Product Review

By: Clement Perry

Editor Stereo Times
March 2001

The Sistrum SP-6 Six Shelf & SP-1 Single Component Platform

SP-6 Six-Shelf Component Platform

Height: 49.25 Width: 26.00 Depth: 22.75
Rod Height: 48.00 Shelf Height: 5/16
Weight: 75 lbs. (not filled)
Price: $1699.00

SP-1 Single Shelf Component and Loudspeaker Platform

Height: 4-5/16 Width: 17.25 Depth: 14.50 Shelf Height 5/16 Audio Point Height: 5/16
Weight: 7 lbs.
Price: $329.00


Address: 1960 Meredith Place
Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683
Website: www.audiopoints.com
Phone: 877 668 4332

That wise old saw "If it ain't busted, don't fix it" certainly applies to
Audio Points™, the famous pyramid cones. Put on the market 12 years ago,
they're still there. No mystery at all regarding the improvements these
little guys brought to my audio rig back in the spring of '95 or thereabout.
A set of three under my Theta transport sank the noise floor, increased
dynamics noticeably and tightened up the bass. Portable, simple, a snap to
install, affordable, and most of all, the madness behind their method
worked! Many products have come and gone since 1989, and though the Audio
Point still exists today, it too has become old news. As newer, more
exciting products came into existence, the Audio Points disappeared from my
armory of tweaks.

Star Sound Technologies LLC, the folks behind Audio Point, have introduced a
more powerful product in the Sistrum Platform SP-6 and SP-1 Equipment Stand.
Built on the Audio Point's success, these two new devices likewise come with
extravagant claims. The most important is their capacity for channeling
unwanted vibration-induced resonance from one's audio component via the
transference of energy to earths ground. That's right, no longer do we have
to absorb, isolate, or squish vibration-induced resonance.

Star Sound's man on the scene Brent Riehl, electrical engineer by day,
designer of the Audio Point, hence tweakaholic by night, toiled eight long
years in attempting to expand Audio Point's principles. In May of 2000, he
completed his dream and named it the Sistrum Platform. Brent's first
prototype Sistrum Platform went for evaluation to two independent research
facilities involved in the field of chaotic vibration. Remarkably, each was
approved (while awaiting patents) as a genuine resonance energy transferring
system intended for both industrial as well as -- of course! -- audiophile
acceptance.

The Sistrum Platform is based on the principles of Coulomb Friction (the
studies of vibration and their paths of travel). Established on this
principle, the Sistrum Platforms neither absorb (dampen) nor isolate any
unwanted vibration-induced resonances via the old catch and hold method. The
Sistrum used a direct coupling technique, sending your component or
loudspeaker's vibrations on their way down a unique pathway to a less
detrimental place known as earth's ground.

Let's first consider this business of energy transference from source to
earths ground. A French physicist, Charles Augustine de Coulomb, in the late
1700's labored in the uncharted world of electricity, magnetism and
friction. So effective was his devotion to what was surely considered
witchcraft by many (surprised he wasn't burned at the stake) that the very
science of energy's motion and travel is described as Coulomb's Law. (I
suspect today's modern audiophile-extraterrestrials such as Jack Bybee and
Bob Stierhout, pioneers in the application of Quantum Physics theories,
ought to be sworn into the Hall of Weird Science, alongside Coulomb.)

I was intrigued by what the Sistrum is purported to accomplish, especially
in light of the blend I had been living with: the Lovan (three-tier)
equipment rack, Symposium Roller Balls and Black Diamond Racing Products, in
short, my fascination was out of necessity rather than choice. I'd simply
run out of rack space. The Lovan Stand played home to the Sony SCD-1 SACD
player, and Tact 2.2 pre/room corrector, and AR-2000 Analogue Reconstructor.
The Sony was fit with Roller Balls, while Black Diamond Cones and Those
Things saw duty under the Tact 2.2. Ric Cumming's Rosinante stands under
both Bel Canto EVo 2001 amplifiers (that's right, two EVo's are much better
performers than a single one -- as near state of the art a single Evo may
sound), have added some nice improvements to my system by way of increased
smoothness and bass vitality. Altogether, these carefully chosen tweaks
offered a level of musicality that has proved effective and withstood the
test of time and upgrades.

Setup

Three stainless-steel rods standing 48 inches tall, along with six
identically shaped triangular Platforms, comprise the SP-6. With the help of
an Allen wrench, the Platforms help anchor and support each rod by means of
3/4-inch fittings through pre-drilled holes. Audio Points are supplied in
great abundance, one set (or three) per Platform and support rod; along of
course with an abundance of 3/4-inch threaded screws. The Platform height is
user-adjustable -- a nice feature, that -- and accepts sizewise most of the
electronics out there, in my case, the large, top loading Sony SCD-1 SACD
player.

The inner core of each hollowed rod, called the primary conductor,
internally couples the top of the Sistrum Platform to the Audio Point
located at its base. Each hollow rod is tailored for the Sistrum Micro
Bearing Conductive steel-fill material, which comes as optional equipment.
This crushed ore is said to add extraordinary conductivity to the support
rods. Moreover, iron ore is also said to be a better fill material than
white silica, steel or lead shot. Consisting of super tiny ball-bearings,
which amazingly, measure smaller than a human hair's diameter, the fill
prevents air pockets from forming, thus filling the rods more like a liquid
than not.

