Why you need a rack

A scientific approach

 

Why do I need one? What does it do?

Does it really influence the sound? Do all racks achieve the same result?

In this webpage and in the downloadable brochure, we’ll try to answer these questions in a detailed but easy-to-understand way, and explain what is happening to your hi-fi system during sound reproduction, so we can understand the value of the rack.

Let’s start by defining what a rack is: a rack is a technical instrument to absorb the vibrations which occur in the floor and walls, while you’re playing music at higher listening volumes. It works as a support for our electronics, helping them to operate in the best conditions possible.

How does a turntable
(or CD player) work?

Microscopic pictures of the vinyl grooves show how the stylus has to follow a pre-defined route on the vinyl record. This movement in the grooves makes the stylus vibrate, which creates a magnetic field thanks to the cantilever of the moving coil. This is converted into an electric signal, which contains the sound message we hear. If the stylus moves incorrectly due to additional, unwanted vibrations, then it will transfer false signals to the coil, damaging the original sound message.
It only takes tiny vibrations for this problem to occur.

Of course, the same principle applies to your CD PLAYER, as the CD player’s laser reads the digital file contained in the CD.

How much should be invested?

Buying a rack without careful consideration, or relying on unproven manufacturers, or aiming to spend “as little as possible”, can be a risky move to say the least, threatening to squander our time and money invested in assembling our HiFi chain. A poorly designed support, with poor materials and no scientific foundation, not only will fail to achieve its purpose of insulating our electronic components, but worse it can even amplify the vibrations coming from the floor and those generated by turntable motors and CD players, further damaging the sound.

So how much should we invest to avoid this problem?
It’s hard to put a specific number on it, but you should think of the rack as a vital component, no different to the amplifier or the loudspeakers or the cables, and as such you should spend an appropriate amount, proportional to the value of the rest of your system, and balancing your budget across the various components and accessories.
Of course, the more refined and sensitive is your signal source, the greater the level of vibration isolation you will want to achieve, and therefore the greater your investment in the rack.

Certified products with guaranteed quality, from Bassocontinuo

Ever since the company was founded, Bassocontinuo has understood the importance of designing and building racks that are at the same time functional as well as aesthetically appealing.

For this reason, before the market launch of each line, we have always performed both static tests (to certify the load capacity of any single shelf and verify its deformation behaviour under load) and dynamic tests (to understand the rack’s capability to absorb vibrations – how strong and at which frequencies).

Now, in a World first, each test has been certified by an independent laboratory, in collaboration with the team from the prestigious Politecnico in Milan that studies vibration events for the automotive, aeronautical and aerospace industries.

Test

Our latest challenge: what happens when you play music with a turntable or a cd player and you’re not using a rack?

Purpose of the test: demonstrate how a HiFi system is influenced by negative vibrations and show what happens when these vibrations reach a turntable or a CD player.
To reproduce a daily use, we decided to make the test in a living room and not into a laboratory. Our reference High End system was made by:

• AMG Giro turntable with 9W2 arm and Lyra cartridge
• Pre-phono Boulder 508
• Spectral DMC 30 SV Preamplifier
• Spectral DMA 300 SV Turbo Power Amplifier
• Avalon/Spectral Aurora Speakers
• Mit Spectral power cables and interconnects

We played always the same song (Pink Floyd – The Wall) for 300 seconds with two output levels: 60% of maximum power and 80% of maximum power.

The first session involved our flagship Golia (Ultimate Line).
Into the second one we moved the system on our entry level Lyra XL4 2.0.
On the third and last one, we tried to simulate a normal living room table, without any technical feature, not designed for HiFi use, so we moved the entire system on a table made by aluminum and glass which is now called “standard table”.

For further information download the brochure and the test report:

 

Download Brochure Download Report

 

Comparative graphic of the accelerations experienced by the turntable during the test.

Click on the names to see the individual graphs:

 

  • Golia
  • Lyra XL4 2.0
  • Standard table
  • Comparative chart

Acceleration peaks in relation to the frequencies reproduced by turntable on three racks.

Click on the names to see the individual graphs:

 

  • Golia
  • Lyra XL4 2.0
  • Standard table

 

Final results

As you can easily see from the comparative graphic, the more refined the rack, the better will be the performance at absorbing/preventing vibrations.

The worst result is clearly demonstrated by the red lines of the Standard table, and in fact the performance is so weak that it has the effect of amplifying the vibrations instead of absorbing them.
Even with a small investment, as for our entry-level Lyra XL4 2.0 (the green lines), most of the negative peaks are still damped, demonstrating a good technical design and a well-made rack.
Of course, for high-end audio systems, capable of communicating even the tiniest of musical details, the sensitivity of each electronic component to vibrations is extremely high. Therefore, for these systems it is strongly recommended to invest in a very high-level rack such as Golia (Ultimate Line), which is designed to achieve the best possible performance, and as you can see from the blue lines, is proven to achieve spectaular damping performance throughout the test and across all frequencies.

The conclusions we feel are correct to draw from these tests are:

1 – the importance of using a proper rack for high fidelity reproduction of sound, and
2 – the strongly negative consequence for sound if you use normal furniture instead, and
3 – to invest an amount of money in your rack that is proportional to the quality of the rest of your hi-fi system, for an overall optimal result in sound reproduction.
Download Brochure Download Report

 

Fake news, urban legends and deep-rooted beliefs

Heavy rack vibrates less than a light rack? Or in other words, the heavier is a rack, the better is it?
Absolutely not, heavy rack vibrates in a different way compared with a lighter but is still vibrating.
An empty structure, filled with damping material (e.g. plastic filler), is better than a solid structure?
Absolutely not. Very often is just a matter of cost/budget. A solid structure, CNC machined is surely more expensive but surely more effective.
A rack can improve sound performances?
A very well designed rack will not add or remove anything to sound message. If it's working correctly, that is decoupling efficiently the electronics, benefits in terms of timbre, detail, image focus are immediate: a part of information which was lost due to vibrations are now available will reach the amplifier.
Is there any paint able to absorb vibrations? Is there any anti-resonant paint on the market?
Absolutely not. A paint is simply covering the material which the structure or shelf is made of, without any chemical or structural modification. If so, aeronautical industry (as automotive or aerospace) which is fighting everyday on this issue, would adopt immediately.
A spike under a rack or any other audiophile object (loudspeaker, turntable etc) is able to absorb vibrations?
Absolutely not. A spike modify resonance frequencies, improving benefits on the structure: the less will be own resonance frequencies, the more has to be the energy to excite the rack. Sentences like "spikes are decreasing vibrations", "spikes are coupling or decoupling" are completely scientifically useless.
Rubber is the best absorber for vibrations?
Surely Yes. Simplicity is always the best way to follow. Rubber-like materials and generally elastomers (including viscous-elastics) have great absorbing properties converting a part of the energy into heat/warm. Anti-seismic buildings are hosted on huge rubber-like material bricks.
Does exist on the market a product able to completely decouple electronics from the floor?
Absolutely not. A rack, if correctly designed, can absorb a part of these vibrations. If a rack is not correctly designed or is made without any scientific approach can even amplify them (as demonstrated just above) making a reasonable sound decay.
Sometimes into rack's data sheets we can read sentences like "tuned/harmonized shelf to optimize sound system response", has this a sense?
Absolutely not. A rack is not a musical instrument. A rack has simply to decouple/insulate our HiFi jewels from the floor. Nothing more, nothing less. Further if it's very well conceived/designed, can also reduce a part of vibrations directly generated by turntable/CD player engine.

Have we still not clarified all the doubts? Write to us, we will be happy to answer you.