Center Stage 2

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#21
I got the Center Stage CS Version2 feet at the end of July. Here's my update. As you'll recall, feet were placed under my CD player, a Marantz SA7S1; my phono stage, an ARC REF 10 phono; and my preamp, an ARC REF40 Anniversary. The power supplies of the latter 2 components, the active Pass Labs XVR-1-3 way crossover, and my 3 power amplifiers used the stock feet.

Once the footers settled, my initial impressions, posted earlier, were borne out over long term listening as follows:
1) There is a very noticeable increase in the size of the soundstage both depth, width, and height.
2) Images are really more solid and 3 D, not as flat. Attack and decay are more natural. Sounds are more present.
3) The sound stage is more continuous. It's may be hard to know what that means until you hear it.

While I did notice a significant change in deep bass at first, my longer term impression is that the bass did not change so much from where it had been, without the footers, once things settled in. This is a little bit hard to judge accurately as you do gradually get used to what you are hearing over time. It may be that putting CSs under the other equipment and amps would have changed this. I'm not taking the CS footers out to confirm this!

You may need to make some systems adjustments to optimize what you're hearing, but wait till things settle in. I played with my subwoofer levels, but ended up where I started. I did find I had to re-level my speakers to take advantage of the improved precision of the sound stage.

My break-in experience may be somewhat different from others based on what I'm reading here. I clearly heard major improvements in early listening unlike some others. Like others, however, my system did go through several episodes of some of the most peculiar changes in dynamics, frequency imbalances, and what sounded like volume changes that I've ever heard. I can't tell you how long break-in will take, as I was not able to listen continuously in the weeks that followed installation. It was all worth it in the end.

I'm sold! The Center Stage footers are a very worthwhile investment. I've done several thousands of dollars of equipment modifications and component upgrades over the years, but never heard anything quite like what these do to let your system sound more life-like. At some point, I'll buy more for the rest of the system.
Hi Barry

Thanks for the follow up

It's interesting that virtually all users look forward to doing an A-B-A test with these feet to confirm their findings but the reality is most people refuse to take them out of their systems

While I did notice a significant change in deep bass at first, my longer term impression is that the bass did not change so much from where it had been, without the footers, once things settled in. This is a little bit hard to judge accurately as you do gradually get used to what you are hearing over time. It may be that putting CSs under the other equipment and amps would have changed this. I'm not taking the CS footers out to confirm this!
As Alan Sircom said in his review posted above by Joe, these feet make you think twice about proposed or needed upgrades in one's system as the overall sound achieved precludes that desire.

I am in agreement that system changes are usually indicated but subtle at most. IOW a small toe in of speakers or change in sub woofer settings

In my system these feet solidified the notion that I just did not need sub woofers in my system as my deep bass without my pair of subs IMO is better now than when I used subs without the Center Stage feet

Ron Resnick and Leif Swanson were visiting last week. Here is a link to their thoughts

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/show...Steve-Williams&p=528682&viewfull=1#post528682

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/show...Steve-Williams&p=529077&viewfull=1#post529077


I have heard Leif's system before and after he placed Center Stage feet in what he calls his "modest system"

I can say that the deep bass in his room with his E5's trumped mine easily. Leif's system with the feet in made me pause to be certain that he hadn't changed any equipment as I could not believe how good his system sounded
 

bazelio

Well-Known Member
Sep 27, 2016
1,386
654
200
California
#22
Hi Bazelio

We should have the foot available in early 2019. There are a few things having to do with adjustability and performance I want to make sure are perfect before I release it. But it will be made so that it can be screwed into the speaker if necessary.
Sounds good. Do you happen to know what the height of these feet will be?
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#24
Hi guys

Just a final reminder to all of you who own CS version 1 feet and want to upgrade to version 2. The window of opportunity ends Sept 30 and there will be no exceptions. There have been quite a few who have sent their feet back for upgrade and have already received their upgraded version 2 feet from me. So if you’re thinking about it you need to know Sept 30 is the end date to do such
 

thedudeabides

Well-Known Member
Jan 16, 2011
1,394
106
420
Alto, NM
#25
For those still interested in upgrading your version 1 Center Stage feet please PM me as the window of opportunity closes at the end of September
Steve,

With all due respect, given the substantial initial cost of this product and the recent release of V1, the September only upgrade time frame seems terribly unfair. You and I know many folks on this forum travel and likely don't keep in touch with "the daily news".

