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Stillpoints Lower Your Noise Floor

 
 
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Old 05-09-2016, 04:23 PM
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Yardbird Yardbird is offline
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Default Stillpoints Ultra SS under my Magico Q3's

I have used Symposium Tungsten Rollerblock footers under my components for several years, with good results. Over time, though, I’d become intrigued with the concept of Stillpoints after reading all the positive reviews - many of them right here on AA. Where there is so much smoke, there must be fire, right? So when I had finally gotten around to setting up my audio system, following a recent move, I was surprised to learn my antique home’s floor consisted of only one layer of 1.2” tongue and groove heart pine! A conventional two-layer system with 3/4” sub floor under a 3/4” hardwood, provides far superior damping characteristics. So, despite the fact I was happy with the sound I was getting in my new listening room, I decided to give Stillpoints a try under my Magico Q3’s, because I couldn’t stop wondering if I might not be loosing some resolution to resonance transfer from the antique single-layer flooring my system was installed on. It’s that audiophile thing - no matter how good it is, it can ALWAYS be better!

Alon Wolf, the designer behind Magico speakers, in response to growing user interest in aftermarket footers, reportedly said that Magico speakers were “designed to terminate into the floor", not be “isolated” (on footers). With all due respect to Mr. Wolf, all installations are not created equal, and with its antique floor system, certainly not mine!

I swapped out the elegant factory footers for a set of Ultra Stainless Steele footers. I choose the USS footers over the Ultra 5’s, judging the USS, with its complete “technology pocket”, full adjustability, and relatively reasonable price, to be the sweet spot in the lineup. Also, it fits nicely under my slender speakers, where the bulky Ultra 5’s would protrude beyond the cabinets. I was careful to level the speakers while adjusting each corner for equal load, making sure that all feet were separate from the cabinet bottoms and each “hat” was adjusted away from the footer housing. I used factory threaded adapters for stability, so the “hats” were oriented towards the floor.

Results? My first impression was actually negative! I seemed to have lost some of the wonderful liquidity I referred to in my "K-01x Listening Impressions, ” thread on the AA Esoteric board. But, my attention quickly shifted from what I might have lost, to what I was definitely gaining in this trade - amazing amounts of new information! More micro details, better-defined leading edge transients, deeper, cleaner bass, richer tonal presentation and a huge improvement in quality and quantity of spatial and ambient information. As I listened to first one recording and then another, I realized the Stillpoints under my Q3’s had transformed my system sound!

Next, I tackled my digital front end; four USS footers went under my K-01x, taking the place of three Symposium Tungsten Rollerblocks. The system was quieter still, the presentation was more upfront, soundstage grew in width and depth and there were more details with no apparent additional harshness!

The one place I always thought I might use the larger Ultra 5 footers was under the K-01x, so I switched out the four USS footers for three U5 footers on threaded adapters. Here, I noticed an immediate increase in harmonic richness and overall refinement of sound over the USS footers.

Then I removed the three Symposium Rollerblocks from under my G-01 clock and placed the four USS footers I had just removed from the bottom of the K-01x. I was absolutely floored - the extent of improvement was at least as great and possibly more so than what I had just experienced placing the footers under the K-01x!! Details, details, details! Improved rhythm and decay. There was still more ambient information, more tonal richness. The sound was awash in the sonic cues that make recorded music sound real.

I have since added USS footers under my mono block power amps and preamp, and Ultra Mini’s under my server and power conditioner. All were previously floating on Symposium Tungsten Rollerblocks, and while I would not claim the same degree of benefit in all cases as those above, all improved overall system performance to a degree that I felt justified the investment.

I’ve realized substantial improvements in overall coherence, rhythm - bass lines have a new urgency and solidity, and drums now have a distinct tonality. Piano, my single favorite instrument, is alive with rich, clean harmonics, clearly-defined attacks, and natural decay of sounds.

