Confessions of an Audiophile Junky-I Got Center Stage With Pitch Perfect Sound

caesar

Active Member
May 31, 2010
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Really????


Caesar sometimes the things you post are bothersome and I have to say that your last post was one of them as it adds nothing to the overall discussion of the CS Feet


FWIW, I really appreciate Greg Weaver's review of Center Stage. I've read the review a few times and he's obviously an accomplished writer with a long history of experience in aftermarket feet. I'm really glad he decided to take on this project. More than anything, I really appreciate the following assessment, because I've never read anything like this with a similar product. Greg is referring to the installation of 30 Center Stage feet in his system:

“Dear readers, I would never dream of suggesting that $9000 worth of footers is either an insignificant investment, or in any sense of the word inexpensive. But the degree of improvement that their installation alone wrought in a system with a retail north of the $300K neighborhood was so extraordinary as to render their contributions a bargain! I can assure you that I know of no other way to invest so little, what in this case was less than 3% of the total system value, to reap a sonic result that would otherwise unquestionably take a near doubling in price, or greater, to achieve.”


The full review can be found at:

https://positive-feedback.com/revie...s-center-stage-footer-redefining-performance/
Steve, wishing you all the best with this. I hope you sell several Gazillion!
 
As I mentioned in Steve's home thread, I had the pleasure of visiting Steve in OC and listened to his marvelous audio system, which has the most CS footers under audio components that one can imagine. Steve demonstrated to me some CDs and LPs which gives out a total immersion effect, which to my ears are incredible for a 2 channel speakers system. The soundstage can go through several kinds of presentation, which quite accurately represents the recording venue, and on some can really have the 'wrap around' effect. The best example would be Roger Waters' Amused to Death on vinyl. I can hear sounds to the left of my ears and a bit to my right. I cannot explain how that can happen, but it is a mind-blowing demonstration and something that I have never heard before. I have not heard Steve's pre-footers sound so I cannot say point blank what the effects are but Steve swears by the fantastic things that has happened, and given that I personally have experienced the great effects of the footers, I do not doubt Steve for a second. There is the same lateral imaging precision from left to right in Steve's room which is similar to my own findings in my own room. Bass is staggering too, and each instrument comes out with virtually a perfect rendition. Simply stunning.
If I may make a simple comment here Phil.

The Roger Water's album, 'Amused to Death', was I believe recorded using the QSound audio processing, to create a wider expansion of the soundstage using only two stereo speakers. That in itself helps a lot.
I love that album.

I would like to thank Greg Weaver for taking the time to review Center Stage for Positive Feedback. Greg’s professionalism, work ethic and thoughtfulness are the trademark of his character. His ability to translate impressions into words brings substantial benefit to the audio community. Thank you, Greg, for allowing me to visit you as Center Stage settled in your system. I sincerely hope we can work together again in the future.

I would also like to thank Dr. David Robinson, Editor-in-Chief of Positive Feedback, for his continued support of Critical Mass Systems. David was the first industry professional to allow CMS into his listening room many years ago.

The full review of Center Stage has been published and can be found at the following link:

https://positive-feedback.com/revie...s-center-stage-footer-redefining-performance/

All the Best

Joe
I've just read the review, impressive and on the mark.

And congratulations to you and Steve, both for providing a higher music listening plateau.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Co-Owner, Administrator
If I may make a simple comment here Phil.

The Roger Water's album, 'Amused to Death', was I believe recorded using the QSound audio processing, to create a wider expansion of the soundstage using only two stereo speakers. That in itself helps a lot.
I love that album.



You are absolutely correct in your comment about that album done in Q sound. I’ve heard it 100 times. What is now so unique is listening to this album with CS FEET and that is what Jadis was commenting about. The out of phase voices and immersion are so different that you need to hear the album played with CS feet. It’s mind boggling
 
Jun 5, 2010
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Yesterday, I had installed footers under every component in the entire change after the additional footers I ordered arrived a week ago. I allowed the system to play for 90 minutes before popping into the room to hear it. I offered the listening seat to friends who had graciously helped me install the footers. I was at the back of the room but after just 90 minutes, I could hear significant better physical dimensional images, total ease of dynamic swings, increased clarity to tempt me to count musicians, increased clarity of the emotions the music meant to convey. I also felt that I could play the system at higher volume levels and still stay inside the room. These footers are on a cost to performance ratio, the best value in the hobby for me.
 

jadis

Active Member
Apr 28, 2010
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Manila, Philippines
You are absolutely correct in your comment about that album done in Q sound. I’ve heard it 100 times. What is now so unique is listening to this album with CS FEET and that is what Jadis was commenting about. The out of phase voices and immersion are so different that you need to hear the album played with CS feet. It’s mind boggling
What I heard in your room, Steve, is that the 'murmurs' are occurring at a spot where your TechDas table and the Lamm phono stage were, something that in my experience that can happen only when there is a rear channel speaker positioned there, which I was fooled into thinking.
 

XV-1

Active Member
May 24, 2010
1,556
7
38
Sydney
Really????


