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Should I Couple or Decouple My Harbeths from My Heavy Speaker Stands

NipperDog

Member
Hi All.

I have a pair of C7ES3s and was wondering if I'd be better off trying to couple these speakers to my Sound Anchor stands. The stands weigh 60lbs. (27.2 kilograms) each. My floors are suspended hardwood and I'm currently using spikes with floor protecting discs under them. I have four 1 inch x .25 inch (2.54CM x .635CM) Sorbothane discs between the speakers and the stands. I'm not sure if Harbeth speakers sound better by being decoupled or should they be coupled to heavy stands. I realize Blu-Tack can stain the bottoms of speakers but that doesn't concern me at all if this is a better way to go, because I have no plans of getting rid of these speakers.

Thank you for any suggestions.
 

hifi_dave

Well-known member
You have the speakers and the stands, so try yourself.

The Sorbothane offers decoupling so you just need to remove those and replace by the merest hint of BluTak or 3 - 4 M6 nuts to show what coupling can do.
 

NipperDog

Member
I have another potential problem that I should probably have mentioned in my original post. Because I live in Southern California, when I set my speakers on their stands, they need to be fairy secure, because of the possibility of an earthquake. The Sorbothane and Blu-Tack is sticky enough to keep them in place if the ground starts shaking. I don't think nuts or spikes would keep them in place.

A.S. Does anyone know what Alan himself recommends in terms of coupling vs. decoupling his speakers?
 

S Magus

Member
I have the same type of flooring as you, same speakers and a somewhat lighter version of steel stands. Like your S.A. mine are spiked into metal discs to protect, not the floor but sound. Yes, I've tried listening with no spike shoes (as they call them here) and also with bits of blue tack under them that messed up the bass considerably so the blue tack was promptly removed.

Having tried both there is no doubt in my mind that de-coupling is the way to go and that the opposite approach should be used only if you want to add some extra bass into the mix but I'd be at a loss as to why anyone would want to do that - the imaging will suffer big way. Now, having said that, my stands are not as sturdy as your stands which should be more forgiving with vibrations so all this may be less of an issue for you than it is for me. Based on my own experiments, the following principle holds true: the less excited the architecture of your stand becomes from all the vibrations generated by the speaker, the cleaner and more focused the sound will be.

But don't take my word for it. Try it all for yourself. The differences should be easily discernable.
 

NipperDog

Member
S Magus said:
I have the same type of flooring as you, same speakers and a somewhat lighter version of steel stands. Like your S.A. mine are spiked into metal discs to protect, not the floor but sound. Yes, I've tried listening with no spike shoes (as they call them here) and also with bits of blue tack under them that messed up the bass considerably so the blue tack was promptly removed. Having tried both there is no doubt in my mind that de-coupling is the way to go and that the opposite approach should be used only if you want to add some extra bass into the mix but I'd be at a loss as to why anyone would want to do that - the imaging will suffer big way. Now, having said that, my stands are not as sturdy as your stands which should be more forgiving with vibrations so all this may be less of an issue for you than it is for me. Based on my own experiments, the following principle holds true: the less excited the architecture of your stand becomes from all the vibrations generated by the speaker, the cleaner and more focused the sound will be. But don't take my word for it. Try it all for yourself. The differences should be easily discernable.
Thank you for sharing your experiences with me, I find your answer very helpful.
 
i would use blue tack or pritt buddies ( a very small amount on each corner) and you won't harm the veneer by pushing the speaker gently a few mm's horizontally on each corner, after that you you lift the speaker.
Imo the image will suffer when the speaker is on the floor by a child, pet or earth quake.. Of course blue tack cannot have influence on the sound image, unwanted vibrations do and blue tack is a perfect remedy for that.
 

Jmohd

New member
I used TOAC Insulator under my SHL5 ANNV and M40.1 on loaded Skyland stand. Sounded better to me than without decoupling. [h=1][/h]
 
In my opinion the drivers should move air and not the cabinet, otherwise some energy is wasted by shaking wood instead of moving air, unless the cabinet walls should act as transducers. So coupling or not coupling depends on the construction of the speaker. Are Harbeths also stand agnostic?
 

SCPB1967

New member
I have a very practical, woodworking kind of friend who build's his own stands for all his Harbeths. For his latest 40.1s he made some very nice looking & extremely solid stands & always runs a narrow 5mm strip of very thin (maybe 2mm uncompressed) strip of foam all the way around the outside edges of the stand which gives a very solid yet slightly raised perch for the speaker's.

With the M40.1s he also built in heavy duty castors which allow easy placement & would, if we had earthquakes in England (which we thankfully hardly ever have), allow a sideways shuffle if the ground beneath them shook.
 
Hi All.

I have a pair of C7ES3s and was wondering if I'd be better off trying to couple these speakers to my Sound Anchor stands. The stands weigh 60lbs. (27.2 kilograms) each. My floors are suspended hardwood and I'm currently using spikes with floor protecting discs under them. I have four 1 inch x .25 inch (2.54CM x .635CM) Sorbothane discs between the speakers and the stands. I'm not sure if Harbeth speakers sound better by being decoupled or should they be coupled to heavy stands. I realize Blu-Tack can stain the bottoms of speakers but that doesn't concern me at all if this is a better way to go, because I have no plans of getting rid of these speakers.

Thank you for any suggestions.
There has been extensive discussion on this topic in the past on the Harbeth forum. For example, you may find some useful information here from 2015:
 

A.S.

Harbeth UK
Staff member
I have six accelerometers and a measuring system which I really must attach to a selection of speaker stands to see if vibration is passed either directly (mechanically) from the speaker atop the stand or indirectly (acoustically) from sound waves radiated by the woofer.

