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Damping Mechanical Energy Distortion of STAX and other phones with SORBOTHANE and other materials.

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  1. edstrelow Contributor
    I had the KOSS 950 for many years. They are pretty good stat phones, generally cheaper than Stax and can be run off a Stax amp. I sold mine before I started using sorbothane. I would think that they would have the same issues of mechanical resonance as the Stax and could benefit from the application of sorbothane. I would be quite interested to find out.
  2. edstrelow Contributor
    My newly re-damped Stax SR007A is certainly the best 007 available. Even with the less effective damping sysem I used last year, it outperformed the SR009 that I had an opportunity to compare at Canjam in SoCal although I suspect the basic 009 is a better phone than any undamped 007.  It seemed to have a more even frequency response and more extension in the treble and bass. However I do see some people who don't like it  because of a perceived excess of treble.  My feeling is that if I had one myself and I could improve it by damping to where it would outperform the 007A.  
    So the remodded 007a uses  1/4 inch 70 duro sorb in place of the 30 duro I had previously used.  I have also added sorb pieces to the underside of the headbands (after removing the pleather covers).  I will probably recover these bands at some point.
    Adding sorb to the bands did give some additional clarity to the bass and I hope that I could remove the clamping system that I have used from my initial efforts.  However, I found that taking the clamps off mddied up the bass again, so both forms of damping seem to be needed for these phones at least.    
    So the total current damping package is a series of small pieces of sorb in a ring around the inside metal plate (the photo shows a previous version with fewer but larger pieces,) plus headband damping, plus the original clamping system. 100_0182.jpg
    This shows the sorb on the headband:
    This is a closeup of the clamp, basically 2 stiff pieces if plastic with sorb pieces and held together by a bolt and nut arrangement,
    As I noted above, i was thinking of eliminating the clamps, but they contribute a good bit to the sound quality. In this application only a very small amount of tightening of the screw was best.  If tightened too much, the bass seemed to get bloated again.  So this is a real puzzle. Richard51 notes that when he uses sorb on the base of electronics  clamping is good but he gets the best results with a lot of pressure.  So this is a puzzle.  
    What I need to do here is go back to my SRXIII pro system, which I have found useful for making comparisons and just playing with clamping and pressure to get some more data points to add to this complicated problem.
    To get to the bottom of the issue of mechanical damping you would need a system capable of measuring the vibrations generated in the earcup assembly by the drivers and then seeing how various damping techniques get rid of these vibrations.  However, I am unaware of any such system commercially available.  So for the moment, at least, I fiddle with sorb and listen to the results.
  3. richard51
     Very interesting Ed...
    I will say that on the headphone we need OPTIMAL pressure , not too much, not to light, adjusting that with our listening ears is the only possibility... For the speakers, i have experience that pressure need to be also optimal, but for speakers, the pressure need to be much more than the pressure applied on  headband of the headphone ...If for example i take off 10 pounds of pressure less of my approx. 40 or 38 pounds of load on the speakers, the imaging is less precise...The membrane of a speaker does not vibrate like the membrane of a headphone, nor the inside resonance of the earcups compare to the inside resonance of a speakers, hence the amount of pressurizing sorb need to be different... But i observe that in any case the duro 70 is the best of all  with speakers and headphone...I recommend to all of you with speakers not only sorbothane but room treatment(total cost of mine is 30 dollars )...This 2 mods. definitively kill much upgraditis for me....[​IMG] 
    I think like ed that this is a puzzle yes, but it is logical that each frequencies band must be affect differently by different  pressure of the  sorb.duro 70, and i observe the samething about the headband and the bloating of the bass if i dont pressurize the sorb or if i press  it to much...[​IMG]
    I think that each speakers, or each headphone has inside the case or the cup their particular frequency  destructive  dominant resonance, and varying the pressure kill much of that negative resonance...[​IMG]
    p.s.  I have my miller and kreisel k-9 subwoofer, and i will put sorbothane duro 70 on it and under it,with or without load, i will report here the results in a week or so...   
  4. richard51
    I push myself to resorbothanize the hifiman he 400, this time with duro 70, and  opening the cups i put the sorb. inside the cups not around the exterior of the cups...I put only one piece at the exterior of the cups on the headband  plastic round case of each cup, the result was very impressive and i am in love anew   with my he 400... They have not  an interesting   soundstage like my lambda nova basic nor the refinement of my Stax SR-5,(ideal for classical music) but they are very exciting with a passionate personnality to listen with,  now  with a better mids frequencies,and  more details, less neutral than the Staxes but ideal for jazz...
