Svelte Shelf

  The Svelte Shelf - the 5/8" thick powerhouse.
The Svelte Shelf sets the bar for slender isolation platforms

Although Svelte Shelf's most noticeable feature is its attractive, slim design (hence the name "Svelte," meaning slim or slender), the fact is, it's not just a shelf, but a sophisticated, anti-resonant platform for the support of high quality audio and video components.

Placed under CD Players, DVD players, amps, preamps, speakers and more, Symposium's Svelte Shelf will improve the performance of your system without changing its inherent tonal character.

Prior to its introduction, equivalent performance required much greater thickness and mass. Weighing in at a mere 5/8" (1.6 cm) thickness, Svelte Shelf's design is simple, but effective. Now, even the most vertically-space-challenged rack or stand can benefit from Symposium vibration control.

The Svelte Shelf works well on most surfaces; it can be placed flat on an existing shelf or floor, or substituted for an existing shelf by ordering an exact size replacement.

Science and the Shelf
The Svelte Shelf is a tool for lessening the haze and imprecision which afflicts most "untreated" components. These artifacts are caused by vibration, and their severity can vary greatly from from component to component as well as from installation to installation. The Svelte works by draining vibration out of the component, while at the same time providing a less resonant surface for it to rest upon. Its design is a special modification of time-tested "sandwich" diaphragm technology used to advance the state of the art in loudspeaker performance.

"Just a word to thank you. I just received the Sveltes for the Nagra amps. They look great. But again I was not prepared for the sonic surprise. God what a change in sound. I never expected these to bring such an enormous improvement. Wow. Everything just bloomed. The timbres are way more natural, and the bass and midbass are now clearly defined. You must have poured some magical powder or something into those shelves."
M. B., Quebec


Well, thanks very much for the very nice words- but it's not really magic!

Our products achieve their goals by reducing noise in the component, and the Svelte Shelf does this by obeying laws of physics. The Svelte Shelf's very rigid top and bottom layers vibrate more uniformly than less rigid materials, thus transferring more energy to the center section, where it can be dissipated as heat. And because the top is vibrating more uniformly, without "breakup" found in woods and other less rigid materials, there's less "blurring" of imaging and transient information.

Used correctly, the Svelte Shelf will improve the performance and accuracy of your audio or video system, with:

   Superior transient preservation
   More focus, with more precise imaging
   A quieter background with a lower noise floor
   Improved picture quality with video devices
   Better bass, with less distortion and "boom"
   Improved high frequency air, detail, and dynamics
   Better soundstage.

Because of its constrained-layer design, the Svelte is non-resonant, so it will not add any colorations or other "flavorings" to the original material- pleasant, unpleasant, or otherwise. You'll hear more of the original performance, with all of its nuance, tonal color, and dynamics intact. Like most Symposium products, a Svelte is not used to "sweeten" or "soften" sound or to highlight one particular sonic range or another, but rather as a tool for the realization of a higher level of accurate sound reproduction.

Svelte Shelves will not "warm over" or "soften" sonic information, but rather will increase resolution and detail, including important time domain information, without adding harshness, artificial bass, or "hi-fi" colorations!


About the Precision Couplers

Precision machined from super-grade 7075 aircraft alloy aluminum, Precision Couplers serve to optimize Svelte Shelf performance if you do not have a suitable footer interface available. When ordered with Svelte Shelves, 3 or 4 Precision Couplers can be added for a discounted price. When do you need these? If your component has built-in rubber or sorbothane feet (this includes feet with a layer of rubber or sorbothane either inside or outside), best results will be realized if these types of feet are bypassed. The Precision Coupler, at 13/16" (0.8125" or just over 2cm) thick will be tall enough to bypass most feet, but extremely tall feet may be bypassed with two Precision Couplers joined together (1 5/8" or 4cm). For more information on Couplers, please click here


The Svelte Plus is an expanded edition of the Svelte Shelf and features a 1" thick center "heat sink" for double the damping and isolation power of the Svelte Shelf. If vertical space is not an issue, the Svelte Plus will provide further gains for a very moderate price increase. Because of its modest 1.125" (2.9cm) thickness, the Svelte Plus is also a great performer under loudspeakers as an alternative to the Super Plus Platform.

For more information on the Svelte Plus, please click on the picture.



Sveltes with Loudspeakers!

Deployed under loudspeakers, the Svelte really shines. The most dramatic improvement is a lessening of "haze" and congestion, especially in the bass regions. This includes greater overall clarity and "cleaner" bass performance, with faster attack and release of transients. The Svelte achieves this by draining away and dissipating extraneous cabinet vibration, and in most cases, its success in this arena is independent of the speaker's weight, size, or construction. Further, the Svelte is effective across a broad spectrum of loudspeaker types and pricetags, from small bookshelf speakers to multi-thousand dollar floorstanding towers.

