Recommended Components 2021 Edition Stands, Spikes, Feet & Racks

Stands, Spikes, Feet & Racks

Audio Elegance Furniture : $319–$4759 ★
Audio Elegance's "aesthetically simple, sturdy designs" are available in three lines; in the upper two, Dakota and James River, only select hardwoods, softwoods, and multidirectional plywoods are used. Biscuit joinery is featured throughout, and finishes include catalyzed lacquers and hand-rubbed oils. Prices start at $319 for a Frontier Series amp stand and rise to $4759 for a Dakota Collection LP storage unit. Custom items are also available. (Vol.32 No.2 WWW)

Audio Points by Star Sound Technologies: $109.99–$349.99/set of 3 ★
Highly polished point of solid milled brass, claimed to have been developed along the theories of Coulomb Friction, transfer resonant energy through the virtual point away from the component. 28 sizes and thread combinations available. (NR)

AudioQuest SorboGel Q-Feet: $129.95/4 ★
Each cute, Q-shaped SorboGel Q Foot measures approximately 3" in diameter and stands about 1" tall in its PVC holding tray. Like Bright Star Audio's IsoNodes, Q-Feet are black, slightly squishy, and somewhat sticky, and are designed to absorb resonances and isolate components from external vibrations. Each Q Foot is rated to support 6.5lb. Because of their larger size and slick, rounded trays, the Q-Feet were far easier than the IsoNodes to properly place under the Music Hall USB-1 turntable. Atop the Q-Feet, the turntable seemed more stable and less susceptible to shifts, found SM. (Vol.34 No.9 WWW)

Ayre Myrtle Blocks: $8.50 each ★
Designed and made by Cardas Audio, each Myrtle Block measures 0.618" by 1" by 1.618", in accordance with the golden-section ratio. Myrtle Blocks are meant to be placed beneath the actual structure of a component in groups of three. AD heard "subtle but unambiguously nice things" when he placed them under most components. Beneath speakers, however, "they robbed the music of so much of its emotional wallop that it was downright creepy." "In a properly run universe, these wouldn't work at all," sez WP. "In this one—and assuming every other sonic hiccough is attended to—they do help," though he refuses to speculate why. (Vol.29 Nos.1 & 3 WWW)

BDR Sound Enhancement Pyramid Cones: $20 each ★
"Expensive, but very effective," according to J-10. WP and JA, who generally use these whenever they need to support electronic components, agree. (Vol.21 No.6)

Boltz CD 600 storage rack: $299; expansion kits: $219; LP shelves: $679/three-shelf unit; Each additional shelf: $189 ★
Surfing the Net (www.boltz-usa.com), MF found these do-it-yourself racks: each is 48" high, 24" wide, just 6" deep, and holds 600 CDs! You can double or triple the capacity with the expansion kits, and the racks are now available pre-assembled. Now available as equipment racks, TV stands, and LP shelves. MF bought the LP rack, which consists of a heavy base and three shelves; additional shelves (3' wide by 10" deep) run $189 each, and you can stack 'em to the ceiling! "Really well-made and incredibly sturdy," reported The Analog One. Free shipping. Surcharge for signature "Clear Coat" finish costs $40 for the rack and $20 for the expansion kit. Anthracite Metallic or Black Matte Texture finishes are included in the base pricing. (Vol.22 No.11, Vol.24 No.1)

Box Furniture Co. Equipment Rack HS3S: $3000 ★
Box Furniture Co. racks have premium hardwood frames and plywood shelves. All joints are mortise-and-tenon, and catalyzed finishes are applied to all surfaces. Art used a single-width, three-shelf rack finished in Quartered Sapele. Beautiful and sturdy, he said, and equipment stacked atop it sounded good. (Vol.32 No.2 WWW)

Bright Star Air Mass 3: $218 ★
Ingenious, inexpensive, and effective air-bladder product that damps out floor and air-borne vibrations, MF said. WP agrees. Originally called Air Mass 1. (Vol.20 No.2)

