VBH-1 (Vibration Black Hole)

It's not just a tweak, it's an investment in better sound.

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Product name: VBH-1 (Vibration Black Hole)
Manufacturer: Vera-Fi Audio - USA
Price: $199 USD / For a set of four
Reviewer: M.L. Gneier - TNT-Audio USA
Reviewed: March, 2024

I hoped to evaluate the VBH-1 in comparison with another isolation device from the UK but the manufacturer was unable to make arrangements to get his product into the US. Something about customs issues? Odd. I'm actually happy about this. The other product was very expensive and the company made some interesting (if dubious) claims about the mechanism of the product. Vera-Fi is far more direct about their VBH-1 and why it works as well as it does. I was first educated about the benefits of Constrained Layer Damping (now expanded to constrained viscous layer damping, or CVLD, by Vera-Fi) by none other than Marc McCalmont of Mach 1 Acoustics way back in the late 90s. In essence, CVLD involves the use of dissimilar materials, in the case of the VBH-1 nylon/stainless steel/viscous polymer/silicone rubber, to create an isolating effect.

If you think about the very idea of isolating audio components is somewhat astounding. After all, the purpose of an audio system is to recreate vibrational energy so our ears can enjoy it. Yet now, suddenly, we're supposed to get rid of it? Well, not really, at least not in most cases. However, I see isolation devices like the VBH-1 as useful in at least two applications. The first would be beneath a large (read: heavy) tube-based phono preamp. Lucky for me I don't use one of those any longer. The second application is as an isolating foundation for a rigid turntable like my REGA Planar 3.

Just to show that I haven't always been as smart as I am today. One time many years ago I removed the three feet from my old REGA Planar 2 and replaced the feet with a set of tall Tiptoes even though none other than Roy Gandy of REGA told me not to. He told me that the common-looking rubber feet beneath the Planar 2 were actually part of the design, but I thought I could do better. Nothing against Tiptoes but they totally ruined the sound of my old REGA.

Fast forward to the end of 2023 when a small box from Vera-Fi arrived with four VBH inside. This I had to try, right under the feet of the REGA. Now, the whole physical setup is a little precarious but if you (like me) have a kid-free home it's actually quite stable once you get the feet under the feet, so to speak. The results, especially on LPs with significant low frequency energy were both immediate and obvious. There wasn't more bass but the bass there was was instantly more easily differentiated and possessed of a sharper and clearer attack. The benefit seemed to extend to the lower-mids but I think this perception was related to the new clarity in the bottom end seeming to improve the midrange.

My decades-old Tiptoe debacle taught me that you could (and I did) go overboard with rigidity. The VBH seems to work with the REGA feet rather than against them. As an aside, I would caution against using the VBH beneath the feet of a suspended table since even the most mediocre suspended table has a suspension system that already targets certain resonant frequencies and the vibrations that cause them. Also, and this applies only to use under a turntable, I would avoid placing the VBH directly beneath the 'table's plinth. Instead, use it (very carefully placed) beneath and in addition to the existing feet, if possible.

I do not quite get the idea of placing isolation devices beneath loudspeakers. Loudspeakers are designed to vibrate and they do a great job of it, putting loads of vibrations both into the air and every surface of your listening room. But, just because I can't conceive of the efficacy of using the VBH-1 beneath speakers doesn't mean their use won't be audible and maybe even beneficial. Still, if I were you I would start with source devices that are prone to induced vibration rather than the one part of your system that's designed to generate vibrations into every aspect of your listening room.

I'm sure some of you are wondering whether you could make yourself a set of CVLD isolation feet. I'm sure you could, eventually, but the cost and time expended would be far more than you'd anticipate. Plus, they would very likely look lousy and might possibly make your system sound worse. If you have the right application for the Vera-Fi VBH-1 they are a bargain, unobtrusively attractive and nicely made, too. Highly recommended for the right components.

Listen well, but listen happy, my friends!

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