SYMPOSIUM®

  Super Plus Platform


Reference quality loudspeaker (and component) damping and isolation.

 

  "- got the shelves today, thanks. The improvement in my speakers performance is staggering. Formerly skeptical, no longer."
-M. S., Ohio

"I think you were exactly correct in your earlier assessment as the overly damped sonic signature is now gone. I still have some evaluations to be absolutely sure but my initial impression is that I now have the highest level of sonics I've had to date... the platforms are a noticeable improvement. On one of my go to songs, I heard bass like never before and more cleanly as well. The lowest octaves were far more delineated than before (before being a comparison to the Stillpoints). That said, if there's anything I can't stand is a bass heavy signature with a disappearing midrange and recessed highs. Such is certainly not the case here...
This is still an extremely musical system and the [Super Plus] platforms have taken it to a whole new level. Whereas before I was skeptical, I'm now impressed. In general, I'd say the clarity is better, transient detail is at least as good, noise floor, black background, all of that is as good or maybe slightly better than before.
Another noticeable and welcomed difference is just the sheer power and presence of the music in general as compared to before. While it was good before, it was not like this. I couldn't help getting the feeling that I was in the first row of a live concert and experiencing all of the power and presence that goes along with it. I said "wow" to myself on more than one occasion. What could be a better testament than that, right?"

-P. F., North Carolina

"I had a chance to install the 2 [Super Plus] platforms today and listened for about 1 hr. I think it is safe to say that you will be keeping my money. They are truly superb. I already have my Stillpoints on Audiogon for sale."
-D. S., Virginia

Introduction
Symposium designed the Super Platform to satisfy the problems and requirements of equipment support from a perspective which takes into consideration not only isolation, but also energy drainage out of equipment. The original Super Platform was the first dedicated equipment base to use symmetrical constrained layer damping with metal top and bottom layers.

#1 For Loudspeakers
No "points," cones, or footers - even ours - can compete with a full platform for loudspeaker treatment. Why? It's a simple matter of physics - the operative function in loudspeaker vibration control is NOT isolation, but rather energy dissipation from the speaker's cabinet or frame. No footer at any price can match the sheer absorptive power of a correctly designed platform. Further, a platform does not form a cavity beneath the speaker, which, as the great speaker designer Paul W. Klipsch observed, can "ruin" bottom octave reproduction. When installed as directed, the Super Plus platform will significantly outperform even the most expensive points and footers, some of which can cost several times as much. For a further discussion of the technical aspects, please click here.

Foundations
The Super Plus is the direct descendant of Symposium's first product, the Super Platform, which was developed in 1992 and first introduced as a retail product in 1993. Originally built as a practical sonic foundation for use beneath power amplifiers on floors, it has proven to be a versatile system accessory, benefitting virtually all components, including CD players and digital transports, analog turntables, preamps, amps, separate power supplies, power conditioners, active crossover networks, loudspeakers, and more. Further, its usefulness is not confined to audio, since it also improves performance with video equipment.

 

At left: Symposium's first product, the "board" that started it all (circa 1993)

Hallmarks of the original (1993-1996) Super:
  ½ inch center foam section
  Non-anodized, "mill" finish aluminum top and bottom
  Black painted sides
  No indentation of center foam section


History
The original Super presented unique problems in manufacturing. Initially, the various layers were carefully assembled to each other, one by one, in 4 foot by 8 foot sheets, resulting in one humongous "platform" that weighed well over 300 pounds (>136 kG)! Each Super was cut from this master piece on a very large industrial saw. Even though specially formulated, custom-made carbide tipped blades were employed in the cutting of the master planchettes, this method was very problematic, and a new approach was needed.

Evolution
Beyond the difficulties encountered in the handling, cutting and finishing of these early "boards," theory suggested that better performance could be realized if the foam layer were indented from the top and bottom sections, and if a suitable, non-resonant damping material were applied to the perimeter of the upper and lower sections. Accordingly, new techniques were developed in order to realize these goals. Paint was abandoned in favor of bonded, textured vinyl, and the foam was indented from the edges. The result refined the performance as well as the appearance of the original Super, and added greater neutrality, isolation and absorption at higher frequencies. This was the second generation of Super Platform.