The SP-1 is a single Platform designed for (virtually) any amplifier or
loudspeaker, irregardless of weight, and is adjustable to suit burdens of
different sizes. Each SP-1 Platform come equipped with 2 sets of Audio
Points, which are designed to be screwed together in an inverse,
one-atop-the-other, fashion. This is said to direct couple both component
and flooring, via the Sistrum method, to earth's ground. The SP-1 Platform,
is virtually identical to the SP-6 Platform minus its outer edges, which are
designed to grasp rods. Two pairs were placed under a pair of Bel Canto Evo
amplifiers being run as monoblocks, and another pair under the Talon Khorus
Loudspeakers.

Setup of the SP-6 was a breeze and took all of 45 minutes, while the SP-1
required even less time, perhaps ten minutes total. Because the SP-6 is
six-tier, it is large and requires the screwing and tightening of 18 nuts
using that dreaded Allen wrench, so please don't even think of putting a
Sistrum Platform together without a pair of work gloves. A nice little touch
is the musical note neatly engraved in the center of each Platform. The idea
here, I suppose, is "Music, not noise!

Once fully assembled, tightened and readied to support all my electronics,
the Platform showed a capacity for -- lets call it fluidity, with its ability
to move from side to side, forward or back when nudged. Talk about going
with the flow! All in all, what you've got in the Sistrum, from form to
function, is a well thought out and manufactured product.

Finally, the Sound

It was clear to me from the git-go that the Sistrum Platform works as
advertised, as extravagant as those advertised claims are. I noticed an
immediate lack of restriction at both frequency extremes. Upper bass gained
significant improvements, sounding quicker in its stop and start function,
while the top end shimmered and gleamed. This isn't unusual, as many of you
already know: Improve one area of the spectrum and the above and below
frequencies should get better as well. So it was with the Sistrum.

Conversely, I noticed an ever so slight dip at the higher frequencies,
nothing to scream bloody murder about, but there. This slightly softened top
end served as a double edged sword: while it removed some life and vitality
from certain CDs, it made others sound better, even at times excellent, by
shelving down irritating upper frequencies. I detected this diminution of
highs when I played music at unusually high levels, club jazz sessions
usually, which I can do in comfort thanks to the dexterity and control of my
Talon Khoruses and a dedicated listening room.

What proved a revelation to me was that this was not a loudspeaker problem
or something my electronics produced -- it was my equipment rack!
Interestingly, when I employed the Sistrum Platforms, the top end opened up
considerably, with none of the ill effects noted earlier, when I played
something extra loud. The Sistrum Platforms allowed me to play music at
volume settings I enjoy when getting out to the live jazz clubs.

Paul Desmond's composition from Dave Brubeck's Time Out CD (Columbia
CK64408), served as a perfect illustration. Track three, entitled "Take
Five, exemplifies the Sixties West Coast sound to the tee, and Desmond's
smooth, lyrical opening alto solo serve as the perfect California jazz
groove. It's as if I was served up a cup of Mike Siverton's French-roast
organic Sumatra (I call it liquid crack). My notes of the moment state that,
Sistrum Platforms onboard, everything sounds airier, clearer and more
abundantly alive. The highest frequencies especially seem to get the most
out of this technology. I hear an illumination of detail, a radiance effect,
around cymbals. For example, drummer Joe Morello's solo, with all its
rhythmic licks, seemed to mount in intensity with each thwack of the stick
against the snaredrum's skin. The Sistrum Platform seemed to give Joe a
wakeup call. He awoke, yes indeedy, providing more snap, life, and immediacy
not just to his instrument, but to this CD's entire performance.

Permit me to epitomize another jazz standard, John Coltrane's Love Supreme
(Impulse GRD155) sounded more like a remastering than the disc I thought I
knew. The improvement wrought by a mere change in an equipment rack was,
well, encouraging! This powerful CD, considered by many as ŒTrane's finest,
is a sure winner for any audiophile, especially if you witnessed Ken Burns's
wonderful PBS series, dedicated to Black History Month, entitled, Jazz.

Just let the music work its magic, if you can sit long enough. With respect
to the Platform's performance, and as gifted a musician as John Coltrane is,
there is something special now going on that I was less aware of earlier.
Call it Trane's insinuations of a living spirit spoken through his
instrument. Never has this experience been so tangibly delightful before the
Sistrum's inauguration.

The original motion picture soundtrack Star Wars, Episode I, The Phantom
Menace (Sony SK61816) proved a stellar performer, more as a torture test
than as music. Track 2's Duel of the Fates is a system scorcher. I know this
because of the looks I get when I take it on the road, and plead it's played
vociferously. Back at the ranch, in my humble inner sanctum, I hear a lot
more happening with the Sistrum Platform ensconced.

Events are more palpable, and resolved, yet without sounding edgy or thin.
Massed strings and voices emerged from a quieter space that was both wider
diagonally, with a soundstage that appeared elevated higher from the floor.
This improved separation of instruments and did wonders in the all-important
width department. Call me the proud landlord of a new and improved terrain
that extends well beyond the lateral plane of the loudspeakers.

Conclusion

I never would have believed that a mere rack system could help a system
achieve so high a level of performance. Paired with the SP-1, it has taken
me to a new level of appreciation. It doesn't matter what music I listen to
or what equipment I chose to listen through. Whether jazz, classical, big
band or small combo, the Sistrum Platforms improved sound in so many ways
that it's hard not to regard its importance at least the equal to that of
components one plugs into A/C receptacles.

Highly recommended!




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