    I must say that i like my 3 headphones, the first choice is for sure the SR-5, but the other 2 have their interesting individuality, all that is for sure resulting of the use of sorbothane duro 70, that make the best of each headphone...Thanks to this great thread of Edstrelow...[​IMG]
    p.s. the solid state Sansui AU-7700 drive them from the headphone output with authority to another level.( no comparison with the excellent Ember headphone amp i had before) It drive also  the SR-5 with the Stax energizer outstandingly... Its pre-amp do marvel  for the lambda with  the Stax srm 252s...  If you dont have money, look for a vintage sansui of the au series, the sansui is the best purchase i had the joy to make...[​IMG] 
    p.s. By the way with the Ember , it is impossible to use efficiently the sorbothane, this amp is too light and with his protuding tube i cannot put a load on it  for compressing the duro 70... Now thanks to sorbothane experiments, i know that ALL gear needs damping, and the Ember would have been better if i had been in the position and capacity to use sorb. with him...
    Really i am in love with my newly sorbothanized HE-400 (  i have some chill along my spine when i think of the moment i was near to sell them after the purchase of the SR-5). The sound is more livingly, holographically real than my SR-5, they are more transparent than ever, and more speakerlike for my ear,...I think that is because at the interior of the cup there is a little circular groove around the cup where the 1/4 inches sorb. duro 70 fit perfectly slightly compressed and glued perfectly ...The grill mod. was also spectacular for my HE 400, after the sorbothane mod. the grill mod was very EVIDENTLY  at the first second of listening a  vastly more refinement  on all count than with the standard grill...But BEWARE, without the sorb mod, the grill mod is way less spectacular...
    I know think that the He-6 would be for me in the future a great upgrade, but the interior is  not exactly  similar to the HE-400 hence not so  easily perfectly sorbothanized...
    It takes some days for the headphone to adjust to the sorb, adhesive process, but what a headphone for the price!...Remember that i have purchase this headphone 3 years ago, and it is the first time that i really listen to their true potential, after the SR-5 that i love dearly, this is a big surprize...[​IMG]
    I must say that using sorbothane to damp speakers was an audiophile transcendental experience for me.... the difference between no sorb. or sorb. with the Mission V60 speakers was night and day,mostly when i add 12 pieces of sorb.  duro 70 around the 5 inches driver and around the tweeter yesterday ... the improvement with sorb. compressed under and on top of the speakers  were great BUT glued near the two membranes, it was a complete transformation.... The sound is better in bass extension and depth, so much that i will sell my miller and kreisel subwoofer, no more need for it....The higher frequencies are more organic, the mids to die for....The Sorbothane is the most underestimated product in audio....[​IMG] 
  5. Jaab
    Hi richard51,
    I read about the grille mode in the He400i thread, but what's this red plastique? looks very different
    about what I read, i’m very curious and interested to know more about it!
    i’m moding my he6 (adding mini xlr connectors) i will also add sorbotane but i will use 30 duro
    (when i bought it, the forum was just using the softer sorb!).

    i will report the results...
  6. richard51
    70 duro will be way better than 30....choose 1/4 inches glued sorb. if possible....this red plastic grid was cutted from a plastic mesh  plate who was made for protecting table, it is not very  rigid plastic... This was way better than  classic grid mesh i try before that...The hole in the center was covered by glued punctured silk paper.... astounding results compared to classic grill mod for me...By the way my hifiman is the he 400 not the he 400i...thanks for your interest, we will all wait for your experiment, i dream about a he 6 one day...But my he 400 now exceed my Stax for my ears, and inserting the sorbothane 1/4 inches in the groove near the driver is easy, they are made for that......[​IMG] 
  7. richard51
    Silent thread here !
    And in my room astonishing music coming from my Mission V60 speakers,  this time i completely circle the membrane of the tweeter and the woofer with  self glued sorbothane duro 70 1/4 inches, the imaging now is insane compare to these speakers bare nude from the factory.... Nobody seems interested by an upgrade so marvelous for pennies...Nobody has try with  his own speakers? the results with my speakers  are no less extraordinary than with the headphone i have tried with sorb.... Frankly Edstrelow was right and nobody seems listening...For me it is the end of the road, the price paid for all this sorb is nothing and exceed any of my expectations, and i dont know how  thousands dollars speakers sound, i dont give a damn! i have my owns now... Thanks God i ever read this thread in the first place...If i have not, i will have been insatisfied perpetuously and devored by the monster of upgraditis....
