Country of Origin
Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz, Tidal, Denafrips Terminator+ clock-synced to Soundaware D30Ref SD card transport & USB brdige; Preamp: icOn 4Pro SE; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 monos, Enleum AMP-23R; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Aurai Audio Lieutenant, Audio Physic Codex Cube Audio Nenuphar Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, Furutech DPS-4.1 between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators, LessLoss Firewall for loudspeakers, Furutech NCF Signal Boosters; Room: 6 x 8m with open door behind listening seat
2nd system: Source: Soundaware D100Pro SD transport; DAC: Kinki Studio; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro + 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass; Amplifier: Crayon CFA-1.2; Loudspeakers: sound|kaos Vox 3awf, Dynaudio S18 sub; Power delivery: Furutech GTO 2D NCF; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Sundry accessories: Audioquest Fog Lifters; Furutech NFC Clear Lines; Room: ~3.5 x 8m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win7/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headamp: COS Engineering H1; Headphones: Final D-8000; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 120
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl SD-9 transport; DAC: Denafrips Terminator; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Simon Audio; Loudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m
Retail price of review component: $270/ea.
This report is a 2nd-opinion adjunct to Dawid Grzyb's feature review.
Aluminium, stainless steel, viscoelastics, hard felt and zirconia ball bearings.
Room gain is the polar opposite of an anechoic chamber; or the great outdoors for that matter. Room gain results from reflections. Those add output to direct sound that a 100% absorptive reflection-free anechoic chamber kills. Since dispersion of conventional drivers narrows with rising frequencies but goes omni/spherical for long bass waves by wrapping around speaker cabinets, room gain usually happens below ~200Hz. The only ways to eliminate it is with copious physical absorbers which must be big; playing the system in the backyard; or using active bass traps like PSI's. It can also be halved by controlling bass directivity to not behave omni (so cardioid as in the Kii III, figure 8 as with dipoles, reduced figure 8 as in Ripols). Room gain equals acoustic coupling. Today's subject is mechanical coupling. It's when sound appliances transfer energy not just into the air but sink it into other resonant objects. This too generates extra gain which disappears when the mechanical coupling breaks. Hence Dawid's observation that with the Carbide Bases, particularly bass output seemed to diminish. That's exactly what you'd expect. It's proof positive that the devices work as claimed.
Just as room gain delays in time—the reflections involved travel longer to arrive later at our ear than direct sound—so does mechanical gain. A prime example is subwoofers coupling to a floor to be heard very loud but late a few rooms over. I chronicled that in my review of the Grimm Audio SB1 where our suspended floor on the 2nd storey magnified the effect. Resonant flooring amplifies whatever physical energies moving woofers will sink into it. Effective decouplers aka isolators disrupt that transmission. One obvious side benefit is happier neighbors. Another is reduced time smear of long-traveling sounds. That can't help but clean up their bandwidth and, by causing less overlay and boom/bloom, even higher registers. Better bass creates a better midrange. Less mud means more overall clarity. It's obvious that bass energies are mechanically more powerful than treble energies. That makes full-range loudspeakers and subwoofers primary targets for isolation footers. It's why in lieu of last century's ubiquitous spike, engineering-driven speaker firms like Audio Physic have their magnetic suspension footers, Boenicke Audio their SwingBase, Magico their MPod/QPod, Wilson their Pedestal footers. These products are responses to shared observations. Coupling the jackhammer effect of particularly bass drivers to the floor is passé, decoupling/isolating it goes all in. But obviously the fragile mechanical pickups of turntables too can be improved by isolating them from structure-born and/or transmitted mechanical noise.
After confirmation with Carbide's Jeffrey Jenkins, it was decided that Dawid would forward me 12 footers so half his Warsaw dispatch for 3 quad sets to try under my upstairs/downstairs speakers and subs. Given my Artesanía Audio and HifiStay racks/footers for components, I told Jeffrey that past experience showed their effectiveness to override that of add-on footers. I'd focus on speakers and subs. He had shipped Dawid's footers with light ViscoRings for a max weight rating of 32kg/4. My downstairs speakers and particularly sub would exceed that. So he'd kit me out with some 'medium' ViscoRings to double the ratings as needed. Two other audio companies in the resonance-attenuating business which I know to use interchangeable viscoelastics are Grand Prix Audio and EquaRack. Carbide Audio charge $29/ea. for their replacement rings. Four 'heavy' rings will support up to 318kg/700lbs!
The color of this viscoelastic ring identifies it as 'light'.
By design, Carbide Bases combine viscoelastics for vertical isolation, roller bearings for horizontal dissipation. Unusual for the vertical aspect is the breadth of supported weights. It's why Jeffrey only needs three types of ViscoRings to successfully isolate from light to very heavy kit. The practical price to pay are 64x124mm HxW dimensions. To work as intended, his viscoelastic elements must be narrow but tall. Shrinking them for a less industrial appearance of the outer casing would undermine their broadband utility. Jeffrey's focus was on raw performance, not cuteness or polished chrome though he does offer natural and black finishes. With real parquet flooring upstairs and down, I didn't need his optional carpet-piercing spikes. My separate dispatch from his Llano/Texas workshop would just be a set of 'medium' rings, with an at least 26.4kg package inbound from Warsaw containing 12 x 2.2kg mega footers. This would be serious hardware with coarse felt on its contact patches to protect both floor and hifi component. I was about to earn my proper hifi carb ID from the state where everything's bigger.
Accepting this follow-on assignment walks my talk that subwoofers properly integrated via hi/low-pass filter are the thinking wo/man's solution for proper full-range bandwidth. The obvious proviso is that speakers, sub and the hifi rack's floor interface must all be effectively isolated. Otherwise the pursuit of lower louder bass backfires. Why accept echoes of boom trucks where a car's entire hull becomes an amplifying device? Clean low frequencies without structural overhang warrant the right disruptive tech to insure that they just couple to the air and not to resonant objects as well. After all, we don't want our floor to behave like a piano's soundboard, our sub and/or speakers to become its exciters.
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