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Putting Speakers on Cement Blocks?
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logicG5
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5th March 2008
Old 5th March 2008
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Putting Speakers on Cement Blocks?

Any one ever heard of anything like this? I have heard some people say putting monitors on Cement blocks stacked up from the floor improves the sound quality?

I would love peoples thoughts on this before i go out an but like 14 Cynder BLocks LOL

Thansk in advance.

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6th March 2008
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In theory it could - the idea being that you're putting the speakers on 'stands' that are high-mass enough that the speakers have a hard time exciting the stands to vibrate sympathetically (similar to why people fill speaker stands with sand or rocks). Cinder blocks are very inexpensive, but make sure you pick up some felt or something to wrap or drape them with, as they 'shed' bits of grit all over the place, and will scratch the hell out of anything they come in contact with, like your speakers.
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The issue is whether speaker stands work - and of course they do. The physical location of a speaker in a room directly affects how the air vibrations interact with the room. Getting speakers off the floor is the first thing to do.

The stability of a speaker stand is important to. The best stands are very heavy. I actually don't like steel stands - they ring like a bell. You can fill them with sand, and that dampens them and makes them heavy. Or - you could make them out of concrete in the first place.

If the dimensions are ideal, go for it. I'm thinking of buying some concrete blocks and and painting them and place them around my studio. Just for the added diffusion, and also to hold down mic stands, or weigh down a kick drum, that sort of thing.
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6th March 2008
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i was going to stak up cement blocks to the height i want on both sides and then put a piece of wood acorss them to put both of my sets of speakers... The wood would also prevent it from scrathcing the speakers.

I thougth about putting a layer of Neo pryne in between the wood and the blocks and also the wood and the speakers.
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6th March 2008
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3 cinder blocks make a great monitor stand.
...__
..|o|
..|o|
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..|o|
|o|o|

40" tall with this configuration.
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6th March 2008
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Milk carton stands

Two to three millk catons stacked up work great can laod in some sand bags if you want and very dence piece of wood on top where you place the speaker on .


.


I'd be more concerned about good speaker cable myself .

James.ca
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Yup should be ideal from my understanding. If you're upstairs and using lots of blocks though make sure you're confident of the floor...
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I use MoPads in between my monitors and their stands. Seem to work well.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by logicG5 View Post
i was going to stak up cement blocks to the height i want on both sides and then put a piece of wood acorss them to put both of my sets of speakers... The wood would also prevent it from scrathcing the speakers.

I thougth about putting a layer of Neo pryne in between the wood and the blocks and also the wood and the speakers.
No, that's backwards.

You want your sound equipment--CD players and microphones in particular, as well as anything else that is sensitive to vibration--DEcoupled from the floor.

However, you want your speakers <i>coupled</i> to the floor, if you want the tightest sound and best bass response. That's why high end speaker stands often have points on the bottom. My old ones were made of steel, filled with lead shot, and had what amounted to nails for the "feet."

You don't have to go that far, but you DO want to definitely avoid deliberately introducing a decoupler (like, say, a layer of neoprene, or cardboard, etc.) You want a firm connection between speakers and floor.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ECH View Post
No, that's backwards.

You want your sound equipment--CD players and microphones in particular, as well as anything else that is sensitive to vibration--DEcoupled from the floor.

However, you want your speakers <i>coupled</i> to the floor, if you want the tightest sound and best bass response. That's why high end speaker stands often have points on the bottom. My old ones were made of steel, filled with lead shot, and had what amounted to nails for the "feet."

You don't have to go that far, but you DO want to definitely avoid deliberately introducing a decoupler (like, say, a layer of neoprene, or cardboard, etc.) You want a firm connection between speakers and floor.
Totally disagree.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ECH View Post
No, that's backwards.

You want your sound equipment--CD players and microphones in particular, as well as anything else that is sensitive to vibration--DEcoupled from the floor.

However, you want your speakers <i>coupled</i> to the floor, if you want the tightest sound and best bass response. That's why high end speaker stands often have points on the bottom. My old ones were made of steel, filled with lead shot, and had what amounted to nails for the "feet."

