There is a problem with furniture dedicated to audio, that in most cases the nicely looking ones do not work well, or even do bad things to the sound, while the really well working units can only be accepted by singles, divorcees, or widowers – people who do not need to consult the looks of their purchases with anyone. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but even then people trying to reach the audiophile Olympus can have issues of … linguistic nature.
You do not believe me? So let me show you an example – very nice and really improving sound products from the American manufacture Silent Running Audio puts their logo on the front of them, which consists of the acronym of their company name SRA, and in Polish this means … “to poop”. Of course, when you search well, a combination of functionality and acceptable looks can be found – for example the Italian furniture of Gregitek or the German LeadingEdge. At least that was the case until recently, when the Polish manufacturers finally understood, how significant the amount of purchases is, that must be pre-approved by the Auditor General, the audiophile’s wife. This resulted in the increased appearance of furniture in their catalogs, that was not only fulfilling the sonic requirements of the golden-eared society, but also very aesthetic. Not being indifferent to this trend we decided to have a closer look, how this theory works in practice, and we invited one of the youngest (please do not think of him as being one of the least experienced) players on the Polish audio furniture market to supply his, probably most appealing in terms of sheer looks, project for testing in our systems. Our choice was Audio Philar and their rack Platform Line Double III with anti-vibration platform Double.
As you can see for yourselves, the colors of the supplied furniture are far away from the standard and everywhere present black, white and gray, or even fancy veneers. It just attracts attention like a super-car on a street filled with “ordinary” cars. It is absolutely intriguing, and at the same time elegant and noble, so that you cannot attribute any blatancy, or cheap, shoddy variegation. The metallic shining shelves and table tops in a deep burgundy color ideally work together with the champagne platforms, and the delicate, satin legs. The modular setup, allowing for practically unlimited configuration capabilities, results in a optically light, but solidly thought through and constructed shape. Nothing is shaking, nothing is moving and the whole can be precisely leveled by using easily accessible cones, which are also an effective means of decoupling the individual modules and minimizing their eventual interference. The satin chromed legs are made from solid steel rods with 40mm diameter. Digging deeper in the technicalities, it is worth noticing, that all elements are CNC machined, and the sandwich shelves are made from a support platform with 30mm thickness and a work platform 20mm thick with damping material in-between. This damping material, various VibraPods, is adjusted for the load and kind of device to be placed there. Depending on the clients desire the work tops can be made from MDF, the same material as the supporting platforms, plywood or granite. Of course the veneer of varnish can be chosen by the client from a big catalog.
An open question remains – how is the influence on the sound in relationship to standard, civilian furniture, or a steel-glass rack, that can still be found in many homes. Although I could provide the first, in the form of a massive alder cabinet I could not provide anything with glass shelves, and interestingly, no one of my acquaintances had those. So I decided that I will not look further, but I will try to observe if there are any changes compared to my, also modular, Rogoz Audio 4SM3 rack.
Moving my, quite heavy, stereo to the new location took some time, but I did not care too much, as at the same time I could vacuum in places, that were usually occupied by cables and thus inaccessible. When everything was setup properly I sat down in my comfy chair and… had to get up again, as for the first test I chose, besides my resident amplifier, the representatives of the analog world, the turntable Transrotor Fat Bob and the preamplifier Octave Phono Module, and when I was sitting down, I forgot to lower the tonearm into the groove of the vinyl record. When the diamond of the ZYX cartridge finally touched the surface of “Violator” Depeche Mode, I returned to my seat and at first only enjoyed the music reaching my ears. Despite the absolutely synthetic roughness of the played music, the new furniture brought an incredible amount of timbres to it, an intrinsic quietness and such a black background, as if the system would be placed in a darkened room, with black walls and ceiling, and only a spotlight shining onto it. I noted similar changes with practically all repertoires, sometimes adding some extra notes listening to more interesting fragments. Frequent readers of my writing probably are already accustomed to my quite “strange” taste of music, at least for reviewer’s standards. Putting it mildly, where the tolerance for rock of Jacek, and most of our friends, ends, I just start to enjoy things. I just like to get some power with Avenged Sevenfold, My Dying Bride, Megadeth, or older, classical for today’s standards, milestones from death metal genre performed by Slayer or Sepultura. Of course the rock dinosaurs like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Marillion (only the old one) are also welcome by me. Looking at the list above should turn on a red light in the heads of most of the readers. This because there is no way of going around the fact, that most hard rock, heavy metal thrash and some even heavier music is recorded carelessly, badly or tragically. Of course in this ocean of hopelessness you can meet some recordings, where the sound engineer decided to earn his money the right way, but this happens rarely. But for the sake of this test we can assume, that the joy of listening to such recordings can be available only for diehard fans of the genre. The reality is brutal, and the main rule of Hi-Fi and High-End telling ‘shit in – shit out’ is more valid than ever. This is the reason, that the presence of the tested rack became an opportunity to find such disc under a pile of dust and play them, because upping the temperature slightly and making the midrange denser; it removed harshness and grain from the squeaking and crackling treble. What is very important, dynamics did not suffer with this, as in place of the usually cacophonic and shrill chaos we got an acceptable order on the stage and something in the form of harmony. In repertoires more acceptable by the average population, the Audio Philar rack toned down some recordings, that were overly loaded with sibilants. Finally our main “Export Diva”, the jazz-like Anna Maria Jopek, as well as the Jamaican recording in Norway Noora Noor could enchant with their sex appeal and the treble caressed with amber-like shine instead of injuring with harshness.
