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

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Hey Steve, I have been waiting to see if Joe and son would come up with footers for speakers like was mentioned in forum. Are there problems that were not expected? Are they working on it or did problems arrive? Thanks marc
Joe has the beta versions of the speaker feet. They will come in 2 sizes. Release date has not been announced yet. I’ve seen photos of them
 

Mobiusman

Well-Known Member
May 25, 2010
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I have been using CMS footers since their first beta test and found them to be remarkable, and improving with every iteration. Fortunately, the awkward break-in period has also improved and shortened, with the 1.5's being far and away the best of the three sizes. I have them throughout my system and no longer consider them accessories, but rather part of the cost of each piece of equipment.

My last system upgrade was a big one, chronicled on WBF under "My Bucket List Sound System". My current core electronics are VAC with a Statement 450IQ S amp. Since the amp is two chassis and heavy at well over 200 pounds, I have had 4 1.5 footers under the power supply and 4 more under the amplifier section which sits on top of the power supply. Since the combined height of the amp chassis is too high for my rack it has been sitting on the floor on a thin area rug between my VSA Ultra 9's using the 8 1.5 CMS footers, producing beautiful sound for almost a year.

Today, I did a simple experiment that for once cost no money, but improved the sound once again, by giving the footers a better base, namely a 1.5" slab of slate that the 4 1.5 footers under the power supply now sit on, with the amplifier still stacked on top of the PS with another 4 1.5 footers. Immediately the sound improved somewhat in the way I expect CMS footers to enhance the sound. Now after 8 hours in this configuration, the sound has continued to improve beyond the magnitude of benefit from the first footers I beta tested when they first came out several years ago.

The same was true with my Taiko SGM Extreme (100 pounds) with 4 1.5 footers, whose sound improved with the addition of each of the four 1.5 footers in rapid succession because I could not insert all 4 of them them and hold the Extreme, so I added one in each corner after hefting the Extreme on the the shelf and then rapidly inserted a footer in each corner with immediate improvement, which rapidly leveled off around 7-10 days. Each addition to the chain makes the entire chain sound better, as did the addition of MasterBuilt Ultra PC's, IC's and speaker wire.

My only conclusion is that everything matters, especially as your system quality improves.

Bravo Joe and Steve.
 

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marksn1

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Jul 18, 2015
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Hi Steve;

Just wanted to drop you a note to let you know the results from the placement of the CS2’s. As a famous Monkee once said, “Im a Believer”!!!!!! These things are pretty incredible. It takes some patience and there is a definite need to engage restraint as you are waiting for the footers to actually settle in but, once you do, you’re definitely in for a treat. I wouldnt have believed it since they look like miniature hockey pucks but boy looks are really deceiving. As you know, I have a “good” system. Not quite as high end as most in WBF but, certainly respectable. Having added a pair of Von Schweikert ESE’s recently, I had renewed interest in getting the best sound possible out of my system and adding these footers were certainly a great addition! Sound stage completely opened up and as many of those that have tried these commented, “there is a 3 dimensionality” that comes into play that was there before but now it is ever present. Bass tightens up but also becomes explosive at the right times. I happen to believe that my speakers are some of the best in the marketplace but, adding the CS2”s to my equipment have brought them to another level. Im excited and appreciate your help in providing another step in the pathway of having the music be great music and not just great sound.

Thank you again, Im sure I will be back in touch as I can feel a set of the LS series in my future!

All the best,
Mark
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Thanks Mark

I appreciate your feedback. These are remarkable pieces of equipment as I consider them system changers. Now with the release of the LS Series they take one's system to an even higher level
 

CKKeung

Well-Known Member
Jun 18, 2011
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Hong Kong
The Center Stage2 LS Series of footers have finally arrived at Hong Kong.