A third generation arose after the introduction of the Ultra Platform in 1997, when the original 1/2" foam section was increased to 3/4", and an additional bonded top layer of anodized aluminum was added to the existing top aluminum layer (similar to that of the Ultra Platform). These design features further enhanced the Super Plus's (and the Ultra's) natural, uncolored midrange and treble frequency preservation, lack of bass overhang, and utter lack of irritation or "glare."

The fourth and current generation includes all these advances, and adds textured damping edgebanding to the foam center surfaces.

The Importance of Being Grounded
When effectively "coupled" to high performance audio components, either directly or with footer devices which have efficient mechanical transmission characteristics (that is, hard, metallic devices like the included* Precision Couplers, shown below), the Super Plus acts as a "sink" for the internal vibratory energy which would otherwise be trapped inside the component. This effects across-the-board improvements, but among the most noticeable and significant are those of improved dynamics (the contrast between soft and loud sounds), bass timber, background quietness, overall clarity and soundstaging, due to a reduction in noise intermodulation.

Recommended Installation and Setup
Use the supplied Precision Couplers (or other hard footer system) to connect the bare metal bottom of the component chassis to the top of the Super Plus, creating an efficient mechanical grounding or "coupling" to the top layer of the Platform. Rubber/sorbothane or otherwise "spongy" or flexible footers should NOT be placed on any Symposium platform, since this type of footer system is counterproductive to achieving proper results. Hard footers should always be used, and they should always be placed on top of the platform, so that they bypass the built-in equipment feet. By thus efficiently coupling to the Platform, the Super Platform becomes, in effect, a mechanical extension of the component chassis, damping resonances and dissipating spurious mechanical vibration present in the chassis and active circuitry.

The Exceptions to the Rule
If your component has built-in metal feet which do NOT have a layer of rubber or sorbothane (always check - even a thin layer of sorbothane can ruin proper performance), they can be placed directly on the top of the platform. The idea is to have a solid, mechanically transmissive connection to the top of the Super Plus. Rubber/sorbothane blocks the transmission of mechanical energy, and in addition, creates secondary, unwanted resonances of its own.

Resistive - not Reactive - Isolation
Because of the Super Plus' symmetrical construction, it also damps the support structure (the rack, stand, shelf, floor, etc.) upon which it rests. By damping energy (and converting it to innocuous heat energy) from both directions (that is, from the component and from the support structure) at the same time, equipment isolation is achieved which is 1) non-resonant (that is, neither adding nor subtracting to timbral balance) and 2) resistive (that is, converting energy to heat energy as opposed to reactive solutions, such as rubber or sorbothane footers, which change one resonant frequency to a different one) in nature. "Resistive" as opposed to "Reactive" means that the vibration solution does NOT "react" to the problem and change conditions, and thus does not trade your present problem for a new one.
*Note: Precision Couplers are supplied with all Super Plus platforms, except Super Plus Speaker Sets for loudspeakers, which are sold in pairs and which should be installed so that the loudspeaker directly contacts the top of the platform. See the Loudspeaker section below for more details.

    Couplers

The Super Plus is normally supplied with 3 Precision Couplers. Couplers should be used when your equipment has rubber or sorbothane feet, because these types of soft, compliant feet cut off mechanical energy transmission and severely reduce the amount of vibratory energy that can be absorbed by the platform. If you are using the platform under a loudspeaker, best results are realized with no footers between the loudspeaker cabinet and the platform.

Why the couplers?

A major part of Symposium design philosophy is the importance of energy drainage from the component. We have found that, in the majority of cases, good energy drainage is more advantageous than pure isolation per se (please see the Technology section), and although isolation is an important part of their function, this is why we don't call our platforms isolation platforms, but rather "energy absorption platforms." In order to drain the component adequately, it is necessary that there be a good conductive path between the component's chassis and the shelf- which is the reason for the couplers. Use these to contact the bare metal chassis of your component and bypass any rubber or soft feet which may be there. Soft rubber feet are meant more to protect furniture, and, in practice, they tend to "blur" and distort the performance of most components. In fact, because rubber and sorbothane are a blockage to mechanical energy transmission, resonances which exist inside the component (and this is common) are actually intensified by their use. When a component has been "voiced" by the designer with certain inherent mechanical resonances, rubber feet will intensify these resonances and so may be favored. However, the use of internal mechanical resonance to seriously affect the performance and character of a component is a questionable goal at best, and can be demonstrated to deteriorate signal preservation. The purpose of our platforms is not to enhance resonances, which are caused by extraneous mechanical energy, but to get rid of them. There is no symbol for mechanical resonance in any electronic schematic diagram, and it doesn't belong in any properly designed modern component.