It would be an unpardonable sin of omission, if we would limit ourselves to “listen” only to the rack, when we received an anti-vibration platform with it, called Double, which was visually adjusted to the rack. In real life not everybody has the space to accommodate for a full size furniture piece and sometimes a more rational and ergonomic choice seems to be placing some, or all, components on anti-vibration platforms. Another reason to have a separate, additional platform, is a situation, when we often have additional components to listen to, and do not want to shuffle our own system back and forth. And finally, this is probably the least invasive and most painless way to hear for ourselves that well designed, dedicated and well-made vibration reduction systems work. That was the case this time. While I achieved most audible results with the analog source and tube devices, which usually react with acute allergy and painful worsening of the sound to any parasite vibration, even my fully solid state ECI provided me with a better stability of the sound stage, a darker background and a smoother, more organic sound when placed on the burgundy-champagne sandwich platform. This I noticed when I “tuned” my rack with the tested platform, what should give you a better understanding, what scale of changes will be introduced, when a system does not have comparably comfortable setup for the electronics in the first place. And I will not even mention the aesthetics, because I do not feel expert enough in that, but I will just say, that most representatives of the other sex, who are said to have a higher sensitivity to such things, were praising the looks, and mentioning all kinds of items, to what this platform would fit. In fact that list included some surprising items for me, like nail polish colors, but their reaction was, you could say, enthusiastic. So, dear gentlemen, if you want to reach your audiophile nirvana in small steps, you should consider listening to this platform in your system as one of the first steps. This should happen at your home, with your system and you should also observe closely the reaction of your wife/girlfriend to it.
Summing up this test I hope I did convey the main aspect of those, very attractive in visual aspects, and also absolutely effective, Audio Philar anti-vibration furniture. Both the rack – Platform Line Double III as well as the platform Double Model “sound” just like they look – very elegant, with a congenital, genetic nobleness. Without unneeded tinsel, without upping the frequency band edges, without sharpening/dulling they emphasize on calmness and cleanness of the sound. This does not only improve the comfort of listening, but also allows feasting our eyes with the beautiful form so rarely encountered in our audio world. A sincere recommendation!
