Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Myrtle Wood Blocks

Many after market component support tweaks are manufactured from man-made materials and are made to extremely tight tolerances which results in a uniform "tuning" frequency. The uniformity usually adds some distinctly negative coloration in addition to the products sonic benefits. That doesn't occur with the wood blocks. Since the blocks are a natural material every sample is going to differ a bit. That might, in fact be part of why they work so well. Each block works on slightly different set frequencies because of variations in the grain structure and density of the wood.

During my time at an Ayre dealer I sold hundreds of sets of the wood blocks and told everyone the same thing, "If you don't hear a difference please bring them back." I can't speak for Cardas but Ayre is very picky about who their dealers are from a customer service stand point. If someone purchases a set and DOESN'T hear a difference I'm sure any Ayre dealer would let the customer return them for a full refund. I only had one set come back in over three years and that was because the guy owned Halcro gear and the standard feet were too tall to allow their use. I once sold a set to a hard core skeptic non-tweaker because his wife demanded that the system fit into an armoire and the CD player was blocking the top vents of his hot running preamp. When I told him that in addition to allowing the preamp to breath it would make the CD player sound better he gave me a complete "FUCK YOU" look. Three days later he called me back and bought three more sets for the other components because he had heard a difference even though he didn't want to.

The Ayre wood blocks in my system are used in sets of three because three points define a plane, with the logo right side up. Not to name drop but Charlie Hansen and Steve Sliberman of Ayre also feel it to be the best sounding orientation so I'm in good company. When I worked for an Ayre dealer Steve would only reveal his conclusions after I had done the experiments myself, they encourage people to "play" with the blocks. I do not believe that the benefit of the Ayre/Cardas myrtle blocks is in their resonant behavior ADDING a pleasurable element to the sound. I believe that the mechanism is the DRAINING of resonances AWAY from the component and into the equipment rack. I always place one block under the power supply of the component because that's usually the biggest source of vibration in components other than CD players and turntables.

Whenever possible the Myrtle wood blocks are placed against the side of a protruding screw, bolt, etc on the bottom cover because these fasteners are the best mechanically conductive pathways for vibrations. The amount of change in the sound just by making sure that they made contact with a fastener of some type was an ear opener. I found that chestnut of thinking while reading about Symposium products after Stephen Scharf's thread on DIY roller blocks had piqued my interest. The acoustic impedance of the wood blocks is much more similar to the metal (Myrtle wood being extremely hard) of the component bottom AND the wood of the rack shelves than the stock rubber feet offered on most products, thus it drain the vibrations away much more quickly and efficiently. I will admit that according to this theory the ideal situation would be to have metal shelves and metal footer, all made for more or less the same metal. Maybe Cardas should make some of these blocks, with the same dimensions in metal too. Why don't these blocks allow outside vibrations into a component as well as drain internal resonances away? I'm don't have a good answer to that question, but I assure you that I have thought about it.

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