Caesar sometimes the things you post are bothersome and I have to say that your last post was one of them as it adds nothing to the overall discussion of the CS Feet


FWIW, I really appreciate Greg Weaver's review of Center Stage. I've read the review a few times and he's obviously an accomplished writer with a long history of experience in aftermarket feet. I'm really glad he decided to take on this project. More than anything, I really appreciate the following assessment, because I've never read anything like this with a similar product. Greg is referring to the installation of 30 Center Stage feet in his system:

“Dear readers, I would never dream of suggesting that $9000 worth of footers is either an insignificant investment, or in any sense of the word inexpensive. But the degree of improvement that their installation alone wrought in a system with a retail north of the $300K neighborhood was so extraordinary as to render their contributions a bargain! I can assure you that I know of no other way to invest so little, what in this case was less than 3% of the total system value, to reap a sonic result that would otherwise unquestionably take a near doubling in price, or greater, to achieve.”


The full review can be found at:

https://positive-feedback.com/revie...s-center-stage-footer-redefining-performance/
Did Greg pay for all 30 footers?

In the review it seems that you either have zero or 30 footers. no indication of what 4 or 8 or 12 actually do. Whether they work better on front end components or amps.

At 168 hours of continuous play (exactly 7 days, oddly enough), that newfound clarity, focus, and reduced noise floor remained the most amazing surfeit of their installation so far. Instrumental lines both seem more individual, yet at the same time, a more lucid piece of the "whole.

The review only covers what it did to digital and the transformation happened exactly at 168 hours of continuous playback. So when did Greg actually listen to his system when it was on for 168 hours continuous?
From the review he did not listen to his phono stage. Yet it has 4 footers.

Honestly the review seems like an advertorial as it gives zero context on what these footers actually do with one, two or 3 components.
 
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joelavrencik

[Industry Expert]
Nov 15, 2016
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Chicago
www.criticalmasssystems.com
Yesterday, I had installed footers under every component in the entire change after the additional footers I ordered arrived a week ago. I allowed the system to play for 90 minutes before popping into the room to hear it. I offered the listening seat to friends who had graciously helped me install the footers. I was at the back of the room but after just 90 minutes, I could hear significant better physical dimensional images, total ease of dynamic swings, increased clarity to tempt me to count musicians, increased clarity of the emotions the music meant to convey. I also felt that I could play the system at higher volume levels and still stay inside the room. These footers are on a cost to performance ratio, the best value in the hobby for me.
Mullard88

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Your comment is as complimentary as it gets. Center Stage fulfills a 17-year personal quest to bring a product to the audio community that delivers value far beyond its cost. So, it’s incredibly gratifying to read words that supports one man’s longstanding dream. The proliferation of confusing marketing speak in our great hobby makes cutting through the clutter difficult. But, your comment and Greg’s comment in his review, like a knife’s edge, cuts through the noise and speaks directly to this humble designer’s objective.

Thank you for taking a leap of faith with me and Steve. And, thank you for taking time out of your busy life to share your experience. I’m not saying that $300 per foot isn’t expensive, but I do say, as you and Greg Weaver and others have, that CS delivers an improvement in performance far beyond its cost.

You made my day!

All the Best

Joe
 

joelavrencik

[Industry Expert]
Nov 15, 2016
197
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0
Chicago
www.criticalmasssystems.com
Did Greg pay for all 30 footers?

In the review it seems that you either have zero or 30 footers. no indication of what 4 or 8 or 12 actually do. Whether they work better on front end components or amps.

At 168 hours of continuous play (exactly 7 days, oddly enough), that newfound clarity, focus, and reduced noise floor remained the most amazing surfeit of their installation so far. Instrumental lines both seem more individual, yet at the same time, a more lucid piece of the "whole.

The review only covers what it did to digital and the transformation happened exactly at 168 hours of continuous playback. So when did Greg actually listen to his system when it was on for 168 hours continuous?
From the review he did not listen to his phono stage. Yet it has 4 footers.

Honestly the review seems like an advertorial as it gives zero context on what these footers actually do with one, two or 3 components.
Hi XV-1

There are posts in this thread that describe the addition of 1 or more sets of CS into a system and speak to the settling period and the result. I think microstrip, mountain joe and others have several posts here that might be helpful to you. I invite you to search and read them, and if you have additional questions I would be happy to try to answer them.

Since I personally did the installation, I can say that there were feet under the phono in the analog signal path. I didn't read any indication that analog was excluded.

He makes comments of his impressions at 72, 96, and 168 hours as well as 11 days and 12 days. That seems comprehensive.

It's common practice in the industry to supply products for review at no cost to the reviewer.

I agree with you that the review is uncommonly stellar. In fact, it's one of the best reviews I've ever read on any product. I'm very proud of that.

All the Best

Joe
 

XV-1

Active Member
May 24, 2010
1,556
7
38
Sydney
Hi XV-1

There are posts in this thread that describe the addition of 1 or more sets of CS into a system and speak to the settling period and the result. I think microstrip, mountain joe and others have several posts here that might be helpful to you. I invite you to search and read them, and if you have additional questions I would be happy to try to answer them.

