Review: Neuance Platforms for cd & tt Tweak

Category: Accessories

I was having some problems with vibration control with my tt. When I had my tt cable replaced at a local shop, they placed the tt (a Linn LP12) on a $3000 rack and there was no problem. So I was looking for a cheap way to reduce vibration.

As it happened, the real culprit turned out to be my cartridge (thanks, TWL, for leading me in the right direction). It was the wrong compliance for my Ekos arm.

In the meantime, I figured that a Neuance platform was the least expensive way to go, and while I was ordering one for the tt, I ordered one for my Linn cd player as well.

The wait for a Neuance platform is long, and I hadn't committed to spending the money it would take to get a really great cartridge, and in the interim (while I was mustering the nerve to spend more on a new cartridge then I spent on the best stereo I ever had before getting the audio sickness), I ran across someone selling a used Mana rack for an LP12. Well....I figured the Mana would be part way toward the Finite Elements rack I heard, and it was convenient.

The rack came and while it was an improvement, it didn't cure the problem. So I bought a new reference top for the Mana, and I bit the bullet and bought a Lyra Argo. The Argo did the trick and the reference top was a really nice help too.

Isn't this a review of Neuance platforms? Yes.

So there I am, fat and happy, with a Linn LP12 on a Mana Reference table, an Ekos arm and T-Kable sporting a new Argo. All is well.

And the platforms came.

I invited a serious fogey audiophile over (all tube all the time, and cables can't make a difference) to be there with me when the platforms went in place. Our wives came too.

We decided to listen to the cd player first. A song without the Neuance, same song with, another song without and the same song with. We chose a Kristy MacCool cd to start and a Tom Waits song second. We expected little change with the cd player, and had high hopes with the tt.

Boy were we floored. The cd player change was so dramatic that we all said it was one of the most dramatic improvements that we had ever heard in an already nice system. The main improvements were in the upper mids and the treble. I run Maggie 3.6's, so I'm pretty spoiled in that range already, but the addition of the Neuance platform made the upper end of the musical spectrum so much cleaner that we were all shocked. After doing this twice, we actually slipped in a third disc (Monk and Coltrane) and removed the platform gently while the song was playing. And the same thing happened - mid song. It was unbelievable.

Needless to say, we were really excited about the tt possibilities.

Johnny Cash's marvelously recorded last album was our test. We loved "When the Man Comes Down" and "Hurt" without the platform, and then we were all salivating when we put the platform in. And....the difference was very slight. Took it out, put on a Peter Tosh album, listened to a few cuts, put the platform in. Same result. A classical album...same result.

So what am I left with? We agreed that the platforms improved both sources, but we figured that the Mana Reference rack had already done a great deal to improve the vibration control on the turntable, and the very heavy wood table supporting the cd player wasn't doing much to control vibrations. There was simply more margin for improvement with the cd player, and the platform exploited that wiggle room quite well.

The Mana Rack and the Neuance platform work on totally different principles. The first is "vibration to ground" and the second is "vibration dissipated as heat." The idea with the platform is not to take out airborne vibration, but to prevent the source from vibrating the stand and then reclaiming that vibration internally. I had no idea how important this would be -- I figured a $3600 Linn cd player would be pretty well damped to start with. And I was wrong.

I've heard that some platforms that operate on this dissipation principle end up muting the highs. Boy, is that not the case here! It's like I added a purifier. My experience was one of those "you would never know that the noise is there until it's gone, and then you can't believe how much there was" kind of experiences.

I wrote in to Ken Lyon with my rave, and told him that he could reprint any part he wanted. And he wrote back to say that if my experience were typical, the sound would improve upon installation, then degrade while the platform settled in, and then really start to sound its best. I can't say that I experienced a noticeable degradation, and I think that the platforms sound better than when I first put them in, but that may be wishful thinking. I've got about 100 hours on each platform now.

Would I buy them again? In a New York minute.

And the cynic? He's saving for a set for his sources, and now he's started to open his mind to the idea that cables might make a difference too.

FWIW, I listen to a very eclectic mix of music -- about 20% post-bop jazz quartets, 30% vocalese (all genres -- with the feature being a great voice), 10% harder rock, 20% funk/reggae/world/big beat, 10% classical (split between large orchestral and small baroque) and opera, and the remaining 10% a conglomeration of folk, house, country, bluegrass and anything else that jumped out at me. While I have about twice as many cd's as lp's, I tend to listen to the lp's a bit more (maybe 55%) because I can listen to cd's in the car and on the walkman and in the family room, whereas the lp's skip like crazy on my walkman.

Bottom line -- I have no financial stake in GreaterRanges/Neuance beyond the $350 I paid for my platforms, but I encourage all of you to get a platform for your most treasured source.


Associated gear
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Glad to hear it. I just picked up an earlier version of a Neuance shelf about a week ago but haven't gotten around to putting it into one of my systems. After reading many of Ken's posts and just recently talking to him for an extended period of time, i'm expecting great things. Hopefully, i won't be let down : )

Having said that, Ken seems to be very sincere and dedicated to building the best products that he can. As a side note, these products came about from personal experimentation and research that he conducted for his own system. Others at local shops heard the results that his shelves made and that's how he got started in business. He's been refining these designs for several years now and has literally built several hundred prototypes using various designs and materials. If you get the chance to talk to him, he's more than willing to discuss how these products came about and what he's gone through to get them to where they perform at today. Sean
Hi Rich. Glad that you are having some nice improvements in your system, and also enjoying that new cartridge.
I have a complete set of Neauance platforms supporting everything but the speakers(also Maggies-3.5 ). Can't say enough good things about the shelves or Ken, classy guy. I recomend the Neauance products to everyone I know.

I will be very interested in your findings of the neuance shelf. I hope you have some time to evaluate it.