The Isolator: the latest rip-off?

Any opinions on "The Isolator" which appears to have about 25 cents worth of material, selling for $150.00?
If FOOLs wouldn't purchase them, they wouldn't sell.
To each his own.
And... your gripe is just another advertisment for the product...
I have been using one for about 3 months now. I can say for my system and my ears it is without a doupt the best thing I did for my humble analog. It has given me a quiter background and a wider soundstage. I am running this on a MMF-7 Pro-ject 9 Arm with a ZYX Airy 3 SB Lo. I have no idea where up the chain in tables and arms one would loose any benifits. I hope to move into a new table with a Moerch arm in the next few months. I will report back on that.

I have had one on my Well Tempered arm with Grado Sonata for about six months now. I am very satisfied with it's performance, better low bass definition, less surface noise, better soundstaging. The price seems high, but the materials have to be made and assembly isn't easy. I would think the idea is worth something. For me the improvements are well worth $150. Definitely not a rip off, though YMMV.

I did have trouble with my first sample, it separated with the cartridge attached. I believe a different adhesive is now used. The dealer replaced the bad sample promptly.
Two pieces of steel in proximity to your $2000 moving coil cartridge? Added mass at the end of the tonearm? Foam that's similar to Dr. Scholl's shoe inserts**, while still coupling it to the headshell (since the cartridge, steel skin, and the studs which hold the mounting screws still all touch one another.) SHEEEEEESH! Ya gotta be kidding. (Though the table might actually sound better to some users, because it's installation forced them to reset their VTA accurately, or rebalance their arm with the added mass.)

The concept is not insane, but the execution of this product is an insult.

**Really unbelievable is Stereo Times' shameless hype piece - "Sandwiched between the plates is the exotic, purposed-designed, and very expensive isolating material. This material, technically a closed cell, cross-linked ethylene copolymer structure"

Look here for info on this very common material:

ie. - Evazote® Foam - Evazote® is a closed cell cross-linked ethylene copolymer foam. Evazote® foams are tougher, more resilient and stronger than other foams and are used in a wide range of sports and leisure and footwear applications.
Santana and Rpw - Did you compare the results of your $150 piece of foam to a 25 cent piece of foam bought at a hardware store?

I would be interested in the results of a double blind test here, as "best thing I did for my humble analog" would surely show its effects through whatever theoretical holes of the test methodology.
Agree, the pricing for that little piece is crazy. Ok, opinions about pricing is different, but it is ugly, too. I mean, really ugly.
How about just adding Mass to the arm & seeing how it works. Blue tack or some other & then comparing. quite a lot of people believe added mass in the headshell area will aid the sound. I tried it & worked very well. Especially if you are using a low or medium effective mass tonearm. A high effective mass arm would yeild different results although your results might vary.
People who have not auditioned a product should not be allowed to condemn it. Most polymers do not look as if they have any special attributes, but they are designed to perform a certain function.

Judging a book by its cover can be a waste of everyone's time.
Opinions about efficacy aside, those who are amazed at the price should first try to make something like this themselves. As somone who has worked a long time making Fine Art sculpture editions, I can guarantee you'd be amazed how much time a seemingly simple object can take to fabricate. I gained an entire new understanding of why Black Diamond Racing products cost so much when I fabricated carbon fiber shelves and mats myself. I have no trouble believing that there are one to two hours labor involved in each "Isolators" manufacture. What do you pay your auto technician, plumber, or electrician for labor? Fifty to ninety bucks an hour. You have to remember economy of scale in manufacturing specialty items. It's a fallacy to compare pricing of a mass produced items with something made by one guy in a small workshop.
Back in the 60's, people used to add mass to their tonearms by using scotch tape to attach a penny to the headshell. I saw many a Garrard, Dual and BSR table in college dorm rooms with this. Then in the 70's, Ivor Tiefenbrun of a new company called Linn, and others, demonstrated the importance of the source in music reproduction. Prior to that, emphasis was largely on the speaker. Given that record groove information is measured in the billionth of inches, I don't think that many turntable/tonearm designers thought it was a good idea for the headshell to be loaded with weight which would mask subtle groove information. Since then, what has changed in the physics what is happening that would lead people today to suggest adding mass to a tonearm?
I don't even know what this thing is, but even if the parts only cost 5 cents, if the guy spent an hour putting it together and add in the time and materials for packaging and shipping and the time and cost of marketing and some profit AND it is effective; then in the overall scheme of things $150 is a bargain.

