I'm surprised that your using cones point-side up. I have always found this to be REALLY bad sounding. Bass is muddied and bloated with pace and musicality taking a major hit in the nose. By using them point up, the much larger flat side of the cone that is making contact with the shelf is now concentrating all of its absorbed energy into the point which is now supporting the component. Another thing that you may want to play with in terms of "tuning" your rack and support shelves is how much the shelves are tightened down. Making a rack more rigid will typically add weight to the bass, but it is not nearly as well defined. I could not believe the difference that this made when i recently changed racks. I began to experiment at the suggestion of the rack's manufacturer. The results were startling and eye opening to say the least. Sean >
You misunderstand me Sean. My reference to up-pointed spikes was the interface between the rack and the shelf. The two reasonable ways to do this is with up-pointed spikes or a soft bumper of some kind. I was referring to the fact that up-pointed spikes (while working well with say MDF), did not work so well with the Neuance (nor does it work well with Corian). I agree that up-pointed cones sound terrible under components.
redkiwi: you've obviously done a lot of work that is of great value to all of us here. many thanks for sharing your experiences. might just go out and try to find some of that neuance.
Greetings, Mark. I bought a Neuance shelf, but embarrassingly have not taken the time to A/B it yet. I simply "stored" it on TOP of my Rotel CDP (which sits on an air bladder for now), not thinking much about it. Subsequent listening sessions sounded mysteriously better than I had been used to, so I wonder if this lightweight, REALLY well-made device isn't somehow vetting steelcase energy off the top of the CDP, and thus cleaning up the top octaves a bit? Could be placebo, or that my Aleph 2s have finally broken in? I'll perform more-structured experiments after the holidays. I find your results remarkably perceptive already, Mark, but I'm not sure that multiplying the number of shelves you use will result in percetual differences that are linearly additive, given different types and constructions of components. Try not to make the experimental matrix TOO complex, bro! Happiest holidays to all. PS Heard the latest Patricia Barber?...or the Burns Sisters holiday CD?
I really like the new Patricia Barber - "Nightclub" is it? Have not heard the Burns Sisters but will check it out. I have driven my self to distraction auditioning different shelf materials, different racks, different interfaces between rack and shelf and different footers. You are right Subaruguru - the permutations are endless. But I really have felt that what I have used previously (most things under the sun it seems) have been letting my system down. This is because trying different things would shift the result quite noticeably. Anyway, my theory is - light, rigid, releasing its energy quickly and yet damped so that energy release is not peaky. The Neuance is very very close to that ideal, in a way that no other shelf I know of is - even the ones I have only read about, such as the BDR and Polycrystal shelves (too much mass to work I reckon). Right now I am getting really good results from the Neuance, significantly better than anything else I have ever tried. I am using a sand filled welded steel rack. The Neuance sits on small, thin hard rubber pads, that really don't compress more than a gnat's whisker, and then the component sits on the Neuance using only conventional small hard rubber feet. With any other shelf, this would sound blurred, and would be improved upon by either using up-pointed spikes between rack and shelf, of using a footer like Walker or BDR cones, or Vibrapods. But the Neuance sounds vibrant, balanced, very detailed, and I am just loving the music that I am hearing. Fancy footers make it sound worse, ie. destroys the balance and overaccentuates detail. I am getting two more Neuance shelves in the new year and am very confident I am on the right track.
Hi Mark! Finally am getting around to properly (?) assessing the Neuance shelf. Previous starting point was my lightly-modded Rotel 855CDP on a wheel-barrow innertube (which clearly cleaned up the top octaves a bit, without perceptible loss of PRAT). I first tried the Neuance under the CDP with
three down-turned cones, and although pace and clarity are extraordinary, I was still bothered by nastiness in the top octaves. Then I remembered that Ken (caterham) recommended (and provided for me) pointed setscrews to place up-pointed between the rack shelf and the Neuance. As I haven't gotten the electric drill out yet, I've attempted to simulate this
mounting by simply flipping my three cones to upward-facing.
(I had remembered all the negative feedback re upward-facing
cones, but reasoned that the Neuance would somehow act to "vet" energy from the rack into itself with this arrangement, and I think that was Ken's point.) Initial perceptions are that the sound is less lean; whether this is due to a real change in spectral tilt or simply a perceived one because the low treble seems cleaner is only conjecture. Is the bass fatter and looser?
