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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, Sonnet Pasithea, Soundaware D30Ref SD card transport & USB bridge; Preamp: icOn 4Pro S w. hi/lo-pass filter; Power amplifiers: Kinki Studio EX-B7 mono, Enleum AMP-23R; Headamp: Kinki Studio; Phones: HifiMan Susvara; Loudspeakers: Aurai Audio Lieutenant w. sound|kaos DSUB 15 on Carbide Audio footers, 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 clock-slaved to Denafrips Terminator +; Preamp/filter: icOn 4Pro + 4th-order/40Hz hi-low pass; Amplifier: Goldmund Job 225; 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 Win10/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headamp: iFi Pro iDSD Signature; Headphones: Final D-8000; Powered speakers: DMAX SXC5
Upstairs headfi/speaker system: Source: smsl SD-9 transport; DAC: iFi Pro iDSD Signature; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Phones: Raal-Requisite SR1a
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; All-in-One: Simon Audio; Loudspeakers: Zu Soul VI; Subwoofer: Zu Submission; Power delivery: Furutech eTP-8, Room: ~6x4m

Review component retail: €350/3, €450/4

Spell check. Like its High Def cousin flips in High Deaf—hello THX Reference level of 85dB average, 105dB peaks, 10dB more for the bass channel—Hi Res flips from good to bad as Hi Resonance. My worst encounter of this bad kind came from first setting up two upfiring Grimm SB1 subwoofers. In your mind's eye, picture a potent 10" long-throw woofer in the smallest and shallowest possible box. The magnet virtually touches the ground like your behind seems the road in a lowrider boom truck. Can you see how the woofer's own backside hammers directly into the floor?

Upstairs my floor was obviously suspended. Three rooms over, my wife instantly complained. Powerful bass pulses migrated unhindered from my end of the house to hers. In my room I heard this structural resonance as time-delayed echo. Each recorded beat was stalked by a structure-born ghost whack. The audiophile hi-res truth is anything but the high life if we misspell things and don't isolate the jackhammer action of loudspeakers and subs. We don't want to couple that to the floor where it amplifies delayed in time like the chassis of that boom truck nearly scraping tarmac. And why upset neighbors with our leaky bass? Are we rude adolescents? Noise pollution is as obnoxious as second-hand smoke. No, we want to decouple or isolate our transducers. The louder and bassier we get, the more important this mandate becomes. It's not rocket science.

Granted, it could be if our name was Johannes Kepler. His famous three laws state that every planet’s orbit is an ellipse with the Sun at a focus; that a line joining the Sun and a planet sweeps out equal areas in equal times; and that the square of a planet’s orbital period is proportional to the cube of the semi-major axis of its orbit. If that sounds complicated, wait until you hear what's inside a Kepler footer by Piotr Galkowski of Divine Acoustics. Each handles up to 20kg whilst containing 40 elements across 7 dissimilar layers. Inside is a rectangular ceramic bar coupled to gemstones arranged in a pyramid shape. Its stones are kept in a fixed position to load chromium-nickel steel for a 3-layer system. The pyramid rests on the ceramic bar surrounded by elements that gently compress the system. A threaded spindle transmits vibrations from component or loudspeaker to the top of the pyramid. Steel, chromium, nickel, copper, titanium, molybdenum and auxiliary elements of wood and polyamide are also part of each Kepler. A set of three sells for €350, a quartet gets €450.

Kepler quads in action.

I'd planned on making their acquaintance at the literal tail ends of Piotr's Bellatrix speaker. Then I learnt that Eton of Germany were seriously back-ordered on drivers to temporarily halt his speaker production. Just then C-19 run-off effects jammed up supply chains everywhere. So I suggested to cover Kepler separately. Piotr proved game. I'm a big believer in resonance control so currently use HifiStay and Artesanía racks from South Korea and Spain respectively. Before that I had two Grand Prix Audio Monaco stands. It's why add-on footers are redundant beneath my gear. It's very effectively isolated already and across multiple stages.

I'll thus focus on speakers and subs on floor and desktop. The latter is even more suspended than our upstairs floor. Preventing my DMAX Super Cubes from leaking bass into the heels of my hands is key(board) unless I fancy feeling slightly delayed vibratory knots after each bass beat. Not. Clean bass that stops on time is my idea of res so high resolution not resonance. That's spell check engaged. So my resident Swiss monitors decouple on Hifistay multi-layer ball-bearing isolators upstairs. The 2×15" downstairs sub floats on Carbide Audio footers. These Go-Parts single-ball isolators (try to?) do the job on the French downstairs speakers. Under the Slovakian desktop speakers I use double-stacked Kanto Audio stands to which I wire-wrapped thin sand-filled tubes repurposed from bigger Ardán Audio desktop stands. So I've paid ramrod tribute to mechanical jitter if arguably just marginally with my floorstanders. How would the Polish celestials do across my various interfaces? Decoupling has won more support of late since even high-profile speaker firms like Magico and Wilson introduced their own isolators in lieu of the formerly ubiquitous spike. That pointy thing tracks back to Steve McCormack's long-forgotten Mod Squad. Meanwhile Sven Boenicke's SwingBases have sung in/about isolation for decades already. It's far from a new concept, just one whose market acceptance took its time. In 2022 (yawn!) it's no longer news. Be it IsoAcoustics or Townshend, Audio Physic or Stillpoints, Finite Elemente, Ansuz or Nordost, there's an isolation device to suit divergent aesthetics, budgets, load bearings and outrageous claims. Materials range from composites to aluminium, graphite, titanium, tungsten, viscoelastics and unpronouncables. Strategies include ball bearings, springs, strings, particles, magnets, micro spheres and viscoelastics. In most cases we're told that vibrations turn to heat though no thermometer would flicker at the actual energy conversion involved. No matter the MO…