Vibrating snake oil

mjp

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#1
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)
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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.
 

Bruno Dante

Over 500 posts
#2
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.
 

mjp

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#3
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.
 

mjp

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#4
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:

 
#5
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.
 

mjp

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#6
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 forums.stevehoffman.tv over the effect increasing the nitrogen in the atmosphere mixture has on the paper-in-oil capacitors in their vintage McIntosh tube amplifiers...
 

mjp

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#7
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.
 

mjp

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#8
Wunderbar! So quiet, so lovely.

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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?
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
Over 5000 posts
#9
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
 

Bukfan

"The law is wrong; I am right"
Over 5000 posts
#12
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.
 
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