...as claimed re up-facing points? I doubt it, but will continue assessing. Music used thus far included the new OPUS111 disc of Vivaldi's Gloria & Magnificat by an Italian troupe. Whereas the vocals were outstanding in both shelf orientations, repeated playings of the difficult string sections yielded a cleaner, less "digital", or distortion-laden sound with the cones upturned! I'm not sure if I perceive a slight loss of top octave air, however (could also be spectral tilt-related, and not "real").
.........Second disc was Respighi's Roman Festivals on Delos (DePriest).
Again, much more tolerable massed strings with up-facing cones; seemingly equal reproduction of the sustained organ pedal (seems about 32 Hz...low C on a 16' pipe...quite a good test/demo disc in that respect, as well).
I'm going to ask Ken to comment on the Neuance mounting options, and further explain his recommendation for the
rack-shelf-mounted steel spikes he likes for "floating" the Neuance, before I drill holes in my shelf.
For completion I know I should then compare the Neuance to the air bladder--and perhaps using BOTH together somehow, but my shelf height is limited, life is short, and my scientific background reminds me to alter only one variable at a time, and to compare only two iterations, especially if the discriminatory sensor is a placebo-sensitive human, eh?
......I'm also thinking about the CDP's total mass, damping, and consequent resonance spectra in light of these platform
tests, and wonder if you folks can short-circuit my evaluation of mass-loading its top-lid as a further variable? Currently I have simply stuck 50-60 in2 of asphalt damping sheets on the top, and have a dozen or so CDs usually stacked on top. Are bags of sand, or heavy books, a no-brainer I should immediately implement, or does mass-loading need to be done more carefully in an experimental manner? (Ken had cautioned me to NOT get INSIDE the CDP and dampen the hell out of everything, as I would probably dramatically revoice it!...hence the light damping on the top lid, and the initial Neuance experiments.)
I'm fascinated and gratified that these mechanical resonance/energy control actions seem to be able to favorably improve the treble performance of my admittedly
outdated CDP. I am about to receive an EVS Millenium II to evaluate, and hope to use the Rotel as a transport, so it'd be nice to have its "behavior" mechanically optimized. I was about to change the Red Dawn I use between the Rotel and the Aleph P, as it's SO revealing, so it would be gratifying if I could clean up the source enough to be able to retain use of such a quick, high-rez cable.
(Note that I was severely disappointed with the Bel Canto DAC when used in this setup, and even found the old Rotel, despite its rough treble, to have better PRAT than an ARCAM 9, and further have been told by several of Rotel's distributor's service techs that the transport used in the old, heavy 855 was FAR better than the current 951/971 series (and thus part of the reason they prefer the 855's sound!).
I'd be grateful if you could fill me in re your ongoing results and suggestions. Thanks, and sorry for rambling... Ernie
PS Heard Patty Larkin's latest? Too bad her vocal mike is so
bright...otherwise a wonderful groove!
Ernie: I have not liked the "dead" sound of top loading my CAL player except with a one thing that I tried recently, by accident. Before I tried books, bags of rice and sand and they all removed the kind of reverb (I think that this is what people ar referring to when they mention "air") quality that I actually like. What I have tried that tightened but did not deaden the sound were three brass (by Mapleshade) placed flat side down on the top of the player (they were just there by accident when I was moving my DAC). I then discovered that just one of them placed slightly off center on the top made a very subtle but nice change. My player is also in an 80% enclosed cabinet (just part of the back, up against the wall, is left open, and receives very few direct of reflected sound waves. I also feel that Ken's point on de-voicing the component is a valid one and although you can certainly tailor the sound a bit by trial and error we don't want to go overboard by damping everything in sight. Mapleshade also has a brass top weighting device that only touches the top of the component with three little cone points that are integral to the brass weight itself if I get it right and this seems like something to look into as well. This must all be system as well as taste dependent as I did not like the sound of weighting my speakers either though sand bags on the bases of my stands sounded good to me.
I thought you had fallen off the edge(flat earth joke).
