Friday, February 14, 2014
In Support of Equipment Supports
"I am Pichet!"
Pichet is a distributor and importer from Thailand who always comes to visit Colleen and me in our room at CES. The quote above is how he always announces his arrival. I'm not going to ask why his business card says Chen Paul with PICHET scrawled along the top in block letters--it just reminds me too much of that scene in Barton Fink where Chet the hotel clerk hands his business card to the titular guest, and it just says CHET in, mysteriously, the same handwriting as Pichet.
That's not to say Pichet isn't legitimate in any way. He's very well known in the audio industry. Colleen's known him forever. He represents such brands as Wilson Benesch, Usher, LAMM, Hansen Audio, Playback Designs and more. He's the real deal. But he is truly a salesman in the best sense of the word, and he's usually visiting us to see if we're interested in any of his products. I'm not talking about Wilson Benesch or LAMM, brands I'd normally jump at, but the stuff coming from the other direction--the Far East--and I'm still a little skittish on that subject. But he's insistent, and he likes to tell me to keep things and get back to him later. I once bought a new car I didn't need in the same exact way.
To his credit he brought a small two-way bookshelf speaker that was actually made in Denmark. It was well-made and attractive...for a two-way bookshelf. (You know I keeeed. I love two-way monitors and think they're beautiful.) We didn't have a chance to listen to it, mostly because there was only the one, but I'd welcome an audition some day. But then he gave me a little acrylic box packed with these four little equipment supports.
You know, equipment supports. Footers. Thingies you stick underneath your components. Whatever you want to call them. I haven't really used them in years. Back in the '90s I used the Black Diamond Racing cones under all my gear, but I got out of the habit of sticking them under all those heavy boxes when I became an audio reviewer because I was always swapping things in and out, something that continues to this day--albeit for a different reason. Most of the electronic components I represent already have substantial support feet that were designed specifically for the product. So I don't think about it much these days. Just ensure you're using a decent equipment rack and you'll probably be fine, according to me.
Probably. But then there's these things, Pichet's little footers. They're nicely machined and shiny, but as Pichet says, they're not insanely expensive for what they are. In fact, they're downright cheap. I think he said "Something like $80 for a set of four, that's all!" Then he mentioned another equipment support manufacturer who "charges $1000 for basically the same thing!" Now I'm not going to say that these little metal pucks, which retail for a mere $20 each (same as a single Black Diamond Racing cone back in the '90s) outperform something that costs $250 per puck. But I will say that for $80, these look really nice.
So I placed them under my Unison Research Unico CDE CD player, where I thought it would do the most good--I've always heard the biggest differences when placing footers or vibration control devices under source components like CD players and turntables. And while I'm far from the tweakiest audiophile on the planet, I did hear a rather subtle difference almost immediately. The sound was slightly more relaxed and organized, and the soundstage expanded in the rear. (That's what she said.)
You've probably noticed that I haven't mentioned the manufacturer or even the brand name of these footers. That's because I'm supposed to call Pichet if I "like what I hear." Then I can get "more information." For now, I do have a few clues. First of all, it says Tombo Audio Products on the acrylic case. I also have Pichet's website address, which is www.audiocomgroup.com. His company's name is ACG, for the record.
But I do like these. So for now, I'm going to leave these in place under the CDE.