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Ultimate Vibration Control

Audio Equipment Review By: Fi Magazine, Lars Fredell

The 'VR" in Silent Running Audio's new VR Series audio isolation system does not stand for 'virtual reality,' although in some respects I guess it could. Kevin Tellekamp's latest creation is far from "virtual;" it is very real, indeed. Silent Running Audio, a Long Island-based company founded by Tellekamp in 1994, is perhaps best known for its remarkable equipment stands and isolation bases in the more esoteric strata of high-end audio (for an explanation of their technology, please see my mini-review of the SRA's OHIO CLASS isoBASE in Ultimate Audio, Spring 1999). Their designs are component specific, that is, tailored to an individual component in terms of size, weight and weight distribution. This limits their usefulness to a particular component and it also makes them relatively costly.

High Impact Accessories However, the SRA VR audio isoBASE seems to outperform any other similar device that I have had the opportunity to try, so it is well worth the price. in my book, if you're looking for the ultimate solution to unwanted vibrations, this might just be the ticket.

Tellekamp admits to being somewhat mystified by the popularity of various pneumatic component supports that have been introduced in recent years. 'Since when is air a good vibration eliminator?' he queries rhetorically. 'The vibrations from the audio speakers to your ears pass relatively unhindered from the air!' (He acknowledges that there are very fine, and expensive pneumatic platforms for laboratory microscopes, but that these work on a different principle with expansion chambers and the like.)

"Air might be better than a steel or wood shelf, but that doesn't make it good, at least not in my opinion.' He suggests: 'Try to put some foam between you and your speaker drivers to see what happens to the sound. Foam is better than air. As a matter of fact, at 70 degrees Fahrenheit sound travels through air at 1087 ft/sec. An SRA isoBASE with its several foam layers cuts the rate of propagation to 518 ft./sec.... Through the weakest layer!"

Esoteric foams are the key to Silent Running Audio's audio isolation devices- many layers of different density foam. Each layer handles a specific frequency range. The component sits on a platform, which is separated from an inner 'RAFT' (with its cone feet) by foam modules. This forces any vibration, whether structural or component specific, to pass through the foam modules, which creates friction that turns into heat. The heat changes the durometer of the module and thus optimizes the effectiveness of the base at that particular support point. Foam module density determines the ability to handle weight. That's why SRA pays attention to a component's weight distribution over its footprint. These types of esoteric foam are utilized in so-called 'stealth' technology by, among others, the defense industry.

All of this requires a lot of work by hand, an expensive process, and that's the reason the original SRA OHIO audio isoBASE was fairly pricey (well, not really... certainly a lot cheaper that a component upgrade that might produce a similar improvement in a system) and out of reach of many audiophiles. To remedy this, SRA has developed the new VR series isolation bases.

The Silent Running Audio VR series isolation base(as in Very Rigid) is a cost-effective design based on the more expensive OHIO-class platforms and incorporating many of the same materials. The VR takes a slightly different approach to eliminating the vibrations, the most obvious of which is the layout. The VR series uses a lightweight external 'pre-RAFT" that allows for space necessary for SRA to use their own proprietary super rigid materials in the design of the enclosures.

According to Tellekamp, their system's rigidity, not its mass, allows the VR series of component bases to rival any other isolation device available. Similar to the OHIO-class of bases, the VR is built component specific and, like the original T-Ford, it comes in one color, an attractive medium gray finish.

I have a combination of OHIO Class isoBASE(under my LAMM amplifiers) and VR Series isoBASE(front-end and speakers) isoBASEs in my system, each one added after careful comparisons with other devices such as the LaserBase, various cones and pucks, etc. I find them to be superior to anything else I've tried in terms of their effect on the sound in my room; they have proven particularly successful under my speakers and front-end.

My Verity Audio Parsifal Encores have always been anchored to my carpeted listening room floor by pointed cones or spikes. Sitting in my preferred listening position, approximately 11 feet from the plane of the speakers, I could feel significant vibrations from the suspended wooden floor coming up through my legs and the sofa. Once I put VR isoBASEs under the speakers, these vibrations disappeared. This means that the bases also prevented them from affecting my front-end components, which are located in racks placed on the same floor (not an ideal situation). This was a very obvious, purely physical, demonstration of
the effectiveness of these audio isolation platforms.

After introducing the VR Series isoBASES to my front end as well, I sat down for some serious listening. The sound had improved rather dramatically, especially in terms of focus and harmonic purity. Images had greater integrity and were much more 'visible' in the depth dimension. They were better "contoured," with great tightness and no perceptible smearing. 'Pinpoint" is a good descriptor here. The bass improved in definition and punch and also seemed to gain a measure of audio clarity.

Overall, I feel that my system has elevated to a new level of sound resolution and detail since I incorporated the Silent Running Audio VR isoBASEs. These are really quite exceptional products, providing a level of isolation and resonance elimination that is hard to come by with other isolation devices. It is too bad that US-based audio retailers have not discovered these products so that more audiophiles can get a chance to hear and experience what good resonance control can do for a stereo system. Highly recommended audio isolation equipment.

-Lars Fredell

*All orders once accepted are final.

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