They are huge!
IMG-20201211-WA0046~2.jpg

But so is their effect.
My friend Leo tried them with a YG Acoustics Hailey2.2 speaker at Famous AV, the HK dealer of both brands.
The Hailey2.2 seemed to have been transformed into Sonja2.2 !!!
:eek::eek::eek:

IMG-20201211-WA0051~2.jpg
 
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QuadDiffusor

VIP/Donor
Apr 3, 2017
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Hong Kong
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I auditioned one set of the CS2-0.8 yesterday (under my DAC), and was astonished! So I promptly went all-in today. Component shelf height restrictions constrained me to the 0.8”s for my Aurender, Denafrips Avatar, and Cybershaft OP21A-D, but my Select II DAC and JRDG 725s2 monoblock amps will be enjoying the 1.0”s.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
View attachment 74566
I auditioned one set of the CS2-0.8 yesterday (under my DAC), and was astonished! So I promptly went all-in today. Component shelf height restrictions constrained me to the 0.8”s for my Aurender, Denafrips Avatar, and Cybershaft OP21A-D, but my Select II DAC and JRDG 725s2 monoblock amps will be enjoying the 1.0”s.
Have you considered 1.5's under your amps??
 

QuadDiffusor

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Apr 3, 2017
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Have you considered 1.5's under your amps??
Hi Steve, no I haven’t. I never quite understood the relative cost/performance proposition. Using the price of a set of four 0.8s as a base, the 1.0s are 1.85x, and the 1.5s are 2.90x.

Are the 1.0s twice as good as the 0.8s? And are the 1.5s REALLY three times better than the 0.8s? At some point, the price inelasticity model breaks down, as most consumers will inevitably apply this relative-value ruler. There is indeed a threshold where heathy scepticism turns into incredulity.

I know that high-end audio “components” are a near-perfect example of a luxury good, but as a business, the economic sweet spot for maximizing profits is to optimize prices RELATIVE to the shifting supply/demand curve. In other words, adjusting prices so more will be sold - assuming that the production of the goods can be scaled without compromising performance/quality, etc. The natural equilibrator of prices is competition, but I guess there are no viable competitors at this point, hence the monopolistic pricing (for now)?

Initially, the ads and reviews rather unequivocally stated “the heights of the feet cater to the clearance requirements of your components, for clearing/lifting existing (built-in feet) above its base, as well as for adequate ventilation. Otherwise, the performance of the different feet are comparable”

Then the narrative changed to “well actually, the taller the better; rest assured that you won’t be getting too much of a good thing, that the taller models won’t OVER-PROCESS or add/subtract the gestalt of the music”.

Guess I’ll just have to hear them for myself, once my “lesser” family of CS footers settle down in a few weeks’ time. ;-)

Apologies for my very long rant, but I guess it’s just my way of saying that I love the CS2s, but the prices for the 1.5“s are in Unobtainium territory for me.
 
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Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Well let me try to give the short answer as to the differences. Clearly the size of the footed must exceed the height of the stock foot. Almost all stock feet are less than 0.8" tall so in effect one could make the point of inly using 0.8 CS feet and many people do

I tell people to consider 1.0's at the very least under their amplifiers but if one's amplifiers are very heavy the 1.5's would be the recommended choice

Having said that here is how I try to convey meaning to the value of each Center Stage foot. IMO the CS2 1.5" is the "full Monty". If you want to experience the very best of what CS brings to a system the 1.5 is the one. So for argument sake, let's assign a value of $1 to the CS2 1.5. With that in ind I then quantify what the other two sizes bring to the table in relation to the 1.5.IMO the CS2 1.0 is therefore worth about $0.85-$0.90 (depending on the system) and the CS2 0.8 is worth about $0.80. One could argue that there is not that much difference so why bother. Simply put, with each Center stage foot progression, one gets more of what Center Stage is all about. When one uses the CS2 1.5 they are hearing the very best of what Center Stage offers.

In my system I have 16 CS2 1.5's under my Lamm ML3 (dual mono, dual power supply, 4 boxes=16). I also use the CS2 1.5 under only 2 of my front end components, my Lampizator Pacific and my Taiko Extreme

So in my system I have 24 CS2 1.5's

I used to have the entire rest of my front end components sitting on CS2 0.8's and I was very pleased until I decided to try using all CS2 1.0 which I now use. I use 40 CS2 1.0 under all my remaining front end components. The switch from 0.8 to 1.0 definitely created an uptick in the sound quality

I'm betting you'll love the 0.8's but once they settle and you know the distinct sonic improvements try a set of 1.0's under either your DAC or preamp and you'll soon understand how each size larger foot brings more sonic improvement. I bought mine each time as I could afford them. There is no question in my mind that the more sets used in a system the better the sound.

