Vibration Control and the Townshend Audio Seismic Pods

Vibration control has been a big thing with me going back to the early 90's. Recently, over the last few months, I've been experimenting with various types of springs and comparing a number of them. The whole story, more or less, is laid out in Millercarbon's Mega Vibration Control Journey  Spoiler Alert: Millercarbon has added springs to his Mass/Stiffness/Damping approach to vibration control. 

For more on the story of springs check out noromance's thread here:
Ordinary eBay springs were working great under my amp and speakers. The Nobsound springs were working great under my turntable. Especially good for the money, I thought. Until some kind of really bad feedback/resonance problem came up- a powerful rumbling that at first sounded like it might be turntable bearing failure.  

Eventually the problem was chased down to a lack of spring damping. Basically, once a certain frequency got going it would resonate, and quite loud. Even the slightest damping would eliminate it. But this got me thinking. Surely this was only the most obvious form of resonance. There's no damping on any of these springs. Its only just by coincidence this happened to be so obvious. Plenty of others using the same springs without any problems.  

Still, it got me thinking. There has to be some damping or the spring will just bounce, maybe even getting into a resonant mode like my turntable was doing. There has to be some damping. But not much, or it stops being a spring. The trick is to somehow get the isolating bounce of the spring combined with enough damping to eliminate resonant feedback. Kind of like on a car, you need damping for control in curves but not too much or you won't have a smooth ride. Townshend Seismic Pods are made with 0.16 damping factor. This finally convinced me to give them a try. 

Seismic Pods are a spring wrapped in a rubber bellows. As the springs compress it causes the bellows to force air through a small hole. The bellows and hole are engineered to allow free movement for isolation of very small vibrations, yet while still providing adequate damping for avoiding problems with resonance. Seismic pods are sized by component weight. In my case both my amp and turntable are right about 75lbs. 

The Townshend Pods are a good deal more user-friendly than Nobsound or my DIY springs. They are covered top and bottom with a thin felt that made them easy to slide around and adjust. The threaded top turns easily even under load, making leveling easy and precise. No more shims! My turntable was more level than ever before- and faster! 

The sound was at first listen just a wee bit underwhelming. Perhaps my expectations were set a bit too high? The longer I listened though the more apparent it became there was a whole lot more refinement now. Instrumental texture and tonality were rendered a lot more clearly- string guitar sounding more believably string guitar-like. Certain bass lines were now more smooth and natural than before. By before I mean before the other springs, before BDR as well. Smoother and more natural than ever. There was a noticeable improvement in low extension, particularly in terms of slam and at the lowest frequencies, but the top end, other than losing a bit of grain and becoming a bit more liquid, was little changed. 

All together a very nice improvement, if one that left me scratching my head a bit wondering why it wasn't even better still. This after all is a turntable. What one might think would be the best place to show off what the Pods can do. To be sure, there was real significant improvement in tone and texture, with a lot more detail coming through and in a lot more natural sounding way. Maybe I was just expecting too much? 

Next they went under the Melody. The turntable experience had reset expectations for the integrated amp, which may be why I was so blown away. Where the Pods under the turntable were all refinement, here they were all balls! Dynamics! Extension! Now you're talking! It was like the experience with the Tekton Moabs, suddenly the music just comes alive with incredible detail and yet in a very natural non-fatiguing way.  

The talk from Townshend is this is due to the "very sensitive tube grid" which does I guess make sense. Electrons stream across, its a physical flow that of course vibrations will affect. Everyone is familiar with tube microphonics. The same only different, as they say.  

Whatever the explanation the fact is the improvement is impressive. The sound was already good but now is even that much more alive. No downsides I have been able to identify, and the more I listen the more I like em.

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Something else, I've made up my mind, I'm sticking with the Garrard Killer, My Russcos, QRKs  and a Thoren 124 or two. No fancy new ones.

I still got a heck of a project to finish.. 47lb alu platter. Yup it's a doozy

Vibration control coming up BIG time. I'll be in it knee deep, trust me.. LOL

I've been using springs a couple months now, but the Townshend Pods only about a week. The Pods are much better than anything else, even better than after spending a lot of time fine-tuning other springs. They are just an altogether more highly refined product.

Its definitely the case that everything vibrates, and the way that is handled does affect the sound, both inside and outside. That is why for example I put a lot of fO.q tape inside things like the Herron phono stage. Put it on circuit boards and especially on the chassis around the AC power and RCA connections.  

