Does hifi feet work or is it just hot air

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by gasolin, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Visco-elastic materials for vibration damping is not weird science, snake oil or voodoo which is peculiar to audio, it's a wildly studied field -- there's a lot of scientific and industrial literature on the subject -- that has resulted in the development of a range of different substances and products to do the job across all kinds of different applications. (There are also different kind of shock absorbing or damping technologies, including pneumatic solution, in use across industries -- like electron microscopy -- that have been adapted for audio use.)

    How application of any of these impact sound is going to vary -- damping or wholly eliminating the injection of structure borne vibrations into a record player system is important to lowering spurious signal and tracking distortion, since, as I mentioned, a record player works by converting mechanical movement into electrical signal. And how effective any solution is will depend on the particular problem and how well suited the particular solution is to the problem at hand.

    And, of course, the audible impact will depend on the nature of any structure borne vibration that may or may not be present in the first place, as well as the effectiveness of the damping/decoupling solution at the frequencies and in the direction where there is vibration.

    Other damping/decoupling solutions that might impact sound might work by lessening transmission of vibrations from an audio component to room surfaces (like decoupling a subwoofer from the floor to lessen room rattle).
    Brando4905, F1nut, Tullman and 2 others like this.
  2. 33na3rd

    33na3rd Forum Resident

    SW Washington, USA
    In my modest system, swapping different footers makes more of a sonic difference than swapping cables.
    My system may be more sensitive to this because of the suspended wood flooring in a 96 year old house.
  3. Vinny123

    Vinny123 Forum Resident

    There are practice hockey pucks. They are made of soft rubber. Might be another option. Use in conjunction w hard pucks. Face off.
    Galactus2 likes this.
  4. costerdock

    costerdock Forum Resident

    Prescott, AZ, USA
    Yes they do work. I have Isonoe footers on my Technics and I've proven that they provide excellent isolation over stock feet and that of my second main turntable.

    It is easy to prove with a seismic phone app - or simply stomping around.
    jupiterboy likes this.
  5. Vinny123

    Vinny123 Forum Resident

    When I’ve done tweaks over the years I’ve always wondered if my system sounded better or different. No doubt that many isolation devices do effect the sound. Just always questioned if different was actually better. I don’t think there’s a definitive answer, at least for me. Real case by case basis kind of thing.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
  6. Manimal

    Manimal Forum Resident

    Southern US
    I use vape pen holders. Cheap cheap:)
  7. Mmmark

    Mmmark Forum Resident

    The fact that feet (i.e., a means of damping whatever equipment rests upon them) make a difference seems patently obvious to me. Having said that, it is important to distinguish between equipment which is sensitive to vibration and that which is unaffected in terms of impacts on performance. A turntable, for example, is more sensitive than a solid state amp. The fact that different materials are better than others at absorbing and dissipating vibrations is again beyond any kind of a doubt. All of this can be convincingly (if not easily) confirmed by simply measuring a test and control. Imagine placing a seismograph atop a wooden table or atop a sheet of soft, elastic rubber. The results would be plain to see. Or simply imagine replacing the shocks on your car with rigid struts. I bet you'd feel a difference pretty quick!
    I think the 'snake oil' part of it comes down to claims of supremacy, claims of unique proprietary compounds/designs, and of course crazy pricing. While there are absolutely some phenomenal and elegantly designed feet out there (a few that are even available at reasonable prices), I really don't think there is much that can't be more or less replicated for pennies on the dollar by a savvy DIY type who can access suitable raw materials and understands how they work together.
    Ultimately, I would respectfully (and vehemently) disagree that vibration dampening falls under the 'placebo improvement' category if properly applied to equipment sensitive to vibration.
  8. WagesofFear

    WagesofFear Member

    Depends on the tt. If your tt is so poorly designed that the bottom of it’s base isn’t isolated enough to prevent vibrations traveling to your cartridge (where vibrations are turned in signal and nowhere else) then I’m sure feet could make a dif in sound. But most decent tables Shouldn’t be that depending on the material the feet are made of. Even in the better technics turntable, they never used anything but plastic and maybe a rubber washer. They did have the occasional spring but those were useless. I’m thinking feet best serve of a role at level turntables and providing, well, feet. But if a tt is designed so
    You have vibrations vibrations traveling up your tonearm down to your cartridge, you’ve got a problem.
  9. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    Most turntables today aren't designed with much if any isolation from structure bourne vibration and, depending on where they're located and what they're placed on could probably do with better aftermarket isolation. But the biggest source of spurious vibrations in turntables are the turntablr motors themselves, coupled to the same surface as the arms. That's why the best tables do things at the level of motor control to minimize cogging torque and ripple and often mount the motors separate from the arm mounting surface. With turntables it doesn't take a lot of movement to raise the noise floor with vinyl whoosh, have congested sound and even tracking problems in dynamic peaks, and have colored tonal balance.
  10. Mmmark

