To unlock the real potential of your A/V system, getting rid of vibration is just as important for good clear sound as cables that don't distort your music or room acoustics that don't muffle it. Likewise, vibration seriously blurs visual detail and deadens colors in home theater video. Thirty years of listening tests have gone into pioneering and refining the pathbreaking Mapleshade Vibration Control System (VCS) for overcoming these vibration-caused losses.Three carefully optimized elements make up the complete Mapleshade VCS:
1) Three massive brass footers to efficiently and cleanly drain the internally generated, distortion-creating vibrations out of your component.
2) An air-dried maple base to act as a "sink" for receiving and dissipating those vibrations without reflecting them back.
3) On hard surfaces, four Isoblocks for supporting each corner of the maple base and isolating it from the resonances of the shelf or floor below. On carpeted floors four threaded-in carpet-piercing footers must be substituted for the Isoblocks in order to penetrate the carpet and lock the base solidly to the floor—simply because nothing mounted directly on a soft, overdamped material like carpet can sound good.
The sound and/or picture quality of any component mounted on our three-element Vibration Control System will improve dramatically. This includes audio or video disc players, streamers, servers, routers, digital memories, cable boxes, turntables, tape machines, tuners, DACs, receivers, amps, preamps, power supplies or power conditioners—particularly dramatic will be the improvement in any digital components as well as all turntables.
(VCS with Isoblock suspension should only be used with electronic components, not for speakers. See our Speaker Stand section for Vibration Control Systems uniquely optimized for small and large speakers.)
Designing Footers as Vibration Transmission Links
Our massive and resonance-free footers lock the component or speaker into place using point contact—not area contact--at both the footer's top and bottom interface, an essential for draining vibration cleanly without adding resonances or reflected energy. The footer's mass, body shape, point shape and, most importantly, material all make a big difference and we have optimized all four based on exhaustive listening tests. In particular, we've tested every promising high-tech material: ceramics were too bright; titanium, carbon fiber, stainless steel, myrtle, aluminum and ebony were dull and smeared compared to brass. Our proprietary alloy brass was by far the best-sounding, least colored footer material. It proved to be much more dynamic, detailed and vibrantly warm than any competing material.
As might be expected, once the all-important optimum footer material and shape has been selected, increasing the footer mass is highly beneficial. Thus, the 2" high Heavyfoot has almost 80% more mass than the 1.5" Low Heavyfoot, resulting in an audibly worthwhile upgrade. A far larger sonic improvement results when replacing the Heavyfoot with the almost 3 1/2 times more massive Megafoot, yielding noticeably deeper, cleaner bass and smoother, more extended treble. The benefits of increased mass footers apply to both light and heavy components equally.
Designing the Best-Sounding Sinks for Receiving Vibration
You can transform their sound by mounting your A/V components on a really good “sink”—that is, on a base that receives and dissipates the component vibration thoroughly without reflecting it back. Our painstaking listening panel R&D tests proved that using maple as a sink material sounds warmer, clearer, punchier and more detailed than granite, slate or glass (all are edgy and bass-dulling), hi-tech damped composites (very dead sounding), and other domestic or exotic hardwoods (more colored and less detailed).
Maple's sonic superiority over all other woods as the best support for vibrating soundboards is old news to every violin and piano maker since Antonio Stradivari and Heinrich Steinway. Instrument makers taught us to never use commercial, kiln-dried maple. The kiln's high heat weakens the wood's fibers, thereby deadening sound. Our air-dried, local, slow-grown Ambrosia red maple is less colored and closer to the sound of our master tapes than any other wood species--audibly better than harder or softer or denser woods, and notably better than lumber yard kiln-dried maple or, worse yet, maple plywood or maple butcher blocks (excessively damped by their multitude of glue joints and their kiln-drying).
Because finding air-dried 2" to 4" thick, old-growh maple at ordinary lumber yards is impossible, Pierre turned to a local Amish sawmill in 2001. They find us logs of very special maple indeed: 75 to 100 year old, slow-grown Ambrosia maple that sounds distinctly warmer and clearer than commercial, force-grown Canadian rock maple. These old trees yield wood of gorgeous character: much tighter and more variegated grain, lovely nut-colored contrasts, subtly shimmering curl, birdseye and tiger stripes—and, strikingly, our tests show that variegated maple sounds better than featureless clear maple. After our rough-cut maple air-dries for 3 to 6 years, depending on thickness, our Amish craftsmen meticulously plane, bevel, shape and sand the wood. Ben, with his sons Crist and Uri, take particular pride in how their finishes show off the dramatic character and grain of our hand-selected, old-growth Ambrosia maple.
Once the all-important optimum sink material has been selected, more mass is always audibly better. This is why we recommend sizing a sink to be at least two inches wider and deeper than the component. For a 16" x 13" component, the extra two inches of an 18" x 15" sink provides 30% extra mass while four inches extra provides 65% more mass—plus extra benefits from the wider, stabler stance of the larger base. Even better is doubling the maple's thickness from 2" to 4", always a worthwhile and satisfying upgrade.
The substantial beveling or radiusing of all edges is the final audible improvement in our Platform and Component Stand designs: this beveling eliminates the harmful internal vibrational energy buildup inevitable within any right angle corner or right angle edge of the base or sink.
Designing the Best-Sounding Supports for Vibration Sinks
To sound good, a Platform or Component Stand cannot simply be placed directly on a shelf, floor or other hard surface. The resulting large area, flat-to-flat interface has inherently low contact pressure and is never perfectly flat, thus leading to micro-rattles and excessive reflection of vibrations. To best isolate the maple sink from resonances in the supporting shelf or floor, we conducted several years of listening experiments to test any and all promising suspensions: springs, air bladders, sand boxes, magnetic suspensions and interface pads of sorbothane, foam, neoprene, leather, cork, etc. By far the best suspension we found was a specialized industrial ribbed-rubber-and-cork laminate. By varying the height, footprint area and number of laminations in lengthy listening experiments, we arrived at our present, superb-sounding six-layer Isoblock configuration—way better sounding than where we started
On the other hand, Isoblocks cannot be used for placing Platforms or Stands on carpeted floors. Carpeted surfaces are inherently an unstable, overdamped base that degrades the sound of anything resting directly on them. For carpets, the only good sounding solution is to use our Carpet Piercing Brass Footers to create a rigid Platform or Stand support and a resonance-free vibration path through the carpet directly to the floor.