Place the electronics in a separate room

General HiFi discussion, using the Tune Method to evaluate performance

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Per A
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Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Per A » 2019-03-24 21:05

I remember from the legend of Ivor trying out his turntable found it sounded better if placed in another room than the speakers and this idea stayed with me. What if I were to move everything but the speakers into an adjoining room. Would this not rule out most of the feedback which is the only reason I see for hifi furniture? My cables are too short to try myself as of now but does anybody have an opinion on this?

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Briain » 2019-03-25 11:59

If I had a suitable adjacent room, it's certainly what I would do. Whilst the 'obvious' contender for being impacted by vibration is the turntable (and even the record sitting atop the platter will be rattled by airborne energy from the speakers) electronics are surprisingly susceptible to vibration (in terms of it impacting on the sound quality).

Many years ago, when I occasionally worked at a Linn dealership, one of my friends there often surprised people by discretely placing a pile of magazines atop one of their devices (like a Karik, Numerik, Kairn, etc) and making their systems sound better, then when they asked what he'd done to make the sonic improvement,, he pointed to the pile of magazines and they then questioned whether they'd really heard a difference (as they simply didn't believe such a trick would work). Of course, one has to be careful not to do that to a product that already runs a shade on the hot side (e.g. LK1 regulators were badly mounted onto tiny heat sinks, so you don't really want to further increase the internal temperature by thermally insulating the top of the case with a pile of books) so it's not always a prudent solution (and it looks pretty crap, too)! :)

Another example was me removing all but the top 2 and bottom 2 vibration isolating mounts between my 345A speaker cabinet and the alloy amplifier module (it had 8 mounts and I removed 4 of them) which did make for a small improvement to the sound (but that is not something I'd recommend unless the owner is already familiar with changing 350A modules; it is a delicate job that can easily result in expensive damage being done).

I never saw this for myself, but back in the day, Julian Vereker (as in Naim Audio) had a small room off his lounge which contained all the electronics (this being when he had 6 x Naim 135 amps driving active Isobariks) so he was well ahead of the curve (as they say).

Of course, another cool thing about all that is that IMHO a room looks miles better when all you see are the speakers (that was one reason I was so attracted to the 350A; no longer a need to have piles of Klouts in my lounge, nor to follow through on my plan to mount them on shelves below the floor) but the downside is that you'll need longer speaker cables to reach the amps, so how practical it is would depend upon the geometry of your house.

I should add that I've always thought that it would be super cool to get a brass plaque stating 'Amplifier Room' and attach it to the door (though if I had something like 6 x 135's, or perhaps a rack of Krell amps sitting in there, perhaps it could even justify a sign stating 'Danger, Amplifier Room')! :-D

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by John » 2019-03-25 12:43

I’ve been aware of the benefits of doing so for many years. I have a multi room system where my turntable and amps are in my basement with two systems upstairs fed from the two tape outputs on my preamp.

My living room system which is on a suspended wood floor has just a pair of speakers and a Sonos Amp. The Sonos Amp has a line input which allows me to listen to my turntable or use streaming services all controlled by the Sonos App on my iPhone or iPad.

The second system is in my three season porch with a tv, pair of ATC speakers with a second Sonos Amp. I can stream or listen to LP’s through any or all systems including the Sonos Play 3 speaker in my kitchen all controlled by the app. I can also control the volume of each room to balance out the sound depending on where I’m sitting. When the weather is nice, it’s not uncommon to have all three setups running at the same time while sitting at the kitchen table.

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Per A » 2019-03-25 18:56

How interesting I feel encouraged to try this although I am going to need all that cabling for my active 242s. Or I can do the comparison with a pair of passive Tannoys I have lying about. If I notice an improvement it would also hold for the 242s.

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by lejonklou » 2019-03-25 20:15

Two thoughts that I hope won't interfere with your enthusiasm to make further experiments:

1. Feedback from loudspeakers is far from the only reason for good support of your HiFi units. This is easy to verify by listening through headphones, where the differences are still obvious.

2. If a unit performs better when a stack of magazines is placed on it, it's improperly designed. Every case has an optimal amount of damping and it's not difficult to achieve this by internal damping, the amount of which should be decided by trial and error and the Tune Method.

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Spannko » 2019-03-25 21:00

lejonklou wrote:
2019-03-25 20:15
Two thoughts that I hope won't interfere with your enthusiasm to make further experiments:

1. Feedback from loudspeakers is far from the only reason for good support of your HiFi units. This is easy to verify by listening through headphones, where the differences are still obvious.

