It’s not just vinyl producers who are meeting the demand for a resurgence in traditional LP sales (see our coverage of Record Store Day). Injection moulding innovator White Horse Plastics is developing with materials technology to help ensure that the music gets a full and faithful reproduction and is done full justice on stable record decks.
Oxfordshire-based White Horse Plastics (WHP) unveiled a little of the vibration dampening technology at the Southern Manufacturing exhibition, Farnborough, in early March. The story began with a bounce of a golf ball
WHP were introduced to a particular grade of modified material through a supplier visit demonstrating that compared a standard SEBS based Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE and a Wittenburg modified grade of the material a golf ball bounced very nicely on the standard material and stopped pretty much dead on the latter.
In due course a first potential application for the material emerged – and from the automotive sector. A long-standing WHP customer raised the issue of NVH (noise vibration harshness) in dealing with in transmission shifter assemblies. The gold target in this regard is to achieve precise gear shifting with minimum NVH.
Historically, silicon or EPDM damper rubbers and often the addition of damper weights have been effective in helping to reduce NVH, furthermore, adding heavy dampeners works against desired weight-reduction in assemblies. Having been suitably “lit up” by the golf ball demo WHP’s customer placed an order for prototype tooling and remains engaged with ongoing material development for this and other potential automotive applications.
During the development planning with Wittenburg, a side discussion started about this being an ideal material to place under hi fi equipment – in particular vinyl turntables and anything adversely affected by vibration. And so began the second WHP dampener project.
Test parts were made to suit an average foot diameter on typical hi fi separates. The parts were moulded at a nominal thickness, which appeared to have good damping property without becoming an eyesore. WHP realised from the outset that any living room appliance would need to show aesthetic as well as functional excellence. WHP Engineering Manager Nick Allen notes that ‘not many spouses are generally tolerant of hi-fi idiosyncrasies that push the limits by adding large blocks of black resin in the living space!’
Allen adds that we ‘chose a metallic housing in order to hide the dampener in a sleeker looking shell. This assembly can also be used the other way around - for speakers and equipment with spikes rather than feet – again protecting floors and furniture.’
The goal of hi-fidelity audio is to improve sound quality with reasonable equipment while making optimum use of the listening space. Allen notes that ‘we found when placing these units under a good quality audiophile turntable that there is an instant increase in solidity and precision of the music being listened to.’
Still others found improvements with the WHP dampeners under CD players, isolating speakers and even under laptops. The new product is now currently being prepared for market as a potential tool to enhance the listening experience – somewhat like good interconnect cables and speaker cables.
The WHP dampeners are currently being sampled by various Hi-Fi dealers and wholesalers and WHP is awaiting feed-back in preparation for wholesale selling. Allen summarises that ‘we are looking to offer a product that offers great performance while looking good, and at a sensible price.