I listened to; “Sinatra, Live at The Sands” with the Count Basie Orchestra / Reprise /1966 / arrangements by Quincy Jones (RB). Sinatra’s first live recording, a fabulous time capsule, beautifully recorded. The band is arrayed across the front of the room with Sinatra in dead center. The recorded soundstage sounds spacious though, interestingly, the hotel stage was notoriously cramped. Horns explode, big, brassy and percussive in their delivery. This was Basie’s road band in top form, honed from countless nights of touring, and swinging relentlessly behind Sinatra. Sinatra, holographic in presence and holding court in "his room", was in great voice and spirits that night, and the audience responded with enthusiastic appreciation, surrounding me in my listening room as if I’m right there! The seas parted the night they made this recording 50 years ago - its all so perfect! What a performance, and what an exciting experience hearing it on my newly-Stillpointed system!

"Miles, Sketches of Spain"/ Columbia Legacy Edition /1959/ with Gil Evans (RB). This is surely light jazz, but it is also beautiful, and Mile’s spare improvising is tasteful and appropriate. Concerto de Aranjuez, played on my Stillpointed system, features a broad soundstage, incredibly holistic-sounding instruments, immediacy - it sounds as if I’m seated in a chair next to Miles - and even the acoustical aura of the individual performance space surrounding the individual instruments! The incredibly quiet background allows for degrees of micro detail I’ve never heard in my system before. The hand percussion is tunefully metallic, woody, palpable, and each occupying its own clearly-delineated space on the soundstage.

Saint-Saens Organ Symphony No.3 / BSO / Munch / Analogue Productions Living Stereo / 1959 (SACD). An Analogue Productions re-master. Playing this recording previously, the organ would sometimes be lost in the full ensemble passages. Now, when playing the new AP remaster through my Stillpointed system, the organ is always clearly delineated from the rest of the orchestra - even the lowest pedal tones are distinct and tuneful. There is an enormous soundstage with fine separation and clarity, and the orchestra is bathed in lush Symphony Hall acoustics.

Rimsky-Korsakov / Scheherazade / Reiner / Chicago SO/ Living Stereo by Analogue Productions (SACD). A RCA Living Stereo recording from 1960, that is possibly the finest Scheherazade performance and recording to date, and this new Analogue Productions remaster is the best yet. This recording is always an exhilarating listening experience; wall-to-wall soundstage, fabulous performance space acoustics, breath-taking dynamic swings, clarity, and section work that jumps out from the orchestral whole with rich sonority. On my Stillpointed system, all those qualities that make it such a satisfying audiophile recording are enhanced significantly; strings shimmer with newly-revealed overtone and attack textures, the brass section steps forward and plays with a brilliant sheen, deep bass and percussion section work have a new-found depth and impact. Nothing overbearing, and no harshness - I have to remind myself I’m listening to digital!

The revised Stillpoints line has been on the market several years now, so what I’m saying here is hardly ground-breaking. It took me some time to decide to try Stillpoints, though. I reasoned my system was already well - isolated and considering the significant investment involved, Stillpoints seemed an unnecessary excess. But, now that the Stillpoints are installed, I am hearing sound quality I didn’t know my system was capable of! We all know system isolation is essential to good sound, but the Stillpoints have been transformational, their benefits for me, profound. My system performance has been elevated, not by a level, but by an echelon. No mere tweaks, Stillpoints are foundational to my audio system. Ted.
__________________

Magico Q3 plus S-Pods, Spectral DMA-500AR, DMC-30SV pre, Esoteric P02X/D02X, N-01, G-01, Roon Nucleus Plus w/ S-Booster LPS, Uptone Audio EtherRegen w/ LPS-1.2, MIT Oracle MA-X V2's, Oracle SHD-120 V2, Shunyata Sigma Clock 50ís, Sigma Ethernetís, Alpha USB-V2, Wireworld Platinum Starlight 7 HDMI's, MIT Oracle Z-III PC's, Z Power Bar Conditioner, Coherence Systems ADD-Powr Sorcer X4, EAU2, Furutech Flux 50 filters, GTX-D rhodium outlets, service sub panel w/ 4-30 amp dedicated circuits, Stillpoints Ultra 6, Ultra 5, Ultra SS, HRS Damping Plates, Cable Isolators, Sony XBR75ZH8.

Last edited by Yardbird; 06-21-2016 at 09:48 AM. Reason: punctuation
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