Vibration Isolation & Damping
Vibration isolation by its meaning prevents vibration transmission. It keeps vibration energy from getting into an object, like a structure or piece of apparatus. Vibration damping dissipates vibration energy. It absorbs or changes vibration energy, reducing the energy transmitted through the instrument or a structure. Vibration Isolation and Damping are very important when it comes to getting the most of your audio investments.
In my case, when I had my set up in Tokyo and Taiwan, I had concrete floors. Tokyo, for example, had a thick carpet that required heavy stone slabs to compress vibrations, which when combined with a 'Sorbothane' material and additional stone slabs helped reduce vibrations from the rack and speakers. My setup in San Diego on the other hand has been a challenge for the sole reason it's on the 2nd floor of the home with wood framing and a wooden floor. Footfall was a significant issue as was the wood floor's ability to transfer the vibration from the speakers. The solutions in Japan were no match for this new room hence I had to start from scratch.
The San Diego final solutions required IsoAcoustics GAIA, Oreo, and Puck isolators for the speakers, rack, Turn Table (TT), Pre-amp, DAC, CD, rack component power regeneration, and amps. Each of the IsoAccoustics products was selected and matched to the weight of the component they would be applied to. The only variations are the Amps, P20 power regenerators, and Turn Table. The amps have Sorbothane blocks directly on the floor with a granite slab on top that acts as the base to the IsoAcustic pucks under the amps; (Floor to Sorbothane to granite to puck to amp). The P20 power regenerators have just the Sorbothane blocks on the wood floor and granite slabs on top which acts as the base for the P20’s. The Turntable platform uses IsoAcustic pucks supporting a carbon composite plate atop the rack. The turntable has IsoAcustic Gaias which ultimately sits on a custom Minus K isolation table; Rack to Pucks to Carbon Composite plate to Minus K isolation table, to GAIA as turntable feet. As referenced the rack and speakers each have GAIA feet. That is finally what it took to get the TT isolated from ambient vibrations and footfalls and I was able to not only hear the difference but measure it.
There are a good number of solutions available today to fit different budgets and variables for vibration isolation and damping. To get started, I recommend finding a way to measure the vibration on your rack/components/speakers. Without a way to measure you don’t know where or how big the issue is or even if the solutions are working as it relates to footfall or ambient low frequency. There are plenty of options including smartphone apps with external sensors, or the phone itself, or standalone meters. Being able to measure the number of variations I have tried has proven to be very helpful. “Vibroscope” is an iOS example of a smartphone app I have used as is “Vibration Meter” for Android.
The impact of the right isolation and damping is a must for the turntable. After you have implemented/used the right solution/s you will hear a significant improvement in the digital source. I was surprised with the digital sources; CD, high res. files and streaming via the DAC had a noticeable improvement. Clean power and vibration isolation have a powerful effect on the digital path. And if you can get those speaker cables off the floor; that’s another surprise on the performance that you will notice on sensitive systems.