Vibrating snake oil (1 Viewer)


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I like bass. Not Bass the fish, bass the low frequency sound. It's an essential ingredient in a lot of the music I listen to, so I have a set up that puts out a lot of low frequency sound. You feel those low frequencies as much as you hear them, and I like to really feel them. If you were ever at a live reggae show that I mixed, you may still be vibrating. You're welcome.

But a couple weeks ago I was playing a wonderful record by the late dub poet Michael Smith, and admittedly I was playing it quite loudly, and suddenly I started to get a low frequency feedback that sounded like a distressed whale. I lowered the volume and put my fingers on the turntable and it was vibrating like a motherfucker in time with the bass line.

My subwoofer sits on a wooden floor that has nothing but a crawlspace below it (typical Southern California construction), so the entire floor kind of resonates with the subwoofer. Which is usually quite wonderful, but apparently the turntable disagrees.

I looked to the audiophile gods to find something to dampen the vibration, but as audiophiles do, they recommended things like hardwood platforms floating in sand from an acoustically resonant beach in the South Pacific that I could pick up for a mere $1200 or $1500.

So I went to do some research on my own and much reading about expensive solutions or ugly DIY solutions eventually lead me to these stupid rubber feet (a.k.a. IsoNode Pro Anti-Vibration Feet)
The reviews for these things that were written by audiophiles are hilarious, going on and on about a lot of voodoo snake oil bullshit like increases in soundstage depth and dynamic attack. I just wanted something to soak up the vibrations and stop the feedback, and for that, these things are just the ticket. I put them on my turntable and they absorb a good 90% of the bass rumble.

I put them on my amp and CD player too (because I don't want to fuck those things up with unnecessary shaking, rattling or rolling), and I can't feel any vibration at all on those components now. So these are pretty cool. As an added bonus they also negate the effects of heavy footsteps, the dumping of lifeless bodies or other things that tend to make your records skip.

At about $5 each they are probably expensive, but since I found them after looking at things that cost 200 times that much, they seemed cheap. If you need to isolate something that is affected by vibrations or causes vibrations, or just enjoy a reasonable amount of bass in your music, I would recommend them.

Or you could just wad up some paper napkins...probably have the same effect.
My mate is real audiophile. He just spent £6000 on a cd player. Just the player you understand although it doesn't need an amp, apparently. It was second hand (a year old). The cost brand new is 10 grand, ffs. His set-up sounds great but fuck me.
That's unusual, a high-end CD player/amp combo? But yes, if you're looking for a good CD player these days your choices are pretty much very expensive or nothing. Turntables have become the same way, the only options are a Chinese piece of plastic for $39 or a real turntable for $1000+ (plus). I suppose in 10 years the hip kids will be paying $500 for our old $100 Technics CD players.

But there's a law of diminishing return at work in electronics and audio equipment just like there is everywhere, so the difference between a $1000 turntable or CD player and a $10,000 model are mainly in your head (not your ears). There are people who spend $5,000 on speaker cables, and that's clearly nothing but dick waving. And gullibility.

But on the somewhat lower end of things, I have to admit that good equipment makes a big difference in sound. Until recently I've always used regular old stereo gear and it was fine, but this year I went off the (sort of) deep end and bought a good CD player and amp and the vast improvement in sound was well worth the $$$. But you can put together a really great system from scratch for less than your friend's second hand CD player cost, for sure.
I buy from Sleeve City because they sell a lot of useful things for storing and protecting your records and CDs and whatever else you've got lying around your filthy hovel collecting dust.

But they are also audiophiles, so they sell a lot of magic beans and obscenely overpriced doohickery. Things like round pieces of plastic with a hole in the middle for only $50:

Well, I'd buy a turntable with a hinged dust cover. And I was planning to, but life sort of got in the way, so I'm still assessing my possibilities. That particular piece, while sensible for those high-end turntables with no dust covers, ought to cost about $12.99, I would think. When I saw your post, I was thinking it was a platter cover that is used under the LP, to reduce microphonics. Word is, those might actually work (and they are much less than $50, from what I've seen), but I haven't done too much research on those.
Most turntables already have rubber mats on the platter, but yeah, people have been putting stuff on top of those (or replacing them) for a long time. My turntable is run by an idler wheel (a rubber-edged metal wheel that klonks onto the turntable and spins it) so it's already noisy. I don't think a felt pad under the record would matter much.

Also, the turntable itself weighs 7 pounds (that's just the actual round metal "table" part of the turntable, mind you, not the whole contraption - it continues to spin for about five minutes just from inertia when you turn it off), so I'm not sure that anything would have much subtle effect on the overall sound of the thing.

