Product Review

By: Ernie Fisher

Editor The Inner Ear Report
Volume 13 #2, 2001

Sistrum Component Platforms & Audio Points

Printed With Permission / Ernie Fisher - Editor

THE INNER EAR REPORT
Authorized reprint from:

Volume 13 #2, 2001
85 Moorehouse Drive
Scarborough, ON. M1V 2E2 Canada
Tel: (416) 297-7968
www.innerear.on.ca

Sistrum Component Platforms & Audio Points

Source: Star Sound Technologies, LLC Canada & US

Rating: 95% effective

Both Sistrum Platforms and Audio Points are designed and made by Star Sound, a company which specializes in resonance control for audio components before they are assembled into a system. They manufacturer stands for components, loudspeakers, equipment racks, little cones for small components and parts used in audio and video equipment. The company has been involved in studies of vibration and resonance influencing A/V components since 1989.

We received speaker stands (actually small platforms) and a four -tier shelf about three months ago, though we only used the speaker stands in our studio set-up and with great success, we may add.

At the recent consumer electronics show in Toronto, we set up a rather elaborate system with Audio Aero monoblocks, Wyetech Lab Opal preamplifier, JMLab Mezzo Utopias, Audio Aero Capitole CD player (reviewed in this issue), speaker cables by AudioQuest, interconnects by Nordost (Quattro Fil), AC cables by JPS Labs, line conditioners by Globe Audio and speaker stands by Sistrum. The component stand was assembled by Star Sound's Brent Riehl from the US and Rick Schultz from the Canadian office.

When we first auditioned the system, we thought that its resolving capability was a little less than what we anticipated. The Star Sound folks were at the show and we allowed them to see what they could do to improve the system's resolution.

First, they removed the Black Diamond Racing cones, which we had under the Audio Aero monoblocks, and replaced them with their Audio Points - three under each power amplifier and smaller ones under our two line conditioners. The Sistrum Stand, also used in our show set-up comes equipped with Audio Points and three were used under the CD player, another three under the preamplifier&Mac226;s power supply and three under our preamplifier.

Appearance:

First, the Audio Point cones. They are made of solid brass and are available in 28 size and thread combinations so they can be used with virtually all speakers and/or electronic components. The sizes vary from miniature to 2 inch cones with assorted diameters.

The Sistrum Stand comes with four or six platforms and consists of three rods which accommodate triangular platforms (stands). The same platforms can be used under speaker cabinets or single components and offer adjustable Audio Points to literally suspend the equipment placed on top. The hollow rods are made of stainless steel and accommodate an inner core which connects and couples the top platform to the Audio Points at the base. The design is beautiful, despite the fact that it is based on function. Which brings us to the sound...

Technology:

The design is based on a physics phenomenon known as Coulomb Friction named after Charles Augustin deCoulomb, a French physicist 1736-1806. In 1789 Coulomb retired from his positions as military engineer and superintendent of waters and fountains and dedicated all his time to scientific research. He was known for his work on electricity, magnetism and friction; and he invented a magnetoscope, a magnetometer and a torsion balance that he employed in determining torsional elasticity and in establishing Coulomb's law.

The unit of quantity of electric charge, the coulomb, is named in his honour. The absolute coulomb, the current U.S. legal standard, is the amount of charge transferred in 1 second by a current of 1 ampere; i.e., it is 1 ampere-second. Coulomb's law in physics states that the electrostatic force between two charged bodies is proportional to the product of the amount of charge on the bodies divided by the square of the distance between them. If the bodies are oppositely charged, one positive and one negative, they are
attracted toward one another; if the bodies are similarly charged, both positive or both negative, the force between them is repulsive.

Coulomb's law applies exactly only when the charged bodies are much smaller than the distance separating them and therefore can be treated approximately as point charges. When combined with principles of quantum physics, Coulomb's law helps describe the forces that bind electrons to an atomic nucleus and atoms together into molecules.

Armed with this information, the Star Sound folks reasoned that most coupling or isolation devices currently on the market work by modifying or changing resonances. However, some become resonance storage devices which allow only some, if any, resonances to be channeled away from the equipment.

