Grand Prix Audio Monza equipment supports Page 2

The only quick comparison we could perform involved the amp stands. With Lloyd's help, I moved the 125lb D'Agostino Progression monoblocks from their Monaco amp stands to their Monza equivalents. Cables were hardly bent in the process, and the Progressions didn't even have time to cool before being reconnected. Only one hitch: Given the Monza's shorter shelf length—optional longer shelves were not yet available—only half of each of the Progressions' feet rested on the shelf. After we listened, to avoid potential damage over the long term, we placed three Apex footers under each amp.

After switching the monos from Monaco to Monza amp stands, timbres remained basically unchanged on "Good Morning, School Girl" from Muddy Waters' 1964 album Folk Singer (16/44.1 FLAC, Chess/Tidal), but air increased around instruments, low notes were better defined, and soundstaging improved dramatically. When we'd listened to "Good Morning, School Girl" with the all-Monaco setup, percussion seemed stuck in the left speaker and steel guitar in the right. Between the two floated a fragmented divide eventually inhabited by Muddy Waters' voice and fuzzy, deep bass accompaniment.


After the move to the Monzas, the left/right divide vanished. Percussion and guitar sang far more realistically from two ends of a seamless, unified soundstage that was set noticeably farther back. What had seemed like a poorly engineered recording now shone as an impressive sonic achievement.

Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony's digital-only recording of Berg's Three Pieces for Orchestra (24/192 WAV, SFS Media SF0070) confirmed that the soundstage had moved farther back. Depth increased, as did the sense of air surrounding the performers; the sound of the orchestra now suggested acoustic instruments resonating naturally in space. As on mezzo-soprano Marianne Crebassa and pianist Fazil Say's recording of Debussy's Trois Chansons de Bilitis, from their album Secrets (24/96 WAV/Erato 564483), the Monza amp stands helped better convey venue dimensions. Equally notable was an increase in body; images seemed a bit weightier and more substantial, and undertones fuller and more realistic. My heart and soul were drawn deeper into the music.


After switching amp stands and re-auditioning the tracks, we tackled the big rack. I enlisted a bunch of spare power cords and outlets to keep my sensitive digital equipment warm while we dismantled the Monaco. After measuring how much space was needed for each component, we assembled the Monza rack from scratch. (Actually, Lloyd assembled the double-width Monza on his own, in an hour, claiming that since the Monza comes with clear instructions and all necessary brackets and tools—there's also a manual online—mere mortals can probably assemble a large double rack in 1.5 hours or construct a single four-shelf Monza in an hour.)

Because Stereophile reviewers do not share their assessments with companies and distributors until reviews have been prepared for publication, I kept my mouth shut as I noted what the switch to Monza amp stands had wrought. But after Lloyd's departure, and after everything had settled in and I returned for a first listen to the complete Monza system, I discovered that the sound had turned far too monochromatically dark. Though the plusses remained—soundstage set farther back, increased air/depth/body, and bass more controlled—the darker (dare I say duller?) presentation lacked the life I crave.

Aware of the radically different colorations created by the Apex footers' chrome and silicon nitride balls, I wrote Lloyd to ask which he had used when he set up the six-column main rack in my absence. I was hardly surprised when I learned that he had chosen gray silicon nitride balls for its six extra-large Apex footers. This, I deduced, was the cause of the dark coloration: When we inserted Apex feet between the Progression amps and the Monza's bamboo shelving, we initially used the gray silicon nitride ball interface. To my ears, those balls darkened/toned down the sound and reduced brilliance: For he who prefers lively, wet halls to drier acoustics, the sound was too dark.


Changing balls by lifting a 120lb double rack that held 275lb of equipment was something that a neighbor and I together could not do. After consulting Lloyd, my friend Tim and I attempted to insert a car jack under the strong yet relatively narrow aluminum supports that anchored the more fragile carbon frames to the Monza's front/center pole. Alas, no jack we could find could squeeze in at the correct angle. Only after I had removed five heavy pieces of equipment was Tim able to tilt the rack up just enough to enable me to rapidly replace four of the Apex's six gray balls with chrome.

