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ArneS

Cheap Isolation fix - Vast Improvement

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Longish post, however I want to write about a few simple tricks that many hi-fi heads will already be well familiar with, but took me years to learn about, or learn the value of, which profoundly improved the way my music sounded through a system I thought was incapable of that level of performance. And I did it for next to nothing.

 

I recall after buying my first set of real speakers, walking back into the hi-fi shop and asking if it was possible to get another set of fronts to run together with the ones I’d just bought. This because I just wasn’t hearing what I wanted to hear from my new purchase. “Why would you want to do that?” the store owner asked me. “Yours are fine.” I thought she was saying that just to justify the fact that she’d let me buy an inferior pair of speakers (which my Cerwin Vega VE-15s sort of are, but in some ways they aren’t at all). Instead of a new pair of speakers though, she led me to purchasing a QUAD 99 power amp that I could run from the pre outs of my Yamaha AVR. Which did go some way to sweetening the sound I was hearing from those Cerwin Vegas.  Though after a few years of use, and the entry of a nice turntable into my life, I started to think that I really should just leave those massive VEs as home theatre speakers, where they perform incredibly well, and set up a second system to do hi-fi duties.

 

It was in this mood that I met Allan MacDonald, of Vinylhead Records in Coffs Harbour.  My initial question to him was around possible speaker recommendations. “What are you running now?" he asks - and I tell him. “Oh, right. Well, they are a very efficient pair of speakers, those Cerwin Vegas,” he tells me. “They should be sounding ok. How have you got them set up? Are they on spikes?”

 

“No.”

 

“What sort of floors are they on?”

 

“Wood.”

 

You really need to have them on spikes or some kind of rubber pads to isolate them properly from the floor, he tells me. “You don’t have to spend a lot,” he says, and points to a pair of speakers nearby that are sitting on rubber pads he’d picked up at a hardware store.

 

So, first chance I get, I go to Bunnings and find these inch and a half square rubber anti-vibration pads. After a bit of internet research, I also decide to put down some stone tiles, which went under the pads/speakers.

 

The change in sound was immediate and satisfying. There was  greater detail and air, and a general increase in focus and that undefinable element i'll call juice.

 

It didn’t end there though.

 

While it sounded great with jazz, after playing one of my CDs of more modern music with more consistent bass frequencies, I noticed that the bass was sounding really boomy. The Cerwin’s have always been established in the bass department, but never so much that I felt annoyed. Now, there seemed to be the overwhelming, droning bass response. With them already well away from the wall, I thought it was the tiles at fault, or maybe the fact that the speakers were off the ground now. I emailed Allan, with a couple of pictures of my room.

 

“You speakers are fine,” he says. “But I notice that you have your components sitting on wooden shelves in your entertainment unit. You should try isolating the components as well, as this will help with tighter bass.”

 

So back to Bunnings I went. And once again, once installed, the improvement was little short of amazing. The boomyness was gone. They gave my bass a new control, sharpness and punch, and the new clarity in the bottom end seemed to open up the mid-range  to a new level of detail. The isolation also gave my CD player a heightened expansion and finesse I wasn’t expecting, and though I really should be using a platform for my turntable, jamming some larger rubber squares under its feet also made a noticeable and enjoyable difference to its sound, just in composure and presentation, and warmth. In short, I learnt the value of a hi-fi rack without actually using one.

 

I emailed Allan to thank him for his advice, and let him know of the results. “I am right into isolation,” he replied. “Most audio shops don't sell or mention it, or don't know?”

His comment got me thinking. Maybe the hi-fi shop owner was legitimately confused at my desire to find new speakers. Maybe she wasn’t avoiding the fact that they were not that good. Maybe that was because she had tested them and thought that they were. And now that I’ve got all of the components in my system isolated, including the speakers, the difference in music presentation is night and day. They are lovely, particularly with jazz. So why had nobody suggested I do this before? When I started complaining about my speakers initially, why was isolation not mentioned? Ok, so the store owner used it as an opportunity to sell me a new piece of equipment, in the power amp, and maybe that is the reason. I might have been satisfied with my AVR’s sound had I just isolated everything in the first place and went from there. And though I’m happy I have that power amp, I think I’d have been happier setting things right up in the first place.

 

Edited by ArneS

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Longish post, however I want to write about a few simple tricks that many hi-fi heads will already be well familiar with, but took me years to learn about, or learn the value of, which profoundly improved the way my music sounded through a system I thought was incapable of that level of performance. And I did it for next to nothing.

