IsoAcoustics Gaia loudspeaker isolation feet

IsoAcoustics Inc. has its head office in Ontario (footnote 1) and its manufacturing facilities in China, and is headed by Dave Morrison, who for 20 years has been involved in designing radio and television studios for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The IsoAcoustics products are the result of this experience. Although relatively new on the consumer-audio market, IsoAcoustics' speaker-isolation products have gained wide acceptance in pro audio; their client list of recording and mastering studios includes Blackbird (Nashville), Mastering Palace (NYC), Flux (NYC), United Recording (LA), the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Skywalker Ranch, and Abbey Road.

I first became aware of IsoAcoustics at the 2015 Montreal Salon Son et Image, where they had a demo comparing the sounds of two pairs of Focal 906 loudspeakers on Focal floor stands: one set rested on IsoAcoustics Aperta speaker stands; the other speakers were raised on laminated wood blocks, to match the height. All speakers were at the same height, with the same distance between the speakers of each pair. The results were impressive; the speakers on the Aperta stands evinced, to quote my show report, "a general tightening of the bass and less smearing in the midrange, and even the treble." I made a mental note to keep an eye on IsoAcoustics, and to review their products when the opportunity presented itself.

That opportunity came after the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, where I learned that IsoAcoustics had some new products: the Gaias, a series of isolation devices designed for floorstanding speakers. There are three models of Gaia, the I, II, and III, for various weights of speaker; the total price of a set of eight Gaia Is for a two-channel system is $1119.98.

The Gaia follows the same patented principles used in the Aperta, but rather than a speaker stand, it's a footer that screws into the bottom of the speaker's base, replacing the spikes or other footers provided by the speaker's manufacturer. Each of my Monitor Audio Platinum PL300 II speakers has a plinth with integral rubber pads, as well as optional spikes. I'd been using the spikes, but had some reservations about their effectiveness compared to the pads. I had no such reservations about the Gaias' effectiveness. They made an across-the-board improvement in the sound—almost as if Monitor had revised the PL300 II to a new model, the PL300 III. As I'd heard in IsoAcoustics' demo of their Aperta stands, there was a tightening of the bass, which also seemed to go deeper.

For most of my listening, I used a McIntosh MC275 LE, a tube amp not particularly known for the accuracy of its bass reproduction, having a touch of midbass warmth. However, with the Gaias installed, the MC275 LE's bass seemed to become more neutral, with less midbass warmth—a welcome effect.

The aspect of a speaker's sound that I value most highly is its ability not to sound like a speaker—a lack of "speaker sound." In my review of the Platinum PL300 II, I praised it for its low level of speaker sound. Well, with the Gaia Is installed, the PL300 II had even less speaker sound, perhaps an effect of the Gaias' attenuation of the speaker's spurious resonances. I heard more of the music and less of the speaker. Not only that—instruments and voices were more precisely defined on the soundstage, which itself was wider and higher.

A remarkable product.



Footnote 1: IsoAcoustics Inc., 4981 HWY 7 East, Unit 12A, Suite 160, Markham ON, Canada L3R 1N1. Tel: (905) 294-4672. Web: www.isoacoustics.com.
COMPANY INFO
IsoAcoustics Inc.
4981 HWY 7 East, Unit 12A, Suite 160
Markham ON
Canada L3R 1N1
(905) 294-4672

COMMENTS
Glotz's picture

Loved them both.

PS- you forgot to take the tracing paper off of the floor once the footers were installed, lol..

Robert Deutsch's picture

Thanks! But I left the tape marking the position of the speakers in the photo on purpose. It was to show that, in doing a comparison between the original and the aftermarket footers, it's important to mark the position of the speakers. Also, I have another review of a floorstandin speaker coming up, which will involve moving the Monitor Audios from their present position, and then moving them back to the same position--and that has to be marked.

BradleyP's picture

I'm a huge IsoAcoustics fan, using a pair of the monitor stands to great effect. I'm glad to hear that the speaker feet are similarly effective. Cleaning up cabinet resonances that often aren't even obvious until they are gone reveals lower lows, focuses and improves the image, and adds delicacy and clarity everywhere in the audio band. It's not a subtle improvement. On a $15k pair of speakers like the Monitor Audio in this review, $1100 is a modest upcharge for the magnitude of the improvement, despite the expense in absolute terms for the actual materials involved.

If a grand is just too steep to justify for speakers that sell for a third or less of the Platinums, there are less expensive IsoAcoustics speaker stands that can be used for floorstanders that will deliver similar results. In general, a few hundred dollars of IsoAcoustics for your existing speakers will sound better than spending many hundreds more for speakers in the next tier without IsoAcoustics.

blang11's picture

Thanks for covering this product. How hard/easy is it to slide your speakers around after installing the Gaia's...say you change your mind about the ideal position after a while? Did you have any concerns about the added height of the speaker? Thanks!

Robert Deutsch's picture

Sliding the speakers around after the Gaias are installed is not that easy: they tend to stick to the floor. It's best to have help from a friend. I have not moved the speakers around from the position I initially determined: the improvement with the Gaias was so clear that I had no inclination to fiddle with the positioning. Compared to my previous setup, which involved using spikes and floor-protector disks, the speakers are about 3/4" higher. I don't see this as a significant issue. If anything, I think the additional height is a positive factor, producing a higher soundstage, which I like.

audiodoctornj's picture

Too many Audiophiles are going to read this review and think nah this can't be that effective. We received our first demo from the nice importers, we were demoing a set of ATC SCM 19 a heavy well damped cabinet on a set of sand filled stands.

We just used a set of their inexpensive absorbers which are $60 for a set of three, and we just lifted the speakers up and laid these absorbers on the stands. So you would need to only spend $120 for a set of speakers if you were to go this route.

The difference were immediately audible, the sound stage was more focused, and the bass was tighter, and the micro dynamics were cleaner with everything have more snap.

The footers when placed under a great set of speakers increase the focus dramatically, and again the bass tightens up with a greater sense of definition.

The footers cost $ 300 for a set of footers for 75lb speakers
$ 600 for a set of footers for 125lb speakers
$1,200 for a set of footers for 200lb speakers

when you consider just how large of an improvement that these footers actually make and how reasonable they are priced it is surprising that more people didn't know about these little wonders.

Mr. Deutsch you have done a great review and you have nailed this product perfectly. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Dave Lain, Audio Doctor NJ

Robert Deutsch's picture

Glad you found the review helpful.
Bob

romath's picture

Spikes engage the floor mechanically, which undermines sound. See Jim Smith's writing (including an article he did in Copper mag about this recently). At a much lower pricepoint, Herbie's Audio Lab has a couple of options: the Giant Cone/Spike Decouplers, which take the spikes or, better yet, their Giant Fat Gliders, that allow spikes to be removed. Both are likely at least as effective as the Gaia's, allow speakers to be moved easily if necessary, and go for a fraction of the cost ($263, $183 respectively for your speakers). The latter giant gliders did wonders for my 70 lb speakers, vs. spikes (into carpet). OTOH, I've found IsoAcoustics' small isolation stands, used under my desktop speakers (on top of wood blocks), to be a very cost-effective solution.

BDP24's picture

Now the question is, which are more effective---the IsoAcoustic GAIA or the Townshend Audio Seismic Pod?

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