Benefits with Existing Speaker Stands
If you already have speaker stands, the Svelte will improve the performance and musicality of your speaker/stand combination when placed between the speaker's bottom and the top of the stand, thus damping both speaker and stand. Speakers with dedicated floor stands will benefit from the Svelte's superior energy dissipation capabilities.

The Svelte can be used successfully when placed flat on a wide variety of floor types, including relatively firm carpets, wood, concrete, or tile surfaces - even on surfaces which are not perfectly flat, such as on Mexican tile, or uneven floors with surface height variations. (In general, a rule of thumb is that the harder the floor, the better your results will be) Also, Sveltes can be used on top of speakers, in order to dissipate energy from the cabinet, when it's not possible to place the Svelte beneath the speaker. When using Sveltes as damping pads on top of speakers (or components, where they also are quite effective as top dampers), make sure the platform is inverted so that the top side of the Svelte (which has the "Symposium" logo) contacts the cabinet (or chassis if you're using them to damp a component). When placing on top of speakers as a top damping pad, make sure that the Svelte does not protrude beyond the front edge of the speaker's cabinet in order not to cause diffraction effects.


"I ordered a set of Svelte Platforms for my speakers after my last email to you and they arrived last Friday. All I can say is that they ought to be compulsory! The sound is more articulate and natural. Smoothness and neutrality are a hard combination to achieve but the platforms do both. I recall Sam Tellig's comments in stereophile about the rollerblocks and I would say that the same applies to the sveltes when placed under speakers."
J. D., Australia


Interactions with critical loudspeaker placement
At only 5/8 inch (1.5 cm) thick, Sveltes cause only a minimal change in tweeter height if the original setup did not use spikes or cones, and virtually no change at all when most spikes are removed and the Svelte is inserted instead of spikes or cones. And, when installed as recommended, a Svelte can actually improve low frequency loudspeaker response smoothness by improving woofer-room coupling.


"I love my Sveltes under the horn speakers… I use them on carpet with a Hornshoppe 'The Horn'… they are 30h by 6w by 8d approx, made of plywood, can't weigh more than 12 Lbs each. They sound great now!"
R. W., New Jersey


I've heard of using cones and spikes - but how can a shelf improve a speaker?
Excess mechanical energy which exists in any loudspeaker frame or cabinet intermodulates with the action of the loudspeaker diaphragms - and this applies to all loudspeakers, including conventional dynamic cone and dome speakers, planars, ribbons, and electrostatics. As the cabinet or frame support shakes, it moves the actual diaphragm through its support frame- blurring and muddying sound quality. The Svelte Shelf reduces this mechanical energy by draining it out of the speaker's structure, and then converting it to heat energy, and it does this much more efficiently than any cone or points can.

OK - How does it do that?
One way to envisage what's going on with Svelte Speaker Sets beneath floorstanding speakers would be to imagine the circulating mechanical energy in a loudspeaker's cabinet or frame as analogous to the water in a swimming pool. Now, imagine further that the idea is to drain this "water" out of the pool as quickly as possible. How do you do it? Spikes are the equivalent of drilling three or four little drainage holes in the bottom of the pool, but placing a Svelte Shelf in direct contact with the speaker's bottom is like opening up the entire bottom of the pool at once! This dumps the water out much faster. The large area contact of the Svelte Shelf to the speaker's bottom provides a much more efficient pathway for vibration out of the speaker's structure, and a greater volume of unwanted spurious energy (greater mechanical "current") can now escape much faster from your speaker's cabinet. This lowers the level of vibration in the cabinet walls, and the speaker drivers are subject to less "shaking" and vibration. Thus, intermodulation distortion is reduced, and all aspects of speaker performance are improved.

A key aspect to understanding why the Sveltes (or any of our platforms) work so well under speakers is to remember that unlike spikes, footers, or points, the platform is much better equipped to convert mechanical energy to heat energy because of the center foam "heat sink" and constrained layers that the platform has. Spikes and points can provide a pathway for mechanical energy, but can not dissipate it. By contrast, the Svelte's design is an engine that dissipates mechanical energy as heat, eliminating much of it in a harmless form. The results are most evident in the bass regions, where there is less "haze" and "mud." Once this low frequency noise is lessened, the rest of the frequency ranges also benefit - resulting in cleaner, more dynamic midrange and treble, with less "glare" and harshness. Although the Svelte Shelf can be compatible with spikes and speaker stands, stands and spikes by themselves cannot and do not work the same way, and thus cannot accomplish the same level of results alone.

