Review by Karl Lozier
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I really wanted to call this product "footed spikes". There are internal spikes in these items, but you can't see them. The idea behind these "spikes" is simple. "Spiking" of audio equipment, particularly loudspeakers are one of the two main ways to mechanically enhance the immediate seating area of speakers (or other) audio equipment.
Simplified basic theory allows for some relatively soft inert materials (Sorbothane is one example) in some form to be placed between the equipment and the underlying shelf, cabinet, etcetera. This decouples or isolates the shelf or cabinet from the equipment by internal molecular movement of the material, which is absorbed and actually dissipated as internal heat. The result is that when correctly done by proper matching of the absorbing resilient material and the weight of the equipment, vibration (within reasonable limits) is not transmitted. In other words, when your woofer is belting out bass notes or home theater sound effects that cause vibration in your equipment shelf or cabinet, that vibration is not transmitted to the equipment, it's isolated in that one respect.
The opposite approach to enhancing the immediate seating area easily arises when your cabinet or shelf is as solid, stable and nonvibrating as the famous "Rock of Gibraltar". In this situation, you, our typical music lover may start thinking that perhaps the thin flimsy sheet metal cases around your equipment may actually vibrate on their own long before the cabinet or shelf would. Isolation from the shelf would then be of no help. Putting some sharp pointed devices (spikes) attached to the equipment and concentrating its mass to at least 3 or perhaps even 4 small spots can effectively couple the device and the cabinet or shelf. In essence these minute vibrations cannot be just in the piece of audio gear, the gear is effectively coupled to its cabinet or shelf that has to also vibrate, or nothing does. Equipment that does not vibrate is expected to sound better.
Either of the above two approaches can make an improvement in sound quality depending on many variables, some of which I've mentioned. Many, many years ago I experimented at some length with a turntable (spring suspension) I had in my system. The conclusion in that one particular situation of mine was that spikes replacing the factory installed feet, resulted in a tighter and slightly more detailed bass range. Substituting absorbent "feet or pads" (Sorbothane or
Navcom) resulted in a fuller and richer bass range that did either the spikes or original factory feet.
Soundcare Standard, Soundcare Component and Soundcare
The Soundcare Spikes are basically designed to replace typical sharp pointed spikes while eliminating the main drawback of most available spikes, namely of that sharp point. More exactingly the sharp point is moved internally, is not visible and unable to cause damage. To back up a step or two. Typical spikes can easily create damage with their pointed end by digging into or scratching nice wood shelves and flooring. Because of this many companies designed various miniature cups or discs (coin size) for the spikes to fit into and protect the underlying surface; this reportedly works just about as efficiently. Obviously it's not a good idea to lose the cups or discs. Soundcare has basically taken that protective cup made of hardened steel and embedded it a zinc base. Let's call that the bottom half of their "spike". They similarly did the same with the hardened steel point embedded in the top half. All is surrounded by a tough ABS plastic manufactured in a manner that keeps the "point half" and the "cup half" together, but free to move slightly - when little pressure is applied. As a result, the spike and cup are hidden.
The plastic does not cover the metal top and bottom surfaces. My approximate overall measurements are 1-1/4 inch diameter for the flat "cup" half and the protruding "spike" half is only about 3/4 inch and overall about 5/8 inch thick for the entire basic unit. Adding the double- sided adhesive turns it into the self-adhesive model called Spike-2. Other models add various size threaded bolts to replace threaded stock feet; the bolt is a nicely designed extension of the 3/4-inch side of the basic unit.
The overall appearance, when added to your equipment is similar to some stock feet but smaller than most. There is also a new SuperSpiked foot for most electronics. This model adds a hollow casing that looks like many standard equipment feet. For use on fine wood floors or cabinets, adhesive thin felt pads are provided; they can very subtly detract from the audible performance to an insignificant degree. For use on carpeted floors the thin felt pads seem to be superfluous in most situations.
Installation of any of the models is "duck soup" simple. Okay, since you've not made any duck soup lately, follow the simple short instructions and look at the pictures. You can mount the self-adhesive models "upside down" if you prefer. I tried them that way also and heard no difference. When questioned, Terje
Borgen, President of Soundcare, replied that when the company measured, they found no difference, but that some theories state that the spike itself (hidden from external view) should point down when used with speakers and point up when used with electronics. On their "electronic feet" model, the point is aimed up. Experimentation is called for when deciding to use the adhesive felt pads or not or to even try something else such as some thin sticky rubber pads to prevent movement such as when used under very light weight speakers or other audio products on a smooth shelf for example. A comparable situation can arise when used under subwoofers; they really should not be able to easily move around such as when setting on smooth flooring.
