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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 can see the point that if some portion of the headband like a grommet is soft enough, energy won't get past it to the other side. But if the vibrations don't get past the grommet the energy would still be floating around in the earcup and presumably still messing up the sound in the originating earcup. But at least you wouldn't have crossfeed distortion.  Energy does not just die, it transforms into some other form.  Sorbothane claims to turn the mechanical energy into heat. I assume that eventually the earcup vibrations turn to heat in the earcups whether sorb is applied or not. Otherwise your earcups would be ringing forever. But the sorb is more effective and does it faster. 
    However,  if enough pressure is applied by the pivot to the grommet it might compress it  so that it acts more like solid material and passes vibrations anyway.   Nevertheless,  something like this could be tried and might be effective.
    I first got on to the damping problem when I realized that the headband of my Stax SR007 was vibrating .  http://www.head-fi.org/t/671314/stax-sr007-resonance-problems .I felt that the rather than working on the headband, the better  solution was to dampen the earcups so much that there wouldn't be anything to go to the headband. Apparently I have not succeeded and crossfeed is going on even on my heavily damped phones. And that is why I am trying these clips as an experiment to see if compressed sorbothane works better and that seems to be so. This is really a separate issue from the crossfeed reduction.   At some point I would hope to find another way of doing this that is less ugly. 
    Anyway I found the discussions of the audioquest and B&W phones interesting inasmuch as they emphasized crossfeed as the source of distortion.  Grado doesn't discuss this in their e series but talks about improving transient response.  Sennheisser doesn't explain the rational of their damping in the headbands much at all and I see little discussion of this topic  in the reader forums. So I don't think we have really figured it out.  All I know is that I can generally get much better sound to my phones. using sorbothane damping.  Exactly why and what is the best way to do this is still unclear. 
    richard51 likes this.
  2. richard51
    I suddenly lost a channel in my Sansui Amplifier, i remove my near 40 pound of load on top of it, to clean some controls button,  and the channel come back to life.... This load of near 40 pounds +the mass of the amplifier itself is equal to the optimal 60 pounds necessary to optimally compress the sorbothane duro 70...I listened then the Sansui amp.  for the first time without this optimal load on top of the amplifier and the sound was no more  3-d, way less  clean, less refine  even if all the other pieces of gear were optimally compressed except the amplifier...The lesson is finally that for me : it is necessary to compress the sorb. duro 70 in ALL parts and piece of the gear chain, the cleaning process of all this negative resonance added up at the end... One piece of gear without sorb. or without compressing load, and the results were way less clear...[​IMG]It is so precise  final result that it is possible to hear the difference between 5 pounds more or less on top of  the load on any piece of gear:  dac, or power conditioner, speakers or amp ....
    P.s. Some of you must think that it would be more easy to put sorb. duro 30 or 40 under the gear, hence it would be not necessary to use such heavy load to compress it...the problem is that for an optimal audio result , sorb. duro 70 is more denser stuff than the other grade of sorb. and for a reason that i dont understand the elimination of internal vibration-resonance is way more effective to my ears with this precisely graded duro and it work better compressed ...i will wait for a scientific explanation...For now my results a so astounding that my mid-fi  Mission V60 speakers sound really now like some hi-fi one with a lot of  clearer bass from the 5 inches woofer(no sub-bass for sure!) and it is not necessary at all to use a sub for music listening ...[​IMG] 
  3. edstrelow Contributor
    I have no doubt that you correctly report what you are hearing. But I  still wonder how much of what you are hearing is solely due to sorbothane compression.  I would expect the  mass you using on top of equipment to itself give better sound. There was a fad some years back for putting bricks on top of equipment and I am sure it helped dampen vibrations even without sorbothane.  
    I see that Mapleshade Audio sells brass "heavyhats" to put on top of equipment along with the use of footers and wooden bases. They seem to working along the same line as you except that they use metal feet rather than sorb under equipment.  In my experience both can work. 
