Speaker Spikes or Rubber Speaker Feet?
A question we often get is about speaker feet. Do you have to use them at all? And if you are using them, should you use rubber feet, or should you use speaker spikes? What about if you have a bookshelf speaker?
If you've got a floor standing speaker or a stand-mounted bookshelf speaker, or even just a bookshelf speaker sitting on a surface of a cabinet or in a bookshelf is, what feet should I use? Should I use rubber feet? Should I use spike feet? What's the best to use, and do I need to even use feet at all? Can I just have this speaker sitting on the floor?
Today I'd like to answer those questions based on my experience. I'm sure that I'll get some conflicting opinions in the comments, and that's perfectly fine. Whatever works for you is great. I've set up a lot of systems over the years, and on a lot of different floor surfaces, and I know what tends to work best.
Do I Need Speaker Feet At All?
To answer the question "can I just have my bookshelf speaker or my floor standing speaker just sitting flat on a surface with nothing underneath it, no feet at all?" The answer to that one is a definite no, and the reason is,you've got this entire surface of the bottom of the cabinet that is now contacting the bookshelf or the floor, if it's a floor standing speaker. You've got a large surface area there, and I can guarantee that the floor underneath the speaker is likely not perfectly flat.
Why that's important is you're going to have some voids in there. You've got a large surface that, remember no matter how well braced or what the material is, a speaker cabinet is going to vibrate, and that vibration on the bottom of the speaker is going to be transmitted over the entire surface area to whatever it's sitting on if you don't have some sort of feet, and if there are voids there, as there will likely be, you can actually get buzzing.
I've run into this. I've seen people with big floor standing speakers in a room sitting on a natural hardwood floor which is not perfectly flat and smooth, and at some frequencies you could actually hear some buzzing coming from the underside of the speaker.
So yes, you absolutely need feet of some sort.
Speaker Feet For Bookshelf Speakers
Obviously on a bookshelf speaker, you're not going to put necessarily big spike feet to have it sitting on a shelf or a cabinet. You can easily get these little rubber bumpers, as we call them.
Many speaker manufacturers, including ourselves, actually will supply some of these with speakers.
Now you have only four points of contact between the bottom of the speaker and the surface that it's resting on, so you minimize the surface area down to four tiny little points, and also because it's a rubbery compliant material, you're going to damp and prevent some of that vibration from being transmitted or transferred down into the surface that the bookshelf speaker is sitting on.
Speaker Spikes or Rubber Feet For Floorstanding Speakers?
These little bumpers are going to be way too small to support a large floor standing speaker, so again, rubber foot or spike, what's best? Well, if you have a solid surface floor, whether that's tile or concrete or laminated or natural hardwood, plank hardwood flooring, assuming that it's a solid flat surface floor, no carpet (we'll get to that in a minute) you really have the option of using either. Rubber bumpers or rubber feet can be good because they will restrict the amount of signal from the cabinet that's transferred into that flooring.
Also, many people don't want to use speaker spikes and potentially damage their hardwood floors, for instance. With spikes you can get little cups that they sit in to prevent damage to the floor.
I've seen some people use coins as well to support them.
Really it comes down to really a matter of choice and you will - because of what these two different type of feet are doing - in many cases find a difference in the bass performance.
Bass Performance and Speaker Feet
If you have a little bit too much bass you're finding in the system, you may actually want to look at a spike foot instead of a rubber foot, because it's going to drain more of the low frequency vibration energy from the speaker and put it into your floor.
That also can be a bad thing, because if you're on a suspended floor (you're not in a basement, or in an apartment building where it's concrete), transmitting that vibration to the floor can be a good or bad thing, depending on the room.
Again, the recommendation I have is, if you can, get both and try both in your system. It's like anything else: until you try it in your own home with your own speakers in the room that they're in, you're not really going to know a hundred percent which one is going to perform better.
When Not to Use Rubber Feet
If you have carpet, whether it's an area rug or it's wall-to-wall carpeting, I would not recommend using these rubber feet. And the reason is, is that if you have a large floor standing speaker, it's unlikely, if you have a high pile carpet, that these feet will dig into it enough, and the speaker cabinet could actually not be very stable, and that could be dangerous, so in those cases I really recommend spike feet.
Any customer who I talk to that says what feet should I get, and they say that they have carpeting, definitely go with the spikes.
The other nice thing is the spike will go through the carpeting and now be coupled to the flooring under it, whatever that surface is, so that's an important thing.
Top Speaker Feet Tip
One top tip that I'm going to give you in terms of setup hints, and another reason why these sorts of feet are important on floor standing speakers in particular, is because they're threaded. Threaded doesn't mean just so that they're easy to get onto the cabinet. It also allows for level adjustment, and this is something again that I see people completely ignoring with their speaker set up.
In many cases, the floors in your house, particularly if it's an older home, are not going to be perfectly level.
So what happens?
Side to side leveling is not as critical, but if you can do it, you might as well.
What is really critical is the front to back leveling, and the reason is even a change of a few degrees in the level or the plum of the front baffle of the speaker can significantly (depending on the design) change the characteristic or frequency response that's the first arrival at your seated listening position.
If you have one speaker that's tilted a little forward and one speaker that's tilted a little back, you actually could have between the two speakers, quite a significant difference in the amplitude response.
Many will say, well, really in a good designed or a well-designed speaker, the vertical amplitude response family should be good within a few degrees so you shouldn't worry about it. Well, I know in my experience that even a slight adjustment of the front to back leveling, to make sure that those front baffles are perfectly straight, is extremely important.
It's just another tool to perfectly dial in your setup. Give it a try.
I hope that helps answer the multitude of questions I get on what feet I should use, and again as always, keep those comments coming. I love to hear your own experience with different types of feet on your speakers, what you're using, and new ideas and topics for videos that we can do in the future.