Experience with Sistrum or Grand Prix Monaco rack?

If anyone has tried either the Sistrum or Grand Prix Monaco racks and would be willing to share their experiences (particularly in comparison to others they used) I would greatly appreciate it. If you use the Monaco, have you used it with the Apex at all?

I am looking into a new rack system and, although I am willing to to $2,000-$3,000 retail for a 3 shelf rack and two amp stands), I want to get the best bang for my dollar and these looked promising.

Any other suggestions appreciated!

(PS - will hold an Audio Aero Capitole MK-II, Manley Steelhead and either Lamm amps or Tenors)


Frank- First off- Nice system! I have a few friends that use the same gear- I use a cap. II myself. One quick question- are you using the Steelhead? I know that it is a great analog piece but you would be better off running the cap. II into the tenors(I know this because I have tried a few pre-amps with that exact cd player and amp combination) and I assume the lamms would be very similar. One friend recently sold his sistrum rack and is replacing it with a rix rax voodoo which he believes to be a better product, he considered the Grand Prix but everyone that we spoke to(besides the dealers) didn't care for the lack of rear support they offered- in particular with the tenors, they are heavier towards the back of the amp. He had NO complaints on the Sistrum and always liked the way equipment sounded but he wanted change and with the suspension his turntable had it didn't work well with the isolation/vibration control the sistrum had- if I remember correct you have a rockport so turntable stability is a non-issue for you. If you can afford it the rix rax is the rack from which all others are judged, not only are they very pretty but they seem to be very functional with out too many gimicks. As a matter of fact he still has the sistrum amp stands that he is using on his tenors, though he mentioned upgrading them as well. I know many audiophiles(myself included) just put our gear on the floors on individule shelves/isolation devices(cones, pucks, spheres, etc....) I realize you may have a WAF to deal with so it may not be an option though it may save you some $$ and give you better sonic results. Another friend has a Cap. II and tenors and they just rest on his hard wood floors no isolatoin devices being used with them at all- though he uses Zoethecus(sp?) racks with his aestetix IO signature, also mated with a rockport sirius II(obviously no rack being used with it). So to sum things up I would give the Rix Rax the nod if they are with in your budget if not I don't think you could go wrong with the sistrum- it just sort of has a love it or leave it look. Happy Listening ~Tim

P.S. what speakers are you running?
Sounds like one sweet system you've got there. I, too, would love to know what's on the speaker horizon? Anyway, I use the Sistrum Rack systems and their Mini Monitor support system as well. They're wonderful. The best way to couple all your electronics. Call Robert at Starsound Technologies. He's the man, over there. He'll set you free. I know beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, but I think they're quite an esoteric design. They will do wonders for your system. Your electronics, then your ears, will go where you never thought possible. warren
a) When you say no one liked the 3-point system in the Grand Prix because of amplifier weight distribution, was this based on actual problems with the rack, or just intellectually not liking the idea. If so, what were the problems?
b) How does the ultra-heavy Rix Rax compare in Prat to the Grand Prix, which is somewhat of the lightweight-rigid persuasion?

Thanks, I'm interested in any experience with these racks too.
Flex- a) I started a thread not long ago about Rix Rax vs. Grand prix, and the consensus was they just didn't like the idea of the support the shelf gets. I do like the isolation/absorbtion they offer but if you have an uneven load on the shelf it may not optimal- it just makes sense if you think about it.
b. I haven't seen or heard the rix yet, they take a LONG time to get because they are made to order, with in a month it should be ready- fingers crossed :o)