After that, the sound was glorious. Playing the Seattle Symphony's recently reviewed recording of Strauss's Alpine Symphony (24/96 WAV, SSM1023) confirmed that its airy soundstage remained farther back than before, with more depth to the sound. This extended work, which straddles a fine line between the grandly effusive and grossly kitsch, contains passages in which every symphonic instrument that you could possibly haul up the Alps, plus a massive organ, lets loose. It's music that, with volume up high, could reduce many a mass-market speaker to a crackling mess. With the Monza racks, every complex instrumental line emerged with consummate clarity.

Formula platform, Bamboo couplers, and Apex footers
When we set up the big double Monza, we placed my original Grand Prix Formula platform between the Rossini Clock and the rack's bamboo shelf and put Apex footers between platform and clock. To help evaluate their efficacy, audiophile neighbor Peter ter Horst paid a visit.

Multiple times, we removed and replaced the Formula platform only, noting our A/B/A/B/A impressions. Then, with platform in place, we did the A/B/A/B/A dance with Apex feet. For music, I returned to Muddy Waters' "Good Morning, School Girl," this time in MQA 24/192—Pete loves the sound of MQA, which he streams from Tidal at home. I also chose part of the second movement (titled "The Ninth of January") from Shostakovich's Symphony No.11, "The Year 1905," performed by Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra on an excellently engineered recording (24/96 WAV, Deutsche Grammophon 002859502). This knockout track, which depicts the Russian Czar's Bloody Sunday massacre of unarmed protesters, rapidly builds from eerie near-silence to a full-frontal assault of heavy-metal proportions. Try playing it on your own system at symphonic levels (if your room and neighbors can handle it) and see if it can hold everything together without distorting.

Without Formula platform and Apex footers, bass was a bit muddled. Restoring both affected bass, which became notably clearer on the Muddy Waters song. Focus and depth also improved throughout the range, and front-to-back positioning was clarified. I could hear deeper into the soundstage and discern air around snare drums on the Shostakovich even when the entire orchestra began blasting and pounding. The music also felt even more ominous and terrifying.

Pete said of the Muddy Waters track, "It's as if I was watching the performance in person and noting how the percussionist was striking his drum a bit differently each time. I couldn't hear that without the platform. I also heard more natural sparkle and ambience in the steel guitar's upper strings." You can only hear those things when the noise floor is sufficiently low to allow subtleties to emerge.

The effect of the bamboo couplers was minimal. Without the Apex feet, I thought the sound was flatter. Bass lost some definition, Waters' voice was less involving, and color contrasts diminished. Peter said, "With the feet, I get a slightly better sense of soundstage coherence and hear more continuity in the center." Undoubtedly, some of that effect was produced by the chrome ball interface atop the footers.

Summing up
Enhancing system performance with racks, platforms, equipment supports, and room treatment has its parallels in the tuning of a concert hall: Acousticians pay careful attention to every single element they can address. Ask the folks at Carnegie Hall, who after their big renovation discovered that they had negatively impacted its fabled sonics by altering the composition of and space beneath the floor. (They fixed it.) Or check out the glorious acoustic of Philharmonie de Paris, whose irregularly shaped curved walls are covered with diffusers, and whose ceiling hosts acoustic panels, suspended in an irregular array. Excellent components and recordings, like excellent instruments and artists, deserve no less attention.

Do all the elements of a carefully engineered component rack make a difference? Bien sûr. Does Grand Prix Audio's Monza isolation system deliver greater benefits than its 20-year-old Monaco design? Absolutely. Does Monza also offer far more easily adjustable spacing and a smaller footprint? Ditto. Is its appearance handsome? I sure think so. Do two optional Grand Prix support devices, Apex footers and Formula platforms offer additional sonic benefits? Yes.

What degree of improvement will the Grand Prix Monza isolation system bring to your system? That I cannot answer. While every bit of vibration control makes a difference, audibility is proportional to equipment quality. As one who does not subscribe to the "law" of diminishing returns—there are no diminishing returns when expectations are high, sensitivity is great, and pockets are deep—what I can say with certainty is that in my hardly inexpensive reference system, Monza's benefits are profound. I would never want to go back.

