If you’ve never used isolation products before, then you’re missing out on one of the easiest ways to tweak your hi-fi rig.
I know many consider any hi-fi accessories outside of lamp cord as “snake oil.” But if you take the time to carefully piece together a system (especially as part of a hobby), you owe it to yourself to have an open mind regarding final touches that can take your sound to the next level.
Case in point, I just got in two first-class products from IsoAcoustics, a company who’s grabbed a ton of awards for both their Pro and Home Audio isolation products.
The products I’m referring to, the Aperta Speaker Stands ($199 a pair) and the Orea Graphite Isolator Feet ($45 each), both come from their Home Audio line. I put each of them into two separate systems I’m running, and I was stunned at the improvement in sound quality, especially with the Aperta.
I set up the Aperta stands on my desktop (you can also use them on speaker stands) with a pair of Kanto TUK powered speakers ($799), replacing a set of cheap foam isolation pads. I got the pads on Amazon for about 15 bucks, and they did an ok job of reducing fidelity-killing vibrations coming up from my cheap IKEA desk.
However, when I put in the Aperta stands, two things happened. One, the AMT tweeters on the TUK were raised closer to my ear level. The foam pads had to depend on a slight uptilt to direct the sound up to my ears. BTW, if you choose, the Aperta has an internal tilt adjustment of up to 6.5 degrees to fine-tune the angle of the speaker.
Second, the Aperta stands use some innovative technology to decouple the speakers from the surface they’re standing on. When you pull out the stands, you notice one side has a logo on it, and the other doesn’t. Aperta is designed to be used with the logo facing front so it can focus the drivers’ energy to be on axis with the rest of the speaker.
When you place the speaker on the stand, you will notice suction where they contact both the speaker and the surface you put it on. By essentially “freezing” the frame in place, it guarantees any vibration caused by the motion of the drivers is absorbed by the proprietary material sandwiched between the two halves of the Aperta.
The speakers “float” on the stand instead of just sitting on them, making an incredible difference when it comes to sound. With the Aperta stands under them, I felt like I was hearing the Kanto TUK for the first time. The imaging came into focus like nobody business, and the soundstage expanded way beyond the boundaries of the speakers. The separation was also enhanced.
The first time I listened with the Apertas installed, I couldn’t pull away from the music. I worked an hour past the time I scheduled because I was enjoying the sound so much. At this point, I will never use another pair of speakers on my desktop without the Apertas or their equivalent (which I haven’t found yet.)
BTW, the Aperta is specced to handle speakers up to 35 lbs each, which should cover all mini-monitors, including the hefty Kef LS50 which I tried on them as well. If you want to isolate larger speakers, you need to check out the bigger Aperta 200 and 300 models.
Giving My Turntable A Lift
The second item I got from IsoAcoustics was their Orea Isolation Feet. The Orea work based on a similar principle to the Aperta without the frame structure and tilt adjustment.
Each foot has the same suction surface on top and bottom as the Aperta stands, along with the same proprietary isolation material sandwiched in the middle. Orea comes in four sizes, each one capable of handling more weight as you go up in size.
I got the Graphite model, which is rated to hold four pounds per foot. That means if you use four of them as I did, then you multiply by four to get the total weight handling capacity. So in my case, that’s twenty pounds, more than enough to hold the turntable I used them with.
According to IsoAcoustics’ you can use as little as three Orea to support your gear (they’re sold individually), but of course, four will give you better stability.
The company recommends them for use with Amplifiers, DAC’s, CD Players, Speakers, and Turntables, which is where I felt they would do the most good in my setup.
It’s preferred to use the Orea alongside or in place of the original feet on the unit you are using them with, but you can also place them underneath the other feet if they fit on top of the Orea.
I placed four of the Orea (one on each corner) under my Pro-Ject T1 turntable, which has only three feet of its own, but they were basically beside the factory-installed feet, especially the two in the front. The Orea lifted the turntable off of their feet, just a hair, enough to see a sliver of daylight underneath.
Once again, I was astounded by the difference in sound quality with the IsoAcoustics’ isolation in place. The first thing I noticed was a tightening of the bass, followed by a general increase in clarity. Then I noticed the increased imaging focus. It was amazing how much of a difference those little things made.
The Wrap Up
Both the Aperta Stands and Orea Isolator Feet are excellent examples of IsoAcoustics’ mastery in the isolation space. If you’re listening to speakers on the desktop with some cheap stands or isolation foam, you need to pick up a pair of Apertas and see what your speakers are actually capable of.
The same goes for the Orea Isolators. If you have your gear just sitting on your shelf, especially a turntable or some equipment with a fan in it, you need to buy some Orea and then marvel at how your sound quality improves with minimal effort.
If you doubt, both are available at Amazon, so you can pick them up and return them if you feel they aren’t worth it. I have a feeling you’ll be hanging onto them once you give em’ a try.
A final note: To find the right Aperta stand or Orea Isolator for your gear, check out the calculator on the IsoAcoustics website.
IsoAcoustics Orea Series Audio Equipment Isolators (Graphite – 4 lbs Max/pc) [$45, AMAZON]
IsoAcoustics Aperta Series Isolation Speaker Stands with Tilt Adjustment: Aperta (6.1″ x 7.5″) Black Pair [$200,AMAZON]