Warren- I must agree Robert is on the ball- a true class act, if more men were like him in the audio world we would have fewer headaches.
Sistrum rack all the way for me. My previous rack was a high mass clamp rack marketed by Michael Green . The Sistrum has made everything better, most of all dynamically coherent. The clamp rack made everything quiet but all the much darker at the same time. I suppose it killed the micro-dynamics of the real thing. Sistrum seems to reduce the noise floor to the subterranean level while laying bare the hidden level of before unheard texture and soundstage detail. This rack allows quick and easy comparisons of equipment as well as changing out of cables. Strategic placement of the adjustable points under each component makes for further sonic enhancement while at the same time shows you the true meaning of the science of resonance transfer. I have this stand between my speakers. Sistrum rack does not inhibit my center stage. Could Sistrum by its physcial design of resonance transfer serve to be the foundation of a better and more focal center stage? I feel this may be so. Tom
Thanks Warren, Tim and Flex. I have seen the Rix Rax and they are beautiful. I have also considered Zoethecus. I am using the Steelhead but NOT for the AA. I will probably be getting a switch box from Jennifer like Mike LaVigne uses. I got rid of my Lamm L2 Reference preamp (a very nice preamp) when I went direct from the AA into the amps and everything improved. Thus, I also sold my Aesthetix Io Signature w/dual power supplies and my Lamm LP2 because they did not have a volume control - and went to the Steelhead. BUT, I have been having a problem with compatibility between the Steelhead and the Lamms (the new Steelhead blows the fuses in the Lamms when turned on [it doesn't just engage the protection circuitry - it blows the fuses] - even without the table/arm connected, even with the volume all the way down and even with the "mute" engaged).

Manley is stumped, Lamm blames the Manley and I am frustrated. Andy Payor and I both think it may be a supersonic oscillation but I do not have an oscilliscope to test it. Then, my Colibri [which I bought a year ago but have only heard it for about 50 hours on my VPI TNT] blew a channel [coil went out] and is back in Germany getting repaired. Needless to say I was so frustrated I put the whole analog rig up for sale [I have been without analog since April - it HURTS to see that Rockport just sit there witout hearing what it can do!!]. But my good [and ever so patient] friends Jonathan Tinn and Mike LaVigne have been urging me to wait until I hear the Rockport to decide whether to sell it. Good advice as always.

So, if I keep the Rockport, and at CES I like the Kharma Midi-Grands [yes, I know they are in horrible show conditions] as much as a NUMBER of people I know [who have heard or owned some of the best speakers available] have, I will buy them next week. I will also be looking at the Wilson Watt Puppy 7s, the Antares, the Dynaudio Evidence Temptation, the Accapellas, the Komris and the Verity Lohengrin (sp), etc. but, based on what characteristics I value in a speaker and what, anecdotally, I think I will like, the Kharmas are the odds on favorite at this early point (Jonathan buddy, ya haven't been wrong yet!).

If I sell the Rockport (and go down to a much lesser degree of table), I may buy the Kharma Exquisites if I like the Midi-Grands and if I get the privilege of hearing Mike's system. But, at this point, I am fairly sure I will keep the Rockport.

If I get the Kharmas, I will then seriously consider the 75 watt Tenors or the new 300 watt Tenor hybrids that will be introduced at CES [and assume that the new amps will not be incompatible with the Manley as a number of Tenor owners use the Steelhead].

So, this is why I would like to get some new racks. My main concern in a rack or amp stand is the sonics but would love it if they looked nice too (like the Rix Rax). I must admit though, the materials used, the degree of isolation and the philosophy of the Monaco and Apex (and the Sistrum) seemed interesting to me. I am also very interested in Kevin Tellecamp's Silent Running isolation bases.

I need a doctor!

Thanks again and anything else you can think of is always appreciated.

Frank, I have Tenor amps and the monoblocks fit and sit perfectly on the Grand Prix amp stands. I also have the Monaco rack. You will not find a better built rack than this. If you look at the specs on the rack, the shelf is well supported and any component that you put on it will be stable. Read all the very positive reviews on it. Call Alvin at Grand Prix and talk to him. He is a pleasure to deal with. With this rack you do not need any other isolation product under your components. I have not tried the Apex in place of the spikes yet. I also looked into the Sistrum rack. After much research and talking to both Alvin and Robert about their products, I went with the Monaco. I am very pleased with it and will not replace it.
Turn your head and cough.......now say aaaaaaaahhh.