Bright Star Audio IsoNode feet, Extra Large feet: $49.99/set of 4; Large feet: $24.99/set of 4; Small feet: $14.99/set of 4 ★
These small (1.25" W by 0.75" H by 1.25" D), squishy, somewhat sticky half- spheres of polymer are designed to be placed between a component and its shelf, where they absorb harmful vibrations. The IsoNodes effectively isolated the Music Hall USB-1 turntable from footfalls, and while they were easy to knock out of place when used beneath that turntable's pivoted feet, the IsoNodes were stable when used with other components, found SM. (Vol.34 No.6 WWW)

Bright Star Audio Rack of Gibraltar 1 equipment stand: $2150 ★
Bright Star Audio Big Rock 1.1: $299 ★
Bright Star Audio Little Rock 1 Isolation Pod: $179 ★
Bright Star Mini-Rock F VPI isolation base: $199 ★
Bright Star IsoRock 6.3S: $388 ★

A very effective isolation system for control of unwanted vibrational energy. Individual components float on a sand bed for energy dissipation, and are weighted down with the Little Rock to minimize spurious vibrations. The payoff is enhanced resolution of the music's nuances, says DO. RN adds that this system consistently tightens the bass, increases sonic transparency, and smooths treble hash and grain. The Bright Star TNT Big Rock is a $275 sand table specially sized to support the TNT. MF, BD, and BJR all use one under their VPIs, as they provide a stable surface and offer such sonic benefits as a lower noise floor and increased bass. The Mini-Rock F is specially sized for use under the TNT's flywheel. KR placed each of his Bel Canto e.One amplifiers atop an IsoRock and encased it within a Little Rock for a belt-and-suspenders setup that had the amps almost glued to the floor, creating as optimal an environment as possible. "If you are concerned about RF and other nasties thrown off by digital amps," he notes, "these little guys will let you rest easy." (Vol.16 No.5; Vol.18 No.11, Mini-Rock F; Vol.20 No.4, TNT Big Rock; Vol.29 No.11 WWW IsoRock, Little Rock.)

Bright Star Rack of Gibraltar 2 equipment stand: $2650 ★
Rigid, super-stable platform for audio equipment, and the "carrier" for the Ultimate Isolation System: air-base (Air Mass) and sand-filled damping platform (Big Rock) makes a "sandwich" of sorts. The Gibraltar 2, with its two-wide, three-high, widely spaced, large shelves, isn't quite ready for MoMA and boasts no neon lights, but "in its simplicity and quality it's attractive, even elegant," said BD. He recalled Louis Henri Sullivan, who immortalized the phrase "form ever follows function." Suitable for turntables, superbly built, and the best BD has ever used. (Vol.23 No.5 WWW)

Bright Star Ultimate TNT Isolation System: $2397 ★
Simple, affordable, effective isolation system for the VPI TNT that combines a static pneumatic isolation mount with mass loading. WP noted that "high frequencies seemed clearer, less smeared—harmonics leapt off strings and floated independent of the fundamental...Bass sounded more deep and taut, especially sustained notes or anything in the bottom two octaves of the piano." BD agrees, finding that the Isolation System lowers the TNT's (already low) background noise, resulting in subtle but noticeable improvements in image dimensionality, ambience, and inner detail. (Vol.20 No.7)

Gingko Audio Cloud 11 isolation stand: $599 ★
The Cloud 11 uses up to ten rubber-like balls strategically placed between two slabs of acrylic. Mikey's sample was configured for use with the VPI Scoutmaster turntable. MF: "Putting the Cloud under the Scoutmaster resulted in a dramatic lowering of the noise floor and an improvement in the 'blackness' of the background. Images stood out in clarified relief, bass tightened, transients sounded sharper and more natural. The differences were not at all subtle." (Vol.27 No.11)