The Audio Point is designed to "recognize" amplitude developed when the Coulomb Friction is drained from the equipment. When placed in direct contact under equipment, the AP directs the resonant energies&Mac226; into the surface on which it is resting.

In our set-up, the Sistrum Stand's three hollow supporting steel rods were filled with "liquid iron" (about 2 quarts are needed). Star Sound states that crushed ore or liquid iron are the best substances with which to fill the steel supporting rods. As an alternative, different materials can be used for filling the rods. White silica, a pulverized dry glass, adds density to the main support rods; it is a non-conductive material which adds mass and stability and is recommended instead of sand.

For better stability, steel shot is recommended. Steel conducts energy to the grounding pathway and assures speedy transfer. Lead is not recommended for it is an energy absorbing material, thereby curtailing energy transfer - not appropriate for this system as the Audio Point and Sistrum Platforms (stands) conduct resonant vibrations from components to the steel shelves and then to the ground.

The Sistrum Platform is made up of a laser cut triangular structure and Audio Point cones. The design is said to accelerate the flow of energy to the outer steel support rods, thereby channeling harmful energy away from components. Now let's get to the real stuff...

The Sound:

Coned to the hilt, we auditioned the system and noted a number of improvements over an almost identical system auditioned in-house a few months earlier.

Firstly, the sound stage clearly heightened by a couple of feet, thereby presenting a more realistic portrayal of a live performance.

Secondly, as soon as the Black Diamond cones were replaced with Audio Points, resolution, especially in the lower bass regions, improved quite dramatically.

Thirdly, inner detail, articulation and sense of space and transparency became more readily perceived. We regarded the improved information as more authentic when compared to a live performance.

To ascertain effectiveness, we first removed the small cones under the line conditioner and noticed very little change. Next, we removed the speaker stands (platforms); and we agreed that poorer sound resulted. We then removed the Audio Points from under the amplifiers and felt resolution suffered. The Sistrum Stand is made up of parts which couldn't be "auditioned" individually. However, since we had the CD player and preamplifier on ordinary shelves prior to the "tweak", we know that an analogy is nonsensical. In other words, the stand works extremely well and should be considered an integral part of any high-end audio system.

The system sounded very good, before "tweaking", but improved by a whopping 10 to 15% overall-considering the price/benefits ratio, a great deal.

Synopsis & Commentary:

It's obvious to us that a lot of thought and significant amount of research time has been devoted to this unusual and effective rack system. Having said this, we&Mac226;d like to point out that some tweaks are very effective and readily appreciable and some are almost inaudible to inexperienced listeners. Of them many "gadgets" on the market to improve sound, few, if any, are designed to correct all existing mechanically induced acoustical problems.

To correct or improve a system's sound, it is wise to follow the same routine as when assembling a synergistic system - namely, careful selection. Thus, one type of resonance control device, such as a cone, isn't going to work well with all system configurations. A somewhat hard sounding system will likely benefit from devices such as the Racing Cones, which will contribute to the overall timbre and sensitivity, but will also take the edge off frequency extremes.

A system with full-range speakers, musical sounding amplifiers - especially vacuum tube gear - and source components, however, will benefit more with cones such as the Audio Points.

Folks with spiked floorstanding loudspeakers, regardless of make, should replace the spikes with Audio Points, for the audible benefits here are considerable and quite appreciable.

It is every audiophile's goal to place their equipment on resonance-free stands - and we know of none better that the Sistrum system which allows a logical arrangement by customizing the stand to fit the requirements. When completed, all components on the "shelf" are coned away from a surface, thereby eliminating vibration and the resulting resonances. Readers should remember that an audio system amplifies information, thus creating perpetual amplification of resonating bodies as well as an audio signal.

Though the Audio Point/Sistrum system takes a while to assemble and fine-tune, the results are worth every minute of invested time, as the system works very well, is versatile and it's pleasing to the eye to boot. We believe it is a very handsome design which also manages to look very professional.

The Audio Point/Sistrum Stand's real distinction, however, is how it enhances the enjoyment of listening to music.

Printed With Permission / Ernie Fisher - Editor