You don't have to go that far, but you DO want to definitely avoid deliberately introducing a decoupler (like, say, a layer of neoprene, or cardboard, etc.) You want a firm connection between speakers and floor.
The whole concept with spikes is "de-coupling". You do not want your speakers coupled to the floor.tutt

Last edited by lowdownjoe; 6th March 2008 at 03:34 PM.. Reason: spelling
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Timely thread for me. I ordered some new monitors that will come in tomorrow (KRK ST-6's). They will go on top of a desk. In order to get the tweeters up to ear level, I'm going to need to boost the monitors up somewhere between 8-12 inches off the desk.

I'm pretty handy in the woodworking department, and can build a couple of short MDF stands with little effort, but should I? Would cinder blocks, or a few pavers, be a better idea?

Another possible direction: I have tons of that thick floor covering that you use in kiddie play rooms, the kind that locks together in a dovetail fashion. I could easily build up enough layers of that stuff to boost the monitors up to the right level. The padding is stout enough that I think it would be a stable platform for the monitors, even with lots of layers.

Thoughts? I appreciate the help.
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6th March 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowdownjoe View Post
The whole concept with spikes is "de-coupling". You do not want your speakers coupled to the floor.tutt

How in the world is a spiked stand decoupled? Have you ever tried sliding a spiked stand across the floor?

Think about it... a perfectly decoupled speaker would be one which is free-floating in space with only the mass of the speaker cabinet to offset the inertia of the mass of the cone, coil, and excited air molecules as they move (Think Newton) I don't think you'd find anyone who would say that's ideal.

You want the mass of the cone pushing against air on one side and as big of a mass on the other... coupling the speaker to the room makes that a nice big huge mass!

Spikes aren't isolating... vibropods are

-s
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ECH View Post
No, that's backwards.

You want your sound equipment--CD players and microphones in particular, as well as anything else that is sensitive to vibration--DEcoupled from the floor.

However, you want your speakers <i>coupled</i> to the floor, if you want the tightest sound and best bass response. That's why high end speaker stands often have points on the bottom. My old ones were made of steel, filled with lead shot, and had what amounted to nails for the "feet."

You don't have to go that far, but you DO want to definitely avoid deliberately introducing a decoupler (like, say, a layer of neoprene, or cardboard, etc.) You want a firm connection between speakers and floor.
I'll go 180 degress against this. You do not want near field or other conventional reference monitors coupled to the floor or the wall or anything else, if at all possible. Of course, they should still be stationary. So we are talking about compromises, here. Therefore you want the speaker to be stationery but to still minimize transduction from the speaker to surrounding objects/structures. You also very much want to avoid resonant systems developing between the speaker and what it is resting upon -- so putting the hard surface of the typical NFM on another hard surface, such as a table or shelf, will be likely to introduce unwanted resonances.

Speakers are designed as self-contained units in the sense that a properly designed speaker should sound its flattest and most accurate when positioned in an anechoic chamber and decoupled to the greatest extent possible from its surroundings (while still, of course, remaining stationary).

You want to minimize the conduction of vibration from the speaker to other objects and surfaces where that vibration might produce all sorts of unwanted resonance and other anomalous sounds which will potentially interfere with the sound you do want -- the (hopefully) flat, accurate reproduction going from the monitor to the sweet spot.


All that said, I'm using mouse pads under my monitors. No doubt there are better (and considerably more expensive) decoupling pads. But I'm a cheapskate. I flattered myself that, in highly informal testing, I was able to hear a difference (I was hoping I would not because, frankly, the notion of expensive decoupling pads sort of irritated me). I suspect that better pads would be better -- but I also suspect that the mousepads go a long way from the starting place of NS10m on sand-filled wood stand toward 80 or 90 bucks worth of "designer" decoupling foam.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
I'll go 180 degress against this. You do not want near field or other conventional reference monitors coupled to the floor or the wall or anything else, if at all possible. Of course, they should still be stationary. So we are talking about compromises, here. Therefore you want the speaker to be stationery but to still minimize transduction from the speaker to surrounding objects/structures. You also very much want to avoid resonant systems developing between the speaker and what it is resting upon -- so putting the hard surface of the typical NFM on another hard surface, such as a table or shelf, will be likely to introduce unwanted resonances.