  4. richard51
    For sure you are right , the mass act itself without the sorb. to damp the vibration  ... But just putting mass cannot transform totally the spectrum of frequencies with a 3-d effects in spatialization of the sound.....It is very simple to verify that.... Try brick only experiment, try brick +sorb experiment, try  sorb. only experiment with different duro....The best results for me  (sorb.70  compressed) are spectacular, the other two possibilities are not...i also discovered that between 50 to sixty pounds  of compression on all 4 pieces of gear  are necessary; more is not so good , nor less.... [​IMG]
    there is no comparison between my system with sorb and without it....no comparison at all.... But the sorb duro 70 must be compressed by a load of  around 55 pounds the mass of the gear included...try it... 
    Before i stumble on this site, and this particular thread, and before your gracious first offer to me for my headphone, i was already using sorb under my other gear, without very  truely good results, with no compression, and without the right duro... after i discovered the true potential of sorb. on my headphones i begin experimenting with compression and your own suggestion of the duro 70.... For me the discovery truely begins with that, after that i transform really my system, with duro 70 and compression, the results is even my Stax does not compete with my mid-fi speakers, nor my he -400, in all counts, be definition,imaging,etc...
    Sorbothane is for me the most underestimated audio product, and when used by some people, most of the time not optimally used...thanks to you[​IMG] my audio life is now never tortured by envious temptation to buy that or that, because my sound is already, musical, organic, natural, and there is absolutely no relation with what i  have before  sorbothanization with the same  and every piece of gear...Remember in my past posts that i have speaks about my inconscious experience when 2 pieces of sorb. drop  accidentally off  the feet of my dac and at other time off  the feet of the power conditioner...even with the same load on top of these pieces of  gear, the audio result without the 2 missing piece were immediately consciously perceived.... At the End the load help yes, but it is the sorb.70 that play the major role...You know what sorb. do to headphones, for me the results if possible are no less extraordinary with every one and each piece of gear....Sorb. do the same miraculous deed rightly applied...  
  5. edstrelow Contributor
    In a related vein to richard51's musings about compression, I am starting to think that the sorbothane applied to headphones also works best when some pressure is applied. This has been difficult to experiment with because most phones give you few places to apply sorb and then compress it.  However at least some of the Stax phones have headbands where you can apply both sorb and a clamping device.   
    This week I finally repaired/replaced the broken cable in my Stax SR007A where I had previously applied sorb to the metal bands that hold the earcups.  I started with four clamps and was quite pleased with the result so I moved on to eight. 102_4072.jpg
    Four seemed to help a lot but the eight clamps gave additional boost although I think diminishing returns are setting in.
    So what are the benefits?  More of what you generally get from sorbothane damping, better clarity, better dynamics and a reduction in harshness.  I found myself involuntarily moving in time to the music, always a good sign of good reproduction. However there also appears to be better channel separation so that the soundstage is wider and individual instruments or voices more precisely localized.This is consistent with the reports earlier of Audioquest and B&W claiming that their damping reduces crosstalk. 
    As an example, I was listening to an old (1969) EMI analog recording of Peer Gynt. It is a fine recording by Barbirolli but with mediocre, murky  sound.   Now most of the murk is gone, and it sounds more like my better and more recent digital recordings, such as one of my personal favorites, a 1991 Argo recording by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir of American songs.   The Argo now sounds even clearer, you are starting to be aware of individual singers in the choir for example.
    By taking the clips off and on I can hear that a surprising amount of the improvement is due just to the clips. 
    What I will probably do in the future is locate some metal or plastic strips that I can place under the sorb and then compress them to the sorb by a simple clamp.  Then the headband will be covered with a  knitted cover that  was designed for them and which I got on Ebay for a few bucks.
    The Stax Lambdas are also amenable to this sort of modification.
