Sublime Sound

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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With the upgrade of the Pass XP-32 three chassis preamp, I ordered a fifth stainless steel plate for the rack. This one has a nice machine finish, so I will have the other four plates returned to get the four sides machine finished as well. Right now the sides and corners are quite rough.

I did notice a nice untick in even more clarity with this extra plate under the control and power supply chassis. The new, more finished plate is on the second shelf underneath the XP-27 phono stage control chassis. The DIY rack I designed and made about seven years ago is supporting a lot of weight without any issues. Everything in the bottom photo together is about 850 lbs.

IMG_0365.JPG

IMG_0368 2.JPG
 

dcathro

Well-Known Member
Sep 16, 2016
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Melbourne, Australia
Hi Peter,

Nice looking rack! (I might add that I am totally jealous of your beautiful living environment.)

I am curious, what led you to take this high mass approach instead of low mass?

Thanks

David
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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Hello David,

Thank you for the kind words. I started talking to fellow member DDK about my system. He suggested mass loading the rack and experimenting with alternatives to the pneumatic isolation platforms I had been using. I have tried a few different materials between the stainless steel plates and the birch plywood rack shelves. I am currently using large rubber O rings between the two, the number, size, and location of which required some trial and error.

I do not know what you might mean by low mass, except perhaps simply placing the components on their stock footers on the rack shelves.
 

dcathro

Well-Known Member
Sep 16, 2016
52
30
83
Melbourne, Australia
Hello David,

Thank you for the kind words. I started talking to fellow member DDK about my system. He suggested mass loading the rack and experimenting with alternatives to the pneumatic isolation platforms I had been using. I have tried a few different materials between the stainless steel plates and the birch plywood rack shelves. I am currently using large rubber O rings between the two, the number, size, and location of which required some trial and error.

I do not know what you might mean by low mass, except perhaps simply placing the components on their stock footers on the rack shelves.
Hi Peter, Your rack looks like it is fairly high mass anyway, and then you are mass loading it. I was curious to the logic of this - the implied benefit. What difference do you hear when you add the heavy metal.

The racks I have used and liked have been rigid low mass affairs. By the way I have my equipment sitting directly on the racks with their footers. I have experimented with different feet and do find them to make a difference (doesn't everything :) ), but ultimately there has never been a correct answer for me, as it always seems to be finding the right blend of things to create the ideal "flavour".

Cheers

David
 

Lagonda

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Feb 4, 2014
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With the upgrade of the Pass XP-32 three chassis preamp, I ordered a fifth stainless steel plate for the rack. This one has a nice machine finish, so I will have the other four plates returned to get the four sides machine finished as well. Right now the sides and corners are quite rough.

I did notice a nice untick in even more clarity with this extra plate under the control and power supply chassis. The new, more finished plate is on the second shelf underneath the XP-27 phono stage control chassis. The DIY rack I designed and made about seven years ago is supporting a lot of weight without any issues. Everything in the bottom photo together is about 850 lbs.

View attachment 66213

View attachment 66214
Apparently having a wife that lifts weights is not a bad idea if you experiment with vibration control !
Ked is ahead of us all ;)
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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A couple of members have asked me privately for details about these plates. Here is a copy of my response to one of them:

I ordered the five plates from a local machine shop owned by a friend and neighbor of mine. He also built the custom arm pod I designed for my SME 3012R arm and SME turntable.

Each plate is #304 stainless steel, 14" X 18" X 1". I was quoted different prices for different levels of finish. I will end up with each one costing about $350. Price depends on type of steel and finish options. I chose stainless steel so that I would not have to paint them for rust prevention and to match the silver Pass Labs components, although black paint would have also been rather nice.

1. rough cut plate, mill finish: $230 per plate
2. machine finish, all six sides: $475 per plate
3. machine finish, all six sides, plus 3/16" reveal around top four edges: $1,100 per plate

I was shocked by the price differences between what I really wanted (#3) and what I ended up getting (#1). I took the rough cut plates to my workshop and sanded them to a satisfactory finish and rubbed a thin coat of oil on them and was done. The fifth plate I just got I ordered with more precise square corners and a more exact dimension. The first four were slightly oversized and hang over the edge of the shelf.

So the fifth plate was machine finished on all six sides and I got a bill for $475. Expensive but much nicer looking. So, I talked to my friend and he said he could square up the edges, get them to the exact size and square off the corners for another $100 per plate, charging only the additional labor. So, the $230 price is increased by $100, and I suck up the one more expensive plate because I don't need the top and bottoms machine finished, and I am done. About $1,800 for the lot of five plates, plus the cost of the 35 rubber O rings. It is not cheap, but they look great and have transformed the sound of the system.

