the December meeting for insatiable tweakers. By that I mean audiophiles that
can't leave well enough alone with their systems and are always trying something
new to attain the "absolute sound" It's that time of year when most of
us have finished cleaning up the leaves, put away the garden tools, and have
settled in to spend the long cold winter basking in the glow of our tube
amplifiers or solid-state LED's. Thus it is time to clean all of those contacts,
rid the components of dust and dirt, and spend hours tweaking the system.
I define tweaks as anything you do to your system
other than maintenance to try to improve sound reproduction. They can be
products bought from the original manufacturer or some other company made
specifically for your piece of equipment, or something generic made for a type
of product. They can also be some homegrown change either you or someone
corresponding with you has thought up to try. The nice thing about them is, for
the most part, they are either relatively inexpensive or free. They can be
undone if they do not satisfy and give you something to do during those long
winter nights. Each may or may not work, but hopefully they will not cause harm
to the equipment or void your warranty.
Tweaks can be anything from changing position of equipment to changing parts of the equipment's cabinets or feet, to changing internal parts, to changes in the room. There's a multiplicity of them, with an infinite number of combinations. The majority will cause a temporary improvement, but that improvement will usually fade as one realizes that the sound was just different or the change was nonexistent and we had imagined it. A few will cause a significant change far exceeding their cost, and those are the ones to keep. Others will immediately degrade the sound and be discarded. Unhappily, tweaking can become a disease, the worst form of audioholism (a new word for Webster's). I have been partially cured, but still go off the wagon every once in a while.
Over the years I must have tried thousands of tweaks, some of which immediately improved the sound, others did nothing and still others improved on some but worsened other aspects. Also, many tweaks which were originally thought to improve the sound, were found later on when the first blush wore off, to either do nothing, change it minimally for the better, or actually decrease the enjoyment in another aspect which was at first not noted. Thus, tweaking can be fun but also be exasperating, not to say possibly expensive if the tweaks must be purchased. On the other hand, there are many tweaks which cost nothing except possibly for some muscle power, such as moving speaker or listening positions, adjusting room furnishings, placing weights on cabinets to resolve resonance and room mode problems, turntable alignment adjustments, etc. Of the hundreds of purchased tweaks, several have actually been found to offer a significant improvement in sound and are still in use. Sonex, room diffusers, and Dirac speaker correction software for room and speaker correction, Vibraplanes and Arcici Racks, and lead weights for vibration isolation, Mrock Silver paste for AC current improvement and Stein Harmonizers for whatever they do to improve the atmosphere for music reproduction are a few of them.
One tweak not mentioned but is important for this
review, is the Black Ravioli Footers; visco-elastic compound feet of various
sizes and shapes, which are placed under equipment to control both equipment and
chassis-born vibration which tend to degrade imaging. I have yet to find any
other feet that work better than these. Derrick Ethell, owner and developer, notified me that Derrick had
developed an equipment base and wished for me to evaluate it. Okay!
As the equipment's feet rest directly on them, some of which are of dubious help in vibration isolation, one can also place his footers between the equipment and bases. This reduces further ground-born vibrations and at the same time increases the dissipation of energy from the equipment. Each base is useful for up to a maximum of 66 pounds, so theoretically one could place several pieces of equipment atop one.
As I presently use an Arcici Suspens-Rack and ECM isolation bases under the source components, their effect was eliminated by letting out the air and removing the ECM bases. The two Ravioli Bases that were available were first placed under my home theater computer and OPPO BDP 105 disc player, and then one was placed under the Classé CT-SSP preamp processor and the second under the source being used. Compared to no isolation, there was a definite improvement in the 3D rendering of the soundstage and ambiance retrieval, especially when used under the players, but it was not quite up to what is normally obtained with the Arcici Rack. Of course, this rack costs several thousand dollars compared to the Ravioli Base's $750 per price.
Then the footers were placed between the bases and equipment. Again, there was a distinct improvement in the soundstage and ambiance retrieval, coming very close to what is achieved with the air suspension. On activating the Arcici's air suspension, there was a slight improvement in both attributes, which brought them up to and possibly slightly better than what I had obtained previously without the bases, but at considerably greater expense, as the Arcici originally cost about $5000.
Finally, all three components were placed on one base with footers in between each for a total weight of about thirty pounds and the improvement was equivalent to using both bases separately. (Sorry Derrick if this decreases the number each audiophile would need, but facts are facts.) So I'd suggest purchasing one for your source equipment with sufficient footers to go between each piece of equipment, and one for each amplifier. Obviously with several hundred pound horn speakers I couldn't test the bases effect on their floor isolation, but I can say that for the price, especially if combined with their footers they are well worth the price. They have offered to send me several more to isolate my amps after their use at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, where they were demoed, but I'll be leaving for several months, so will have to wait until next summer.
Twin Audio Video in Loma Linda California have now been appointed as the new distributor for Black Ravioli in the USA and Canada. They can be reached by e-mail or by phone on (909) 954-2175. In other countries, contact can be made through Black Ravioli's dealer network listed on their web site. And now a few words from Derrick Ethell, founder of Black Ravioli:
Thank you for fitting in your review of the new BR Bases before you leave to go abroad. I know you were short of time but I believe you fully appreciated that the new BR Base is a credible extension of the concept we have successfully presented with the range of pads over a number of years. I would like to make a couple of comments on the review if that’s ok. It is a characteristic of the all the Black Ravioli products that they take a period of time to settle down and I think that in the limited time you had available you the Bases may still have had some way to go before full performance would have been realized. The BR footers you had available have been in use in you system for several years and are well settled and I am sure you would have found the Bases would have given more benefit had they had been in the system for greater period of time.
When developing the BR Base I apportioned the design in performance terms to target 20% isolation and 80% dissipation. It is the pads that provide the dissipation function and as discussed above they take an extended time to settle down, so the results of your comparison with the large rack was very pleasing indeed since from my understanding its objective is in the main to isolate.
Your observation about stacking equipment on the BR Base with Footers in between is quite acceptable but we suggest it should be constrained to source equipment. Such equipment is generally lighter and maybe has fewer issues with interaction. We did exactly that in the Acoustic Zen and Triode Corporation room at the RMAF where we had one BR Base for the Pre-Amp and one for the stacked DAC and CD player with BR Big Pads between them. It worked very well and Robert Lee of Acoustic Zen and Santi Oropel representing the Triode Corporation were very pleased with the result.
Many thanks again for your review and enjoy your trip.