Grand Prix Audio Monaco equipment stands: $3150–$13,500 ★
Despite their stylish, lightweight design, a four-shelf Monaco stand can carry up to 150lb per shelf, for a maximum total load of 500lb. PB: "More than anything else, the Monaco brought a sense of focus and a difficult-to-explain sense of calm" to the sound of everything he placed on them. Loading the hollow stainless-steel columns with lead shot produced another increment of improvement: "Backgrounds became quieter, low-level detail retrieval improved markedly, and dynamic contrasts took on greater subtlety and sharper contrasts." Using separate isolation footers under components only "muddled things," providing evidence of the "fundamental soundness of the GPA approach to vibration control." The amp stand is expensive but "works as promised and looks cool too," decided MF. A 3-shelf system costs $7500; 4-shelf system, $10,000; 5-shelf system, $13,500; base module, $5500; short or tall module, $2995; amplifier stand, $3150; Formula Shelf Carbon-fiber/Kevlar composite shelfc$2620. (Vol.24 No.7, amp stand; Vol.25 No.12 WWW)

Grand Prix Audio Monza: $19,000 for 4-tier carbon fiber platforms, bamboo shelves, and Apex feet
All models in Grand Prix Audio's Monza series of four-column modular equipment stands offer polymer-filled stainless steel legs and carbon-fiber support platforms; bamboo shelves rest atop the latter, isolated by Sorbothane donuts, and the lot is supported by Grand Prix Apex footers, which use rigid balls of different types as isolation devices. (Apex footers are available separately.) In the experience of JVS, use of Monza isolation products in various combinations resulted in notably increased soundstage depth (and distance from the listener), weightier and more substantial images, increased clarity, and other gains—and he found the Monza products to be superior to their predecessors in the Grand Prix line, the Monaco series. In Jason's system, "Monza benefits are profound. I would never want to go back." (Vol.42 No.11 WWW)

Harmonic Resolution Systems SXR Audio Stand: $21,450 as reviewed ★
The SXR frame system comprises solid, heavy aluminum struts and rigid shelves of cross-braced aluminum. Each joint is damped with a thick donut of polymer. Circular holes in each of the cross-brace's four corners accept the base's feet, which support its weight with an elastomer suspension that isolates in both the vertical and horizontal planes; each foot of a component whose weight is unevenly distributed can have a base with an elastomer of different compliance. "Adding the HRS SXR improved my system's focus and low-level resolution, and lowered its level of background noise," said MF. (Vol.32 No.2)

IsoAcoustics Gaia-Titan Cronos loudspeaker isolation feet: $1599.99/set of 4
IsoAcoustics Gaia-Titan Theis loudspeaker isolation feet: $899/set of 4
IsoAcoustics Gaia I loudspeaker isolation feet: $599.99/set of 4
IsoAcoustics Orea audio equipment isolators: “Indigo” $59.99 each, “Bordeaux” $79.99 each

Gaia and Orea isolation feet are both intended to isolate the products they support from their environment, and both are offered in different sizes/compliances, to suit various component weights. Gaias, intended to replace the spikes/feet of floorstanding speakers, are topped with threaded rods (plus adaptors) and come in sets of four; Oreas are sold singly, their smooth tops suitable for supporting amps/CD players/etc. After using a Gaia I set ($1199.98 for two sets of four) with his Monitor Audio loudspeakers, RD reported hearing "an across-the-board improvement in the sound," and he noticed a similar if less marked improvement after putting Oreas under his PS Audio monoblocks. JCA had a similarly positive experience with the Gaia-Titan Theis feet supporting Revel Salon2 loudspeakers, as did MF with the Gaia-Titan Cronos feet under his Wilson Alexxes: “The improvement in low-level detail, resolution, image focus, clarity, bass attack and decay, and transparency were—I’ll write it again— not at all subtle. They were huge!” AD put a set of four Gaia IIIs ($199.99) under the heavy wooden plinth of his Garrard 301 turntable and wrote, “the difference I heard was beyond my expectations.” For the better, he meant. (Vol.40 No.10, Vol.41 No.2. Vol.42 No.6, Vol.43 Nos.10 & 11 WWW)