Neuance dissipates energy bi-directionally by internally converting those energies into heat within its core.In order to most effectively transfer the vibrations one needs to have a relatively high contact pressure at the point of entry(not so high as to deform the structure of pierce the shell tho).By placing the cone/spike points directly against the Neuance surface laminate,the transfer is more complete and driven deeper into the absorption elements rather than rebounding/reflecting off of the boundary layers of its laminated shell structure and back towards the vibration source.
Using the broad side of a cone device spreads the load over a broad surface area and is less effective except in the instance where one has very heavy components approaching the maximum load rating.
A side issue to consider is that every material in the isolation/support chain has its own particular sonic/resonant signature.Every time something is placed between the component and the floor ,the levels above will be doing their filtering off of the resonant signature of the material below and leaving its own mark upon the presentation as a result.Footer devices are generally redundant when using Neuance and are best used to fine tune for specific taste requirements or system/environmental circumstances.
Hi Ernie. I was wondering when you would try the Neuance. Before I make any further comments, I should point out that the effect of the Neuance changes quite dramatically over the first week. And if you play around with footers, cone direction or spikes during the early weeks then it takes even longer. I know because I made that mistake myself. When you first put the Neuance in place it will immediately sound warm and woolly. It will then tighten up over a period of a couple of days, but will sharpen up too much, flattening mid-range textures and become irritating right in the middle of the spectrum of violins. At this stage you will feel like you definitely did the wrong thing, but to salvage something from your investment you will get this overwhelming urge to play with footers to fix the problem. But if you have more self-control than I, and just LEAVE IT ALONE! - then the upper-mid resonance goes away. What you are left with is truly fantastic. So when I read some of your comments Ernie I wondered whether you had not left the Neuance in place long enough.
OK - now for how to use the Neuance. I tried almost everything and found out the hard way that if you want a truly great result you - use a light rigid steel rack, you do NOT fill the rack with anything, you spike the rack firmly to the floor, you put threaded spikes into the top of your rack to support the Neuance on spikes. Don't use any fancy footers under the component and don't mass load the component. Just do this and leave it for a week, and then evaluate it. If you do not end up with a great result at the end of the week then I will eat my hat. I know a lot of people have found benefits from sand-filling, mass-loading, sitting components on bladders and using fancy footers. I know because I have been there and done that, more than once. But they are all just band-aids and no substitute for doing it right. The light/rigid/damped idea is the best way to go because it results in far less smearing, thereby giving better PRAT and resolution. The problem for me has always been that I could not find a product that followed the light/rigid principles successfully. The main problem was always the shelf. MDF is just not good enough and neither is glass. This is why the Neuance is such a breakthrough for me - finally I have been able to realise the promise of the light/rigid theory. Using the Neuance as I have described will allow you to hear your components for what they are - and they are maybe much better than you think. If you want to then tailor the sound you can play with footers, but all you will be doing is adding resonance and smearing to emphasise or de-emphasise one part of the spectrum - the result being a loss of PRAT and resolution, so you need to be judicious with the footers you use. I know I am sounding really dogmatic about this, but I really have played around with this issue a lot, and know a breakthrough when I hear one, and I know the pain I went through attempting to use the Neuance in ways that did not work.
Ernie it sounds to me like you are using cones between the Neuance and a wooden rack. If so then you will not be getting the best out of the Neuance. If you can get a hold of a welded steel rack with spikes to support the Neuance you will get a much better result. For what it is worth (which may not be much), I tried the Neuance sitting on metal cones on a wooden shelf at one point and concluded that the cones sounded best if pointed down, not up. But the sound got better if a small sub-table (spiked of course) was used between the wood and the Neuance. The other issue I hesitate to raise is the Red Dawn - I reckon you should at least try something in its place as I have always found it to be too lean through the mids and a little gritty on top. As to mass-loading - what you are doing is adding energy storage (and therefore smear) to lower the resonant frequency of the transport's box. First just throw all the mass-loading away and try the Neuance as I have described - including just letting it settle for a week. If you must, you could then add a small amount of damping sheet to the top-plate.
Ken...thanks for the confirmation.