......and don't forget to take ALL your meds.


Frank, i'll see you at CES.
FWIW I'll offer these comments, since you've asked for comparative experience. I own Zoethecus and have been looking at/trying Grand Prix. My system is entirely different from yours, fast SS and a little analytic. I also have raised hardwood flooring with area rugs (racks are on the hardwood flooring). The Zoethecus racks give a degree of bloom and color to the sound. You can read bloom as smear if you like, but that's a relative judgement, since the system has good prat though I have heard it bettered somewhat (on prat) with Neuance. Grand Prix gives a very tight, coherent sound with no added bloom, several degrees more coherent than Zoethecus. With a fast SS system that can track the coherency, the differences in the two racks are quite pronounced. Also, the Grand Prix is not made of maple so it lacks the maple warmth that comes with Zoeth. My main concern with Grand Prix is simply to make sure that the high degree of coherency does not create a sound which seems thinner and less musical to you; but I doubt that it will do that in a tubed system, and I don't have enough experience with it yet to determine that it does this with SS.
BTW, since you're going to CES, you might ask the Grand Prix reps about the issue of weight distribution on the triangular shelves. I seriously doubt that they haven't given it thought, and the shelves are matched in thickness to the component weight anyway.
I purchased the Grand Prix Monaco amp stand shortly after CES. I have a 105 lb. Edge amp sitting on a concrete tile floor. This stand was recommended to me by a fellow 'Goner who had previously been using the Zoethecus amp stands for his tube monos. He told me he was blown away by the vast improvement. His description was similar to what Flex has said. I was previously using an amp stand whose purpose was strictly aesthetic so I was thrilled with the sonic improvements when putting the Monaco in place. However, this week, I purchased the Apex footers for the Monaco. In doing so, I feel like I replaced a component in my system! Everything is more life-like, clean and rich sounding. I can hear detail I did not hear prior to installing the Apex. I strongly suggest that anyone considering the Grand Prix stands should definitely purchase the Apex along with it. What Alvin has been able to accomplish is truly amazing! I am in awe!
I purchased a Sistrum SP-4 (4 shelf) rack for my system and I was completely blown away that a component rack can make that much of a difference! I owned another inexpensive rack before the Sistrum and I seriously considered selling all of my equipment because I was so unhappy with its sound. I tried different cables, power products, etc. and although the differences were apparent, they just didn't have the "Wow" factor. The Sistrum gave my system a true wake-up call. First, the height of my stereo image increased dramatically. Second, the treble and upper midrange seemed so much more clearer and articulate without the edge. And finally, the bass and power of the system has so much more energy. I highly recommend that you at least call them and describe your system to them. They are all very knowledgeable and really cared about me.

Their web address is www.audiopoints.com
I would highly recommend the Grand Prix Products. I have a Krell System, KCT - KPS-28c - FPB-200c, with Totem Acoustic Mani-2's & PS Audio Powerplant with Ultimate Lab Cables. I started with the Monaco Equipment Stand, later added the amp stand and finally the Apex. Each stage added improvement; none of which were suttle. I would also reccomend the F-1 shelves over the acrylic. As a favor to Alvin I did some major comparisons with regard to Black Diamond Racing Shelves, Footers, Cones etc. I've sold them all. Grand Prix Audio took my system to a whole different level.
In no way should one compare a multitude of dissimilar devices on a rack that was mistakenly designed on the premise that it could isolate.
To couple or decouple? Again and again, that is the question. You can't, for crying out loud, isolate from airborne resonances. The very principles of isolation, will keep those airborne resonances flittering around in your entire system. Coupling, is not only based on solid principles: it's attainable. Sistrum products, couple better than anything out there because their system, doesn't, mix the two. Decoupling and coupling, that is. I won't keep, even the littlest trinket on my rack,unless it's composed, preferably of copper or bronze, because it's someting else that will slow the path of those evil nasties to that big ole rock: EARTH. Here we go again. peace, warren