Published at Wednesday, July 31st 2019, 07:41:34 AM. Speaker Stands. By Edsel Zimmermann.
We might call them bookshelf speakers, but does that mean it’s a good idea to put them on one? Nothing is stopping you from doing it, but it’s your sound performance that’s at stake – and there’s much to lose – and, if you’ve just shelled out a significant amount for your new speakers, it’s a bad start to what should be a great investment.
Subwoofers can be placed directly onto solid floors, but an isolation platform of some type will help clean up the sound if that floor is made of wood or chipboard. It isn’t a good idea to position subs very far from the floor — up to about 150mm shouldn’t present a problem, but more than that and the reflections can start to cause issues.
An isolation platform works in a similar way to a car’s suspension, and comprises three mechanical components: a spring, a mass supported by the spring, and some form of damping to prevent the sprung mass from continuing to bounce around. In a car you have the springs between the axles and the car body: the car body provides the mass and the shock absorbers provide the damping, to stop you having a bouncy ride.
Their smaller stands are made from a type of plastic and their larger ones from cast metal. All are perfectly valid approaches. Note that some speakers, such as certain Genelec models and Event’s Opals, already come with resilient isolating platforms or feet and so may not need additional treatment.
No, it’s not because we don’t like your bookshelf. It’s probably really good looking. But, bookshelves, sideboards, TV-boards and tables all share a common drawback: surfaces. You don’t want surfaces close to your speakers, as surfaces can cause early reflections that colour and distort the sound image – that’s also why we recommend getting your speakers away from corners and walls.
To sum up, the platforms with a heavy plate of some type on top are the most effective, though you can add mass very easily to any type of support by using floor tiles. Similarly, the more massive and better damped a speaker stand, the less vibrational energy is likely to make it through to the floor and less the stand itself will vibrate. Compared with the cost of speakers, adding suitable stands or platforms is relatively inexpensive, yet it can make a very worthwhile improvement to the overall sound quality!
If the output from the sub seems uneven, you need to try and find a location where it produces a less lumpy response. A good tip for doing this is to temporarily place the sub where you normally sit to mix, and then listen at different places around the edges of the room while playing back a same level chromatic (semitone) scale of sine waves from a sampler until you find the spot that produce the most consistent level across all notes.