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Positive Feedback ISSUE 39
september/october 2008


What's Under Your Amp (transport), Part II
by Bob Neill



Pierre Sprey of Mapleshade enjoyed my review of his maple platforms last time out, finding fault only with my equivocal remarks about brass footers. Apparently I had auditioned his Triple Points, not the improved MICROPOINTS, when I arrived at my judgment a couple of years ago. And so, with my agreement, a set of the latter arrived last week. A set of (three) brass MICROPOINT footers is designed to sit under components (not just amps) that are seated on the maple platforms (or a full Samson shelf system). In that position, according to Pierre, with all three truly tiny ("micro") points on the top of the footers in contact with the bottom plate of a component and the single thicker point on the downside of the footer sitting on maple, the footers drain vibration from the gear into the maple where it is absorbed or otherwise dispensed with. Pierre recommended starting out with the digital transport, which I did.

  • What suggests that you are probably hearing objectively? When you come expecting to hear one thing and hear something entirely other.

  • What does less distortion sound like? Not the much loved and lauded ultra smoothness and warmth, which are often the result of smearing or ‘smoothing out' detail. Clarity rendered with ease.

The difference I heard with the MICROPOINT footers under my Audio Note CDT 3 digital transport sitting on my Samson was the opposite of what I expected and considerably more dramatic than what I heard with the transport sitting on maple boards or on the Samson without them. I expected additional clarity but accompanied by additional hardness: that's what I've always heard from footers of various kinds. What I heard was additional clarity… but with additional ease. And more body, firmness, contrast, dynamic energy…and beauty. Taking them out, I heard ease without the same clarity, a slight softness and almost sleepiness. Very pleasant, mellifluous, gentle. Back in: more upbeat, lively firm, vibrant, and on solo violins and brass, again, more beauty. Back out: cello sounds very nice but is less firm, has less backbone, lighter weight, is less impactful. Back in: a sense of haze being disbursed, better contrast. Much more engaging. Playing a cello accompanied by orchestra, I heard the same effect with the brass: more body, clearer, more lively. Later, on a solo violin, I heard a stronger bow and yes again, more beauty. A lot more beauty. Clarity is seldom associated with beauty in audio. When you hear that, you are hearing the result of less distortion. See above. In this case, if Pierre is right, less distortion contributed by vibration.

Micropoint Footers

These impressions have now held up for the better part of a week, on a variety of recordings. Pierre has insisted all along that maple without brass helps but it's less than halfway there. I have mainly ignored him because I liked what I was hearing from my system at it is …was… and didn't want to spend more money. But he's right. Everything sounds better, absolutely better. I did not know there was a problem. But there obviously was.

I have only one set of MICRIPOINTS here. I tried them under my DAC, and while there was improvement over having none in the system, it was nowhere near as dramatic as with the transport, which suggests that it's best to begin at the beginning and let the improvement pass on down the chain and/or that my transport had more need of the footers than my DAC. The big question now is how far to go? The first piece of Sogon cable has the most effect. How much more can more MICROPOINTS do? And, of course, Pierre wants them under my speakers too!

We'll see. Right now, I'm enjoying a truly significant and cost-effective upgrade, which I urge upon you.

(3) Two-inch brass MICROPOINT Component Footers: $185

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