Center Stage2 LS 1.5 Speaker Footer Experience

mountainjoe

Industry Expert
Mar 25, 2015
156
65
235
Bay Area, California
eigenaudio.com
As some of you have read in Steve's thread, Joe Lavrencik at Critical Mass Systems has developed footers for speakers leveraging the CS2 footer technology. I received a set of the LS 1.5 footers back in late October and mounted them under my Von Schweikert Ultra 55 speakers. I will present my experience and evaluation of these footers below.

First in full disclosure, I am a Von Schweikert Audio and Critical Mass Systems dealer - that said, I am an engineer by trade and try to keep an unbiased perspective on equipment I evaluate.

As a reference point, I was using IsoAcoustics Gaia I feet under my Ultra 55 speakers when I transitioned over to the LS 1.5 footers. The Gaia feet are subsequently my reference for this evaluation of the LS 1.5 footers. Also, I am using 4 footers under each speaker as recommended by Joe.

Also note that the Ultra 55 speakers include an active plate amp for the woofers - I was curious to see how these footers affect an active speaker design as Steve's Wlisons are not active. I was also a bit skeptical going in whether the cost of these footers under a ~$100k pair of speakers was justified given the outstanding level of performance already achieve by these speakers (as can be seen in John Atkinson's measurements from Michael Fremer's review of the Ultra 55 speaker - Stereophile Ultra 55 review.

As Steve has noted, the footers are large and hefty - they have significantly more mass than the other CS2 1.5 footers and a lot more than the existing Gaia I footers. The adjustability is well implemented making it easy to dial these into level. I did not use the adapters and simply placed the footers under each corner of the speaker, ensuring they were fully inside the bottom boundary of the speaker. My speakers are sitting with the back half on hardwood floor whereas the front half are on a Persian rug as you can see in the photo below:

IMG_4428.jpeg

I won't go through a day by day breakdown other than to note some key highlights that stood out to me.

Day 1 after 40 minutes of warmup: bass has lost definition and weight, vocals sound ok but upper bass/lower midrange are a bit congested and lacking clarity. Overall the spatial presentation is more enveloping and 3-dimensional, however the imaging is smeared making localization of instruments more vague and hard to localize.

Day 3: So far I've accumulated a total of 7 hours of playback. The sound is getting more integrated - clarity & decay in instruments is more apparent. Presentation is a bit forward & aggressive - "in your face" so to speak. Soundstage continues to open up and is very immersive. Also, most notable is noise floor of the system has dropped noticeably resulting in more air and a deeper background around instruments.

Day 4: 10 hours of playback. Bass is tightening up a bit and has more weight but still not back to normal. Good realism in vocals - very lifelike and "you are there" sound. The "in your face" presentation has largely improved to a more balanced presentation.

Day 6: 18 hours of playback. Bass is back in spades - deep and better articulation though it still has room to improve. Noise floor has dropped dramatically - I think this is more of a distortion floor as I believe it's related to removing the distortions induced by cabinet vibrations. The effect is profound resulting in the instruments playing out of a deep, inky black background. I thought my system noise floor was pretty low before (all of my electronics are sitting on a MAXXUM rack system with CS2 footers under all of it) but these footers have essentially dropped the noise floor to a level that is imperceptible.

Day 7: 21 accumulated hours of playback. Soundstage is very wide and enveloping. Each instrument stands out in stark clarity and is very well defined spatially speaking (in a natural way - not enhanced in any way). Leading edge attack and decay are the best I've heard from my system contributing to a clear and apparent sense of the recording space. Brass sounds great and has a high degree of realism.

At this point, I had a call with Joe about the vocals and he indicated others had a similar experience around this time related to dynamic compression in the vocal range. In my system this sounded a bit like vocals were emanating from a small, closed-in space. This persisted for 3-4 more days in varying degrees but eventually subsided.

