Influence of the Floor on Sound

I believe this is a topic that deserves a separate thread. Due to the absence of space from my hi fi rack, I had to place the zanden 5000s on the floor. The same is true for the power supply of it. BOth of them were initially sitting on the floor, which is made of hard walnut..

In the first few hours of listening, I somewhat feel the mid-range energy seems to be boosted up., the lower mid-bass too is very strong. As a result, I feel the image is larger than the model before the upgrade. I dare not to conclude because I am not familiar with the superclock.

I played a few disc encompassing Lori Liberman, Joan Baez, and Diana Krall. After almost one hour of listening, I felt that there is some problem because I found their voice to be very alike in certain frequency, perhaps the lower mid-range. Then, I suspect the floor.

I put Franck's reference feet under the power supply of the 5000s for a start first. Bingo! The culpurit is the floor! The extra boost of lower mid-range energy is now vanished, the voices normalize, images separate clearly from the background now.

Of course, the logical next step is to isolate the main unit of 5000s from the floor but I have no more reference feets. I do, however, has a amp stand. But before I into the details. I would like to share a bit more about my logic.

The Zanden 5000s chassis is made of aluminium, but much thinner than the type used in the main unit. If I slight use my finger to hit it, I can lhear the sound of metal ringing immediately. Inside, there are two tubes, one 6CA4 (I swapped it to Slyvania) and a 6922 (I swapped it to Philips 6922SQ). The power supply location is not too far from the bass drivers of my speakers. Tubes are very vulnerable to vibrations. They are housed insided an enclosure that easily generate metal ringing. Again, the source of excitation, i.e. bass driver of left speakers is very closed to the location of it.

In the past, I would put another set of reference feet below the main unit because the logic says if it works wonder in situation A, you want to apply the same solution to situation B. Not anymore becaue expereinces say the effecetiveness of the reference feet should be the greatest under the powersupply.

I never short of curiosity. If the improvement brought by the reference feet is so large, what if I add the amp stand under the main unit? But the extra boost of lower-mid range energy is now gone, the soundstage is very clear from all axiss. Then I examine the 5000s chassis. The bottom plate is one hell of heavy and solidly made metal base with 4 plastic feet under-neath them. Well, I said to myself, no problem, should be ok as the metal plate dampen vibration away via the plastic feet. If the feet is made of metal, then I got a problem because the reflective hard walnut floor will send vibration back to the metal base of the 5000s via the steel feet. Plastic feet should be ok, I think.

Nevertheless, in the next 30 minutes or so, I re-arrange position and add Franck's amp stand underneath the 5000s. Hit the play button. Noise floor drops further. Yes, what I meant is noise of vibration. The whole frequency response is now even calmer. The sense of serenity alongisde those silence between notes become more immediate.

If you ask me which treatment is more effective, then I would say the reference feet. Does it make it a better instrument than the amp stand? I cannot conclude because the solution is sometimes based on situational factors. If the 5000s power supply is made of different materials and the location is farther from the bass modules of my speakers, the result would have been different. In this case, anyone would conclude the reference feet has more cost-effective outcome than the amp stand. I would agree too.

But the difficulty of reproducing music is the concept of whole package. Music is presented as a complete package, neither by parts nor by cost-effective solutions. In the absence of the amp stand underneath the main unit would mislead me to draw a completely different conclusion too. If I take away the amp stand, the sense of calmness is reduced. Anyway, it is not fair to have Franck's rack for the heritage dac and the zanden dac just sit on the floor.

This is a new learning experience because the FLOOR does matter. Hard walnut is no different from tile in terms of their detrimental impact on sound. The only differences are the resonances of the walnut floor are nicer to the ears because it boosts up the lower mid-range energy, whereas tile floor tends to attenuate high frequency energy. From the perspective of neutrality, they both do their parts to prevent us from reaching the state of utopia.

But if you can neutralize them, you are closer to the land of happiness. We live in a world of noises nowadays, right? I hate noises when I listen to music. I reckon the noisest of all noise is the ROOM but not electricity.
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