Objectives for Sonic Design Damping Feet
The mission of Sonic Design damping feet is to make the equipment cabinet motionless
and to isolate it from the floor (or shelf) and other objects in the room.
This has been hard to achieve but it turns out that it is possible to get substantial
improvements (in sound quality) compared to the standard solutions of today.
What difference will the Sonic Design feet give in practice? Can you really
hear any improvements?
These feet will give a substantial decrease of the cabinet's movements. This is
apparent when you put one finger softly against the top of a loudspeakers' front
baffle, as it vibrates much less when playing music. The transmission of vibrations
from the cabinet into the floor will be reduced. The music will be cleaner, with
a less coloured sound quality. The transmission of noise to the neighbours will
So, we now produce two types of Loudspeaker Damping Feet:
An Audiophile Set, designed for specific loudspeaker
weights (and hence these are specifically tuned to give best performance.
A Standard Set, designed for less critical situations,
but for which improvements can still be noticed
And a specific Set suitable for CD/DVD Players
A CD Player Set, (suitable for DVD & SACD players
as well) which is designed to reduce vibration which can affect the ability
of the ray-foc assembly to track the data on the rotating disc. A larger Foot
is included to go under the Power Supply section (as this "end" of the
player is heavier and hence needs more support).
Sonic Design Audiophile Damping Feet for Hi-Fi, AV (Home
Cinema) Loudspeakers, including Centre Channel Speakers
Every loudspeaker rests on a surface that can be compared to a spring, even though
the surface may be quite hard. As a result, a resonance appears within or outside
the loudspeaker's frequency range. Below this resonance frequency the loudspeaker
is coupled to the floor, and above this resonance it will be more or less isolated
from the floor. The traditional approach has been to try to make the suspension
so stiff that the resonance might be placed above the audible range. This is one
of the basic ideas behind the use of "spikes". However, this approach does not
work. The resonance between the cabinet and the floor will not be any higher than
the upper bass range. Not even a concrete floor will do, as anyone who has drilled
a hole in a concrete wall will be aware of after having experienced the resonance's
and sound transmission in this material.
The spokespersons for spikes also bring forward two more incompatible theories:
1. Spikes work as mechanical diodes, transmitting vibrations one way only.
2. Spikes rest on an infinitesimal area unable to transmit vibrations.
Regarding theory 1: Sir Isaac Newton has yet to be proven wrong. A force
causes a counterforce. This is, of course, valid both ways.
Regarding theory 2: The tip of the spike may be very small, but not smaller
than necessary to carry the weight of the speaker. In that way a force exists
between the spike and the floor. This force will be modulated by vibrations and
thus transmit them. Consequently, to isolate the loudspeaker from the floor, the
resonance frequency should be lower than the lower limit of the frequency range
of the loudspeaker. This leads to some very low frequencies, far below 20 Hz.
This concept can be compared with that used in turntable tonearms, where these
ideas have now been accepted for a very long time. There, nobody claims that the
fundamental resonance of the tonearm/cartridge combination should be in the audible
range to produce solid bass or musical sound.
In article 34452 of the rec.audio Usenet newsgroup, a calculation of the loudspeaker
cabinet movement magnitude was presented. An 8" woofer vibrating at 50 Hz with
a 0.5 cm cone displacement in a 20 kg cabinet will move the cabinet 6x10^-6 m,
(6 millionths of a metre). The cabinet in this example is assumed to be free floating
in air, attached to nothing. The conclusion that the resulting movement is small
enough not to cause any trouble is surely correct.
One could however get an implied conclusion that spikes could improve things ever
so little. This is simply not so. A high Q resonance will multiply the movements
until they become quite noticeable. The free floating approach should be the goal.
Until now it has been hard to design a foot made from rubber that is soft enough.
Also, it has been impossible to prevent foam materials from gradually settling
and eventually becoming hard. Also, sufficiently soft coil springs do not have
enough horizontal stability without special mechanical arrangements.
Now Sonic Design can offer a foot made from a special engineering foam
with open pores. The open pores make the material structure of the foam spring
independent of any contained gas that would eventually escape. The material is
created to be stable over long periods of time.
The Swedish audio society "Ljudtekniska Sällskapet" has taken measurements that
show that a loudspeaker standing on a soft spring moves less from music than if
put on hard feet. They also found that spikes contribute both measurable and audible
Image 1 - At top - Sinus signal 125 Hz to the speaker. Below shows floor movement,
Image 2 - At top - Sinus signal 125 Hz to the speaker. Below shows floor movement
using soft feet. (Floor signal magnified x2).
Spikes can give an open but slightly hard and distorted sound, which some may
say is more musical. But resonance's and overtones in the floor are equivalent
to harmonic distortion in the amplifier. A soft over-damped support where the
resonance frequency is a little too high seems to make the music sound dull. The
use of "Blue Tack" or damping feet with extremely high internal damping can be
compared to a car with too-hard shock absorbers, where much of the vibrations
will pass through even if they are not amplified.
The special engineering foam used in Sonic Design's Damping Feet also has
other unique qualities. One of these is that its modulus of elasticity decreases
when loaded. Consequently the thickness of the foot and its compression can be
less than the low resonance frequency otherwise would require. The result is a
resonance frequency of less than 7 Hz horizontally.
It appears that loudspeakers on stands have major problems with resonance's. In
these cases the damping feet should be placed between the loudspeaker and the
stand. In this way the vibrations will be reduced as close to the source as possible.
To get the best possible isolation and damping it is important that the feet are
optimised to the weight of your loudspeakers. Both the stiffness and size of the
feet are chosen to achieve this. The range for optimising is between 5 and
200 kg with 30 different types of feet, each with its own weight
loading capacity. The material has a different colour for different stiffness
properties. (See "How to weigh your speakers").