After day 14 or so, the system was still improving though in more subtle, refined ways. Joe mentioned that some systems could take up to 3 weeks to fully converge so I kept playing and listening. Now after 21 days, I have to say these footers are a remarkable achievement in vibration management for speakers. The sound from my system has reached a level of refinement that I did not think was possible. I attribute this to several factors:

Distortion/noise floor is pretty much gone. Perhaps some other change in my system might lower the floor even further but the noise floor is so low now that I don't think any further improvement would be noticeable. This aspect alone of the footers would justify the cost imo - the result is that instruments appear out of a deep, inky, blackness with amazing imaging and clarity. FYI - all of my listening was done with my analog front end with the VdH Gran Cru cart.

Enveloping and immersive soundstage: Steve has covered this pretty well in his review. I'm not sure I'm experiencing this to the same level as Steve is, but I would have to hear his system in order to form a judgment. For me, this is definitely a significant improvement from the footers but is balanced with the other improvements listed here imo. In particular, the height of instruments in the soundstage is well defined as is the depth dimension.

Heightened sense of realism due to the above but also due to the improved clarity and attack/decay of instruments. The recording space is clearly evident and live recordings in particular give a very open rendition of the space (whether it's a large venue or a smaller jazz club). Also vocals are now rendered with such realism that it's sometimes shocking - as in your brain struggles with registering what sounds like a live voice with the fact that there is no other person in the room. The Ultra 55 mid-range driver and MB Ultra cabling achieves exceptional vocal renditions on their own so this is really a refinement of what this speaker is already capable of, but it is nonetheless impressive. In addition, layering & overdubbing of vocals and instruments is easily discriminated - every instrument is resolvable sonically and spatially.

Very natural overall presentation - I'm inclined to say that these footers bring out a very sweet, smooth sound but worry that this may be taken to mean that they are somehow euphonic or coloring the sound in some way. My observation is that these footers do not add anything to or color the sound in any way but rather they allow the full potential of your speakers to come through by removing vibration induced distortions and colorations. IME, they will not change the fundamental character of your speakers but they will draw out every bit of latent performance that stock or other aftermarket footers are leaving on the table.

Bass performance is also improved with tight articulation and low frequency extension. In this latter point, I don't think the footers are extending the low frequency response of the speakers per se, but rather they are allowing more well defined articulation of the low frequencies such that this range becomes more apparent to the listener. When listening to a standing bass for example, the plucking of the strings is very evident as is the harmonic resonance of the body of the bass.

For the TL : DR summary:

The sum result of installing the LS 1.5 footers under my Ultra 55 speakers is an enveloping, natural & realistic musical presentation that is emotionally and sonically immersive in a way I've not previously experienced. The improvement in the noise floor alone is something you have to experience to understand (at least in my system). These footers allow a deep emotional connection and realism to the music and a level of enjoyment that that for me, more than justifies their cost. Again, I don't think these footers will fundamentally change the character of your speakers, rather they will allow them to perform at their highest level of refinement by removing sonic artifacts and distortions introduced by cabinet vibrations.

I'm sure I've left out some observations but needless to say, I feel that these footers are now an essential element of my playback chain and I would not want to be without them. At the risk of sounding overly effusive and hyperbolic, I think Joe has designed a unique vibration management solution for speakers, unlike anything else I've tried in my system. These footers should be under serious consideration for anyone that wants to elevate the performance of their speakers to their ultimate potential while retaining their essential character and presentation.

Lastly, I should note that you should let these footers settle in for a full 21 days to realize the full benefit.
 

MRJAZZ

[Industry Expert]
Jan 21, 2014
236
60
235
As some of you have read in Steve's thread, Joe Lavrencik at Critical Mass Systems has developed footers for speakers leveraging the CS2 footer technology. I received a set of the LS 1.5 footers back in late October and mounted them under my Von Schweikert Ultra 55 speakers. I will present my experience and evaluation of these footers below.

