Over the years, we’ve tried endless numbers of tweaks to get the most out of our components. Some work, others don’t, and some behave as un-wanted tone controls. It’s a puzzle that every audiophile loves to solve. The one piece that always seems to have a high hit rate are devices that help with reducing vibration. These usually take the form of platforms for our components, feet that go under our components, or fancy weights that sit on top of our components. When Wilson Audio announced their new Wilson Audio Pedestal isolation foot with some impressive test results, I was intrigued.
Wilson Audio will not reveal who they tested against, and your guess is as good as ours. It doesn’t matter because test results only give you one piece of the puzzle. For me, it is always a combination of measurements and listening that gives you the complete picture. Naturally, when the Utah-based company was kind enough to loan me five sets of Wilson Audio Pedestals, I jumped in foot first!
Could these elevate my system further? What would their impact be with and without the platforms I was already using? How about my components that don’t use platforms and rack mounted gear? I was about to find out.
Superhero’s Fighting Resonance
Wilson Audio has a long commitment to the science and technology of resonance control. They have been on a 40-plus year journey to look for non-resonant composites, and resonance fighting geometries. I think I can safely say that they have explored, tested, and developed more of these materials than any other audio company I know.
These composites have superhero-like names: Wilson “X-Material”, “S-Material”, “W-Material” and, most recently, the “V-Material” that was designed for the recent Chronosonic XVX loudspeakers.
These materials are heavy and hard and reject resonance like nothing I have seen before. I remember picking up a piece of “X-Material” at the factory that was used in a Wilson Audio Alexia Series-2. In these quarantine times where gym weights are scarce, I am sure some audiophiles might buy some “X-Material” kettle bells–maybe they reduce vibrations flowing back into your muscles.
These materials have been used in every speaker enclosure produced by Wilson Audio in their current line-up. With the release of the Wilson Audio TuneTot in 2018, they started to use these composites in other products. The TuneTot was made to be used on a bookshelf or desk. To make this feasible, they produced a special vibration-reducing base known as the Wilson ISOBase, built with a combination of “S-Material” with 6061-T6 aluminum.
It was the success that they enjoyed from the ISOBase that led them to the realization that the fundamental tenets that made the ISOBase successful could extend to other audio components. I asked Daryl, “What was the moment in time that you realized that you should consider making a product like the Wilson Audio Pedestal?”
“Because of our massive experience with composite testing and development, which involves state of the art tools and procedures, we long believed we had the ability to advance the art and science of isolation devices. The IsoBase was our first real effort in that arena. It’s technical and musical success served to reinforce our belief. The evolution and development of V-Material for the XVX further bolstered the idea that it was time for Wilson to develop an isolation device based on sound science and mechanical engineering.”
Introducing the Wilson Audio Pedestal
The Wilson Audio Pedestal is Wilson’s entry into the isolation feet category.
Despite the never-ending stream of boxes during quarantine, I was happy to receive my shipment of five boxes from Wilson packed with 15 Pedestals for me to roll on over to my listening room.
The Wilson Audio Pedestal ships in premium packaging in quantities of 3 per box. The packaging showcases branding from Wilson Audio Special Application Engineering (WASAE), the team at Wilson responsible for the Pedestals, TuneTot and Duette Series-2 loudspeaker. The folks at WASAE seem to like to work on the hard stuff, thinking through different approaches. As I said earlier, I think I need a a set of weights for my home gym next. I am waiting, WASAE….
The Wilson Audio Pedestal comes in two versions. The standard version will work for 8 to 25 pounds per foot and is identified by a white ring. A second version, identified by a gray ring, is made for lighter components, specifically for three to eight pounds per foot.
In practice, three Pedestals do the trick, but for some heavier components you may want to use a fourth Pedestal.
Wilson claims they are designed for use under electronics, digital transports, power supplies, tape machines, turntables, anything except loudspeakers, funny enough.
Once placed under your component of choice, the Wilson Audio Pedestal will reduce musically destructive vibrations systematically. Its small bottom element partially absorbs vibrations traveling from the surface underneath the piece of equipment. Next, energy migrates into the Pedestal’s austenitic (non-magnetic) stainless steel housing, where the material’s mass and solidity further turn unwanted energy into heat.
I asked Daryl what surprised him the most from the development of the Pedestals and how he liked to use them.
“Two things: Pedestals universally improve the sound of every component, regardless of type. Second? Frankly, how much more effective they are than any foot we’ve tested or listened to.”