Since I personally did the installation, I can say that there were feet under the phono in the analog signal path. I didn't read any indication that analog was excluded.

He makes comments of his impressions at 72, 96, and 168 hours as well as 11 days and 12 days. That seems comprehensive.

It's common practice in the industry to supply products for review at no cost to the reviewer.

I agree with you that the review is uncommonly stellar. In fact, it's one of the best reviews I've ever read on any product. I'm very proud of that.

All the Best

Joe
thanks for the reply Joe.

I am aware that reviewers receive the equipment at no cost for the review. Did Greg buy the 30 footers after the review?

My point is , not sure what target market you are looking for when 30 of these footers are reviewed, but not 4 or 8 - enough for one or two components. I am sure your target market is not for people to float their entire system up front. not many customer will be able to afford that. But that is what the review does.

cheers
 

joelavrencik

[Industry Expert]
Nov 15, 2016
197
0
0
Chicago
www.criticalmasssystems.com
thanks for the reply Joe.

I am aware that reviewers receive the equipment at no cost for the review. Did Greg buy the 30 footers after the review?

My point is , not sure what target market you are looking for when 30 of these footers are reviewed, but not 4 or 8 - enough for one or two components. I am sure your target market is not for people to float their entire system up front. not many customer will be able to afford that. But that is what the review does.

cheers
Hi XV-1

You are correct that owners may elect to add Center Stage in steps over time. Many owners are doing so right now. Frankly, I was interested in Greg determining and reporting total impact. Center Stage is a product that can be inserted under every component in a signal path and its effect is additive. Installing 30 feet (8 components, as I recall) moves the sonic envelope in a definitive way. I was interested in Greg communicating the overall effect because, as far as Center Stage improves a system’s performance in total, it MUST improve the performance of each component in the system individually. The review communicates that owners can add more Center Stage under more components with high confidence in their investment.

I was enthused to work with Greg because he has 33 years of experience with footers and he knows exactly what to look for sonically and how to evaluate and report on their performance. CMS will be introducing a new Center Stage foot for tube amps and class A solid state amps that benefit from increased ventilation. Amplifiers are generally subjected to more wave amplitude than other components because of their proximity to loudspeakers, so we’re also trying to simultaneously reduce entropic forces resulting from positioning and reduce heat accumulation. We will also be introducing a new foot for loudspeakers. Greg asked if he could hold onto the feet for a longer term to use them under more components and he agreed to report on the effects of our new products in his system. His request is a compliment and I support his desire to explore more of our products.




All the Best

Joe
 

312PB

New Member
Feb 20, 2018
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On the strength of what I have read about the Centre Stage here, I took the plunge at the beginning of February and thought I owe it to this forum to share my journey.
The lingering doubt (and curiosity) in my mind was the opaqueness how the Centre Stage is supposed to work and the varying extent of challenge as they settle in. Other members’ reporting of the system become “unlistenable” during settling in weighted heavily on my mind. Buying some accessories that would first take the sonic South and then North again seems counterintuitive. How do you know if the vector of recovery is not actually less than that of the initial deterioration? “Unlistenable” sounds terrible for any component at any price and my cynicism wondered if the CS might even be some sort of scam aimed at the most gullible, idled and mentally challenged?
Still, I bought blind on CMS rack (model-wise) so may be taking a leap of faith on Joe again cannot be entirely foolhardy?
The recommendation I received was in order to damage control the turbulent times on settling, it is best to get sets of 4 CS for each component along the entire signal path. That amounted to 8 sets for me (CDP, PSU for CDP, phono, preamp, front / rear end power distribution and mono power amps) without the turntable. As the costs started to look daunting, first came the question of what is the requisite minimum number of sets to deliver whatever they are supposed to do? What is the optimal extent of deployment and when does the point of diminishing return kicks in and do I have ANY damage control Plan B all started to haunt me.
After soaking on the numbers for a few days I decided to go “brave” and bought as suggested, relying on my Plan B, Plan C and Plan D as prospective damage control. Plan B is chopping surplus above optimal deployment to my bed room system, Plan C to my sister’s system and then sub-participation by my two wonderful “naturally curious” friends have also expressed interest to try the CS feet ad Plan D as they may even end up taking some sets off my hands.
How can such a layered damage control plant fail? The phrase “the Lord hates a coward” surfaced in my mind, so I swallowed hard and decided it was time to be “brave” so I clicked “buy” on Steve’s website.
On arrival of the CS package, I cut 2 sets of 4 to each of my “naturally curious friends” for trial. My remaining 4 sets went underneath my phono, pre-amp and monos.
My system is geared towards neutrality with transparency to source in high resolution, using Soulution 7 electronics mounted on CMS, Tara Labs for signal cables; Stage IIIs for power cords and Magico speakers. Front end power distribution is HB Cable’s Marble strip and rear end counterpart is EquiTech 3RQ.
At this point of the proceedings, “curved ball” guidance from Joe came in that breaking in period requires the suspended units to be playing versus just relying on their own mass (as was the case with CMS rack) and not even stand-by would do. Knowing just how long it will take me to rack up 5 to 7 days of continuous play time equivalent, it is a foregone conclusion that over that duration any sonic change would surely end up being so gradual to be unnoticeable? May be I can count on my two “naturally curious” friends as a lot “harder working” to land on the answer sooner? “Counting on strength in numbers”? None of these matter now when both feet are wet already.
Immediate impression after a few hours of play time on the first day turned out to be an absolute anticlimax, especially when sonic degradation to “unlistenable” had writ large in my mind. Questions like “Have I done it right?”; “When might the first difference be heard” etc. all flashed past my mind. They even brought back the less than happy memory a few years ago with my much detested Tripoint Troy ground box. Such was my conviction that I was given a dud I had the Tripoint dealer taking a spare unit over for home trial and for A/B testing. On that day my shocked but spontaneous question of “Is THAT IT?” met with an depressingly spontaneous answer of “Yes, that is it…….”. To this date, that unit remains my biggest audio regret.
 

