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With a ship weight of 146kg and the main box 80 x 120 x 100cm—the glass shelf and footer/disc hardware arrive in separate boxes—you're excused for forgetting all about suspension and only seeing red mass. Unpacking and moving this double-wide rack into its final location is definitely a two-person job particularly if (cough) a few steep flights of stairs without elevator are involved. Packing quality is superlative to insure everything arrives in pristine shape. The rack comes fully assembled, requiring only the removal of six lock bolts and three wooden spacer shims. The top and bottom tiers span the entire width. They only move up or down in tandem and arrive in the highest and lowest possible orientation to likely remain unchanged. Just the middle tier is split and independently adjustable left and right. It's the leveling of the outer structure (a quality bubble level is included as are all other tools required), the fixing of the height of the center tiers and all footer locations which make up the remaining work.

The footer brackets relative to the fixing bolts may be mounted facing inside for narrow or outside for wide. This accommodated both my half-width April Music Eximus DP-1 DAC (center right above), jumbo-sized Trafomatic Audio 101D-based single-stage DHT preamp (upper left) and everything between. To support two half-width units side by side on a single tier does require an optional but free glass shelf. By simply loosening a lock nut on a footer pin, its height is adjustable with a hex key from below so a component can already be loaded to dial in this final trim.

For the large floor-coupling discs Artesania provides both black neoprene and white polyamide inserts. The latter have isolating but no damping or absorptive properties. They won't "increase the overall absorption coefficient of the rack. Auditions with them tend to be transparent, relaxed and above all dynamic." The neoprene bases absorb and damp and are for installations "with little acoustic treatments where the sound tends to be aggressive, dry, hard and thin." A further tuning option comes with the included complete second set of 24 component footers without neoprene pads but a simple felt layer. Artesania recommends to experiment with both from component to component. As these footers pull out easily from their pins, swaps are completely painless. And because they are stationary, moving equipment in and out avoids the dreaded roller block jitters.

Fit 'n' finish of the Exoteryc really are of the very highest quality. This goes for surface treatment, joint welds, threads and overall tolerances. The optional turntable shelf—or iMac desk in my case—proved unbelievably heavy. Neoprene inserts in its frame decouple it from the uprights and that spike interface again is adjustable. What you're left with after installation is a super-inert thoroughly 'thru-engineered' structure which except for whatever happens to sit atop the triple-laminated glass hangs all your components from those white Nylon cylinders.

What turned out to be an unexpected practical advantage of the shelf-less approach was the ability to crisscross signal cables inside the structure through space usually blocked by solid shelving. This has merely the power cords 'exit' the back for altogether cleaner wire routing. The exposed cross brackets also lend themselves to things like Ikea kitchen hooks from which I hung headphones.

The six included very substantial mass/RF dampers not only damp ringing top covers and provide radiation shielding but also anchor the type of lightweight component that's prone to capsizing from cable weight alone. This rack seemingly accounts for all reasonable practical requirements. That's proper design.

P(l)ayback time. If you've never seriously experimented with resonance control, you'll be dumbfounded by what you've left beneath the table. By implication it tends to mean you'll regard sound commentary on racks—under description of goods, the Spanish commercial invoice said, ha, meuble (furniture)—with suspicion. My own rude awakening came from Grand Prix Audio's Monaco Modular rack many years ago when I still lived in Taos/New Mexico. That Alvin Lloyd design left the building when my previous space's long but narrow layout balked at the racks' depth. My two GPA towers thus ended up with a friend. In moved Franck Tchang's shallower wooden HeartSong. That's what the Exoteryc now replaced.

The difference was not subtle. It presented itself without any effort as a simple fact. Upper harmonic richness had increased, say on Vassili Tsabropoulos' nearly glassy piano on Melos for ECM which is beautifully counterpointed by Anja Lechner's woody cello. The visibility of decays mixing and lingering had shot up. With it came a wholesale improvement of ambient retrieval. Recorded space was more audible. Space itself makes no sound of course. It's the sounds occurring within it which light it up and map it out with their reflections and natural reverb. On sufficiently pure recordings which contain such data, this aspect became a lot more astute. Think of those qualities as the equivalent of floating gossamer during an Indian summer - spider webs on the wind which you can only see because the light refracts off them just so. Here it's the recorded reflections which unveil them.