I think some of these guys (and they're always guys, aren't they) would build anechoic rooms with carefully balanced nitrogen/oxygen atmospheres to play their records in if they could. And house them on planes capable of achieving weightlessness for a few minutes at a time, you know, to eliminate WOW and FLUTTER. Then an argument would break out on over the effect increasing the nitrogen in the atmosphere mixture has on the paper-in-oil capacitors in their vintage McIntosh tube amplifiers...
My turntable is run by an idler wheel (a rubber-edged metal wheel that klonks onto the turntable and spins it) so it's already noisy.
That idler wheel noise never bothered me because I couldn't really hear it when playing records, but when I started transferring my records to digital (sorry Neil Young), I could certainly hear the rumble when I was listening with headphones while chopping up the recordings into separate tracks. At first I was like, "Whatever, I like it, it's punk rock," but after a while it was just an annoying noise (which, come to think of it, punk rock is to a lot of people), and I couldn't take it anymore.

So I sold the Dual yesterday and ordered a modern turntable that should be about a thousand times more quiet. I don't know if I'll need the magic rubber feet on the new turntable or not, since we're in a different house now that sits on a concrete slab rather than being hollow underneath. The funny thing is, I've already ripped all of our LPs using the old Dual, so those recordings are just going to have to remain rumbly. Ripping LPs and 45s is just too time consuming to do it all over again. Though I will probably re-do some favorites.

There are so many turntables to choose from these days. 10 years ago there were hardly any new turntables being made - everything was either cheap garbage or many thousands of dollars - but now there are a lot of decent entry-level and mid-range turntables. So many that it takes days just to wade through all of them trying to decide what you want/need.

When I bought turntables in the 70s and 80s I'd just walk into the store and buy the one that looked the coolest. That usually turned out to be a Technics, and they were usually fine. Technics still makes a couple of turntables, but they're expensive now, and I ain't paying $1600 for a record player, brah.
Wunderbar! So quiet, so lovely.


Though I don't know why replacing one component always makes me move/rearrange everything else. Just to make everything more difficult, I suppose.

The kid I sold the old Dual turntable to was so excited. "This is my first turntable! By the way, how does it work?"

I can feel the horror of turntable purists across the land seeing this thing sitting on top of a cassette deck, not to mention so close to a speaker. But the "stupid rubber feet" from the first post (a.k.a. IsoNode Pro Anti-Vibration Feet) are under the cassette deck, so it's cool runnings, seen?
The kid I sold the old Dual turntable to was so excited. "This is my first turntable! By the way, how does it work?"

Too funny or maybe I should say tragicomic. Next, they´ll wonder what a cassette deck is and how a landline rotary dial phone works. :D
Some rotary dial video! I hate when my fears become reality. :D

I wonder how they managed to operate the door knob and come inside the house in the first place.

And I wonder how they managed to come out of their mothers womb.
New turntable. New receiver. Old speakers.

Will at some point upgrade my Sony 5 disc cd player from the 90s, but it does the job for now.

Polk Audio subwoofer. Also Polk audio surround speakers for tv viewing.

No snake oil, but the turntable did come with white gloves, so...
I use that Ortofon red cartridge on my turntable, it's good. And the rest of any turntable is just a motor and a stick, so when you can get a good cartridge on a turntable at a good price, you win. I looked at Fluance when I was buying a turntable, but I ended up going with a Pro-Ject. But again, it's just a motor and a stick to hold the cartridge. Mine came with cashmere-lined leather gloves though. Just saying.

I have a Marantz too, looks like it's about the same as yours, just with a little more wattage. More output is good when you use bigger speakers, but if I turned it up more than halfway the windows would probably break, so it may be overkill. The snake oil boys turn their noses up at Marantz, but it sounds great to me. Does yours have the weird negative number for volume? I guess they consider 0 all the way up, but when you increase the volume it's -50 or -40. Whose idea was that?

And to make our stereo-buddyness complete, I use a Polk sub too. It's 150 watts, which should be enough for any connoisseur of bass, but after a few months I blew mine up anyway. ;) I called Polk and they said, "No problem, we'll send you a new amp, just take out the four screws on the back and you can replace it in five minutes," which was true, and it's been good ever since. I love it like the child I never had.

My CD player - I haven't powered it up more than a few times since I got the HAP. I've been thinking of selling it, but I can't let it go. When I bought it you couldn't find any really good single disc CD players, but now it looks like they are making them again. Maybe it's like the turntable renaissance, and CDs are making a comeback.

We got a new TV and the sound was cringey (these modern super-thin TVs have no place to put speakers). So yesterday we got a (relatively cheap) 22 watt soundbar and it sounds great. I can actually hear dialog, and I was like, bruh, where's that low end coming from? Nice. It's funny how TV has "progressed." You can't just buy a TV now, you need other a pile of other boxes to make it work...
I went back and forth between Pro-Ject and Fluance, but eventually settled on Fluance because of reviews, price point, it being a Canadian company, and that Ortophon red cartridge that people seem to really like.

My Marantz has the regular volume numbers, and is a lower wattage than yours. I went with mine because it also supports sattelite/internet radio and bluetooth. Reviews and price were good also. It took me awhile to get a sound I liked while listening to music. Finally figured out I had to turn off all the Dynamic EQ shit that is meant for tv/film audio. Set the sound to "flat" and just fiddled with the bass and treble. Sounds great now to my old ears. Well, the left ear rings constantly, but I'm used to it. Ha.

