Review: EquaRack Model A Stand
For some time, equipment racks and isolation devices have been a 'black box' for me. On some level I knew that they were important but racks and isolation devices don't "do anything" and it's always easier rationalize the purchase a new cable or other piece of hardware.
For many years, I had housed my equipment in built-in wooden shelves located along the left wall of my dedicated music room. The recent order of a high mass (Galibier Stelvio) turntable, necessitated the investment in a system able supporting the 130 lb. Stelvio and the rest my equipment. I had the opportunity to see many systems at the 2007 RMAF. After doing research, I purchased two EquaRacks which are now located between the speakers in the rear of the listening room.
In all honesty, I expected little change in the sound of my system. Much to my surprise, significant changes were immediately apparent...but were they better? It's natural to want to validate a not insignificant purchase, so having lived with the racks for several weeks and had several other experienced listeners validate my impressions, I feel comfortable sharing my experience:
1. A significant drop in the noise floor. Instruments and voices arise from a much darker background and there is an associated increase in dynamic range. I am impressed by the subtle information I am hearing on well-known material. For example Elvin Jones' drumming and brush-work on the final Great Jazz Trio CD "Collaboration" (Village Records, 2004) and the percussion and vocals on the highly recommended Marisa Monte/Carlinhos Brown/Arnaldo Antunes "Tribalistas" (Phonomotor, 2002)...a disc worth seeking out on Amazon.
2. A significantly increased amount of quality low octave energy. A great example is the terrific live CD featuring the bass trio of Ray Brown, John Clayton and Christian McBride "SuperBass" (Telarc 1997). It is now easy to locate and follow the individual bassists by their unique style and tone. The presentation is much more relaxed and life-like (I was lucky enough to catch them at Jazz Alley.)
3.Individual instruments and voices sound more life-like. Everyone in my family plays multiple instruments...except me! If you walk into our house, there's likely someone playing saxophone, piano, flute, guitar or piano. With my equipment on the EquaRacks, instruments sound much more natural. For example, Russ Reinberg's clarinet on the CD "Blue Scarlett" (Jazzed Media, 2006) actually sounds like a clarinet and Chan Marshall sounds like she's singing in the room on the 180 gm LP "The Greatest" (Matador 2006).
4. The width, depth and height of the soundstage has increased, but not artificially. Musicians are better localized in space, but are not 'etched'.
In summary, the music is much more dynamic and integrated. My friends and wife agree that it is easier to connect with the artists' message and emotion.
What are the downsides/limitations:
a. You have to assemble the racks. Not difficult but it will require a friend and a willingness to pay attention to detail. The upside: the racks are endlessly adjustable and can accommodate changes to your system.
b. Physical appearance. They are large and are not as elegant as other racks. Equipment sits on "Multi-Mounts" and not on shelves. I find the appearance acceptable, sort of 'industrial chic' but this product may have a low WAF! The Multi-Mounts are the key to the product; the rest of the rack is a platform for the Multi-Mounts. Please refer to the EquaRack website. They are also highly adjustable and let you 'tune' each component.
c. Once all the other equipment was loaded on the EquaRack, placing the Linn on the rack did not result in any perceptible improvement beyond having it on a Target Rack. I am uncertain if this is a result of the Linn's suspended design, but, all of the other downstream equipment clearly benefited from the EquaRack.
There may be better solutions. I was not able to audition competitors such as Grand Prix or SRA in my system and that's OK...I am pleased with my purchase. The bottom line: the investment in a high quality rack and isolation system is worthwhile and should be considered as important as any other audio component in a high quality system.
Linn Sondek/Linto/Ekos/Dynavector Karat 17D2
Linn Linto Phono Preamp
SimMoon Andromeda CDP
BAT KV50SE Preamp
Levinson 436 Monoblock Amplifiers
Wilson WATT/Puppy III/II
Transparent Ultra and Reference Cabling
Silent Running Audio, Grand Prix Audio