FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 36
New Uses for Shakti Stones
I originally reviewed the Shakti stones back in 1995 in this magazine in the print issue days. I have since been using them under my amp, preamp, disc players, and HD-DVR. I also use the Shakti Onlines on my power cords, interconnects, and speaker cables. I was talking to Ben Piazza of when he mentioned a new use for the Stones, putting them on the power lines at your incoming breaker box and on power conditioners. In a few months I had a couple of extra Stones to try out this new use.
The Stones are rectangular in general shape, measuring 6.5" wide, 5.25" deep, and 1.5" high. The Shakti Electromagnetic Stabilizer (aka "the Stone") has three internal trap circuits (Microwave, RF, and Electric Field) to absorb the broadest spectrum of EMI. They have a mat type of material on the bottom so they will not mar the tops of components. The Stones are a passive filter device that can be placed under or over equipment. They can also be put besides electrical wires or breakers.
I have a very tweaked system. The room is fairly dead using Tube Traps, Corner Tunes, and absorptive wall panels. I also have Shakti Sonic Hallographs. All equipment is on isolation feet on top of Bright Star type sand boxes. Each piece of equipment is mass dampened with lead sheets. I have two power conditioners, and I have Shakti Onlines at all interconnect, speaker, and power cable inputs. I have two dedicated power circuits. Shakti Stones are under major components. Most of my components have been modified by Mod Wright or Andy Bartha. I have three AV123 super tweeters. I also use Thorough Bass Magellan VIII subwoofers as I find them musical. Each main speaker is mass damped with 100 lbs of lead; the subs are dampened with 50 lbs. lead. Additional damping material has been added to each speaker. The speakers are also on spikes. I use Cardas and Jena Labs cabling. I also have audiophile power cords on everything. I use Mpingo blocks around the room. The floor is cement with heavy carpet over it.
Luckily I could get to the area around my breaker box fairly easily. I first tried them between the two dedicated lines to my audio system at the breaker box. The improvement was immediate and substantial. There were better dynamics, both macro and micro. The noise floor was substantially reduced. There was greater intelligibility to the sound, especially on multi voice recordings. The music also had better solidity. Bass was deeper and more defined. High frequencies were airier. I then put one more on the incoming line to the breaker box. There was another improvement, but to a lesser degree. I would say about one third as much improvement as the first added Stone, but still worthwhile.
Later I had a couple of long time audio friends and two audio novices over for a listening session. After switching back and forth a couple of times, everyone agreed that the biggest improvement was with the stone between the dedicated circuit wires. They also agreed that there was a lesser improvement using the second stone. Even the novices noted the improvements. One was my assistant Karen. Karen usually doesn't expect to hear much in the way of sound differences but has proved to be able to hear differences. A good example was a listening session in Bend, Oregon. Some audiophiles were sitting around trying to convince themselves that a newer, more expensive SACD player sounded better than an older less expensive one. I heard the older one sounded better in about 10 seconds, but the other audiophiles were trying to convince themselves of what they thought should be true. I kept quiet on the matter. Karen leaned over to me and said that she thought that cheaper machine sounded better. I replied that she was right. The other audiophiles eventually gave up and admitted the older unit sounded better.
Another interesting effect of the Stones was noted on playing a Blu-ray disc. I had asked one of the audiophiles to bring his copy of the Blu-Ray of The Last Waltz. I had watched his copy about a month before. When I got my copy, I played it and thought it was better than his copy. I played my copy and he agreed that it was a lot better than his. Next we played his copy and there was not much difference, thus we learned that the Stones can enhance playback of Blu-Ray discs.
Things were going so well, I decided to try them in a couple more locations. I put them near the plug receptacles of one of the dedicated circuits. My lines come in through a metal conduit on a 5-inch shelf running the length of the wall behind my components. This made it easy to put the Stones over the conduit and next to the receptacle for my power amp. Again there was an improvement in sound. It was nearly as much improvement as putting them on the outputs of the breaker box. I then decided to try one on the main power conditioner. Again there was a marked improvement to the sound quality. I decided that the Stone on the breaker box input was not giving me the bang for buck that the other Stones were giving me, so I put that Stone on the preamp wall plug conduit. This position definitely sounded better than having it in the other position. I could have probably gotten even a little better sound if I also had a Stone at the breaker box input, but I was out of Stones and one needs to draw a line someplace.
Now things were getting pretty good. I am amazed that at each addition a definite sound improvement was revealed. I started out expecting a small improvement with the first one added and lesser improvements with each additional one. The first one gave me a major improvement and each additional gave me another major improvement in sound. Each time I added a Stone the sound came from a blacker background. The high frequencies became more defined and detailed. The soundstage became deeper. The bass had more power and definition. Each instrument sounded more like the real instrument. Musical nuances were improved. Vocals were clearer and more delineated. Images became more defined and three dimensional. You simply got more feeling from the music. Ben told me, he had a customer with over 100 Stones around his house. I think this would be definite overkill, but I can possibly see that each one might improve the sound.
To give the reader an idea of what the degree of improvement is I offer the following comparisons. The improvement was like going from a $3000 amp or preamp, up to an $8-10K unit. It was like going from a $1000 player to a $3000 player. Some may balk at $230 for a passive device, but the sound improvement for the dollar is very good. If you were to buy only one Stone I would, if possible, put it near the output wires of the circuit box going to your audio equipment. I would put it on your power conditioner, if you can't put it near the breaker box or you have a second Stone. The ones near your wall plugs should come next. I think the more refined your system is, the more improvement you will hear with the Stones.
I feel that the improvements from putting the Stones in were one of the biggest improvements I have heard. You would have to spend thousands of dollars on amplification to get this kind of improvement. After listening to my system with the new stones in place, it would be a big disappointment to hear without the Stones. The extra Stones have found a permanent place in my system.
Retail: $230 each