We will dig into more in the listening section below, but from my weeks of testing, he wasn’t kidding.
Wilson Audio Pedestal Internals
Let’s take a look at the internals of these fancy dancing shoes.
Wilson will not give us the detailed skinny, but our simplified understanding of the internals of the Wilson Audio Pedestal from the top to bottom are as follows:
Starting at the top, the first layer is an elastomer that presses against your component.
The second layer is a piece of “V-Material” that has a slightly wider diameter then the elastomer. The “V-Material” extends through most of the pedestal. “V-Material” was first used in the Chronosonic XVX and offers results similar to “W-Material” used in the WAMM Chronosonic. To date, “V-Material” is ONLY used in the Chronosonic XVX as well as the Wilson Audio Pedestal.
The “V-material” inside the Pedestal is painted white or gray to let you know which version you have, as well as to allow you to see if the pedestal engages as it is loaded. You will know if the foot engaged when the white/gray ring starts to lower. If it is not engaged due to insufficient weight, the ring will not move. If the ring disappears and you can no longer see white or gray, the foot is overloaded.
The third layer is a proprietary viscous damping material inside the Wilson Audio Pedestal, acting as a spring to minimize, absorb, and dissipate the vibrations into heat.
The final layer from the top to the bottom is a hard rubber foot that is not attached to the stainless outside of the pedestal. The rubber bottom is what sits on whatever surface you are placing the foot on. The rubber is slightly sticky in my experience, which allows the pedestals to grip the surface you place them on. Your component isn’t sliding anywhere once these are in their final position.
The outer stainless steel is non-magnetic, which isn’t the case for all feet on the market today. This is important since you don’t want any added feet creating more magnetic fun.
“When weight is applied to the Pedestal, the internal V-Material element, along with the other critical elements within the housing, are decoupled from the stainless-steel exterior. From the reverse direction, from the component on down, any vibrations caused by environmental factors or from the audio system itself, travel into the top pad of the Pedestal, where they are reduced. From there, any remaining vibrations are guided directly to the V-Material where they are effectively absorbed and dissipated as heat.”
Wilson Audio Pedestal Measurements
To test the Wilson Audio Pedestal, a Wilson engineer placed the isolation product on the Wilson’s Model Exciter, positioned in such a way that duplicated real-world applications. The team then placed a substrate, with the dimensions and weight of a typical audio component on top of the pedestal under test. Using Wilson’s 3-Dimensional accelerometer, the engineers measured the energy in the substrate. This method was used through the development of the pedestal and was also used to measure competing products.
You can see in the graph for the Pedestal that it dissipates all of the input energy. You will see a small bump at 500hz, which Daryl Wilson explained is due to the test equipment. It is a peak that you can see when testing competing products.
“The blip is the resonance of the test gear and platform. You can see the artifact in the graphical comparisons of all the competing designs. Unique to the Pedestal is that all that remains is the anomalous blip remnant, which is merely a testing artifact. The rest of the spectrum is completely and uniformly suppressed.”
Wilson Audio Pedestal Listening
The graph is impressive, but how does the Wilson Audio Pedestal work in a real environment? Can it elevate the already impressive performance of an HRS M3X isolation base?
My listening centered around my analog setup. I started my AMG Viella V12 with 12inch Turbo arm, Lyra Atlas Lamda SL Cartridge (review pending), connected via Transparent Opus interconnects to a Dan D’Agostino Momentum Phono pre-amplifier.
I feel blessed to have this incredibly engaging and resolving setup which spins all day. I know exactly how it sounds, and any small change is usually very easy to spot.
Dan D’Agostino Momentum Phono Power Supply
During the review of the D’Agostino Momentum Phono, I discovered that it was critical to keep the transformer as far away as possible from the phono pre-amp. D’Agostino was kind enough to make me a custom cable that allows me to keep the transformer a few extra feet away which results in dead quiet playback but has resulted in me keeping the power supply directly on the floor. Power is supplied by an AudioQuest Dragon series power cable.
My first test was placing Pedestals below the transformer on the floor. During my initial testing, I only had the Wilson Audio Pedestal that was made for 8-25 pounds, but I thought I would try it.
When three of these were placed under the D’Agostino power supply, there was not enough weight to engage the pedestals. This was quickly addressed by placing an HRS weight and a gallon jug of water on top of the power supply. Boom, the pedestals engaged.
