Center Stage 2M review by Christian Bayer, Image HiFi (Germany) Translated
We are extremely pleased to present the following review of our CS2M footers by Christian Bayer.
Perfect energy balance / exchange
Perfekter Energieausgleich: Gerätefüße Critical Mass Systems CenterStage2M
I wrote about the Critical Mass Systems (CMS) CenterStage2 footers for Image HiFi back in 2/2020. In the beginning, the road was bumpy because of the settling period which was not typical of any similar product I used in the past. I was not familiar with the physics that would generate my experience. I had to dig really deep into the explanations of CMS-Mastermind Joe Lavrencik to understand what he was talking about. Once I touched base, I became a true convert and have used the CMS CS2 footers ever since. Recently, I heard they might have become even better thanks to Lavrencik´s perfectionism. Really? I had to find out.
But please let me tell you a beautiful story first, before I go down the rabbit hole again. Mary Burmeister, an American therapist of Japanese descent, discovered a healing method called Jin Shin Jyutsu on a trip to Japan. Jin Shin Jyutsu is a method that is said to harmonize the life energy in our body. Burmeister turned into a Master of the Craft and later described the journey of a patient in one of her books. The man complained of strong headaches. After a few sessions she asked him how the headaches were and, miraculously, he replied: “What headaches?“
When I had to hand the original CS2 footers over to our photographer, I had a quasi-opposite experience. I began getting strong audiophile headaches once they were gone. I noticed how much better everything sounded when they were in place. Was I to believe this would all be improved even further, and not by a small margin, and not after a long run-in-period like before? I was skeptical and wondered what Joe Lavrencik could do to my beloved footers to carry out that quality jump.
First, I have to take a divergent path again and outline his basic ideas. The CS2M footers are supposed to produce an equilibrium or at least a very low key vibrational condition between themselves and the component they support. Lavrencik says: “We do not do “new physics” here. Everything is common knowledge, the CS2M simply are the improved interpretation and execution of common physical laws.“ Thus he applies the Second law of Thermodynamics, which says that electromechanical and dynamic systems like audio components reach a state of disarray after some use. To recreate the desired equilibrium the CS2M footers reduce heat generated by unusable energy (vibration) permeating throughout the room through the operation of the devices creating music. Room vibration will invade the circuit boards, resistors, capacitors etc through the chassis bringing with it an increase in heat from excess unusable energy. Additional vibrations that might be generated by the footer itself and those from the support are dissipated.
Lavrencik uses the latest knowledge of material science to build his feet like this: specific alloys of wolfram (tungsten), carbon und cobalt, titanium and aluminum plus a very specific combination of a copper alloy and adhesives for the upper gasket. The top cover is a blackened paper, that forms the most neutral partition of the footers top and the bottom of the component. I wondered how he deals with all the internal resonances of the materials he uses? Well first he only uses highest grade materials. Their processing yet follows a new level of precision and they are placed within the footer in a particular order and dimension that took years to finalize. These criteria, choice of materials, grading, processing, dimension and positioning sequence are really crucial, he says.
In a chat, Lavrencik uses a gripping picture, that of a sonic finger print, meaning frequencies that are not in balance with each other develop a certain sonic signature through the transmission of vibration that one may like or not but sure is not part of the original musical information. This signature - may it be from the support or an equipment foot - now changes the sound. This is where he jumps in and adds another element of construction. With CS2, he increased the damping in the footers until the result was to his liking. With the CS2M he changed the process: he literally stuffed the footer with damping and took away pieces in extremely small fractions to get a better result. With CS2M, he uses a precise die-cutting process to replicate its crucial damping structure down to 10/thousandths of an inch.
All of this results in a not so subtle audible improvement over the older CS2 footers. I say this without equivocation, because I did easily A/B old and new from the same position under the same components that I used the old version with for more than 2 years. The smallest version (CS2M 0.8) finds it’s new home under my CD-Player, the medium one (CS2M 1.0) under my phonostage. Almost immediately I hear a more relaxed sound, like your osteopath loosening a blockage in your back. The old CS2 version “sounded“ really, really good, the new CS2M makes a jump to outstanding. The best part about it is, that the results are almost immediate. It doesn´t take days or even weeks with fluctuations between “much better and worse” on some days before they finally settle in. This makes life for everyone easier. After a few days I hear a certain “freshness“ in the sound comparable to a spring breeze clearing the room of the last bits of winter’s funk. And in one more subtle but audible step the last little bit of harshness went away from bass attacks as well.
Everything sounded softer, more colorful, tidier, faster, unadulterated, more natural - simply flawless. I had not expected such a sonic boost and can only recommend to try these footers, before you change your components. But be aware that you won’t want to listen without them anymore. You know, I only want to prevent any audiophile headaches here.