Three slim Gingko Audio Cloud 10 vibration isolation platforms, in clear and glossy black acrylic ($299), came double-wrapped and double-boxed, with a baggie of green racquet-size balls. The platforms are deceptively simple. A top tray with sides rests on a set of green balls. The balls provide four degrees of freedom, isolating the top tray and front-end equipment from unseen, but annoying, vibrations from the bottom plate. The bottom plate has a dozen shallow conical dimples to snuggle the green balls firmly into place. A thumb size logo graces the fronts.
The platforms isolate front-end equipment from hidden acoustic anomalies degrading optimum home movie and music reproduction system performance. The clear version makes front-end components look like they were balancing in the air on the green balls. The black version is elegantly slick, like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
How do they sound? Great. Read my vibration isolation platform review to see what a difference even my graceless devices make in an audio system. (Go to EnjoyTheMusic.com, Classic Web Site, Tweaks and scroll down to "Save $1680, Simple to make platform isolates vibrations: Brings out details for CD and record players.")
My DIY platforms weigh more and jiggle less than the simple Cloud 10s. Where I corralled a dozen tennis balls, Cloud 10s drills conical dimples for a few small balls. Knocking on my entertainment center wiggles the Cloud 10 as easily as new Cadillac, but NOT my ungainly, rock-solid platforms. Yet, the more expensive and elegant Cloud 10s are no less competent; the difference in sound quality they made is just as significant.
The green Gingko balls are smaller and stiffer than racquetballs. With three of their balls, the Cloud 10 jiggles as easily as a tone arm; the top plate pivots, swings and sways, before snapping back to position. The capacity for each of their balls is 20 pounds, beyond which the platform gets unstable. The optimal weight is around 10 pounds per ball. So the minimum of three balls works best when the equipment weighs about 30 pounds, although it could hold up to 60 pounds.
The Cloud 10 platforms are quite remarkable, not only in the appreciable audio difference they made with every piece of equipment I tried, but also with my John Candy physique. With a recommended ratio of 10 pounds per ball, I filled every other dimple with their rubber shock absorbers and gingerly stepped my diet-resistant 210 pounds onto the vibration isolation platforms. It held me as easily as a bathroom scale. I could still wiggle and jiggle, but I wouldn’t try the Chubby Checker twist.
as superb vibration isolation and dance platforms, my initial impressions of
Gingko’s Cloud 10s were very good, with only a reservation about the price.
I’ve bought valuable products of finished acrylic, engineered to do a specific
task, for my aquariums, but the price for a few pieces of acrylic still gives me
pause. Yet, there is no doubt that the Cloud 10s make a significant and valuable
contribution to my modest home movie
and music reproduction system.
putting a vibration isolation platform and my front-end equipment on the wide
top of my entertainment center, I was able to slide the unit off the platforms,
listen to a track at louder than normal volumes and then slide the unit back on
again – then I repeated the test with one track after another.
By using the same unit and same track over and over again, I could clearly hear the improvement. Even with solid-state receivers, I immediately liked the slight improvement Cloud 10s made in darkness, separation, definition and upper bass. The platform increased darkness around the vocals. It made highs slightly crisper and bass more solid. Removing the Clouds made the entire musical range muddy and indistinct.
visual evidence for how well the Could 10 works is there. Go to Gingko's home
page, click on products, then Platformula™
Technology, then scroll halfway down and look at the charts. They show
obviously less noise when using the Gingko platforms.
second chart shows the reduced noise of a tube preamp when sitting on the
platform. The top line of the charts shows a tube preamp without the platform,
the lower green line shows the surprisingly audible affect with the simple
used a tube preamp to measure the effect on signal noise. "Since the key
hypothesis is that the platform reduces the vibration," Vinh says, "We
focused in on the DELTA difference in vibration measured, not the ABSOLUTE
vibration measured." Jens Waale, a trained scientist and member of the New
Jersey Audio Society, did the tests.
Vinh says an excellent indication of how well the Cloud 10 really works is customers who use it under turntables on wooden floors, to eliminate footfalls on the floor. The Cloud 10 absorbs enough of the floor vibration that they can walk normally while playing records now.
tested hundreds of balls (The Gingko balls are NOT racquetballs). He found that
purple racquetballs are the worst. Vinh found that his green balls gave the best
results on a vibration graph. He found that even small details such as the
diameter, depth and location of the dimples affect the performance. That
said, tweaking audiophiles could copy his design easily, which is why Gingko
submitted a patent application.
optimum load is 30-35 lbs, which is what most quality high-end component
weighs (yet another consideration when we picked these balls)." Too
little weight is like a stiff shock absorber on a car. If your front-end
equipment is lighter than 30 lbs, he suggests loading the platforms with added
weight. Gingko is coming out with brass mass loading weights in sets of three
for use with lighter components.
my Bottlehead 2A3 Paramour tube monoblock amplifiers only weigh a few pounds,
additional weight is required for the Cloud 10s to work optimally. Other
20-pound front-end equipment, although light enough for just three balls,
required four balls for proper balance or stability.