2. If a unit performs better when a stack of magazines is placed on it, it's improperly designed. Every case has an optimal amount of damping and it's not difficult to achieve this by internal damping, the amount of which should be decided by trial and error and the Tune Method.
I totally agree on both counts.

With regard to supports, do you have any thoughts about what might be going on? Some people have suggested it’s to do with filtering vibrations from the planet Earth, some think it’s about sinking vibrations from the HiFi components themselves.

Personally, my gut feeling is that the component and support need to coexist in harmony. A bit like

Stand >>>|<<< HiFi

in terms of harmonious energy flow, if that makes any sense at all!

The HiFi’s natural vibrations shouldn’t “upset” the support (harmonically)
The supports natural vibrations shouldn’t “upset” the HiFi (harmonically)
The support should become at one with the HiFi
The HiFi should become at one with the support

Consequently, they end up coexisting in a mutually supportive love fest, making beautiful music together!

I honestly don’t think that it’s got anything to do with “sinking” excess energy from the HiFi, and I’m about 80% sure that it’s not got anything to do with “protecting” the HiFi from vibrations outside of the support/HiFi ecosystem.

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by lejonklou » 2019-03-25 23:30

Yes, I agree with your description, Spannko.

There is much I don't understand about this, but there seems to be energy moving both ways. Electronics produce a lot of vibrations, some of which can be heard with a stethoscope. Damping the circuit board rarely works, but fastening it at the right positions with optimal torques makes big differences.

And then every mechanical aspect (dimensions, weight, shape/size/positions/properties of contact points, etc) matters, all the way down to the floor. And probably to the building, ground and traffic, too - but these don't seem to influence what in practice works best close to the system (an improvement of the rack appears to work in all environments, regardless of for instance the amount of traffic).

Trial and error, the Tune Method for evaluation and practical experience (making it easier to find a productive path) is what I use. So far I haven't encountered any helpful theories or measurements.

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Briain » 2019-03-26 00:10

lejonklou wrote:
2019-03-25 20:15
Two thoughts that I hope won't interfere with your enthusiasm to make further experiments:

1. Feedback from loudspeakers is far from the only reason for good support of your HiFi units. This is easy to verify by listening through headphones, where the differences are still obvious.

2. If a unit performs better when a stack of magazines is placed on it, it's improperly designed. Every case has an optimal amount of damping and it's not difficult to achieve this by internal damping, the amount of which should be decided by trial and error and the Tune Method.
I totally agree with your comments, but in fact, I'd wager that the vast majority of [so-called] Hi-Fi enclosures are not designed with that aspect at all in mind, at all (some product cases ring like bells, with a sustain time that would make even the most highly respected of bell designers extremely envious). In fact, I'd be as bold as to wager that a significant majority of the [so-called] Hi-Fi manufacturers would probably consider any such discussions as tending towards snake-oil lubricated heresy (I suspect that in their minds, cases only exist for regulatory reasons; they are there to keep dust and fingers reasonably well separated from all of the dangerous bits, contained within) but fortunately, us lot have discovered otherwise. :-P

On that subject, it's a shame that Maplin's no longer exist (for many reasons) as apart from all the junk like disco lights (which now liven up my lounge to great effect; I'm only kidding, of course) they did also stock a very nice 'PC quietening' kit, comprising sticky backed acoustic foam panels (which I mostly discarded) and sticky backed high mass stuff (intended for damping the inside of a PC case). Okay, high mass is often not the answer - light and fast decay times being most musical - but I used the heavy panels to 'mass up' the case of my home-brew miniDSP box (the miniDSP being used to feed my rear sub) and in that case, it most certainly improved the tunes (and as it was on the inside, it looked way cooler than a big pile of magazines sitting atop the box).

Of course, IMHO by far the best form of dampening materials - in terms of significantly enhancing musicality - are those of the hydraulic nature; fine Bordeaux and strong Rioja being particularly fine places from where to start one's musical explorations!

Bri :-)

PS Sorry for the silliness, but I was actually being quite genuinely serious in-between all of the silly bits!
Last edited by Briain on 2019-03-26 11:04, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Spannko » 2019-03-26 01:50

I think you’re right about most HiFi manufacturers approach to enclosure “design”, Briain.

However, I don’t see ringing as necessarily being a bad thing. Whenever I’ve tried to add even the slightest bit of damping, musicality suffers - often by an amount disproportionate to the amount of damping. I don’t think this is the same as saying that musicality will improve if we let everything ring like a bell though! As Mr L suggested, I think the art is in matching the resonances which exist and ensuring that they all play together nicely.