  6. richard51
    Thanks Ed for this interesting post....I am not surprized....what you have found about the compression of the sorb.duro 70 on your Stax, apply to the same extent to ANY piece of gear with the sorb. duro 70 under it or on top of it....the same qualities about the improvement would  manifest  with any of them , even with the power conditioner or the speakers, dac, or amp...All and each one of the piece of the chain gain and improve with the compression of the sorb.duro 70...
     When i come to Headfi forums  some years ago, it was because i was in search of some headphone , because i dont wanted to invest in a costly speakers system, and because headphone take little space on a desk than speakers....But i learn with my money  that  very good headphone amp cost the same that a good speakers amp will cost , and very good headphone these days  cost more than very good speakers....Now with the sorbothanization of ALL my system, i listen mostly with the  mid-fi level speakers Mission V60, they are so good with all the sorb.  that even my other 3 headphone does not compete, thanks to the sorb. duro 70 compressed...
    No audio company , if they know it in the first place,will dare to say that their sometimes many thousand dollars system,  is internally  plague by vibrations, and because of that will  deliver an  indesirable  spectrum of resonance, and that it is necessary to put sorb. duro 70 under it and on top of it with around 60 pounds of load.... No audio cpmpany will say that...It is my experience that it is so with ANY piece of gear new or vintage! Be it a power conditioner or an amp etc.... thanks to your experiment with sorb. in the first place, i know that now...[​IMG] 
    The other thread here  are mostly impressions about new products,  but your thread is an experiment in the making...for cheap money  it is possible to have a modest but truly audiophile system, it is my experience with the sorbothane experimentation of this thread .....  the most underestimated solution to vibrations in audio experience.... Sorbothane does not only isolate the gear from the vibration like spikes,  but absorb and eliminate them, transforming them  into  heat,  but better if compressed optimally....   thanks Ed
  7. edstrelow Contributor
    Yes, most of the postings in Head-fi are very consumerist,  just  take whatever the manufacturers want to produce.  It seems to be more about spending big bucks on esoterica and getting praise from other big spenders for your supposed astuteness. 
     Here, we are dealing with a fundamental problem of the effects of mechanical vibrations on sound systems which the manufacturers have largely ignored.    In part this is because we have not had good means for damping sound systems until fairly recently.  I note for example that the Stax Lambda headphone design was first released before sorbothane was even patented.  So you couldn't do much. With speakers, we use heavy stands,  spikes under the stands, sand in the boxes and other techniques which are just not workable with headphones. So using sorb and similar materials is a game-changer. 
    I am also surprised at the reluctance of many Headfiers to even consider the damping problem which you may be able resolve for very little money a few bucks worth of sorbothane. Many of them seem far more willing  to plunk thousands into things like amps .  I recall listening to the $5-6,000.00 BHSE amp for Stax phones at a Canjam in LA some years back, and thinking that it was the best I had heard  by about 15%.  Now I have exceeded that 15% by a large margin on most of my Stax phones by adding a few bucks of sorb.  At the next Canjam in Southern California I demonstrated some of my early efforts with sorb, and a few people told me I had the best sound in the show, and that was using a fairly cheap old Stax 717 amp.  And there was full participation there from Sennheiser, Sony, BHSE and the like. 
    I am also impressed with how good some dirt-cheap systems like $2.00 earbuds sounded with bits of sorb added, as I reported some while back, although now I know that they also have the advantage of having no headband to transmit crossfeed. 
    Anyway for me this is about getting the best performance from what I already have. It does require experimentation though. We are in here pretty much in on the ground floor here and it gives me some satisfaction as I see more headphone manufacturers starting to examine this problem. 