Speakers are designed as self-contained units in the sense that a properly designed speaker should sound its flattest and most accurate when positioned in an anechoic chamber and decoupled to the greatest extent possible from its surroundings (while still, of course, remaining stationary).

You want to minimize the conduction of vibration from the speaker to other objects and surfaces where that vibration might produce all sorts of unwanted resonance and other anomalous sounds which will potentially interfere with the sound you do want -- the (hopefully) flat, accurate reproduction going from the monitor to the sweet spot.


All that said, I'm using mouse pads under my monitors. No doubt there are better (and considerably more expensive) decoupling pads. But I'm a cheapskate. I flattered myself that, in highly informal testing, I was able to hear a difference (I was hoping I would not because, frankly, the notion of expensive decoupling pads sort of irritated me). I suspect that better pads would be better -- but I also suspect that the mousepads go a long way from the starting place of NS10m on sand-filled wood stand toward 80 or 90 bucks worth of "designer" decoupling foam.
OK, now I'm really confused. Let me start by sayng that 1) after lots of reading and personal experience I thought I was correct; and 2) I could certainly be wrong

So.


Almost all the units I have used suggest that I need to make sure they are firmly connected to the floor. This is because most speakers will produce vastly better bass when connected securely to the floor
. Although there is always a tradeoff in that the floor then can produce unwanted frequencies, my read has been that the benefits (better bass) are substantial, while the costs (potential low frequency coupling) are actually not all that hard to deal with.

the higher frequencies are harder to deal with. but those do'nt tend to propagate through the floor, do they?
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Is it possible that ECH's reference sources are talking about how to get the most bass out of speakers for enjoying music, as opposed to what is required for accurate monitoring of recordings? I'm just spitballin' here.

I can see the advice one gets from the music appreciation crowd being the exact opposite of what you would hear from the recording engineering crowd. Both are right, depending on the goal each has.

Stereo enthusiasts want to coax more sound, deeper bass, etc., out of their systems, because they enjoy the music better that way. Recording engineers want to hear what is on the recording, nothing less, nothing more, even if it doesn't sound good, especially if it doesn't sound good (so they can fix it).
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The concept behind putting speakers on Heavy stands is to reach a as deep as possible resonance frequency. Sound travels faster through solid mass than through the air. So when the resonance of your speaker stands is say 200hz, everything under this frequency reaches you through the floor first. Search for "mass spring speakerstands" on Google and I am sure you will find what you need.
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If it's all about decoupling, why is nobody hanging their speakers then?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doncaparker View Post
Stereo enthusiasts want to coax more sound, deeper bass, etc., out of their systems, because they enjoy the music better that way. Recording engineers want to hear what is on the recording, nothing less, nothing more, even if it doesn't sound good, especially if it doesn't sound good (so they can fix it).
That's arguable... If you're talking audiophiles, they are also aiming for the most accurate representation possible. The differences involve things like utility and expenses. Those guys can dedicate an entire room to a single pair of speakers and don't mind paying a grand for a pair of interconnects, whereas I generally need to spend a grand on 24-48 channels of various types of cables to and from this and that and need to put a big knobby chunk of metal right between my listening position and the speakers.

None of us want to hear anything that's not actually there.

Bottom line is that stacked concrete blocks with spiked feet (with or without a little neoprene to taste) is one way of achieving a stable, non-resonant platform on which to place speakers, aesthetics and gritty debris notwithstanding.


-s
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6th March 2008
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If it's all about decoupling, why is nobody hanging their speakers then?
But some people do. When I was a student, the big Genelec monitors of the main studio were hanged with chains.
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I guess I'm just not understanding the spike bit. Does a car with bicycle tires versus SUV tires have more or less connection with the road? Spike I suppose could be burried into the sand or wood floor. Not that I see that as a desireable trait. Plus if you're on concrete, what do you do if it's not level and the stand rocks on you?

I've always thought that you'd want your speakers isolated kind of like a printer. To have it welded to the floor makes them work harder for the same amount of motor movement. If you want/need more bass then get a woofer. Just my opinion.

