Soundsmith's Sonic Excellence—Marigo's Surprise

Visiting the Soundsmith room is always a pleasure. Peter Ledermann's phono cartridges, preamps, and diminutive, how-can-such-a-little-box-produce-that-much-sound speakers always deliver superb sound.

This year, Soundsmith's vaunted warmth, color, and fullness seemed even better. As I soon discovered, the phono preamp in Soundsmith's widely praised Strain Gauge Phone System SG-200 ($5499) now has the same audio circuitry as the company's higher-priced systems. Even better, the price has dropped $2000.

In addition, there's a new, top-of-the-line Soundsmith phono cartridge, the moving iron Sussurro ($4499). Mounted on Teres Audio's Illius Tri-Pivot Tonearm ($4850), which in turn was mounted on a pre-production model of Teres Audio's Certus direct-drive Model 440 turntable ($14,600 and up), the Sussurro created a markedly different balance between female voice and accompaniment than did the Strain Gauge. I have no idea which presentation was closer to what was on the master recording, but both sounded extremely musical. It's all a matter of taste and perspective.

When I first entered the room, Chris Brady of Teres Audio told me that the addition of Ron Hedrich's Marigo Mystery Feet VXi ($799/set of three) under his turntable's outboard power supply had made a huge difference in the sound. Since I have two sets of Marigo Mystery Feet at home, one under my transport, the other under my DAC, and love them dearly, I wanted to hear how they had affected someone else's components.

The difference with and without the Marigo Mystery Feet under the Certus' power supply blew away everyone who was listening. Without Marigo's amazing supports, all the natural-sounding air and three-dimensionality we had enjoyed in the presentation vanished, leaving in their stead a deflated, uninvitingly flat image. It was as though we were listening to a very different, and far less rewarding turntable. Something that has this much an effect on sound cannot be dismissed as a mere tweak.

Brian's picture

You've just written the $19,000 Teres turntable sounded like crap until you added some other company's feet. Is that really what you meant?

George's picture

That is what i was thinking. How come all these pricey components are always lacking, and then another mfg. sells his wiz bang object that ALWAYS ALWAYS improves this expensive poorly designed component. If a mfg sells something at $19,000 don't you think he may get the feet correct? Something seems mighty fishy here. Do any add-ons ever make anything worse? Of course the writer KNEW it had magic feet, removed and put in place. Did any one just listen without knowing if the magic was there or not? Does this stuff ever end. Every pricey object is ALWAYS improved by some one else's widget. I am begining to think, this can't all be truthful?

Richard A. Nelridge's picture

Chris Brady discovered the extent of the affect on the performance of my Teres 450 Certus Turntable, Teres Illius Tonearm, Soundsmith Strain Gauge Cartridge, and Soundsmith 410 Phono Preamp when we installed the Marigo Mystery Feet under the Certus Control Box April 18 when he set up my Certus 450 turntable. The audio performance was substantially superior with the Mystery Feet than the usually used Still Points. Both Chris and I were shocked by the improvement. We could not believe that the feet under the control box could have such an affect, but it did. We both looked at each in disbelief and our jaws dropped at the same time. Chris thought that the performance my Certus 450 was so good that it sounded better than the more expensive Certus 460 using the Still Points under the Control Box.

Gary Dahl's picture

I was there. As the feet were being placed under the control unit, I laughed to myself, expecting that everyone would "ooh" and "aah" about the non-existent improvement in sound. When I realized that the sound really was much better with the feet, I could only shake my head in disbelief. It makes absolutely no sense, and I don't believe in this stuff. But there it was. The feet were swapped in an out again a little later, while I was still there. Same was obvious. I give up.I'm not about to run out and purchase a set of Mystery Feet, but I certainly wouldn't fault anyone for doing so, after what I heard.

John Sanders's picture

It would be interesting and far more believable if the "mystery feet" were tested double-blinded and the results would be just the same as presented in the article.