Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Coming Soon - Mad Scientist Audio Footers

I've been developing some footers to place under equipment, and the performance is such now that I think they are ready to release.

Please note - these are just prototypes and are rougher than the production version.

How they came about is interesting.. An acquaintance, Richard, who runs Krebs Upgrades, has a bad case of the audio disease. He has access to CNC machines and he makes some rather odd-looking but amazing-sounding footers - they consist of a square block of duralumin, about 2"x2"x1", with the top half of a steel ball protruding from the top. There's a bunch of clever stuff going on inside the block.

I heard them first at my house when he and some others came over to "play stereos". I was gobsmacked. I'd not heard footers make this sort of difference before. Especially ones that look like a washing machine part ;)

Richard had been working on these for years, but didn't seem have any (immediate) plans to turn them into a product. They would have been pretty expensive - he said they cost about us$500 each to make, a lot of which is the CNC time.

This encounter got my mind racing, and I set about experimenting with footers. After making several dozen, I got the chance to try them again versus Richard's footers.

That was a bust. It took all of 3 seconds to hear that they were not in the same class. Richard said "They sound phasey, all over the place, they will give you a headache". I had to agree.

Back to the drawing board...

This time I think I figured some important things out about how these magic footers were working. Of course, any discussion of footers in the audio world will usually involve mentioning the industry leader, Still Points. These expensive and beautifully made footers are very good and very expensive. Or so I've been told. Richard said that he'd been lent some StillPoint Ultras a few months back, and he told me that he prefers his own footers. They work on a different principle, but seem to have the same basic aims. But a set of 3 Stillpoint Ultra 5 footers costs more than us$2000!

So after a complete redesign I got the breakthrough - I was late-night testing as usual, and tried the new design, followed by lots of shouting, waving my hands in the air, etc. I knew I'd found something. Some more development to refine and it was time to put them up against the reference - Richard's babies.

I got the chance to do this just recently. Usually this is a case of ritual humiliation, but this time was different. It wasn't so clear now which was best. Richard's probably, but it was close. I think there may have been some things that mine did better, and things that his did better. I'd need a longer listen on my system to both types to tell which I really preferred. Richard even used the words "sounds good", which is high praise.

Later on, I discovered that we hadn't even listened to the best sounding prototype - I'd only made that one a few hours before, and it was not fully set yet.

Currently I'm working towards the final product, which should look very similar to the picture above. They are 50mm diameter, 40mm high and weigh about 140g each. And yes, the ball is a lead fishing weight. Perfect for the job and cheap.

The best part is the price : starting at $99 for a set of three. Coming Soon (or email to harass me for pre-production units)

Update : here is a picture of the production units (and no, the ball is no longer a lead fishing weight).