The only final caveat is that as great as the CS2 1.5 is , it is not recommended for smaller or lighter components as the foot might likely be too heavy and overdamping might occur. I have a good friend who is a member here and he has 20 of the CS 0.8's in his system. He had an opportunity to loan the same number of CS2 1.5's and switched these under his components. After they settled, his comments to me were that the CS2 0.8 sounded better as his gear was very small and light weight. His feelings were that the 1.5's over damped his system.

Bottom line is there are proper indications for using the 1.5's, to wit, large, heavy components that give off a lot of heat and need some breathing room. Typically amplifiers behave wonderfully with the 1.5's. Under my Lampi Pacific and my Taiko EXTREME they are terrific.

HTH but always remember that results with these different size feet are system dependent
 

QuadDiffusor

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Apr 3, 2017
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Hi Steve, thank you for explaining the relative performance and value proposition of the Center Stage 2 footers. Good points, also, regarding lightweight components likely becoming overdamped with the 1.5s.

We audiophiles are well aware of the reality of diminishing returns, and how extracting the very last percentages of performance from our components and systems are often costly endeavors. May I share a few calculations?

First, "So for argument sake, let's assign a value of $1 to the CS2 1.5. With that in mind I then quantify what the other two sizes bring to the table in relation to the 1.5.IMO the CS2 1.0 is therefore worth about $0.85-$0.90 (depending on the system) and the CS2 0.8 is worth about $0.80. One could argue that there is not that much difference so why bother. Simply put, with each Center stage foot progression, one gets more of what Center Stage is all about."

Assigning a base performance of say 90 points to all of the (many) components in one's base system, let's assume that the CS2 1.5 footer will improve the component's performance by 5 pts. to 95 (let's be very generous!) with the CS2-1.5, and +4.5 pts. with the CS2-1.0, and +4.0 pts. with the CS2-0.8.

Summarizing ; if base performance = 90/100 pts.
CS2-0.8 >> 94 pts. $960/set, or $240 per point
CS2-1.0 >> 94.5 pts. $1,780 per set, or $395 per point
CS2-1.5 >> 95 pts. $2,780 per set, or $556 per point
It seems to me that the 0.8s and 1.0s deliver the best value.

Next, "So in my system I have 24 CS2 1.5's".
That's a MSRP of $16,680.
Unobtanium! :)
 
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Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
If you're happy, then that is all that matters.

In my system and for my ears. the rewards from placing 1.5's under the proper gear is simply too great to ignore
 

QuadDiffusor

VIP/Donor
Apr 3, 2017
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This reviewer on YouTube gave the CS2-1.5 a very fair and honest opportunity to shine over a 30-day period for his Boulder 2150 monoblock amplifiers; unfortunately, he couldn't wait to get them OUT of his system! Skepticism is an extremely healthy default attitude, as well as keeping expectation neutral amidst the usual onslaught of marketing hooks and punches. The reviewer actually offered some great advice towards the end, so it's not all bad news for the CS2-1.5 footers

In my opinion, a "money back guaranteed" promise by Critical Mass Systems would also be a very healthy tweak in its sales policy, assuaging potential fears and result in both happier customers and larger net sales of the CS2 product family. To be honest, I'm already starting to feel a bit of buyer's remorse and kicking myself (gently) for not having negotiated that exact exit option from the dealer when I semi-impulse-purchased a boat load (of 24) last week. ;-)


BTW, it's Day Three for me, and I'm starting to hear the dreaded but expected decent in my CS2 footers' sonic performance. Fingers crossed that the ascent will take me to higher highs - I'm eagerly awaiting for mine to "settle", so I'll have the opportunity to do a A-B (with/without) comparison; I'll be conducting my standard routine (which involve some proprietary recordings and techniques) to critically audition in super high resolution the "sound" of the CS2-1.0 footers in my amplifier by doing a live, real time, side-by-side comparison. Stay tuned, folks!
 