I still buy cds. I will until they stop making them. I never stopped buying vinyl. I just like physical product. Although that HAP looks nice.
Yes, flat is where it's at. The Marantz here has a "DIRECT" button on the remote than bypasses all the EQ circuitry. Then it's just down to how something was mastered. Some things are great, others less great.

Since moving to the desert I notice a lot more how much my ears ring. But I always knew it would end up that way. What with all the live music and aural punishment I've subjected myself to. It started in 1976 when I stood in front of Gene Simmons at a KISS concert, the left side of the PA system funneling 8 million decibels directly into my left ear for an hour. I couldn't hear out of it for a week. It only got worse from there.

I buy CDs too, but I rip them on the computer, so the CD player just kind of sits there looking at me. Like a dog in a crate wondering when it gets to go to the dog park and shit on some real grass. Or something.
I'm just worried if I got a HAP I'd forget what was in there. You know, it's much easier sifting through piles of cds scattered on the floor of my music area. ?

That's my next project. Building more storage.
if I got a HAP I'd forget what was in there.
When I was playing CDs I forgot what I had. Or I didn't listen as much since I had to go through the physical torment of popping that plastic case open.

The interface is the beauty of it. You connect with a tablet or your phone and you can scroll through an artist list, an album list - everything is right there. Tap it and it plays.

I'll say though that getting all the digital files organized...I did have to spend some time on that.
I use a Polk sub too. It's 150 watts, which should be enough for any connoisseur of bass, but after a few months I blew mine up anyway. I called Polk and they said, "No problem, we'll send you a new amp, just take out the four screws on the back and you can replace it in five minutes," which was true, and it's been good ever since.
Well, the subwoofer amp is blown again. I can't go back to Polk to get it fixed (I assume it's been too long) so I think I have to move on to another brand. Even if they'd send me another part, I don't know if I trust them anymore.

I should probably go with the same company that made my speakers, ELAC. I love the speakers, I can't imagine the sub would suck.

Not something I want to buy right now, from anyone, but I really miss the low end now that it's not there. ?
I didn't even try Polk for a fix, I just went with an ELAC. It arrived yesterday and I set it up today. All is well now. I thought you'd want to know.
I do want to know, but I wonder whether a sub-woofer is helping to replicate the sound of the recording or overly-enhancing it. Having recorded in a few studios, I've found that the bass can be manipulated to varying degrees. What I can't figure out is what is the most accurate/faithful sound?

I suspect that your sub-woofer sounds great to you, but it isn't necessarily faithful to what actually happened.

No, let me put that another way. Your sub-woofer brings to the fore and elevates frequencies that were produced but were not prominent in the actual performance.
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I hear what you're saying (get it? ?), but in practice, a subwoofer (or any well-made woofer or tweeter) does not artificially boost frequencies that aren't there. It can't (because they aren't there). It kind of works the other way around: most speakers rob you of certain frequencies or sounds that are there in the recordings.

I can say that when I listened to a Jamaican Bunny Wailer album yesterday, the house, and everything within 100 feet of it, was saturated in bass. But I followed that up with some PJ Harvey acoustic songs and then Sly and the Family Stone Stand! and that prominent bass just isn't there, so the subwoofer did significantly less woofing.

I listen to everything "flat," as far as equalization goes. My amplifier has a "direct" switch, that routes the signal directly through the amp, bypassing the EQ circuitry. So if something is mastered to have a lot of bass, I hear it. If it wasn't, I don't. The best way to hear what a subwoofer does is to listen to a system that uses one, then turn it off in the middle of a song. You'll feel like something has been removed from the music. Not like something was added when the subwoofer was on.

I said a speaker can't artificially boost frequencies that aren't there, but of course, every speaker transmits sound to us differently. If they didn't, there'd only be one speaker and we'd stick it in everything. I think that's why a lot of people spend so much money on machines to play music. They want to hear the recordings uncolored, the way they sounded during the performance or in the studio. Funny though, if you and I were in a studio recording or mixing something, we wouldn't be hearing the same thing. Biology and the brain being what they are.

You ask what's the most accurate/faithful sound, and I'd just answer that with this question: can a bookshelf speaker with a 4-inch woofer make the same sound your bass guitar amp makes? (Or a double bass or even a tuba?) If it can't, then that speaker set up is not accurate or faithful.

Can you crank up a 400-watt subwoofer to make way more bass in your room than the people making the record intended? Sure. But it doesn't sound right, so you'd just end up turning it down. Or I would, anyway. The same way I'd walk into someone's house and start fiddling with the tone knobs on their stereo if that kind of thing was socially acceptable. And, you know, if people still had stereos with knobs on them. Because I want the balance to be right and the sound to be faithful. ?

tl;dr: No it doesn't.

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