Magico QPOD3: $1310/set of 3 ★
Magico QPOD4: $1680/set of 4 ★

Comprising a complex sandwich of CNC-turned stainless steel, oxygen-free copper, black-anodized aluminum, and a blue elastomer damping material, Magico's beautifully made, luxuriously packaged QPod footers are designed to convert vibrational energy into heat. With three QPods supporting his Ypsilon VPS-100 phono preamp, MF noted smoother vocal sibilants, improved soundstage depth, and better-controlled bass. "Now I don't think I can do without the stupid things." (Vol.35 No.6)

Mapleshade Maple Platform: $75–$690 ★
KM liked what this basic a 2"-thick board of solid, "ready-to-be-finished" maple did for the Music Hall MMF-7.3 turntable (Vol.39 No.9).

Salamander S40 Core Module Rack: $1016 as reviewed ★
In search of a rack that would hold his growing collection of gear and provide easy access for swapping review samples in and out, KR hit on a double-width Salamander Synergy S40 rack, which he custom-ordered with two pull-out shelves and six Salamander Robot Feet. The finished product stands 44" high yet is "impressively stiff and rigid." KR concluded: "[I]t looks good, holds everything, and can accommodate visiting review samples." (Vol.38 No.9 WWW)

Skylan Speaker Stands: $335–$675/pair ★
Made by Noel Nolan in Alberta, Canada, Skylan stands use PVC posts with top and bottom plates of vinyl-covered MDF rather than resonant steel. ST uses the 20"- high, four-post SKY-P4 20 with his Harbeth Compact 7 ES-3s and Triangle Comete Anniversaires, filling the columns with kitty litter. Prices vary depending on height and number of posts. Four-post SKY-P4 20 (20" high): $531/pair. Twin post model for Harbeth P3ESR: $285/pair. Four-post stands for big speakers: $600/pair. Add shipping. (Vol.35 No.5)

SQ Products (Sound Quest) Isol-Pads: $25/set of 4 ★
Each 2"-square-by-7/8"-thick pad consists of two slabs of ribbed rubber sandwiching a layer of isolation cork, and is said to support 75lb. ST is in the process of putting them under everything. "I'm no tweaker, but they did clean up the sound wherever I used them." (Vol.28 No.12)

Stillpoints Component Stand SS: $1999–$2799
This adjustable, space-saving stand is available in various sizes and configuations. It can be spread out or narrowed as needed and locked securely in that position, to accommodate the bottoms or footers of amplifiers of various sizes. Although MF was not sure if using the Stillpoints amplifier stands under his darTZeel monoblocks made an audible difference, in his space- limited room, the Stillpoints made his reviewing life much more convenient. (Vol.43 No.11 WWW)

Stillpoints ESS rack: $8140+ ★
Intended to both dissipate vibrational energies occurring within playback gear and isolate that gear from external energies, the Stillpoints ESS rack is available in three widths and three heights, with various shelf options. Pre- tensioned steel cables isolate the acrylic shelves from one another, and various of Stillpoints' accessory feet also play a role in the somewhat modular design. Praising its contribution to "blacker" backgrounds and more precise transients in the sound of his system, MF described the ESS rack as an "ingenious and, I think, extremely attractive package." (Vol.38 No.12)

Symposium Rollerblock Series 2+: $549/set of 3, $719/set of 4 ★
For improved resolution from your CD player (or any other digital equipment), ST recommended these precision-machined items, which consist of a block with a ball bearing set in a hemispherical depression. Once they're in place, he said, the sound "just tightens up, cleans up, clears up. I hear more low-level information. Imaging improves. Timing, too...Transients are crisper. I hear improvement in just about every respect." The only drawback (outside of cost) is that the player might "roll around a little" when you load a disc or hit Play. SD concurs with ST's enthusiasm; MF became a believer in the "high- roller" phenomenon when he put his Virgos on the similar Yamamura speaker bearings. (Vol.22 No.4)