  8. richard51
    Dear Ed imagine now that every piece of your  audio gear chain , not only headphones, are sorbothanized with the optimal compression : power conditioner, battery charger, dac, amp, energizer, speakers, headphones, the cumulative effect  of the cleaning of vibrations and of the negative resonance in every and each one of these links added up to : HI-fi for cheap ( i dont pretend for example that there is no quality difference between my vintage sansui and a far more refine modern gear, only that with sorb. any product is up to his own optimal potential)....This is my experience...Thanks to your first post to me and  your gracious  first offer....[​IMG] 
    Before i encounter your thread i was desesperate to have a good  approximation of an hi-fi system at low cost,  all my upgrading were never totally satisfying...The only  remaining possibilities were, at these times before i read your thread,  to upgrade all piece of my gear at many thousands dollars level up ... Now upgrading is for me a not so necessary and appealling gesture...The diminushing returns law is for me now a real experience, thanks to your sorb. experiment...Each of my piece of gear works now  at his optimal potential, and a good dac and a good amp is a way better  dac and a way better amp with sorbothanization, hence upgrading lacks sex appeal now for me and i can wait few years before dreaming about it, and i can now  listen to music for the first time with an audiophile feeling without be bother by the idea and sensation that my system lacks badly  in a particular something or a particular area...I dont have much money , hence i have thought hard to install your sorb. solution not only in my 3 headphones but in ALL my system with a success that with time and experiment far surpass my own expectations [​IMG]...
    For your remarks about the newly renewed interest about damping by some companies, I am a bit dubitative of the final results because the problem  for me at the end is : how to install the sorb. and compress it on all piece of gear, headphone included? Each company have his own particular product and agenda for his own  particular product and cannot do an open marketting campaign   with his ( sometimes costly) product, saying  that it is necessary after buying it to  install sorb.+ the right and relatively heavy  compression....But you said :«There was full participation there from Sennheiser, Sony, BHSE and the like.» hence i am perhaps too pessimistic...Your experimentation is probably the beginning of something, not only here but somewhere....[​IMG] 
     My best results were only finally  there after the use of the right duro rightly compressed with all and each piece of gear, not only headphone... i fully trust all your sayings about the best sound impressions at the show with your stax, i know, thanks to you, perfectly well that sorbothane made a wonderful job  in headphone  for cheap....People when they  pay, want to think they have bought the best, but there is no absolute best around few thousand dollars in audio...For the really best results with any product, i now know for sure that sorbothane is necessary, it does not matter which product , it does not matter his cost, because EVERYTHING vibrate badly inside  and internally create cumulative negative  resonance along the line... EVERYTHING...And installing a one thousand dollars metal  spike (yes that product exist)  or  for a few bucks  some wood spike will not work like the sorb. and in each case, the one thousand dollars spike or the wooden cheap one, will only isolate not dissipate the internal resonance  and vibrations  into heat like the compressed sorb.  .... [​IMG] 
  9. soren_brix
    15%? how did you come to that figur?
  10. edstrelow Contributor

    A subjective estimate. Called "magnitude estimation" in psychophysics.

    Another way of saying, noticeable but not overwhelming.
  11. richard51
    Quote:Originally Posted by edstrelow /img/forum/go_quote.gif
    «As an example, I was listening to an old (1969) EMI analog recording of Peer Gynt. It is a fine recording by Barbirolli but with mediocre, murky  sound.   Now most of the murk is gone, and it sounds more like my better and more recent digital recordings, such as one of my personal favorites, a 1991 Argo recording by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir of American songs.   The Argo now sounds even clearer, you are starting to be aware of individual singers in the choir for example.»
