Coming clean about equipment isolation systems

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Howard Popeck:

Over many years I have had personal experience of isolations systems from everyone from Russ Andrews, Mana and latterly Townshend Audio. My conclusions are these:

1.    Anyone who claims that an isolation support, in your home, at your listening levels will automatically provide a dramatic improvement in sound us either (a) deeply misguided or (b) probably lies about other things too. How can they possibly know? Can your doctor diagnose you without examining you? Can your tailor measure you for a bespoke suit without measuring you? Of course not

2.    I have occasionally experienced very significant differences in sound when comparing an item of equipment on and off an isolation system. please note that I am stressing the word ‘differences’

3.    Sometimes these differences are sonically preferable. Sometimes they are merely differences. and nothing more.

4.    I have never personally experienced a situation where an isolation support where it made the sound less pleasing. However in over half the instances, the isolation system being evaluated made no difference whatsoever.

5.    For something to be ‘better’, it has to be different from the previous state. However, this does not mean that merely by being ‘different’ that this always and without exception translates into ‘better’

6.    And most importantly, what precisely I ‘better? Is better for ‘you’ the same as ‘better' for someone else? Who’s better is better?

5.     Although it is undeniably true that physical isolation can in theory improve the quality of the sound, the problem is that the effects are always, always unpredictable. Unpredictable inasmuch as (a) can you hear any difference at all and (b) are you certain that difference is an improvement?

6.    In summary never, ever buy an isolation system from anyone at any price at any time unless you can do so on a sale-or-return basis. Otherwise, you are gambling in an environment where the odds are very much stacked against you. Makers are in business. Behind the words and the pseudo engineering and al the other stuff, they are fumbling in the dark, just like the rest of us.

Finally, uou might want to consider the following rather unpalatable fact. 

Some 30 years back, one company in particular, Linn, stressed the advantages of putting speakers and stands on spikes, this then became widespread. So why is it then that the World’s most accomplished concert pianists using the finest concert pianos have those pianos on wheels rather than spikes? It isn’t, I assure because of the weight (some Wilson Audio loudspeakers weigh more than a concert grand) nor to protect the stage floor. If you ever get an answer to this, please let me know.

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