I was considering trying this item and I'm glad I did not. This is the type of activity that is, unfortunately, way too common in the high end industry. If V1 was not ready for primetime, they should never have been sold. It opens up the question of when V3 will be released along with the associated upgrade issues if available.

Sincerely.
 
Last edited:

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#26
I understand your point. I have found that in this industry nothing stands still for long. I also know that not many manufacturers provide an upgrade path
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#27
Steve,

With all due respect, given the substantial initial cost of this product and the recent release of V1, the September only upgrade time frame seems terribly unfair. You and I know many folks on this forum travel and likely don't keep in touch with "the daily news".

I was considering trying this item and I'm glad I did not. This is the type of activity that is, unfortunately, way too common in the high end industry. If V1 was not ready for primetime, they should never have been sold. It opens up the question of when V3 will be released along with the associated upgrade issues if available.

Sincerely.
I understand your point. I have found that in this industry nothing stands still for long. I also know that not many manufacturers provide an upgrade path
Dude

FWIW, I received this email a few hours ago from a version one Center Stage user who recently upgraded most of his version one feet. I thought it answered some of the questions you posed.

Steve>
This probably won’t surprise you however after settling in the stage 2 footers are much better; not better by a little but better by a lot. While the first generation was a wonderful step forward the stage 2 footers are light years ahead. Who would have thought?
I would like to upgrade my final set. It is the 1.5 size (the big ones!).
 

joelavrencik

Industry Expert
Nov 15, 2016
237
30
28
Chicago
www.criticalmasssystems.com
#28
Steve,

With all due respect, given the substantial initial cost of this product and the recent release of V1, the September only upgrade time frame seems terribly unfair. You and I know many folks on this forum travel and likely don't keep in touch with "the daily news".

I was considering trying this item and I'm glad I did not. This is the type of activity that is, unfortunately, way too common in the high end industry. If V1 was not ready for primetime, they should never have been sold. It opens up the question of when V3 will be released along with the associated upgrade issues if available.

Sincerely.
Hi tda

Thank you for mentioning the possibility of a V3. There is no V3. CS2 can't be modified further without rolling off the top end. High frequency roll off would diminish the immersion effect. This, I would never do.
 

StefanT

Well-Known Member
Mar 28, 2014
14
2
208
#29
My impressions on the CS2 feet

Earlier this year I purchased two sets of CS1 feet, one set of CS 1.0 for my DAC and one set of CS 1.5 for my tube preamp. I posted my impressions on the CS1 feet in the other thread here on WBF. When the new CS2 feet came out I decided to do the upgrade.

I have now had the CS2 feet in my system for 11 days and it's time for a short report on my impressions. The break-in was not as a bumpy ride as for the CS1 feet. Sure, there there were some ups and downs the first 5 to 7 days, but but now I think they have settled down quite nicely.

What I hear first and foremost is a decrease in smearing of the musical signal and a lower noise level in my system. Instead I hear more clarity, more low level detail and better focus and purity of tone. This leads to the whole audio frequency band from the lowest bass to the highest treble improving, giving a soundstage that is more clear, focused and immersive. These improvements gets me more involved in the music and makes it easier to 'see' into the soundstage and what's playing. Also, the tone and timbre of instruments and voices are more full and natural. The dynamics also seems better, especially low level dynamics, which makes it more enjoying to listen at low volume levels at night. Another improvement I hear in my system is a more articulate and well defined bass.

All in all, I believe the CS2 upgrade was well worth it.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#30
Thanks for posting your impressions on the CS2. It seems to be everyone’s’ feelings that the settle in time with the CS2 is shorter.

Glad you’re enjoying them. They are truly unique
 

marty

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
1,742
897
555
United States
#31
Add me to the list of people who think the CS2 break-in time is a marked improvement from the originals. I've changed 12 x 0.8 footers for the CS2 and added 4 x 1.0's. In general, I think the break-in of the v2's are about 30% less. Bass pops in around 7 days rather than 10, and the sudden "whoa!" immersion effect occurred for me at around 10 days rather than 14. The biggest impression I had was when I sent the originals back for upgrade. As Joni Mitchell said "you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone". Indeed! I was angry when I sent them back because I lost my sound and frankly couldn't care less if v2 was better than v1- I just wanted my sound back. Fortunately, I'm happy to have it back with benefits.