First in full disclosure, I am a Von Schweikert Audio and Critical Mass Systems dealer - that said, I am an engineer by trade and try to keep an unbiased perspective on equipment I evaluate.

As a reference point, I was using IsoAcoustics Gaia I feet under my Ultra 55 speakers when I transitioned over to the LS 1.5 footers. The Gaia feet are subsequently my reference for this evaluation of the LS 1.5 footers. Also, I am using 4 footers under each speaker as recommended by Joe.

Also note that the Ultra 55 speakers include an active plate amp for the woofers - I was curious to see how these footers affect an active speaker design as Steve's Wlisons are not active. I was also a bit skeptical going in whether the cost of these footers under a ~$100k pair of speakers was justified given the outstanding level of performance already achieve by these speakers (as can be seen in John Atkinson's measurements from Michael Fremer's review of the Ultra 55 speaker - Stereophile Ultra 55 review.

As Steve has noted, the footers are large and hefty - they have significantly more mass than the other CS2 1.5 footers and a lot more than the existing Gaia I footers. The adjustability is well implemented making it easy to dial these into level. I did not use the adapters and simply placed the footers under each corner of the speaker, ensuring they were fully inside the bottom boundary of the speaker. My speakers are sitting with the back half on hardwood floor whereas the front half are on a Persian rug as you can see in the photo below:

View attachment 71559

I won't go through a day by day breakdown other than to note some key highlights that stood out to me.

Day 1 after 40 minutes of warmup: bass has lost definition and weight, vocals sound ok but upper bass/lower midrange are a bit congested and lacking clarity. Overall the spatial presentation is more enveloping and 3-dimensional, however the imaging is smeared making localization of instruments more vague and hard to localize.

Day 3: So far I've accumulated a total of 7 hours of playback. The sound is getting more integrated - clarity & decay in instruments is more apparent. Presentation is a bit forward & aggressive - "in your face" so to speak. Soundstage continues to open up and is very immersive. Also, most notable is noise floor of the system has dropped noticeably resulting in more air and a deeper background around instruments.

Day 4: 10 hours of playback. Bass is tightening up a bit and has more weight but still not back to normal. Good realism in vocals - very lifelike and "you are there" sound. The "in your face" presentation has largely improved to a more balanced presentation.

Day 6: 18 hours of playback. Bass is back in spades - deep and better articulation though it still has room to improve. Noise floor has dropped dramatically - I think this is more of a distortion floor as I believe it's related to removing the distortions induced by cabinet vibrations. The effect is profound resulting in the instruments playing out of a deep, inky black background. I thought my system noise floor was pretty low before (all of my electronics are sitting on a MAXXUM rack system with CS2 footers under all of it) but these footers have essentially dropped the noise floor to a level that is imperceptible.

Day 7: 21 accumulated hours of playback. Soundstage is very wide and enveloping. Each instrument stands out in stark clarity and is very well defined spatially speaking (in a natural way - not enhanced in any way). Leading edge attack and decay are the best I've heard from my system contributing to a clear and apparent sense of the recording space. Brass sounds great and has a high degree of realism.

At this point, I had a call with Joe about the vocals and he indicated others had a similar experience around this time related to dynamic compression in the vocal range. In my system this sounded a bit like vocals were emanating from a small, closed-in space. This persisted for 3-4 more days in varying degrees but eventually subsided.

After day 14 or so, the system was still improving though in more subtle, refined ways. Joe mentioned that some systems could take up to 3 weeks to fully converge so I kept playing and listening. Now after 21 days, I have to say these footers are a remarkable achievement in vibration management for speakers. The sound from my system has reached a level of refinement that I did not think was possible. I attribute this to several factors:

Distortion/noise floor is pretty much gone. Perhaps some other change in my system might lower the floor even further but the noise floor is so low now that I don't think any further improvement would be noticeable. This aspect alone of the footers would justify the cost imo - the result is that instruments appear out of a deep, inky, blackness with amazing imaging and clarity. FYI - all of my listening was done with my analog front end with the VdH Gran Cru cart.