    This is interesting...That is my exact experience with some of my old cd particularly but for a few newer one also ....the sorb.clean all the negative resonance, and after that the murky sound of some cd is like  other good one....Particularly true after i had sorbothanized all my links...[​IMG] 
    By the way my own subjective comparison with my links not sobothanized and after sorbothanization is 100% improvement...No comparison between before and after ( 3-d imaging in speakers and headphone is now there with a naturalness of the musical timbre that were not there before with  all  these audio links minus the sorb. Better bass, and highs is only a manifestation of these more fundamental attributes of the cleaning properties of the compressed sorb. at the mids  frequencies center of the music ) ....Not a single change in one of my links is comparable  to the introduction of the sorb.,except the exchange of my cheap headphone for a Stax one perhaps...[​IMG] Not one of my cd is not  now completely transformed if i recall my listening of some 2 years ago....By the way i have listened to some of these cd for 40 years in their vinyl format in the first place and listening them for the first time  only now  thanks to the sorb. For exemple i detect the real sound of a celesta in one cd i know for 40 years that were barely not audible before or sometimes audible non musically like a light  "clac" ....Hence i know what my ears listen to....[​IMG] 
  12. richard51
    I make a new experiment with my  Panamax power conditioner... I have already put many months ago  under his feet and on top of it  some sorb. duro 70 under a heavy load(around 50 pounds), today i tried with the Panamax 4300 my 3 levels  sandwich sorb. solution:  i have put ,under a first granite plate where the panamax  were already standing , a second  granite plate with some new pieces of sorb in between these 2 plates ( there is already sheet of sorb. on top of the Panamax  and under his 4 feet compressed by the concrete slabs)....  Frankly I have not anticipate such  final improving result, but there is  now some further very audible  improvement in clarity and imaging with the speakers, but with the he 400 hifiman headphone the refinement of the sound, the airy spatial feeling between the instrument is, if possible, more  evident ...I have already put sometime ago  this sandwich solution +heavy load for compression, under all my gear, the power conditioner were the last without this  double plate sandwich...
     By the way only my Sansui Amp. is connected to the Panamax, my dac is battery powered .... The improvement is incredibly there, i am surprized because why so great change with the power conditioner which have already the feet sorbed ? 
    The 2 level of sorb between the 2 plates not only damp better, and isolate better with this sandwich of sorb, but i think that more internal  negative resonance in the panamax  and  transfered along the line  are eliminated because of the different density level of the sandwich...[​IMG]
    The nail of my argument is now in his hole:  ANY audio link vibrate and create negative resonance along the line, without distinction of price or quality.... The ONLY cheap and very effective solution is the sorb. duro 70  sandwich compressed.... Which other one there is  ?
    I think that this problem of internal resonance and vibrations  is not clearly understood, even by most specialist in Audio... i spoke one time  with a very skilled engineer in high-end  Audio and he recommmend to me, better than sorb., some wood spikes ! He dont listen to my experimentation with  duro, compression etc...Under his product (expensive one) only wooden spikes would be necessary.... 
     In this photo taking one year ago,my Sansui+ 2 plates has a  sandwich sorb. but without the 35 pounds load necessary to compress the sorb.optimally, hence isolating and damping,  and absorbing vibrations and resonance  less effectively... 
    speakers with 2 plate sandwich sorb. and some load :
    there is sorb. directly under the first plate on top of the speakers, and also directly under the speakers, and finally between the 2 plates where all, speakers +load, stand...3 levels sandwich sorb. 
  13. edstrelow Contributor
    I think we need to see a photo of your "sandwich" to fully uderstand it.

    Re wood as a damping material. I would not be surprised if some woods have damping characteristics. But I would want to see them compared with sorbothane. With my Stax SRX II Mk3 pro phones with detachable fronts, I am able to make direct comparisons of some materials as I have shown in earlier posts. Wood could be harder to set up.
  14. richard51
    Indeed Ed  i will wait for your impression.... I dont doubt a second about the damping properties of wood for decoupling and isolating the vibrations of the room or the floor from the speakers or from another gear ....Some company sells them, after some experimentation, i bet on that.... But is wood will absorb vibrations, transforming them rapidly into heat if compressed, hence eliminating  some internal negative resonance polluting the line, like the sorb. ?  I bet no.....[​IMG] 
    Rightly implemented the sorb. solution is in the same order of magnitude upgrading change in my audio system  than my passage from the little pocket amp Pa2v2 amp to the Sansui Au 7700, i doubt that wooden spikes would do the same...
