Country of Origin
This review first appeared in September 2023 on HifiKnights.com. By request of the manufacturer and permission of the author, it is hereby syndicated to reach a broader audience. All images contained in this piece are the property of HifiKnights or the manufacturer- Ed.
Reviewer: Dawid Grzyb
Sources:LampizatOr Pacific (KR Audio T-100 / Living Voice 300B + KR Audio 5U4G Ltd. Ed.), Innuos Statement
Preamplifier: Trilogy 915R, Thöress DFP
Power amplifier: Trilogy 995R, FirstWatt F7, Enleum AMP-23R
Speakers: Boenicke Audio W11 SE+, sound|kaos Vox 3afw all with LessLoss Firewall for Loudspeakers, Boenicke ComDev
Cables: Boenicke Audio S3 and 3 SE Evo+, LessLoss C-MARC and Entropic Process C-MARC, Boenicke Audio 3 SE Evo+
Network: Fidelizer EtherStream, Linksys WRT160N
Rack:Franc Audio Accesories Wood Block Rack 1+3
Resonance attenuation: 2x Carbide Audio Carbide Bases (under DAC, preamp and speakers), 3x Bindbreakers (under LessLoss power bar)
Retail price of reviewed components in EU (incl. tax): €559/ea. [€329/ea. upgrade kit to Evo], €27/4 spikes
Diamond progress. The Carbide Base Diamond decoupling footer is a more advanced costlier version of an isolator I reviewed two springs ago. Let's find out whether this newcomer is better still. Although 2021 isn't the far distant past, it may seem an eternity for the audio industry. Two years are sufficient to have some manufacturers rework their entire line-up whilst others spend it perfecting just one design. Carbide Audio fit the latter profile. They established in 2019 in Texas and locate in the city of Llano. Their introductory isolator named Carbide Base launched in July 2021 and I had the pleasure of reviewing it several months later. Founder Jeffrey Jenkins didn't rush his first commercial effort. Creating an unusual accessory worthy of a US patent took a while. To recap, Jeff is a software engineer into digital room correction and psychoacoustics who took the subject of resonance control under his scope then pushed farther than most hobbyists would. His programming skills proved useful to write CNC code for his own machine shop and turn 3D renders into working prototypes all in house. Being an inquisitive type with a knack for mechanics resulted in a maiden product that had me pleasantly surprised.
Jeffrey's Carbide Bases performed very well especially considering their reasonable price. These land mines packed with large viscoelastic inserts and roller bearings were unlike other such products I'd sampled or knew of. Decoupling accessories typically divide into soft or hard but Jeff's hybrid affair handles horizontal and vertical isolation by cleverly combining both approaches. His viscoelastic sleeve dubbed ViscoRing™ acts like a spongy spring of low spring rate. This inherently lossy component converts 65% of mechanical energy into heat and features wide isolation bandwidth and a low resonant frequency. When sufficiently thin and tall, it beats metal springs on resonance dissipation aka damping. This dictated the substantial 64 x 124mm housing and was the main engineering task to master. Although its dress code didn't let on, the Carbide Base proved internally quite intricate. A threaded bottom plate adjusted height while 6 x 3 petite zirconia balls between the lower sections introduced mild horizontal displacement. The ViscoRing of choice embedded along the sides of the cylindrical body while the end caps kept this critical rubbery sleeve mechanically stable so that it could compress without deforming outwards. These Carbide pucks featured threaded 1/4"-20 receivers top and bottom to firmly attach to a component/speaker or add optional spikes to penetrate carpet. These footers work best near their viscoelastic's upper loading range when resonant frequency is lowest. Hence the customer selects from five available weight ratings. A set of three pucks with green, grey, blue, black or red inserts supports up to 25, 50, 100, 200 and 600kg respectively while a quad pushes these numbers to 35, 70,140, 280 and 800kg. Should you wish to replace ViscoRings, an included key and several minutes of your time are all it takes. Just unscrew three bolts on the top cover to remove it, replace the slightly tacky soft sleeve by hand, pop the cover back on and redo the bolts. A single ViscoRing demands $29.
The Carbide Base as Jeffrey's first commercial product underwent some rework since. The updated Evo retains the critical twin isolation method. Its height shrunk by 15% due to several adjustments to its stainless steel section. The zirconia ball bearings grew 50% and are three more now, accompanied by twice as many tiny viscoelastic elements to further improve horizontal performance. Machined ridges on the top and bottom plates replace the earlier felt pads. Although the original Carbide Base was well executed, the Evo feels nicer and more mature. This difference is very clear upon comparing both. For more details, consult their website. Today's hero is the Diamond upgrade of the Evo. This newcomer raises complexity by embedding an extra ball-bearing layer into its top. Work on this insert began about a year ago. It was to leverage transmission-path evasion to improve isolation and damping particularly with minuscule vibrations originating from within electronics. Under proper conditions, a ball bearing moving unimpeded within a curved raceway prevents incoming vibrations from exiting. A raceway as smooth as possible is key to achieving such freedom of motion. Since hard zirconia ball bearings focus pressure into an infinitely small point, they can cause an indentation in their raceways already under modest weight. This called for a harder solution. To make his raceways impervious, Jeffrey now machines them from solid ceramic with diamond tools. Thorough polishing minimizes imperfections which could obstruct the bearing. Then the ceramic races coat with amorphous diamond during a physical vapor deposition aka PVD process. These diamond-hardened ceramic races are part of the new circular inserts and compatible with Evo bodies. Their owners can acquire the upgrade kit [€329] to convert an Evo to a Diamond Base whilst retaining the main body with its built-in lower ball-bearing layer and viscoelastic.
Jeffrey's ceramic geometry is unusually shallow and wide to prolong bearing movement which effectively lowers the resonance frequency. Although the difference between Diamond and Evo is just this 3rd isolator stage, unusual hardness is the new wrinkle for still more efficient resonance suppression. The Diamond insert even features four parts made of a manganese/copper twin-crystal alloy baptized TwinDamp™. This material undergoes several stages of hot/cold exposure to further boost damping properties which are 10 x greater than copper. A Carbide Base Diamond sells for €559, quite the hike over the standard sibling. Turning already hard materials into extremely hard versions is simply costly. The Danes at Ansuz know about that. Their best Z2S Darkz isolator demands €3'500/ea. to be prohibitively expensive largely due to wickedly exotic materials processing that unlocks terrific performance. So I wasn't surprised to learn that the Diamond raceways alone cost as much as all other parts combined. Although Jeffrey's newest isolator isn't the most affordable of its kind by any stretch, it's nowhere near the fiscal peak yet still promises a lot given advanced execution. Small components atop these massive pucks look odd to say the least but that's the nature of their hybrid MO. The Carbide Base Diamond is indeed as compact as it could be made without compromising performance. The look of these footers particularly under my enormous LampizatOr DAC really floated my boat. Black or silver finishes add more choices beyond fitting bolts and/or spikes. It all spells thoughtful engineering and top machining.
Would you like to download the current image?
Would you like to download the current image?