Mark...given space restrictions, would you recommend going to the trouble of fashioning a metal shelf to sit between my wooden shelf and Neuance? Phew! Think I'll first try Mark's hardened spikes screwed into my wooden shelf; this logically follows my temporary solution using upturned cones. Re a separate "sub" shelf: My mind's eye sees the Neuance as the predominant "sink" here; my wooden rack is VERY heavy, with divided-light leaded glass doors; its heavy 44" wide wooden shelf is of concern, but if anything, I would imagine REPLACING it with something rigid and light
(aluminum honeycomb?... dampened somehow...or a GIANT Neuance?!), rather than affixing MORE mass, however stiff, to it could be a way to go............I'll leave the minimal
CDP lid-damping in place, and let its stock feet dance for now. My take on your other comments is that I could then finalize the tuning by introducing these "EAR" footers and/or swapping out the Red Dawn IC as appropriate to give the lower mids more body, right? A local dealer wants me to try a Siltech IC for a fatter yet resolved signature.
If I recall correctly you like Coincident and Wireworld ICs, no? As much as I struggle with this I'm always wondering if I'm simply hearing the limits of my CDP or Redbook...
Thanks again...and you, too, Dekay. Ernie
PS You guys heard Didier Lockwood's Tribute to Stephane Grappeli (with Orsted-Pederson et al) yet? (SONY/FRANCE)
It's those violin's upper partials I'm trying to get right, for example....Cheers.
Re Subaru's earlier question about loading the top of the CDP, I had an experience somewhat like Dekay's. I've tried Webster's III Collegiate and other serious volumes on top of my CDP (Linn Karik III), but put them back to where they were more convenient for my kid's homework. I don't recall if they did any harm, but I didn't hear any benefit. Recently, I used one of Mapleshade's heavy brass triplefeet cones as a top weight and found a pleasant change. It is now doing its intended job under my turntable, so I didn't play with it long. A visual analogy: If you could draw the shapes of sounds as thought balloons, like in the comics, and you took a pen and inked in a shadow line along the bottom of each balloon -- that's sort of what it sounded like in my system. Subjectively more bottom weight and depth; more distinction among sounds; better attack. Not a big change, but a pleasant one to my ears. I will add some irresponsible theorizing if time permits.
Like Jaybird I have been using Mapleshades triplepoint heavy hats on top of my EC EMC-1 with very good results. I use two 2lb and 4 1lb weights. The sound became as described by Jaybird. I also noticed less grundge around voices with better liquidity. Put too many of these brass weights on top and the sound will be too dead. It may seem that it is not a big change but after you live with them for a time, try removing them and see how fast you put them back on.
Redkiwi... for the light/rigid approach seek out some of the older Target racks -- small, rectangular designs. Most of these also had spiked top shelfs for tunrtables and spiked legs. It occurs to me that if one simply replaced the old wooden shelves with something else (best material???) this might do the trick.
Sorry Jayboard, didn't mean to call you Jaybird.
Oh, no matter, Brulee. It's not a real name, anyway.
I interrupt my program of music-listening-inspired near-rapture to report that Neuance works! My hitherto-thought-to-be-overly-lean sound is now cleaner and harmonically cohesive; no more "clickiness" or rough-razored transients; improvement in "naturalness" (without "smoothing" or "warming" effects) is sufficient that I possibly may not chase less-open ICs! I suspect that elimination of high-freq resonance-induced distortion simply recalibrates ear-brain's assessment of spectral tilt.
Yes, the sound continues to be open and bright...but in most cases wonderfully so! I will return now to my extraordinary
programming...the remainder of Mahler No. 7. Good night!
Glad to hear that Ernie. You were probably experiencing a peakiness in your previous set-up that gave a persistent coloration, that persistence leading to fatigue. How are you using the Neuance?
The Nueance website gives very little info about what shelf is made of, but it sounds and looks like a similar design to "shelf" model made by Symposium in New jersey. Laminated aluminum surface, foam core, rigid constrained layers to absorb and trap vibration. These are readily available from places like Cable Co, in various sizes. Also have the more advanced "platform" and "super platform" Has anyone using Nueance tried the Syposium products? This is the same Syposium that makes rollerblocks.
Sam: What is the price range for Symposium? Neuance is around $150.00 per shelf.
Dave here is Symposium site with lots of info, www.symposiumusa.com/index.html The "shelf" has been
replaced I see now by "svelte platform" it has been over a year since I last purchased but price was similar to Nueance. Check out the "super platform" for ultra high end gear, considered SOA in shelf/platforms. I purchased mine from Cable Co, they had it shipped direct from Symposium and it arrive in a few days.