312PB

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Feb 20, 2018
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By day 3 (with only an hour or two of daily play time managed in the interim), I thought I heard some change as the mid-range became just a bit wobbly. This was ever so slight and only noticeable when full orchestral music was played with volume cranked up beyond 30 db. The fear of “Is THAT it?” descended upon me again. If the CS only manage to scratch, certainly not dent, let alone failed to ruin, the soundstage over what should be the worst of their settlement, then what magnitude of eventual improvement could I realistically expect? The self-delusionary refuge I took in the integrity of Soulution electronics, CMS rack, Tara Lab and Stage III and Magico combination having damage controlled “unlistenable” to just wobbly mid-range might be comforting for the moment, the worrying implication is any eventual upside could only be correspondingly as inconsequential. Was the much detested Tripoint Troy story repeating itself?
Meanwhile my two hard working, naturally curious friends were providing seemingly positive feedback of varying degree. Pete who used the CS on his CD transport and pre-amp mounted on wooden rack reported positive observation on gradual soundstage improvement that are reminiscent of initial deployment of units on CMS rack. That was comforting but not quite confidence inspiring for my case. On the other side, the OEM feet under Kel’s Finite Elemente mounted Boulder pre-amp’s feet proves too tall for the standard set of CS, resulting in the pre-amp being suspended by the CS on the Boulder’s feet rather than its chassis. Kel’s other set was used on his Shunyata Triton.
Another 3 days passed with roughly 30 – 45 minutes of play daily as I was losing heart as well as interest. Meanwhile, update from Pete telling me he is really enjoying the CS under his CD transport and pre-amp no longer interested me as this not knowing what exactly to wait for and how long to wait for it” was clearly demoralizing me.
By day 7, a sudden quantum leap of clarity in soundstage presentation descended on the system. That minor wobbly of mid-range was totally gone. The soundstage seemed deeper and very well layered. However, since the system had bucket load of resolution and clarity before so are we merely just back to square 1 before the CS were first deployed? If we were, was it because of the very limited play time I managed over the previous 7 days? The option of removing the CS for a full back to back comparison is obviously the way to finding an answer but to live through all the aggravation again..? There was only so much suspense I was willing to take from audio so it was time to alleviate the confusion and playing a few LPs may be a pleasant enough way of going about it. Who knows, since the analogue path has CS underneath the 755 phono (vs. no CS under the 745 cdp at this juncture), maybe there are some low hanging fruits awaiting harvest?
Well, no fruits of the sweet kind was found. The analogue path sounded just as I remembered it before any addition of CS. The apparent deepening and improved layering of soundstage noticed with digital signal path simply was less apparent when LPs were played. This is absurd since I have no CS under the CDP or its PSU. Does that mean that just having CS under phono is not enough to improve the analogue signal path? My Davinci Gabriel turntable is twin arm configured and has a total of 12 feet so putting CS under those was simply not on…..
I have now arrived at a juncture where needing to be away for business trip is actually a welcome relief. By now, Pete has had his fun with the CS whilst Kel gave up upon being informed of the criticality of CS direct connection with unit chassis although he did say the CS worked well with his Triton. With the4 sets of recovered CS, I slotted one set under the 745 CDP, two sets underneath the Nagra stack and the AirTight ATM2 in my bed room and headed for the much needed break from being an audio slave for past 10 days or so. The request to my long suffering wife was simply to switch on the Nagras / ATM in the morning for 30 minutes every day before she leaves for work.
 

