I happen to be a “pre-amp first” nut, but the source-first rule is very much equally applicable. So overall balance is key for me.
Shouldn’t this be in the current thread Source First? What’s your Second?
How much structure-borne vibration (or air-borne vibration) affects the sound will depend on the construction of the room and the design/construction of the kit. And with regard to vibration induced by the music, on positioning of the electronics relative to speakers, and on how loudly music is played. Meanwhile some hifi kit may be very robust and minimally affected by even large vibrations, others much more sensitive. So whether or to what degree isolation of gear is necessary or effective (or cost-effective) can vary greatly, so I don’t think the statement holds “for any hifi”.
It would also not be very satisfying to buy a rack and only half a system because budget doesnt allow all - buying a system and later a rack might work much better for people on a budget.
Also, in some rooms the direct effect of the room itself (reflections, resonances, cancellations) may be of far greater significance to getting sound right than many people realise, with a magnitude of effect greater than that caused by vibration…
I am convinced vibration through the floor is the culprit, this is an ongoing issue, the idea is too reduce the effect on the hifi components, it is impossible to eliminate completely. I have never experienced issues through the room, I think this issue is over exploited.
That rather begs the question as to how you can be sure there are no issues? I’m guessing you know the effect of isolating vibration from your system with your building construction by having heard with and without isolation. Have you listened to your system in a well treated room, or outdoors, to know it doesn’t then sound better? Or have you measured the response of your room? Of course if your room has a lot of thick soft furnishings, with heavy curtains in critical places or bookshelves packed with varied book spines not aligned, or maybe an extremely large room (with vaulted or very high ceiling) and listen near field well away from walls, then it may naturally give optimal performance, but many, many rooms are not like that and there will be room effects. It is summed up well by this from the Why this naim system sounds harsh thread:
So pertinent for us, it needs and deserves another bump.
I just realised I’m off thread… sorry!
Anyone else try HRS and Thixar with their Naim equipment?
I like that
@916SPS uses HRS. Another member have Stillpoints.
I’m not disagreeing with any of the good points made around room and speaker optimisation. I’ll just say that not everything is a variable that can be tweaked in the pursuit of good sound. For many the only thing that can realistically be tweaked is the boxes of electronics, and that therefore to get the best sound, unfortunately, it is that route that should be pursued. You can still do that, that is still ok, even if better VFM improvements might be available through room acoustic tweaks.
My HiFi is in a relatively small “sun room” - a brick and glass structure with a tiled floor, and vaulted ceiling. There is a rug over some of the tiles, and at some point a larger sofa will replace the single arm chair. But that’s all that will ever happen acoustically to that room. I have measured the response of the room with my speakers. There are bass issues. The Iotas in the much larger, much more damped adjacent room give way less muddled, but less extended, bass. I won’t forego improvements to my main system just because the acoustics are bad. I’ll buy considered updates knowing they won’t give their best in the room, but will still be an improvement on what I have.
I know no-one on here is likely to be extolling the virtues of one approach, to the exclusion of all others. I just want to acknowledge that it isn’t totally pointless improving the electronics in a room with bad acoustics.
Fair enough! I was challenging the OP’s broad assertion that the biggest improvement to any hifi is isolation from vibration (and querying his subsequent declaration of having no room issues).
I’m a big believer in isolation from floor, and airborne vibration. My room is not particularly large considering the size of my speakers and sub. I listen near field to great effect and have surprised many people by the sound quality and musicality of my kit.
Stephen Harper from the audio consultants was flabbergasted by my set up and said everything I had done in this room goes against all the recommendations for achieving a good performance, but was very surprised to hear how well it sounds. This I put largely down to the fact that I have HRS isolation platforms and HRS nimbus assemblies underneath all the sensitive components.
The right speaker is 0.5 m away from my fraim racks and 0.75 m away from my LP12. If you touch the components while playing loud music there is no vibration sensation, they are still and calm. This has significantly lowered the noise floor and helped the boxes do their work efficiently and enhanced the SQ.
Before I started on the isolation route I has issue occasionally with boomy bass, the sound wasn’t as clear and defined and all the usual stuff PRaT, soundstage, etc. was compromised.
