Speakers: spikes vs ball bearings

Those of you with knowledge and experience of mechanics, do you wager there’s any difference between using regular spikes versus ball bearings under speakers?
The inherent problem with spikes is that they essentially aren’t (in general) especially useful because the resonance they couple to the floor is reflected back into the speaker. How much and with what bandwidth, this depends on floor material and how the spikes are connected, their material, all that.
They are mandatory if nothing else is available, of course…

I put regular ball bearings under my speakers, like, without any special method of insertion, just making contact with the holes meant for spikes or other footers. One advantage is that I can now very easily move the speakers around…
About the sound, it’s hard to say if they’re better but I see no reason why they’d be any worse than spikes. Intuitively, I see it as an advantage that these are not screwed into place, they just make contact and geometrically the contact is just a thin annulus touching the spike holes’ edges and the singular point where they touch the floor. So less contact area. Isn’t this kinda preferable?

Should I perhaps insert some concave metal housings under the speakers, so the bearings would have less friction? Maybe superfluous, though I know it can make difference in terms of (dis)similar material contact…
Do you guys wager this is a good solution? I certainly don’t have money for Isoacoustics feet or anything like that.

I know you have already seen this, but it seems apropos:


I’d go with Pinto beans, Garbanzos or dried peas. Organic.

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Here I’m mainly wondering if ball bearings are any different, the “coupling” mechanics are mostly comparable but there’s the mentioned subtle differences in contact. Maybe even the spherical geometry might make a difference. I dunno!
If not anything else, I don’t have to manually screw anything or damage the floor when adjusting the positioning…

Another thing that might be beneficial would be to place sorbothane rings between the speaker feet and the bearings…

It seems to me that ball bearings are in the mechanical vibration dissipation camp – at least intuitively…

Meaning… not really dissipating?
What’d you make of the idea of sorbothane rings between? This is at least something that can’t really be done with spikes considering the shape.
I really need something relatively cheap before I can invest in Isoacoustics, etc. Not that I can complain about the current acoustics! It’s the feeling of “new” that I’m obsessively after, oh, not so uncommon in audio! Heh.

Meaning dissipation of energy (in a good way).

I think this excerpt captures the concept well:

Considering the forces in the horizontal plane, as the ball rolls, there is friction between the ball and the cup. This results in a loss of energy, a generation of heat, and a viscous property. Depending on the material of the ball, and the material of the cup, you will have different coefficients of friction. The hardness also matters as elastic deformation can occur on the both the ball and cup. Hence, different balls will make these devices sound different. With sufficient hardness and low enough friction (think ruby ball on a ceramic cup) they can also be elastic in the horizontal plane.

[Source: Understanding Coupling/Decoupling - with particular reference to loudspeakers | What's Best Audio and Video Forum. The Best High End Audio Forum on the planet! (See Post No. 8)]

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This should be right up your alley:


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Thanks a lot, that’s exactly the info I needed!
It’d seem indeed that I should implement some better contact surface for the bearings - as the speaker stands just rest firmly on the bearings, there’s not really any friction…

Well considering the products you linked, I can just toss the bearings. Or mix them with those absorbers… Their shape seems to be suitable for a spherical embedding

I am most intrigued with the “Rollerblock” approach*, where the bearings dissipate vibration energy in the form of heat but need to be on a solid surface that allows them to move around a bit.

Can’t say which is better - bearings or vibration-absorbing pads, but immobile bearings on absorbing pads or cups may or may not be the most effective in your set up. :man_facepalming:

*See here, for example: Symposium Acoustics-Rollerblock Jr-Isolation Devices|Acoustic Sounds

Now that is intriguing. A bit of an expense yes, but that’s still like half the price of the IsoAcoustics set.
No wait, they’re the same price, about… I always forget there’s TWO speakers to do!

Rollerblock is a brand. I am sure you can find more affordable versions of this approach with a little research.

Good luck in any event.

Reading a bit on Rollerblock’s choice of material, it comes clear that speaker synergy should be considered material-wise, as noted on their site: “Devices using ceramic balls are often noted for their “spotlighting” of upper midrange and lower treble ranges”
I have Audio Physic speakers which are already “snappy” in a good way, I sure don’t want to turn it into discomfort with my somewhat hyperacusic hearing. As you said there’s surely more affordable versions, just have to make sure they use proper material.
Rollerblock’s tungsten carbide, as explained is convincing.

For now with NO MONEY… have to think of something clever to insert under the bearings. Suggestions welcome! (I’m a tweaker I guess, just lazy to act, but when I get inspired I’ll spend hours on something that’s either menial or actually makes a difference…)

If tungsten carbide is the “reference” and the mission is to think of something common with similar mechanics… Hmm. Tungsten carbide is nearly as hard as diamond… Not sure if glass would do because it’s in contrast amorphous, but in terms of surface friction it’d do well. It’s not microstructurally close to ceramics so much either. But I’m not breaking my drinking glasses just to insert their bottom portions under my speakers…!

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What am I doing…
Sorry mom, I’m using the heirloom coffee saucers. Promise, won’t scratch them!

I’m not sure it’s bias but I think the sound is crisper.
Okay now I’m sure it is. Reference tracks reveal better separation in space overall, depth is improved.

Well well… Bearings centered on antiquarian saucers, and what a difference! I can even listen louder, the sound is more properly, hm, floating in its own field and pushed less forward into my face, so as to say. The bass is more palpable and couples less to structures - so obviously low freq energy is more efficiently transmitted to air, as intended.
I wouldn’t have thought… There are other factors of course, the angling of the speakers’ baffle is just ever so slightly corrected to be the 7 degrees of tilt that Audio Physic meant, but I doubt that’s the main reason. There’s obviously a mechanical advantage here.
And so simple.

The dog barking in the start of Amused To Death, now it’s really projected tens of metres to the far side. Is this a sign that the system is quite in tune?

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No one has mentioned it but bolting them to the floor would be a perfect mechanism for coupling. There might be some feedback from the mothership though.
Maybe use a concrete paver under the speaker an bolt it to the concrete.

But wouldn’t that waste a lot of bass right into the floor?
With my current tweak, it’s in the opposite direction, the bass is more palpably in the air, floating in the soundstage.
I’m feeling a lot less of it in my feet now, and more in my chest area, on the height of the soundstage.

I’ve read (not directly) that some people swear by hanging their speakers from the ceiling. Isn’t the perfect coupling a coupling to the surrounding air, no energy lost into infrastructure?

I believe the thought is to keep the speaker and floor tightly coupled so all of the speakers cabinet resonances go to the floor. The drawback is the floor then becomes part of the speaker and may also resonate at critical freq’s. I always try and do the opposite. I isolate the speakers and source components by using isolation feet for everything. I dont know if it helps on the source equipment but it definitely helps on the speakers and subs.

From a purist approach… in the very high end of manufacturing… The cabinet should be practically inert. Be it milled from aluminium or a magnesium alloy, et cetera. Such speakers obviously aren’t affordable for most people. But yes, even those speakers benefit from isolation feet of course. There’s just (hopefully) the benefit of the floor NOT being directly a passive radiator!

(Though some floor materials can well be good tone controls, no doubt!)