BTW what is it?
"Snake Oil, Ya'll" Steven Earle
On Jay Leno's show he joked about the price of a gallon of gasoline at the pump in Venezuela. $0.12
In the U.S. it it going up to $4.00
Like gasoline... make your own and it can be really cheap.
Have someone else make it for you and it WILL cost you a bundle.
Regarding price, remember it is imported and has the importers mark up added as well. To me, the main point about an accessory is does it work. If $150 materially improves the sound of a $10000 vinyl rig, surely it is money well spent. I note some of the replies have suggested a real improvment.
I tried a number of CD improvement mats over the years, Ringmat/Blacklight, I could'nt hear a thing. Being a sucker for strong reviews, I tried the much more expensive Marigo Stealth Signature. Result, a clear improvement in the sound and that is what matters.
BTW what is it?

It looks like the foam board that my firm sometimes uses when mounting presentation materials.
How many of you have actually used one in your system?

The Isolator in its current Mk3 form is a real piece of cratfmanship and and a seriously effective upgrade. Sure its not cheap, go make one yourself and see, a) how much it costs and, b) how long it takes.

Yes it goes against what a lot of companies have been telling us to do for quite some time, but were they telling us right?

My Isolator has been with me now for three arms and 2 carts, same Isolator. Getting cheaper all the time.

Nuff said
The first models did have a glue problem, change in material and glue have cured the problem to my knowledge, Mk3 now looks superb with rounded corners. A serious bargain in my arm. Works in OL Silver, ET2 and now the new Conductor.
Hi Turntabletweak,

I have sorely missed my ET 2.5 since I sold it. Any comments you could make of the Conductor versus the ET would be very much appreciated.
Dear Thomasheisig: The last I heard you were not a site to behold either, yet you may be of great value ? Just another two cents although that might be a litle bit to much mass around your ---!
Lets look at this from the point of view of the cartridge:

The stylus tip is vibrating, the energy of this exication is supposed ot be damped linearly with respect to velocity and frequency by the damping structure such that there is no overshoot or frequency non-linearity. this is pretty much an impossibility, but good cartridges get damm close.

The energy not damped is then transmitted through the cartridge body through the coupling between the body and headshell and towards the next coupling , i.e the bearings.

Each of these couplings is a mechanical impedance mismatch ie they couple better at some frequencies than others. This means tha at the frequencies that they don't couple well, they reflect energy back to the cartridge.
The neoprene foam creates a high impedence (lossy) coupling between the cartridge and headshell. It absorbs the energy being transmitted from the cartridge. The issue is that it also deflects quite easily which can interfere with the cartridges ability to accurately track transient information.
If the foam deflects instead of the damper, the coils dont move accurately and the rebound of the foam against the vinyl cause a movement of the coils that are not part of the recorded information.
The audio effects of this device are that in arms that do not have sufficient damping of the arm tube, you will hear better intertransient silences and definition but in all cases you will hear a dilution of transients.
It is my opinion that you have as low an impedance in the coupling between cartridge and arm such as to draw any extraneous energy away from the generator. Then the judicious use of armtube thickness, internal damping and bearing design will result in no energy being reflected back into the cartridge generator assembly.
The folks at SME are not dummies.
If you have an excitable cartridge, use the foam, it is certainly cheaper than buying a new cartridge.
Dear friends:Over the time I experimented with some self made and not self made help-devices like the Isolator.

Adding mass and antiresonant material to the headshell like: bluetack and sorbothane ( I never try the coin ), and isolator from the guys that invented the tip toes: this isolator was a little plataform with three tiny tip toes that used it between the cartridge and the headshell, etc, etc.

