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Srajan Ebaen
Financial Interests: click here
27" iMac (3.4GHz quad-core IntelCore i7, 16GB 1.333MHz RAM, 2TB hard disc, 256GB SSD drive, ADM Radeon HD 6970M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory); PureMusic 1.87; Amarra 2.3; Audirvana Plus 1.3.1; April Music Eximus DP1; Exoteryc/APL Hifi UX1/NWO-M; Audiophilleo 2
Preamp/Integrated: ModWright LS-100 with Psvane CV-181T tubes, Exoteryc C-03, Bent Audio Tap-X
: First Watt SIT1 monos, ModWright KWA 100SE
Speakers: Aries Cerat Gladius, Boenicke Audio B10
Cables: Complete loom of Zu Audio Event, KingRex UCraft & UPower USB, Stereo
Tombo Trøn BNC/BNC coax
Stands: 2 x ASI HeartSong 3-tier, 2 x ASI HeartSong amp stand
Powerline conditioning: 1 x GigaWatt PF2, 1 x Furutech RTP-6
Sundry accessories: Extensive use of Acoustic System Resonators, noise filters and phase inverters
Room size: 5m x 11.5m W x D, 2.6m ceiling with exposed wooden cross beams every 60cm, plaster over brick walls, suspended wood floor with Tatami-type throw rugs. The listening space opens into the second storey via a staircase and the kitchen/dining room are behind the main listening chair. The latter is thus positioned in the middle of this open floor plan without the usual nearby back wall.
Review Component Retail: €7.600 tandem three tier + €1.950 top glass shelf as reviewed (single 3-tier €4.550, single 4-tier €5.462, optional small glass shelves free). These prices exclude VAT and shipping and will thus vary by country

Eduardo de Lima prototyped his Audiopax Model 88 amplifier in steel, aluminum and brass. Though he couldn't explain underlying cause, he much preferred the sound of the brass enclosures. Another designer transplanted the entire guts of an Arcam integrated into a curvaceous composite chassis with very deliberate resonance control measures for the circuit boards, transformer etc. He pronounced the performance delta—identical circuit, no electrical part changed—profound.

What audio circuits sit in and on has an effect. Unless they pursue one-up custom work, audiophiles have no choice over their gear's enclosures. But they can and should control what—as their components' mechanical extension—they use as a rack. This accounts for more or less effective resonance control depending on applied engineering. A rack can even add a measure of inter-component shielding. Sitting atop one another, components are exposed to radiated fields from below and above. Carbon-fiber shelves for one can act as shield barrier.

With José Luis Lafarga's Artesania Exoteryc rack from Spain's Andorra province, the latter function applies not. There are no shelves (unless you insist). Instead there is a metal exoskeleton, 3- or 4-tier, single or double wide for the 3. Suspended via Nylon bushings from within that—the white cylinders at left—is a second hanging skeleton with height-adjustable rails and width-adjustable decouplers for the component bottoms.

Fanciers of oversized turntables get the optional glass*1 shelf on top. That leaves 14cm of clearance for the tier below. Its very tall spikes park in receiver dimples of the exoskeleton. For equipment that somehow doesn't lend itself to Javier's preferred shelf-less scheme there are 12mm 52.5 x 42mm shelves that slip atop the decouplers.

*1 Glass suffers a poor audiophile reputation for ringing. Not all glass is the same though. High-tech companies Crystal Cable and Perfect8 Technologies very deliberately exploit the 'sound-proof' amorphous properties of specialty glass in their top speakers. This link contains some background. Artesania laminates three sheets of a tempered glass type for their top choice where a shelf is required.

Height-adjustable cross braces in the back add rigidity to the exoskeleton whose 60mm hollow uprights "with special diffusing paint" are filled with a resonance-absorptive compound. Four adjustable bumpers prevent play between inner and outer frames. The fore/aft supports bars of the inner structure move parallel or slightly angled and sport a number of holes to change the positioning of the pins with their upfacing polyamide decouplers and absorptive neoprene pads. A ground terminal accommodates phono stages. More neoprene discs slip beneath the four main spindle pin receivers for an additional disruptor of mechanical energy transmission between floor and rack.

Also included are 2.4kg anti-magnetic RF-shielding damper discs to be placed atop sensitive equipment. Max support weight for the suspended inner structure is 150kg. A turntable may add another 150kg to the outer structure. Unit depth is 52.5cm, outer width 67cm, total height is 73 or 98cm for the 3- and 4-tier versions.

In short, the Exoteryc rack from Artesania is yet another serious vibe-busting attempt in the vein of Grand Prix Audio, HRS, Silent Running, Stillpoints, SGR & Co. It's not hifi furniture. There focus is appearance and wood the most ubiquitous choice. The Exoteryc is a performance rack. Its first order of business is broadband vibration attenuation. It wants components to sound like themselves (in mechanical isolation) rather than be affected by other gear, foot falls and the speakers' jackhammer action migrating through the floor into the rack and its critical cargo.

In lieu of levitation, such mechanical isolation relies on multiple disruptive junctions inside the rack. Mechanical energies traveling through its structure are repeatedly blocked and converted into heat. This involves freedom of motion (the 4-point suspension), rubbery barriers and damping in the filled uprights.

Where Artesania goes more mobile than some is modularity. Their tiers are infinitely adjustable up and down, their decouplers for optimal contact patches on component bellies are only slightly less so (though they clearly favor 4-point over three-point support).

Unless it were housed in a different room or airtight closet, what no rack can address is component reaction to airborne attack. Music moves air. Play louder, generate more low bass. This very action increases acoustic pressurization around your gear. All a properly engineered hifi rack can effectively accomplish is to measurably minimize mechanical crosstalk. Such vibratory feedback occurs between support and component (shelf, stand, floor) and between the components themselves. How electronics talk to themselves (how for example vibrating transformers couple to PCB parts or how tubes go microphonic from air turbulence) remains unaltered.

To make true alterations in that realm requires hardware modifications. Artesania's included RF/mass dampers are a first very basic step in that modify-the-enclosure direction. If pictures are worth a 1000 words, moving pictures by way of video must be priceless. So take an intermission from reading. Watch this 9-minute very instructional YouTube presentation on how to set up this upscale rack that looks to be from the high-mass rigid and 'laboratory'*2 design school but is actually suspended.

*2 Whilst the lack of shelves has technical advantages, it also leaves more of the cabling visible. Hence my 'laboratory' tag. The Exoteryc's concept is quite ruthless about performance. Décor friendliness is arguably second. This is a tech solution that looks it. Interior designers pursuing performance racks might prefer Harmonic Resolution Systems or Finite Elemente for their more conventional furniture styling disguising the incorporated technical solutions. In that sense the Artesania is bare-boned. With its skeletal guts for glory approach, you see exactly how everything goes together. With it the audiophile obsession has nowhere to hide.