Grand Prix Audio
PO Box 1948
Durango, CO 81302
(970) 247-3872

Ortofan's picture

... profound difference to the performance of JVS's system, spending $40K+ on equipment racks and supports or upgrading the Wilson Alexia Series 2 speakers to the Alexx model?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

JVS should take the plunge and buy the Alexx, like his fellow reviewer MF :-) .......

tonykaz's picture

All the Gear Stereophile has reviewed might have made "wrong" impressions to the Reviewers because this Rack was not in use.

Is this Rack now part of Every Reviewers infrastructure ?

Is this a standard piece of reviewer's Kit ?

It sure seems like it should!,

or should it ?

This rack technology might be effective/affective only on Full Range Systems or maybe have it's major benefit in helping poorly designed gear. ( which I suspect )

Or maybe this rack is helpful in reducing the impact of ambient environmental mechanical energies.

Mass loading is a common DIY fix for all manner of gear. Didn't we just see a Steve G Video about a Scientist improving the performance of a Player by adding sticky sheetings to the inside of a sheet metal cabinet with the standard test being the resting of a large Book on the top of the gear to realize a noticeable improvement. ( or not )

The VPI Turntable Company used to sell Magic Bricks ( which I sold Tons of, literally )

We also had Sorbothane

The Peachtree Guys used Blue sticky stuff, at Shows, that had a significant impact in Show Sound Quality ( D.Soloman does Streaming now-a-days and is at every Show, so he's accessible to ask )

From an Engineering Standpoint it's a matter of lowering resonance by either adding Mass or adding Dampening.

There is no Black Magic Mystry about any of this.

$20K to $30K for a equipment rack, hmm, that wood shelving must be something fit for a Purdy Shotgun owner.

The Powder coated Steel looks kinda like SteelCase Offce Furnature type Quality, I wonder if it's as robust?

Tony in Venice

ps. I suspect that these racks cost far more that many people's entire system.

jeffhenning's picture

Using what this review is saying, in the 90's and early 2000's when I had my entire system on a 4" thick concrete mantle attached to a huge stone fireplace, I must have had the best sounding audio system in the world! Nothing vibrated that thing.

Currently, my entire listening room is on a giant slab of concrete with nicely padded carpet so it must be even better!

OK, let's get real.

Of the small number of "it sounds great to me" endorsements for dubious equipment that come through this publication, this one stands out as one of the most outrageous.

$1K USB cables & $5K power cords seem to pale in comparison to this.

Will putting my TV on this rack improve the image? I'm waiting to see that in any scrupulous A/V publication.

Hear's a thought: take any great piece of equipment or a whole system, put it on this rack on any solid floor and have JA see if he can measure any discernible improvement at all.

I'm thinking that he'll see it as a waste of his time since I imagine he'll feel that he'll find no difference compared to placing the same unit(s) on the floor sitting on a couple Auralex GRAMMA's that cost a little over a hundred bucks.

To this type of BS, my thought is, "Prove it." If you aren't going to do that, please, just stop doing reviews like this. It degrades the serious reviews you publish where you actually do comprehensive measurements.

tonykaz's picture

I bought a roller cart for a largish Laboratory Tektronix Oscilloscope, it came equipped as a complete equipment stand including the most beautiful roller casters I'd ever seen w/locks., it tilted so that any height tech. sitting on any height chair experienced easy view, access and control, it stored and organized Scope accessories. All that and much more, Cost nearly $5,000 which seemed pretty high at the time or far more than we ever spent. ( I ended up buying many more of the Carts because they worked to well ).

Funny how Audio Gear isn't on roller carts. ( or maybe even crazy )

Tony in Venice

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Wayfair and Amazon sell audio, video racks with roller feet (rolling caster) :-) ..........

tonykaz's picture

Oh well, it doesn't quite matter to me all that much because my audio gear rides with me on my bicycle which has beautiful wheels and costs far less than $20,000.