Symposium Super Plus Platform: $699★
Symposium Ultra Isolation Platform: $699

The top and bottom of the Ultra platform are aluminum, while the middle is made up of several unequal-thickness layers of vibration-damping material designed primarily to drain vibrational energy away from your component, rather than to provide isolation from external vibrations or footfalls. It succeeded at lowering noise and enhancing resolution, while bringing "an entirely subjective sense of ease" to listening, said JM. The less-expensive platform jazzed MF with the "top-to-bottom authority, focus, and slam" that his system gained when the platform was installed under his turntable. Prices are for 19" by 14" size; 19" by 21" costs slightly more. (Vol.20 No.5. Vol.26 No.3 WWW)

Vibrapods: $6 each ★
KR: "Placed under CD players/transports, DACs and preamps, the small (1"x3" diameter), formed Vibrapods isolate and enhance performance. Five different models rated for loads of 228lb; match the quantity to the component. I keep a box of them around so that no component goes without." A KR favorite. (NR)

Walker Valid Points: $450/set of 3 large cones and 5 discs; other sizes available ★
Heavy brass-alloy-and-lead cones, with points that rest atop large, brass- ringed, lead-filled "tuning discs." "Definitely worth checking out," said MF, "and Walker will refund your money if you're not satisfied. (You must return the set within 30 days in the original condition.)" MF adds that "not only do I like them a lot, they're well worth the price—as I clearly found when I put a set under the Ayre K-1 and added a few of the discs on top." Combined height may be too tall for some racks. Super Tuning Kit ($625) includes three large cones, five discs, and four 1" discs. (Vol.20 No.5, Vol.21 No.11)

COMMENTS
grymiephone's picture

The Linton Heritage is not an audiophile speaker, and I will stop there, it's hard to find music it plays well

Glotz's picture

And it sounded fantastic with 'entry'-level Hegel components.

Everyone is different, and especially when one levels generalist comments.

grymiephone's picture

I had a response with more details but it was deleted.

Glotz's picture

Sorry man. I think the site had some issues a week back as well. Anything that was edited sometimes got deleted.

grymiephone's picture

Oh, well. for what's it's worth:
I tested the Linton with 5 other speakers. When I ordered it, the sales person said: be warned, it's NOT an audiophile speaker. And it didn't compare well. I wanted to love them but my 23 year old Celestions had more image and punch than the Lintons. I am sure they can sound good in a different system

MatthewT's picture

I agree with the "not an audiophile speaker" remark. I wish we could know what Art Dudley thought of them. I love them, FWIW.

Glotz's picture

I appreciate both of your insights here.

It helps me come closer to the truth. Or that's not right- The perceptions of each person lend us insights into how each person feels in their system.

I know a lot of times it's hard to speak to one's system for fear of others being critical.

Nonetheless, it does tell me what possible variances there are. I thought the double Linton's were impressive, if expensive. The dealer had them in a pseudo-d'appolito configuration, with the top speakers upside down and on top of the bottom pair.

liguorid42's picture

I agree everyone's opinion of what he or she likes is valid, and an opinion that you shouldn't like something because it's not an audiophile product is invalid. That being said, if you're a wine connoisseur you wouldn't necessarily make a buying decision on a pricey Cabernet based on the opinion of someone whose beverage of choice is Mountain Dew. And "not an audiophile speaker" can just mean your favorite reviewer has not made the sign of the cross before it, and is pretty useless without some description of what you perceive its sonic flaws to be.

Glotz's picture

I think all stereo products can have a home, but you are right it's all about context.

