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September 2014
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
World Premiere!
Marigo Audio Lab RHX Mystery Feet
Pushing the envelope with high-end audio footers.
Review By Wayne Donnelly

 

  Ron Hedrich of Marigo Audio Lab could be the poster child for out-of-the-box thinking in the realm of audiophile accessories. Since 1989 he has been offering products that may seem to the suspicious mind both dubious in conception and unorthodox in appearance. But in my experience his products have proven to be extraordinarily beneficial in improving the performance of audio systems.

The first Marigo product I encountered, some 15 years ago was the Tuning Dots. At the time my listening room in California was rather small, so my loudspeakers were definitely in a nearfield setup. My listening seat was about seven feet from the plane of the loudspeakers, and I had large windows immediately behind the seat. I suspected that the proximity of speakers to windows was generating some unwanted resonances; I thought I could detect a bit of upper midrange "ringing," especially on solo piano and small-ensemble jazz.

So, I installed Tuning Dots – flat, roughly half-dollar-sized discs – onto the windows. Voilà! That subtle but annoying trace of ringing was gone. My small listening space became much more accurate and satisfying for the six years I remained in that location before my move to Chicago.

At the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2009, I encountered Ron Hedrich, who was demonstrating an early version of his Mystery Feet. After a brief "in or out" demo, I was much impressed and asked Ron if I could review them. He demurred, saying that they were a work in progress, and perhaps we could arrange something later. But time passed and I moved to Chicago in 2006, and in the interim I forgot about the Mystery Feet. Then a few months ago Ron contacted me to ask if I was still interested. He had finally, he thought, taken the concept as far as he could. Was I interested? You bet! A few weeks later (these things are apparently a bear to make) I received two sets of the RHX Mystery Feet.

 

Using the RHX Mystery Feet
Marigo Audio Lab RHX Mystery Feet

To begin, I placed the Feet under my two Wells Audio Innamorata power amplifiers, replacing the Gingko Audio Cloud 12 isolation platforms. I had been using the Gingko platforms for several years, and I have always found them one of the most effective – and cost-effective too – isolation devices. However, the Marigo RHX Mystery Feet immediately improved system performance. The soundscape became a bit wider and deeper, which was somewhat surprising to me, as spatial dimensionality was already one of the highlights of my system, and especially of the Analysis planar/ribbon dipoles. Bass frequencies became deeper and tighter, high frequencies more open and extended. Perhaps most impressive to me was the improved detail resolution from top to bottom. There was simply more information than I had been getting previously.

Next, I restored the Gingko platforms under the amplifiers, and used the Mystery Feet under my tube preamp (which began as a JoLida Fusion but is massively modified by Wells Audio with Bybee Music Rails & SEAC Bullets, as well as superb NOS tubes. I haven't reviewed this preamp because it is a custom job, not a standard product. But it decisively outperforms my previous ($20K!) VTL 750 Series II, even after I had improved that unit by adding Bybee Music Rails).

The second set went under my Modwright/Denon 3910 CD/SACD player with NOS 6900 tube output stage. Both of those components had also been resting on Gingko platforms. After the change the sonic results were similar to what I had heard from the amplifiers, but now with even better overall results. I'm not too surprised by that difference. The amplifiers are very solidly built solid-state designs. The Feet seem to make even more of a difference under tubes than under solid-state designs.

Under the amplifiers and the preamp I configured the Mystery Feet with two in front and one centered in the rear of the component. But with the CD player, I got a noticeable improvement from reversing that. Putting one Foot front center under the drawer mechanism and two at the rear gave better focus and imaging precision.

Ron Hedrich had suggested that it would be beneficial to rotate the Mystery Feet in place to achieve optimal results. Although I faithfully followed his advice, I can't say that the rotations achieved for me any perceptible changes in the sonic presentation. Initially I was puzzled by my inability to hear a difference from this technique, as Ron Hedrich's assertions typically are confirmed in listening. But as I was writing this review, Ron explained that the audible difference from rotating the Mystery Feet emerge only when the base is contacting the component and the center post is contacting the shelf. I had not used the Mystery Feet in that better. So it is not surprising that I heard no improvement from rotating the devices. In that sense I failed to do is thorough job of evaluating the devices as I could have done. But I urge anyone who tries the Mystery Feet to try that placement as well as the one I used.

At $799 per set, the Marigo RHX Mystery Feet are not cheap. But I have no hesitation in recommending them to the perfectionist audiophile who can afford them. Although I didn't hear them under tube amplifiers, the improvements I heard under my tubed front-end components make me think they should be tried under tube amps. (Ron concurs.) And as my experience showed, they are also quite effective under heavily built solid-state components.

In addition to the RHX Mystery Feet described here, Marigo also offers the F6 Extreme Mystery Feet ($1199). I have not heard those footers. Ron Hedrich describes them as virtually identical in tonal balance to the RHX version, but delivering greater detail resolution and a lower noise floor when used in a reference-quality system. In the last quarter of 2014, Marigo will release the RHZ Mystery Feet upgraded with improved composite materials and completely re-engineered termination. The brass centerpiece is replaced by composites. Those significant across-the-board sonic improvements will only cost you $899 for a set of 3, and the F7 Extreme are $1395 for set of 3.

In addition, trickle-down RHZ/F7 technology will be available for factory-modified Mystery Feet upgrades on all earlier-model Mystery Feet at $199/set of 3. In factory upgrades RHX Mystery Feet will become the latest RHZ model, and F6 Extremes will become the latest F7 Extreme. Earlier generations of Mystery Feet become Version 2 designation:

[Generation 1] TR and [Generation 2] TRi models upgraded become TRi V2.

[Generation 1] VX and [Generation 2] VXi upgraded become VXi V2.

Marigo products are sold by selected dealers, and are sold factory-direct in areas that are not served by a Marigo retailer. Marigo offers customers a 30-day trial with money-back guarantee upon return, and a 5-year unconditional warranty on all Marigo products.

 

Specifications
Type: High-end footers / tweak
RHX Mystery Feet: $799 for a set of 3

 

Company Information
Marigo Audio Lab
32711 SE 16th St.,
Washougal, WA 98671

Voice: (360) 835-9239
Fax: (360) 835-9249
E-mail: marigoaudio@frontier.com
Website: www.MarigoAudio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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