Today, I was at ALDI's buying Chicken listening to Berlioz, nobody noticed that I was thousands of miles away at Orchestra Hall, I wasn't on roller foots.

Tony in Venice about to BBQ on my Weber Spirit.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Rolling caster ....... See above :-) ........

Ortofan's picture

... high-end versus mid-fi, I would have had you pegged as a charcoal grill kind of guy.

tonykaz's picture


Of course I could add wood flavors but don't.

Gas is so dam convenient that I can ignite, heat to 600 F takes 5 minutes, Marinated Chicken Thighs turned 3 times in 15 Minutes. Done to perfection! 20 minute lead time, consistent, predictable, neighborhood favorite.

Now that we're down here in the Tropics I'm seeking-out Sea Food tutelage, I'll be buying up Shrimp from the Amish at Detwiler's, $10 lb. Ocean Catch 8-12 per pound.

Charcoal is, well, neanderthal , especially now-a-days with me being a "Green New Deal" AOC & "Feel the Bern" campaign transportation organizer.

Tony in Venice

ps. I haven't yet got a Roof Array of Solar or a 36,000 BTU electric BBQ.

ps.2) Temp this moan'n was a Balmy 71F, reaching a lovely 79F on my Legacy Trail Bike Ride. ( WTF, is this what NOVEMBER is gonna be like, from now on ??? )

Ortofan's picture

... you have to go over to the Dark-o side:

tonykaz's picture

I'm gonna do exactly that, so that my wife can push the dam things behind the curtains or into a closet.

I've been a closet Klipsch lover since I took a pair in trade, some time back. & I've talked to the Factory ( about two months ago ) in Arkansas about all things Klipsch. Cornwall, Forte or Heresy?

And that new little Schiit Amp that HR seemed to admire. ( the DarTzeel does Klipsch well but, hmm, seems overkill, a bit )

Tony in Venice

Ortofan's picture

... the Cornwall with the 15" woofer.
Drive them with the Schiit Aegir amp.

tonykaz's picture

Thanks, of course I'll have to comprimise with "She who must be obeyed", probably Forte will be the result.

Cornwall seems a bit large unless I can get just the right Decorator to do the arranging. I only have 600 sq.ft. which is pretty much decorated with the exception of the Drapes that are ( just now ) getting sorted out.

Cornwalls on rollers could give me a Frank Sinatra's Corner "sort-of" look. ( which, of course, I'd love )

All electronics concealed. ( a little gear closet like a broom closet )

The music will fill the room like an apparition . It's the best compromise I'll get in view of Florida Home designs having no basements or second floors.

I refuse to be banished to an Out-Building or Man-Cave like an "Accused Audiophile Deviant" . g-dam-it !

Thanks for the advice.

I wonder how much I'll have to put on the table to get the Cornwalls vs. Forte ? Maybe Wood Finish availability will end up being the decider & what Art will be displayed on the top of the Loudspeakers. So, Art Size might be the final decider. ( talk about audiophile decision making based on neurotic, psychotic tendencies ) I may have a Music System decided on by the Art being displayed. ( like a bronze Ballerina )

Tony in Venice

ps. A true, dedicated Audiophile can't be Married, it's too limiting & confining.

Ortofan's picture

... Crutchfield, a pair of the Forte III would set you back about $4K.
The latest and greatest Cornwall IV goes for $6K/pr.
However, the outgoing Cornwall III can be had (in walnut finish) for only $4,400/pr.

The Audiophiliac mentioned that his review of the Cornwall will be posted sometime in the next month, so maybe you'd want to hold off until you hear his opinion of them.

Try checking and in your area. Maybe a local Klipsch owner will have expired and you'll be able to get a bargain on a pre-owned set.

Also, if the electronics are going to be kept in an enclosed space, perhaps you'd be better off with a cooler running class D amp, rather than a toasty class A design.
In JA1's test, the temperature of the Aegir's heatsinks rose to 114°F when the amp was run at about 7W output for an hour.

tonykaz's picture

I'm in for a nice Buying adventure.


I have plenty of stuff to do as we settle-in here in the Tropics.