There's multiple sources of vibration. A lot of it is coming from the component itself. Alternating music signals make everything vibrate just from the alternating nature of the energy itself. So caps, wires, transformers, all that stuff is vibrating even if floating in space in a vacuum. The way that is handled affects the sound. Get some fO.q tape and try it you will see what I mean.

There's also environmental vibrations. We all know things sound better late at night. This is famously credited to AC power being cleaner then. Max Townshend has this theory that its really due to lower seismic activity. Something I thought was nuts until I saw the seismographs. Its not all earthquakes that shake the ground you know. Its also traffic, wind blowing trees sending vibrations into the ground, all of that. Seemed nuts but made me think, the very best times have been when everything's covered in a blanket of snow. When a lot of heating appliances and stuff are running yet it sounds better even in the daytime. So maybe it is seismic (ground) vibrations.

Plus of course the sound system itself. Rick told me to do the speakers first. Because not only will the speakers sound better, but eliminating a lot of that energy going into the floor means less going into the turntable. So its a two-fer. Which did indeed seem to be the case. Huge improvement- and remember they were on BDR Cones and Round Things not just sitting on the floor. Compared to ordinary spikes or sitting on the floor the improvement would be even greater.

Right now the field is pretty wide open. News travels slow. DBA was written up more than 20 years ago, people still thinking in terms of "a" sub. Max has been making this stuff almost as long, yet most are still thinking in terms of spikes. Which anyone who bothers to compare can easily hear are nowhere near as good as springs, let alone properly engineered springs like Townshend Pods.  

Eventually designers will gravitate towards and start incorporating the best vibration control in their designs. Many have been doing something along these lines for years now already. Its just they usually just make things stronger and heavier instead of actually better. The good news is that leaves a lot on the table for guys like us to improve with springs and Pods and stuff on the outside and tape and stuff on the inside.
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Thanks, those will be great for when I start running a jackhammer and testing nitro fuel drag engines in my listening room. My rack at 700lbs is a fraction of what those are designed for. Actually Townshend does have springs that would work to isolate my entire rack.  

I was going to say wow amazing you took the time to look that stuff up. But then I realized you probably had it bookmarked all along.... ;)
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Do you use three or four pods under your electronics?  Do you have them under your Herron phono stage if so improvements?  I am using the podiums under my speakers and find them to be excellent.  Thanks.  
With Cones they are stiff and three points define a plane so always use 3 except for speakers where its usually 4. With springs though it varies more. Four is great under the turntable as it makes it a whole lot easier to level. Also use 4 under the amp because the weight is so unevenly distributed. But the subs are all 3.  

Only the table and amp are on Pods. The rest are a mix of different springs. Moabs and a couple subs are on various size plain springs from eBay. The phono stage, conditioner, and a couple subs are on Nobsound springs. Townshend Pods are by far the best of all of them. 

Have not tried Pods under the Herron. It does have Nobsound springs, and when tuned to the right stiffness they are pretty good. Pods would be a lot better of course. They really are quite amazing.
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I have 5 subs so to save money they have Nobsound springs. Townshend Pods are a whole other level, totally worth it under amps and speakers. They have them listed right now That's for 8 and note they are sized by weight so you need to know the weight of your component. Both my turntable and amp are right about 75 lbs so I got size C, 20-40kg (about 64 to 88 lbs.)
I’m gonna be tacky, as my grandmother use to say. I’m gonna complain for ya. They are expensive.

You can see they are a piece of art from a design stand point and a marvel by design.

ANYTHING close to what that does, is gonna cost 100 + in materials the rest is the "Good looks", They do look very good indeed.

I’m sure there are thing that are very close in design, but BUT, you know UGLY. Like ol what’s er name, or was that a he.. Just BUTT ugly, but boy oy boy could, he, or she cha, cha, cha, WORK WELL, :-)

I love the looks, I don’t like the price, ok I said it... Crap, probably gonna eat those words... I’m having payment pains and you spent the money.

It’s all good, I just dropped 2700.00, into a Reel to Reel PtP valve pre amp from Decware, and have to wait 2-4 months before getting it. Serious Backup over there, SEND me the kit... I’ll solder the thing.. YUP I’m bragin’,
I got a new toy coming too. My Reel to Reels will be up and running, again.. NOW the room...

A machinist told me 500.00 to drill two holes in a head cover..and a 4 week wait. I took it home and did it in 25 min, I had to sharpen a 5/16 bit..

I’m not cheap...mmmm YES I AM....I shouldn’t lie.