I have my monitors on an older desk made of actual wood. And aualex mopads under them to let them do their thing without much interaction with their surroundings. About the only difference I notice is that they're easier to move around placement wise on the mopads.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottwilson View Post
Bottom line is that stacked concrete blocks with spiked feet (with or without a little neoprene to taste) is one way of achieving a stable, non-resonant platform on which to place speakers, aesthetics and gritty debris notwithstanding.


-s
Nonresonant is not exactly right. It´s about a low resonance frequency.
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Quote:
That's arguable... If you're talking audiophiles, they are also aiming for the most accurate representation possible.
Yeah, I wasn't talking about those folks. I was talking about the less affluent, but still stereo-happy, crowd. Although, for either one, if you peek into some of the forum discussions the stereo lovers have, they talk about speakers like wine snobs talk about expensive wine. I'm not convinced they are always looking for 100% reproduction as much as just a great listening experience. But, you are right, many such listeners are interested in accuracy.

Can I ask a question about this resonant frequency business? When I think about a resonant frequency of an object, I think about it as the frequency at which the object will vibrate sympathetically. On guitars, this can create wolf tones. If the resonant frequency of the guitar is one of the common notes on the guitar, playing that note will create a level of volume that is out of character with the rest of the notes on the guitar. That's bad, so we try to build guitars that have a resonant frequency that is not on a common note. Ideally, it is below the lowest note on the guitar, so that it is never played, and there is no wolf tone.

If that is what you mean here, then isn't the resonant frequency the frequency at which the stand and/or the floor and/or anything else that could be excited by the speaker starts to vibrate sympathetically? If that is the case, then don't we want that frequency to be outside the normal frequency range expected to be produced by that speaker? If so, I'm not sure how we control that, without "tuning" the objects that are sympathetically vibrating so that they vibrate at a different note. Maybe I'm completely off base.

I do know this much: When I thwap my tuning fork, and place the ball end on my desk, it gets really loud, and it is the note of the tuning fork (A-440) that is sounding out. The desk is acoustically excited by the vibration of the tuning fork, as transmitted by that little round tip, and is "singing" an A-440. If I move the tuning fork to some other large object, that new object "sings" an A-440 too, but with a different tone than the desk. All I have to do to make either object shut up is lift the fork off of it; in other words, de-couple the tuning fork from the object. I'm real sure a layer of foam between the tuning fork and the desk would stop any "singing" from happening.

I'm thinking, I probably don't want my desk to accept direct vibrations from the speaker, because it will "sing" with the speaker, just like it does with the tuning fork. That's bad; I only want the speaker to "sing," because I know what is coming out of the speaker is tonally accurate, but I can't say the same for the desk. This is why I should want to de-couple the speakers from my desk.

Am I off my rocker? <G>
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6th March 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ECH View Post
OK, now I'm really confused. Let me start by sayng that 1) after lots of reading and personal experience I thought I was correct; and 2) I could certainly be wrong

So.


Almost all the units I have used suggest that I need to make sure they are firmly connected to the floor. This is because most speakers will produce vastly better bass when connected securely to the floor
. Although there is always a tradeoff in that the floor then can produce unwanted frequencies, my read has been that the benefits (better bass) are substantial, while the costs (potential low frequency coupling) are actually not all that hard to deal with.

the higher frequencies are harder to deal with. but those do'nt tend to propagate through the floor, do they?
I think you've got a good grasp on how to to increase the efficiency of bass production -- don't get me wrong.

And, if the goal is to produce a lot of uncontrolled, erratic bass -- absolutely, go for it. Better yet, mount LF drivers in the floor.

But if the goal is to get accurate representation of the signal you are feeding into well-designed reference monitors, you're going to want them decoupled.

In this case, efficient production of lots of bass is of far lesser importance than accurate, linear response in a focused listening area.

Designing a disco sound system (for instance) and a near field monitoring environment are very different things.


Now, all that said, the OP didn't actually say in his original post what application the speakers would be put to. But, since we're here, I jumped to the conclusion we were talking studio monitoring.
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7th March 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ibvee View Post
If it's all about decoupling, why is nobody hanging their speakers then?
Well... I knew a guy who did that using macrome... but I don't know what his agenda really was.


Actually, that question passed my mind, as well.

