I have some Symposium gear in for evaluation and review, and while talking with Peter Bizlewicz, I started wondering about my carpet.
It’s Berber, with a pad, over concrete. “Basement standard decor”.
Because of this, I use sliders. Spiked gear sits in Herbie‘s Giant Decoupling Gliders. My monster Plinius amp sits on a platform that has four Giant Fat Gliders under it. I have more underneath the bass cabinets on the loaner pair of eFicion F300 loudspeakers. These little Telfon coated wonders literally let my slide my big, heavy, speakers and amp all over the place, without requiring someone else to come into the man-cave to help. Best investment I’ve made!
Gliders slide, sure, but they also don’t necessarily provide a clean mechanical ground. They also maybe-possible rock a bit. Maybe. What they don’t do is couple my speakers to the floor. That can be a good thing and a bad thing, theoretically, but I honestly haven’t noticed a ton of difference between spiking my speakers through the carpet down to the concrete over spiking them to the Herbies. Okay, more accurately, I haven’t noticed any difference.
What I’m thinking about doing is putting something between the speaker and the carpet.
There’s a couple of reasons. One, I think a “non-compliant” surface might allow me to do more interesting stuff with footers — the eFicion came kitted out with a full set of Stillpoints Ultras, and on carpet, they’re pretty much useless. But up on a plinth, that might be a whole different thing. Barry Diament over at Soundkeeper Recordings recommends “floating” speakers using some kind of ball-bearing system (Symposium Acoustics makes a reference grade system, called Rollerblocks, that would take this up several thousand notches). But all of this presupposes you’re using something flat to rest them on — hence, speaker platforms.
I first looked at Symposium, but their standard sizes for platforms don’t scale out to fit the footprint of my Magnepan 3.7s with their Mye Sound stands. I reached out to Battle Rock Studios, the folks that made some of the most beautiful myrtlewood plinths I’ve ever seen — but KJ really only makes plinths that are 2.5″ thick, and I needed something that, ideally, wouldn’t “lift” my speakers any farther off the floor than absolutely necessary. Zero would be ideal, because I was worried about radically changing the speaker’s sound by inadvertently adjusting the ear-to-tweeter ratio even more since my listening chair is low as it is. So, I was looking for something about 1″ or so — but rigid, dense and as acoustically inert as possible.
See, I was also worried about “ringing”. Peter suggested that I steer away from granite or marble — or even wood (even myrtle) — as all are “hyper-resonant”. Take a big sheet of the whatever it is and hit it with a hammer — if it rings like a bell with a nice, lingering decay, that’s a bad thing. If it produces a dull, muffled “thud”, or better yet, just breaks your knuckles, you’re moving in the right direction. Anyway, resonant materials can add sound back into, a.k.a. “color” the presentation of, devices sitting on them. Okay, this is not necessarily a bad thing — many folks actually like those colorations. People say they like maple, or myrtle for this reason. But it’s not neutral, though — this is artificial, and not what I’m after. Anyway, he suggest MDF, which I looked at on a trip to the local hardware store, but I couldn’t find any sheets there were flat — and at 2’x2′, it’d probably flex. Oh, and it’d look a little bit like ass.
Anyway, I called Jeff Catalano over at High Water Sound because I know he’d used something different than his usual SRA platforms at the Capital Audiofest back in 2010. He laughed and reminded me about edenSound — they’d made the plinth, and he’d loved it. Right on!
I’d actually bought some brass footers from edenSound’s Daniel Sherbrook several years before and liked them so much, I’d worked with him to add a shelf to my Mapleshade Samson rack. Using a template I’d made by tracing a shelf already in the rack, Dan cut a brand new shelf from an unusual material he called TerraStone. Exactly what this stuff is made of is something of a trade secret — the upshot is that it’s really dense, inert, and non-resonant — and very, very black. It’s pretty much perfect for audio. It’s heavy, dense, and “thuds” in just the nice way. Somehow, I’m not thinking that’s terribly quotable, but still, it’s accurate.
I called Dan, told him what I was trying to do, and a week later, my platforms were here.
The “standard” finish is what he calls “milled” — this is a very nifty, very lightly textured surface, and one that I used on my Mapleshade rack — I had my turntable sitting on it, and it was great. Here, I opted for the “bead-blasted” finish, which is a very slick, super-smooth finish that Dan says requires 81 passes to get right. It’s hard to mark (but not impossible), and almost looks “wet” to the touch. It’s also about as desnse and acoustically right as I can get — with out being a bell or being a dead sink. Dan designed some thin-carpet footers to slip under them, too — also made out of the TerraStone. I also got a pair of smaller platforms that I can slap components on (like my Odyssey monoblock amps), at the same time.
I reassembled my loaner eFicion F300 onto my new platforms shortly after they arrived — and immediately noticed a tighter and deeper bass. Hmm! Loving that.