Audiophiles are a restless lot, constantly looking for ways to tweak a system by any means possible, short of taking the plunge for new components. There are numerous forums dedicated to audio “tweaks”; some advice is good, some is laughable, but most is well-intentioned. One often discussed tweak is how to minimize the mechanical vibrations that occur within components and speakers during playback. A variety of vibration-dampening devices are available in a wide range of materials, from hard plastics to brass.
Why bother with dampening and isolation? In audio, vibration causes distortion and introduces unwanted sound into each component. Vibration dampening feet are engineered to reduce the effects of mechanical vibrations that occur within a speaker, amplifier or other component, by transmitting them away from the source to optimize the audio you eventually hear. After spending several weeks with Valhalla Technology’s vibration dampening feet under my components and speakers, I’ve come to view such “tweaks” less as accessories than integral for bringing out the best in equipment.
Footprint of a Viking
Valhalla Technology (http://www.valhalla-technology.dk) is a Danish manufacturer of vibration-dampening loudspeaker, amplifier and component player “feet.” Most of the company’s feet are made from 10mm-thick poron, a very dense microcellular urethane foam that is also flexible, strong and stable. Valhalla asserts, “… In side-by-side drop weight tests, our base material outperforms vinyl sponge, neoprene sponge,sponge rubber, latex foam and solid viscoelastic.” Additionally, the foam is engineered to remain pliable and won’t dry out and crack or crumble over time. Valhalla sent an assortment of its feet to test; descriptions of each follow.
VT Amplifier Feet 25
These coin-shaped discs are designed for use with amplifiers and pre-amplifiers weighing up to 50 pounds. Valhalla also offers the more robust Feet 50 for amps up to 100 pounds. The Amp Feet feature an adhesive surface on one side to prevent slippage, but it is not so sticky that it can’t be removed from an audio cabinet and repositioned. An important point should be made here: Valhalla’s Feet are non-corrosive to metal, nor will they harm the finish of wooden cabinets or floors.
VT Player Feet 10
Designed for use in a variety of optical disc players, VT’s Player Feet 10 are disc-shaped pads that can slip under CD, DVD, Blu-ray players and gaming consoles such as Xbox and Playstation. The 10s keep components stable for improved audio and video playback.
VT Feet 15 & VT Feet 30
The 15s and 30s are engineered to accommodate medium (15 pounds/foot) to heavy (30 pounds/foot) loudspeakers, respectively. The square-shaped pads come in packs of eight. For larger speakers, such as Axiom’s M80s v2, I had better results using three Feet 30s set in a triangulated formation instead of four at each corner, which proved too tippy for the nearly 57-pound speaker.
VT Feet 25
The versatile 25s are larger triangular-shaped pads (measuring roughly 4x4x5.5 inches) that work with center speakers, subwoofers and portable media player docking units. As I noted in my review of Role Audio’s Kayak speakers, the Feet 25 also worked well in pairs under the mini-monitors. They are certainly up to sturdier tasks, but I liked how the 25s isolated the Kayak’s from my speaker stands. I also found that two of the 25s placed under my Mac mini kept the machine running quieter and cooler.
VT Spike Feet Deluxe
Unlike the other VT pads composed of poron, the VT Spike Feet Deluxe are machined-aluminum receptacles designed to accommodate loudspeaker spikes and speakers weighing up to 176 pounds. The bottom of the foot holds a durable, cushioning elastomer that Valhalla asserts will “withstand constant, repeated deflections.” These deluxe feet may be my overall favorites and I couldn’t resist some experimenting. Although the Spike Feet Deluxe are engineered for speakers, I liked using them with CD players, tucking 4 of the Feet at the corners, fitting them under a player’s own feet.
I tucked VT Feet under a variety of CD players, amplifiers and speakers and enjoyed positive results in all cases. One reviewing phrase that always makes me cringe is “the results were not subtle.” That can actually mean the exact opposite, to be read as, “The results were so subtle that I had to strain every muscle in my body and sit at a 132-degree angle to hear a whisper of difference.” The point can be made, too, that if you don’t know what to listen for, you may miss it. With the VT Feet, I noticed an improvement in definition, where instruments occupied their own space in the soundstage and didn’t spill over onto their companions. Voices, too, had greater impact and better definition.
Overall, music sounded less congested and bloated, with a better sense of dynamics. Components operated quieter. You can get good results using just one set of VT Feet under a pair of speakers or component, but I found that incorporating them into a complete system yielded highest dividends. It makes sense, too, that reducing unwanted resonances and vibrations in every link will make music sound better – a synergistic approach for synergistic results. If I had to make a quantifiable judgment, I would say the Feet improved what I heard across the board by 10 percent, mostly for what I wasn’t hearing, and they could probably do even better paired with less sophisticated gear. Regardless, these Feet are winners and I won’t go back to my un-dampened days again.