Review: Star Sound Technology Sistrum SP-4 Audio Rack Stand
Over the last few years I've been a very strong supporter of Symposium products. Up until a few weeks ago I was using a combination of either a Svelte Shelf or a Super Platform with a set of three Rollerblock Series 2 w/ G3 tungsten bearings under each one of my components (CD player, integrated tube amp, PS Audio P300 and CD player's separate power supply) and was very, very happy with the results. But I thought there was room for improvement and started thinking of upgrading my wooden QS&D rack, which clearly was the weakest link in my system. At that time I had no intent to replace all those Symposium items. During that period I was also looking for Audio Points to replace the stock spikes of my recently acquired Gershman Acoustics loudspeakers (I had used the Audio Points under my previous speakers and knew they were probably the best cones on the market for that purpose). I therefore contacted Robert at Star Sound to order the said cones. During that lenghty conversation with Robert I mentionned to him that I was looking for a new rack and he then offered me to give a try to their Sistrum rack. I was a bit reluctant at first since I was on the market for a rack and had no intent at that time to replace my trusted Symposium devices (the Sistrum is meant to be used on its own and not in combination with other isolation devices). But having read the excellent reviews of the Sistrum rack and speaker platforms I finally decided to give it a try.
I finally received the Sistrum rack about three weeks ago. First of all, I must stress that the rack looks a thousand times better than it does on Star Sound's website. The stainless steel rods are massive and screams quality. Although the assembly seriously tested my (quite limited) patience, it was well worth the effort.
Prior to inserting the rack in my system I had a lenghty evening listening session with a few CDs I'm quite familiar with and which pretty much cover the various musical genre I mainly listen to (Gladiator soundtrack; Rebecca Pidgeon's Raven; CCR's Cosmo's Factory newly remastered edition; Jacintha's XRCD Autumn Leaves; Massive Attack's 100th Window; and Little Hatch's Goin' Back). The next morning I replaced the QS&D rack and Symposium devices with the Sistrum rack and, as recommended by Robert of Star Sound, let my system settle for 2-3 days before finally sitting for a critical listening session with the same CDs I had previously used. Aside from replacing the QS&D rack and the Symposium various devices with the Sistrum rack, no other changes were made to my system.
Boy, was I unprepared for the results!!!!!!!! In a few words, my system sounds much, much, much better with the Sistrum rack than it did prior to that. This in itself is no small feat considering that it replaced over $3000 worth of Symposium gear in my system. But IMO the Sistrum rack is in a different league and a REAL bargain considering it's performance. It's not too often that a financial downsizing of one's system results in major sonic improvements.
The main improvements I noticed with the Sistrum rack were with respect to soundstaging (much, much wider and deeper; the difference was quite staggering), instruments' separation (there are now gobs of air around individual instruments), dynamics (it gets darn close to a live performance; drum whacks are rendered with full impact), details (not so much as the quantity of details as to their presentation which is more realistic and less hi-fi), treble extension (without sacrificing smoothness; female voices are nothing short of spectacular) and background noise (sooooooo silent and quiet, but not in a spooky or hi-fi way). On the downside, I first felt like the bass had a tad less presence than with the Symposium devices and there seemed to be a slight veiling. But these two characteristics completely disappeared over the next few days. The bass is now very detailed, taut and rich. I find the sound to be very well balanced with no part of the spectrum taking over. I can now listen to music for a few hours in a row without listening fatigue (prior to that my listening session rarely went over one or two CDs) and am now rediscovering my extensive CD collection with newfound joy and pleasure.
I honestly never thought that a simple rack would get me that close to the real thing (nor did I think that my current sytem would get me that close to the real thing). There is such a realistic and live feel to the music when played through the Sistrum rack, it is just plain intoxicating. I had planned to upgrade my amp in a few months but now I don't feel the need anymore (my wife says it will come back and I'd have to admit she's probably right).
As you can guess, the Sistrum rack remained in my system from that day on. I now fully understand why some fellow AudiogoN members are such strong supporters of Star Sound products. I guess I have finally seen the light and will never look back!! All of my once highly esteemed Symposium devices are now gone. The Sistrum rack might not be cheap but considering its performance I honestly think it is a bargain (hey, it easily bested over $3000 worth of isolation devices!). Those of you who have invested big time into isolation devices or are planning to do so should definitely give a try to the Sistrum rack. This is by far the most impressive and effective upgrade I've done and, as a bonus, it saved me money.
Now I just can't wait to put those Sistrum speaker platforms under my Gershman Speakers!!!!!!!!!
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