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

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  1. chrismini
    I've always wanted to go with tubes. Problem is my amp has a crossfeed circuit using op-amps that really makes a huge difference with heavily panned recordings. I've tried DSP from Foobar, J River and iTunes and they just don't "work" as well as my HeadRoom Micro which was discontinued years ago.
  2. edstrelow Contributor
    I wanted to check again the effectiveness of blutak as a damping marerial and the use of superglue as a fastener. I still had the alternate covers for my Stax SRXIII Pro which I had used some months back. My comparison is 1/4 inch 70 duro self-stick (sometimes called 3M) I had previouly reported on these and wanted to see if the passage of a few months might change the physical properties, eg the blutak might harden, the suprrglue might set better. Or just that my mind might change.

    I didn't find any difference with the blutak over what I reported before. It provides a small amount of damping but the sound is not impressive. The treble seemed very scratchy and undamped.

    As regards superglue, the sets of covers have identical pieces of sorb, but one set are fastened using the self-stick while the other use superglue on the non-stick side of the sorb. Here, as I reported before, the overall sound was much better than with blutak. And using superglue, some of the frequency range seemed a bit better damped and thus better defined than with the self-stick. However the treble was still somewhat rough sounding. This was more significant to me than the other possible benefits of superglue so I will be staying with the self-stick.

    Next I will probably check shoeglue as a fastener.

    . I would also.like to study the use of clamps to hold sorb in place. I have used clamps before and found that the sound characteristics changed with the amount of pressure applied, rather as richard51 notes about increasing weight. But I have yet to come up with a good rig for experimenting.

    richard51 likes this.
  3. richard51
    Thanks Ed for this very interesting experiments and conclusion...
    I want to add a last note about mine.... The last part of my rig where the sorb. were not adequately compressed was the Sansui amplifier, i had only put the sorb. under the feet in the beginning with no load on top,thinking that the 28 pounds of the amp would sufficiently compress it but it was not enough indeed, now with the load on top adequately placed with the right weight, i confirm after more than a week, that it was a spectacular transformation in my imaging sound, the sound were way more natural and no more related to the speakers themselves but floating completely in space with 3-d spatialization... My conclusion is any piece of rig adequately sorbothanized with the right compression  play more near his  final optimal potential  trough headphone or speakers than otherwise...I must say that the modest Mission speakers are so  good that i listen more with them, they are on par with the Stax SR-5, or lambda and the he 400 for details and superior for the imaging and soundstage part...
    I think that sorbothanizing adequately any link in the chain of gear will do very audible results, like the results i had with only my headphone damped in the beginning, but the results of damping adequately all links repercute on the final results through the headphone or speakers so much that there is no relation at all between   my system damped  and the same not damped... I dont think that paying money for upgrading one  link compare to the sorbothane effect in all the chain,especially if you already have a good  hi-fi system ; perhaps yes, if you pay some very  big money for the best of the best  headphone or speakers...I dont have this money now, and now, this is not so important for me...
    I am truly happy that i am no more frustrated by the always costlier better new  gear that all people talk about in the other threads and  that i cannot afford...This speaks volume about the importance of this thread for me...Thanks Ed[​IMG] 
  4. chrismini
    Just let us know.
  5. DangerClose
    I put some sorbo on a headphone today.  After letting the glue dry for a few hours and then trying them, I don't think they sounded like this before.  I had been listening to a few songs over and over the last couple days, and suddenly drums are firmer, and a part with overlapping, distortion guitars has more separation, and I can hear an extra note in it I don't remember hearing before due to them overlapping so much and sounding somewhat of a mess.  
    It's possible it's all in my head, but I don't think so.  People accomplish similar with other sound damping methods.  I'll try another headphone I use a lot and see how that goes.
  6. richard51
    this is exactly our experience... Thanks for your confimation.... what grade of sorbothane do you use?
    What headphone?  Where do you put the sorb. ? [​IMG] 
  7. DangerClose
    3/16" 70. I bought a big sheet of it.  Too big.
    I've always tried to mod my JVC RX700 to remove the boominess and diffusion, and I already modded away a good bit of it. (Some people like boomy and diffusion, of course.  As do I, sometimes.)  I hadn't used them too often lately before yesterday, so I couldn't be sure of the sorb yesterday. I already had them sounding cleaner than stock before the sorb.  
    As I said, after adding the sorb yesterday and letting them sit a few hours, I didn't think they sounded that clean before the sorb.  And now I removed the sorb and listened to them again almost immediately, and now they sound like a mess. lol.  
    So either I accidentally altered something else in the short time it took me to remove the sorb, or the difference is the sorb.
    There's been examples in this thread of using too much sorb and killing the sound energy.  I understand how that happens using other damping mods, though I'm still wondering how too much sorb would do that if sorb basically removes vibration, not cup sound wave resonance and things like that.
    I put some on the inside of each baffle. I'll try more this time and see what happens.  Since these headphones are mostly closed, I'm wondering if putting the sorb on the outside of the baffle would work as well since that would allow more air space inside the cup since the sorb wouldn't be taking up air space in there.  Though since the cups aren't fully closed, maybe it doesn't matter.  Guess I'll try it and find out.
  8. richard51
    very interesting!  Thanks for sharing....
     I  think that it is important that the sorb. was tightly glued to have optimal effect, Ed was the first to experiment with that effect of the gluing process ....On the exterior of the headphone, in my experience the sorb. mod will be good also....But the problem is in the round surface of the exterior cups, it is not always so easy to have it tightly glued.... By the way if you can compressed it , the sorb duro 70 will  give you  more efficient  results, if possible to apply the pressure....And sorb. is not like other damping products, if tightly glued, there will be no problem to put more of it...Sorb. transform vibration into heat and so more of it rightly applied is not bad...[​IMG] 
  9. edstrelow Contributor
      You can apply it on other things such as speakers and components such as amps and cd players, even power strips to get rid of microphonics. Sorb has been used as footers for many years and you can buy lots of different makes.  However, I find I get better results with smaller pieces ( eg. less than 1 inch dimensions) glued directly to the case.  Again the 70 duro is good. 
     Also have a look at applying sorb to the headband if that is possible with your phones. I first got started applying sorb to the Stax SR007 but Richard51 got me applying it to several other phones.  Sennheiser uses  damping material in the headband of the HD 800.  I would imagine it would also use this in its new $K50 super electrostatic. 
  10. DangerClose
    But what about the following?
  11. edstrelow Contributor
    I think the physics of damping is complicated. If we  understood it better we would do a better job of knowing what damping material to use, where it is best to apply it and how much to use. We only have a few data points, such as that 70 duro is better than 30, but maybe not in all circumstances. The bass boom I  have sometimes got is a mystery.  Instead we have to check every effort by ear to be sure that it is good. 
    Henery likes this.
  12. richard51
    At the time of these post  of mine i was not aware about the time it takes to obtain good results with the gluing process, and more importantly i was not using the right duro.... The informations in this thread must be read like an experiment in process, hence read toward the end of the thread to correct some experiments....With duro 70 like any other duro it is better to not cover all  the surface to damp ,but unlike the other duro i has not encountered  the same problem with quantity, unless you cover  all the surface it is good....  generally 10 % of the surface covered by sorb will give some good results, 25 % better one, 50 % better one , 75 % equal  results or better one, it depend foremost of the specific headphone for the quantity , but  i dont advise to make a 100 % covering, except the 100 % case, more sorb, is never  less  good but in my experience better, more little pieces than big one is better also and a good advise...And using 70 duro give better results if you can compress it.... By the way it is not so much the quantity of the sorb used that is the problem than the right adhesive process, if the sorb is not correctly used, the results will not be good... My observation is more than 50 % or around 75 % the difference will be less audible in improvement, hence too much rightly applied will not be bad...But not always[​IMG] better...
    There are 4 rules: the right duro (70), compression on it if possible, little pieces around 50 to 75 % of the surface covered, and finally a right adhesive process ...
    By the way so spectacular has been  the results with some headphone like my Stax and hifiman, the results of using sorb, with all my other gear has not been a  little  improvement.... The final accumulative results of damping all my units of audio is the greatest upgrade by far i had experience... I dont have upgraditis now... 
    The use of sorb. with my speakers ( around the 2 drivers and on top and at the basis of the speakers with a load for compression ) was no short of extraordinary... the imaging and naturalness of the timbre were a huge improvement...
    edstrelow and Henery like this.
  13. Henery
    We can add Audioquest Nighthawk and B&W P9 to list of headphones with vibration damping in mind.
    Audioquest says this:
    "NightHawk’s patent-pending suspension system takes a cue from shock-mounted microphones, employing elastomer bands (four per side, symmetrically located around the sound-diffusing grilles) to join NightHawk’s headband with its earcups. This elegant design allows the earcups to move freely, accommodating heads of nearly any shape or size, while effectively decoupling the earcups to counteract intrusive mechanical crosstalk—which, for a lot of listeners, can be a real deal-breaker of a distortion."
    Audioquest actually sells sorbothane: http://www.audioquest.com/audio-enhancements/sorbothane-self-stick-sheet
    NH: http://personal.audioquest.com/nighthawk-ergonomics
    P9: http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Headphones/Wired-Headphones/Wired-Headphones/P9.html
    edstrelow and richard51 like this.
  14. edstrelow Contributor

