ONLINE - ISSUE 14
Mapleshade Samson Equipment Rack
Neill, of all the things you have done to your audio system -
— which is the most significant?
My new Samson shelf system, with two-inch maple shelving and steel connecting rods and brass alloy couplings. All of the others have made an audible difference, notably the power cords on hybrid and solid state electronics. But time has faded my excitement about all of them, which is what should happen.
Mapleshade Samson Shelf System (2-inch Mapleshade board with Isoblocks under monoblock in lower left corner)
What is the Samson doing? What I expected from it was more firmness, punch, and warmth. You know, the 'wood effect.' (Sorry Clark.) But over the first week the most dramatic change was a huge addition of Ease. The tension drained out of my system and everything seemed wonderfully relaxed. And better. Too relaxed? In went Mapleshade's Triple Points, three large brass alloy cones per component under my tubed preamp and tube DAC, and as a bit more resolution appeared, the question retreated for a while. The Triple Points didn't do anything good or bad under the Audio Note CDT Two transport. Putting cones of any kind under transports is an iffy situation: I remember Blue Circle Isolation Cones saving my Naim CDX but killing my CDS2. Apparently, it depends on how well a player is suspended internally. I also concluded they didn't improve the performance of my new turntable.
With Triple Points under the AN M6 preamp and under the AN DAC 4.1 Balanced (and later under the AN OTO integrated amp and an AN 3.1x one-box CD player), all sitting on the two-inch maple shelves, the whole sitting on integral brass alloy cones in contact with my three-quarter inch oak flooring over cement slab, there was added zip and detail amidst the ease. After much shifting in and out, I found that the Points were really a system-tuning device. I liked them in the system with Reynaud speakers, liked them less with Audio Note speakers. Infer what useful counsel you can from this observation.
And then, as I grew accustomed to the increased ease, I began to notice the added firmness, authority, and natural warmth I had expected, most rewardingly from the new ten-watt OTO and 3.1x player I'm playing with in my 'value system.' They are driving Reynaud Twins on newly re-introduced JMR Magic Stands, and the bass authority from this combination is now quite startling, both in authority and clarity. And finally, I stuck 12" x 22" two-inch Mapleshade maple boards on Mapleshade Isoblocks under my Neiro monoblocks, and the improvements went a step farther. Not dramatically, but incrementally.
Backwoods Barry has been on me about a lot things over the last couple of years, but never so much as getting maple into my system. His wife noticed the difference when a friend suggested maple kitchen cutting boards. She bought several, stuck them under their system's principal components, and has now cornered the maple cutting board market in North Bay, Ontario. Barry found my cement blocks 'n' boards mildly amusing but shook his head. So I am eating crow lately, publicly and privately, about the role my jerry-rigged rack has played in determining the sound of what I've heard and assessed here in my system over the past few years. I am forced to wonder how much firmness and glory my rack has sucked out of the gear that has sat upon it. Perhaps less than I fear, because the Samson does appear to have more effect on the still rather recently acquired Audio Note gear, with its tubes and transformers, than on my Blue Circle CS all-solid state amp. And the (tubeless) CDT Two transport probably isn't getting all that much benefit either, though who knows? The TT2 turntable does seem a bit tighter and firmer in its presentation, but I can't swear to that. I'd welcome others' experience on this matter.
There is not a whole lot more to say here. Pierre Sprey has been preaching the major sonic benefits of maple shelving (his is cut, dried, and finished by Amish carpenters in nearby Pennsylvania) for years. He has experimented with various kinds of wood and has found maple superior to all others. He tells me that four-inch boards are better yet, and would even have purists put components on two-inch boards and Isoblocks and then on the Samson shelving! I have heard this kind of zealotry often in the world of high end audio, but based on what I'm hearing here, I am confident he is correct. It's just a matter of how far one wants to go. For now, I am extremely happy with my Samson.
Retail: $600 plus shipping for standard three-shelf "Version 1" Samson. This includes 3 finished shelves (23.5" x 15" x 2"), 4 uprights (36" H), 4 threaded Heavyfoot cones, 4 brass top caps (2" D), 16 brass shelf nuts (2" D), 2 tightening rods.
30 day money back guarantee.
The Samson is also available with four shelves as "Version 2" for $850, as well as in custom sizes.
Price for individual 2-inch maple boards: $50 to $100, unfinished, plus shipping. Finishing roughly doubles the price.
ISOBLOCKs for up to 99 lbs (set of four): $24 plus shipping.