When you effectively couple your component's chassis to the top of the Super Plus, the platform essentially becomes an "extension" of your equipment chassis, and damps it better, reducting spurious vibration more effectively and improving performance by reducing noise and intermodulation distortion in its internal parts and circuitry. This is why we supply couplers with every Super Plus. While it isn't necessary to use them in all cases (for instance, if your component already has built-in metal feet without rubber pads on the bottom or built-in cones), we encourage their use if you don't have an alternate "footer" device, such as Symposium Rollerblocks, cones, or other hard footer devices, etc.

 

"the Super shelf was such a significant increase not only in clarity throughout the frequency spectrum (truly, a shock), there was surprising increase in *apparent* bass. It seemed to my ears to actually go lower. I can hear down to 32Hz and feel much lower, of course. The bass seemed to go maybe 6+ Hz lower, and this on the Shearwaters, which only go to 35 Hz"
-J. T., New Jersey

About Bass
Bass quality is often profoundly affected by vibration in a key component- and it sometimes takes a bit of experimentation to determine just where the problem is originating. In the case cited in the quote above, the component used with the Super Plus platform was a preamplifier. The preamplifier is a very important, often vital part of most music systems, acting as the control center that also performs the initial signal processing and/or routing. This is critical, since ALL source signals travel through it and can be subject to damage by vibration.

In the case above, this particular preamp was quite susceptible to vibration effects, and before the Super Plus platform was installed, another type of "isolation" platform - an "isolation sink" that used a rubber air bag (actually, a small tire!) as a cushion to "ward off" vibration had been used. These types of "air bladder" tables are touted as an end-all for all isolation and vibration problems, since they purport to provide an "air cushion" of isolation. Unfortunately, such is not the case, since the actual "isolator" in these devices is not air, but rather a stretched membrane of rubber around a trapped and contained air bubble. When we ride on a tire, say, on a bicycle, and go over a bump, it is not the air that is providing the compliance that cushions our rear ends - it is the stretched rubber of the tire itself. (Air does not like to be compressed, and various strange and unexpected things happen whenever air is forced to contract or expand - but more about that elsewhere) Rather than provide effective isolation or improve performance aspects, this air bag platform actually made the problem worse, because devices such as these (like rubber feet and rubber pods) store and release energy, distorting transient response and even affecting perceived frequency response by transposing energy from the time domain to the frequency domain. While stretched rubber devices such as air bag isolation platforms can give an initial "impression" of a warmer midrange and fuller bass, all that these devices are really providing is time-smearing of information in this region.

Thus, it is not surprising that when this distortion-producing device was removed and replaced with a Super Plus platform, the result was a "shocking" revelation - as reported on in the quote above. This is what we mean when we say that our isolation devices are not "reactive." An air bag system is a reactive system, because the system itself reacts and actually changes its vital characteristics as it responds to vibration - which means that, moment to moment, systems like this have a different resonant character, introducing very complex distortions to your music. Our devices are either conductive or resistive in nature - which means they behave in a more linear and predictable fashion (that is, they do not change their characteristics) while converting energy to heat or diverting energy to a greater ground where it can be absorbed.

The Super Plus platform is a "quasi-solid" platform that is designed to dissipate excess vibratory energy as heat energy, and so it doesn't add additional resonances to the system- which is why the person quoted above was "shocked" by the improvements he heard in his system when he added a Super Plus platform under his preamplifier. When the original resonance is removed, his preamp was allowed to function more closely to its theoretical limits, and his system performance took a leap forward. The same kind of benefits are heard with all types of components, active and passive - preamps, amps, CD and SACD players, digital servers and storage devices, power conditioners, power supplies, loudspeakers, and more, because in all cases, the physics of what is happening and the benefits from addressing it is the same.