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Briain » 2019-03-26 12:09

The results of any such experiments are not always what you'd expect. A few years ago, a friend tried some thin rubber discs under my KDS/1 and it actually made it sound less musical (given how the KDS is built, I was surprised that it made any perceptible difference, at all - be it better or worse - but it was clearly audible). Back to the equipment cases and I think the only thing one can be sure about is that subjecting the electronics to vibration is not a good thing, but that simply damping the box isn't necessarily the correct way to address that (though it sometimes can be; it could certainly make a positive difference to some of the old Linn LK series boxes).

I have heard it said (by someone with ears) that putting a weight atop an Akurate DSM can make it sound very good, but that is something I have yet to try. My ADSM currently sits in a custom unit that I made to suit a KDS and KK combination, and with the ADSM having wider spaced feet, I've had to stuff a sheet of MDF in to support it (and it's now very close to the surface above it) but once I've built a new internal support 'sub-chassis' to suit it (this is very slightly decoupled from the rest of the cabinet), I plan to then try various things atop the DSM to see what differences - if any - that they make (I will, of course, approach it with an open mind; I certainly won't dive into things blindly expecting anything to make it sound better). One thing I have in mind is a thin sheet of lead atop a thin layer of black felt might be an interesting one to first try (not yet sure where to source a suitablly sized square of lead though; I might have to bond together a 'cross ply' of narrower strips, which are readily available for roof flashing work).

One amusing footnote is that until I sold the Klimax kit, the cabinet contained both the ADSM/3 (where the KDS used to sit) and the unused KK. A few weeks later, I finally removed the KK and the system sounded noticeably less musical, so there you go, demonstrable proof that Linn are incorrect in claiming that removing a preamp can make the system sound better; a Klimax Kontrol can improve the sound of a system, even when it isn't actually connected to anything! :-P

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Chet » 2019-03-26 18:10

From my experience, adding a weight on top of HiFi gear does not help. Whilst it may reduce some vibrations (Which I could tell it did) I have found it to reduce musicality and make it less enjoyable to listen to. This was on klimax & Akurate gear.

On a related but slightly different note, I have used isolation platforms. I was a bit surprised that the most expensive platform damped it too much, that is 'sucked the life' out of the music, even though you could tell that it was vibrating less - the sounds were more separate but less coherent and less enjoyable. However the middle of their range made a positive improvement to the musicality and I would not be without them. This was on Klimax gear.
CD12 >LP12-K Radikal,Keel,EkosSE/1,Urika,Krystal>KK1/D>KXOS>KCT/D x 4 >350's>K400

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Per A » 2019-03-26 21:37

What a wonderful thread.

Since I have the ADSM and an Exaktbox the easiest first test was to move the DSM which I did this evening. Without the LP12 all that unites it to the rest is an ethernet cable. So from a place on a Quadraspire 20 cm from my right channel to the hallway at the back of our listening room next to the router it moved. And I think it’s better but I have to make sure by moving it back again. Now it’s on a small chest of drawers. Of course some other things changed at the same time, the power point and the length of the ethernet cables. Manana.

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Spannko » 2019-03-26 22:59

lejonklou wrote:
2019-03-25 23:30
Yes, I agree with your description, Spannko.

There is much I don't understand about this, but there seems to be energy moving both ways. Electronics produce a lot of vibrations, some of which can be heard with a stethoscope. Damping the circuit board rarely works, but fastening it at the right positions with optimal torques makes big differences.

And then every mechanical aspect (dimensions, weight, shape/size/positions/properties of contact points, etc) matters, all the way down to the floor. And probably to the building, ground and traffic, too - but these don't seem to influence what in practice works best close to the system (an improvement of the rack appears to work in all environments, regardless of for instance the amount of traffic).

Trial and error, the Tune Method for evaluation and practical experience (making it easier to find a productive path) is what I use. So far I haven't encountered any helpful theories or measurements.
I know it sounds crazy. But I absolutely agree. I wanted to say the same, but thought that people would think that I’ve totally lost the plot. You’re much braver than me. lol !

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Briain » 2019-03-27 13:51

Spannko wrote:
2019-03-26 22:59
lejonklou wrote:
2019-03-25 23:30
Yes, I agree with your description, Spannko.

