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.
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.
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 very large "platform" that weighed over 300 pounds (>136 kG). Each piece was cut from this master "planchette" on a very large industrial saw. Even though specially formulated, custom-made carbide tipped blades were employed in the cutting of the master planchettes, the heat generated could melt some of the planchette layers, requiring frequent resharpening or replacement of the cutting blades. A new approach was needed.
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 of the original Super, and added greater neutrality as well as superior isolation and absorption at higher frequencies. This was the second generation of Super Platform.
Later, a third generation arose when the original 1/2" foam section was increased to 3/4", and textured damping material (edgebanding) was applied to it. Also, an additional bonded top layer of anodized aluminum was added to the existing top aluminum layer (similar to the Ultra Platform). The use of constrained aluminum top layers are responsible for the Super Plus's (and the Ultra's) natural midrange and treble frequency preservation and reduced overhang, and utter lack of irritation or "glare."
The Super Plus, when installed as recommended, will make significant, across-the-board improvements to your music system. These improvements include more "punch," greater purity, a lowered noise floor, more bass impact with better control, wider soundstaging and better dynamics - all hallmarks of lowered distortion. While it is effective with virtually all components, the Super Plus is especially recommended for use with loudspeakers, and is, in most cases, the best solution for loudspeaker treatment.
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 once, 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.
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.
Bass quality is often controlled by vibration in a key component- and it sometimes takes a bit of experimentation to determine just where the problem is originating. However, the preamplifier is a critical piece, acting as the central arbiter in an audio system. As in the case above, this particular preamp was quite susceptible to vibration effects; and the significant part of this situation is the fact that another type of "isolation" platform that uses a rubber air bag (actually, a small bicycle tire) as a cushion to ward off vibration was actually making the problem worse, because devices such as these, like rubber feet and rubber pods, store and release energy. While this gives the "impression" of a warmer midrange and fuller bass, what you're really getting is time smearing of information in this region, which, when removed correctly, can result in a "shocking" revelation.
The Super Plus platform is a "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 Super Plus under Loudspeakers: Is the Tail Wagging the Dog? Our platforms treat vibration- and the biggest source of vibration in your system (unless you're using headphones) are your speakers. Every speaker, regardless of price, will have a degree of excess vibration flowing in its cabinet. This vibration, unless eliminated, shakes the cabinet (or box, or speaker frame), which supports the speaker's drivers, whether dynamic or electrostatic. This movement affects the movement of the driver diaphragms as they move the air to make sound, and the result is intermodulation distortion and complex fm distortion of the otherwise theoretically "pure" signal being traced by the loudspeaker diaphragm. In essence, what we have is a case of the "tail wagging the dog." Serious audiophiles, casual music lovers and serious recording studios alike use Super Platforms under their loudspeakers, with familiar reports of being "shocked" by the improvements heard - 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.
Less Tail, More Dog
A Symposium platform placed beneath your loudspeaker (preferably in direct contact with it, with no spikes in between), can damp quite a bit of this vibration, and drain more energy from the cabinet than a set of spikes or a dedicated speaker stand, since none of these possess the Super's dissipation engine - simply put, they pale next to the Super's sheer mass of "horsepower" in converting mechanical energy to heat energy. Even the very best speakers, which may weigh hundreds of pounds with extremely rigid "high-tech" cabinet wall material, will not get rid of spurious vibration entirely. The Super Plus has been successfully mated to B&W, Wilson, Magneplanar, Duntech, and many more of the finest loudspeakers. 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," a cleaner, purer, more musical midrange, and a more relaxed yet faster top end, so important for a convincing illusion of live music. Best results are 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.