Vinh says if my amplifiers are on carpet, spikes aren’t necessary to couple the Cloud 10 platforms to it to the underlying concrete. He found that the simple design works so well that one does NOT need another means of isolation.
the initial three balls as wide as possible under the equipment, more to the
edges. The apex of the triangle should be in the dimples to balance the
center of gravity of the piece.
audiophiles can stack several pieces of electronic equipment on one Cloud 10,
though it is better to have each piece supported separately at first so you can
better tell if the Cloud 10 helps. That way, you can tailor each Cloud 10
(number of balls, positions, etc.) for the component it supports. Also,
more weight equals more instability, so there is a safety issue here too.
In normal use, the green Gingko balls won't wear out. They have no pressure, so they don't lose air over time like inner tubes. The rubber does harden over time and looses resilience. The balls are inexpensive to replace so when in doubt, just replace them with new ones.
A Clear Tray, You Can See Forever
Gingko also has blue color balls now. Most of the Cloud 10s sold are the black units, so ball color doesn’t matter because the skirt covers them. From across the room, the clear Cloud is invisible, leaving only the front-end equipment suspended on three green balls. Clearly a cool effect [pun intended]. With green or blue balls, the clear version would look futuristically sleek under many modern turntable designs. The more popular black unit looked best under old and new receivers, black or silver.
Of course, the clear unit is much easier to center its top plate over its bottom – you can see the space around the edges and if the balls are off-center or pinched. Either way, if the receiver’s uneven distribution of weight wasn’t apparent, the Gingko platforms quickly showed it. One more ball corrects any off-kilter problems. A small carpenter’s level is required for any tweaking audiophile: setting up these devices is one reason why. The level dramatically shows when the front-end equipment is properly balanced.
Tweaking audiophiles can easily make their own Gingko style vibration isolation platforms with racquetballs and two sheets of thick acrylic. One cheap solution for a vibration isolation platform is a thick slice of maple board floating on two layers of large bubble wrap. Compared to that simple solution, the Cloud 10:
* Looks better
Is more stable
Easier to balance uneven
Holds heavier components
Balls last longer than bubble
Acrylic and rubber
construction absorbs vibration better than wood and thin plastic wrap
* And, has better WAF
audiophiles can simply set their front-end equipment directly on the balls, but
this has a few drawbacks. First, it doesn’t look as nice. Second, the
equipment may be NOT be level. Third, the rubber may make marks over time on the
underside of the equipment because of the heat of the component. That said,
Gingko will soon offer a less expensive version, without the top skirt, so the
balls will sit directly under the equipment.
now offer sharp-looking equipment racks. The true audiophile rack has built-in
dimples on the shelves, so the Cloud 10 top tray with skirt fits directly on the
shelf. Vinh says that since glass is the worst conductor, it is horrible for
audiophile shelves. Tennis balls, he says, are too hollow, too thin and too
finds most of his customers typically have $10,000 to $15,000 and upwards
invested in their home movie and music reproduction system. Sub woofers, he said
to the man who enjoys two, are the worst. They send vibrations through the
equipment rack, floor and ambiance. “We let customers listen to their favorite
tracks on their system for a few minutes,” he says, “then pop one of our
platforms under, say, the CD player or the preamp. They listen to the same
tracks again and then we ask: Did you hear a difference, and if so, did it sound
better or worse? If better, how much improvement in percentage did you
In all cases so far, he says, said there was a significant improvement, and the absolute lowest percent improvement was 15%!
my tweak scale from one to 10, where top-of-the-line equipment merits a high
score, the Cloud 10s rate a solid one, possibly two. On the new
EnjoyTheMusic.com 1-to-5 blue note scale, I thought the Cloud 10s made average
improvements in almost all respects, compared to other seriously auditioned
components, earning them many three blue notes. I rate them above average (4)
for enjoyment. Like many of the slight improvements to my archaic home movie and
music reproduction system, I didn’t know what I was missing until I tried
something like the Gingko Cloud 10s. I kept one for myself. Something like the
sleek Gingko Cloud 10s, or my own gawky vibration isolation platforms, should be
a part of every tweaking audiophile’s home movie and music reproduction