The Mod Squad Tiptoes

Memorandum:
To: Steve McCormack, Chief Designer, The Mod Squad (footnote 1)

Dear Steve:

I cannot question the general value of Tiptoes in many specific applications. There are a great many areas where I, many other audiophiles, and a number of leading manufacturers have found that Tiptoes can improve any audio system in which the components are subject to. mechanical or acoustic vibration from speaker sound—that is, virtually any audio system.

While initially skeptical, I now concede that Tiptoes are a worthwhile improvement in each of the following areas:

• Turntables: the new screw-in Tiptoes help isolate virtually every turntable from vibration from the acoustic furniture they are mounted on, and seem to damp the internal vibration in most turntable mechanisms. They extend the bass in such lighter-framed turntables as the Oracle, and can be a Godsend for designs like the Linn Sondek and Pink Triangle, whose inferior suspension techniques require special furniture or extraordinary isolation.

• Phono Cartridges: I don't feel the Tiptoes Cartridge Coupler provides as universal an improvement as the Mod Squad literature implies, but it can definitely improve the sound of many cartridges and tonearms. At $15, it's well worth trying.

• CD Players: I would agree that putting a CD player on Tiptoes works as well as the Mission Isoplat, or any other acoustic isolation platform I've encountered. I find it absurd, however, that a supposedly purely electronic device should benefit from (a) Tiptoes, on virtually all players; (b) a VPI Magic Brick atop, on most of the Philips players as well as some others; and (c) placing a second CD on top of the one played, on all players. These "improvements" simply shsould be helped by mechanisms and electronics design, and it is an unpleasant reflection on today's players that they do.

• Speakers: There is no question that Tiptoes or spiked feet improve virtually all loudspeakers. Several manufacturers have recently asked me to use them while reviewing, and they help even with the heaviest and most rigid designs. I prefer the threaded, spiked feet or Tiptoes, but I have used the regular Tiptoes with the Infinity RS-1B with great success. They are a virtual must for any floor-standing speaker

• Electronics: I get mixed results from Tiptoes with most electronics, but they do seem to help in installations where the electronics are close to the speakers, or are placed on furniture that vibrates because of acoustic energy. The benefits in this ease have to be determined by experimentation, but they can be significant—particularly with tube gear.

Tiptoes are also reasonably priced by High End standards. The costs of $5 for the short version, $7 for the tall, and $10 for the threaded may not be dirt cheap, but make Tiptoes a cost-effective improvement for virtually every good sound system

However, I must now express my deep reservations about Tiptoes for phono styluses. I can understand the theoretical merits of using "micro" Tiptoes so small that they can help hold the edges of the stylus precisely in the groove. I did not, however, find it easy to use the electron microscope you sent me, or the laser bonder, and I did not appreciate having to get my power company to wire a 400-volt outlet. It took me nearly an hour to precisely mount the 120 Tiptoes required on each side of the stylus, and the sonic benefit was at best subtle. I also found the idea of a $5000 fee for the micro Tiptoes and installation equipment rental to be a bit high.

I therefore can go no further than my previous recommendations. Intelligent use of standard Tiptoes can audibly improve any high end system, but the stylus Tiptoes should be left to the real "tweaks."—Anthony H. Cordesman Humble Reviewer, Stereophile Magazine


Footnote 1: The Mod Squad is no longer in existence, but 45 years after the publication of this review, cone-shaped supports are ubiquitous. Tiptoe inventor Steve McCormack now operates SMc Audio, 929 El Pajodo Place, Vista, CA 92084. Tel: (760) 732-0352. Web: smcaudio.net.—Ed.

COMMENTS
Glotz's picture

I would think this review would be the first footer review, pretty much ever..?

The stylus Tiptoes comments are hilarious! $5000 is a pittance in 2022!

I've always loved AHC's insightful comments and smart warnings about auditioning before buying. Mail order returns have changed the game a bit, but not the importance of listening critically.

I miss listening through and reading reviews of Mod Squad and McCormack products. 25 years?

Glotz's picture

That more readers and audiophiles haven't commented on the archived Stereophile reviews that have reposted over the past few years!

Are they still alive?!

Jack L's picture

Hi

Wow. You must be rich enough to take $5,000 as a pittance today !!!

I've installed tiptoes/steel spikes for ALL my audio components since day one decades back.

Yes, they all work like a chime in deferring airborne/structural vibration from the floor up, resulting much sharper impaging & better defined soundstaging.

Tiptose/steel spikes are INDISPENSABLE for any spinning components, e.g, TTs, CD/DVD players. It makes night & day sonic improvemnet vs without any.

Go without saying steel spikes are there for my bookshelvers steel tripod stands, my tube premps & tube power amps, even my hardwood audio stand, 3 subwoofer ring base platforms.

For ALL my spinning components, e.g. my belt-driven TT & CD/DVD player, their absolute level positions 'floating' ontop of the supporting tiptoes are always checked with bull-eye liquid levellers.

My 35W+35W brandname tube power amps are upgraded with bolted-in heavy duty steel spikes pointing downward onto a 3" thick massy natural gray granite block which is then cushion-seated onto my wall-to-wall cushioned carpetted concrete basement flooring. Zero chance of strucutral & airborne vibration interference !!!

Yes, so many tiptoes/steel spikes are used. Yet they all cost me like peanut relative to yr $5,000 "pittance". All the so many steel spikes were picked up from local hardware stores for dirt cheap money.

Any costly stuff are only smoke mirrors to get your money, IMO.

Listening is beleiving

Jack L

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