Product: TNT SandBlaster 1.0
Company: not for sale, TNT-Audio free DIY design
Approx. cost: starting from 10 $/Euro (just components)
Designer: Lucio Cadeddu
Published: September 2001 (originally, in Italian, 1997)
This was an old article (dating back 1997!) of our Italian edition of TNT-Audio that had never been translated into English. As many of you already know, the Italian edition of TNT-Audio contains many articles (especially tweaks, but even listening tests) that, for various reasons - mainly because we're lazy lads, ya know :-) - have never been translated into English.
In this case, the reason why the article hadn't been translated is quite simple and different: the DIY isolation platform I'm going to describe you isn't a new idea as it has circulated on various online forums for several years, hence I erroneously assumed everyone was already aware of it.
As legions of new audiophiles enter the Web for the first time every day, it seems well-known tweaks are NOT all THAT well-known...hence the need to share even old ideas with the newbies.
Enter the TNT Sandblaster: a simple and cheap DIY isolation platform that makes use of sand for damping airborne vibrations. Perhaps you're already aware of the fact sand is widely used into speakers, speakers stands and audiophile tables/racks.
Sand does have some very good damping property and it represents a damn cheap, fast and very effective way to increase the weight of hollow structures and tubes.
For example, many tower loudspeakers do have a cavity which is meant to be sand-filled (for increased weight and damping). Examples? Opera, Monitor Audio etc.
You can use lead shots to do this, but lead tends to be quite dangerous and toxic into a living room, while sand is inert, clean and easier to use & find.
Such an isolation platform can be built in various ways, depending on your DIY skills and budget. The Basic version is nothing else than a tray, the same size of a shelf of your audiophile rack (our DIY FleXy, for example), be it 60 (W) x 40 (D) x 10 (H), that you have to fill with sand. Which kind of tray? Well, you can use anything you want, even a plastic basin for laundry or your cat's litter tray :-)
If not, and you're lazier than us (now try that! :-)), even the top cover of your turntable will suffice (if you don't use it - the top cover, not the turntable! :-)).
Now buy a bag of sand (river sand, not beach sand!!!), make it dry for a couple of days and fill the tray with it. Now place one or more sheets of DOMOPACK (thin plastic film for aliments) so that the sand can't escape and your cat can't use it as its personal favourite bathroom ;-)
Now place an MDF (medium density) shelf on top, so that it "floats" on sand (hence making a kind of "suspended subchassis").
Of course, the top shelf should be perfectly levelled once you put the HiFi component (be it a CD player, preamp, amp or turntable) on it.
Now choose the feet for your isolation platform. You can decide for adjustable spikes, so to make the levelling operation quicker and easier. Anyway, you can even use rubber feet.
Now your TNT SandBlaster is ready, just verify - once again - the choosen component sits perfectly horizontal, especially if it is an analogue turntable.
If the component is heavy, you may need to check "planarity" a couple of times as months go by (sand may move a little under pressure).
This was the Basic version of the TNT SandBlaster. As you can easily guess by yourself, such a thing can be extremely ugly :-)
Since Italians are known for designing and manufacturing stylish HiFi components, here is a far more elegant alternative, made out of hardwood and medium density fiberboard.
More precisely, the pictures you can see here refer to a TNT SandBlaster made by one of our Italian readers and here's how he did this nicely looking platform.
My TNT SandBlaster is 50 cms wide, 40cms deep and its height is 7 cms (remember: 2.5 cms = 1 inch). Its weight is around 20 kgs (40 lbs). I've used four adjustable spikes on bottom and the platform - as you can see from the picture - sits atop a nicely crafted TNT Flexy table.
Once finished, I've used a black glossy spray paint, but you can decide for natural wood, if you prefer.
Sonically, the TNT SandBlaster has greatly improved the tightness and control of the bass, the 3D soundstage now appears to be more precise, with a better focus. With my Rega Planar turntable the 3D image has become wider and deeper.
Of course, the platform works well, provided the turntable has been already set up precisely... otherwise...it is a waste of time!
The whole manufacturing process has been very funny, next time I'll try different materials for the top shelf, perhaps tempered glass or Italian marble.
Federico - E-mail: email@example.com
The TNT SandBlaster is a pretty efficient anti-seismic base and it is strongly recommended if you need to ISOLATE a component from the outside World. It works excellently with turntables or CD players/transports placed on our popular TNT Flexy DIY rack.
© Copyright 1997-2001 Lucio Cadeddu - http://www.tnt-audio.com