Producer: Audio Philar
Double Model Platform :
- varnish: 1 900 PLN
- venner : 2 100 PLN
Platform Line Double III
- MDF / varnish: 5 900 PLN
- venner: 6 700 PLN
System used in this test:
- CD/DAC: Ayon 1sc
- DAC: Auralic Vega
- Digital source selector: Audio Authority 1177
- Network Music Player: Olive O2M; Dell Inspiron 1764 + JRiver Media Center; Auralic Aries
- Turntable: Transrotor Fat Bob S + ZYX R100
- Phonostage: Octave Phono Module
- Integrated Amplifier: Electrocompaniet ECI 5
- Loudspeakers: Gauder Akustik Arcona 80 + spike extenders; Gauder Akustik Cassiano
- IC RCA: Antipodes Audio Katipo; Siltech Classic Anniversary 770i
- IC XLR: LessLoss Anchorwave; Organic Audio; Amare Musica
- Digital IC: Fadel art DigiLitz; Harmonic Technology Cyberlink Copper; Apogee Wyde Eye; Monster Cable Interlink LightSpeed 200
- USB Cable: Wireworld Starlight; Goldenote Firenze Silver
- Speaker Cables: Organic Audio; Signal Projects Hydra
- Power Cables: Furutech FP-3TS762 / FI-28R / FI-E38R; Organic Audio Power; Acoustic Zen Gargantua II
- Power distribution board: GigaWatt PF-2 + Furutech FP-3TS762 / FI-28R / FI-E38R
- Wall Outlet: Furutech FT-SWS(R)
- Table: Rogoz Audio 4SM3
- Antivibration platform: Franc Audio Accessories Wood Block Slim
- Ethernet Cables: Neyton CAT7+
- Accessories: Sevenrods Dust-caps; Furutech CF-080 Damping Ring; HighEndNovum PMR Premium; Albat Revolution Loudspeaker Chips
For seasoned audiophiles the fact of having furniture meeting the standards of acoustic isolation from the floor, or at least an anti-vibration platform for the most sensitive part of their system, is a must. This is an axiom, but as it often happens in life, for a very simple reason – the money we have is usually sparse even for the electronics – it gets pushed back in time. There are also music lovers, who have the opportunity to bring peace into the sound reproduced by their systems, they are aware, how important it is to have good sound as the result of it, but are changing cables over and over again, having excuses like the wife opposing, or the furniture not fitting the rest of the listening room. In the rest of my review I will try to bust the myth of “this will be my bulls-eye, I am tackling the case of the furniture later”. Here I must make all people, who push this as far away as possible from them, that changing components of the system may make the sound different, not always better, while a professional anti-vibration rack – it does not have to be made with rocket science or gold plated – is really important in the process, and can become a killer for many cables or even components. Try it for yourselves, and you will see. It does not hurt, yet may be a true learning experience.
Like I mentioned in the previous paragraph, a stable construction, giving the user full isolation from the “micro-tectonic movements” which are so disastrous for our audio gear, does not need to look like a catafalque equipped with items applied by the constructors, that are maybe beautiful for them, but not appealing for the user. There are maybe some people, who like such exposed and rough spectacle, but it only takes appropriate aesthetic taste of the manufacturer, and some demand from the customers, to have a completely different piece of furniture, one that fits almost every style of the listening room. Now I want to introduce to all the readers a modular rack, that allows for full freedom of configuration, and exposes very nicely my Japanese Reimyo stereo system, made by a manufacturer present on the market in Poland for a few years – Audio Philar from Warsaw.
This manufacturer is very elastic in terms of fulfilling the needs of every, even most demanding client, and it became visible to general public during last year’s Audio Show 2013, where he equipped many exhibition rooms with his, elaborately designed, products. When someone will search through the extensive portfolio of Audio Philar, for sure some visually appealing products will be found, and if such product will gain approval from the spouse, I suggest to contact the manufacturer directly and see for yourself, if such furniture is worth placing in the most important spot of the listening room. The tested model from the Platform Line Double series ideally matched my electronics, and with its exclusivity and manufacturing quality underlined the products made by Mr. Kazuo Kiuchi from Reimyo. Even the digital to analog converter, being a flat and thin box, gained unseen amounts of beauty, what has not happened before with other constructions designed to carry our beloved systems. I did not need to wait long to confirm this phenomenon, it was enough to give back the tested set of three modules back to their owner, and the shine of the DAC disappeared. I do not say, that placing it on black granite, which I have in my shelves, would be like a seppuku, but I was a bit sad for a few days. Looking at the construction of the Audio Philar products, from the very beginning – you may even say from logistics – the weight of each of the segments draws attention. This weight comes from the legs, made from solid steel rods, which are supported by cones with hidden thread, allowing to precisely level out each of the modules. When placing one module atop of another, stability is assured by special holes made in the top of each leg. Very practical and safe solution, because it prevents the modules from falling. The supports for the actual shelves are mounted to the mentioned legs. On the supports there are milled cavities for the vibration absorbing material, on which the shelf will be placed. The distance between the shelves, colors of the varnishes used, natural veneers or material for the shelves can be adjusted for each client individually. I received a combination of silver, maroon and light gold which did not leave any room for complaints. I must confess, that this is very tasty color combination, but it will need to be verified by the potential buyer. For additional stabilization of the rack we have to use flat washers with the same diameter as the legs.
