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SMPads by Sound Addicted – Are speaker isolation pads necessary?

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In every music producer’s quest to monitor more accurately, this question comes up a lot. Are monitor isolation pads essential?

After all, if they were, why don’t speaker companies make them match the speakers they sell anyway?

And if they work, which type should you get? High-density foam pads or isolation desktop legs?

Do Speaker Isolation Pads Work?

According to Streaky, an audio mastering expert, the best way to make your studio monitors sound bad is by just placing them on your desk.

Watch the video where he explains it below:

Let us break down how isolation pads or stands, works:

Isolation pads or stands serve to reduce vibrations from the studio monitors getting passed down to the desk or table they’re sitting on, by dampening and absorbing the vibration energy.

Why is this bad? That’s because the vibrations from the speaker cabinet to desk results in additional sound resonance that clouds the accuracy of your speakers.

This wouldn’t be favorable when you’re doing mixing or mastering.

Be mindful, though. As you isolate your speakers, you may experience some loss of bass response from your speakers because the isolation pads will be absorbing some of the low-end vibrations. The mids and highs of your speakers though may sound more natural and rounded.

While that may sound like a bad idea, as you lose the bass energy from your speakers, remember that studio monitors are supposed to provide you with an accurate sound response, as appose to sounding like Hi-Fi speakers.

Check out Sound Addicted isolation pads.

So, Do You Need Isolation Pads?

That depends. Generally, studio owners lean towards coupling – basically attaching the speaker to a high-mass object (like a heavy solid speaker stand) or the floor itself, so that transmission of vibrations will be negligible since the speaker cannot move what is it placed on.

The other method of reducing vibrations from speaker cabinets is to by ‘decoupling’ a.k.a isolation – the technique we’ve discussed earlier.

So, if you work in a home studio, and want to limit speaker vibrations but do not have the luxury or ability to do coupling, then it’s a good idea to use a foam pad to absorb the vibrations.

Which Sound Isolation Product Should I Get?

There are plenty of off-the-shelf products that you can buy for your studio to immediately improve the sound reproduction of your studio monitors.

High-Density Isolation Foam Pads

Featuring the SMPads by Sound Addicted in the video above, high-density isolation foam pads are typically the most affordable solution to isolate your speakers.

The brand isn’t that important when choosing a foam pad. What’s important is to know how dense the foam pads are and how much weight it can hold.

Some foam pads are made angled, so you could point them up or down. In the case of SMPads, it comes with additional pieces of foam – so you could configure them to hold your monitors flat, angled upwards, or downwards.

Pros: 

  • Affordable.
  • Easy to take around.

Cons:

  • Harder to adjust height to ensure tweeter is on ear-level.

Isolation Stands

isoacoustics iso-200

Many producers rave about IsoAcoustics’ series of isolation stands, like the ISO-200 isolation stand, rated for studio monitors weighing up to 60lbs.

It works by elevating and floating your studio monitors above the surface it’s placed on.

The same as foam pads, just with more variations, they can be tilt-adjusted to optimize the placement of your speakers – bringing the tweeter to ear level.

Pros: 

  • Lots of tilt variations.
  • Flexible with its heigh adjustment.

Cons: 

  • Much more expensive compared to foam pads.
  • Different sizes needed for different speaker sizes.

Isolation Cones/Spikes

isolation spikes

Isolation spikes such as the ones made by SuperCellAudio lean more towards decoupling rather than absorbing the vibrations. These spikes are shaped like cones, designed to reduce the contact points between the spikes and your speaker.

You’d usually use up to four spikes per speaker to decouple your speakers to the surface it’s sitting on.

Pros:

  • Works excellent for carpeted surfaces.
  • Inexpensive.

Cons: 

  • Small imperfection on spikes will cause resonance.
  • Does not absorb vibrations.

The Big Conclusion Speaker Sound Isolation

So are isolation pads and products necessary?

We think so.

Our advice is if the small investment to isolate your speakers is helping you with better monitoring accuracy, then it’s a worthy investment.

Do you currently use speaker isolation in your studio? Which brands or speaker isolation types are you using? Let us and the Audio Mentor community know in the comment section below.

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