Sign in to follow this  
George 47

Isoacoustics Gaia Loudspeaker Feet

Recommended Posts

Moderator

Isoacoustics Gaia Isolation Feet

958959773_mainsinglefoorter.thumb.jpg.d4eb413c2f4d2a68d361a10ac17c8de4.jpg

Introduction

Of all the interfaces in an audio system, the final interface is regarded by many as the most important one, the one between the loudspeaker and the room.

Unfortunately, it is also the interface that comes with the most information, exaggeration, mistruths, tales and fables. This interface comes with misunderstandings some of which have persisted for years.

In the 1970s and 80s, one of the basic rules for the loudspeaker/room interface was established and has remained unchallenged for years, the use of spikes on loudspeakers or their stands. It is unclear who originated the idea but certainly, Linn and Naim were vociferous supporters of the use of spikes on loudspeakers. The thinking was simple and very logical. In a loudspeaker, you have a rigid box to which is attached a loudspeaker unit. The loudspeaker works by receiving an electrical signal from your amp and feeds it into the speaker unit. The speaker unit moves a loudspeaker cone in and out that compresses and rarefies the air to produce wonderful sound.  In the 1970s and 80s, most loudspeakers were either just plonked on the floor or were put on castors and were therefore mechanically free to move. So, when the loudspeaker cone moved in and out the speaker was free to move in opposition to the cone thereby ‘smearing’ the signal.  A good way to prevent this was to fit spikes onto the speaker box thereby coupling the loudspeaker to a big solid floor. As the floor was immobile, the speaker box would be immobile and the speaker cones could move in and out without the loudspeaker moving. It worked. Loudspeakers sounded more focused, the bass was cleaner and the sound was livelier. Mission accomplished.

It was so easy and obvious to hear that fairly soon every loudspeaker was fitted with spikes. If a company did not follow this trend their speaker sales were hit.  Alternatives were looked down on.

But there were disadvantages. The spikes stopped the speaker moving but did so by coupling the loudspeaker to the floor. With wooden floors that was not good news as the floor joined in with bass notes. And these bass notes were transmitted around the house/studio.

Despite that serious challenges to this ethos were few and far between.

A potentially ideal solution is one where the fore/aft motion of the speaker is strongly resisted and the coupling of the speaker to the floor is lossy so that the transmission of sound (mainly bass notes) to the floor is minimised.

 Max Townshend saw a potential solution that would decouple the loudspeaker from the floor and strongly resist fore/aft movement of the speaker box. He did this with some clever engineering by putting the loudspeaker on a platform that was decoupled from the floor by using springs. He carefully tuned the springs and their actions to prevent bass notes travelling through to the floor and also made the speaker resist fore/aft ‘movement’.

It worked.

Problem was it was expensive, especially if the speakers were heavy, and the platform was not the most pretty of accessories. The WAF was low(ish). Since then Townshend has tuned the platform so it is much smaller and dare I say it ‘smarter’. They are still expensive but many people have had positive results.

Others have tried using soft links between the speakers and the spikes and the speakers and the stands with varying degrees of success. You do get gains but unfortunately, there are losses unless there is some very complex and smart engineering, such as those from Magico. But that solution comes at a price.   

Separate from Home Audio, Pro Audio companies were also working on ways to overcome these problems. Isoacoustics work in the Pro Audio arena and make a wide range of respected isolation products including isolation platforms for guitar amplifiers in studios. Their isolation products are used by many studios and they provide a lot of technical data, information and measurements to support what they do. They also make isolation feet for Home Audio. The subject of this review.

Gaia II Feet

And it is their Speaker Isolation feet, the Gaia, that I had at George Towers over the last few weeks.

GAIA-II-Dims.jpg.8c9438c9ae5ec18cc22e42cffb2523e4.jpg

They make four different types of feet the Gaia I, II and III and the Gaia Titan Series. They are made for different speaker weights. I asked for the Gaia II feet, which support speaker weights up to 54 Kg. Although if you are getting close to 54Kg it may be better to use the larger Gaias. It is more than I needed for my Audionote Es with their heavy stands. If you intend to use the speakers on your luxury pile carpet then you will need the additional carpet spikes. I did. If you have a wooden floor there is no need.

Klipsch-RP-280FA-GAIA-II-6-1.thumb.jpg.e1e0e2fac026000e043189d2bd0f704d.jpg

And let’s dispel the obvious, these feet are not only very well engineered but they look really, well, cool. The tops are rose gold colour with the rest of the foot shiny stainless steel. They are complex pieces of engineering and to explain them I will simplify how they work, apologies to any engineers. They resist motion in the fore/aft direction thereby providing a solid surface for the loudspeaker to work against. But they do not resist motion in the left/right direction. Therefore, it is vital to set the feet up correctly. More on that later. The actual foot has multiple layers of materials that absorb the sound energy and converts it to heat, reducing the coupling of the bass to the floor. Each foot comes with M6, M8, M10 and ¼” bolts that connect the Gaia foot to your loudspeaker/stand. They have two locking nuts, one to lock the bolt to the Isoacoustic foot and the other to lock to the bolt to the stand. It is vital to ensure they are correctly orientated.  To help, the word Isoacoustic is written on each foot and you must orientate the foot so the writing faces you or is 180 degrees away from you.