Sonic Design Standard Damping Feet for loudspeakers
The Standard Damping Feet are somewhat thinner, have a larger overload
margin, and are lower priced than the audiophile model. The resonance frequency
is a few Hertz higher. The colour is nut brown, except for the stiffest feet which
are grey. The standard feet are produced in four different weight classes and
do not need to be fine tuned to specific loudspeaker models. The weight classes
are: under 12 kg, 12-28 kg, 28-50 kg and 50-100 kg(which
relates to the total weight of the specific loudspeaker cabinet). These
feet are supplied in packs of 4 pieces (for Centre Channel speakers) or in packs
of 8 pieces (to suit a pair of loudspeakers).
Sonic Design CD Damping Feet
The CD Damping Feet are made from the same material as the Standard Damping
feet. If the sound of your CD (or DVD, DVD-A, SACD, etc) player is sensitive to
vibrations, the CD Damping Feet will be the way to go. The sensitivity
to shock and the accompanying mistracking will be reduced with the use of the
CD feet. Damping Feet can be positioned either under the existing feet
or can be positioned next to (but not touching) the existing feet.
They can also be used with any other audio product that you would like
to isolate from vibration. The set contains four small and one large foot. The
large foot would be used if the centre of gravity is far off the centre (for instance,
where a heavy power supply is located at one corner) or for those CD players that
have five feet. The weight classes are: 2-5 kg, 5-10 kg and 10-25
kg (which relates to the total weight of the particular product).
For heavier audio products, use the relevant Standard Damping
How about turntables?
Serious turntables should already have an internal floating chassis with
a resonance much lower than the already low resonant frequency of the tonearm/cartridge
combination. The introduction of a third series decoupling resonance would fail
unless it was lower than 1 or 2 Hz, so in most cases, Damping Feet would not help
"suspended/floating" type turntable designs. However, solid, non-floating
type turntables MAY benefit, but we have no experience of this at present
(feedback is welcome on this topic).
A review of the SD-feet on TNT-Audio - Internet Hi-Fi magazine See. http://www.tnt-audio.com/accessories/sonicdesign_e.html
Customer reviews can also be found at: www.audioreview.com
(and search under the Accessories for "Sonic Design").
Following are some comments taken from some Scandinavian magazine reviews, translated
"Of course you would wish that everyone would be given the opportunity to enjoy
a foot like this." (Musik och Ljudteknik No. 4-91, Sweden).
"The stereo perspective has grown in all directions and the music contains many
more delicate details, reproduced more calmly." "The bass seems to go deeper,
with increased ability to follow the tune." "You can play much louder without
being irritated by the sound (read unwanted resonance's)." (Hi-Fi and Musik
No. 10-92, Sweden).
"Especially the bass reproduction was tighter, cleaner and better modulated."
"To sum up: The Sonic Design foot resulted in a cleaner, clearer sound with better
focus and greater depth." (High Fidelity, No. 2-93, Swedish edition)
"Choose the right thing! If you want the loudspeaker to stand still, it is better
to damp the resonance's with a soft cushion than with stiff points." (Elektronikvärlden
No. 9-94, Sweden)
"That turntables are very sensitive to acoustic feedback is no news, what is less
known is that CD-players are also sensitive to feedback. Softer, cleaner, more
detailed and better spatial representation with a firmer and deeper bass will
be the result from soft feet. Also, for power amplifiers you can get improvements
in the CD-class." (High Fidelity, No. 8-95, Swedish edition)
"I got improved clarity and impulse stability over the entire frequency range.
These improvements are felt far, far more than when changing to double priced
cables or even a more expensive active component. Then you must consider that
better components will even more expose the problems that the damping feet will
remedy." (Audio 38, No. 1-98, Norway)
"It's hard to be soft..." "The main obvious change when you go from spikes - or
nothing - to the SD-feet, is going on in the bass range. It's like if the bass
is being kept in an iron grip. This gives that the feet do what one would expect
from spikes! It seems a little against nature because when you give the loudspeaker
a light push, it sways gracefully! But it works!... And further: ...One of our
editors have tried the feet on his subwoofer. In spite of the limited frequency
range used, from 18 Hz to just below 50 Hz it could be improved with these feet.
He also made an experiment, that you could try yourself at home. Put a coin standing
on its edge on top of the loudspeaker cabinet. Turn up the volume. With the SD-feet
it will remain standing, without them the coin falls over - and that's pretty
smart." (High Fidelity No. 7, 2000, Danish and Swedish edition.) --
Also, read the comments made by existing customers using their Sonic Design
Damping Feet in English, or in Swedish
INSTRUCTIONS FOR FITTING THE LOUDSPEAKER DAMPING FEET
Put the feet under the loudspeaker cabinets with the smooth side upwards and in
contact with the bottom of the cabinet. If the rear feet are compressed less than
those at the front because the back of the cabinet is lighter, you can move the
rear feet inwards until they are compressed as much as the front feet. If you
prefer, the feet can be fastened with double-sided adhesive tape. When the loudspeakers
are used with stands, the feet should be placed between the stand and the cabinet.
Keep the feet away from small children and pets. Use only according to the
INSTRUCTIONS FOR FITTING THE CD PLAYER DAMPING FEET
Put the feet under the cabinet with the smooth side upwards. Do NOT use
outside the specified weight range since the damping would then be inferior. If
your unit has a centre of gravity that is very much off-centre, place the larger
foot supplied in the most heavy corner. If you want, the feet can be fastened
with double sided adhesive tape. Keep away from small children and pets. Use
only according to the instructions.
More light reading???
Read what Shannon Dickson had to say about vibration control here
in >>Stereophile magazine