I'm on the Bernie Sander's Transportation Group, so I'll be on & off the road for the next year. Phew.

We live in exciting times.

Tony in Venice

ps. I can accept Cornwall 111 or Forte but they will probably be Factory Fresh. ( with Darko approved roller foots )

Bogolu Haranath's picture

You could probably go for one of the new category 'Stylish-Fi' audio systems ....... They have a lot of WAF ....... All have built--in Class-D amps ....... Some examples ..... The new B&W Formation Duo, $5,000, including stands (reviewed by TAS) ...... Naim Mu-so2 (reviewed by S&V, EISA award winner) about $1,600 ....... Several others including Cabasse, Linn, Devialet Phantom Reactor etc. etc. ........ All can access Wi-Fi streaming :-) .......

tonykaz's picture

you somehow managed to leave-out the;

Outer Space designs by Chord,

the Gorgeous Luxman tube Gear,


the Meridian designs ( who actually have a Dealer Network here in Florida ).

I hope that my hearing holds steady enough to enjoy whatever I manage to end up with. It'll be the Last System I ever build, probably.

Tony in Venice

JHL's picture

...that the righteous skeptic's default setting finds anything that doesn't cotton to his absolutism an automatic fraud, I'm not surprised to find your remarks rough and uneven. You make no distinction between real performance and subjective cost, for example, or between physics and assumptions about it.

Not so incidentally, unsupported, undamped stone sheet rings like a bell and large masses coupled to the ground rumble. Your mantle rack was average at best. Many of us avoid both as much out of experience as we do out of knowledge.

Whether a thing is worth what we say it's worth is largely irrelevant to others. So too whether we know how it actually works.

jeffhenning's picture

...OK, I'll make an exception.

A few thoughts that I have no care whether you read or reply to:

• My first two points were humorous and I think most people, save you, got that

• Given that any structure holding equipment is still attached to the ground, they all will still have some type of resonance problems in a firmly built structure, but I doubt that traffic on a road 200 yards away will be one of them

• If you are seriously talking about the inertness of 5 tons (or more) of rock, brick and concrete sunk into the ground being inferior to an equipment rack weighing a 100 lbs or less, well, sorry, you seem to have lost grip on reality

• Since nowhere in this review is this rack's imperviousness to seismic disturbances mentioned, I won't even go into that, but, to say that I doubt this rack will perform better in areas prone to earthquakes than a huge concrete mantle or a giant slab of concrete under a house... in my area, where we very rarely have any seismic problems, I'll go with the giant slab

• As I already stated in another post, isolating your equipment from the vibrations generated by your speakers and subs is way more important than whatever is coming from an inert floor... if your house's floor and structure are that prone to vibration, you may want to move before your house collapses rather than spend $30-40K on a rack

• Hanging your equipment from the ceiling with bungees or sitting them on huge blocks of memory foam will still not keep their internals from vibrating if they are close to your speakers & subs. Neither will this rack.

• For the cost of this rack, you could have all of your equipment in a purpose-built isolation room and, most likely, have $10-20K left over

• This product is a bad joke, but, hey, if you like it maybe it comes with a free bowl of soup

JHL's picture

Speculation and conjecture are fairly common for objectivist absolutists, including when making generalizations about speakers and electronics they haven't heard, and especially concerning tweaks and tuning they don't work with. (They especially occur too when the topic is relative cost, where the OA apparently knows all there is about value and somebody else's intent.)

It is a common finding and strategy among real tuners to avoid undamped materials, rigid cantilevered shelving - yes, definitely including stone - and structural elements tied to physical ground. The reason is that all are inferior to extreme inertness expressly decoupled *from* ground and no massier than it needs to be.

In fact for years, as I recall, among others Linn even instructed dealers to avoid suspended, relatively lightweight turntables on massy, cantilevered furniture, the thinking being that *any* capacity to store pernicious, uncontrollable low frequency inputs contaminated suspensions beyond their ability to reject such inputs. Sure enough, in that case isolation was clearly, audibly preferred, an experiment I verified a number of times myself.

