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Preparing for listening
A CDP on and off the platform, a turntable, a tube amp, with steel balls or ceramics, with or without the O-rings, bearings inverted or not? A quick statistical calculation shows that possible combinations are beyond any reasonable review. Hence I didn't try them all. Instead I chose a CDP as the paradigm component. In addition to my Audiomeca/DiAna combo, I performed experiments with a Sony SCD-9000ES and a Denon DVD-1710.


Most of the listening tests carried out used the basic configuration of steel balls, rubber rings on, the feet in their default position (the larger cylinder on top). The impact of different balls, rubber rings etc. I studied only with my Audiomeca/DiAna. In addition I tried Stab 1 + Aerius under a turntable, tube amps and speakers. Finally and more for curiosity, I tried the Aerius feet solo against similar feet by Final. As to music, I mainly confined myself to a narrow selection of familiar tracks from certain compilation CDs, those who have turned out to be most revealing in this type of tests.


Before proceeding to the results, one more question. What to listen for? All the properties of the sound or just some samples thereof? What reason do we have to believe that equipment platforms -- or other accessories for that matter -- influence every aspect of the sound rather than just specific ones? By default I decided to focus on those qualities of the sound that hobbyists typically associate with the improvements after their CDPs have been modified since I would concentrate on a CD player as test subject. This list is from the Tentlabs website:

  • More resolution
  • Better transparency
  • Cleaner sound
  • Better bass


Subjective findings
Audiomeca/DiAna
Gregitek advises against any extra damping outside the platform to not introduce further variables which could cancel out certain effects. My Audiomeca Kreatura transport does not feature any springs or soft rubber feet but (just for your record) it does sport a vibration reduction system as all of Pierre Lurne's products do. It has two round synthetic feet in the rear and a spike in front, on which the whole transport mechanism (filled with lead and other damping materials) hangs, thereby grounding vibrations.


As a reference, I used the bare shelf of a Sound Organization rack (not sand filled but with long steel spikes). I kept the DiAna converter on top of the Audiomeca transport just to be sure that if the reason for the audible effects were inside the converter rather than the transport, I wouldn't miss them.


I felt that the sound with Stab 1 + Aerius was a tad cleaner and that the background from which music arose was purer. There was better focus, better channel separation, more weight on piano music, more information at one's ears. Music from the Stab 1 + Aerius platform somehow made more sense. On the other hand, things also appeared to be somehow calmer, quieter, even muted. It was more civilized, more easy-going and even-tempered. On balance, I very much liked what Stab1 + Aerius seemed to do with my CDP at this first stage of gathering experimental data.


Sony SCD-9000ES and Denon DVD-1710
The accompanying system with the Sony was an Accuphase E-408 integrated, Dunlavy Athena speakers and Supra cables. The reference was a wooden surface of a book shelf. This time detecting a difference was not as obvious. Maybe the greatest difference was that the sound appeared to have more brilliance. On two tracks my remarks note that the sound had a wider dynamic range. On one track I felt very clearly that the Stab 1 + Aerius improved the Sony's bass performance to become tighter and easier to follow. All in all, I felt that with the Gregitek platform, the sound was a bit more convincing (more air, better separation between instruments etc.). Off the platform, everything was more homogenized and ambiguous. The difference wasn't such however that it would have made me forget my every-day problems.


The Denon DVD-1710 with an extra weight on top to meet the 3 kg criteria was a guinea pig on two occasions. In one of them it was accompanied by a Moon Audio integrated, Totem Winds and Nordost cable. What the Gregitek system did appear to do this time was to provide better L to R separation and on two tracks especially, it was noticeable how it calmed down the whole performance. Music made less noise. It was the very same property that drew my attention first when I listened to the Denon DVD-1710 at home. To sum up, Stab 1 + Aerius did improve the performance of both the Sony and Denon although not by the same margin as my Audiomeca/DiAna combo.


Fine-tuning with Audiomeca/DiAna
Since I had two platforms to play with, I checked the effects of different balls simply by moving the CDP from one platform to another. Steel or ceramic balls? My immediate impressions varied from one music sample to another but in the end I came to prefer what the ceramic balls appeared to do to the sound. It was more approachable, more finely grained. The steel balls sounded greyer. Gregitek describes the effect of the ceramic balls in this way: "Silk sound in the high frequency range, warm and present voices, articulate and present low tones, with increased dynamics and more three-dimensional soundstage." I didn't hear all those things but felt that I could easily endorse the first two. Harpsichord music was the best informer.