Thanks Sam: I need to hone my search skills. Looks like US customers can deal direct, which is always nice.
Megasam - what is the approx weight of the Symposium shelf. From what I have heard it seems to have a damping strategy, but just how light/rigid is it? I have the impression that it is perhaps medium mass, between the Neuance and the BDR or Polycrystal.
Red, for the 19x14 "svelte shelf" they list the weight as 7#, they have thicker heavier models also. Surface is brushed stainless top and bottom with various layers/densities of foam between.
Thanks Megasam. It sounds like the Symposium, at 7 lbs, is somewhere closer to the BDR and Polycrystal than the Neuance. The heavy/damped shelves can give the best result in terms of neutrality, and clever design can shift smear out of the mid-range. But I find, because they are massy, then they still release the energy slowly somewhere. Usually up top and down below, reducing top-end air, speed of leading edges up top, and slowing upper to mid bass. The light/rigid approach does not suffer such problems but is a lot harder to make sure that it is neutral. There is no perfect answer, just better implementations. I still reckon that light and rigid, yet damped is the ideal. The fact that the Neuance pursues this ideal with a fair degree of success is what draws me to investing in it. But I don't claim it is perfect. My comments are not intended to put down the Symposium - that would be entirely unfair as I have not even heard it - just to explain where my thinking is on this topic.
Hmmm...still enjoying Neuance under my CDP, but am finding nirvana elusive. Whereas top end distortions seem mitigated, and PRAT is superb, I'm still bothered by leanness, especially noticeable on massed strings. I notice that when I pay attention I can successfully dismiss it, but find that it calls attention to itself more obviously when my sensoria are multiplexed (such as when reading). I originally attributed this stingy stringiness (say five times fast!) to the software, but then was disappointed by massed strings on Ref Rec's Respighi (Bravura) disc. Maybe I still need to chase a warmer IC for my CDP (still Red Dawn)?.........Ken mentioned a 2-3 day break-in requirement; sometimes I just want to go shake the damned thing into final-fractal-residual-resolution, and hope it fattens up a bit! So interesting that other instruments are timbrally more honest than before, however.
I'll try to get back to critical listening. Bought a few other recent Ref Recs: whereas the dynamics and horn choirs on the Copeland/Oue are stupendous, again the massed strings are pretty searing...anybody else notice this? Bonsoir.
Note that Neuance is REALLY light. Mark: I'm using a smaller
Mark IV mounted on 3 spikes tightly screwed through my shelf (per Ken's instructions). I tried cones under the CDP, but couldn't really hear an apparent difference compared to the Rotel's stock HARD feet. Interesting that I STRONGLY prefer
old Rotel 855 and Neuance to Bel Canto and DVD, eh?
.......PS Anyone got a favorite Mahler 8? I'm actually a bit disappointed in the remastered 24/96 Solti on Decca. If that's the best they can do I can't imagine how bad the original was! I hear there's a Chailly/Concertgebouw debuting in March that's impressive...oops!--sorry to fall off-thread.
Try moving your speakers an inch or two closer to the wall.In may need to optimize for the tauter presentation that Neuance provides as "bloom" and "overhang" are reduced.
Another posibility is that your present IC's were chosen to compensate for missing detail and air that the platform is now allowing to be revealed.
I'd recommend,for starters, that you investigate Harmonic Tech Truthlinks,Cabletalk Monitor 2.1's or other brands of pacey interconnects that do not feature an upward tilt in the high registers to give the *illusion* of speed/air/detail.
Subaruguru: Did you use the Bel Canto with the Neuance shelf, or are your comments in regard to the unit without this isolation component? Just curious as I will be trying the Canto with Neuance shelving and a CAL player/transport shortly. I am hoping to eliminate the use of cone points by using the Neuance shelving, which sounds promising so far from both your comments and those of RedKiwi. I live in LA and using cone points is too precarious for me and my equipment considering how the "earth move(s) under my feet" on occasion (bad song and bad joke).
Hi Dekay. No, I demoed the 'Canto before the Neuance. My disappointment with the DAC motivated me to improve my old CDP via isolation/coupling schemes. Isn't BC redesigning the DAC with a quieter power supply or something? I'm curious to see if you find the 'Canto "whitish" up top. Y'know, like a bright fog. The Rotel 991 seemed to mimic that coloration when its adjustable dither was maxed. I don't know how else to describe it. Maybe the Neuance will sort out its details more cleanly so that it doesn't sound lean and ill-focused up top. Good luck.