Each plate is on seven (7) 3.5" rubber O rings in a 2/3/2 configuration, the four corners being unsupported. The sound became clearer, and there was an increase in body and weight in the middle frequency range. The sound was more natural. It is one of the more impressive improvements I have made in terms of value. It was all ddk's idea.
 

Lagonda

VIP/Donor
Feb 4, 2014
1,407
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525
Denmark
A couple of members have asked me privately for details about these plates. Here is a copy of my response to one of them:

I ordered the five plates from a local machine shop owned by a friend and neighbor of mine. He also built the custom arm pod I designed for my SME 3012R arm and SME turntable.

Each plate is #304 stainless steel, 14" X 18" X 1". I was quoted different prices for different levels of finish. I will end up with each one costing about $350. Price depends on type of steel and finish options. I chose stainless steel so that I would not have to paint them for rust prevention and to match the silver Pass Labs components, although black paint would have also been rather nice.

1. rough cut plate, mill finish: $230 per plate
2. machine finish, all six sides: $475 per plate
3. machine finish, all six sides, plus 3/16" reveal around top four edges: $1,100 per plate

I was shocked by the price differences between what I really wanted (#3) and what I ended up getting (#1). I took the rough cut plates to my workshop and sanded them to a satisfactory finish and rubbed a thin coat of oil on them and was done. The fifth plate I just got I ordered with more precise square corners and a more exact dimension. The first four were slightly oversized and hang over the edge of the shelf.

So the fifth plate was machine finished on all six sides and I got a bill for $475. Expensive but much nicer looking. So, I talked to my friend and he said he could square up the edges, get them to the exact size and square off the corners for another $100 per plate, charging only the additional labor. So, the $230 price is increased by $100, and I suck up the one more expensive plate because I don't need the top and bottoms machine finished, and I am done. About $1,800 for the lot of five plates, plus the cost of the 35 rubber O rings. It is not cheap, but they look great and have transformed the sound of the system.

Each plate is on seven (7) 3.5" rubber O rings in a 2/3/2 configuration, the four corners being unsupported. The sound became clearer, and there was an increase in body and weight in the middle frequency range. The sound was more natural. It is one of the more impressive improvements I have made in terms of value. It was all ddk's idea.
It is still very cheap compared to a top of the line rack, and you have tuned the sound to your own liking, that is invaluable !
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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It is still very cheap compared to a top of the line rack, and you have tuned the sound to your own liking, that is invaluable !
Yes indeed. Here is the philosophy, if I can paraphrase it accurately:

Start with a mass loaded, simple platform on which to support the components. Then fine tune the sound by experimenting with different materials in different configurations until the sound satisfies the listener. The idea is that an expensive rack system, support system, footers, etc, are designed by someone else who may have different tastes and may have designed the product using different components. This approach is tuned to someone else's taste and preferences and ideas. It may work in your system or it may not, but it is difficult to know for sure without trying many different options and spending a lot of money along the way.

The alternative is to start simple and with a stable platform with which you can experiment and fine tune yourself until you are satisfied with the sound of your specific components in your specific setting. It has worked well for me because I am willing to spend the time experimenting, and perhaps just as importantly, I would prefer to spend my resources elsewhere in the system.

It is one approach and it may not be for everyone, but I have learned a great deal about this lately, and have enjoyed the process. I know of three other members who are now expressing an interest in trying this approach.

Experimentation and a willingness to try new things are two aspect of this hobby that makes it so fascinating and enjoyable for me.
 

PeterA

Well-Known Member
Dec 7, 2011
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Hi Peter, Your rack looks like it is fairly high mass anyway, and then you are mass loading it. I was curious to the logic of this - the implied benefit. What difference do you hear when you add the heavy metal.

The racks I have used and liked have been rigid low mass affairs. By the way I have my equipment sitting directly on the racks with their footers. I have experimented with different feet and do find them to make a difference (doesn't everything :) ), but ultimately there has never been a correct answer for me, as it always seems to be finding the right blend of things to create the ideal "flavour".

Cheers

David
Yes, the rack itself is made of birch plywood and cherry posts. It weighs 150 lbs and is 36" W x 20" D x 31" high. It is extremely rigid and solid. However, the plywood seemed to overdamp the sound. I had not realized that until ddk suggested I mass load the shelves by adding the steel plates.

The change in sound was basically more life, more energy and a more evenly distributed tonal balance. With the plates in place, the midrange frequencies gained body, weight, and solidity while also sounding cleaner and more open overall. It is less constricted and dark sounding. It was an across the board improvement. As I have written elsewhere, I think the plywood shelves damped the sound, sucking the life and energy out of it.

