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Review of Butcher Block Acoustics brand Audio Platforms. What is under your components?*

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by marka, Feb 23, 2020.

  1. marka

    marka Forum Resident Thread Starter

    A couple of years ago, @Warren Jarrett‘s Audio Note (UK) room at the T.H.E. Show featured a Voss pre-amp mounted on a Butcher Block Acoustics maple block. The Audio Note system with Voss pre- sounded incredible. I heard many ‘ooohs and aahs” that day, as well as stunned silence at one point.

    I gave no thought to the Butcher Block platform until I passed the Butcher Block Acoustics booth at the show with Voss’ John Dormandy. John commented that his unit had NEVER sounded better than it did when paired with the Butcher Block Acoustics platform.

    That peaked my interest, even though I was skeptical, even after hearing the normally picky John comment as he did.

    So when our host asked me to have a listen to the Butcher Block Acoustics 3-inch maple unit on my own system, I was intrigued.

    I had my son help me slide the unit in below my Audio Note (UK) Oto Phono SE Signature. Immediately I noticed a tighter bass and better low end in listening to the Analogue Productions’ vinyl of “Blue Train” by Coltrane, mastered by our host. This album is our traditional test LP. My son , who normally hears similarly as I do, and frequently has useful observations, was unsure. We didn’t have time to further explore, so a full review was delayed.

    Meanwhile, with the Butcher Block Acoustics still in place, I noticed over time how nice the bass sounded in particular, but the overall system in general, too.

    Today we finally had a chance to listen in more detail.

    I picked out in advance four CDs to listen to - there was going to be a lot of back and forth, so I opted not to listen to vinyl as I normally do for reviews.

    I selected the SACD version and title cut of “Blue Train” discussed above., and three other CDs that had been in heavy rotation recently. “I Need a Man to Love” from the Audio Fidelity 24k Gold CD of Big Brother and the Holding Company’s “Cheap Thrills”, this one also mastered by our host. “Dorina” on the album “Puzzle” by Dada. And lastly, the title cut on the s/t “Deep Forest” album.

    We started by listening to several minutes of each test cut, then removed the block. The difference was immediate and not subtle to either of us. Many of the cuts became veiled, and the bass was no longer tight. The overall imaging and sound, particularly on the low end also suffered, and the speaker locations became very apparent, relatively speaking.

    On “Dorina,” the loved bass at the beginning was disappointing, my son did not at all like the sound of Big Brother, and I heard the magic in Janis’ voice disappear. “Blue Train” sounded good, but missing previous magic. And the Pygmies in Deep Forest lost some magic, too.

    And then we took an odd turn...

    Many of you may remember the posts and threads where mastering legend Barry Diament (@bdiament) discussed his system of isolating components and the sound impacts they could have. One such thread is

    Attention Barry Diament and other speaker isolation gurus!.

    My pre-Audio Note (UK) heaven Harmon-Kardon AVR 7200 used Diament’s method, but I hadn’t used it on my Oto Sig. So this was a good opportunity to see how the Butcher Block Acoustics unit would compare with using the “Diament system”.

    This is where things got real interesting.

    My prior setup began with a bicycle tire tube to provide an air bladder. And on top of that was a 3/4’ pice of plywood upon which were a set of three “cups” from furniture coasters, each with a ball bearing in it. On top of that was a marble tile upon which the HK unit was placed. This combination isolated the unit, and had a significant positive effect on sound.

    So I placed the Oto on the pieces, which I already had set aside. The impact on the sound was significant and a big improvement. In particular, the mids and highs sounded much better, and tightened up significantly, with major improvements in detail. Imaging improved. But things weren’t quite right, particularly the lows, even though the sound was much better. Things were just not jelling.

    Then I noticed that one the cup/bearing pairs weren’t rolling. Movement was not occurring as it should - I found that the cup, and not the bearing was touching the unit. So I replaced the cup. The difference was again immediate - everything improved at the high end and much of the middle. Imaging was great - and the sound was much better. A guitar coming in on “Dorina” led my wife to blurt out a “wow”.

    But the bottom end was lacking. I tried adjusting the air in the tire tube, which helped, but it still wasn’t there. And Janis sounded better, but she wasn’t at her peak. And “Blue Train” was no longer exciting, almost lackluster without adequate bass.

