Recently we received some new isolation products for review. My tech, Rick, and I set aside some time on a slow Saturday to audition them. In the system we chose to use, the speakers were on spikes to pierce the carpet and couple to the concrete slab foundation (common construction here in Texas). The spikes provide a solid, stable footing that allows for precise adjustment and leveling.
We spent a few minutes listening to the system on several different cuts to establish a baseline before making changes. First up were speaker footers that replaced the spikes. Being careful not to move the speakers, the spikes came out and new footers went in. It only took a few notes to recognize the rather dramatic change in sound. The fast and dynamic quality, so prized in the system before the swap, morphed into a slower, less defined character, losing much of the impact, low-level resolution and suddenness heard previously. Essentially, the system lost excitement. So, the spikes went back on.
To our amazement, after re-installing the spikes, most of the qualities that made the system so enticing before were absent! Yes, the system moved back toward the original character, but a great deal of magic was gone. What could have happened? Had we moved the speakers slightly? No. Could the cables have been moved enough to make the difference? Extremely unlikely. So, what then?
Checking the spikes, I realized the jam nuts used to lock the spikes into place were only finger tight. Surely, that couldn’t be the only reason. But indeed it was! Simply tightening the jam nuts restored the system to all its original glory!
Here at Galen Carol Audio, we are mindful of the little things when dialing-in a system, but this experience underscored the importance of "seemingly" inconsequential details.