And to help you know which feet and bolts are needed and for working with non-standard bolts there is a handy calculator at https://calculator.isoacoustics.com/.

gaia-series-on-sopra.jpg.dd3bcb698cd02ef660c39052cbe2ba1b.jpg

There is a nice video on their web page that describes how it is done and it is fairly straightforward. The trick is to get everything at the right height, orientation and level.  

Measurements

So how well does it work?  As this is a pro audio company there is a white paper and I provide a link below.

Isoacoustic took a speaker into an anechoic chamber and carried out a series of measurements. The first was a straightforward frequency response measurement. The frequency response of the speaker was measured with spiked stands as well as with Gaia feet. They were the same. The Gaia does not alter the frequency response.

1524138904_Anechoicchamber.thumb.jpg.217d010b72fd2c42aabdc98554f65b39.jpg

The next measurement was more complex but it measured what sound was going into the floor through a spiked stand and then with Gaia feet on the speaker.  The spikes, as you may expect, sent a reasonable amount of bass into the floor. The Gaia sent much less bass into the floor.

isoacoustics_techonology-explained-fig06-07.thumb.jpg.6243e671ed47eed864a100940365aa7a.jpg

The final measurement was done with a speaker on elastic bungee cords and repeated the above measurements. The isolation provided by elastic bungee cords was very similar to the Gaia's feet.

694215499_isoacoustics_techonology-bungeecords.jpg.c990dec77573c61da0c40e1e04b059db.jpg

All the measurement details and the resultant graphs are in the link below.

So, here is measurable proof that these feet reduce noise going into the floor from the loudspeakers.

Sound Quality

But what difference does it make to the sound?

Well, there is an audible difference that is easy to hear.

And then I encountered a psychological issue. We have all become used to hearing big bass coming from our spiked loudspeakers. The bass from the speakers is augmented by the bass coming from the floor. So much so that my first reaction was, what has happened to the bass? It has reduced significantly. This can’t be right. But as I listened more and more, I started to hear the bass was still there but it was now clean, more tonally dense and faster. With the Gaia feet, you hear better bass information. But it does not stop there. Because there is less bass joining in (out of time?), the mid and top-end improves. It is also much cleaner. It is easier to hear all the words being sung in a song. You can more easily hear the words sung in an Opera even though the words are in Italian. The words of Bruce Springsteen make more sense as they are easier to understand. More of the emotion in the voice is heard without the floor joining in

Is the difference enormous/earth-shattering…..no but it is musically significant and it can make the difference between something that sounds good and something that really communicates the singer’s emotions.

I started with some Hans Zimmer who likes mixing big bold orchestral music with more modern synthetic effects that add real weight and power to music. The Batman theme starts with synthetic bass-heavy effects to announce that there are powerful forces at work but there is a dark character to them. Initially, the bass did not sound as ‘heavy’ but as the music progressed there was far more information and detail present. This added to the effect of power, drive and allowed the ‘dark’ theme to develop through a 3D rendition of the orchestra.

The theme from His Dark Materials is much lighter. Here the changes were more in the 3D presentation of the music and the high frequencies. The soundstage was much larger and extended further back. It was easier to hear what the Chord Electronics Qutest DAC provides to the music.

Even on Happy Together from the Turtles, the music was better separated and the different timing in the drums was easier to hear. This is an old and not brilliant recording but the voices were easy to hear including the backing voices. Yes, it is a happy jolly pop song and sounded it. Not a great recording but great music.

But Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man (Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra) really showed the improvements. The opening timpani strikes were powerful and very clear. It was easier to hear the different notes on the timpani and where they were played on the drum. This worked so well I had to play the ELP version with the additional bass playing which is how I first heard this music.

Keeping with the drum theme it was over to Opium by Dead Can Dance and the various drums and bass with lots of reverb were clearly heard and the individual elements were kept apart especially when the numbers of instruments got high.

In conclusion, these feet are very well engineered, look pretty and stylish when installed and they work well.

Isoacoustics are at: https://isoacoustics.com/

The measurements and explanation are here: https://isoacoustics.com/isoacoustics-speaker-isolation-technology/

Specifications and Prices

GAIA-group-specs.jpg.12c7de50f6da61fde8ea0d5b4438ef99.jpg

The Gaia III works with speakers up to 32Kg, the Gaia II up to 54 Kg and the Gaia I up to 100 Kg. The Titan Series I, II, and IIIs support speakers from 145 Kg to 280 Kg. As well as the standard packs of 4 feet, single feet are now available at a reduced cost, this means owners of speakers using 3 spikes don’t have to pay for 2 feet they won’t use! These are priced – GAIA III - £59, GAIA II - £89, GAIA I - £169.

Carpet-discs.thumb.jpg.db45b93134be42e3cf84e1326e65a715.jpg

Gaia III costs £199 for a set of 4, Gaia II costs £299 a set of 4 and Gaia I cost £599 a set of 4. Carpet spikes are £50 for 4, shown above.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.