There is much I don't understand about this, but there seems to be energy moving both ways. Electronics produce a lot of vibrations, some of which can be heard with a stethoscope. Damping the circuit board rarely works, but fastening it at the right positions with optimal torques makes big differences.

And then every mechanical aspect (dimensions, weight, shape/size/positions/properties of contact points, etc) matters, all the way down to the floor. And probably to the building, ground and traffic, too - but these don't seem to influence what in practice works best close to the system (an improvement of the rack appears to work in all environments, regardless of for instance the amount of traffic).

Trial and error, the Tune Method for evaluation and practical experience (making it easier to find a productive path) is what I use. So far I haven't encountered any helpful theories or measurements.
I know it sounds crazy. But I absolutely agree. I wanted to say the same, but thought that people would think that I’ve totally lost the plot. You’re much braver than me. lol !
Fortunately, everybody already knows that I lost the plot, many years ago; I can highly recommend it (and confessing to same) as it liberates what one can type! :-)

I note Chet's point and yes, given our findings with Kariks and the likes, back in the day, not long after getting the ADSM/3 I did try placing a 1 cm thick A4 sized paperback book atop the ADSM/3 and when playing a very bass heavy album, it actually made the tune sound slower, but even so, I'm not yet convinced that particular finding necessarily closes the door to experimenting with a few 'more bespoke' experiments (for examples, perhaps something of enough mass to absorb some of the airborne energy, suspended very close to the case lid, but without actually touching it, or, perhaps that same mass panel supported by the edges of the case, but not touching the rest of the case lid, or perhaps that second experiment, but this time with the addition of a small, light and absorptive piece material between the panel and the middle of the case lid, etc, etc).

Back in the 80s, I spent a long (and happy) time designing and building different LP12 supports (both shelves and tables) and the shelf version ended up similar to a standard turntable wall shelf, but instead of the thin MDF sheet sitting atop spikes, it sat atop 4 bolts terminated by 2 cm steel plates, atop which sat thin disks of sorbothane, supporting the MDF sheet. I then added a cross member with another bolt and sorbothane disk which could be adjusted to lightly touch the middle of the MDF, then with the stylus sitting atop a stationary album, I adjusted the centre one to give the fastest decay time from impulses (as in sounding like a kick drum) which were generated by a sub sitting very close below the shelf and firing right up at it. Without the centre piece, the output from the main speakers comprised a long (as in, it took quite a while to die down) and loud thump, whereas with it set correctly - pretty much just touching, and no more - the output thump was very short lived (and far less loud). The results of that were very musical and I then went on to building a floor standing table based along similar concepts (which also sounded very tuneful).

Based on these, and indeed many other experiments, I came to the conclusion that the most critical thing was the decay time; the shorter that was, the more musical the system sounded. I found a similar issue applied to vibrations feeding back into electronics (so my Naim 12s was atop a light and slightly damped MDF sheet) so that's why I'm thinking of an absorbing (and high mass) panel sitting very close to the ADSM lid, but perhaps not actually touching it (though I will also first try that) so effectively 'masking' the big surface area of the lid from the airborne pressure waves, but without adding mass to the overall system (then if that works, trying a small piece of flimsy material to slightly damp the centre of the lid, perhaps making it stop slightly faster than it would without). I've no idea whether it will work or not, but will be interesting to find out if any of these things do bring an improvement (assessed only by measuring only my foot tapping amplitude, of course).

The cool thing about all such home-brew experiments is that most can be done without spending more than the price of a bottle or two of semi-quaffable wine (and they are easily reversible) so neither the risk financial nor mechanical harm is involved (though of course, the loss of one's plot always remains at risk; there's not much one can do to mitigate that issue)!

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Spannko » 2019-03-27 18:03

I’m loving it, Briain. Thanks for sharing.

I really like your idea of a high mass “barrier” which doesn’t touch the equipment or shelving/support.

Just a thought about it. I can imagine the mass barrier acting as a filter rather than a complete barrier, with the very lowest frequencies being unaffected. Unfortunately, I found this out the hard way! I split a larger room into two rooms by building a block wall and, without fully realising the implications, I used a medium strength block (100mm 3N), thinking that the wall would be massive enough to absorb any sound trying to get through. The two new rooms were my HiFi room and a utility room complete with washing, drying machines. The wall didn’t work too well and needed an additional insulated thin skin wall to reduce the noise getting through. A 2m x 2m opening on the opposite wall of the HiFi room, which was blocked up with 200mm (twice the strength, density?) 7N blocks works very well, which is a bit of a bummer given that the room is only used for storing shoes and coats! Don’t let this put you off though!