Enveloping and immersive soundstage: Steve has covered this pretty well in his review. I'm not sure I'm experiencing this to the same level as Steve is, but I would have to hear his system in order to form a judgment. For me, this is definitely a significant improvement from the footers but is balanced with the other improvements listed here imo. In particular, the height of instruments in the soundstage is well defined as is the depth dimension.

Heightened sense of realism due to the above but also due to the improved clarity and attack/decay of instruments. The recording space is clearly evident and live recordings in particular give a very open rendition of the space (whether it's a large venue or a smaller jazz club). Also vocals are now rendered with such realism that it's sometimes shocking - as in your brain struggles with registering what sounds like a live voice with the fact that there is no other person in the room. The Ultra 55 mid-range driver and MB Ultra cabling achieves exceptional vocal renditions on their own so this is really a refinement of what this speaker is already capable of, but it is nonetheless impressive. In addition, layering & overdubbing of vocals and instruments is easily discriminated - every instrument is resolvable sonically and spatially.

Very natural overall presentation - I'm inclined to say that these footers bring out a very sweet, smooth sound but worry that this may be taken to mean that they are somehow euphonic or coloring the sound in some way. My observation is that these footers do not add anything to or color the sound in any way but rather they allow the full potential of your speakers to come through by removing vibration induced distortions and colorations. IME, they will not change the fundamental character of your speakers but they will draw out every bit of latent performance that stock or other aftermarket footers are leaving on the table.

Bass performance is also improved with tight articulation and low frequency extension. In this latter point, I don't think the footers are extending the low frequency response of the speakers per se, but rather they are allowing more well defined articulation of the low frequencies such that this range becomes more apparent to the listener. When listening to a standing bass for example, the plucking of the strings is very evident as is the harmonic resonance of the body of the bass.

For the TL : DR summary:

The sum result of installing the LS 1.5 footers under my Ultra 55 speakers is an enveloping, natural & realistic musical presentation that is emotionally and sonically immersive in a way I've not previously experienced. The improvement in the noise floor alone is something you have to experience to understand (at least in my system). These footers allow a deep emotional connection and realism to the music and a level of enjoyment that that for me, more than justifies their cost. Again, I don't think these footers will fundamentally change the character of your speakers, rather they will allow them to perform at their highest level of refinement by removing sonic artifacts and distortions introduced by cabinet vibrations.

I'm sure I've left out some observations but needless to say, I feel that these footers are now an essential element of my playback chain and I would not want to be without them. At the risk of sounding overly effusive and hyperbolic, I think Joe has designed a unique vibration management solution for speakers, unlike anything else I've tried in my system. These footers should be under serious consideration for anyone that wants to elevate the performance of their speakers to their ultimate potential while retaining their essential character and presentation.

Lastly, I should note that you should let these footers settle in for a full 21 days to realize the full benefit.
Interesting report. Just out of curiosity, what does the amount of “ Play Time”, have to do with the “ break-in” time..?. I thought these were passive devices, and the mass of the object ( the speaker being used), sitting on them allowed these “footers” , to properly settle, which apparently takes several weeks. Is there something about their design that requires the speakers being used to actually be playing music for them (the footers) to properly settle?
 
Last edited:

mountainjoe

Industry Expert
Mar 25, 2015
156
65
235
Bay Area, California
eigenaudio.com
Interesting report. Just out of curiosity, what does the amount of “ Play Time”, have to do with the “ break-in” time..?. I thought these were passive devices, and the mass of the object ( the speaker being used), sitting on them allowed these “footers” , to properly settle, which apparently takes several weeks. Is there something about their design that requires the speakers being used to actually be playing music for them ( the footers) to properly settle.
That’s a good question - with the original CS2 footers, we believe that playing the gear speeds up the settling time. I only noted the playback time for reference as I’m not sure that we know enough about the settling characteristics of these speaker footers to say one way or another if it speeds up settling time.

