REAL SCIENCE: Turntable & Speakers on the Same Surface…

DISCLAIMER:  This COMPLETELY UN-SCIENTIFIC “study” was done *just* for shits and giggles…  No REAL SCIENCE was used in the making of this article (well, not really)…

It is inevitable that anyone with an OK turntable setup will eventually hear someone else (who supposedly knows better / more than you) tell them that they CAN’T have their speakers on the same surface as their turntable.  And it makes sense when you think about it…  After all, the speaker makes noise by vibrating a speaker cone, and it stands to reason that those vibrations would transfer through the cabinet, to the table-top, up the turntable’s legs, and directly into your turntable’s stylus.  All this extra vibration would then translate to sub-par playback and an inferior listening experience.  Having never really perceived a difference in playback thus far, we at IDCAY set out to see what exactly is going on…

Our “test” setup is a 1973 JVC VL-8 with a Shiit Mani pre-amp, Hana SH stylus, and Klipsch “The Sixes” Powered Speakers.  The speakers are each exactly 12″ from the turntable; everything is sitting on top of your run-of-the-mill Ikea bookcase (perfect for LP’s).  We used a free app on Google Play called “Vibration Meter,” running on a Samsung S5.  For our test record, we chose something with a little bit of oomph:  Track 1 (“Blackened”) from Metallica’s …And Justice For All.

Prior to the actual “testing,” we needed to establish a “baseline” so we recorded the ambient vibrations, along with vibrations from (just) a spinning platter with the stylus in the groove, un-amplified (see below).


Background Vibrations – Turntable & Speakers OFF
Vibrations – Turntable spinning, needle on platter playing music, speakers OFF

As you can see, neither event triggered a response in the meter…

Next we cranked the speakers to MAX volume and tested the vibrations in 3 spots…

Vibrations – Everything on, MAX Volume, Top of Speaker Cabinet
Vibrations – Everything on, MAX Volume, Table-top
Vibrations – Everything on, MAX Volume, Turntable Plinth, Loud Section
Vibrations – Everything on, MAX Volume, Turntable Plinth, Not-so-Loud Section

CONCLUSION:  As you can see from the graphs, vibrations directly on TOP of the speaker were pretty intense, but by the time we were testing on the table-top surface, they had already been significantly reduced.  Going from a “Destructive” (VIII) rating to a “Moderate” (IV) rating, and finally to not registering at all (no rating) when we finally got to the turntable plinth itself.  It would seem from these results that having the speakers a FOOT AWAY had absolutely no PERCEIVABLE effect on the sound, even at MAX volume!  Now it should be noted that these results are only relevant to MY system, and I think a few mitigating factors have made these results possible.






First, the Klipsch speakers come with angled risers built-in, significantly reducing the surface contact area between the speakers and the table-top.  Second, my turntable has rubber, vibration-isolating feet at all four corners.  Third, I have no way of proving it, but the pressed-fiber material used in the Ikea bookcase *may* have vibration / sonic deadening qualities as well.  These three variables may have been “good enough” to reduce almost all consequences of having the speakers so close to the turntable.

It should ALSO be finally noted that these tests *only* measured VIBRATIONS, so any effect on sonic quality by the actual sound coming out of the speakers cannot be measured.  We also do not know how “accurate” the phone / app is, so can only say that the results *suggest* that the effect on sound in THIS SETUP by speaker-induced vibrations is actually quite negligible.

Food for thought!

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