This was a cumulative effect and quite similar to what the pneumatic platforms were doing, though in that case, those platforms did seem to add contrast and make the sound more bold and dramatic, something I enjoyed for years until I heard an alternative. For me these have all been steps to move my system gradually away from a "hifi" sound and toward a more natural presentation, more reminiscent of the sound of live music.

My components sit on their stock footers. I have tried other alternatives in my own system and heard very expensive options in other systems always to return to the stock footers in my own system. There may be better sounding alternatives, but I have not yet heard them. I also keep returning to the thought that the guys at Pass Labs voiced these components by listening to the prototypes using the stock rubber footers.
 

Lagonda

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Feb 4, 2014
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Yes indeed. Here is the philosophy, if I can paraphrase it accurately:

Start with a mass loaded, simple platform on which to support the components. Then fine tune the sound by experimenting with different materials in different configurations until the sound satisfies the listener. The idea is that an expensive rack system, support system, footers, etc, are designed by someone else who may have different tastes and may have designed the product using different components. This approach is tuned to someone else's taste and preferences and ideas. It may work in your system or it may not, but it is difficult to know for sure without trying many different options and spending a lot of money along the way.

The alternative is to start simple and with a stable platform with which you can experiment and fine tune yourself until you are satisfied with the sound of your specific components in your specific setting. It has worked well for me because I am willing to spend the time experimenting, and perhaps just as importantly, I would prefer to spend my resources elsewhere in the system.

It is one approach and it may not be for everyone, but I have learned a great deal about this lately, and have enjoyed the process. I know of three other members who are now expressing an interest in trying this approach.

Experimentation and a willingness to try new things are two aspect of this hobby that makes it so fascinating and enjoyable for me.
I accidentally went down the same path a couple of years ago. The house i bought primarily for the large living room/listening room had a 60 cm high brick wall dividing 2,5 m of the space. It still left me with a 6,5m wide and 5, 5 long uninterrupted listening room, and a 40cm wide granit table top built directly into the foundation. It turned out to be excellent rack. My heavy unsuspended TT had never been that stable before, i can dance a jig when i listen to The Chiftains without the needle skipping a beat. I preferred the sound with a piece of walnut wood directly under the TT, but will try a piece of stainless steel like you have.
I have since remove the piece of dividing wall effectively doubling the length of the listening room. I did not want to loose the wonderful effect of the foundation grounded rack and have cut out a section of the wood floor and rebuilt a solid piece of wall into the foundation to the side of the room about 7 m from the speakers, behind the listening position.The speakers and subs actually sit on a different wood floor than the rest of the system now. Yes i know i’m nuts o_O
 
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PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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I did not want to loose the wonderful effect of the foundation grounded rack and have cut out a section of the wood floor and rebuilt a solid piece of wall into the foundation to the side of the room about 7 m from the speakers, behind the listening position.The speakers and subs actually sit on a different wood floor than the rest of the system now. Yes i know i’m nuts o_O
That is awesome. I have actually thought about bypassing my wooden suspended floor and supporting my speakers and rack directly from posts coming up from the basement, but that fantasy may have to wait. For now, I am settling on compromises. One is limited by practicality and imagination.
 
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bazelio

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Sep 27, 2016
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Peter, when I saw the update to the 3-chassis machine, I knew another steel plate was soon to follow. The line stage upgrade sounds like another step up in the evolution of your system. Definitely a critical component and one worthy of (over)-design. Congrats.
 
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Lagonda

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That is awesome. I have actually thought about bypassing my wooden suspended floor and supporting my speakers and rack directly from posts coming up from the basement, but that fantasy may have to wait. For now, I am settling on compromises. One is limited by practicality and imagination.
And how much “damage” you are willing to do to your original house :rolleyes: I was actually considering taking out my second floor rooms above the listening room to get higher ceilingso_O
 
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PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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Peter, when I saw the update to the 3-chassis machine, I knew another steel plate was soon to follow. The line stage upgrade sounds like another step up in the evolution of your system. Definitely a critical component and one worthy of (over)-design. Congrats.
Thanks Brian. I am not losing sight of the fact that I would not have realized the potential of the new preamp were it not for the other recent changes to the sound of my system and room. It all works together. Set up, room context, and the quality of the components. I am simply hoping to lesson the mistakes going forward.
 
Jun 26, 2018
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Peter, a huge thank you to you (and DDK) for sharing your experiments. I have found this thread fascinating and enlightening.

Late last year I moved house and as I now have a significantly smaller room, I am having to reconfigure everything. I am in the process of acquiring a new taller rack with a smaller footprint. I have been experimenting with a few shelf materials - eg: maple, ply and a balsa wood shelf from the UK. I recently got a shelf made out of GFRC concrete (glass fibre reinforced concrete) about 1.25 inches thick. I tried it on O-rings, sitting on my maple wood frame, and got the best results of anything I've heard so far. Significantly better than wood (of any kind) shelves on the maple wood frame. I stress that I have not tried a stainless plate - yet - but this concrete material is considerably cheaper. I'm just curious to know if anyone else has experimented with concrete as a shelf or rack material?
 

ddk

Industry Expert
May 19, 2013
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Peter, a huge thank you to you (and DDK) for sharing your experiments. I have found this thread fascinating and enlightening.