My speakers have a footprint that is twelve inches wide and about twenty- two inches long. They're resting on Berber type carpeting, a very tight weave design. Contrary to popular usage and factory recommendations, I wound up using four, not three, Soundcare feet under each speaker. No, I'm not trying to say that four sounded any better than the typical three feet; I simply like to use one under each corner of my speakers and other equipment and heard no difference compared to using three in a triangular pattern. Once installed, the difference was immediately apparent. The most noticeable difference by far was in the bottom half of the spectrum from deep bass on up through the lower midrange, though there was definitely slight overall improvement throughout the entire range.. Bass notes and drumbeats were obviously tighter, more solid and cleaner. As a result, even imaging became more palpable as well as more stable.
My speakers do put out rather prodigious bass power with four built in subwoofers per side and are fairly heavy at one hundred forty pounds each. The audible conclusion was that the weight of the speakers alone was not sufficient to prevent microscopic vibrational movement of the cabinets. The Soundcare spikes, even though the spikes function internally, obviously were stabilizing the speakers by concentrating the downward forces in extremely small areas. This is seemingly a good example of basic physics in action.
The bottoms of my speakers' cabinets are simple plain surfaces with no factory spikes nor any threaded holes for same. So I used the adhesive models of the "spikes". I experimented quite a bit and found that there was significant improvement with the "spikes" even before removing the protective covering over the adhesive. Once the adhesive side was applied to the speakers, experimenting definitely decreased. In my situation, there appeared to be no noticeable difference between use of three or four of the Soundcare products. I did not apply the supplied adhesive felt pads to the floor side of the "spikes". It would probably be a good idea to do so if used on a nicely finished wood or other smooth floor surface. It's conceivable that a situation might exist where a bit of ingenuity could improve the performance of this fine product.
All in all this product, which at one place in the accompanying Soundcare literature, is referred to as an "all-in-one spike foot" does what is claimed when used with loudspeakers. It would be great if that were true for all audio products! With other audio equipment I advise some experimentation. Perhaps the cabinet or shelf is not as sturdy or nonresonant as it might appear. If that were so, would it be wise to try to couple the equipment to it? Try it and then listen to your results; experiment with these well made and modestly priced accessories. I would expect, and so do Soundcare's engineers, that turntables and CD/DVD players would usually benefit relatively more than items such as solid-state power amplifiers.
I must mention that an unusual situation arose when I tried to use the previously mentioned new SuperSpiked foot model to replace the factory feet on the Heart CD player (reviewed in our January issue by Dick Olsher) that arrived while I was reviewing and experimenting with the Soundcare products. The Heart player is a tubed modification of Marantz's model 6000. Though Soundcare's feet appeared to be an almost perfect size match (which doesn't really matter) the bottom of the Marantz's chassis contained pairs of tiny protuberances whose purpose appears to be prevention of the factory's feet turning. I'm sure that Terje Borgen will not be happy to hear that; I have no idea if it is also true for other models in the popular Marantz line of players. They happen to interfere with the internal bracing of the under/mounting side of this model's spiked-feet.
All was not lost, the self-adhesive model, which is actually part of this special model, was of course usable on its own. The slight improvement was a bit less than expected while slightly subduing a bit of the Heart's bass fullness. I am convinced of the effectiveness of these Soundcare Spikes particularly used with loudspeakers. If using stands with your speakers it will probably be necessary to use the "spikes" under and on top of the stands for maximum benefit. I am using them
(Soundcare Spikes) with my speakers now and requested additional ones to be used with speakers I review, such as the Alon pair, which showed up yesterday.
Outer housing of ABS plastic (standard version) or
Polycarbonate (High-End version)
Spike made of first class case hardened steel
Zinc casing to reduces resonances in the spike
Zinc disc with a mild steel insert
Self adhesive felt disc
Double coated tape by 3M
Spike 2 Self Adhesive Model
(three per pack) $29.99
Spike 1, 3, 4, 5 Threaded Models
(four per pack) $44.99
Spike E Feet for Electronics
(four per pack) $49.99
P.O. Box 44
Voice/Fax: +47 22 16 51 11
Taylor Sales Group, Inc.
133 Barton Road
Greenfield, MA 01301
Voice: (413) 772-6286
Fax: (413) 774-7122