Certainly, the material one used for the suspension device would be crucial. Macrome might work pretty well but rigid or resonant material would get you in trouble all over again. And then there are ceiling material and construction issues. And/or if the vibration made its way back to the ceiling, it might turn into a big sounding board.

I keep hoping Ethan Winer will jump in and share up... he's got a pretty good grip on monitoring environments, day job and all.
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Well... I knew a guy who did that using macrome... but I don't know what his agenda really was.


Actually, that question passed my mind, as well.

Certainly, the material one used for the suspension device would be crucial. Macrome might work pretty well but rigid or resonant material would get you in trouble all over again. And then there are ceiling material and construction issues. And/or if the vibration made its way back to the ceiling, it might turn into a big sounding board.

I keep hoping Ethan Winer will jump in and share up... he's got a pretty good grip on monitoring environments, day job and all.
Yes, it wasn't sarcastic, it crossed my mind and I just posted it.
I thought about it. The Low frequency driver in a cabinet has to push away a lot of air when producing the lowest frequencies. When it isn't standing solid, it'll loose energy because it's pushing itself away against the air, instead of pushing the air away. Of course some air will be pushed, but the efficiency won't be as high. I can imagine it being even worse when it's hanging, because it sort of starts swinging.
But I'm not sure. Because the speaker isn't really pushing the air away opposed to it's position, but it's creating a pressure difference between the inside and the outside of the cabinet. Instead of the front and the back.
Still being, if the cabinet isn't standing solid, it'll vibrate more, and thus absorbing more energy into itself, opposed to when it's standing solid, and vibrates less, and thus transferring more energy into the air.

I hope I explained my thoughts well, I'm not really good at explaining slightly more complicated things in English... I hope somebody more skilled in physics can correct the flaws in my theory.
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Quote:
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it'll loose energy because it's pushing itself away against the air, instead of pushing the air away.
Well, my BX8's are quite heavy. I was actually surprised at how firm the mopads are. I expected some form of compression since it is just foam. Anyway, I don't imagine the 8" speakers on it move enough air to move it much. Each unit is probably 20lbs in my estimate(26.4lbs per unit, estimate for the BX8a's). Besides, you're talking hundreds to thousands of hertz. I just don't see the speaker moving that much in that short of a time. Laws of physics still intact anyway.
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7th March 2008
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Talking

Thanks for all the replies...

I have heard alot of differnt takes on this thats why i posted here.

Im using the monitor set up for mixing, and i am trying achieve the best possible results given the situation I am in. I am using Yamaha HM80's in a semi treated room (ie some foam and bass traps ect but not sound proof) I do mostly alot of production and mixing in here for proffesional purposes. THe room is also small about 10 x 11 square and the room is completely dedicated to music production ect.

In t he major studios i have worked in including one that a very famous mixer works out of the near fields are always used placed on the console.

I recently had a conversation though with anonther engineer who was convinced that putting the speakers on cement blocks was the way to go so i figured i get some out side thoughts.. I didnt think id get this many..

Ultimately given the situation i know it will not beperfect. But id like to get as best a sound as i can.

I attached a picture if any one cares to offer some suggestions. I also plan in the very near future to treatthe back wall behind the speakers with acoustic foam and or insulation panels. Putting Speakers on Cement Blocks?-studio_1.jpg
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Every force has an equal and opposite reaction. When your speaker cone excurses, if your speaker cabinet isn't held rigid, it will react. That wastes energy and negatively affects your sound.

Hanging speakers so they can swing is not a good idea.

Spikes on speaker stands is a hifi thing. The main reason for the spikes is to allow adjustment so the stand doesn't wobble. They also grip well into carpet.

IF you use spikes on a nice wooden floor, apart from doing damage, they will also couple your speaker stand to the floor and allow conduction of sound. This can boost the bass - just like when you press a bass guitar against a wall. It might be fun, but it's not good studio monitoring practice.

What you really want is mass - to resist that reactive force - and stability. And freedom from conduction. So concrete and neoprene rules. Or heavy wood. I use a pair of massive hifi speakers to get my Dynaudio BM15s up to ear hight. They don't sound too bad themselves, but they make good speaker stands.
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i found that the best sound I got is when I actually have my speakers physically in a shock mount of sorts. I had 2 speakers and the sub suspended from the air. very balanced sound.
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