I have few friends who have now started to look into isolation and have been impressed with the results. I think HRS, with the their background in isolating vibration on NASA rockets, are one of the best companies in this field.
I throughly recommend the use of isolation devices! The other recommendation is to put Gutwire power cables on your boxes; that was another major upgrade for me
Aye, sorry. I probably should have made the point more generally than in a reply to your post
We all have constraints that we operate within, I can make improvements to equipment isolation and to some degree uprated electronics, I cannot fix acoustics. Others cannot fix isolation, maybe their kit has to go on domestic furniture, doesn’t stop them fixing acoustics and/or electronics. Some folks cannot reasonably demo kit before buying, etc.
I guess threads like this are good for maintaining awareness that each one of these things is important, but you are obviously right that all such broad assertions need challenging.
So yeah, @Steven, why do you rate equipment isolation as more important than room acoustics/speaker compatibility!? Plenty of folks on here have mics and show plots where speaker response is many dB up or down on specs due to room interactions, that’s a massive measurable effect.
I am a true believer also
Would like to have HRS stands, but they are expensive. But I have Finite Elemente Cerabases under speakers and Cerapucks under the racks.
What you say is a reality that we all face. We have to make choices and compromises.
And everything is important. From the rack to the speakers and from the DAC to the cables. Everything counts. It’s pretty obvious. And let’s not forget… the room!
But some things impact the sound more than others.
If we put taste aside for a second, and if we take as a basis that the goal is to reproduce as faithfully as possible what is on the CD, vinyl or files, then the element of the system that introduces the most distortion is the room. There is no discussion about that.
The level of distortion a room introduces into an audio system is several orders of magnitude higher than in any entry-level Walmart electronics.
A good HiFi system has a cost. And what costs the most is not the electronics or the speakers; it’s the real estate: the room!
The room is both the most critical part of the system and the most difficult to change.
So we tend to forget about it…
You’re quite right Thomas, but most people arn’t in a position to create what you are doing with your listening space. In the event of a compromised space isolation is a good way to ehance your kit and your listening experience
Absolutely. That’s why I’m talking about the choices we have to make.
And it’s interesting to see the choices made by each of us, according to our tastes.
That’s the subjective part and perhaps the most exciting part.
The unfortunate thing about discussions like this is that we tend to confuse what is subjective and based on taste with what is factual and can be measured (e.g. the level of distortion at the listening chair compared to what is on the CD, Vinyl or file).
The ideal system would be: what’s measured directly at the source is what you get at your listening position.
There is no such thing as better taste, only better measurements.
In short, it’s an interesting subject.
By the way, my listening space is also a compromise. I obviously don’t have a flat frequency response. But I would love to!
However, depending on the room, some room treatment need not be either intrusive or expensive relative other parts of the system. A thick rug on a hard floor midway between speakers (both of them) and listening position. You can get absorbers any colour you choose - e.g. identical to wall - or printed with any image you like, so can be artwork at the side and rear main reflection points. Diffusers in the form of multifaceted 3D wood panels now come in an array of designs, some of which may be appealing as an abstract sculpture picture. A horizontal ceiling may be most difficult to treat while still being visually acceptable: possibly best with ceiling-coloured plain panels, however they are available in several shapes not just rectangular (e.g. hexagonal), which might be possible to form into a decorative feature - but even if nothing can be made aesthetically acceptable on the ceiling, treating even just some of a room’s contribution may be noticeably and significantly better than none.
Listening at lower volume level also helps isolating components from vibration. Good sources and amplifiers with large power supplies will reveal more musical informations at low volume so it’s not necessary to crank up the whole thing.
However some music just sounds better or ‘right’ played loud (of at “realistic” levels), nothing to do with revealing information!
Could there be an analogy of a hifi system with a rock guitarist ?
Certainly playing an electric guitar in close proximity to a very loud amp and speakers, a symbiotic situation happens where the guitar is influenced by a lot of air moving about and the amp is picking this through.
In some respects this is a wrong situation to be in, yet this can be when the “magic” happens.
Could there be a similarity with “wrong” vibrations, nodes and other artefacts that could create some hifi magic ?
Peter Walker of QUAD once said that each piece of music is meant to be played at a specific volume level. I believe he was right.