There’s little to debate about the effects of unwanted vibrations in a hi-fi system. They suck. I’ll go so far as to say that the audible annoyances of untamed vibrations in your system and listening room can wreak havoc on your entire listening experience.
That said, it’s no surprise that the variety of isolation products marketed to audiophiles claiming to reduce, eliminate or drain vibrations from our audio components reaches far and wide. From utilitarian to esoteric, from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars, the options and combinations you could test are endless.
The Spirited Uncle M is a strong advocate of isolation. From the source unit all the way down the line to the speakers and component stands, he goes to great lengths to ensure every piece of equipment is independently isolated in an effort to liberate his hi-fi system from noises caused by mechanical, structural and environmental vibrations. Following in his footsteps could get quite pricey.
After a few audio lectures from The Music Maestro and some further reading by way of Enjoy the Music.com’s “Moderately Priced Vibration Isolation Device Shootout,” I was actually set on testing the highly-reviewed Quest for Sound Isol-Pads and Bright Star Audio IsoNodes for myself until some additional Googling turned me onto an intriguing (and cheaper) alternative to try first.
Enter the DiversiTech EVA Anti-Vibration Pad. If these things were marketed to audiophiles you can bet they’d retail for $25 or more for a set of four. Thankfully for us budget-minded audiophiles, DiversiTech is actually North America’s largest manufacturer of equipment pads for the heating, ventilating, air conditioning, and refrigeration industry. That’s right; these vibration isolation pads are designed for industrial use, which means they’re tough, they come in a variety of sizes (2” to 18”), and they can be had for cheap (under $1 each depending on size and quantity).
According to DiversiTech, these pads are “the latest generation in vibration dampening technology.” In testing the EVA pad against other designs, DiversiTech concluded that under the most severe vibration extremes, the EVA pad outperforms cork and rubber by a wide margin due to the special composite foam center that’s more structurally sound than cork and more effective at vibration dampening than solid rubber (both of which are prevalent in audio isolation footers).
There’s nothing magical here. There are no gimmicks or outrageous marketing claims. There’s just some R&D that’s led to a simple product that works. The EVA Anti-Vibration Pad consists of a blue proprietary polymeric foam core laminated between two sheets of black anti-skid styrene butadiene rubber.
So where can you use these? Under any component that you want. Thanks to their ability to support 50 pounds per square inch, even the 2” pad can support hefty amps and loudspeakers.
But before we get further along, let me just share another TSUM quote I am far too often reminded of: “Shit in, shit out.” Meaning, don’t expect these things to make a low-fi system sound like hi-end separates. What you can expect, however, is a noticeable reduction in mechanical vibration noise caused by any spinning motors, fans or transformers in your components; fewer structural vibrations traveling through your component racks, speakers stands, and floorboards; and less coloration caused by sound pressure level vibrations. As with all things audio, however, results will be somewhat system-dependent.
I’m currently using these pads under several devices in my hi-fi system and around the house: amp, CD player, PlayStation 3 console, satellite receiver, computer tower, computer speakers, bookshelf speakers, subwoofer, even beneath my Monster Power surge protector/power conditioner.
If your results are remotely close to mine, you’ll notice a much cleaner soundstage after introducing these into your system. Micro-vibrations producing low-level noises are eliminated (or at least reduced). Both mechanical and sound pressure level vibrations plaguing components and racks are tamed. Used under speakers and subwoofers, that all too common “buzz” from the vibrations transferring into their stands and floor once the bass starts rumbling is reduced or eliminated, resulting in a cleaner, tighter low-end punch and increased clarity throughout the dynamic range. And mechanical vibration noises from devices with internal fans and HDDs will be lessened.
In fact, some of the most noticeable results I’ve had come from using these pads beneath my satellite receiver, PlayStation 3, and computer tower—all units with intermittently noisy internal fans and HDDs. My ears are especially sensitive to rattles, hums, buzzes, and other audible annoyances, and these damn thing have plenty of them. With the EVA Anti-Vibration Pads in place, I’m happy to report that the mechanical vibration noises emanating from these black boxes are substantially lower.
The EVA Anti-Vibration Pads are also excellent to use under CD players, Blu-Ray/DVD players and turntables. Keeping the spinning mechanisms of these components level and free from vibrations is critical to their performance. I've found that strategically placing three of these pads directly beneath the base of your component allows you to easily level it while also increasing its isolation from vibrations by bypassing the often sub-par stock footers.
Really, the results are impressive; the price to performance is excellent, and I feel as if I am at least one step further along in my journey to find Audio Nirvana thanks to the lower noise floor and more focused soundstage these EVA Anti-Vibration Pads help to create.
Now I can already hear The Spirited Uncle M spouting off his favorite punch line in response to any mention of “affordable,” “budget,” or “cheap” in relation to hi-fi audio: “What did the little bird say? Cheap, Cheap, Cheap.” Nevertheless, I think it’s important to keep an eye on costs, especially for the beginner audiophile inexperienced in navigating the snake oil and smoke and mirrors that plague the world of audiophilia.
So before you get caught up in dropping your hard-earned money on all of the expensive isolation footers marketed to hi-fi enthusiasts promising a direct route to Audio Nirvana, I suggest giving these a try. Heck, even if you have expensive isolation footers you may want to put them up against these in a shootout. To my ears, the DiversiTech EVA Anti-Vibration Pads are a cheap tweak that works.
Tried these? Tried others? Share your experiences in the comments below.
Manufacturer Info: DiversiTech
Where to Buy: I purchased from Pex Supply, but there are other sources (Google it).