312PB

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Feb 20, 2018
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Fortunately, business trips stills make tuning audio systems worth looking forward to. Upon return after 3 days I immediately noticed the Nagras / Airtight / Raidho D1 soundstage has changed with improved resolution and soundstage depth as well as separation. These two sets of CS are going to stay underneath them.
Back to the sitting room system, digital playback has shown more noticeable improvement along the same vein as first noted on day 7. 3 digital tracks played that initially left me the deepest impression were, stage recording of Cats (Highlight from Cats, Polydor SACD 5368179) followed by John William’s The Empire Strikes Back – The Imperial March (Star Tracks / TELRC CD 80094) and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol (Seiji Ozawa – Neeme Jarvi; Deutsche Grammophon 57 Classikon) .
With Cats, the incredible pin pointing of individual performer on a particular stage location and his /her movement on stage as that character continued signing was never heard before. In terms of “life like” play back, this has to be a break through and gave the listener the impression that the stage performance was now taking place in front of your eyes which I found an absolute delight. What other Joe and Steve wrote before about being “immersed in the music” or removal of the veil that separate the speakers from the listener are now beginning to make sense. This is exactly the reason why I wanted to play The Empire Strikes Back – The Imperial March. This CD was bought way back in 1986 and must have last seen daylight as much as 20/+ years ago. With CS and the on/stage or immersed in music feel, if you listen with eyes closed, the sensation was akin to standing on the hangar floor with Empire Storm Troopers marching past you on the left and right. Jaw dropping.
Two pieces of music I often use to test systems / system change are Korsakov’s Capriccio espagnol and Saint-Saens’ Danse Bacchanale (Samson et Dalilia, Opus 47); both have difficult cadenza, share fast rhythm, testing wood wind playback with Oboe, French Horn, base drums etc. which show up limitations on systems as unmercifully as X-ray. Listening to Capriccio espagnol without CS versus with them was akin to moving from the front role in the audience to going on stage; a change that I have become very familiar with from over a decade worth of accompanying my sons for their orchestra rehearsal. The difference in sensation literally compared with facing the music in the audience before to now sitting next to the conductor, such was the clarity and depth of each sections of the orchestra being heard, violins to the left, viola to its right, cello to the right side with double bass behind and the brass section in single file right at the back centre just behind oboe and bassoon in the wood wind section. When I first got addicted to Stage III power cords, that was the new level of clarity that wowed me into buying first 4, then one more and finally two more of Stage III’s PCs but I am not sure even that level of separation could be heard and maintained in all the fast bars of the music. In Capriccio espagnol’s case as the music moves towards the crescendo when the trumpet and the drums cut in. With CS feet, I heard for the first time the separation between different sections of the orchestra being maintained throughout the entire score and which was a level of robustness in soundstage definition / imaging throughout the fast bars that I have never heard before. Three years ago when I home trial the Sound Application RLS 240/6 versus my incumbent Shunyata Triton using Saint-Saen’s Danse Bacchanale (Sony Music Masterworks), I was mesmerized by how with the Triton, once the French horns came on on-top of the base drums towards the end of the score, the image became blurred but with the RLS 240/6 I could still hear the brass section as distinct from where the based drum was located. That playback was via Q5 then. Now with CS on top of Stage IIIs playing through Q7, I could “see” how many drummer Seiji Ozawa was using and where they sat relative to the brass section all the way through the fast paced bars on the music score. When the music finished, all I wanted was to press play again, the rest were merely as important as whether the washing machine has stopped.
Are the above attributed to the 745 now being CS mounted or simply down to there being a few more days of settlement (given limited play time I managed during initial settling in) I simply am unable to tell. At this juncture, the only emotional response was an equal dose of “Got to go out to buy more CDs” and “better get someone to keep me honest to ensure I was neither hallucinating or simply hearing what my mind would like me to hear, given the sitting room system was transparent, high resolving and well sorted before the CS journey started.
Oh, yes, that question mark on analogue signal path too……
To keep my observation honest, I need a pair of ears who are well versed with Soulution on CMS. The one person that perfectly fits that specification I know is Thomas from local Soulution dealer. More importantly, I need his ears to A/B the effect on the digital / analogue paths and to validate or dispel my perception that CS has allowed performance of digital path to catch right up with analogue at my home and why. This takes me back to the time when the CMS rack was first installed at home and the digital path sounded fantastic but the analogue side displayed nothing near as marked improvement until I took Joe’s advice of removing that HRS M3 isolation platform from underneath the Brinkmann Balance I had before the Gabriel.
 