    Given the lack of mid and lows, this was not going to be adequate.

    So I added back in the Butcher Block Acoustics unit, putting it between the plywood and the cups and rollers.

    Back came the beautiful lows and mids, and the sound all seemed balanced. My favorite “Dorina” bass once again was a “wow”, and the mids were great. And Janis’ magic was back.

    So this combination has breathed even more quality into my system - and as far as the Block is concerned - it will never leave my system. it’s a must-have for me.

    I plan on doing more tweaking with the tire tube inflation, and other tweaks, but I’m really happy with my sound. I will try to post again after I’ve more time to listen, but I am definitely excited.
  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Nice review!
    marka likes this.
  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Friends, I must stress the importance of putting your gear on isolation platforms, keeping the components and their vibrations segregated. Doesn't matter if you use a $4,000.00 rack or some inexpensive neat Butcher Block Acoustics platforms from our expert Jim Whithorne, you need SOMETHING to put under your gear.

    Audio nuts like myself and Mark above, always are aware of how tricky this can be. Variations in non-audio stuff changes the sound of high-quality gear like crazy. Once I over-damped everything and lost the life out of the music. A speaker designer took a listen and then redid my space to be more "enviornment friendly" removing a lot of isolation gear. The bass came back, the music sounded more natural and I was shocked that my overzealousness almost ****ed up my expensive stereo without my even realizing it.

    My plug for Butcher Block Acoustics: Jim makes good stuff, beautiful looking and for not much money. A good platform that helps rather than hurts the sound of your music is the goal. You can reach it without breaking the bank. Take a look:

    Butcher Block Acoustics
  4. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    I'm going to have the moderators "stick" this thread at the top of Audio Hardware for a while. I want you to evaluate what you are using under your various pieces of gear. The key is to decouple from the world, but not so much that it kills overtones. Wood does this nicely, hence my liking of Butcher Block Acoustics.

    Do you have pics of your platforms or ideas about what works best for you? Share them with us here, can you?
    Tyler, Pythonman, G E and 5 others like this.
  5. John Landreth

    John Landreth Active Member

    I have 3 of their platforms that I employ on my maple rack. I endorse their effectiveness even with my modest set-up.
    ss nimrod and Steve Hoffman like this.
  6. Orbe

    Orbe Well-Known Member

    Guernsey uk
    I have a Townshend seismic sink stand very happy with it. They have a new version out now £1800 but worth it if you have the equipment to justify the outlay.
    Steve Hoffman likes this.
  7. Helom

    Helom Forum member

    I have one of BBA's 3-shelf racks and a pair of their amp platforms. I won't wax on about how they affected the sound but I'm happy with the quality and customer service.
    Steve Hoffman and John Landreth like this.
  8. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Symposium Acoustic platforms are nice and I’ve used them since the 1990’s but there is the danger of overdoing it.
  9. marka

    marka Forum Resident Thread Starter

    My isolation setup is pretty inexpensive, too, and it’s amazing how much more I can pull out of my system without any significant investment.

    I’m sitting at lunch, and I cannot tell you how anxious I am to get back home to listen to more.

    Last night, I put on some James Galway, “Scheherazade”, and some Beach Boys - the latter two on vinyl. Very nice!

    And this morning, your mastering of “The Zombies Greatest Hits”. It is one of my richest, detailed and favorite disks. It was even more detailed and the low end richer than I’ve heard before. The vocals were a bit thinner, but I’m positive that was the rest of the isolation, based on Barry Diament’s past comments.

    I forgot to mention it yesterday, but after the Block went in, my son noticed some low end detail that were completely missing without it.

    And your comment on how it looks is spot on - the pile of ”stuff” is a bit bizarre looking, but the Block gives it a look my wife can live with.
  10. John Landreth

    John Landreth Active Member

  11. John Landreth

    John Landreth Active Member

    I was the singer in a garage band in the late 60’s and we did two zombies tunes along with some kinks and who
    bloodlemons and The Pinhead like this.
  12. marka

    marka Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Could you fill in your profile so that we can see what your “modest set-up” looks like?
    John Landreth likes this.
  13. John Landreth

    John Landreth Active Member

  14. jkauff

    jkauff Putin-funded Forum Troll

    Akron, OH
    I'll go for the bottom end of this survey. I have a very modest Rega P1 table (with a stylus upgrade) sitting on top of a kitty-litter filled audio rack, whose spikes are sitting on whatever hard surface is underneath my apartment carpeting. The table is resting on a 1.5” thick edge-grain maple butcher block (John Boos) cutting board. Between the board and the top of the rack is an inch of thin foam sheets from Jo Ann Fabric.

