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The larger standard cones and ceramic feet had progressively greater body in the lower midrange through upper bass which created a fuller and more dimensional object with less apparent emphasis in the mids through upper mids. There was still spotlighting but the additional extension into the lower bands made it less obvious than with the XS. Overall soundstage width and depth remained consistent from XS to ceramic feet but the presentation was subtly different between the three. All had a marked sense of spatial boundary and specific instrument placement and each exhibited remarkable transparency but the larger devices added additional dimensionality and forward projection. The XS presented a perspective where the talent performed mid to far hall. The larger standard cones and feet moved those performers slightly forward, making them a little more immediate.

In terms of isolation properties, bigger was better. Extreme low bass had power throughout the product line but the greater amount of ceramic material improved extreme low-end control and most importantly, substantially increased the immunity from saturation effects compared to the XS. They stayed cleaner and better resolved broadband. These results were based on single point insertion of a set of cones, XS cones or ceramic feet. Insertion of other resonant control devices either CA or their competition, mixed and matched, could vary the extent of the inherent characteristics but not override their basic nature. It was now time to move to comparative analysis. There were a wide selection of isolation tweaks available so I chose a few noteworthy stalwarts from my stable to represent different methodologies.

The $299/3 Boston Audio Design Tuneblock SE represents the top product from this manufacturer and proves that a well-designed graphite-based product married to the minimal contact theory of a ball bearing competes against elastomeric designs in the isolation arena. Replacing the CA Electronics ceramic cones and feet with the Boston Audio Design was a subtle change in style. Both were highly focused with similar dynamic articulation and detail. The Boston Audio design was comparatively leaner but also
uniformly leaner from the midrange through the upper bass, exhibiting good bass kick and control and a touch more sharpness in the extreme top end. The CA Electronics had obvious additional midrange /upper midrange push against the Boston Audio Design. Soundstage perspective was overall similar, with the ceramic using its midband emphasis to create a little extra dimensionality and forward placement in that range. Immunity from subsonic vibration was a tight race between both. The additional stage of defense of the Tuneblock had the advantage but the bigger CA Electronics came very close.

The Audio Exklusiv d.C.d. feet run $499/4. They use a sandwich of aluminum cylinders whose top layer is internally damped, plus a center ply of fiber material to isolate, decouple and damp. They follow in the mold of the Boston Audio Design in terms of frequency response, with a strong emphasis on transparency and excel at the preservation of soundstage envelope in the octaves from the mids on up. The comparative results were overall similar to the graphite-based feet, with the d. C. d. showing similar tonal balance to the Boston Audio design against the CA’s relative mid/upper mid emphasis. The Audio Exklusiv opened up a more pronounced acoustical environment than the CA or Boston but the ceramic feet displayed a small advantage in instrumental focus. Effectiveness of isolation from external vibration was in favor of the decoupling properties of the Audio Exklusiv but the larger cones and feet again showed well.

The EquaRack MF-1 footer at $300/3 is proud representative of the elastomeric approach to isolation footers. Employing weight-rated elastomeric pellets sandwiched between a pair of aluminum cylinders, it allows for absolute matching with components. Although this device required considerably greater setup patience, it matched the higher-priced technologically sophisticated Weizhi Precision Gold Glory copper-infused graphite footers in their ability to maintain original frequency balance with stunning isolation properties. In comparison to CA the EquaRack were richer in the lower midrange and upper bass with comparable focus and even greater dimensionality. The MF-1 feet produced an equivalently large soundstage but a slightly darker acoustic. The ceramic isolation devices presented somewhat more illumination on stage and also showcased a lit-from-within midrange that took advantage of their signature tonal balance. In terms of isolation properties the EquaRack was superior in immunity, with the larger cones and ceramic feet following closest. The CA performed to a similar standard only when augmented by the Audio Exklusiv d.C.d. isolation base.

Next were the ceramic cable clamps. This marked the first appearance of such design in my house so no comparisons. The concept of low-level mechanical vibrations affecting audio cables will strike many as inconsequential so I went in with due skepticism. The clamps were put in place in multiple locations, first on the Audio Art IC-3SE interconnects from the Audio Space CDP 8A CD player and then on the Madison Audio Lab E3 Extreme 1 interconnects from the Wyred DAC-2 for front end application. Afterwards they saw duty on the Madison Audio Lab E3 Extreme 2 speaker cables. Would the ceramic cable clamps make a difference?

The answer was yes, repeatable in all circumstances. The clamps removed a certain amount of air as presumably false information created by micro resonances and also removed some of the upper mid emphasis introduced by the CA cones and feet. This served to clarify and focus soundstage information but also dried up the acoustic envelope to a small degree. The sonic picture became information rich but the environment was somewhat darker, with the effect being more pronounced on the speaker cables than interconnects. Since I only had a pair of clamps, I could not test if the combined use in both applications would accumulate. That question unanswered, the listening sessions showed that the concept and realization of the cable clamp has real and not inconsequential merit. It made obvious improvements in cleaning up the signal.

The cable elevators were another adventure into the personal unknown. Although this type of product has not been used in house, my statuettes have generally performed similar duty to keep cables off the ground - if not specifically for anti-resonant intent then certainly for dust control and strain relief for speaker terminations. The effects of the CA cable isolators were more subtle. Their influence was similar to the ceramic cones and feet but to a milder degree, contributing a modicum of higher apparent definition and an emphasis on transient edge. Their introduction into the full CA support restored some of the upper mid energy lost with the cable clamps, albeit without the return of the high-frequency haze. So overall I had a slight improvement in transparency with higher dynamic contrast. [If one of the genre's key claims is isolation from static electricity, one would expect the most benefits with synthetic carpets and none with stone, tile or wood flooring –