We do know, don't we, that if you audition stands from a fixed listening seat that are, say, 1cm or more different in height, your ear will be in a different place relative to the woofer/tweeter and that alone will give a different listening sensation.

Time, time......
 

SCPB1967

New member
The following may not help one little bit but may surprise people & cause more than a few smiles.

Let me begin with a health warning !!! Speakers are heavy. Cats, dogs & children are far more precious than a wooden box so please make sure your stands are stable & safe with tweeters at correct heights

After owning P3ESRs a few years ago & 'thinking' I preferred Something Solid open frame stands I decided to try a very unscientific experiment with my current M30.1s. It puzzled me that so many of us feel stands have audible effects. My untrained mind decided it must be mechanical vibration, airborne driver induced vibration or the stand allowing some kind of speaker movement.

Basically what I did is cobble together a pair of stands which had a quite substantial wooden base with four completely independent upright steel treaded bars (M12 I think) of correct length. Each bar had a dome headed nut top & bottom, a couple of large penny washers & nuts to secure them through the base & a nut below the top dome to allow levelling.

Is anyone smiling yet :)

I carefully placed speakers on the four small points of contact, levelled them, laughed at myself & played some music with decent bass content.
Just for info, if I gave the speaker a very gentle poke it, being sat on only four 60cm lengths of spring steel, merrily wobbled sideways, backwards, forwards & diagonally. I expected the speakers to move around all over the place but couldn't visibly see any movement & they sounded great as they always do.

Still puzzled & curious, I sat a small laser spirit level on top facing both left right & front back to see if the laser spot on any distant wall seemed to move. I didn't.
To take it to an extreme I placed a mirror for the laser spot to reflect off & aimed it back across the length of the room ro double the distance & exaggerate any wobble. Still nothing.

I do remember a thread here somewhere & Alan did suggest there probably wouldn't be enough energy to cause movement. Clever chap that Mr Shaw.....
The other take away from my silly shenanigans was a definite mechanical vibration traveling down each leg from the speaker, you could almost feel the beat of the music in each bar. It's fairly easy to absorb the vibration before it reaches the base too.

My completely unscientific & untrained opinion is that vibration, which Harbeths design handles extremely well anyway, travels mechanically into the stand & transfers via stand top plate etc back into the speaker. Coupling/decoupling simple plays with that process. I seem to remember Alan mentioning a new laser based measuring device to detect microscopic movements in panels/drivers?

Any interesting snippets from that?

I sincerely hope some of the smiles have turned into laughter. It's amazing what blokes can get up to when they have too much time on their hands :)
And did it sound better? Possiblity. But after so much silliness I would say that.

Basically Harbeths sound great on any stable, correct height stands & if tweaking is your thing, as HifiDave suggested above, it's really easy to test & scratch your itch.
Happy listening.
 

SCPB1967

New member
Sorry, just a quick note to contradict my unscientific assumption that the vibration in each leg was mechanical. It could also be airborne energy from the woofer simply bouncing off close proximity walls/surfaces etc.

Moral off the story..... I know very little :)
 

A.S.

Harbeth UK
Staff member
Sorry, just a quick note to contradict my unscientific assumption that the vibration in each leg was mechanical. It could also be airborne energy from the woofer simply bouncing off close proximity walls/surfaces etc.
That's not at all obvious and indeed, it only occurred to me a few weeks ago.

I had rigged up a test speaker cabinet with accelerometers attached to various places and made a series of measurements of the cabinet atop a leather bar stool which was at hand and a height that didn't strain the fine wires.

Imagine my surprise when I lifted the cabinet onto the floor, made a cup of tea, returned ten minutes later, forgot I'd moved the test cabinet and pressed the 'retest' button. Very different results.

Time is needed to do some proper detective work. It's all too easy to jump to the wrong conclusion.....
 

ssfas

Well-known member
That's not at all obvious and indeed, it only occurred to me a few weeks ago.

I had rigged up a test speaker cabinet with accelerometers attached to various places and made a series of measurements of the cabinet atop a leather bar stool which was at hand and a height that didn't strain the fine wires.

Imagine my surprise when I lifted the cabinet onto the floor, made a cup of tea, returned ten minutes later, forgot I'd moved the test cabinet and pressed the 'retest' button. Very different results.

Time is needed to do some proper detective work. It's all too easy to jump to the wrong conclusion.....
Was this test carried out in the pub?

I won’t repeat your previous explanations of soft wall cabinets and that the most active part of the system are the room walls, but they put my mind to rest that with a Harbeth stands are a non-issue, although the risk of earthquakes may not have figured in Dudley Harwood’s original design considerations.

Personally I use Hifi Racks, the speakers sitting on door bumpers and acoustic foam under the stands to even out my wooden floor.

I’m trying to think of music featuring earthquakes. The only thing that comes to mind is La Bayadere. All very dramatic at the end. Any others?
 
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Milosz

Active member
I’m trying to think of music featuring earthquakes. The only thing that comes to mind is La Bayadere. All very dramatic at the end. Any others?
“1812 Overture” by Tchaikovsky. In Telarc version the cannons can shake the walls of any listening room like an earthquake, if loudspeakers are capable of reproducing a thunderous low end.
 
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I’m trying to think of music featuring earthquakes. The only thing that comes to mind is La Bayadere. All very dramatic at the end. Any others?
Mahler 3 Kraftig ( RCO/Chailly) is an earthquake from a distance. The timpani of the orchestra rumble for several minutes at different volume and the impact on my C7ES3 is impressive. Four pieces of pritt budies decouple the speakers from an open steel frame stand. All the glass and keramic in the neighbourhood is another issue.
 
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