With or without rubber rings? To find out I removed the rings from both cylinders of all three feet but not from the metal disc. Recognizing a difference was more time consuming than with the balls. However, after a while I could not resist the conclusion that without the rings the sound was somehow drier, and that I actually liked the effect. Taking the rings off also appeared to improve the bass performance. I also tried the feet (now with the rubber rings on) upside down but couldn't hear any difference worth mentioning. As weird as these things are, in my system the most appealing combination with the Audiomeca/ DiAna source turned out to be the ceramic balls without the rubber rings and the feet in their default position.


Turntable
Unfortunately the 450 x 350mm platform was not large enough for my Verdier or EMT turntables. Instead I got hold of an inexpensive Project Debut with a cheap Ortofon cartridge, an entry-level table with 5.5 kg of mass on four feet. My idea was that this type of table would be an ideal candidate to be placed on an anti-vibration platform. What could be more exciting than transforming a €300 turntable on a similar priced platform into a €1500 table?


That wasn't quite the case though. I expected more improvement but the damn little Project sounded surprisingly good already on the floor. Not that I would not have preferred the Project on the Gregitek. I generally felt that the sound had more posture and accuracy when the Project was on the platform but an obvious jump into the next level of performance it wasn't. This is not to say that Stab 1 + Aerius could not work more dramatically underneath a different turntable.


Amps with tubes
The test arrangement here was that either both the Shindo Aurieges preamp and push/pull 6V6 power amp were on the platform or both were off. The main outcome of this test was that with the electronics on the platform, the bass was better controlled and the sound in the area of the lowest octaves in general was cleaner as though the 15-watter had taken steps toward the sound world of the 60-watt Sonic Frontiers I've been listening to much recently. The platforms also seemed to tame the sound a little.


Totem Hawk
The Hawk is Totem's middle of the line floorstander. For the test I carefully moved the speakers on and off the platform. Later I learned from Gregorio that for the best performance I should have probably only used the feet. Anyway, it turned out that Totem Hawks gained from placing them on the platform. Their definition was better, the control at the lower frequencies was better, L to R separation was better, and the music came out less agitated. Male voices had more character, lute music sounded more glittery. Or so I felt. Stab 1 + Aerius didn't transform Totem Hawks into Totem Winds but the net result was clearly positive.


Aerius feet vs. Final feet
Both feet were under the Denon DVD-1710. This test proved interesting. Final footers differ from Gregitek in that only one cylinder has a cavity for the ball. Finals are therefore miles removed from the usability of Aerius. One obvious and not minor advantage of the Gregitek platform is that it's practical to use. It slightly moves when for example the disc eject button is pressed but it is still convenient to handle. Not so with the Finals. They withdraw from the pressing finger and keep on rocking afterwards, which is why they haven't found their way into my system permanently. Sound wise too my thumbs were up for the Aerius feet. They appeared to be more effective in every respect. In particular I liked that on the Aerius feet, the Denon DVD-1710 appeared to provide more HF info without becoming harsh. Also, during loud passages, Aerius made the sound more listenable. Even the soundstage seemed better.


First -- and totally contrary to my expectations -- Stab 1 + Aerius offered the greatest benefits when a CDP was placed on it. This of course was exactly what Gregorio had predicted. Second, it certainly pays to experiment with the different settings, as during the listening tests it clearly turned out not to be a matter of indifference which combination was used in which particular case.


Third, throughout my listening tests, one property of the sound cropped up as a constant. When the component was on the Stab 1 + Aerius platform, the sound appeared calmer and more subdued. This is interesting as it poses the question whether the effect was positive or negative, i.e. less lively. I'd say the effect was largely positive. That the sound appeared calmer doesn't mean that it was slower or less dynamic.


Rather, it means that there were less artificial ingredients mixed in. Those ingredients can generate a false impression of the sound possessing more liveliness but in fact is something to be avoided. (This reminds me of a Swiss audiophile somehow who once expressed his discontent with an electrostatic speaker because the sound wasn't colored enough!)
Fourth, I've systematically used the phrase "I felt" because that's exactly what I've reported to you: how I spontaneously felt that the sound changed - or did not change.


A final word
Gregitek's Stab 1 + Aerius equipment platform is a serious anti-vibration product. It's based on solid technical knowledge of vibrations and their elimination. It's superbly made. It's aesthetically stunning. It's practical to use. It doesn't cost much in audiophile terms. And if a hifi component -- especially a CDP -- - suffers from vibration-induced problems, this platform is bound to bring aid.


Italy is a fascinating country. Everybody knows it. That Italy is also a fascinating hifi country is less well known. Below the most visible surface of Sonus Faber, Unison Research and Audio Analogue, there are many more interesting vibrations than the international audio community currently realizes. Those vibrations we do not want damp and conceal. On the contrary. But for the kind vibrations we do want to get rid of for good, we should seriously consider this Gregitek platform.
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