    Plenty of thread here were about minute differences between costly upgrade,here we speak about,  a complete transformation of many headphone and speakers, where is the crowd? All, i say all, pieces of gear VIBRATES (from the power conditioner to the headphone) and from their enclosure and internal topology emits plenty of negative resonance, is it not of the first importance to eliminate them if possible? Trust me it is very audible without blind test... 
  8. Henery
    I can help at breaking this silence. I modded my Nighthawks yesterday with 70D sorbo patches. Placed them arounf driver baffle plate (ABS plastic). Improvements are typical to sorbo: noticeably tighter bass + subbass, improved imaging, smoother sound, improved dynamics etc. Treble etch was my biggest gripe with NH. Now i can listen to it much longer. I really hope that sorbothane gets much more exposure.
    nick n and richard51 like this.
  9. edstrelow Contributor
    It's like people don't want to believe that you can get so much improvement for so little money.
    Of course there are so many rip-offs in high fi, but here you are only gambling a few dollars. 
    Part of the problem is that there is little general understanding bu audiophiles  of the mechanical/acoustic problem that sorbothane resolves. It is only when I found out that sorb damping cleared up so much of the sound that it dawned on me that there had to be a lot of vibrational energy running around the earcups of headphones.   But then I wondered why has there been almost no discussion of this among audiophiles.   At any rate the cat is out of the bag,  Grado is now using earcup damping,  Sennheisser has been damping the HD800 and I suspect also their new super phone. 
    Anyway, having come up with a good damping system for the Stax SR007  I have largely completed my explorations in this field. I any case I have run out of sorb and my main supplier of 1/4 in 70 duro sorb is on vacation.
    I should mention that I have also been damping my speakers for some time to good effect. I haven't posted pictures because I have been using all manner of left-over sorb and it looks messy. Fortunately the grill covers this 
  10. richard51
    I totally partake your view about  the silence in the audiophile debate about vibrations....  People here kills one another about minute difference on very high costly gear, and dont want to hear  about someting so cheap you must add to a costly, or not so costly gear with great results ; and with insatisfaction in perpetual search, they go from one product to another without never hearing the true potential of their piece of audio, be it an amp, a dac, or an headphone or speakers ...
    By the way my supplier(the same?) is in vacation too... thanks for all Ed...[​IMG] 
  11. edstrelow Contributor
    I am still in awe of what the last sorbothane upgrade did to the Stax 404 and LNS Lambdas. I damped the baffle board as well as the headband with 1/4 in 70 duro. On listening to some old classical and baroque music, the sound was much more dynamic, especially the treble peaks. One recording, a set of trumpet concertos had always seemed bland but now seemed like the players were in the same room with you. The biggest surprise was of all things a set of recorder concertos. I always thought of this as just cute, but now the recorder just jumped out of the headphones.

    And this is without using any particularly fancy equipment backing it up. The amp is a 30 year old STAX SRM1 mk 2, the dac, a 15 year old Musical Fidelity and only the Woo cd transport, being of current vintage.

    As you say richard51, it puts an end to upgraditis.

    richard51 likes this.
  12. richard51
    There is a  perpetual insatisfaction observed here by me in  others, and  also in me, because of the deception with some piece of audio apparatus that where never at their optimal potential capacity,  that insatisfaction , now i know it, result from this plague of vibrations in all  our audio units.... When you never hear the true instrumental timbre of instrument, your satisfaction by music is always impeded, and you dream to pay more for this never completely audible and out of reach dreamed naturality of musicality, because the desequelibrium caused by negative resonance in the enclosure of headphone and speakers....
    All people here speaks the language of engineering to factualy describe their apparatus, the highs there, the mids here, the lack of emphasis of bass... For our ears, satisfaction is not a change only in frequencies but a change in the perceived  timbre of instrument, hence an erasing of the negative resonance that destroyed the positive resonance  that build the musical timbre with  all frequencies... Sorbothane, even if i dont understand his exact  effects, evidently for ou ears make that happen...Viva Sorbothane!
