Helping to reduce noise in and around your hi-fi components, Paul Rigby reviews the Alto Extremo Lyd II Isolation Feet
The idea of isolation feet is that you place them under your hi-fi components. They then help to protect your hi-fi from micro vibrations as well as offering the component an escape path for veiling noise, allowing it to drain away from the above component. The upshot? Improved, clearer sonics.
These tough, meaty feet can be utilised under any hi-fi box, including speakers. They’re even strong enough to support a hi-fi rack.
Weighing in at 100g per ‘puck’, each foot spans around 42mm in height and 64mm in diameter. One end displays a damping ring while the other offers an M8 thread (a tad under 8mm in diameter, that is – the ‘M’ signifies that the bolt is measured in metric) so, if your component is compatible, you can replace your original component feet with the Lyd IIs.
Although there is no height adjustment option, the Aluminium bodied puck is self-adjusting, compensating for uneven surfaces. The inner component of stainless steel resting on a brass ball is flexible so the feet can tilt to the side. Ideal if you decide to use the feet under speakers and you have the speakers on an older wooden floor or an uneven tile ground.
If you’re not utilising the thread option, the feet work best away from standard component feet, spikes or other protuberances such as screw/bolt heads. Use them under a flat surface, in other words. Then try to maintain stability by spreading the feet as near to the corners as you can.
I was given one little tip by the company, I was advised to experiment with the orientation. That is, some people prefer the damping ring side uppermost while others prefer the damping ring at the bottom, in contact with the shelving surface. I decided to give each a quick comparative test.
I began the sound tests with David Bowie’s Low (1977) and the track Breaking Glass. I initially tried the feet under the turntable with the grounding ring at the bottom. In this configuration, the sound was clean, open, stable and even-handed in its approach. Detail was free flowing with the bass guitar offering a quite a tight and structured movement of plucked strings. It sounded busy and funky, forming its own rhythmic pathway. That the ear could follow the bass without effort was a testament to the Lyd II feet.
Moving the feet to my pre-amp, the instrumental separation continued with the cymbals, emanating from the left channel which offered a slightly processed pulsing sound but there was enough insight to betray just a hint of metallic response which retained its organic nature.
Vocals were open and clear with the triple-tracked Bowie vocal forming a harmonic whole but the sound was detailed enough to follow each tracked vocal individually.
Onto my phono amp, the background rhythmic guitar, a droning sound that can easily become lost in the rear of the mix, was easily picked out. It provided a sonic curtain of rhythmic – almost pulsing – noise, sitting just behind the gated drum effects.
Flipping the feet over with the blue damping ring to the top changed the sound subtly but there was a slight increase in focus. Not a massive change, I have to add, but just enough to make a difference in terms of adding a notch of precision to the bass guitar and slightly defining the overall soundstage which honed the drum response.
I moved to Don Cornell on CD and Heart of My Heart, with his honky tonk pop song. Cornell can, with some hi-fi components, bellow out this song, resembling Al Johnson on Speed, being in your face and just ‘too much’. This happens when the frequencies have lost control and they end up bouncing around the soundstage like a pinball machine. The Lyd II feet prevented that action because they helped the turntable to retain discipline, giving the upper mids a sense of focus which prevented the echo chamber EQ hanging off Cornell’s voice from taking over his lead vocal. Similarly, the backing harmony choir was detailed and more transparent in terms of behaving like a group of individuals instead of an amorphous blob.
The Alto Extremo Lyd II Isolation feet provide a low noise enhancement to any hi-fi component in your hi-fi chain, giving sense of accuracy to both vocals and instruments, preventing the boundaries of both from becoming ragged and smearing over the soundstage like ink on blotting paper. A essential part of your noise-tackling toolkit.
ALTO-EXTREMO LYD II ISOLATION FEET
Price: £425 (for a pack of 3 or £560 for 4)
Tel: 0203 5442338
GOOD: midrange precision, low noise, bass character, flippable, easy to use
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