I was impressed with the Denton's midrange, but perhaps that's not fair given I was listening to the collective output of 2 pairs of speakers working in tandem.

mememe2's picture

PLease put this in the "useless phrases" section of your mag. Can we have good pace but lack timing -no. can we have good rhythm but lack pace - no. Can we have good timing but lack rhythm - no. This description seems to be aimed at audio prats (in the original meaning of the word).

Charles E Flynn's picture

"captures the emotion"

liguorid42's picture

Back when founding father Gordon Holt started Stereophile he tried to develop a lexicon to describe how things actually sounded--things like "liquid", "transparent", "grainy", "warm"--as opposed to how things emotionally affected him personally. Theoretically you could go to a hi fi emporium, listen to KLH Nines driven by Audio Research electronics and hear for yourself what he meant. Though he did open the door with his "goosebump test". These days terms such as you describe have made subjective audio reviewing so subjective as not to be very useful to anyone else.

Charles E Flynn's picture

Thanks for your reply.

I have always wondered how one could determine that a playback chain captured the emotion of the performers when the only evidence we have about their emotions is what is provided by the playback chain.

The reproduced sound may convey or provoke emotion, but whether what it conveys is what the performer felt is something we can never determine on the basis of only the reproduced sound.

liguorid42's picture

..in the Firesign Theater album said, "That's metapheesically absurd, mun, how can I know what you hear?"

Heck, you can't know if what you're feeling is the same as what the performer is feeling even at a live performance. Not even close would be my guess. What I'm feeling when I play the piano in private is very different from when I get conned into playing for someone. What the composer felt when setting the notes to the page, different still. I doubt a loudspeaker, let alone a piece of loudspeaker cable, has anything to do with any of this.

George Tn's picture

the Schiit Sol made it on to the list in such a high spot for its price. I've been rooting for that product and it's finally being seen for how great it is.

PTG's picture

Yup.. So happy to see Sol finally get some recognition. SOL had a very rough launch but they owned up to it and made it right ! I would love to get one but am worried about how much tinkering is needed to make it right.. Still thinking about it.... It LOOKS amazing !!!

georgehifi's picture

Same for the Aegir, a A20w Class-A stereo in Class-A Stereophile. I can only think of one similar that could/would do that, and that's the mighty 20w Mark Levison ML2 monoblocks.
https://i.pinimg.com/736x/d6/6a/cc/d66acc2c1d4fa7ea17f5a9bb9345e912.jpg

Cheers George

Glotz's picture

Yes, these components are great to see classified, but it's one person's ranking for a component. The classes also cut a large swath in performance of any one category- and within each class.

That being said, I do think the Sol is pretty-well-reviewed for the money and if my rig broke suddenly... I'd get this one to tie me over.

PTG's picture

Did I miss it or was Bluesound family of products (Node2i, Vault2i ??) totally dropped off the RC2021 list ? If yes, I wonder why...

Jim Austin's picture

On previous lists, when several Bluesound products were listed together, we put them under "Complete Audio Systems." We dropped most of them simply because they haven't been auditioned in years--indeed, no Stereophile reviewer ever tried a gen-2 version of any of the products except the Node2i, which I bought a few months back and use daily. Dropping products that haven't been auditioned in a long time is longstanding RecComp policy.

With only the Node2i on the list, it no longer makes sense to list it under Complete Audio Systems; it should be moved to Digital Processors. But I overlooked that fact when preparing the 2021 edition.

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

C_Hoefer's picture

I just navigated to this page intending to point out the error in location of the Bluesound Node 2i - glad to see you already caught it! It belongs in digital players.
--CH

prerich45's picture

I'd like to see some of the other offerings tested by Stereophile. The Gustard dacs have measured well by another site. I've actually purchased one to see how it fairs to my ears - as I've already seen its numbers. SMSL,Gustard, and Topping are making some possible world beaters, it would be interesting to see this publication put them on the bench.

Fstein's picture

Lirpasound announces $79 amplifier, states previous price of $159,000 a joke no reasonable person would believe

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