Back in the day, when people used to remove the bottom of their Ikea Lacks, Naim recommended cutting a piece of pipe insulation so that it was just long enough to be wedged between the floor and the Lack table top in order to damp its resonance a bit. Linn didn’t like the idea, so I never tried it! Your variable damper sounds like it could’ve worked though. Then Linn brought out the Trampolin, consigning all such madness to the history books!

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by sunbeamgls » 2019-03-28 00:02

In my first house the power amps were stored in a separate room. In fact, the understairs cupboard - this room was on the other side of the wall from the speakers. So large holes were drilled through the brick wall to allow K600 to pass through from the amps to the Keilidhs.
I have no idea if this improved the sound or not - it was done purely because the listening room wasn't big enough to allow space for 3x RB850s and a Tunebox!
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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Briain » 2019-03-30 16:25

Spannko wrote:
2019-03-27 18:03
I’m loving it, Briain. Thanks for sharing.

I really like your idea of a high mass “barrier” which doesn’t touch the equipment or shelving/support.

Just a thought about it. I can imagine the mass barrier acting as a filter rather than a complete barrier, with the very lowest frequencies being unaffected.

---cut to save thread space---
Hi

Well, my thinking was that say an ADSM lid is 38 cm x 38 cm, that would equate to a diaphragm with a capture area of 38 x 38 = 1444 square cm. If one 'suspended' a suitable sheet of high mass material (say, perhaps some sort of wood and lead arrangement; perhaps even more complex with some absorbent material atop it, etc) just 0.5 cm above the lid, that would leave a gap around the edge of 38 x 4 x 0.5 = 76 square cm (or if it was 0.3 cm above it, just 45 square cm) so it is almost certainly going to reduce the amount of airborne energy that attacks the lid.

The flip side is that with the sheet being so close, it could act a little like an Isobarik with one unit disconnected (the other unit will excite it) so there could be some opportunity for fine tuning things (materials and distances) but it would be intriguing to build some form of system which could be wound up or down (perhaps on four threaded rods, either from the top of the cabinet, or if the sheet was oversized, the rods could be attached top and bottom (so running outside the footprint of ADSM) the with the sheet clamped by nuts and washers above and below it.

The above is merely a 'though experiment' (and I genuinely have no idea whether it would work) but though my current cabinet is not suitable for suspending anything from the top, I could try something that would look more like a 4 leg table sitting within the cabinet, with its legs sitting on the base (straddling the DSM's support 'sub-chassis', which is a free-standing arrangement within the cabinet) and with its top (the high mass bit) sitting just over the DSM's lid. I'll have to first build a new internal 'sub-chassis' to support the DSM (the old one was designed for a KDS and KK combination, so I need to do that, anyway) then once that's been done, it would be quite simple to then start experimenting with something based along the above lines.

Bri

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Spannko » 2019-03-31 23:38

How very “Steam Punk”! Add a crank or two and it’ll be right on trend!

WRT damped vibrations, I found this on the Harmon website (discussing why a narrow band vibration, even of high amplitude, is relatively benign):

“Is there an explanation? It is probably because music and speech are ever-changing. Also, voices and many musical instruments are played with vibrato – a modulated pitch. High-Q resonances take time to build up, as well as to decay. We tend to talk about the ringing, overhang or decay of resonances after the signal has stopped, ignoring the front-end effect. High-Q resonances are narrow, very frequency-specific, and musical sounds must be sustained long enough to energize them. Few are. Low-Q resonances are wide enough that they respond to everything, and they take almost no time to reach full amplitude.”

Interesting.

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Per A » 2019-04-08 20:31

Okay so what happened was that I activated the space optimum simultaneously as moving my dsm. Not so strange the sound changed.

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Spannko » 2019-04-08 22:59

Per A wrote:
2019-04-08 20:31
Okay so what happened was that I activated the space optimum simultaneously as moving my dsm. Not so strange the sound changed.
What did you learn?

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Re: Place the electronics in a separate room

Post by Per A » 2019-04-10 11:37

To think before jumping to conclusions? An Exakt set-up is a complicated system. If you’re changing more than one variable at a time it’s difficult to conclude anything.

I am not ready with this exercise but as the exaktbox stopped working I will take a break till it’s fixed. It was a discovery that it was so easy to detach the dsm from the amplifiers and with it the LP12.

I now enjoy passive Tannoys and they are great at a fraction of the cost of the Linns.

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