When the process of transferring our audio system onto the new furniture, which eliminates the bad influence of our daily activities, finishes, the world of music changes. My observations were only a confirmation of the general rule, that it brings delicate calmness to the sounds reaching our ears. This can be quickly and clearly heard, when we listen to material with overly exposed sibilants. The change of support for our system becomes a salvation and protects us from the razor blades flying through the air, or tiring rustle. I think that for all the readers the fact, that the temperature of the sound will get warmer, in the direction of the sound of the Japanese company Accuphase, is absolutely obvious. But please do not take this description literally; I just wanted to show you the general direction of the changes, which are very well balanced, even with systems directed towards a warmer sound. Actually, I probably do not need to mention this, but for the sake of completeness, such a change may be a panacea for getting a feeling between the listener and his electronics, when the latter is too offensive. An important part of the whole process of adding nobleness to the musical phrases is lack of any kind of stain on the treble, which becomes a tad warmer, but still breath is an important part of the whole spectacle. Looking at the way of creating virtual sources by the system treated with the Audio Philar rack, we will notice slight softening of their edges, and a slightly less tight bass, but I want to remind you, that each system has its individual needs, and even for me – the owner of a system located on the more colorful end of music – the change did not cause any issues of the bubble-gum type, but only corrected the saturation and color of the cymbals, directing them in the more golden area. And I know, that for many audiophiles the additional layers of color will be a very joyful event, and they will be able to sacrifice some of the sharpness of the contours for that. This is the reason, that that what I am trying to describe may be a degrading softening for some, while being a musical “G-spot” for others. A good example on how the music lovers life can be sweeter, is the disc “New Moon Daughter” by Cassandra Wilson, where the sound engineer treated the cleanness of the vibrating air particles created by the singer a bit too directly, what resulted in spectacular rustles and swishes in the completed product. Theoretically you can adjust to everything, but why cannot we take all the best from life, especially when sticking to the simple rules, I described above, we can handle over-brightness of the vocals. And in the package we get some extra saturation and more power in the equally far reaching bass.
Reading this text, please take into account that the described Platform Line Double Series allows to use different materials for the work shelves. I had at my disposal MDF, varnished with a metallic lacquer, and we can choose also granite or veneered plywood, what can have an influence of the effect we get. So the result of my encounter with this furniture is nothing else, than a slight foreshadow of what will wait for us, what changes will there we, when we order for ourselves – even just for testing purposes – the mentioned modular anti-vibration set. Then we will be able to verify the effects in our own system with the ones I described.
The need of having proper isolation of electronic devices from the floor is undisputable, we all know that. However how the materials used for the production of such isolation devices influence the sound, we can only find out, when we try a solution ourselves, at our own homes. This is why I warmly encourage experiments, and try to discourage spontaneous and not thought through decisions like: “it looks nice, it should fulfill its role, so it will be good”. Different combinations of materials can be provided to you easily by the manufacturer of the tested rack. The palette of products with different construction, different materials used for the manufacture and available finishes should be able to cover the wishes of even the most discerning audiophiles amongst us, and I would even say, of that audiophiles spouse. This is the reason, that when you think about having a good rack for your system, or at least want to try it out for a few days, it may happen, that after a visit at Audio Philar, the world will not be the same any longer, and the confrontation with the previous state of events will leave you perplexed.
The system used in the test, a complete set of Combak Corporation.
- Separate DAC + CD player: CDT - 777 + DAP - 999 EX
- Tube preamp: CAT - 777 MK II
- Solid state power amp: KAP - 777
Speakers: Bravo Consequence +
Power cables: Harmonix X-DC-350M2R Improved Version
Speaker Cables: Harmonix HS 101-EXQ (mid-high section); Harmonix HS-101 SLC (Section woofer)
IC RCA Harmonix HS 101-GP
Digital IC: Harmonix HS 102
Table: Rogoz Audio
Accessories: Antivibration stand for the power amp by Harmonix TU-505EX MK2, Harmonix Enacom improved for AC 100-240V; Harmonix Tuning Room Mini Disk RFA-80i
drive: Dr. Feickert Analogue "Twin"
arm: SME V
cartridge: Dynavector XX-2 MK II
- Phonostage: RCM „THERIAA”
- KBL SOUND Reference Power Distributor
- KBL SOUND Red Eye power cable