312PB

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Feb 20, 2018
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After just a few tracks, analysis from Thomas were as follow:
Digital path – he agreed with all the observed improvement on the effects of CS previously reported; their sound stage projection and you need complicated music scores to fully demonstrate the full range of improvement. On full orchestral works, Thomas too marveled at the ability of the CS on the system to pin point location of individual sections of instruments, and depending on recordings, even individual instruments, within the orchestra. Sonic imaging is razor sharp but he thought the overall stability and robustness of the entire soundstage is simply incredible. It was the robustness of this sound staging regardless of how complicated and fast the music being played back happened to be. The one negative comment is the sound sounded a bit tight from a sonic image that seems so well etched that it is as if we are playing an all new units / cables on the system. Joe has assured me that the tightness will disappear overtime…...
Overall, Thomas rated the digital path’s sound staging as well improved by the CS addition. He also finds how one can now enjoy so much of the sonic improvement at low db output a truly delightful and very worthwhile improvement in terms of everyday usability.
Analogue path – A rude awakening here that may best be described as finding out your dream girl was actually a guy with hairy legs.
Analogue audition started with playing Anne Sophie Mutter’s performance of Tchaikovsky’s violin concerto (Deutsche Grammaphone recording). On a standalone basis, no adverse comment can be directed to the play back at all, except the same “tightness” noted from the digital path earlier. Then I wanted to play some vocal tracks to give a sense of soundstage change with vocals. I used a LP from a folk singer whom I always try to listen to a bit whenever I get to play any record.
After 2 tracks Thomas smiled and said “...now you see how awful your beloved LP (I have 6 of it….) actually is? That is credit only to the improvement of your analogue signal path…!”. What Thomas meant was with the improvement to the micro dynamics and the soundstage imaging, you can now clearly hear the terrible distortion to the background music and even the top end extension of the singer’s voice from track to track from either the original recording or the process of re-mastering in the production of this mid 90’s LP. Before hauling sonic performance to this level by the CS, all the “sins” of the sound engineer in initial recording or in re-mastering were masked by other distortion to escape attention from most if not all listeners. So, exactly why does improvement to sound imaging reveal such flaw? The answer seems to lie in the density of sound from the playback being high enough so that transcients and micro dynamics (especially in semi-tone) which previously went underneath the radar screen of the listener now stands naked staring the listener in the eye. The analogy used is like looking at women on TV before and after they became HD / 4K and how very beautiful women can suddenly look very flawed. Extend that to analogue play back and that begs the question why I couldn’t’ find sonic improvement when the new level of details revealed all the flaws that previously went unnoticed.
Taking pity on my shock and horror of discovering my dream girl is actually a guy, Thomas ran a test with me by making me sit on different spots on the sofa to notice how the holographic sonic image of the singer remains in the same position relative to wherever I sat, be that left, right or far left or far right. To hit the point home, I was rocked left and right by Thomas as I sat still on any of these different spots along the sofa and the relative location of the holographic sonic image of the singer neither blurred or swayed. This, I am told, is because the placement of the speakers are so correct (by Thomas back in 2016) that literally “perfect” sound imaging could be achieved when you combine the liberation of sound from the CS feet coupled with the high density audio signals from equipment used in the play back. Last but not least, Thomas said of his 30 years working in audio trade and all the local customers systems he has visited regardless of price, only one customer system he heard delivered that sort of result…………
So the message is the fault lies with me in playing LPs with sub-optimal recording or poor re-mastering when the quality of the analogue playback would let me know unequivocally these “dream girls” of mine are in fact all hairy men. To help manage my dismay about these “hairy guys” from the “absolute rubbish in, absolute rubbish out” now delivered by the system, I am offered the recommendation of buying a load of records of top notch recording to replace the offensive ones or to run lesser cartridges to cut out some layers of resolution so I can go back and live in the dreamed perfect world again with no hairy creatures running around.
There you have it. These Centre Stage feet worked wonders on my system to deliver a dimension of improvement unknown to me as available from others. Nothing in audio could be described as good value or even value but if you had switched from other racks to CMS and enjoyed the sonic transition, then adding Centre Stage feet confers further improvement within the same sphere but vectors in a different and yet complimentary dimension. The new Olympus CMS rack I have yet to hear but the Centre Stage certainly raised the game on my older Maxxum. I would choose to remain ignorant here and take what Joe wrote here that Centre Stage on Maxxum takes care of the Olympus rack and call it a day.
It would be a lot easier if the settle in period for the Centre Stage was a “one size fits all” both in terms of unit weight and extent of play time required. I would have to have retired to find the leisure of trying out Centre Stage, one set at a time, on a system to map out how many sets it takes to deliver the most costs effective result. For now, must buy some CDs to scratch the new found itch for my CDP .
 

joelavrencik

[Industry Expert]
Nov 15, 2016
197
0
0
Chicago
www.criticalmasssystems.com
Hi 312PB

Thank you for your series of posts. Overall, I think they are among the most helpful I have read. In fact, the more times I read them, the more I realize that the detail you provide is exquisite, and your points touch upon several topics of importance. I hope every reader takes the time to reread your posts several times to fully grasp the finer points of your analysis.