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sbnx

Well-Known Member
Mar 28, 2017
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This reviewer on YouTube gave the CS2-1.5 a very fair and honest opportunity to shine over a 30-day period for his Boulder 2150 monoblock amplifiers; unfortunately, he couldn't wait to get them OUT of his system! Skepticism is an extremely healthy default attitude, as well as keeping expectation neutral amidst the usual onslaught of marketing hooks and punches. The reviewer actually offered some great advice towards the end, so it's not all bad news for the CS2-1.5 footers

In my opinion, a "money back guaranteed" promise by Critical Mass Systems would also be a very healthy tweak in its sales policy which will assuaging potential fears and result in both happier customers and larger net sales of the CS2 product family. To be honest, I'm already starting to feel a bit of buyer's remorse and kicking myself (gently) for not having negotiated that exact exit option from the dealer when I semi-impulse-purchased a boat load (of 24) last week. ;-)


BTW, it's Day Three for me, and I'm starting to hear the dreaded but expected decent in my CS2 footers' sonic performance. Fingers crossed that the ascent will take me to higher highs - I'm eagerly awaiting for mine to "settle", so I'll have the opportunity to do a A-B (with/without) comparison; I'll be conducting my standard routine (which involve some proprietary recordings and techniques) to critically audition in super high resolution the "sound" of the CS2-1.0 footers in my amplifier by doing a live, real time, side-by-side comparison. Stay tuned, folks!
All tweaks, like footers, are system dependent. The one thing you can for sure take away from his review is that they did make a difference. He just didn't like what they did to the Boulder sound. Looks like he is trying them under the D'Agostino amps now.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
This reviewer on YouTube gave the CS2-1.5 a very fair and honest opportunity to shine over a 30-day period for his Boulder 2150 monoblock amplifiers; unfortunately, he couldn't wait to get them OUT of his system! Skepticism is an extremely healthy default attitude, as well as keeping expectation neutral amidst the usual onslaught of marketing hooks and punches. The reviewer actually offered some great advice towards the end, so it's not all bad news for the CS2-1.5 footers

In my opinion, a "money back guaranteed" promise by Critical Mass Systems would also be a very healthy tweak in its sales policy which will assuaging potential fears and result in both happier customers and larger net sales of the CS2 product family. To be honest, I'm already starting to feel a bit of buyer's remorse and kicking myself (gently) for not having negotiated that exact exit option from the dealer when I semi-impulse-purchased a boat load (of 24) last week. ;-)


BTW, it's Day Three for me, and I'm starting to hear the dreaded but expected decent in my CS2 footers' sonic performance. Fingers crossed that the ascent will take me to higher highs - I'm eagerly awaiting for mine to "settle", so I'll have the opportunity to do a A-B (with/without) comparison; I'll be conducting my standard routine (which involve some proprietary recordings and techniques) to critically audition in super high resolution the "sound" of the CS2-1.0 footers in my amplifier by doing a live, real time, side-by-side comparison. Stay tuned, folks!
I watched that and listened. I made comments but he deleted them

Bottom line is he removed his CS 1.5's too soon and what he was reporting on each day was nothing more than the footers settling. He felt day 30 was the magic day when the clouds would part and the sound would be perfect. He simply removed his footers too soon. He reported hearing changes in the feet which were the signs that the feet were still settling. Simply put that video was totally deceptive as he was listening and reporting daily to all of the negative settling that was still going on. each system follows it's own course as these are system dependent. We have many satisfied Boulder users as well as users of the gigantic D'Agostino Relentless all with positive results

IMO you have already developed an obvious negative bias to the footers by your very comments

Once again the time to settle is system dependent. Some will settle in 10-14 days whereas others take longer. In that video Jay says it is ok for tubes and caps to take time to settle but not these feet. This guy is simply misinformed and has no clue as to the physics behind these feet. When I asked him about 2nd Law of Thermodynamics he had no clue except to say that he removed them on day 30 and the wonderful sound of his amp returned and "he knows amps as he has owned 300 different amps"
 

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