Hi Ernie: Thanks for the quick response. I read in an online pro review that the Canto sounded best when placed directly on MDF. Well, not in my world as this was the worst sound that I had with it. I have found it to sound best (from what I have avaialable) on Mapleshade cone points with a top weight but have had a hell of a time keeping it positioned on them due to a heavy PC, the recent space shuttle sonic boom, me being clumbsy, etc. Today I received and assembled a Studio Tech rack from Audio Advisor and just need to take it to my mechanic to have the shelf brackets mig welded to the posts. This rack is not on the Neuance "hit" list but once welded into a one piece frame should work very nicely as it already has upturned spikes for the shelves to rest on. The rack was only $150 on closeout and I coudn't see spending $250-$350 more for similar one piece racks (without the spikes that I would have had to retro fit) when all that this shelf needed was 32 mig welds (8 per shelf). The next step will be the Neauance shelves (just two to start as I am low on funds). I had hoped to place both my small tube amp and the DAC on the top shelf together, but don't know if this is a good idea. The second from the top shelf will be for the transport/player. I was quite amazed by the quality of the Studio Tech rack as all of the shelves meet metal to metal with the support posts except for one edge (out of 32 edges) that is off by 1/32nd of an inch, which will still weld nicely. As far as I know though the racks are completely sold out. It's from the PA series if anyone is interested and can still find them somewhere. Sam mentioned this rack in a post a long time ago which is where I picked up on it. Oh, and yes Bel Canto has a mod now per some of the other posts that I have read (mine is stock). I don't notice the HF sound that you mention, though I have to think that what you are describing is what I do not like about a lot (make that most) digital gear. I kept the Canto because it did not glare or sound metalic (I think "metalic" describes the sound that I don't care for), so it may be system dependent (strings , brushes and cymbals sound very realistic with mine). I also run the Canto from a power conditoner and upgraded the stock PC which made it sound limp in my system (didn't care for the sound at all until I switched out the stock power cord. I read that the Neuance shelves take a couple weeks or so to ship which is fine with me as I still have to gut a closet that the gear is going into and remove a pocket door as well. Maybe in a month or so I'll have some feedback on the shelving.
I have changed nothing in the system recently, and have just left the Neuance in place now for some weeks. It may be the weather (warm and humid - sorry, just had to find an excuse to remind you guys it is summer in the better half of the world), but the sound has gone gradually up a notch - still fast and articulate, but somehow more tonal color. The effect is quite noticeable, and so maybe the Neuance changes subtly for a while. Ernie, I know you are attached to the Red Dawns, but that is where I suspect the leanness is coming from. But you will be surprised how the Neuance lets more and more tonal color through as it settles in - this includes leaving the shelf in place and the component in place - no playing!. But I reckon the first thing you should do is try the E-A-R feet Ernie - they will reduce distortion and add warmth and fullness to the sound, without any loss of detail or speed - and will remove at least some of the leanness you refer to. Just make sure you get the right feet for the weight of your component. If your component is on the cusp between the two sizes, then go for the larger feet.
Redwiki et al - I received my first Neuance shelf last week and installed it last Sunday under my LP12 on a Mana rack. Have been quite paient and not done a lot of listening to it so as not to prejudge it. Once I get a read on it under the LP12, plan to try it under my Muse 9 Signature and order another one if it is an improvement over the Mana damped glass shelf. Are EAR feet the best you've found so far between your CDP and the Neuance? Want ti make sure I have those on hand in that case. Has anyone tried Symposium Rollerblocks w/ a CDP and Neuance? They seemed to work well under my BAT preamp on a Mana shelf.
Alexc, I find the E-A-R feet to be even-handed and better than any stock rubber feet, and more neutral than Vibrapods. Certainly, I prefer to use them rather than any of the cones I possess, now that I use welded steel racks supporting Neuance shelves. But I have been experimenting with home-made roller-bearings and they are very promising under the CD player, but not under my amps.
Oh and by the way, you get a significant improvement if you use one rack per component - not always practical, but well worth it when you go down the "light and rigid" path. The Mana method of stacking racks works very well too.