A few comments:

1. It’s better for me and Steve to tell new users that system degradation will be severe. “Unlistenable” is the worst-case scenario and indeed this can occur, but actual degradation, and recovery time for that matter, are dependent upon the surface a component sits on. The crucial point is that the amount of improvement is NOT inversely proportional to the amount of degradation. In other words, mild degradation will still lead to unmistakable improvement. The pronounced improvement you report occurs regardless of degradation just as you pointed out. Thank you for mentioning this.
2. I can say without equivocation that the tightness you reference in both signal paths is related to unfinished settling. Not only will the tightness disappear entirely, but your system will improve across every parameter you mention as the tightness subsides. Your extensive work and travel schedule demands your time, but I promise you that you have much more listening pleasure to look forward to upon your returns. Thank you for mentioning this.
3. Without any doubt, recordings in every format will be transformed, analog certainly included. Some will reveal themselves as being much better than originally thought and others will fall by the wayside. Center Stage reveals the true engineering capability of your components and, once unleashed, that capability is revelatory of engineering previously hidden in recordings. With respect to the engineering in a recording, great will great, good will be good and bad will be bad. I’m sure there are plenty of “beautiful women” in your analog collection. But, now I can’t get the image of hairy legs out of my head. Did you have to do that to me???? :eek:
4. You are correct that CS must be in contact with the bottom of components. This is mandatory in their implementation.
5. On a personal note, I have deep respect for Thomas Ho. I know him to possess extraordinary depth of knowledge with razor sharp critical insight into high end audio. He is “The Man” in Hong Kong.

Leo, thank you for contributing to the audio community! We all appreciate it.

All the Best,

Joe
 
Last edited:
Feb 3, 2011
673
0
16
I am very much interested in the Center Stage footers so I read everything posted about them...so

IMO keeping track and reporting on component break-in via hours vs. days, minutes play per day, days away, etc. are much more valuable to the reader......I read the whole 312PB report and really have no idea how many hours he has on his Center Stage footers nor at what point he felt they really changed his system.....
 

312PB

New Member
Feb 20, 2018
6
0
0
Kingsrule,

Please take a look at the second section of my post. By day 3 negative effect were first noted and by day 7, the positive effect filtered through. My normal circumstances only allowed an hour or 90 minutes of play time during the period in question. Where I lost the tracking was when the recovered feet were put under the CDP and then subsequently under the CDP's PSU as that was the juncture where business travel intervened and the waiting got the better of my patience / anxiety. This is where I failed to map out what is the most cost efficient deployment of CS footer. That said, just having them on the preamp and power amps certainly was very audible. Hope that could be of use.
 

312PB

New Member
Feb 20, 2018
6
0
0
Hi 312PB

Thank you for your series of posts. Overall, I think they are among the most helpful I have read. In fact, the more times I read them, the more I realize that the detail you provide is exquisite, and your points touch upon several topics of importance. I hope every reader takes the time to reread your posts several times to fully grasp the finer points of your analysis.

A few comments:

1. It’s better for me and Steve to tell new users that system degradation will be severe. “Unlistenable” is the worst-case scenario and indeed this can occur, but actual degradation, and recovery time for that matter, are dependent upon the surface a component sits on. The crucial point is that the amount of improvement is NOT inversely proportional to the amount of degradation. In other words, mild degradation will still lead to unmistakable improvement. The pronounced improvement you report occurs regardless of degradation just as you pointed out. Thank you for mentioning this.
2. I can say without equivocation that the tightness you reference in both signal paths is related to unfinished settling. Not only will the tightness disappear entirely, but your system will improve across every parameter you mention as the tightness subsides. Your extensive work and travel schedule demands your time, but I promise you that you have much more listening pleasure to look forward to upon your returns. Thank you for mentioning this.
3. Without any doubt, recordings in every format will be transformed, analog certainly included. Some will reveal themselves as being much better than originally thought and others will fall by the wayside. Center Stage reveals the true engineering capability of your components and, once unleashed, that capability is revelatory of engineering previously hidden in recordings. With respect to the engineering in a recording, great will great, good will be good and bad will be bad. I’m sure there are plenty of “beautiful women” in your analog collection. But, now I can’t get the image of hairy legs out of my head. Did you have to do that to me???? :eek:
4. You are correct that CS must be in contact with the bottom of components. This is mandatory in their implementation.
5. On a personal note, I have deep respect for Thomas Ho. I know him to possess extraordinary depth of knowledge with razor sharp critical insight into high end audio. He is “The Man” in Hong Kong.

Leo, thank you for contributing to the audio community! We all appreciate it.

All the Best,

Joe

Happy Epilogue


Almost three weeks on since Thomas' visit and this morning I squeezed in a few hours of listening to find out what has cometh of the CS feet saga.

First, the good new is the "tightness" has gone. Now the sound stage is relaxed and opened, making audition a very pleasant and enduring experience. The best feature is such opening up of the sound stage has NOT come with any noticeable degree of loss in focus, definition or fuzzing of the sonic imaging. I would declare arrival at end point for the digital path with the use of CS feet. In terms of calendar days, it has been a long journey for me owed largely to my limited and then sporadic listening but I need to recognize the CS left no negative thumb print on the digital signal path in exchange for the benefits they wrought.

I have summoned up 2 old favorites to test Thomas' comments on the system having become "absolute rubbish in, absolute rubbish out" from the inclusion of CS. These are Du Pre / Barbirolli's EMI recording of Elgar Op 85 of 1965 and Argerich / Dutoit DGG recording of Tchaikovsky's Piano concerto Op. 23. of 1971 and they were delightful in every sense of the word. I have Du Pre's performance of Elgar in vinyl, CDs, SACDs, single layer SACDs but this was the first time I have heard in the first movement the "space" between the G string and the "C" string and the vibration of the G string as Du Pre sawed at it to produce the lowest notes. For Argerich playing Tchaikovsky, an eerie sense of perception of the movement of each key as she played is felt and that added a hitherto unknown sense of "being there" and correspondingly, being immersed in the music. This was such an intriguing observation that I had to wonder if it was recording specific. So out came Wilhelm Kempff's DGG recording of Beethoven's Moonlight sonata Op. 27 and it was a huge delight to find that the observation was not record specific.