I mentioned this to Wilson, and they were quick to send me the correct gray ring Pedestals which work for three to eight pounds so I could place them under my transformer. The gray-ringed Pedestals were less thirsty and didn’t need the extra water jug.
I wasn’t actually ready for what was about to transpire. I grabbed Esperanza’s Chamber Music Society LP and asked my daughter if she wanted to do some listening. This album reveals everything. If your turntable can’t track, you won’t even clear the first track. When things are right, Esperanza whisks you away.
After several tests my daughter and I both concluded that the ground noise dropped significantly with the Wilson Audio Pedestal and things got much quieter. It brought a level of additional clarity. Details got more pronounced, but in a good way. Esperanza Spalding was now closer to us and was more engaging. You can definitely start to hear some improvements from around 100hz to 500hz.
I think the improvement benefits from that fact that the components are on a naked floor very close to the Alexia Series-2 speakers that are putting out significant energy.
Dan D’Agostino Momentum Phono Pre-amplifier + HRS Shelf
So, we have a clear winner with components on the floor, but what happens when you mix a little Wilson with an HRS isolation base? We moved over to the D’Agostino Momentum Pre-amplifier that is sitting about two feet from my left Alexia on an HRS base on a basic shelf.
To date, I have had success using four HRS Vortex feet + the HRS Isolation base to support the Momentum Phono pre-amplifier. The Vortex feet definitely improved performance when I added them a couple of years ago, as they amplify the improvements that the base provides.
I initially spent time bouncing between using four HRS Vortex V-150 feet under the phono pre-amp and three Wilson Pedestals since three is a standard set. Both products improved the performance of the base. In this configuration (four Vortex vs three Pedestal) the results were close. It was hard to pick which one I preferred. The Wilson Audio Pedestal might have been slightly better.
Bill Peugh of Wilson Audio had advised me to spend time experimenting with placement. My original configurations were a triangle with the three Pedestals surrounding the circuit board in the power base below the D’Agostino. I started with three since that is a standard set of Pedestals.
Then I tried something different. I added a fourth Pedestal under the D’Agostino power base and placed all four of them in the corners near where the D’Agostino Phono Pre-amp loads the power base under it.
In this configuration, the difference between four Wilson Pedestals vs. the four Vortex was more significant. All of the things I was hearing earlier improved. Noise floor continued to drop, background instruments became clearer, and my daughter pointed out that she could now very clearly pick out every instrument backing Esperanza.
We kept listening for a couple of hours, and the results were clear. The Wilson Audio Pedestal elevated the performance of my HRS M3X base as well as power supply on the floor.
I continued in this mode of three Pedestals (Gray) under the power supply and four Pedestals (White) + HRS M3x isolation base under the Phono Pre-amplifier for a few weeks with many of my favorites in heavy rotation.
The results were clear. I am never removing the Wilson Pedestals. The improvement to the performance was gratifying, and without question the best playback I have heard to date with my AMG turntable and D’Agostino Momentum Phono.
AudioQuest Niagara 3000 Power Conditioner + Wood Shelf
In addition to the AudioQuest Niagara 7000 in my main rack, I use an AudioQuest Niagara 3000 in my listening room that provides clean power through AudioQuest Dragon power cables to turntable and D’Agostino Momentum Phono.
One challenge I have is that the Niagara 3000 sits on a naked shelf.
I started with three white pedestals under the Niagara, which weighs about 35 pounds. They were arranged in a triangle. With the Pedestals in place, I did hear some improvement similar to the D’Agostino power supply but more subtle. Definitely a drop in noise, but the improvement was not as significant as the results from the phono pre-amplifier.
I played with this in a few additional configurations, and changes were slight. The Pedestals have a positive impact, but not as significant as what I saw with my source components.
Dan D’Agostino Progression Pre-Amplifier + Rack Shelf
Mixing it up, I wanted to see the impact of the Wilson Audio Pedestal on a component in a separate room on a $40 rack mount Sanus shelf. A majority of my gear sits in the adjacent room, in a 44U tall Server Rack. The delicious Dan D’Agostino Progression Pre-amplifier is in a tight spot where I didn’t have space to include an isolation base. It sits naked on a standard 3U Sanus shelf held in by four rack mount screws. Other components also have custom HRS M3X isolation bases below them, but in the case of my pre-amplifier I didn’t have enough space.