    It certainly looks like these phones are using mechanical damping. It is interesting that the designers seem more concerned about crosstalk, i.e. the transmission of vibrations from one earcup to the other through the headband. That is certainly part of the problem. I was not surprised that the headband of the Stax SR 007 needed damping since it is metal and screwed directly to the metal earcups. But I was not expecting to find that even the headbands of the Stax SRX MkIII and the Lambdas would show similar problems because they are much less tightly fastened to the earcups. And yet they do and this appears also to be the realization of the designers of the Audioquest and B&W phones.

    Certainly in my listening I have been struck by an increase in soundstage after damping was applied to headphones, something which I believe has been reported with the Sennhesier HD 800, which uses headband damping. The elimination of crosstalk, should create a greater stereo effect and wider soundstage.

    However, I think that crosstalk is only part of the problem and that each driver creates distortion which feeds back to that same driver. But, as I have said before, there is a lot we don't understand about this problem.
    richard51 likes this.
  15. edstrelow Contributor
    I have been trying a simple experiment to get rid of the crosstalk that the B&W and and the Audioquest phones, which were brought to our attention by Henery,  attempt to do.   Here it is:
    Just listen without the headband!
    I simply hold the earcups in place both when the headband is used and when it is not used, so as not to introduce any change by the holding. I have tried this with both my Stax  Lambda LNS, Lambda 404 and SRXIII Mk2 pro.  In all of these phones it is real easy to snap the earcups off and on, not really feasible with the SR007 though.   I think I am hearing something but it would be nice if other people would try this to.  There must be other phones where the headbands can be removed. 
    richard51 likes this.
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