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Acoustic effects of different filling in stands

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  • Acoustic effects of different filling in stands

    Ok for those who believe stands and filings make a difference.

    I am trying to understand the science behind how different fillings with different density will change the sound. I supposed it has to do with how these material transmit energy away from the speakers?

    To put simply, what are the acoustic effects of:

    - no filling
    - filling with kitty litter
    - filling with rice
    - filling with sand

    Does this approach apply differently to harbeth (ie thin wall design) speakers in the same way as speakers of other construction (example, dynaudio or Proac)?

  • #2
    I understand the theory, but I'm not sure what difference it makes. I have Skylan stands with my Super 5s. At the recommendation of the owner of Skylan, I loaded them with kitty litter. He claims it works as well as sand or rice. The theory, as I understand it, is to mass load (weight) to reduce couple the speaker to the floor and to reduce vibration and to dampen (litter, rice) also to reduce vibration. I accept the proposition that a vibrating speaker is a negative thing soundwise. That's all I know.

    Comment


    • #3
      hi,

      i think this subject is by far overrated. my 40.1 do not produce any noticable vibrations at all, not even at loud levels. so there is no vibration that could be reduced by whatsoever filling of the stands...
      it there where negative vibrations, the damage to sound already happens before this vibrations get absorbed by the filling/stands, right? a second reason to pay not too much attention to questions like this. enjoy your music/harbeth!

      best,
      delgesu
      Harbeth M40.1-Naim NAC52-Supercap-NAP 135-CDS2-XPS

      Comment


      • #4
        I've always preferred my stands to be unfilled. While i've not experienced the differences between the different filling materials, but i somehow feel that filling the stands tend to deaden the sound somewhat. I 've a friend who tried filling his stands with Kitty Litter for his SHL-5 but ended up not liking the sound & ultimately had to empty it. After so many years & so many pairs of Harbeth, i like them most on unfilled open frame metal stands. Sounds most natural to me in that way. Mass loaded stands IMHO tend to thicken & add more body or weight to the sound & no doubt some Harbeth users like that effect. However, for spks like Proac or Focal, mass loaded stands may be better suited since these spks are typically very bright & lean & some mass at the bottom of the spks seem to curtail the excessive detail & brightness whilst giving the sound more body. Harbeths on the other hand don't need that extra body since they are neither bright nor excessively lean. That's my take. YMMV though.

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm afraid I've failed to see any sonic difference between designs of stand. The only considerations I make are a) they're the right height, b) they hold the speakers securely and c) they look OK.
          Ben from UK. Harbeth Super HL5 owner.

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          • #6
            I have to admit I have not tried different stands like I tried different speakers. Why do I tend to belive that stands make a difference? From a technical perspective, the speaker drivers should be held on a rigid XYZ position. ie there should not be any implied movement other than what it was told to do by the amplifier.

            Based on this theory, a stand that is unable to hold the speaker rigidly will not allow the speaker to perform at its best in terms of effeciency and sonic accuracy.

            The next aspect of it is damping which I am trying hard to understand. As we know, when a speaker is making sound, the cabinet will vibrate. The stand will in turn vibrate. For steel stands, this effect may be known by some as "ringing". Such vibrations from the cabinet should ideally not be allowed to travel along the stand and then to the floor thereby contributing undesirably to the sound reproduction. Should we try to absorbe this or not?

            Having said all these, if my understanding of Alan's attitube towards stands and his design approach is correct, Harbeth speakers are probably not designed using rigid stands and by that, I would expect them to "sound the best on Ikea stands". So our effort in search of the holy grail in stands for Harbeth may very well not yield anything positive at all to the sound.

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            • #7
              The human listener and the speaker stand

              Originally posted by engjoo View Post
              ... From a technical perspective, the speaker drivers should be held on a rigid XYZ position. ie there should not be any implied movement other than what it was told to do by the amplifier.

              Based on this theory, a stand that is unable to hold the speaker rigidly will not allow the speaker to perform at its best in terms of effciency and sonic accuracy....
              This is all very well as a theoretical position, but in practice is it at all relevant? Let's consider a speaker sitting atop a tubular stand made of best quality rigid steel or a stand assembled from the lightest balsa wood used in model making. There would be a vast difference in rigidity, but would there necessarily be any difference in sound quality due to the difference in rigidity? I seriously doubt it. The speaker is heavy, and before we can consider any issues such as movement in the stand according to the music being played, we have to ask is there enough energy in the reproduced sound wave to cause the heavy box + stand to physically wobble. Indeed, if there were, then we would surely be able to place our hand on the cabinet and feel a substantial tremor and under extreme loudness even see the cabinet jump. But we can't.

              Assuming then that we chose the super-rigid steel stand on intellectual grounds, what other factors must we consider? How about the natural and normal electrical activity in your neck muscles which certainly introduce gyroscopic instability in the precise position of your head relative to the speakers .... perhaps a million times more than even the most wobbly stand will do. It wouldn't seem logical to me to worry too much about the stand unless you clamp your head in a vice, Clockwork Orange style.