 

I recall after buying my first set of real speakers, walking back into the hi-fi shop and asking if it was possible to get another set of fronts to run together with the ones I’d just bought. This because I just wasn’t hearing what I wanted to hear from my new purchase. “Why would you want to do that?” the store owner asked me. “Yours are fine.” I thought she was saying that just to justify the fact that she’d let me buy an inferior pair of speakers (which my Cerwin Vega VE-15s sort of are, but in some ways they aren’t at all). Instead of a new pair of speakers though, she led me to purchasing a QUAD 99 power amp that I could run from the pre outs of my Yamaha AVR. Which did go some way to sweetening the sound I was hearing from those Cerwin Vegas.  Though after a few years of use, and the entry of a nice turntable into my life, I started to think that I really should just leave those massive VEs as home theatre speakers, where they perform incredibly well, and set up a second system to do hi-fi duties.

 

It was in this mood that I met Allan MacDonald, of Vinylhead Records in Coffs Harbour.  My initial question to him was around possible speaker recommendations. “What are you running now?" he asks - and I tell him. “Oh, right. Well, they are a very efficient pair of speakers, those Cerwin Vegas,” he tells me. “They should be sounding ok. How have you got them set up? Are they on spikes?”

 

“No.”

 

“What sort of floors are they on?”

 

“Wood.”

 

You really need to have them on spikes or some kind of rubber pads to isolate them properly from the floor, he tells me. “You don’t have to spend a lot,” he says, and points to a pair of speakers nearby that are sitting on rubber pads he’d picked up at a hardware store.

 

So, first chance I get, I go to Bunnings and find these inch and a half square rubber anti-vibration pads. After a bit of internet research, I also decide to put down some stone tiles, which went under the pads/speakers.

 

The change in sound was immediate and satisfying. There was  greater detail and air, and a general increase in focus and that undefinable element i'll call juice.

 

It didn’t end there though.

 

While it sounded great with jazz, after playing one of my CDs of more modern music with more consistent bass frequencies, I noticed that the bass was sounding really boomy. The Cerwin’s have always been established in the bass department, but never so much that I felt annoyed. Now, there seemed to be the overwhelming, droning bass response. With them already well away from the wall, I thought it was the tiles at fault, or maybe the fact that the speakers were off the ground now. I emailed Allan, with a couple of pictures of my room.

 

“You speakers are fine,” he says. “But I notice that you have your components sitting on wooden shelves in your entertainment unit. You should try isolating the components as well, as this will help with tighter bass.”

 

So back to Bunnings I went. And once again, once installed, the improvement was little short of amazing. The boomyness was gone. They gave my bass a new control, sharpness and punch, and the new clarity in the bottom end seemed to open up the mid-range  to a new level of detail. The isolation also gave my CD player a heightened expansion and finesse I wasn’t expecting, and though I really should be using a platform for my turntable, jamming some larger rubber squares under its feet also made a noticeable and enjoyable difference to its sound, just in composure and presentation, and warmth. In short, I learnt the value of a hi-fi rack without actually using one.

 

I emailed Allan to thank him for his advice, and let him know of the results. “I am right into isolation,” he replied. “Most audio shops don't sell or mention it, or don't know?”

His comment got me thinking. Maybe the hi-fi shop owner was legitimately confused at my desire to find new speakers. Maybe she wasn’t avoiding the fact that they were not that good. Maybe that was because she had tested them and thought that they were. And now that I’ve got all of the components in my system isolated, including the speakers, the difference in music presentation is night and day. They are lovely, particularly with jazz. So why had nobody suggested I do this before? When I started complaining about my speakers initially, why was isolation not mentioned? Ok, so the store owner used it as an opportunity to sell me a new piece of equipment, in the power amp, and maybe that is the reason. I might have been satisfied with my AVR’s sound had I just isolated everything in the first place and went from there. And though I’m happy I have that power amp, I think I’d have been happier setting things right up in the first place.

 

One quibble, you seem to equate spiking with rubber pads to isolate speakers; spikes couple, pads de-couple. Use pads if you have neighbors below if not you want speakers rock solid imho

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To clarify: I’m not equating spiking with isolating/decoupling: I understand that both are valid ways to improve your speaker performance. In my case I went the rubber pad route to see what if any improvements they could make, and was pleased with the results.

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I use those bunnings anti vibration pads under bamboo platforms for components, also under the feet of the component rack.

 

Just bamboo under spiked speaker stands here.

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5 minutes ago, Noum said:

I use those bunnings anti vibration pads under bamboo platforms for components, also under the feet of the component rack.

 

Just bamboo under spiked speaker stands here.

I've heard those IKEA bamboo chopping boards sound badass

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7 minutes ago, ArneS said:

I've heard those IKEA bamboo chopping boards sound badass

Get the thicker one and if it does not work for you, can revert back to original intent.

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2 hours ago, ArneS said:

I've heard those IKEA bamboo chopping boards sound badass

They seem to work well for some like myself, only way to see if they help is ti try them. As snoopy suggests and I think only the 35mm ones from Ikea are bamboo.