  15. richard51
    It seems that I had forgotten another place where to put a sorb. sandwich, the space between the dac and his  battery charger under their compressed tower with slab of concrete... I put some sorb. in between 2 granite plate and the magic goes on : more vinyl like sound, more subtle than yesterday effect but definitively there...I am amazed...[​IMG] (update after an hour; the effect is almost  good as with  my other last experiment but give me this time more organic and  fluid  mid-frequencies, the sound has now no more harshness  definitively an upgrade on the same order than the last  sandwich experiment with the Panamax but not the same effect on  my perception of the  sound... Update after 2 hours: i dont know why i say that this  is a more subtle upgrade ,it is freakin smooth sound and truly a great improvement  )
    The first sorb. sandwich on my desk and on top of it the Beresford Bushmaster dac at the first level, at the second level  the Stax amp, and the new sorb. sandwich below the battery charger at the third level ...
    I could never has known that a battery charger introduce his internal noise in the chain gear without sorb. experimentation...( i know also that it would be the same noise problem with any power supply, hence sorbothanization will be mandatory rule here)
    It seems that the sorb. sandwich isolate perfectly well each component from the desk and of one another....... The sorb. must always be compressed, the effect of sorb. is multiplied with this compression by the slabs of concrete(by the way on top of the speakers sit around approx. 60 pounds of concrete and i can hear a difference between the optimal loading and the not so optimal loading adding or substacting around 2 pounds of difference ) ...I know for sure that they are better gear than my vintage or mid fi gear, but the sound i listen to now made me  no more  interested in an upgrade... I know for sure that this  future upgrade would cost me ,if it is a real one in the many thousands...Think about it, what is the total cost of concrete slab, granite plate and some sorb. ? Not one of my  nude link sounded like  they sound now dressed  with the sorb......  I guess that the last step would be another sandwich between the stax amp and the dac ....[​IMG] Lesson learned!
    When i came on headfi some years ago my perplexing and frustrating question was when will i buy the desire something? And what should i buy? A thousand dollars amp perhaps , with a thousand dollars headphone, with a thousand dollars dac? Or better why not the best multithousand dollars gear? i dont have this money, many also dont... Then the first upgrades i took after some reading were unsatisfying...Then i begin to read  more for solutions, and the solution i stumble to was Edstrelow Stax sorbothane thread...That start all my quest for an affordable sonic paradise at low cost...I bought mostly used and vintage after that , this is the other part of my solution...
    Now i know that one must buy some good gear in the first place , but not necessarily thousands dollars pick, but mostly one must eliminates vibrations and the building up of negative resonance along the line, hence buy some good gear and with the sorb. it will begin to be a very good gear, trust me!...That is my discovery :The best upgrade is not selling your gear and buying some other so call upgrading one, first and foremost it is cleaning and  eliminating the noise  in all links of your actual gear chain (if you have speakers room treatment make wonders)(  .... I must say that to all the newcomers, i apologize for the others old threadmen  here for my rant...in a not so good English...[​IMG] 
    The last 2 experiments with the sorb. sandwiches were perhaps the most satisfiying one experiments, because of the cumulative cleaning already made  all along the chain , hence the effects were a very sensible refinement of all the past experiments, now  the harshness  that i have not detect before has faded away, the music is only that, music from speakers or headphones, and no more very  good sound only...I dont know what to make for a better results, because now, for the first time after  my wife has broken my headphone 3 years ago,i started this odyssey to replace them and my computer music card, since that it is the first time today that i feel i listen really some music and not only a partial decoding of my cd...  
    No i dont know now  what to make for a better result!.... Discovering another tweak spectacular like sorbothane  or perhaps upgrading the gear? [​IMG] No joke! the most important upgrade, if you have an already relatively good system, is cleaning all the cumulative noise flowing along all links,  beginning with power supply, power conditioner, battery charger etc and all other  audio device before giving big money anywhere else...it is only my opinion and experience...   
    But i think i must kill my wife before making  a substantial and costly upgrade now, she already think that i am completely nut after the many first upgrading, the room treatment, the concrete, the granite and the sorbothane all over the place... [​IMG] (But even her admit now  that my improving methods give a better sound ! Perhaps i will not kill her after all...)
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