First off, the Aurios MIBs were far more easily prompted to induce visible swaying of floated speakers than Apex - especially when the latter's steel ball rested inside a T-nut recess previously vacated by a spike. Rather than having the cabinet's underside make minimal contact with the ball's curved top, the T-nut's circumference and speaker weight now captured the ball tightly from above. A properly floated MIB speaker could be displaced with one finger - my DUOs couldn't be budged with the heel of my hand applying reasonable pressure.

This floated-yet-stable scenario might explain the fabulous results as well as assuage rebelling while sensible theories. In the absence of apparent physical displacement, why even call it floatation? Because rather than deliberately coupling, the triple-layered Carbon-composite Apex with central polymer barrier is a decoupling device designed to minimize bi-directional energy transfer. To test whether it truly undermined bass notes from traveling through the floor? Child's play. I took a recently re-discovered ambient album, Michael Brook's gut-massaging classic Cobalt Blue [4AD, 945000-2], placed my bare feet on the rim of exposed tiles and waited until certain notes clearly tingled the soles of my feet. I now hIt pause, backward scan, unspiked the speakers and triggered play again. Duh? (Being lazy, I had previously lowered the DUOs enough on their spikes to assure that slipping in the Apexx just barely lifted the spikes off the floor so I could leave them screwed in for a faster A/B.) Reality clearly followed predictions - a faint echo of the previously gratuitous foot massage. More importantly though, what happened sonically?

Apparently less bass output but far better definition; a nearly complete absence of boom halos rendering what should be tautly delivered salvos with fuzzy, echo-y smears in time; separation of bass detail previously still somewhat clumped together to reveal actual timbes in parallel rather than appearing overlayed as composites; more broadband transparency set against a quieter background; a notable reduction of overall grunge or murkiness that elevated the see-deeply-into qualities of the soundstage by offering better micro-detail.

Subtle? Not at all, albeit of a lesser magnitude than unspiking my Monaco equipment support a month ago to float it permanently on Apex. Duh squared! To truly evaluate the complete impact of floating the speakers, I now needed to park the Monaco back on its spikes. Merde. Can you say massively royal pain in the arse? Planning on plenty of less labor-intensive future assignments, I took the plunge and, 30 dishevelled minutes later, was back on my ivory tower's reviewer throne. Where are the slaves and sycophants when you need 'em?

A glance at Alvin's spikes should silence any detractors from claiming his carpet-piercers suffer under-engineered compromises. Yet back en pointe like a pony-tailed ballerina, the 11 spikes below DUOs and Monaco now set up plenty of unguarded Checkpoint Charlies where powerful mechanical resonances could once again travel far less handicapped. The finely calibrated bass balance I had anal-retentively dialed in for the apex'd DUOs & Monaco by taking full advantage of the former's active sub adjustability? It turned morbidly dark, heavy and ponderous. Cut da dang bass, mon!

SImultaneously, the overall weather report spelled heavy cloud cover and impaired visibility as though a modicum of fog had risen to turn the entire aural landscape less pristine - foreshortened depth perspective, less rhythmic bounce, a skewed tonal balance with thicker, fatter vocals and less shimmer on cymbals.

Did floating the speakers then rectifiy this skewed tonal balance? Not entirely. This only verified that despite with Apex underfoot my full-range pounders, enough vibes escaped to my equipment tower to mess with its chain-reaction signal just enough to not completely recapture the phenomenal litheness and clarity of the fully floated set-up. Am I comfortable stating which partial version -- floated stand or floated speakers -- was more effective? Not entirely, simply because subsequent A/Bs between those two scenarios were entireley out of the picture. However, I will throw this brief comment into the ring: Decoupling the speakers goes a bit further - perhaps. Whether beneath speakers or stands, erecting the first Apex barrier accounts for somewhere around 70% of the total change that two barriers afford.

But here's the all-important qualifier: Significant distortion reduction across the band sounds less loud than throbbing distortions - sad but true. If your speakers don't sport an actively amplified bass section like mine, the tonal balance you have
-- deliberately or by accident -- voiced into your spiked system will go imbalanced. What you'll gain in overall clarity, transparency and speed (and in transient impact, pitch definition and timbral precision in the bass registers in particular) will be offset by what could be a 3dB loss of subjective bass output. Should you embrace potential leanness for intelligiblity?

Only you can answer that. And it's not as clear-cut anyway. Resiting your speakers for enhanced boundary reinforcement could easily rebalance the scales, as could additional cable and power cord swaps. If you assembled a system from the ground up -- or were in line for a speaker upgrade -- incorporating the Grand Prix Audio Apex into the equation a priori is the opposite of fool's gold. It's mandatory. Ditto for subwoofer owners. Mark my words, you're in for quite the shock treatment.

And of course there's always your spiked equipment rack - if indeed you have one of those. As I've said in Part I of this review, should you answer that query in the affirmative, you really owe it yourself to put a good foot forward: Go ape-x!

You can probably discern barely contained excitement in this write-up. Very perceptive. With as extended and potent a speaker as the DUO is in the bass, any move to offset the concomitant liabilities that rear their many heads Medusa-like in real-world rooms sized and damped as living quarters, not optimized recording studios - well, any such move is a highly welcome event at this stage of the game. When it jumps a couple of squares on our endless upgrade checkerboard, you feel like a marauding Spaniard in sight of mythical El Dorado.

Of course that place proved ultimately fictitious or elusive. Deocupling your speakers on Apex to give your other audio components a much-needed break from resonance abuse isn't elusive or the stuff of feverish fantasies - but not necessarily a universal panacea either. In certain cases, it may in fact take away more than it gives. Still, I predict that the majority of listeners could easily revoice the tonal balance of their systems to benefit from the seriously magnified resolution that banishing bad vibes from your components -- speaker-produced no less -- can bestow.

P.S.: Am I keen on removing my two DUO sets of footers to test their employ as component feet? Not really. Perhaps now you appreciate why audio reviewing isn't all it's cracked up to be. Call it a terminal case of coitus interruptus audiophoolus. Each time things get really really good, your chosen profession demands you - er, f**k with it again. With this cautionary advice for all would-be reviewers, I shall retire now and enjoy the sound of two speakers not coupling - until duty calls again...

P.P.S.: Reader Craig Zastera asked whether having carpet eliminated the possible employ of Apex footers. It does not. In fact, verifying this with maker Alvin Lloyd, I learned that Apex was specifically designed with carpet in mind - hence the sizable footprint. Common sense naturally predicts limits of stability should super-plush carpet meet ultra light-weight down-force. However, in any reasonable application (component stands, subwoofers, floorstanding speakers or monitors atop ballast-filled stands) carpet doesn't seem to be an issue at all. Good question, Craig. Seems the engineer over at GPA got us beat on it. That's always a sign of comprehensively designed solutions that deal with reality, not mere theory or wishful thinking...

GPA website