In 1986 we started exploring ways of mounting recording and playback equipment to improve the sound of Mapleshade Studio's perfectionist CD recordings. Success led to 30 years of continual refinement and further vibration control listening tests in pursuit of ever-better sound. Those tests have proved that:
• Most crucial is to provide an absolutely rigid, straight, resonance-free and unbroken path for vibrational energy to flow out of the equipment into the shelf and down through the supporting uprights into floor. Any plastic, rubber or other damping material introduced for "isolation" into the path from the shelf to the floor induces muddy bass plus smeared mids and highs. Equally harmful is the common practice of breaking up the vibration path by stacking individual shelf modules with spikes between modules.
• Any wood shelf sounds far, far better than metal, granite, slate or glass shelves. Wood also sounds better than any Corian, graphite/carbon fiber composite or space age highly damped composites. Among the various forms of wood, solid wood shelves are best with plywood a deader-sounding distant second. Butcher block, MDF and particle board sound even deader, due to the excessive internal damping associated with their very high glue content.
• Every wood species sounds audibly different. The most transparent and least colored sounding wood species is red maple, significantly better sounding than rock maple, walnut, cherry, myrtle, spruce, pine, oak, mahogany, jojoba or other exotic tropical hardwoods. Air-dried maple is audibly better than kiln-dried. Note that all commercial lumber yard and butcher block maple is kiln-dried. Old growth, naturally slow grown, close-grained maple sounds significantly better than force-fed, plantation grown, wide-grained commercial maple. No matter what the wood, the industry standard 3/4" shelf thickness is inadequately rigid for first rate sound.
• To provide a clean, unbroken vibration path to the floor, the shelves must be rigidly locked to one piece uprights. Segmented modules spiked one on top of the other are never rigid enough—and seriously interrupt the vibration path.
• Uprights must be solid, not hollow—and much more rigid than needed for load-bearing alone. Damping the very audible resonances of any hollow metal support with sand or lead fill introduces new problems: both dynamics and ambience are deadened and sustained notes are truncated. To transfer vibrational energy cleanly into the floor, uprights must be terminated with massive pointed footers, preferably brass.
• The overall rack structure must be unshakably stiff and rigid, so rigid that leaning against the top is like leaning against a brick wall. The slightest side-sway or fore-and-aft sway immediately degrades sound. This is a weak point for almost every audio rack on the market.
The SAMSON addresses these crucial design issues quite simply:
• The shelves are 2" and 4” air-dried maple cut only from old-growth logs and air-dried for 3 to 6 years. 2" solid maple is over 60 times as stiff as the 3/4" veneered MDF shelves of most conventional audio racks.
• The uprights are 1¼" solid steel, not hollow, thus 16 times as stiff as the typical rack's 5/8" steel rod or 99 times stiffer than the 1" square hollow aluminum tubing found on expensive high end racks.
• Each maple shelf is locked to the 1¼" threaded solid steel uprights by being captured with crushing force between two massive threaded round brass nuts at each corner. This yields a totally rigid vibration path and zero perceptible or measurable side sway. The 1¼" uprights thread directly and rigidly into threaded brass Heavyfeet or Megafeet—the most massive footers offered on any available equipment rack.