It might be useful to share that I think there's a bit of room for optimization depending on where the footers are placed and I would encourage users to experiment. Placing them in the 4 corners near the original feet isn't necessarily the best location. On some gear, footers placed closer to the edge of my gear resulted in a slightly different sound than placing them an inch or two from the edge. For me, placement closer to the edge enhanced 30Hz whereas inner placement slightly optimized 40-60Hz. You actually can control the shape of your sound slightly with some experimentation. This was not true on all my gear. The Meitner stack has unibody thick-walled 3/8" (?) construction and placement changes from the corners didn't noticeably effect the sound. However, the casework on my VTL with ventilation slots on the chassis is less rigid casework, and placement closer or further from the edge, where the chassis has beams and thus more rigidity, seems to make a slight difference. For a chassis panel that is slotted, my suggestion is to place the rear footers first and then adjust the two front footers simultaneously by moving them between your 1st and 2nd finger (creating a "V) until you find a location where each footer basically is secure and not easily moveable. Without this simultaneous approach, its not easy to get both footers placed with the same amount of pressure on them from the weight of the gear such that one does not move more easily than the other with gentle sideways pressure. This shouldn't be a surprise as a slotted plate which serves as the chassis on a lot of gear is not uniformly flat and all it takes is a few microns difference in chassis plate flatness to make one footer move easily and the other not at all even if they are only a few inches apart from each other. Bottom line, it's best when the footers have equally firm pressure from above to hold them in their place. It's easy to accomplish this so give it a try. I just don't think it's a good idea to place them and assume they are have equal immunity to lateral movement. I know Joe has offered shims in case this happens, but my preference is to simply slide them slightly to adjust for the offset of casework irregularities.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#32
Add me to the list of people who think the CS2 break-in time is a marked improvement from the originals. I've changed 12 x 0.8 footers for the CS2 and added 4 x 1.0's. In general, I think the break-in of the v2's are about 30% less. Bass pops in around 7 days rather than 10, and the sudden "whoa!" immersion effect occurred for me at around 10 days rather than 14. The biggest impression I had was when I sent the originals back for upgrade. As Joni Mitchell said "you don't know what you've got 'till it's gone". Indeed! I was angry when I sent them back because I lost my sound and frankly couldn't care less if v2 was better than v1- I just wanted my sound back. Fortunately, I'm happy to have it back with benefits.

It might be useful to share that I think there's a bit of room for optimization depending on where the footers are placed and I would encourage users to experiment. Placing them in the 4 corners near the original feet isn't necessarily the best location. On some gear, footers placed closer to the edge of my gear resulted in a slightly different sound than placing them an inch or two from the edge. For me, placement closer to the edge enhanced 30Hz whereas inner placement slightly optimized 40-60Hz. You actually can control the shape of your sound slightly with some experimentation. This was not true on all my gear. The Meitner stack has unibody thick-walled 3/8" (?) construction and placement changes from the corners didn't noticeably effect the sound. However, the casework on my VTL with ventilation slots on the chassis is less rigid casework, and placement closer or further from the edge, where the chassis has beams and thus more rigidity, seems to make a slight difference. For a chassis panel that is slotted, my suggestion is to place the rear footers first and then adjust the two front footers simultaneously by moving them between your 1st and 2nd finger (creating a "V) until you find a location where each footer basically is secure and not easily moveable. Without this simultaneous approach, its not easy to get both footers placed with the same amount of pressure on them from the weight of the gear such that one does not move more easily than the other with gentle sideways pressure. This shouldn't be a surprise as a slotted plate which serves as the chassis on a lot of gear is not uniformly flat and all it takes is a few microns difference in chassis plate flatness to make one footer move easily and the other not at all even if they are only a few inches apart from each other. Bottom line, it's best when the footers have equally firm pressure from above to hold them in their place. It's easy to accomplish this so give it a try. I just don't think it's a good idea to place them and assume they are have equal immunity to lateral movement. I know Joe has offered shims in case this happens, but my preference is to simply slide them slightly to adjust for the offset of casework irregularities.
Marty

Thanks for your feedback.

