There has been a lot of talk about replacing the springs on the Michell Gyrodec and Orbe suspension. The springs provide a good level of isolation, however in the HiFi world we always strive for a little more. We developed the spring suspension replacements to do just this. We came up with our name ‘Pylons’ to continue with the civil engineering theme of our ‘speaker suspension bridges’.
We have many years of experience in HiFi isolation and odd though it may seem, the sound of the system tends to sound like the material the isolation is made from. It takes a while to get a feel for what we mean by this, but metals sound a bit harder, woods softer, plastics and elastomers a bit dull. They can all be used to good effect and the main point of providing isolation usually outweighs any subtle nuance that the material gives to the system. Indeed it can be used to advantage if your system has a particular issue.
With the Pylons we tried many designs for the configuration, tops and bottoms and what connects them. We tried wires and O rings and different threads, acrylic, brass, aluminium and different woods. We found that waxed cotton with ebony or African Blackwood made the best combination acoustically. They were more musical and revealed more detail than other combinations. We were not particularly surprised, as we had been using cotton damping in speaker and interconnect cables for years. These hardwoods are also used extensively in instrument manufacture for their unique and musical properties. So this is where we settled, developed the design and brought it to production.
If you have not tried the Pylons they are well worth a go, modification wise they are considered by many to be the best ‘bang for your buck’ you can get. The difference is immediately obvious, very musical and clear, as the reviews will testify.
On many social media forums there has been much discussion. People who have them are very positive, others are sceptical, which is to be expected, and some just make things up:
1. Where’s the scientific evidence.
2. Are they any good, is it just snake oil?
3. There have also been attempts to discredit them for less objective reasons.
We will try to address some of these points.
1. We have tried measuring the sound, but it is not easy to do. We know that our speaker isolation reduces sound travel through wooden floors by over 50%, but that was easy to measure as well as to hear. The problem with soundscape and dynamic response is that is it very hard to know what to measure. For speakers it is easy to analyse the spectrum and look for boom frequencies and drop off in frequency response, and though you hear these anyway, it makes it easier to fix if you know the values of the problem frequencies. Isolation is different as it is very subtly changing the shapes of the waves. A good or well trained pair of ears will hear differences, even when two curves look identical in the instrument readout.
When I was working on our reference system I changed the crossover and added a super-tweeter to each speaker. I got in Mr Ears with over 40 years of HiFi experience, Julius Hyde, to listen to what I had done. I thought they they sounded great but wanted to be sure. On sitting down he immediately said have you connected that left midrange driver round the wrong way. Indeed I had, I couldn’t tell the difference then, maybe I could now, but I wouldn’t put any money on it. It does show what a well trained pair of good ears can pick up though, so we tend to trust his judgement on things we make. If I can hear a difference it will be chalk and cheese to him, quite extraordinary, like a superpower! Anyway the point being we haven’t found a measuring device that can help us much with this type of modification. If we could measure it we would still rely on a pair of super ears to tell us what the readings meant, so here we cut to what is important, how it sounds. We are doing all this for the benefit of ears everywhere after all.
A good thing to do is to listen, then make a change and listen again. Undo the change and re-listen, often it becomes much clearer what the modification is doing when you remove it.
2. The Pylons really are very good, one of our biggest selling products that can now be found all over the world. We get great feedback and have many repeat customers. Much of our custom is from word of mouth and we have never paid for advertising. We can understand people crying ‘snake oil’ or ’emperors new clothes’ as some HiFi paraphernalia does fall short of hype and expectation. The Pylons are perfectly able to speak for themselves. The ebony and waxed cotton combination reveals so much hidden detail and gives a very smooth and musical sound with extended sound stage, huge detail and punchy bass. If you are brave enough to try them the results are plain to hear and will delight any audio loving ears. We will happily take returns if you don’t agree for any reason.
3. There is also some strange internet speculation: how the Pylons would fail if the string broke, producing some catastrophe of biblical proportions. We can assure you this would not happen and never has. I used to compete in strongman and I can’t break them. If a string was to fail, it would take a while for the string to pull through the holes and the suspended part of the turntable would eventually come to rest a few millimetres lower down. If you have ever worked with wax cotton thread you will know how strong it is, it will cut into your fingers before you snap it. The three Pylons will take over 120Kg, so the safety margin is huge.