From those experiences I learn that what we are doing with those devices is to change not only the resonant frequency response point between the tonearm and the cartridge but the resonant point of the cartridge body/headshell.

These changes alters the whole perceived frequency response of the audio analog chain, that is what the people posted here when they post they like the changes/colorations.
Now, if you like it or not is another subject. What it is clear is that we could have a different quality sound reproduction and not necessary for the better.

Today I don't use any kind of these " isolator " devices because I preffer the quality sound of the cartidge/headshell very tight/close coupling alone: I experienced more clarity and better tonal balance top to bottom ( specially at the frequency extremes ), maybe ( and I say only " maybe " ) with a not to huge soundstage but a very natural one.

The Isolator people are doing a very clever business with their device ( and in its own rights ) and is up to any one to pay that kind of money for another " equalizer ".

Regards and enjoy the music.
Nice analysis by NDoshi.

Like Raul we have tried a DIY version of the Isolator on our TriPlanar/ZYX Universe. The UNIverse is a very well damped cartridge and it seems to mate especially well with the TriPlanar.

For these reasons, what we heard was mostly the negative effects predicted by NDoshi: a softening of transients and muddying of bass allowed by introducing a lossy coupling between cartridge and headshell.

Results will vary depending on arm and cartridge. Whether you like it or not will depend on what you want your music to sound like. In our system and to our ears it killed dynamics and muffled the life out of the music. We hated it.

In your system? That's up to you.
Doug,because I like you so much,and have just had two glasses of a nice Merlot(my limit),I must admit that it is a similar device that the "late,great"(really great guy)Herb Papier made for me,when I owned the Triplanear.I HAD to have this device,as you know,because my previous "lousy" dealer did not give a damn about component matching.
In all honesty(the wine talking,but true)I NEVER got the performance from the Triplanar,that I paid for.Thusly,(still,the wine letting me drop my guard)I have NO real idea how good the Triplanar could have been.For me!!At the time,my pal had a 2.2 that I had set up,for him.It was consistently consistent,in his system(I was the set-up man,and unfortunately still am),so I had had enough,with doubting I could get what I paid for.Hence,more money spent.Yet well spent,for me,but I did love the look,and hidden potential of "my current accountant's" Triplanar.
Yes it is in the hands of the guy who does my taxes!Who says bartering has no advantages.


So,though I really like my 2.2,and am absolutely enamored by the Schroeder Ref(the only arm that can get my juices flowing,as of now,and I think I hate Cello for owning "it" and the 2.2),I am ABSOLUTELY in the dark when it comes to how good the Triplanar REALLY is!!

"Hiccup! Hiccup!"---just thought you should know!

Well, I think:

I exchanged e-mails with Helmut Rohrwild of HiFi&Records in Germany, who is as experienced in analogue as Michael Fremer in the US. He tried the Isolator with a SME V, his Schroeder Reference, and, as far as I remember, with at least half a dozen of his cartridges (e.g. London Reference, Music Maker III, Denon DL 103), both MM and MC. The result was exactly the same as described in US-reviews: "The sound, in all combinations, is like liberetaed, more precise, better defined, more fluid".He wrote me: "I now use the Isolator which every system - it´s that good".
Agreed, the cost for actual production may be minimal, but you pay for the idea, and the improvement you get seems to be much larger then what you get elsewhere in this hobby for 150 dollars. Maybe the ´goners who cry "snake oil", without having even seen it, should try it first.
Hi SirSloshed,

Please offer my thanks to the Merlot! Hic!

I always wondered what sort of widget Herb supplied to work around your table/arm incompatibility. (And yes, that dealer did behave like an idiot.)

It was easy enough to imagine risers beneath the TP's mounting plate to raise the arm above the plinth, but of course that would totally boggle your VTA. It never occured to me that Herb would go so far as to machine a fat spacer for beneath the headshell.

Now that I know, I confess I'm surprised that he did it. Aside from the unpredictable effects on cartridge/arm resonance transmission and the potential degradation of mounting rigidity, a fat spacer and extra long mounting screws would substantially increase effective mass. No arm set up so would perform like it does normally. Hic!