I supply a set of shims with every set of feet I ship. The reality is only a very few users have actually used the shims. Like you I move the feet laterally until I get a secure application. I have 16 sets of feet in my system and have not needed to use a shim as I use the same method as you
 
Dec 9, 2018
6
0
6
Hong Kong
#33
Hi, as all my power amps are lying on the wooden floor, is that ok to install Center Stage2 1.5 between the power amp and the wooden tiles floor ?
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#34
Hi, as all my power amps are lying on the wooden floor, is that ok to install Center Stage2 1.5 between the power amp and the wooden tiles floor ?
yes
 
Likes: CK Tam

CKKeung

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2011
1,996
1,247
520
Hong Kong
#35
Hello Joe & Steve,

CK Tam and Leo are very dedicated audiophiles in Hong Kong and good friends of mine.
They are in the process of replacing all the footers underneath their audio components with Center Stage 2.
They have much experience in various audiophile footers such as Stillpoint 5/6, Revopod ... etc but once listened to the performance of burned-in Center Stage 2, there is no way going back! ;)

I myself had home-trialed CS1 a few months ago. They were good but I didn't take the plunge.
The CS2 is a different story and I am now following the path of CK Tam & Leo.

Thanks Joe and his son for such a fabulous creation!
Thanks Steve for letting us to know the CS 1/2!

Below is a photo taken yesterday when I went to audition a Totaldac D1-Direct DAC. The CS2 0.8 transformed and elevated its performance greatly!
20181210_195123_3.jpg
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#36
Hello Joe & Steve,

CK Tam and Leo are very dedicated audiophiles in Hong Kong and good friends of mine.
They are in the process of replacing all the footers underneath their audio components with Center Stage 2.
They have much experience in various audiophile footers such as Stillpoint 5/6, Revopod ... etc but once listened to the performance of burned-in Center Stage 2, there is no way going back! ;)

I myself had home-trialed CS1 a few months ago. They were good but I didn't take the plunge.
The CS2 is a different story and I am now following the path of CK Tam & Leo.

Thanks Joe and his son for such a fabulous creation!
Thanks Steve for letting us to know the CS 1/2!

Below is a photo taken yesterday when I went to audition a Totaldac D1-Direct DAC. The CS2 0.8 transformed and elevated its performance greatly!
View attachment 46461
Hi CK

Thanks for your personal experience I totally agree about series 2. And I also agree with your comment that unless you do an A-B-A test in your own system everyone else is only speculating

When I heard the early prototype even if version 1 “ Joe had me at hello”

I know KeithR raises valid questions but KeithR has never heard these so he raises only a flawed argument

They are that good and truly if one is to make a system upgrade but is on a strict budget I can tell you that you’d have to be nuts not to consider these based on what they do to your sound. A perfect case in point was the withdrawal experienced by version one users who had sent them back to Joe for upgrade to version 2.

Finally the new 1.5” is in a completely different league.

Of course I am biased. I was thinking of a speaker upgrade before Center Stage and the Ultra 11 was on the list. I heard it before anyone at the factory. Leif and Damon have heard my system before and after the CS feet. Leif said to me that as much as he wanted to sell me a new speaker what he was hearing was such that he no longer saw the need

So thank you CK for verifying what we users already know
 

CKKeung

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2011
1,996
1,247
520
Hong Kong
#37
Finally the new 1.5” is in a completely different league.
Hello Steve and Joe,
Please tell me why CS2 1.5 is in another league?

I thought the diff was just the weight loading range.

So can they be used on lighter weight components what's the usable/optimal weight range?

Many thanks.

CK
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#38
Hi CK

For me personally I had 1.0’s under my amp and power supplies. So 16 in total. No where else in my system. The sound was terrific with a very low sound floor. With the 16 1.5 version 2’s in my system the sound floor was yet even lower and everything was so locked in. There was more authority and more presence.

Can you use them else where as you suggested the answer is yes but only you can decide if the cost justifies the result.

My amp and power supplies are quite heavy

BTW I have several users who have the 1.5’s under their bookshelf speakers.
 
Dec 9, 2018
6
0
6
Hong Kong
#39
Hi,
I receive four sets of CS2 1.5 today, These footers are for four mono tube power amp. I know I have to turn on the power amp 24 hours a day non-stop for at least 7 to 10 days in order to have the footers break-in. Can I turn on these power amp throughtout the night until morning ? Because I have to work at day time and I live alone. I feel unease to have the tube power amps turn on while I am not at home. I don't mind the burn-in period will be longer than normal .
Cheers,
CK Tam from Hong Kong
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
#40
You don't need your amps on 24 hours a day. I ran my system for 8 hours every day and played the same demo disk on auto replay. I only listened for the last half hour of each 8 hour session to the same 3-4 tracks on the demo disk to get an idea where I was in the settle in process. So no reason why you can't play at night and turn off the system when you go to work.
 
Likes: CK Tam

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