              All Harbeth speakers for as long as I can remember have been designed sitting on top of whatever stand I can lay my hands on .... and I've never been aware of a sonic variability. It may well be true that there are sonic differences, and intellectually I would anticipate that the lighter more compliant stand (such as the Skylan) that can be tuned (aka damped) would give the most useful performance range to the audiophile who wished to experiment. Over the years I've heard more positive reports of lightwight stands than solid ones, and assuming that the accumulated knowledge of many listeners far exceeds my own, I'd have to give that observation credibility.
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK

              Comment


              • #8
                Using the Something Solid P3ESR stands

                I've recently bought the Something Solid stands to partner my P3ESR speakers. Harbeth dealer hifi_dave recommends these. They replace my (much cheaper) metal Sound Style stands (which were pre-filled with polystyrene). As the Something Solid stands were designed specifically for use with the current P3ESR, I find the combined appearance of stand and speaker to be very neat and tidy looking. They are also slightly taller than my old stands which has raised the tweeter level perfectly to ear height. If pushed I'd say the new stands 'sound' better, but it could be the psychological effect that the improved aesthetics are having on my brain! By analogy, food should look as good as it tastes!

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                • #9
                  I believe speaker stand properties can be broadly divided into the following area:

                  1) Rigidity/Stability - Does it hold the speaker firmly in its XYZ axis during operation?

                  Structural consideration will affect rgidity. Besides design, weight and how they are supported are also factors. We may also improve stability by increasing its weight through the use of fillings.

                  2) Resonance - Does it "vibrate" and hence add "sound" to your music?

                  The materials used and the design will affect the resonance properties (think speaker cabinets). Does it have a big surface area? Some stand designs have small structural surface area to minimise contribution due to resonance. Fillings will also serve to absorbe these resonance.

                  However as Alan have said, how significant, measurable or audible are these factors are the real world, I am not sure. What most of us do want to know is how do we derive the best out of our system?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thoughts on the 'tweaking' mindset

                    Originally posted by engjoo View Post
                    ...However as Alan have said, how significant, measurable or audible are these factors are the real world, I am not sure. What most of us do want to know is how do we derive the best out of our system?
                    I often think that worrying about marginal issues like the sound from speaker stands is counter-productive to just enjoying the music. It's the kind of thing that makes us dissatisfied with our hi-fi system and want to spend our way to 'happiness'. I have been in this kind of trap quite a few times and I end up listening to the system rather than the music.

                    A while ago I removed all the expensive cables in my system and replaced them with generic cheap versions. I had to be honest with myself and admit that the basic sound of the music was the same regardless of which cables I used. Therefore, I concluded that spending serious money on cables was a poor investment.

                    Equally, the new stands I recently bought (see above post) were more expensive than my perfectly servicable previous speaker stands. The main benefit has been in the visual area, which I regard as somewhat important. I often enjoy looking at my system that I have proudly assembled whilst I listen to it. But they were not an essential purchase that I needed to buy to avoid cheating myself out of performance I'd already paid for when I bought my Harbeth speakers.

                    Be careful, this audiophile game is an expensive affliction!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      How many cup of rice?

                      Hi everyone,

                      Soon, I will receive my Skylan stands for my SHL5. I'm wondering what are the differences on the filling quantity used. I'll use rice for sure, like Noel suggest me on the phone two weeks ago. He said that almost full, leaving about 2-3 inches at the top without rice will be fine. I'm just wondering, if any of you tried it, what are the caracteristics of the damping between a quarter, half, three quarter and full rice damping.

                      Sébastien

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Sebastien View Post
                        Hi everyone,

                        Soon, I will receive my Skylan stands for my SHL5. I'm wondering what are the differences on the filling quantity used. I'll use rice for sure, like Noel suggest me on the phone two weeks ago. He said that almost full, leaving about 2-3 inches at the top without rice will be fine. I'm just wondering, if any of you tried it, what are the caracteristics of the damping between a quarter, half, three quarter and full rice damping.

                        Sébastien
                        I'd highly recommend the full rice damping. That way, when the coming apocalypse arrives, you'll have a couple of days worth of extra food to see you through until you can start catching or trapping your own.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hi Eric,

                          Finally, I think that I'll fill half of them with rice and the other half with water. Yes, I'll be ready for apocalypse with a gigantic meal of rice! :-)

                          More seriously, I just moved last week to a new house (quadruplex) I bought with my girlfriend and I have some small tune-up to do to get "the best sound in your room" from my SHL5. I'm pretty excited to receive my Skylan. Those stands have an excellent reputation.

                          I'll give more news when I'll have it.

                          Have a nice week-end,

                          Sébastien

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Rice again

                            Originally posted by Sebastien View Post
                            ... I'm pretty excited to receive my Skylan. Those stands have an excellent reputation.

                            I'll give more news when I'll have it...
                            I received my Skylan stands last week. I ordered the 18 inches high for my SHL5. First, they are well designed and they are pretty easy to assembled. It took about half an hour. Then, I put them at level and full them with rice. Like Noel told me, I stop filling 2 or 3 inches before their maximum capacity. With this, they are well damped and pretty stable. I used about 12 kg of rice to fill the two stands.

                            About the sound, it was easy to realized that the bass doesn't go as much in my wood floor as it did before. Plus, it is more tight and it goes lower. I found that the rest of the spectrum is more focused and the high a little bit more detailed.

                            For the precision, I only try them with the Q-Brick that Noel from Skylan provided me.

                            Sébastien

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Rice filling?

                              Hi all,

                              I have Target MR-24 stands that I'll be using with the P3ESR's I have on deposit, and I'm considering different types of fill for them. Would it be safe to say that using rice would work well? I was considering kitty litter or coated aquarium gravel, but I actually like the idea of using something as simple and organic as rice. Looking forward to feedback, thanks.
                              –R

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