    I think the isolation is pretty decent, since I can jump up and down next to the audio rack when a record is playing with no discernible effect. I haven't done any experimenting, except with the foam sheets, but I like what my budget turntable pumps out compared to apartment-living friends' more expensive tables/carts with little or no isolation (on wall-mounted pine shelves, mostly).

    My point is that even el cheapo components can punch above their weight class with $100 worth of isolation gear.
    trd, timind, Steve Hoffman and 2 others like this.
  15. marka

    marka Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Here’s my Butcher Block Acoustics unit in place.

    art, Gary, 33na3rd and 1 other person like this.
  16. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    An interesting look!

    At my house (as you know) the downstairs is cement slab, easier to deal with. Upstairs is a different story. So crucial to get the amount of isolation correct. I really didn't realize that it can be overdone and underdone. Getting it just right isn't hard, just requires paying attention and a willingness to try anything (as shown in your above pic!)
  17. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SUDACA ROÑOSO

    Only my TT is isolated. Can't see the point in isolating an amp or an equalizer, since there's no acoustic feedback to be prevented. My now defunct Technics CDP needed gel feet to prevent the laser from skipping; the Oppo that replaced it doesn't.
    basie-fan and bru87tr like this.
  18. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    NOTHING to do with acoustic feedback! Nothing at all..
    Ontheone, Mad shadows and The Pinhead like this.
  19. Glmoneydawg

    Glmoneydawg Forum Resident

    Ontario Canada
    All my source gear is on a Target rack(lots of spikes and probably 150lbs including gear)power amp on another shorter Target stand.Every speaker i have owned over the last 40 odd years has been spiked to a concrete floor.Gotta love basement music rooms:)
    Pythonman, mreeter and Steve Hoffman like this.
  20. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Westfield, IN USA
    Pics? Sure thing. Here's a pic of a DIY plinth made from two, 1 inch thick pieces of MDF glued together. They are spiked to the floor with large, 1/2 inch spikes. The speakers are sitting on brass cones which are in turn sitting on tiny pieces of blu-tak. The amp in the background is sitting on a 2 inch thick maple butcher block.

    Do these items improve the sound? Can't say, as I've never heard the setup any other way.
  21. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SUDACA ROÑOSO

    Figures. I really don't know how or why an amp or other type of component would be affected by vibration from the speakers; excuse my ignorance.
    sunrayjack and bru87tr like this.
  22. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Nothing to do with vibration from the speakers. Look, people, get some isolation material, whatever you have under your turntable or whatever.


    Take your CD player, plug in your headphones, play a track with the machine sitting on a table.

    Second step:

    Now, play the same track with some vibration control under it. Take care to especially get the machine off of those rubber feet. Hear the difference? Better or worse?
  23. spartree

    spartree Forum Resident

    This is kind of a timely post as I’ve been looking at Mapleshade products to fit under my DAC and preamp, so it’s nice to know there is another player. I will say that I’ve been happy enough with the platforms I cobbled together out of IKEA Skogsta chopping boards and other bits. The dimensions are convenient for my amps and smaller components, but the preamp and the DAC need something larger. I may just give the butcher block products a try.



    Pythonman, trd, rednedtugent and 9 others like this.
  24. Benzion

    Benzion "Cogito, ergo sum" Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY
    After seeing posts about "auditioning cables" I though I'd seen it all. But no, apparently not. A lengthy audio review of a block of wood beats those hands down. But hey, that's audiophilia for ya.

    That said, I use inexpensive Auralex isolation platforms under my turntables and Vibrapods or rubber/cork squares under CDp's, a Pangea amp platform for one amp, and some cardboard honeycomb squares for another.
  25. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Mastering Engineer Your Host

    Those look very nice.

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