Townshend says no to speakers on spikes

By Lam Seng Fatt


Last Sunday, I popped by the Townshend Audio booth at the Munich High End and bumped into Max Townshend himself. Those who entered the world of hi-fi many, many years ago would have come across the Townshend Audio Seismic Sink, which used a rubber bladder for isolation.


Now Townshend does not use rubber bladders, but damped springs to build his Seismic Vibration Isolation Platform. His dampers use a combination of rubber and air to dampen the movement of the spring.


“Without damping, the spring will continue to move for a long time,” he said.


Max Townshend at Munich High End. Note the vibration sensors on top of the speakers.


The spring isolation platforms and bars.
The spring isolation platforms and bars.


Townshend is also recommending audiophiles to place their speakers on his isolation platforms which is going against the common wisdom and advice by hi-fi gurus to spike your speakers for best stability and performance.


“All these years, we have been told to spike our speakers to the floor to drain the vibrations. That’s all wrong. We should not couple the speakers to the floor but decouple them as vibrations from the floor will enter the speakers if we couple them,” he said.


At his booth, he had a pair of PMC floorstanders. One speaker was on his isolation platform while the other was coupled solidly to the floor with spikes like “everyone has told us to do”.


If you give the speaker on spikes a push, it will not move. But if you give the speaker on the isolation platform a push, it will sway gently for a few seconds before settling down.


Townshend had set up vibration sensors on both speakers. If you jump near the speakers, you will see that the spiked speaker will vibrate while the speaker on the isolation platform will not. That means his isolation platform will stop external vibrations from entering the speaker. If you knock the spiked speaker, you see that the speaker rings whilst the speaker on the isolation platform will have vibrations caused by the knock quickly dampened. That means vibrations on the cabinet caused by a moving speaker cone will be dissipated quickly.


Thus there is scientific basis to his view that speakers should be decoupled from the floor rather be coupled to it.


If you decide to buy his isolation platforms, you will have to give him the footprint of the speaker and the weight.



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