I wonder how RtR benefit from Vibration control... The reels being dampened? I never seen it.. The machine, whole new world from when I put them away.
I think dampening control on the head (s).... what you think? GOTTA change stuff.. I think it's a GREAT way, to tinker... With a TT phono amp mod, you can do the same thing.. Analog, is just FUN..

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Already said Nobsound springs at about $35 are the cheap way to go. Very, very good- but Townshend beats them hands down. So yes a lot more money- but a whole lot better too. Its still a very good value.

Also when you actually get one its apparent the good looks are very cleverly done. In other words no money wasted just making them look good. Hard to explain but you get one you see what I mean. 

The bellows is a little trickier than meets the eye. The rubber material is flexible enough to bend yet firm enough to act like a bellows. Its molded to fit the spring. So it pushes air out under compression. Very hard to make something do that and not just stretch like a balloon. I tried different dampers on my springs under the turntable. Its real easy to damp, if damping's all that matters. Its very hard to damp in exactly the right way. That's the hard part. That's where it earns the money.
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Of course this was a well known concern even by VPI years ago with their HW-19 series tt’s where they used foam in their springs.

I experimented fully with my HW-19 then left that to my Townshend Rock 7 and then developed my wall mount decoupling system.

Want to try a MyMat?
BTW, Been doing the rubber band stretched across a cable support for over a decade.
You guys need to try the Critical Mass footers. It was really an eye (ear) opener. Huge soundstage and such a natural sound improvement.
I ended up selling all my Stillpoints and springs, which helped pay for the footers. (They are a bit pricey).
Put them under my Lumin X1, mono blocks and power conditioner.

If anyone wants Townsend products, they need to go direct to them for the best deals.
Yes goose that's what I did and forgot to mention so thanks for bringing it up. John Hannant helped me out a lot as they have a lot of experience with loading and using under a wide range of components. Springs are interesting because they are a lot more sensitive to tuning for mass than other things like a cone or shelf. Townshend Pods are a lot better designed and sound a lot more balanced than plain springs. They are also a lot easier to use especially in terms of leveling. 

Its been a while now and still I sometimes put a record on and am amazed how much better it sounds now. sokogear ordered a set for his Rega and he's impressed and happy. That table is very light and John helped set him up with the right Pods and a platform that adds mass and stability. He hasn't written it up but sent me a message, seems he is pretty happy.
Townshend Pods were so good under my turntable and amp that I decided to try them under my Herron phono stage. The Herron is on the bottom shelf of my solid concrete rack. The bottom shelf includes a bed of sand mixed in mineral oil and about 2" deep. MDF pads are on top of the sand with BDR Round Things and Cones on top of the MDF pads. This is the way it was run for many years with excellent results. 

Until last year experimenting with springs showed they are quite a bit better than even the much more expensive BDR. Springs have less of a hard glare edge and more of a natural ambient sort of sound. But I learned from experience they have resonance issues and are very sensitive to load. Too much compression and the sound is too bass heavy, too little and it is too lean. Get it just right and it can be quite good, except for the resonance issues that affect the tone balance. The problem almost certainly being the lack of damping.  

Townshend solves the damping problem by wrapping the spring in a flexible rubber bellows. The base at the bottom is sealed, while the top piece has a very small hole. Compression and expansion forces air through the hole. The result is a small and precision engineered shock absorber. Components on Townshend Pods will bounce, but not freely. They settle down pretty quickly. Easy to see. The same happens on a micro scale. This has to be why they are so darn beautifully neutral.  

This makes three times now I have gone from BDR to springs to Pods. Turntable, amp, and now phono stage. Was expecting big things from the turntable and was not disappointed. Was not expecting as much under the amp and was pleasantly surprised. Was again not expecting a lot under the phono stage and this time was really surprised.

It must be the combination of tubes and sensitive high gain. Tubes for some reason, apparently if the plate vibrates this directly impacts the signal, which makes sense. In any case, impressive improvement. 

The already excellent sound opened up even more. Vocal and instrumental timbre is a lot more individual and recognizable. Inner detail comes out now like crazy. Never thought the sound was veiled before but now it is like it was under a blanket and now with the Pods the blanket is gone. Really impressive. May be the best yet. For sure at least as good as under the amp.

Searched and can’t find online direct comparison of Townshend, Isoacoustics and Critical Mass

anyone tested and compared these for turntable isolation?


rawlit, I found some comparisons with people that tried the isoacoustics gaia's and after trying the Townsend podiums they said that the podiums were on a total different level, as good as the iso acoustics were the podiums were even better.