    I am now very afraid to upgrade, a real upgrade will cost me high cost now, the illusion of a change interest me no more, because all my gear sound really natural, and a violin is a violin, a voice is a voice, the highs,mids, low of the  language of frequencies is no more the way to describe the felt audible depth of the musical timbre and the imaging  resulting from all my audio unit sorbothanized, hence upgrading is no more an urge, because there is no more desequilibrium in the sound, only the specific optimal personality of each one piece of gear in a natural rendering of music and not  only sound....[​IMG] 
    P.s. I have try bi-wiring  with my Mission V60 speakers and they are made by their creator to be this way, but without sorbothane the effect i listen to now  would have been very small and for many people not audible, but with sorbothane in all my audio units, the felt change was evident, all cues in space are better, imaging improve audibly....Morality of this story: debate about cable and stuff like bi-wiring are dependant heavily of audible effects not always felt, if they are there, because vibrations and negative resonance of the audio units(be it headphone, amp, dac, speakers,power conditioner etc) make that impossible to hears, subtle changes in spatial cues for example in a ocean of noise is inaudible ... Viva Sorbothane! and bi-wiring !
  13. edstrelow Contributor

    People talk about the law of diminishing returns in audio, i.e that it costs more and more to get improvements that are less and less. Of course we know this is not true of sorbothane damping where a very small outlay of money produces a large benefit. You seem to be suggesting that on a sorb-damped system this "law" is less in evidence and when other improvements are tried they may be more noticeable. Essentially the distortion present in undamped systems is a barrier to hearing other aspects of a system.
  14. richard51
    It is exactly what i want to say, thank you very much Ed....I apologize to all for my bad english.....[​IMG] 
    and yes it is near impossible to hear certain small change of great impact with undamped gear.... Perhaps this law of diminushing return applied  at the end but the sorbothane give great quality results at the beginning with all gear  ... Damping is for me with room treatment necessary enterprise if someone want to hear music from his pieces of audio...For the first time in years i dream about newer stuff like all others, stuff i cannot afford, but for the first time i have no frustation. and no real urge, desire, to upgrade at all costs, in the contrary, i am afraid to pay very big money to a not so high upgrade... After all the sound of piano is the sound of piano... i can wait and enjoy music...i miss really nothing... thank to  this thread and the perseverance of Edstrelow....
    P.s. Some people here on certain thread advertise for great power supply near one thousand dollars... I am convinced that this is great effectively, but implementing that before sorbothane is not a so great idea i think....People beware! the greatest upgrade is not a power supply in the first place but sorbothane if you want  to hear the most optimal sound from your amp, speakers, dac, headphone, and even your power conditioner....After that i think it is a good idea to buy a better power supply and put a load on him with sorbothane under it....[​IMG] 
  15. edstrelow Contributor
    Thin sorbothane is also sold to be used as a mat to be placed on the platter of a turntable. The photo shows how I used it with my B&O tangential tracker.  The sorb in question is 1mm thick and I am not sure about the duro but I think it may be 70. You can buy sheets large enough to cover the entire platter.  I used only segments because the B&O has small ridges on the platter to hold the lp.  I placed the sorb between the ridges so as not to change the height of the record and thus the angle of the stylus. In this configuration, the sorb sticks out maybe  a bit over 1/2 mm above the ridges.
    I also have used a sorbothane puck over the middle of spindle to hold the records down. I can't say I was ever much impressed by its benefits.  I would like to try a heavy metal puck, but I have not been able to find one that isn't too tall to prevent lowering the lid.
    The sound is definitely cleaned up, treble is less etched, there is more air and better dynamics to the sound. Some of this may be due to the fact that the sorb holds the record in place better than the ridges on the platter.  So in that sense it may be acting like a clamp or the fancy vacuum systems which hold  lp's tightly to the platter. In fact my only complaint is that when freshly placed on the platter it tended to hold the disc making it hard to remove.  BTW I dd not need to use any glue or fastening to keep the sorb in place on the platter.
    Finally I added about  a dozen 3/4 inch squares of self-stick 1/4 inch thick 70 duro in various places around the turntable based both inside and on the bottom. Again these pulled up the sound quality.
    A question is what energy is being damped here?  Certainly there will be some vibrations from the motor and the platter bearing.  The big bucks turntables overengineer these components so as to minimize such effects.  Or you can use sorb at much less cost. Also, the turntable is primarily used with my speaker system so there is probably air-borne energy coming from the speakers of which at least some gets into the turntable and/or lp. 
    Again a few bucks for significant sound improvement and if you don't like it you just take the sorb off.
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