I received my amp stands today. I’m blown away.
I think I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I invested many moons ago in a Mapleshade Samson rack. This imposing piece of furniture is, like just about everything from Mapleshade, made out of maple. It has an industrial look and feel that many might find sexy. I’m one of those — I like the look.
But is it the sexiest rack ever made? Does it have the latest and greatest rack technology (whatever that might be)? Well, no. There’s no Stillpoints or Cerapuc footers for each platform. No wacky magnet suspension. It’s all just screwed together. Pierre Sprey of Mapleshade might tell you that this is kind of the point — vibrational energy sourced from the individual components drains, via optional (read: additional cost) brass footers, into the individual maple plinths that are themselves rigidly braced by sets of over/under brass nuts clamping each shelf in place. The whole rack is a vibrational drain.
It’s also a bell. Hit a shelf and every other shelf takes that. Which means every other component is absorbing the “vibrational energy” of every other. To me, this seems a bit counter productive. At best. So I damped the shelf that needed it most — the plinth holding up my turntable. As for the others, I use footers that are themselves decoupled. More on them later.
I have to say, like most products Mapleshade offers, the Samson rack is wildly overpriced. And 3 years later, I’m still curious as to what, exactly, costs so damn much. The shelves are all air dried maple from an Amish miller up in PA — which is fine and interesting — but at $200+/shelf for undamped wood, you really need to wonder WTF is going on. The posts are cast-steel threaded rods with little or no finishing and the shelves hang together with a set of eight $16 brass nuts. It’s essentially a DIY project and looks it.
I honestly can’t recommend this rack. If you’re interested in the aesthetic and were on the fence wavering, I can’t recommend doing this DIY or finding another vendor strongly enough.
Anyway, I have this brand new pair of monoblocks from Joule-Electra. Having failed to opt for the cosmetic upgrade that would have not only rendered them attractive but also paired with custom fitted amp stands, I was on the lookout for something that would fit well — and perhaps even “do something” for the system’s performance.
Enter Alan Maher. Alan sells all those crystals that to all reports do wonders for your power problems. I find the notion hard to swallow — but, against all intuitions, his stuff actually seems to work. Who knew? Anyway, Alan is a pretty interesting guy. And by interesting, I mean opinionated. Like insanely opinionated. And by insanely opinionated, I mean almost (but not quite) as bad as Yours Truly. Anyway, I sent him a message on Facebook because all the cool cats hang out on Facebook and Alan only sells his best stuff that way (take note — get a FB account and Friend him if you’re even remotely interested). I asked him if he had any thoughts on the whole “isolation” thing. And boy howdy, did he fill my inbox.
Amongst all the other awesome things that he told me that I won’t be divulging to you, was a juicy tidbit about this company he’s worked with, Battle Rock Studios. You see, I was interested in doing some coupling-decoupling with my amps and I wanted something that could possibly-maybe be used to “drain vibrations” from my amps. There are lots of opinions on how effective this might be, or what the best material to use would be, but since I’d already bought this huge Samson rack, I was partial to using natural woods. Ok, I’ll admit it — what I was really trying to do was not clash.
A quick search online will reveal to you that there are two “favored” woods for this purpose — maple and myrtle. And if you talk to Ayre, Cardas or anyone who’s used their little footers, the preference becomes quite quickly clear, and unless your name is Pierre, myrtle is the way to go.
So, my plan was to get some brass footers (Pierre and his damn ideas again) to place under the amps and couple them that way to the platforms. Under the platforms, I’m using some Sliders from Herbie’s Audio Lab — essentially, these are decoupling disks mounted on Teflon so you can slide them around. Works like crazy, too, and makes repositioning things a snap. Okay, so vibrations from the amp go into the myrtle via the brass (coupling) and then are absorbed there with everything isolated from everything else (decoupling).
Seemed like a plan to me, so I ordered the amp stands.
Battle Rock was awesome to deal with. They were by far the cheapest vendor I reached out to. They sent me photos of my amp stands every other day, showing where they were in the fabrication process. Cut wood, shaped wood, finished wood. They shipped out in about a week from ordering and a week later I have them.
They are gorgeous.
The pics really don’t do them justice. The finish is this wonderful satin that just makes you want to run your hands over them. I nearly broke down and got all naked in order to rub them all over my body. Did I mention they’re gorgeous?
At nearly 40% cheaper than the similar product from Mapleshade, I do not hesitate to recommend Battle Rock to anyone interested in any kind of plinth or platform. Want a Samson rack? Build your own and use a boatload of these things! Just take delivery in private. You’ll understand what I mean when you see them.
Now, there’s an open question as to whether or not the platform your components sit on will make any difference at all to the sound of the system as a whole. I suppose if you’re floors are also wood, tile, or whatever, that might possibly carry vibrations from your speakers, subs, footfalls, toe-tapping or madcap break-dancing back into your components, then you ought to be looking at a nice rack. But if you’re like me, and have your listening room in a basement with a floor of poured concrete over which you have thick padding and Berber carpet, then this just isn’t an issue. So, then, do the platforms adequately drain vibrations?
Um. Yeah. About that.
This is fairly silly, IMO. Do you really wonder if the designer of your equipment is so stupid as to have thought of everything else to put into your bespoke gear but then have not considered vibration and/or isolation when he slapped those ugly bin-part footers on it? What? He got everything else and just completely missed that one? The fact that most manufacturers don’t bother to do much with footers — or with fancy power cords either, BTW — really ought to clue you in to the fact that these things really, truly, don’t matter at all. Seriously. Think about it — your fancy $15000 amp is suddenly transformed into a $30000 one by adding $100 worth of footers (or $200 worth of power cords)? And you think the designer wouldn’t have been all over that? Yeah. Not happening. Ergo, they’re worthless. And to those that feel differently — I feel you. I hear your pain. But you’re truly imagining things. Really, truly. And no, it’s not the placebo effect — it’s cognitive dissonance and the fact that you’re an erring little humanoid — it’s something that simply can’t be helped.
So, if not for the magical audio properties of myrtle, why’d I do it?
Did I mention they’re gorgeous?
Besides, when it comes to audio, I’m all about Blaise Pascal. If it doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg, I’ll try it, especially if it’s puhrty. Can’t hurt, can it? And what if it works?
Sad to report, however, that at least in this instance, the Marquis monoblocks still sound like the greatest amplifiers I have ever heard. The myrtle platform have not elevated them, other than getting them off that nasty-ass came-with-the-house basement carpet. Ok, so maybe that’s the real reason I got platforms. If I ever get around to getting little brass footers to slip between the amps and the platforms, I’ll be sure to report back.
But to close out on this note, if you’re interested in getting anything wood, think myrtle and talk to the great folks over at Battle Rock Studios. I think they occasionally run specials on AudiogoN, too, so don’t forget to check.