they look cool :)


@cd318 My evolving experiences with trialing methods to mechanically isolate my system and especially the Source of the system has always been in a environment where Concrete Floors and Brick Walls has be present.

I have never been exposed to very busy Transport that is in close proximity.

The methods I use today are different to the ones I used in the past at different homes. Is the earlier methods inferior to today's used methods?, or is the different homes/environments requiring a different approach to the methodology used for a support structure and the materials used?

I have stated in the past, experiences have shown to me there is not a ubiquitous solution for all environments, and then there impact on the sound from using materials, the produced sonic is one that can be altered/tuned, and when confident with toying with structures, the sonic can be produced to be close to the preference of the end user. This extended practice will equate to differences for selections of materials and how they are configured within a structure. 

I agree that the ambient environment being quiet, as a result of not being a hive of activities is a valuable asset. Also the quietness of the room dedicated to the audio experience is critical, this is where Room Acoustics comes into play and working with the space to minimise the impact of the sound produced on the sound being produced. All of the interfaces that are present whilst using Audio Equipment have a importance, probably all are equal.

Well thought out Electrical Interfaces can be extremely valuable at producing a detailing that is detectable/perceivable within the produced sound.

Good choices for materials and the positioning within the Room, will manage  unwanted sound, which can generate new sound or colour produced sound.

 The choice adopted for mechanical interfaces are broad, and some of the requirements that are working are shared within this Thread.

The best is to be had, if all three of the above are given considerations. 


I'm amazed at the number of expensive high end turntables that lack any sort of isolation, or just a minimal amount of isolation requiring the consumer to spend yet even more money on a highly engineered isolation platform.

👍 I couldn’t agree more!

Hi @mulveling 

Would you mind telling me what size your Seismic Isolation Platform is? I have an Ovation but am thinking about getting an Innovation Wood, but I don't know what the footprint of the Innovation spiked feet is. Clearaudio only says what one needs for the the overall space (i.e. 19" x 19") but that includes the plinth, arm board, everything, so I don't really know the minimum size I need for a platform to set it on.

@dwette My platform is the standard Size 3 (the largest):

  • Size 3 52x40cm (20.5×16")

It's a little tight in the 16" dimension, but works. I inquired about a custom sizing but since it would be extra cost and wait time I just went for the standard 3. The way I have it configured in pic does a reasonable job centering the mass, so that only a little bit of leveling adjustment was necessary.