Close up of a keyboard.

Low-Cost DIY Speaker Isolation Pads

Experts claim that decoupling a speaker from the surface it is on has a positive effect on sound quality, tightening up the bass response and improving the stereo image. The basic idea is that speakers should impart their energy to the air, and not to the surface they are on. This can be achieved by offering some sort of cushioning at the base of the speaker to help absorb unwanted vibrations and suppress resonance.

Propriety products, such as Auralex MoPAD Isolation Plinths and Primacoustic RX7 Recoil Stabilizers, use foam of a special density and elasticity to help absorb and prevent vibrations from reaching the surface the speaker is on. However, some people may resent even paying a modest price for something that, in the case of MoPADs, selling at around £30 a set, seem like nothing more than pieces of cut and shaped foam, let alone £80 each for Primacoustic RX7 Recoil Stabilizers, that seem like a bit of foam with a metal plate on top.

Auralex MoPADs, Speaker Isoloation Pad

Auralex MoPADs

Primacoustic RX7 Speaker Isolation Pad.

Primacoustic RX7

By chance I came across a whole forum on the Internet talking about low-cost alternatives to propriety isolation pads. I don't remember which ones the contributors claimed worked, and which were simply offered as possible alternatives worth trying, but all the ideas were just a fraction of the cost of the real thing.

The suggestions included such common, easy-to-get-hold-of items as:

  • Felt pads used on cymbal stands;
  • Blu-Tack (used to stick posters on walls);
  • Mouse pads (the old type - neoprene covered by fabric);
  • Foam used to pack hard drives;
  • Pencil erasers;
  • Squash balls cut in half.

Silica gel pad.While in a DIY store I noticed some special gel squares, designed to be placed under furniture to absorb shocks from earthquakes here in Japan, and wondered if these would work as speaker isolation pads. At just a few pence each they would certainly be worth trying. Also I might be able to find out if decoupling a speaker from the surface it is on really does make a noticeable difference to the sound. And so, with a gel square at the four corners of each speaker, resting between the speaker and the stand, I was ready to put both isolation pads, and the squares, to the test.

The result: impressive! The stereo image was so much better, and the sound, in general, was noticeably clearer. Isolation pads, of any type, probably won’t work wonders with bad speakers and poor room acoustics, but with a reasonable system and adequate room acoustics, expect to hear an improvement.

Speaker on a gel pad.

The gel squares decoupling the speaker from its stand.

I don't know how well the other suggestions for isolation pads listed above would work, but it's certainly worth experimenting. Considering the fact that my gel squares worked, I’m sure brand name isolation pads would work too… possibly even better!

 


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Just arrived on this site:

July 26, 2017. The question I attempt to answer this month is Why Pay For Music? Leaving aside the legal argument there is much more to consider. Read the article to find out more.

June 28, 2017. This month features an article on how to make DIY Acoustic Panels that don't need attaching to a wall with screws or glue.

May 29, 2017. New this month is a selection of six Royalty Free Radio Jingles.

April 30, 2017. After a half-year break from adding new material to this site, I've added an article / review on Headphone Holders.

Jan. ~ Mar. 2017. New posts coming soon.

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Sometime Somewhere...

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A relaxing Smooth Jazz CD. Listen to extracts of all 12 tracks now.

 

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