Review: Star Sound Technology Sistrum SP-4 Audio Rack Stand

Category: Accessories

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!!!!!!!!!

Associated gear
Simaudio Moon Eclipse CD Player
Audio Note E40a Tube Integrated Amp
PS Audio P300 Power Plant
Mephisto, this is music to my ears. I have everything, and I mean everything in my system sitting on Audiopoints, including a Sistrum cdp, and amp support rack system, as well as their Mini Monitor support system. I couldn't have said it better. Well, maybe a little. I've been raving about coupling vs decoupling, adnauseam, I know, for so long. It's great to hear another happy customer. peace, warren
Great review mephisto. I am looking to get a sistrum rack this week in fact and agree with you that they look much more impressive in the flesh, i.e., steel. I have been having some issues with exaggerated bass output from my Virgo II speakers after incorporating a much higher end cdp (mephisto II in fact) into my system (in place of Rega Planet 2000). I am going to try the sistrum route to see if this livens things up a little and allows the components to sing and incorporates the added low end information without the boom and bloom. I know this might be a pipe dream but I'll give it a shot. Robert sure stands behind his products (very confident that it will end the boom issue)and gives a geat deal of useful information. Seems like a very impressive company from my perspective. By the way, do you think a solid state integrated amplifier (levinson 383) will reap as many benefits on a sistrum rack as your tube amp? Anyone using the large top shelf for their turntable (using Oracle Delphi III)? Interested in any and all opinions.
A well written review. Star Sound Technology is not the only good company out there however I will continue to recommend to people that they give them a try. Hearing is believing.
Super review. I have two of the six shelf sistrum racks and while buying them somewhat alone in the wilderness knew I had something great. Sometimes happiness loves company and it is good to see others confirm my stellar praise for this product. If you think the racks are great you ought to try their amps, which are remarkable, and the cable, which takes a back seat to no one except in their reasonable price. This company has the most an incredible line of equipment for a relative unknown. The only thing I can figure about it is that all of the products are developed under a unform approach. I agree that the racks look fantastic and are a challenge to assemble. Not complicated just requires levels, proper tools, and patience. I hope everyone has used the micro bearings or you are missing out.
Lyonpowers: I can't say whether a SS amp will reap as many benefits on a Sistrum rack as my tube amp. Tube amps are usually more prone to vibrations and proper vibration control will usually yield more impressive results. Let me know how it goes once you've had the chance to try the rack.

Ksales: I had received a pair of Sonoran Plateau Series Desert speaker cables along with the Sistrum rack and speaker platforms and guess what, I ended up keeping them. They beat my previous Nirvana S-L speaker cables hands down, even though they haven't yet fully settled (I burned them in with the Duo-Tech Cable Cooker but according to Robert the cables must be left untouched for about 200 hours before they reach their full potential; some say they even keep improving after 200 hours). The Plateau speaker cables pretty much improved on the Sistrum's performance, especially in the bass department. I can't help but wonder whether my system has now reached it's full potential, but I guess the Sistrum speaker platforms will prove me wrong. We shall see....
Mephisto my experience with the cable is that it requires a rather long breakin. I did an a/b with nordost and actually liked the warmth of the sonoran much better. Although I still have nordost on other systems I find it almost artificially quick. Some people may think that speed is a plus but not when it gives you something different than what the artist recorded. The sonoran gives me the reality of the performance. I am sure most folks have done the Norah Jones thing, but between the versatiliy of her tracks and the Gladitor disc for evaluation the sonoran is remarkable. The detail and warmth are incredible. Then I get to the amps. Unreal depth and dynamic power. If you like tube you might like these. For ss they are quite unique.
Hi, in answer to the question about placing a turntable on the top shelf (points, actually) of the Sistrum rack, I do just that with my Linn LP-12. Complete isolation from footfalls, both human and dog. Plus all the improvement in sound that the reviewer described for his components on the rack.
Mephisto, you'll freak when you try the Sistrum platforms under your speakers. I have them under my single-driver Lowther Voigt Pipes, and they made a substantial difference for the better. I had a slight boxy cabinet resonance in the lower midrange/upper bass region that totally disappeared when I put the Sistrum platforms under them. I also got a small increase in efficiency and I can now play louder at the same gain setting. Clarity was improved, even though I didn't think it could get any better. I have the stuff under my amp, preamp, speakers, and audiopoints under the TT, and Sonoran Plateau Cactus ICs, and Desert speaker cables, for a full Sistrum treatment. I am very pleased. I also have an all-tube system.
Hi Mephisto, an excellent review. I agree with all you said i just can't say it as well as you. I started off with the speaker platforms and agree with Twl. You have another big surprise coming your way. I have been very impressed with eveything from Starsound. This has made me wonder about their speakers and electronics. I hope you give us your impressions of the speaker platforms once have had time to listen. Looking forward hearing more from you cause you do it so well.
Mephisto well stated! Once you start down the Sistrum path there is no turning back. I started using Audiopoints in 1994 and have since built my system around this seemingly most basic device. Cables, platforms, racks, more platforms and now the latest of power cords. I have never before been impressed with sonic improvements in various power cords. Sure I could hear the difference but I always thought my money could be better spent elsewhere. Well the new Sonoran Plateau right out of the package and into the wall blew me away.The edges of the picture I was hearing defined much clearer images on a higher contrast backround. No buyers remorse on this power cord purchase. I own the amps as well, the monos with the Vishay resistor package. These easily out distanced my previous Essence and Krell amps. Much more speed and finese without being etched... very musical..KSales and I both have had the pleasure to hear the prototype of the soon to be Harmonic Precision Caravelle speaker. Just wait. I have never heard a dynamic speaker sound so totally intergrated and coherent. In many ways this is perhaps the best speaker I have ever heard! The bass and soundstaging are considerable coming out of this midsize cabinet. The final production models can only be better than those we heard in Chicago last summer. Tom