Also that they cause the needle to jump more with suspended floors. They don’t make much difference, but they are not designed to address this issue. It is high frequency vibration that upsets the sound quality the most, this is where the Pylons make a big difference. Indeed, if you have a slightly unstable platform for your turntable, like a sideboard on a wooden floor, I would suggest you deal with this issue before doing any upgrades. Perhaps look at a wall mounted solution, or move your turntable to a different location. The standard springs are likely to be your best option until you are able to solve this unhappy situation.
Please be aware that what some people say on social media may have another agenda. If they are using our brand name “Pylons” and they are not from Solidair Audio they are an acoustically inferior copy and may cost more too.
We recently handed a variety of feet and speaker suspension bridges to Dominic Marsh, a reviewer for HiFi Pig. The review has now been published and can be seen on their website, along with all sorts of other interesting articles, in case you were unaware of the popular online magazine. The link URL is http://hifipig.com/solidair-audio-ukishima-magnetic-isolators/#more-35933
We are very pleased to have been awarded a highly recommended award for the products tested. Dominic has some useful insights into what we produce and aim to achieve with our products.
We have just made a set of speaker suspension bridges, destined for life under a pair of classic Lowther horn speakers in Kuala Lumpur. We are very pleased with the black anodised look, which compliments the brass so well, they should look fabulous in action. We have a review coming out soon in HiFi Pig, the online HiFi magazine, which includes a look at what the speaker suspension bridges do. We have not seen the review yet, but the reviewer was very complimentary, so we think he liked them as much as we do.
For a limited time we are offering a 15% discount to promote our website. pass it on if you know someone who could benefit from it, or use it yourself for any of our products.
autumn17 is the code, valid until 8th October.
Thanks to Steve Recker from Texas USA, for sending pictures of his turntable happily floating on our new aluminium feet.
He says “1969 Transcriptors Skeleton made in Ireland. It’s been in storage over 40 years in the original box and packaging. Almost no use! Still sounds great with original cartridge and now even better with floating magnetic suspension. Thanks for these!”
It is always good to hear from our customers and see our products in action. What a fabulous looking turntable.
We have been further experimenting with wood isolation feet and have had some fabulous sonic results on the Gyrodec with them. I guess the look may not appeal to everyone, the organic burr oak contrasting with the sci-fi Hi-Fi look of the turntable. We will try some different woods next and get some feedback on our facebook page.
Are streamers safe on magnetic feet?
This video shows an experiment, putting a hard drive directly on three Ukishima 15 feet, to see if the drive is affected by the magnetic field.
I found no adverse effects on the performance of the drive, I also tried it at different angles to replicate different mounting arrangements in streamers with no issues.
Testing a hard drive on the powerful Ukishima 15 feet.
We have introduced an upgraded option for the range of small feet. By having some new magnets specially made, we can offer a 30% more powerful foot in the same body package as the popular Ukishima 6. It gives a bit more load headroom and can be mixed with the “6” feet if you have a heavy corner, or an opening lid on a record player that makes one area work harder than the rest. We can also offer the new magnets as an upgrade for Ukishima 6 feet already out there working hard for your listening pleasure.
We took a variety of of our new speaker suspension bridges to Falmouth, to see what the great speaker guru, Julius Hyde, would make of them. Testing went very well on the bridges. The difference was instantly clear and substantial. The sound was not only significantly better with the feet under the speakers but the smallest details could be heard that had been previously unnoticed. The staging was precise and the bass powerful and crisp. The whole sound was sharper, yet more rounded and less shrill. Really quite delightful and easy on the ear. It was a revelation, as if you had been listening to a fabulous voice with some of the audience joining in and then suddenly, you were hearing it on it’s own. Julius commented one would have to spend many thousands of pounds in upgrades to get a similar performance improvement by another route. We were very pleased and relieved after all the hard work.
We also wanted to hear what would happen downstairs, to see if we had managed to reduce the sound transmission to rooms underneath the music room. The music was definitely quieter and less intrusive and with the suspension bridges in place, it sounded like distant music rather than a bass heavy noise. I made an attempt to be more scientific using a decibel meter; same track, same volume and found typically about 3dB less noise. This equates to about half the power transmission through the floor of the speakers without the suspension bridges. So good news for your neighbours too!
91dB in the listening room
77.8dB downstairs with supension bridges
81dB without suspension