I guess if you hand a problem to a mechanic you'll get a mechanical solution, but I think Herb should have just acknowledged the fundamental incompatibility. The dealer f%$&#@ up and that's that. I did the same thing when I bought our TP without realizing it was incompatible with our overly large periphery clamp. That was my own fault. Fortunately I was able to sell the clamp for what it cost me. Hic!

Herb might have pressured the dealer into giving you a full refund. Having his arm mis-sold and creating an unhappy owner was not a good outcome for TriPlanar.

Thanks for sharing that,

P.S. Did you consider enlarging the plinth cutout? Maybe painful on a brand new table, but probably a genuine solution with no sonic downside.
Plinthly speaking,NO!It was not feasable!
As to Herb and the "defunct from my further business dealer",Herb was TOTALLY saddened and upset!Big time!
The "spacer" was actually a work of art.Really well done,and a serious little piece of engineering,yet the added mass always bothered me.One reason there is NO shot I'll ever try this new "schmageggie" tweak,as mentioned here!
Dear friends: I'm a little confuse here about the Isolator use in favor of better ( I can't say for sure it is better. I'm sure is diferent but this not means BETTER ) quality sound reproduction: I have no doubts of what several people are hearing with the Isolator and I'm asking me:

the cartridge manufacturer makes his design thinking to offer his best about, he selected the best cartridge material parts, he build careful each by one cartridge, he tested each one in one-two or more tonearms, he tailored the suspension to a specific sound, he try that the frequency response stay at least between 1db from 20 to 20K, etc, etc. He do the whole critical job WITHOUT ANY ISOLATOR like device and we destroy that delicate job ( what the designer wants to share with us ) using an Isolator: I really can't understand our attitude about.

Can any one explain it?

Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul, don't be confused. You are in the money-makes-the-world-go-round-section now. This Isolator removes - or reduces - the mechanical vibrations which are sent through the Arm Tube.
Well, I think, it is too cheap. And ugly.
I would prefer this unit in Piano black finish for let's say $380,--. No wait, some japanese signs in gold paint a la Koetsu, yes, that's it, then it's worth $500,--.
But when I am honest, no I will wait for the wood edition, made from Grenadine, or from a Billard Queue Wood, or a Tree, which is 2000 years old and was found beside a grave of old Elephants. Yes, that's it: The 1K Isolator
Or how a about a Signature Version of it? Please, do it and may I have the no. 007/100 please?

Ups, I woke up, I was dreaming...
Or not?

I found an old carrot in the refrigerator. It is serial no. 003 of 1 x 10^58. It's yours for 5,000EUR + shipping and insurance.

You've got 24 hours, otherwise it's going on ebay.

P.S. Almost forgot to mention, it's VG++++!
Dear Thomas: You are rigth. I don't have to worried about. The name of the game: " let the people dance ".

Oh!!, don't loose the Doug's garrot!!!!!!

Regards and enjoy the music.
One thing about products like these - they getting plenty of free pub!
Dear friends: I ask to the build/designer of my Allaerts MC2 Finish about and this was his preliminar answer:

" ________________________________________
De: J.Allaerts []
Enviado el: Viernes, 02 de Junio de 2006 12:02 p.m.
Para: 'Raúl Iruegas'
Asunto: RE: MC2 Finish. Mexico.

Hi Raul,,

I don’t think so, you need a very good turntable for your finish also arm include, look for …………….



-----Oorspronkelijk bericht-----
Van: Raúl Iruegas []
Verzonden: vrijdag 2 juni 2006 4:20
Onderwerp: MC2 Finish. Mexico.
Urgentie: Hoog

Dear Jan: How you doing? I hope everything is ok.

I would like your opinion of using The Isolator device with my MC2 Finish. Do you think it will be an improvement in any way?

Thx in advance.

Best wishes.
Raul. "

Regards and enjoy the music.
What kind of equalizing do you suppose the ZYX silver gold metal spacers or the Clearaudio shim for the Concerto contribute.........?