Turntables have had it for years, now you can isolate your speakers too. Paul Rigby reviews the IsoAcoustics Aperta isolation stands
Isolation is one of the key enhancements that you can make to any hi-fi system and the components within. Typical isolation includes everything from general component shelving, specialist wall shelves for turntables, built-in suspension systems for the same, individual pods to sit under CD players, amps and the like and even supports for cables. The idea is to try to help noise drain away from the active elements but also protect them from outside nasties. We do see elements of isolation within many commercially available speaker hands but there has been precious little development in this field.
IsoAcoustics believes that there is a gap in this particular market which is why it has developed these neat, skeletal isolation stands. Utilising supportive polymers, they come in a variety of heights and sizes but I looked at the small, rather neat, Apertas. Boxed as a pair and presented in black, they span 155mm x 190mm and are idea for medium sized speakers which is why I tried them with a pair of Magnific Acoustics M521 units. Each non-slip stand arrives with an easy to use tilting option to tweak your speaker positioning.
To review these stands, which arrived ready assembled, I firstly utilised them as ‘stand upgrades’, placing them on top of a pair of HiFi Racks Podium speaker stands and then putting my speakers on top of the Apertas. After that, I tried them on their own, in a near-field environment, on a desk.
I began with Edie Gorme and a slice of bossa nova on the album, Cuatro Vidas, with her backing group, El Trio Los Panchos. There are plenty of options to change or improve the sound here with the use of Spanish guitars, conga drums, the breathy vocal of Gorme herself and a harmony backing with lots of potential silence to change things too.
The sound with the stands fitted was intriguing. The improvements, and there were improvements, didn’t hit me between the eyes. After several seconds of listening to this track, realisation tended to sink it that changes were afoot. The first and most widespread, was an increase in the silence. That is, there was a reduction in distortive noise. This makes sense because the speakers are sitting on their own personal suspension system and, hey, if it works on a turntable… Hence, the lowering of the noise floor affected all frequencies. The effects were not massive. I didn’t let out a loud exclamation but I did produce a satisfied smile. The performance was definitely smoother. Gorme’s breathy, textural lead vocal did exhume more emotion and nuance in her delivery while the combination of her voice and the backing vocal didn’t produce that slight upper midrange lift that I was used to: this element was calmed, which benefitted the musical output. Conga drums had a more open nature while the guitars offered slightly more focus. The overall improvements were by degrees but the result was entirely welcome.
Moving to Your My Best Friend from the half speed version of Queen’s A Night At The Opera, I was intrigued to hear the effects via this recording in a near-field, desktop environment. Despite the fact that mastering engineer, Bob Ludwig, has produced a very special remaster for this album, the original Queen recordings did make use of compression which can be clearly heard during normal play. With the Aperta stands in position, the noise floor was, again, lowered by several degrees. This allowed the drums to produced a more characterful performance, offering easy and smooth drum strikes while the distortive effects on the vocal encouraged Brian May’s lead guitar to offer subtle elements that had more of an effect on the presentation. Again, the effects were not dramatic in nature but they were there and could be heard better during higher volumes.
Solidly built and oh so simple to install into your system (if you don’t want to mess around with tilting, you pick them out of the box and put them where you want them), the Aperta stands are, indeed, an upgrade for your current speaker stands and effective as near-field supports. That they improve the sound by less than dramatic leaps and bounds doesn’t hide the fact that sound quality is improved in a variety of areas. I would like to see more development of this stand (Using different materials perhaps?) to produce even more substantial and marked improvements.
ISOACOUSTICS APERTA SPEAKER ISOLATION STANDS
Price: £182 per pair
Tel: 03301 222500
Good: reduces noise floor, simple to install, improved clarity and detail
Bad: more generous improvements would have been welcome
Origin Live Sovereign turntable/Enterprise 12″ arm/Miyajima Takumi cartridge
Icon PS3 phono amplifier
Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp
Icon Audio MB845 Mk.II monoblock amplifiers
Quad ESL-57 speakers with One Thing upgrade
Vertex AQ and Atlas cables