A related benefit was improved intelligibility at lower levels. Personally that's perhaps the most prized quality. Only those without neighbors can't relate. It's the proverbial ability to hear the needle drop. That's shorthand for everything small and subtle. To make it out clearly without having to raise playback volumes is the difference between listening a few hours more each and every day. This effect also seems to inject more space between the musical weave. It's like a declumping agent or freshly washed hair which separates out into individual strands.

Pitch definition and general articulation in the wider bass registers also were better. Cleaner but also leaner bass meant more midband transparency. With still the exact same speakers as acoustic sources, these combined effects came from nothing more than a reduction of mechanical feedback between the gear and transducers. Another way of describing it is to simply say that the sound had grown more sophisticated. If it were about writing, there now was more meaning between the lines. If it were about painting, there'd now be less primary colors and more varied hues. Back in audio lingo those hues express themselves as bigger dynamic ripples. When things sound more dynamic without raising the volume, it means the difference between loudest and quietest has increased. Since loudest didn't get louder, only quiet could have become quieter. So we say the noise floor dropped. That reads quite abstract, particularly since we know very well that we didn't magically turn down any background din. Cars still drive by.

But the experience is real and very tangible. Loud happens sooner. Loud here means personal satisfaction that we hear everything without straining and that installation of the Exoteryc rack has noticeably lowered this threshold. When quiet sounds loud, that's increased resolution in action. It's eminently practical. But there is a price to pay. This increase in resolution removes fuzziness whose unrecognized presence appears as warmth. Hence the resultant clarity which takes its place appears a bit cooler and more crystalline. This is similar to tube-induced colorations whose elimination with transistors both takes away and gives. How one reacts to what appears and what leaves should depend on focus and willingness to adapt. If your desire is to hear more, there's no question the Exoteryc delivers. If you prefer deliberate soft focus on a leading lady's closeup, you could find it too truthful.

Wrap. Whilst far from cheap, most people will only need a single 3- or 4-tier rack. That's €4.550 or €5.462 and right in the heartland of this segment's serious competition. Key features of the Exoteryc are being shelf less; highly adjustable; not using parts that wear out to require replacement; not requiring assembly; tuning features (two kinds of floor interfaces, two kinds of component interfaces); mass dampers/radiation shields for each component; a ground terminal; and free shelves when placing two half-width components side by side for example. Design and execution are top (no)shelf and the efficacy of the involved engineering is plain as day even in a casual before/after audition. There's no question about any of it.

The real question is, will audiophiles consider allocating significant funds on something as unsexy as a rack—that descriptor alone suggests more torture than pleasure—when shiny new components beckon for equivalent coin? That remains a far larger variable than worrying about how much better one specific performance rack might be than another. It's why manufacturers like Artesania pursue reviews like today's. It's primarily about a reminder. This stuff matters. A lot! Once you've gotten your active components sorted (those obviously come first) and have put together a decent cable loom, give up the upgrade itch until you've properly addressed what those components sit on. Only then will you fully hear what you already own. Really. With this rack there's a good chance you'll feel home free on the component front already. Now you can spend further discretionary funds on music or another hobby altogether. Unlike room treatments (which most of us avoid though deep down we know better) there's no valid excuse why we shouldn't aspire to a performance rack. Your gear has to sit somewhere. Why not make that count? When you're at that specific juncture of your audiophile journey—if it came sooner than later you could save yourself money, time and effort in the long run—think Spain*. Then think Artesania and Exoteryc. Once I added up features, flexibility, workmanship and undeniable performance, an award was the only proper response. Bravo to the Spanish team at Barbastro!

* Today's differences between premium €6.000 and €12.000 D/A converters are far less significant than the improvements the Exoteryc rack will make when you come from a 'non-engineered' furniture solution. Period, exclamation mark and a few salutary pepper words thrown in for good measure. That's how €5.000 for a rack become actual value. You pay but you do get very real returns.

Artesania website