Late last year I moved house and as I now have a significantly smaller room, I am having to reconfigure everything. I am in the process of acquiring a new taller rack with a smaller footprint. I have been experimenting with a few shelf materials - eg: maple, ply and a balsa wood shelf from the UK. I recently got a shelf made out of GFRC concrete (glass fibre reinforced concrete) about 1.25 inches thick. I tried it on O-rings, sitting on my maple wood frame, and got the best results of anything I've heard so far. Significantly better than wood (of any kind) shelves on the maple wood frame. I stress that I have not tried a stainless plate - yet - but this concrete material is considerably cheaper. I'm just curious to know if anyone else has experimented with concrete as a shelf or rack material?
The concrete is more damp than the steel, you'll get a livelier sound with steel also a deeper cleaner bass.

david
 

PeterA

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Dec 7, 2011
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Fellow members Madfloyd and Al M. came over this afternoon to listen to my system for the first time since the stay at home orders and general lock down have interrupted our visits. I have made many changes to the system since they had each been here, including the steel plate platforms on the rack, the XP-32, and the replacement of the Burley ICs and speaker cables with some custom signal cables made for me by Sound Concepts.

We played a variety of my LPs and some that Ian had brought with him. Ian has a great music collection, and I can always depend on him coming over with some LPs that I don't know and subsequently try to find for myself. We also compared the vdH Grand Cru on the SME 3012R arm to the MSL Signature Gold on the SME V-12 arm.

I think the general consensus was good. They remarked on the sheer amount of “detail” they heard. We disagreed on which arm/cartridge combination sounded more tonally correct, but we did seem to agree that the vdH conveyed more of the music's energy.

They preferred the presentation of the MSL Signature Gold on the V-12 arm. I preferred the vdH Grand Cru on the 3012R arm. I think they liked the warmer tonal balance and felt is was more timbrally correct, while I thought that combination was a bit warm and slightly soft sounding with slightly less energy.

I think of the vdH/3012R as cool clear bottle of water during a lovely afternoon sail. The MSL/V-12 is more like a warm bottle of Sake with a delicious sushi dinner. It is a matter of preference and taste.

I interpret their comments about detail to generally refer to the improved overall resolution of the system after all of the changes since they last heard it. They also remarked on the quality of the bass.

One of my goals this Spring, after I had already straightened my speakers and removed the acoustic treatments from the room to achieve what I consider a much more “natural” sound, was to increase the sense of “clarity”. As I mentioned before, the first adjective that comes to mind when I try to describe the sound at the BSO is “clarity”.

I became interested in the Pass Labs XP-32 after reading MAXPWR's report on his new preamp. We started to communicate and discuss how it differed from my XP-22. This led in turn to discussions about replacing my signal cables.

With the addition of the new preamp and cables, the sound is more clear and less grey allowing me to hear more of the energy from the music. There is simply less information lost in, or colored by, the chain of the system. Last Winter I removed the stuff from the system and room that was sucking the life and energy from the music and coloring the sound. My next step was to improve clarity. The preamp and cables do that. The system now more clearly conveys the energy captured in the grooves of my LPs, and that is why I think of it as "natural" sounding.

Ian and Al were the first people to hear the changes, and they seemed to confirm my own impressions. We had a fun little reunion and enjoyed a nice dinner outdoors at one of our favorite spots afterwards.

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Tango

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@PeterA. I don't remember if Madfloyd or Al M has the Zen Wave silver gold cables. I find my silver gold cable give more clarity than others that I have used. I think we may have similar preference in sound. So if you can borrow from your friend, you might find more clarity and interesting tonal balance from this cable. You will only need to borrow one pair of interconnect for phono to pre and you will hear.
 

PeterA

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@PeterA. I don't remember if Madfloyd or Al M has the Zen Wave silver gold cables. I find my silver gold cable give more clarity than others that I have used. I think we may have similar preference in sound. So if you can borrow from your friend, you might find more clarity and interesting tonal balance from this cable. You will only need to borrow one pair of interconnect for phono to pre and you will hear.
Thank you Tang. Yes, I think we do have similar preference in sound, perhaps even music.

I have had ZenWave D4 IC and power cables in my system and heard them in my friends' systems. I like the D4 but do not know if I have heard the silver gold cables.

I chose my current cables and connectors very carefully and am quite satisfied. I appreciate the suggestion.
 

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