 

They work well as chopping boards too ;)

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4 minutes ago, Noum said:

They seem to work well for some like myself, only way to see if they help is ti try them. As snoopy suggests and I think only the 35mm ones from Ikea are bamboo.

 

They work well as chopping boards too ;)

There are 18 mm bamboo ones as well, Good option if there are height limits on your shelf.

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Just now, Snoopy8 said:

There are 18 mm bamboo ones as well, Good option if there are height limits on your shelf.

I looked at what they had and others were acacia or other woods, I must have missed those ones.

 

Thanks, Snoopy.... is good for future reference :thumb: The bamboo boards under my speaker stands are about 15mm that I got on clearance from Bunnings, the one that resides under my CD player that replaced my TT thick is 50mm that was source from cheap as chips when they had an online store....now they don't do the online and I can't see the thick bamboo boards on there anyway.

 

I used the 35mm think Ikea ones for under components in a friends system.

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Ive put a couple of bamboo stools underneath my speakers . Actually very sturdy.. not far off ordering some bamboo boards for a shelf and isolation platform.. liking the bamboo alot .

20171009_124826.jpg

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Guest Sime

How long ago was the purchase made in a Hi-Fi from a woman in Canberra?

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7 minutes ago, Noum said:

I looked at what they had and others were acacia or other woods, I must have missed those ones.

 

Thanks, Snoopy.... is good for future reference :thumb: The bamboo boards under my speaker stands are about 15mm that I got on clearance from Bunnings, the one that resides under my CD player that replaced my TT thick is 50mm that was source from cheap as chips when they had an online store....now they don't do the online and I can't see the thick bamboo boards on there anyway.

 

I used the 35mm think Ikea ones for under components in a friends system.

http://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/40233427/

http://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/20233428/

http://www.ikea.com/au/en/catalog/products/60233431/

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22 minutes ago, Boomboy said:

Ive put a couple of bamboo stools underneath my speakers . Actually very sturdy.. not far off ordering some bamboo boards for a shelf and isolation platform.. liking the bamboo alot .

20171009_124826.jpg

Loving the vintage Sony stack dude! When they did good, they did good.

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Thnx .. il put a few pics up of my system on a new thread over the weekend ..

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43 minutes ago, Snoopy8 said:

It was in store that I looked at what they had, obviously they must have been out of stock of the smaller ones at that time.

 

Cheers

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1 hour ago, Noum said:

It was in store that I looked at what they had, obviously they must have been out of stock of the smaller ones at that time.

 

Cheers

Where they put it, who knows? I went to the kitchen ware section only to find that they are all near the checkout, other end of store! :angry2:

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@Snoopy8 I eventually found the area (kitchen wares) It's a rabbit warren you know :) Where all the chopping boards were and grabbed the 19.95 bamboo ones.

They really don't indicate paths through the stores either, very frustrating, It's like they want to trap you in there :lol:

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Guest Sime

@Noum only bad thing about ikea is their website. 

 

Yikes, 6000 posts :party

Edited by Sime

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2 minutes ago, Sime said:

@Noum only bad thing about ikea is their website. 

 

Yikes, 6000 posts :party

I have less issues with the web site than the stores themselves.

 

But everyone is different :)

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Guest Sime

For such a big company, their site could be better organized. The drawers I bought last week can’t even be searched for by name on their Australian website. I had to do a google search to see the other options in its range. 

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Those cheap vibration rubbers from Bunnings cannot possibly work well for audio because they haven't been labelled "audio" and sold at 25x the Bunnings price in a hifi shop!   :-)

 

On a serious note, a while ago I decided time was well overdue for me to get my speakers correctly set up after a house move.  I had them resting on the floor boards, with some felt underneath to protect the floor.

 

The first tweak was to use those Bunnings anti-vibration pads, and I experienced an immediate and dramatic improvement.  Then I wanted to try spikes, but didn't use spikes so I wouldn't put marks on the floor. 

 

My speaker manual suggested that coach bolts (with a curved head) were an acceptable alternative for spikes so the floor is not damaged.  Two things resulted.  First, another dramatic improvement in sound (detail, soundstage, etc).  Secondly, due to the weight of my speakers I now have indentations in my softwood floor - the speaker manual should have indicated they would be OK for hardwood floors!  I now have the bolts sitting in a small plastic cup (the size of the bolt head), which protect the floor and retain the sound quality. 

 

So my suggestion is to compare your rubber with the effect of a "spiked" solution (that won't damage your floor).  These tweaks are dependent on the speaker design and room acoustics, but it's worth the experiment to see if this will work better. 

 

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I like the idea of the coach bolts.  Cheap as chips and rigid.

Just make sure that the convex heads are free from any ID stampings etc, as they sometines are.

 

I am not a fan of rubber anywhere for hifi isolation.

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