Audio Files: Can Exotic Accessories Improve Your Sound?

With accessories, the differences are debatable

The $159 Gingko Semi Cloud.
The $159 Gingko Semi Cloud.

Bad vibrations

Vibration definitely affects audio reproduction—just listen to what happens when you tap on the side of a record player. The notion that solid-state electrical components such as digital-to-analog converters need protection from vibration may be far-fetched, but even the most science-oriented audio writers agree that turntables, tube audio gear, and speakers can benefit from vibration control.

With turntables, any vibration from below will come right up through the platter and make its way into the stylus—and into your speakers. There are lots of products built to isolate turntables, but one of the coolest and most affordable I’ve seen is the $159 Gingko Semi Cloud. It’s basically five pliable rubber balls that fit in an acrylic base and can be repositioned to fit almost any turntable.

I was always skeptical of claims that speakers need vibration control, but even many of the most conservative audio writers and audio production pros have embraced the vibration-isolating speaker stands and supports from IsoAcoustics. The stands seem to tighten up speakers’ bass response and reduce booming, and they also help prevent vibrations from the speakers from traveling into other components. At prices starting around $100 each, they’re quite affordable.

While it’s unlikely any of the products I’ve mentioned will transform the sound of your audio system, they do have a benefit I haven’t mentioned: the sheer joy of experimentation. As long as you keep the expenditure at a reasonable level, there’s no harm in giving any of these tweaks a whirl.

Brent Butterworth

Brent Butterworth has been a professional audio journalist since 1989, and has evaluated and measured thousands of audio products. He is currently a writer at Wirecutter and editor of the SoundStage Solo headphone site; served as an editor at such magazines as Sound & Vision and Home Theater; and worked as marketing director for Dolby Laboratories. He also plays double bass with several jazz groups in Los Angeles.