If the CS might have slashed my modest collection of 300 +/- LPs, I am now prepared to forgive them for alleviating the pleasure of listening to those they spare.


Last we come back to "digital" vs. "analogue" in terms of extent of improvement from CS. For arbitration of this, I have turned to back to back listening of YoYo Ma / Kathryn Stott's "songs from the ARC of Life" (Sony Recording) and Anne Sophie Mutter's DGG "Live from Yellow Lounge". Both recent recordings over the past 18 months and both released and bought as both CDs and LPs. The answer is a BIG "Yes", the texture of the LP playback, the fuller body of the sound are noticeably better than their CD counterparts but this only became noticeable in direct back to back comparison. If I was playing an afternoon full of CD music, before the second CD is in, I could have forgotten about analogue and would not have thought the audio world is a lesser place because of that. It is a matter of conjecture to what extent the digital path has CS under both CDP and its PSU whereas the analogue side only has CS under the phono amp made any difference. Since I can't place the Gabriel's feet on CS and even if that was feasible, paying for 12 units does not appeal to me so I will let others find out and hopefully they would share their experience.

To celebrate this Epilogue, I played Wagner's Die Walkure (Bernstein CBS S30008) on vinyl with the volume cranked up before the family got up. The immersion effect of the CS conveyed an unmistakable sense of the breadth of being in the Grand Canyon, just gob smacking. If John Williams - Empire Strike Back put me amongst empire storm troopers as they marched past, then this put me in the Huey with Robert Duval.....

I will sign off here and count my blessings.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Co-Owner, Administrator
Some Changes and Additions to Center Stage Products

As they say in the audio industry things never stand still as change is always around the corner

It's difficult to comprehend that Center Stage is now almost one year old and seems to be gathering momentum with more and more inquiries and sales made.

To that extent I am happy to announce the following changes made to the Center Stage product

1. There has been a renaming of the existing two products to the following


The "Standard" size Center Stage Foot is now called the 0.8

The "Tall" size Center Stage foot is now called the 1.0


Lastly Joe's genius mind has been racing with ideas and I am happy to announce the release of the Center Stage 1.5 which comes with a very specific application for which the 1.5 foot was designed

There are three versions available:

Center Stage 0.8 – The Center Stage 0.8 is 13/16″ tall and is recommended for all front end components under 100 pounds.

Center Stage 1.0 – The Center Stage 1.0 is 1″ high and is recommended for use under cool running amplifiers positioned in racks away from loudspeakers as well as under front end components weighing over 100 pounds.

Center Stage 1.5 – The Center Stage 1.5 performs even better than the 0.8 and 1.0 versions and is especially helpful for amplifiers positioned close to loudspeakers and amplifiers that benefit from increased ventilation.

It is recommended that four feet be used under each component rather than three as the product is voiced best with four feet per component. The Center Stage 0.8 and 1.0 versions sell for $300 USD per foot. The Center Stage 1.5 version sells for $400 USD per foot. Further information about Center Stage can be found in Joe’s White Paper found at http://pitchperfectsound.com/joe-white-paper-2/.

The CS 1.5 is only just released and the first batch that I received was sold in 2 days. These 1.5 feet are vastly larger and weigh much more than the 0.8 and the 1.0 and are designed specifically for large heavy Class A solid state amplifiers as well as tube amps which require adequate ventilation. The size (1.5) is such that it will fit under virtually all components without the need of a shim. In the limited experience we have had with these 1.5 feet in customer's systems we are finding that there is virtually no degradation of sound for the first 2-3 days as is heard with the 08 and 1.0 feet.In other words the sonic benefit can be heard instantly with further improvement over the next 7 days. Simply put the 1.5 performs in an almost instant fashion.

The CS 1.5 takes much longer to mill than the other two feet and there is a 60-90day wait so for interested parties who want to preorder and get themselves in the queue, I have another 100 of the 1.5's on order and so far have several who have ordered and are in the queue
 

PeterA

Active Member
Dec 7, 2011
4,870
9
38
North Shore of Boston
It is recommended that four feet be used under each component rather than three as the product is voiced best with four feet per component.
Congratulations, Steve on adding to the product line. Could you please say a bit more about how these are "voiced"? I thought they were a neutral sounding product that allowed the individual character of each component to come through better but that they also created a more enveloping sense of sound and space in every system they are in. Do they have a particular "sound" that was achieved by listening to the product during development?

Also, if one chooses to spend the extra $100 per footer, are you saying that the 1.5 footers sound better than the smaller versions under all circumstances?