Vinyl Frontiers: Turntable Support and Isolation

“What's afoot then?” enquire Plebs, stage left

an Audio Origami IsoPods!

[critical mass]

Audio Origami IsoPods - Universal Isolating Feet that are Turntable Capable too

[Italian version here]

Product: Audio Origami IsoPods
Supplier: Audio Origami - UK
Price: £200 for four and £155 for three YMMV depending on exchange rates
Author: Mark Wheeler - TNT UK
Reviewed: Spring 2024

More Little Feet but no Little Feat

“No Little Feat? That makes a change.” note Plebs, stage left.

The Audio Origami IsoPods for all audio equipment including turntables are a sophisticated design of audio isolator incorporating 3d printed and machined components to achieve isolation and stability. They're neither blob nor spike. Audio Origami claim no mystical properties for their feet which are a bit bigger than most. Various masses of equipment can be accommodated by adjustment to the individual IsoPod or by combinations of IsoPods.

Audio Origami are based in South West Scotland, home of so much engineering innovation. Stephen Cosh, founder of Puranota, based an hour South of Audio Origami, has taken over the business and incorporated the Puranota ranges. Stephen has a long standing interest in analogue audio, and in particular vibration control, and added this to the existing Audio Origami pick-up talents. The upshot of this talent shuffling is a range of products from the descendants of the legendary Syrinx pickup arms, plinths for Technics SP10, modifications for Michell SE turntables, (NB Oxford comma) and vibration control products.

The Audio Origami vibration accessories include Audio Origami IsoPods, which bear a superficial resemblance (externally) to the much smaller and simpler Jade IsoDuo footers favourably reviewed in Part 6 of my epic vibration control odyssey. The resemblance is that a carefully thought out vertically compliant element is encased in a constraining cylinder of hard material to control horizontal movement. This approach is uncommon in the world of audio footers but pays dividends especially when supporting electro-mechanical information retrieval systems like turntables, CD players and conventional disc hard drives. I haven't tried it but I assume horizontal tape drives, like reel-to-reel recorders might also benefit from this approach.

I have also found that squidgy feet of any kind under conventional sprung subchassis designs (Thorens/Ariston/Linn compression pattern or Michell extension sprung pattern) affected performance detrimentally. Most affected is PRaT, the basic building blocks of music.

“That'll get the objectivists prattling!” quip Plebs, stage left, descending into Old Scribe punnery.

Test Procedure

So CD and turntable are the obvious first test. Today we're playing with turntables because they are the acme of tweakery and the Old Scribe's second audio obsession after loudspeakers. Because the Audio Origami IsoPods are textured and flat on the underside and top surface, they can be placed under a turntable shelf on top of another shelf, increasing isolation. In worst case scenario they could serve as isolation between a sideboard/console table and turntable shelf but this will not be tested as it is far too silly a turntable location to be used by any TNT-audio readers. A pre-requisite to any turntable support tuning is a wall shelf or a table on a masonry floor. If we put a sticking plaster over a splinter, we merely hide the splinter and make it more likely to become infected. First remove the splinter is the equivalent of first suport the turntable correctly.

Audio Origami IsoPods Sound Quality: turntable

Being sceptical of any compliant support under turntables, the reference condition is 3 (three) not 4 (not four) point discs under a 12mm laminated glass (laminated glass, not toughened glass or float glass) shelf. These 3 (three not four) points' bases rest on a marble shelf embedded in a mixture of kiln dried sand and dried silver sand (5:1). The sand is contained in a hardwood and plywood wall mounted box between the 3 masonry walls of an alcove.
Will the Audio Origami IsoPods can make an improvement in this excellent location?
Will the IsoPods detract from PRaT in this otherwise firm location.