Value is another thing. While from time to time you seem intent on making absolute pronouncements as to what constitutes and what does not constitute acceptable degrees of engineering and cost, those are purely subjective opinions and simply do not address a third party's assessment of worth any more than they do subjective quality. This product appears to be built to a very high level and presumably, it works there too.

There's a *lot* to internal and external mechanical acoustical control. Unexperienced generalizations involving hard, opinionated, and subjective distinctions come off as premature and incomplete. The world is no less plagued by such damnations than it is by some presumed epidemic of automatic frauds, charlatans, and opportunists forever descending on audio. If you don't like it, just leave it.

jeffhenning's picture

You don't understand physics, acoustics or material science so you now go into the land of Plato and Socrates.

I have no bandwidth left to spend on this conversation.

Do, though, feel free to flame me. I won't be listening.

John Atkinson's picture
JHL wrote:
In fact for years, as I recall, among others Linn even instructed dealers to avoid suspended, relatively lightweight turntables on massy, cantilevered furniture, the thinking being that *any* capacity to store pernicious, uncontrollable low frequency inputs contaminated suspensions beyond their ability to reject such inputs. Sure enough, in that case isolation was clearly, audibly preferred, an experiment I verified a number of times myself.

The reasoning behind Linn's concept is that as the electrical analogy of mass is reactance, ie, mass alone acts as a capacitor or inductor, storing rather than dissipating vibrational energy. Without adding a resistive component to the mass, ie, damping, that energy will be re-released after the event. And by reducing the Q of any resonances, adding damping might make the delayed energy more audible. Hence, using a lightweight, undamped support for the turntable should result in improved sound quality.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

JHL's picture

Exactly. Fundamentally acoustical = electrical = mechanical.

The turntable suspension's resonant frequency and damping form a highpass filter above which the system enjoys good isolation but below which the system can be upset. Coupling it to relatively heavy masses without total inertness is problematic. The list to avoid include weighty furniture, record bins, the floor, even masonry structures. Also avoid cantilevered affairs - a *tall* stereo stand, for example, due to sway.

My LP12 did best on a skeletal frame of thinwall aluminum tubing with a relatively light top plate. The only gremlins left to bother were airborne. Or earthquakes. The stand floated well enough for the rest.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be JVS could have tried the isoAcoustics products ........ They are lot less expensive ....... isoAcoustics products were favorably reviewed by Stereophile and many other audio magazines/websites :-) ........

jeffhenning's picture

First, I realize that sensitive measurement equipment can have their results slightly skewed by vibrations, so, in the case you mentioned, that seems appropriate even though quite expensive.

As to casters, all of the stuff I get from Boltz has very robust casters as an option. And their stuff is made from rather beefy solid steel that's around an 1/8" thick. It's about 1% the cost of the reviewed rack.

While their stuff isn't cheap, it's worth every penny and more.

My last thought is that, no matter what you do to give your equipment a thoroughly inert base and damp its casing, that is not necessary going to guarantee that that internals are not going to vibrate when you have your system cranking.

The only guarantee that you can avoid that is to not have your electronics near your speakers and, more importantly, your subs. You can build an isolation booth for your equipment for way less than $30-40K.

Do that and you can have your stuff in knock-down racks from IKEA. It will, though, look pretty lame.

egronenthal's picture

I'm confused about one of the claims made by the manufacturer. He states that all carbon is cured and laminated in a "pressurized vacuum" environment. "Pressurized" and "vacuum" are completely opposite. A pressurized environment packs more mass into a given volume (high density). A vacuum removes mass from a volume (low density). The two can't occur at the same time.

Knowing a bit about carbon composite construction, I'd surmise that the manufacturer actually packs carbon fiber and resin in a plastic bag and removes the air (vacuum) to allow the resin to flow and impregnate the carbon fiber layers, then puts the bag with the carbon fiber and resin into an autoclave where heat and pressure cure the piece to solid.

JHL's picture

Vacuum bagging pressurizes the construction from without by subjecting it to an internal vacuum.

Ali's picture

Hello Jason, I wonder if you have added a pre amp to your system? Thanks.