POSITIVE FEEDBACK ONLINE - ISSUE 47
Zeeba Universal Speaker and Component Stand: Delicate Sonic Precision with Mega-Wallop!
as reviewed by Jim Merod
Zee-ba (not 'zebra')
Two things about high end audio irk me the most: (i) new products that aren't worth a hoot; (ii) new gear that astounds me with delicacy and mega-wallop. All the tried and true audio stuff out there, with legions of fans and affiliates, is like cosmic background radiation. I know it's real but, in my world, it's utterly invisible. I could list some of that space dust. Why make new enemies?
Recently I reported my profound respect for Acoustic Zen's flagship Crescendo speakers. They will not soon leave their central position in my listening universe. So, right there, you find new gear that irks me flat out. Why? Well, for one, it means that I've got to make a big adjustment to my listening post. I can't just flop along happily with the delusion that audio things are all locked in as I previously hoped for.
Also, such adjustments have time-intensive, emotional and aesthetic consequences. And I haven't even mentioned the bread, see? All this as a direct result of some g'dam'd piece of new audio gear that shows up with sparkling promise wholly fulfilled. Disgusting, really, since the 21st century has an absolute evil in its already established design on harassing anyone even marginally awake. Have you noticed how often you load new software? Buy a new computer? Check out some dorky "you can't live without" new thing-a-ma-jobbie? Who needs this shit? Why do we buckle under the doubtless ever new assault of techno-bloat poised to inundate us all faster and more thoroughly?
I, for one, dream of Robinson Crusoe on his serene island, stranded away from the modest hustle of 18th century London. Of course, he was going along pretty smooth with rustic splendor until Friday, that joyless sidekick and immoveable pain in the ass, converted solitude to society and wholly screwed up a calm morning snooze for my lonesome hero. If only poor Crusoe had a great solar battery-operated sound system with no advertisements or audio review rags to tempt his musical madness toward the mayhem of constant revision! Any finely cultured gent might daydream about great sound forever—as long as his discs, vinyl and tapes are well protected from the elements. But, wait! Our gullible music lover may be better off with, say, Olive's new two terabyte 4HD Hifi Music Server that generates 24/196 oversampling (a paltry $2000), with 6000 CDs loadable at a touch.
Zeeba: Precise Sonic Details
Okay, so nostalgia dumped me on Crusoe's island only to strand me back in the 21st century with anachronistic hopes. See what I meant a moment ago? I can't win. Carloads of new audiophile glory await one's immodest interest, while I spin my wheels fogging on about existential simplicity. Ain't no such thing no more, no how, and we gotta get on with it. I must soon get over the "over the hill" stage of quirky leisure pipe-dreams. I get it.
Enter Paramount Technology's Zeeba speaker and amp stands. I love these blasted things. Why, you ask. Let me count the reasons. First, they are obvious, not covert or driven by secret snake oil or some unmentionable Devil's Tonic. They are analog ! I love analog. They are mechanical couplings that enhance good amplifiers and speakers while taking superior amps and transducers to heights of three-dimensional sonic reproduction and depths of soul massaging audio seduction.
Second, third, and fourth reasons rest with the details. In the weeks since these dumb-founding and genuinely ear-opening devices have been in my system, that old romantic tug at the heart has been revived again. Albums that I have recorded, mastered, and hugged first to last (from birth on a club stage to pressing at the disc makers) have taken on new life.
Try this, as an example. Within hours of the Zeeba isolation stands going into my sound universe, I plopped in my Buster Williams Trio album, featuring the legendary Kenny Barron on piano and "Return To Forever" drummer, Lenny White. The sound stage in the Mountain View [California] Performing Arts Hall, where the session was recorded, took on greater presence and outline. Buster Williams' powerful bass depth gained added force and precision. Kenny Barron's delicate touch on his Steinway grand piano emerged with extraordinary vividness. The entire trio "felt" closer, more real and more cohesive as a unit—just as I heard them on several sets of high-resolution headphones the evening we recorded the album "live to two-track."
Try this, also, as evidence of the Zeeba's essentially magical ability to add musical detail and sonic seduction to already wonderful material and a damn good sound system. I played my most recent recording, still in the early stages of editing and mastering—Larry Vuckovich's "Blue Balkan Ensemble" (live @ Yoshi's in San Francisco)—and was floored by the precise recreation of each element of a multi-track live capture that is very fresh in my awareness. I've been able to hear further into the soundstage at Yoshi's than I previously could. Each of the six instruments at work before a sold out house are thoroughly delineated with multi-layered vivacity and immediate clarity. The added detail is, believe me, breathtakingly audible!
The bottom line that I want to share is this. I cannot imagine going forward with my work as a recording and mastering person without the literally invaluable, work-altering enhancements of these Zeeba isolation stands. That is the highest possible praise I can give any audio product, whether it resides on the audio capture side of my work or on the audio reproduction side. Zeeba stands are now, for me, indispensible.
Concluding (For Awhile)
When Paramount Technology's Chief Architect, Abbas Nourollahi, banged on my gate, upon entry he assured me that his heavy plain boxes held no nonsensical widgets. Our shared laughter was a prologue to magnificent sonic enhancement of a sort I've seldom experienced so quickly, so thoroughly from any audio-related product. Abbas has a beguiling sweetness that makes him a pleasure to meet and work with. Pleasantries out of the way, with no delay Abbas went to work in front of BluePort's lyrical grotto, constructing a most elegant jigsaw puzzle piece by piece... such that even an engineering dope such as yours truly might follow his directions. These fine-tuned creatures not only look great, but are simple to work with. Simple and direct. Imagine !
The irksome nature of this audio sport surely blanches every audiophile at some point. Honestly, guys. Who needs yet another obsession? Most of us in the good ol' U. S. of A. are so spoiled by the largesse of consumer pulchritude that we virtually (or actually) float on the scum of too many choices—what to eat; where to live; who to root for (only two genuine options here: Red Sox or Yankees)... and so on. The irksomeness I point to has everything to do with the vast distraction of it all. And, thus, sonic stage-shaping, swapping gear in and out constantly, is just about as completely distracting as a person can deal with when you add ever new distractions to distracted stupefaction.
But I relent. I succumb to the torment of my own obsession. Music forever… truthful audio ever onward ! I confess the truth of my audio mal de mer and yet (malgre moi) the Malo Modo under severe consideration here plunges ahead to report more news of "the new"—more jaw-dropped moments of semi-terrified listening astonishment.
Here's how simple it was and is: a point by point, moment by moment, set up conducted before my leering gaze:
Malo Mori Quam Foedari
"Death before dishonor." No one I'm aware of will likely seek either, nor defame my witness to what occurred as here reported. Final confession. If Paramount Tech's Zeeba Isolation Stands had shown up for me to review earlier in the year now ending, I would have awarded them a "Product of the Year" for 2009. That's how highly I regard their no nonsense enhancement of my sonic world. They are among the best products I have ever spent sustained time listening to, through, and with. And they are, in our bloated audiophile economy, not merely inexpensive, they are affordable (contact Paramount for pricing).
New Year's Eve approaches and I'll conclude like this. A post-Xmas present awaits anyone, with good sonic gear, ready to grace that musical kingdom: invest a small amount to gain truly large aesthetic returns. If your audio system resides at the top of the heap, make it sing with more exotic sonic precision. Here's my year end wager. I suspect you're no more prepared for Zeeba's musical brilliance than I was. Jim Merod