The turntable is a Michell Orbe SE with a complex mix of chassis reinforcement and sand loaded resin cast around the subchassis centre. Suspension is replaced by Pete's Pylons and Audio Origami SpikePods. There is already a lot of isolation and vibration control around this installation. A stern test might be complex Latin rhythms in a busy mix so Santana's eponymous debut album gets first spin. The rhythm is preserved as well as by the pointy discs. A quick check is made with alternative pointy discs between each side of the Santana, alternating with the IsoPods:

  1. Michell Tenderfeet
  2. ERaudio steel points
  3. Polycrystal Isolators

This test demonstrated that the IsoPods are actually better at enabling the dense instrumental mix to be enjoyed somehow. The old Linn-Naim sales pitch of following each individual instrument while hearing the whole springs to mind. The similarly priced but now obsolete and unobtainable Polycrystal Isolators do a remarkably similar job despite being completely different in approach and construction. That anything can make a difference in an already well controlled environment is testament to the importance of continuing to develop our vibration control strategy and also to the effectiveness of these products.

Carole King's Tapestry is one of those albums that many people had in the 70s. I confess that the last time I heard this album was in the late 70s through a friend's system fronted by a Michell Hydraulic Reference/SME and ending at the then all new Kef Reference 105 with Kube bass alignment processor. Using the shallow Michell Tenderfeet as reference (given the present unavailability of the other two options above) both sides were played twice. This is an album that can be tolerated for this much repetition. Most noticeable was the increased clarity in Carole King's voice. This is a singer-songwriter album so it is likely, psychologically, that we focus on her voice.

The Ravi Shankar album most likely to be owned by old hippies and Beatles fans (George Harrison plays on it under a rather transparent pseudonym), is the equally unimaginatively titled Shankar Family & Friends (with an Om where the ampersand should be but your Old Scribe cannot find the html for OM). Similar effects are heard from this album with the Audio Origami IsoPod. This album is a fascinating fusion album, in the manner of fusion food, and sometimes it is a difficult listen to un-fuse what is going on. The IsoPods simplify the unfusing.

Descending into audio writer clichés, the IsoPods reduce haze. Who knows what this haze is? But there's a bit less of it.

Descending even further into another audio writer cliché, the Audio Origami IsoPods are like putting a light yellow filter on the lens when shooting analogue black & white. There is a slight reduction in haze.

Next up is double checking that the results are broadly consistent under a Thorens TD160/SME3009-II improved. The same reduction in the nebulous quality of haze is apparent without any increase in fuzziness. To extend the photo analogy, adding more glass filters can increase apparent contrast and reduce atmospheric haze while at the same time reducing resolution due to the added layers of glass. The performance of the IsoPods achieves the haze reduction without that loss of resolution.


The Audio Origami IsoPods contribute to the enjoyment of music at home by reducing the insidious effects of vibration without upsetting the building blocks of music, rhythm and timing. The IsoPods achieve this by clever design of the compliant elements held firmly in position. Analogue playback depends on measuring tiny positional changes changes (in space on vinyl and magnetic field on tape) while avoiding as much noise as possible. The Audio Origami IsoPods succeed in a useful contribution to this at a realistic price.

In Part 2 we'll hear whether the Audio Origami IsoPods have any contribution to make under CD players and amplifiers.

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Music enjoyed while writing this review

Reference system

on vinyl of course

  • Priest, Trower & Brown: United States of Mind 2021 supergroup that demonstrates “to unite listeners around the musical these fractured times”
  • Hart, Airto & Purim: Däfos Reference Recordings
  • Carole King: Tapestry MoFi
  • Jefferson Airplane: Volunteers MoFi
  • your Old Scribe has been shopping again
  • Rory Gallagher: Check Shirt Wizard
  • Ravi Shankar: Shankar Family ℨ Friends more MoFi
  • Grateful Dead: Blues for Allah
  • Aphex Twin: Girl/Baby EP
  • Robin Trower: Bridge of Sighs excellent 2024 Chrysalis reissue
  • Miles Davis: Kind of Blue UHQR
  • Miles Davis: Miles in the Sky MFSL OMR
  • Miles Davis: Tutu
  • Bootsy's Rubber Band: Jungle Bass

Equipment used in this review:

  • Turntable: Michell Orbe SE

  • Turntable Modifications: include Pedersen subchassis & suspension kit

  • Turntable armboard Modification: Pedersen Michell Armboard isolator

  • other Turntable Modifications: Polycrystal PolyCrystal Point Discs beneath 12mm laminated glass sheet, beneath Orbe and aftermarket feet; Deflex plain sheet beneath Orbe motor pod

  • Pick-up arm: Hadcock GH242 SE with all silver wiring from cartridge to silver Eichmann Bullet plugs

  • Comparison Turntables include: Garrard 401 (in plywood & concrete plinth) and Thorens TD160

  • Pickup arms on 401: SME3012 series 1 or SME 3012 II with FD200 damper

  • Pickup arm on TD160: SME 3009 SII improved detachable headshell

  • Turntable support: Kiln dried sand filled custom wall shelf (aluminium reinforced plywood & hardwood) with marble sheets on sand bed

  • Cartridges: Dynavector DV XX-2 MkII; Decca London (John Wright serviced 2020) with walnut body;

  • Phono pre-amplifier: Canor TP306VR+ with Shuguang Treasure 6SL7 valves and NOS black bottle Brimar 6SN7, casework damped by additional internal struts and BrightStar Isonodes. Steel cover removed and chassis loaded by BrightStar Little Rock. Supported by BrightStar extra large Isonodes on Something Solid XR4 rack on Something Solid Missing Link feet. on Polycrystal isolator cones

  • Line Pre-amplifier: Audio Research Corporation Reference 3 with steel top cover removed, casework damped by BrightStar Little Rock 5, tube rolled and vibration further controlled internally by silicone O-rings and Pearl valve cooler/dampers, on Something Solid end grain balsa plank, on Something Solid XR4 rack

  • Crossover: Marchand XM126-3 Linkwitz Reilly (4th order) balanced valve 3-way active crossover with Marchand pm127 power supply

  • Treble Amplifier: de Paravicini (HiFi World) designed SET6080 in RATA Torlyte case and outboard mains transformer, and passive components to match mid and bass

  • Midrange Amplifier: Assemblage SET300B Signature variously tube-rolled and components to integrate with treble and bass

  • Bass amplifier: Breeze Audio Nelson Pass Zen clone SE class A FET 10W

  • Tuning planks beneath crossover, treble and midrange amplifiers: ERaudio Large SpaceHarmoniser on ERaudio steel cones or Yamamoto PB9 & PB10 'setting bases'

    on custom spalted beech shelves
  • Active Loudspeakers: 3-way active loudspeaker drivers:

  • Active Loudspeakers Bass drivers: Focal Audiom 12 VX with dual layer Cerwin Vega 2 layer cone roll surround, in 3 layer 25mm birch-plywood braced, hardwood - chipboard - fibreboard - birch-ply reflex cabinets, with Deflex subwoofer sheets & and with Deflex wedges and centre supported long fibre wool.

  • Active Loudspeakers: mid-range drivers: Focal Audium 7K with rubber solution surface damping removed. Mounted in separate enclosures with sculpted & radiused fiddleback sycamore baffle, 25mm birch-ply bracing, Deflex standard sheets. Rattletrap Extreme damped, decommissioned missile warhead, aluminium tipped copper mesh reinforced resin outer shells - literally.

  • Active Loudspeakers high frequencies: Focal TC120TDX with felt focus ring.

Extensive and ever evolving acoustic treatment including corner bass absorption, high frequency (above 2kHz) absorption at primary tweeter reflection points, high frequency diffusers at other critical points.

Some low impedance, low reactance wire is used to join these components together, much of it made up by the Old Scribe from high quality components with Pixie Dust personally mined by the Old Scribe. Mains is supplied by an audio only Ben Duncan 3kVA balanced mains spur main with centre tapped Radex earth (ground) non-inductive connections to a technical earth. Crossover and power amplifiers fed by a minimum connections hydra. All mains cables are screened & supplied from a non RCD connection.

Copyright © 2024 Mark Wheeler - -