    Mmmark Forum Resident

    Yes, but how does a well designed TT minimize vibrations? With dampening, of course. Furthermore, Technics had two main designs - massive plinth nf dampened legs, or light plinth with suspended platter and tonearm. Either way, any TT has to incorporate some means of dampening. Adding extra material may or may not further isolate the TT, but in many cases it's simply a case of diminishing returns rather than no returns. At any rate, the OP was soliciting opinions as to whether aftermarket dampening feet were 'hot air'. I maintain they are definitely not in principal, but very well may be in practice depending on cost, construction, and application. The science behind them is sound. Pun intended.
  11. Ron Stone

    Ron Stone Offending Member

    Deep Maryland
    My Onkyo 7030 was skipping with normal footfall on my old suspension floor apartment. I tried some sorthobane feet but they didn't help. Then I placed a heavy book on top of the player and that did the trick.
  12. Rick Bartlett

    Rick Bartlett Forum Resident

    'Does' or 'Do' hifi feet work or is it just hot air.....
  13. Hipper

    Hipper Forum Resident

    Herts., England
    It's knowing what to listen for.

    I followed the thinking in this article:

    Vibration control for better performance

    In the end I used mostly Symposium products - Rollerblocks and shelves - under my gear and speakers.

    When I was experimenting with this stuff I was listening for improved percussion. My thinking was that these are the most delicate sounds so any improvement in detail would show better isolation. I did find a tiny improvement using rollerblocks under my CD Transport and amp, but couldn't detect anything with them under the DAC and equaliser. Svelte shelves under the speakers did improve things too. At one point though I was getting tired of trying to pick out miniscule improvements and so just bunged on a CD and sat back to enjoy the music. What I then noticed was that it sounded a bit louder then usual - I know the exact volume to play each of my CDs - and in addition, things like rhythm guitar and piano sounded clearer. In fact this was exactly how Symposium describe the improvements to be gained from their gear. Ultimately it seems to be about 'less smeared transients', something I didn't really understand at the time:

    'A musical note consists of '.... the attack, sustain, and decay of a sound. Attack transients consist of changes occurring before the sound reaches its steady-state intensity. Sustain refers to the steady state of a sound at its maximum intensity, and decay is the rate at which it fades to silence.' So the transient is the first thing you hear and is very noticeable on percussion (e.g. bongos), piano, and plucked guitar for example.

    Each transient will consist of a number of frequencies (known as harmonics) and in order to get the proper effect they should be heard at pretty much the same time. In other words, when they reach your ears at your listening position they should ideally be heard together in one sharp ‘thud’. If these frequencies arrive spread out over time the transient is said to be ‘smeared‘. You don’t get that ’thud’ but a longer 'thudddd'.

    I should add that I found a similar improvement with a better power supply but that all these benefits are small and expensive to get. They are the icing on the cake and should be the last part of the good listening puzzle. If I had my time again, the order of doing things would be:

    1. Get good gear with sensible connections/cables.
    2. Position speakers in the room with care to get the best sound.
    3. Use room treatment to smooth out the influence of the room, with perhaps DSP/EQ to finish this job.
    4. Look at racks, support shelves, feet.
    5. Look at the source of electricity.

    I found that the first three, especially 2 and 3, have the biggest impact on the sound - the proverbial night and day! Until you get this right it's not worth spending money on the rest. Even buying upgrades on your gear should take second place to 2 and 3.

    Once you have extracted the best performance from 2 and 3, you can consider 4 and 5. These have different and much more subtle effects. I have to admit that spending thousands on this is probably not justified, although I did!
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
    Mad shadows, 33na3rd and bever70 like this.
  14. Brando4905

    Brando4905 Forum Resident

    Marion, NC
    Timely subject for me. I’ve experimented with the Gaia ii under a VPI Classic, no change noticed in a minor footfall issue that I can’t seem to shake. The Classic is a heavy table sitting on one heavy ass rack, with Mapleshade Heavy brass footers. I seem to have went the wrong way coupling instead of isolating. So, I’m tuned into the thread for sure.