So does that mean that I can use Sveltes with my existing speaker stands or bases?
Absolutely! Sveltes are very beneficial when placed between the speaker and any type of speaker stand, and will amplify the benefit of any speaker stand by providing superior damping not only to the loudspeaker but also to the speaker stand itself. They even work with small computer speakers on desks.

What size should I get for my speaker?
We've found that it's best to have a Svelte that extends a little beyond the perimeter "footprint" of your speaker. While having a little more area gives optimum results, even Sveltes that are smaller than the footprint of the speaker provide significant benefits.

What stock sizes are available?
Svelte Shelves are available in stock sizes of 8x10, 9x9 (for Mac Mini server), 10x12, 10x14, 12x14, 12x22, 19x14, 19x18, 19x21, 24x19, and in custom sizes.

Deploying the Svelte under loudspeakers - the how and why
The speaker should be placed flat down onto the Svelte, WITHOUT spikes. While spikes are a useful and effective device, their effectiveness is limited when compared to a full Svelte Shelf. This is because the spike is an energy conduit between the speaker's cabinet and its support structure (in most cases, a floor).

 The less extraneous mechanical energy in the speaker's cabinet, the better - all you want to be moving is the speaker's diaphragm - and the speaker frames and their supports should be absolutely solid and unmoving. Unfortunately, this is a virtual impossibility. Even with state of the art loudspeakers with extremely heavy resin-cast cabinets weighing hundreds of pounds, some energy will still be present, and this energy exerts a negative influence upon the speaker's movement. And while it's nearly impossible to completely eliminate this by-product of real speaker drivers in a physical world, it is possible to lessen the amount of energy. Spikes provide a good conduit out of the cabinet - but are rather small conductors. Various manufacturers have approached the problem by combining different metals or even carbon fiber or other materials in an effort to improve performance - but the problem is that, when all is said and done, they're still constrained by the basic spike or point contact itself, which is a very limited pathway. (Remember, the reason why these devices work under speakers is NOT isolation per se, but energy drainage OUT of the speaker.) The full Svelte, placed flat beneath the speaker, acts as a large "heat sink" that achieves the 3 D's of vibration control: Damping, Drainage, and Dissipation. The Svelte's stainless steel top reduces spurious resonances in the speaker cabinet itself, and the much greater available contact area will transfer far more energy out of the cabinet faster, where it can be converted to heat energy by the Svelte Shelf. The result is reduced intermodulation distortion in the loudspeaker, since less energy is available in the cabinet to shake the individual drivers. This is heard as better bass and midbass "punch" with greater lower midrange "bloom," improved transient "timing," and more natural, more musical sound quality across the entire range of audible frequencies.

The Svelte Shelf (and special Ultra Platform) and the Verity Audio Parsifal loudspeaker

In 2001, Symposium Acoustics had the honor of using the wonderful Parsifal loudspeaker made by Verity Audio of Canada. We went to work on developing a special platform for this loudspeaker that would replace the stock sorbothane-and-granite isolator that was used between the top satellite and the woofer cabinet, and the result was first shown and demonstrated at the Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Please click here for a few pages of pictures of the Parsifal with our specially fitted platforms. The platforms, and especially the special Svelte "isolator" improved the already excellent performance of the Parsifal to the extent that the designers themselves, when they were given a demonstration of the difference in performance, were somewhat astounded at the improvements. What do you know? Before the year was out, Verity implemented a similar design to the Svelte Shelf isolator in their later loudspeakers. Yes, imitation is certainly the sincerest form of flattery, isn't it?





For more about the technical aspects of the Svelte Shelf, please click here.

The Bottom Line

We could write pages and pages about the Svelte Shelf - but that still wouldn't really tell you how it will benefit your system. To try one in your system risk-free, please contact your nearest Symposium Dealer, call Symposium direct, or email us for more information.


SVELTE SHELF Specifications
Total thickness: 0.625 inches (1.6 cm) Surfaces: Polished Stainless Steel
Bottom: Polished Stainless Steel Couplers: Available with or without Precision Couplers
Center Section: Proprietary foam with interlayers Weight Limit: 300 lbs (130 kg) if shelf supported across bottom center (as on floor or cross beam); 30 lbs if supported only at corners
Stock Sizes:8x10, 9x9, 10x12, 10x14, 12x14, 12x22, 19x14, 19x18, 19x21, 24x19. Custom sizes are available on special order; please contact your local dealer or distributor for pricing or contact Symposium direct.

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