How Hi-Fi Magazines Write about Cables, Part 11: Feet

Ah, the gift that keeps on giving…

In the latest installment of this series, I look not at a cable (I’m keeping the generic title for the series; most of the articles are about cables, but some about other esoteric audio accessories), but at a ” resonance elimination device.” On the Audiophilia blog, a reviewer writes:

I’ve toyed with simple decouplers such as Sorbothane feet, more sophisticated gear such as Rollerblocks, a much loved Townsend Seismic Sink (a metal platform with an inflatable air bladder) sat for years under a Rega Planar 3 turntable, and for the past ten years I have lived with Solid Tech supports, technical and expensive marvels from Sweden.

Apparently, they haven’t improved the sound enough yet.

“I’ve toyed with simple decouplers such as Sorbothane feet, more sophisticated gear such as Rollerblocks, a much loved Townsend Seismic Sink (a metal platform with an inflatable air bladder) sat for years under a Rega Planar 3 turntable, and for the past ten years I have lived with Solid Tech supports, technical and expensive marvels from Sweden.”

An inflatable air bladder? I wonder if the reviewer uses oxygen-free air?

“Mirko Krolo, head of Krolo Designs dropped by the house with four boxes (with three in each box) of his ‘Enhansers’ [sic]. As you can see from the photo above, the Enhansers are exquisitely made conical devices that sit in groups of three under any audio device.”

Enhansers

Maybe it’s just me, but I’d expect them to come in fours…

Anyway, to get to the nitty gritty. The reviewer started by listening to a recording of Bruckner’s 5th symphony, conducted by Otto Klemperer. He uses this recording, because:

“It has steered me right in discovery about many cables and accessories and their effect on my system as a whole.”

Hmm, there’s something magical about this recording then. Yet, as the author explains, it’s not a very good recording.

“The recording is also exceptional in many ways, but the incredible Adagio has some difficult passages. Sourced from London’s famous Kingsway Hall, plodding pizzicato strings (Guess the time signature. No, not 3) begin the Adagio’s sublime journey. From the left, a blast of air conditioning, sounding much like a ghostly pianissimo shroud hanging over the first violins, a few grumbles dead centre from Klemps, in his typical way, and all the while the plodding pizzicato. So far, so good. Nothing more transparent, no ‘eureka’ moment.”

But when he added the “Enhansers,” all that changed:

“With the oboe and bassoon entry, I heard the separation slightly more clearly than an hour before. Was this ‘Enhansed’ or plain Jane? But, the task was easier than might be imagined. Letter C is instructive, not in the melody (horns and violas) but the first oboe’s falling E, D, C. Yes, it’s in unison with the first clarinet, but Terence McDonough’s oboe sound is so unique, so plangent, so brilliant, it is easy to follow. Yet, it’s in a world of thick Bruckner orchestration murk. Were the Enhanser’s in the system, clued in and clearing up? Yes. McDonough’s sound projected through the thick strings and brass better than I’d heard previously in my system. It was subtle, but there. And, if we could, would be measurable.”

Then he went on to try these devices with other recordings:

“The opening of the new audiophile favourite, Shelby Lynne’s Just a Little Lovin’ sounded slightly more controlled with the Enhanser’s involved. I’ve heard this on CD, LP, download, and it sounds different on all of them and different on different gear, or course. It’s a bit of an enigma to my ears. Yet, I enjoyed the tightly controlled sound coming from the server; less ‘plummy’ than the rich vinyl. That said, the changes are subtle. When returning Enhanserless, the sound from system was still its clear, precise, dynamic self.”

“Slightly more controlled…” And better separation of the oboe in the Bruckner… Yet, without the gizmos under his equipment, “the sound from system was still its clear, precise, dynamic self.”

In a comment, he goes on to say:

“They ‘did no harm’, in fact they improved clarity of attack (oboe/bassoon unison Bruckner 5) and deep bass (Angela Hewitt/Beethoven Sonatas). The Enhansers also sorted out the beginning of Just a Little Lovin’, which I’ve heard a thousand different ways. The playback just seemed ‘right’.”

Amazing devices: they “improved clarity of attack,” especially of the lone oboe, and increased the bass on a piano recording. To be fair, these little feet only cost $260 for three, definitely worthwhile for the improvements in sound that this reviewer spotted.


Read more articles in this series. They’re funny; sad, but funny.

14 thoughts on “How Hi-Fi Magazines Write about Cables, Part 11: Feet

  1. Look, this is obviously nonsense. The reviewer didn’t start by breaking in the recording of Bruckner’s 5th symphony, conducted by Otto Klemperer by playing it for 200 hours straight, thus rendering all of his conclusions invalid.

    You’d think he’d know better.

  2. Look, this is obviously nonsense. The reviewer didn’t start by breaking in the recording of Bruckner’s 5th symphony, conducted by Otto Klemperer by playing it for 200 hours straight, thus rendering all of his conclusions invalid.

    You’d think he’d know better.

  3. Good grief- I am so glad this is a series; I look forward to these entries. Kirk, there wasn’t a mention of a break in period for the feet? I would suspect the immediate impacts would improve after 100 hours of continuous break in.

  4. Good grief- I am so glad this is a series; I look forward to these entries. Kirk, there wasn’t a mention of a break in period for the feet? I would suspect the immediate impacts would improve after 100 hours of continuous break in.

  5. Re: ‘Maybe it’s just me, but I’d expect them to come in fours…’

    Supporting at 3 points rather 4 is a well established engineering principle. It’s normally used when there is a possibility of vibration from the object placed on the platform e.g. a motor, pump or even as in the case you indicated hi-fi equipment.

    In an ideal world where platforms are completely flat, supporting at each corner is a good idea. In reality surfaces are almost never completely flat and any vibrations from the objects placed on the platform will be amplified. By supporting at 3 points (2 at the front and 1 at the back) you can accomodate for the vibration, because the rear corners are free to move with the vibration.

  6. Re: ‘Maybe it’s just me, but I’d expect them to come in fours…’

    Supporting at 3 points rather 4 is a well established engineering principle. It’s normally used when there is a possibility of vibration from the object placed on the platform e.g. a motor, pump or even as in the case you indicated hi-fi equipment.

    In an ideal world where platforms are completely flat, supporting at each corner is a good idea. In reality surfaces are almost never completely flat and any vibrations from the objects placed on the platform will be amplified. By supporting at 3 points (2 at the front and 1 at the back) you can accomodate for the vibration, because the rear corners are free to move with the vibration.

    • Forget that, I left the comment open too long.
      My favorite part of the review (after skimming) is that you need to bribe the helper in the blind test and/or they must be deeply in love.

    • Forget that, I left the comment open too long.
      My favorite part of the review (after skimming) is that you need to bribe the helper in the blind test and/or they must be deeply in love.

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