05 January, 2012

Talk Tweak: Isolation Devices Bearings Vibrapod

Talk Tweak: Isolation Devices on the Cheap Part I

Normally, I avoid isolation devices like the plague. Most alter the sound in one way or another, but at the expense of the natural flow of music. In general, many cones sharpen the sound but introduce an unnatural leanness, while wood deaden and smear the sound and roller blocks restrict dynamics. Even the best composite material have sounds of their own, and it's strictly a personal choice immune to objective analysis. If you are a fan of expensive Finite Elemente and TAOC, I can agree with you that they look good; but for sound, I think nothing of them. More, I think they are highly colored.

But I do use some of my own concoctions when I have to. Why not make some of your own? Here are some ideas that may work for you:

pics: L, design by Leonardo da Vinci; Click on right pic to enlarge.

Thrust Ball Bearings
Bearings are ubiquitous in our lives, and used since olden times. A Disclaimer: I am no expert of bearings! The ones I use are Single-Direction Thrust Ball Bearings, made in Japan by NSK (51206-106). I got them in HK Reclamation Street 新填地街 for a few USD each. In the US you can find any number of similar products on the net, but buy with care and only if you are sure what they look like.

They work remarkably well under my Garrard turntable, as well as other gears. I have demonstrated these to my friend Robin and he was instantly convinced by the results. Mind you, this is a man who spares no expense when it comes to tweaking devices! Placed horizontally, you'd think they only dissipate lateral movement and not vertical movement. But the results speak for themselves!

For something easier to get, get this. I am sure you know about the isolation device called Vibrapods. These have been recommended by virtually everyone (see links to reviews in the official site), including TAS. That should be cause for alarm, but in this case, it is true.

In NYC, I did not want to damage the wood floor under the thick carpeting and so rest the spikes of my racks on slabs of marble/granite. As a result, leveling and isolation can be a problem, particularly with turntables.

I am happy to report Vibrapods work extremely well for me. They isolate well and introduce less coloration than cones and wood blocks. not to mention roller blocks. It works amazingly well in lieu of the stock spikes under my Clearaudio Concept. It works equally fine under CD players as well as preamps. Unlike most isolation devices, the Vibrapod preserves, and even enhances, the flow of music. Buy several packs!

Note that I have only tried the original Vibrapods, not their cones.

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