    I’m very interested in Amcan silicone footers. Any here that has tried their offerings?
  15. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Seattle, WA
    Hockey pucks are way too hard to offer any isolation. And they are too large to offer good coupling. And there are a number of very cheap isolation feet out there which are probably cheaper than using a set of 4 hockey pucks. The last set of isolation feet that I purchased cost me $6 for a set of four isolation feet on Amazon. So this need not be an expensive tweak.

    The goal of fancy feet is either to decouple and isolate, or to couple to ground (and sometimes it can be to both decouple and dampen, depending upon the design). Hockey pucks do none of these things well.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
  16. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    The thing about foot falls on a floor is that they often tend to be very low in frequency, like down in the 5, 6 Hz range, and not every type of isolation is equally effective to very low frequencies (or in both the vertical and horizontal planes). I don't know anything about how the Gaia II are designed to work, or the frequencies at which they're designed to be effective, but if they're not designed to be effective way down into the subsonic range, they're not likely to help with footfalls. Effective isolation at those very low frequencies can be tough, even something like Sorbothane only cites effectiveness stats down to 10 Hz. Sprung suspensions can work to low frequencies, but they also can have resonant frequencies in the same range as the footfalls and can therefore be worse, depending on the specifics of the suspension and the floor. Pneumatic isolators seem to be really good down to super low frequencies but they can be expensive.

    They're also, if I'm not mistaken, designed to decouple speakers from floors -- to resist the transfer of energy from the object to the supporting surface, so, if the design requires it (and again I'm not clear what the design is), the may need to be used upside down to resist the transfer of energy from the supporting surface to the object.

    But the key with this kind of stuff is the right solution for the specific problem. You have a problem with footfalls, you need either to decouple the TT by putting it on a wall mounted rack, or you need something that's going to work to isolated the table from stand transmitted vibrations down to very low frequencies.
    Brando4905 likes this.
  17. Chazro

    Chazro Forum Resident

    West Palm Bch, Fl.
    Hot air? Only if vibration didn't exist! We can discuss different levels of effectiveness and whether you 'believe' they work. But vibration is is an audio reality that every audiophile needs to pay attention to!
    33na3rd likes this.
  18. jeffmackwood

    jeffmackwood Forum Resident

    I use them to create space (for better cooling) between stacked components (like my Sony BD player on top of my Oppo DVD player on top of my HD cable box.) They also look pretty good - edge on.

    If vibration were the issue (which it's not in my case) I'd likely include additional "tricks," as hockey pucks don't seem to have very good dampening properties all on their own. (Especially not cold ones, that always seem to catch me where my hockey equipment isn't!) "Practice" (ie. soft rubber) pucks might be the trick.

  19. Mmmark

    Mmmark Forum Resident

    If you've got footfall issues, adding weight is unlikely to make a difference. If you really want to solve the problem, a wall shelf is the way to go. Otherwise something bouncy under the TT AND the rack would take the edge off (hopefully). I have pretty bad footfall issues, and I recently got a TT with an aftermarket fluid dampening system. Huge difference. Still not perfect, but only noticeable if I put the volume to max and rest the needle on a still record and stomp around. The same test at normal listening volume, I can't hear a thing and the woofers barely move. My amp also has a sub-sonic filter which really helps too. If you have one, use it!
    Brando4905 likes this.
  20. Brando4905

    Brando4905 Forum Resident

    Marion, NC
    Thanks, Mmmark, I’ve been the wall shelf route before, not with this table and I actually had a suspended shelf with tt’s on a live edge slab from the ceiling. Of course, zero footfall with these setups. I do currently run a KAB RF-1 for subsonic filtering, in-line post phono stage. My footfall issue is very minor, but I’d love to rid my tt of it completely through some sort of suspension feet. Amcan footers look promising, but can’t find hardly any chat about them. They are pricey but not as much so as other options available, hence the craving to hear from anyone who’s used them.

    Staying tuned into this footer thread.
  21. BIGGER Dave

    BIGGER Dave Forum Resident

    I don’t use the hockey pucks for any of those reasons. I only use them to create a path for cooling between components.
    Micke Lindahl likes this.
  22. Micke Lindahl

    Micke Lindahl Forum Resident

    As do I. :)
  23. Mmmark

    Mmmark Forum Resident

    I've been thinking that four spheres (large bearings or the like) in cups under each foot would work nicely, but haven't been motivated enough to actually try it :)
    Brando4905 likes this.

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