  The Super Plus with Loudspeakers: Is the Tail Wagging the Dog?


This

...Not This!                

Spot Quiz: What's the biggest source of vibration in your system (unless you're using headphones)? Answer: It's your speakers, of course, whose very job it is to MAKE vibration! This vibration is meant to be transferred 100% to the air, in order to make sound waves. However, there is no such thing as perfect efficiency, and most of the power put into a speaker is burned up as heat, and only a very small percentage is converted to sound (typically only 1% to 3% or less for direct radiator speakers, and 10% - 30% for horn drivers).

Not all of the vibration of the speaker drivers gets into the air - in fact, a good deal of the motion of the speaker diaphragm is transmitted to or "leaks" into the speaker cabinet. Because of this fact, every speaker, regardless of price or type, will have excess vibration flowing in its cabinet. This vibration, unless eliminated, shakes the cabinet walls (or box, or speaker frame), which supports the speaker's drivers, whether dynamic or electrostatic in nature. This vibration creates movement of the cabinet walls, and thus the walls are now moving the drivers as they themselves move. By modifying the movement of the driver diaphragms as they move the air to make sound, the result is intermodulation distortion and complex FM (frequency modulated) distortion of the otherwise theoretically "pure" signal being traced by the loudspeaker diaphragm. What's shaking the speaker drivers is literally their own echo, coming back through the cabinet, and in essence, what we have is an electromechanical case of the "tail wagging the dog."

Less Tail, More Dog
A Symposium platform placed beneath your loudspeaker (preferably in direct contact with it, with no spikes in between) will drain more energy from the cabinet than a set of points - at any price - or a dedicated speaker stand, since none of these possess the Super's dissipation engine. Simply put, any kind of footer (even our own) simply cannot compete with the Super's sheer "horsepower" in its ability to convert mechanical energy to heat energy. It's simply an unfair comparison.

Even the very best speakers, which may weigh hundreds of pounds and are made of extremely rigid, proprietary "high-tech" cabinet wall material, can not get rid of spurious vibration entirely. The Super Plus has been used with Avantgarde, B&W, Duntech, KEF, Magneplanar, Wilson, and virtually all of the world's finest "high-tech" loudspeakers with brilliant results. Improvements are much of the same character of the Svelte Speaker Sets, but with even greater effectiveness, owing to the Super Plus' greater mass and ability to absorb more energy. What you'll hear is more authoritative bass "punch" with less overhang and "mud," (see customer comments at top of page) a cleaner, purer, more musical midrange, and a more relaxed, yet faster top end that is so important for a convincing illusion of live music. Best results are usually realized without spikes, and the 2.75" overall thickness of the Super Plus should be taken into consideration with loudspeakers that are sensitive with regard to tweeter height (if this is an issue, select the Svelte Shelf or Svelte Plus platforms. NOTE: In cases with loudspeakers with dedicated bases or plinths, we recommend using the manufacturer's supplied spikes to make direct contact with the top of the platform, as these bases often provide part of the "voiced" sonic character of the loudspeaker. Separating the platform from these bases with the original spikes will maintain the plinth's resonant character, but with a greatly improved mechanical ground connection. The result is maximum loudspeaker performance with preservation of its original, intended sonic cast.

Audiophiles, casual music lovers and recording studios alike use Super Platforms under their loudspeakers, with familiar reports of the owners being pleasantly "shocked" by the improvements - and all at a fraction of the cost of often overpriced footer points!

If you're serious about the quality of sound you experience in your music system, consider adding a pair of Super Plus platforms under your loudspeakers - by themselves, and installed as recommended, they'll unleash the full potential of the most critical link between an electrical signal and your ears in your entire music system.

 

Super Plus Specifications
Total thickness: 2.75 inches (7 cm)
Top: Double constrain-layered, clear-anodized aluminum
Bottom: Anodized aluminum
Couplers: Precision Couplers included except with Speaker Sets
Weight Limit: 1000+ lbs (450 kg), uniformly distributed

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