Over the years I have found that vibration and resonance control even played a role outside the listening room. My rack sits in my climate-controlled garage but is exposed to vibration from the HVAC and cars passing by on the road.
You will find that placement is everything with the Wilson Audio Pedestal. My early experimenting found that using a stock set of three white Pedestals in a triangle formation with one Pedestal on the left and two on the right side of the chassis. I have also learned that you can sometimes introduce too much vibration reduction and make things start to sound dead. In this case I previously had no isolation base, but I used two heavy HRS plates on top of the D’Agostino pre-amplifier. Through my experimenting in this first configuration I found that I enjoyed the sound the best with just a single HRS plate on top of the pre-amplifier.
I stayed in this configuration for about 2 weeks. Things were definitely better, similar to what I observed with the AudioQuest Niagara 3000. Lower noise, a little more detail, and things were cleaned up a little. One night while listening to Ben Harper’s new acoustic album Winter is for Lovers, I noticed I had one white pedestal left, hiding behind the stand that displays my records.
That afternoon I decided to conduct a new experiment. Although Wilson’s recommendation was for three Pedestals for the pre-amplifier, I wanted to try four. After a few listening tests, it was just as clear as it was when I did the Momentum Phono testing. Four Pedestals arranged in a standard square, inside the four corners, was far superior.
Now the changes went from subtle to please don’t remove me. After an hour, I cut over to my Roon Nucleus+ with a dCS Vivaldi stack. Anxious to hear the difference, I started with “Amen Omen” to keep the Ben Harper team going.
The next five hours are a blur. I didn’t mess with my Roon remote. I just keep pressing fwd to grab the next track recommended by Roon Radio. The seed of “Amen Omen” started a series Ben Harper, David Matthews, Keb Mo, David Gray and many more, and it just whisked me away. One of the memorable tracks as a 24/192k version of “Jah Work” by Ben Harper on The Will to Live streaming from Qobuz. Noise floor dropped, bass had more texture, and the mid-range from 100-500hz seemed to have blossomed. This is probably why listening to so many male vocals–where they sing from the chest–was magical.
Equipment comes and goes, but the core of my reference listening system has stayed very consistent over the past year outside of the addition of the Lyra Atlas Lamda SL cartridge that I added during the COVID-19 quarantine.
You don’t need to mess with something that works, and I am always a proponent of not trying to find some listening nirvana, but instead listen and enjoy music on the system that you have. To date the HRS M3x and the HRS Vortex has been the combination to beat, and nothing in the past has seemed to perform better.
When I started this review on the Wilson Audio Pedestal, I asked myself if these could elevate my system further. What would their impact be with and without the platforms I was already using? How about my components that don’t use platforms and rack mounted gear?
The Wilson Audio Pedestal definitely made a huge impact when used on the floor, on a poorly constructed builder shelf, as well as in my server rack on a poorly constructed shelf. What surprised me more was their ability to further improve the performance of my already great HRS M3X isolation platforms.
Compared to the HRS Vortex, the Wilson Audio Pedestal seems to have elevated performance further with my HRS isolation platforms. If you want the best, the Wilson Audio Pedestal is a clear winner. The Wilson Pedestal also has an advantage that you can use them anywhere, on any surface. This feature has allowed me to elevate portions of my system where didn’t have a dedicated isolation base.
As I wrap up this review, I have 14 Wilson Pedestals in use in my system. I don’t plan on removing any of them. I purchased all of the review samples that Wilson provided me. Borrow a set (preferably four) from your local dealer and give them a listen. Take the time to experiment with placement. Your efforts will be rewarded.
Part-Time Audiophile Editor’s Choice for 2020.
- Pedestal Full Set (three)—$2,225 USD
- Additional Singles—$775 USD
Loudspeaker: Wilson Audio Alexia Series-2
Amplifier: Dan D’Agostino Momentum Stereo S250
Pre-Amp: Dan D’Agostino Progression Pre-amplifier
Phono Pre-Amp: Dan D’Agostino Momentum Phono
Turntable: AMG Viella V12, Lyra Atlas Lamda SL, Miyajima Mono Zero, Miyajima Madake Snakewood Cartridges.
Digital: dCS Vivaldi DAC and Network Bridge
Cables: Transparent Opus Gen 5 Interconnects, Transparent Ref XL Gen 5 Speaker Cable & Transparent XL Gen 5 Digital Cables, AudioQuest ethernet cables
Stands: HRS Platforms, Vortex feet, Nimbus couplers, Plates