As a case in point, it seems that Steve’s setup settled much faster than my own and some others as related to me by Joe. Hopefully Joe will jump in and share his thoughts and observations around this phenomon.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
Nice summary Joe

my comments to Joe Lavrencik at CMS when he released these speaker feet was that he had hit a walk off home run as these speaker feet probably create an overall sonic benefit as good or better than center stage feet under all of ones electronics. IOW the benefit in my system from these LS 1.5 was enormous. I do believe the settle time is system dependent as well as the time played. My routine is to play music for 8 hours per day whereas it seems Joe was playing much less. Hence the longer settle in time with Joe as compared to my system
 

mountainjoe

Industry Expert
Mar 25, 2015
156
65
235
Bay Area, California
eigenaudio.com
Nice summary Joe

my comments to Joe Lavrencik at CMS when he released these speaker feet was that he had hit a walk off home run as these speaker feet probably create an overall sonic benefit as good or better than center stage feet under all of ones electronics. IOW the benefit in my system from these LS 1.5 was enormous. I do believe the settle time is system dependent as well as the time played. My routine is to play music for 8 hours per day whereas it seems Joe was playing much less. Hence the longer settle in time with Joe as compared to my system
Hi Steve - that might well explain the difference in settling time.
 

joelavrencik

Industry Expert
Nov 15, 2016
271
45
93
Chicago
www.criticalmasssystems.com
Interesting report. Just out of curiosity, what does the amount of “ Play Time”, have to do with the “ break-in” time..?. I thought these were passive devices, and the mass of the object ( the speaker being used), sitting on them allowed these “footers” , to properly settle, which apparently takes several weeks. Is there something about their design that requires the speakers being used to actually be playing music for them (the footers) to properly settle?
Hi MRJAZZ

The Center Stage2 product line is rooted in 2nd Law physics whereas other products are rooted in the 1st Law. The 1st-Law-centric approach to vibration reduction in our industry makes your question perfectly logical. Granted there must be, and is, a 1st Law component in the LS footers, but it is kept to a minimum.

The feet do not compress, so mass makes less difference with respect to the performance of the feet. Instead, the volume of the loudspeaker and the internal and external materials/joinery (note: I am extending the definition of joinery beyond woodworking) relative to the internal energy field produced are more important determinants of settling time.

A loudspeaker is a concentrated mass of vibrating energy. The cabinet stores energy and this causes entropy. Energy moves from a state of concentration to dissipation. The feet facilitate the dissipation of entropy and thereby change the state of equilibrium inside the cabinet. Unlike biodynamic systems which are irreversible, electromechanical systems can be reversible, but this takes time and, to answer your question, manifests when energy is present. As entropy is reduced, cabinet resonances diminish, and the engineering excellence of the loudspeaker is better heard. The bonus is that the feet cancel out their own noise and do not leave a thumbprint upon the cabinet, as Joe pointed out. So, the feet are designed to work in concert with the efforts of the loudspeaker designer to lower cabinet induced noise without interfering with the loudspeaker's engineering.

I hope this helps.
 
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joelavrencik

Industry Expert
Nov 15, 2016
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www.criticalmasssystems.com
This is a groundbreaking day for me, a professional triumph. Back in 2018, The Absolute Sound published my interview with Neil Gader in the January issue. Neil asked an important question, and here was my answer:

“Looking towards the future, how will high-end systems change in the next ten years or so?
Great question! There is an imaginary “wall” that exists at the front plane of the loudspeakers separating the musicians from the listener. We live with it every day and have come to accept it as “normal.” We’re going to knock down that wall by dramatically lowering the noise floor using new innovations in material science. You can’t do this with earbuds. The technology is already inside analog and digital components, and we’re catching up to them using material science innovations in our support systems today.”


Today, is the 1st day of a new era in high end audio. Center Satge2 technology has rendered the 4th wall ancient history. Dead. Gone. We have entered the era of “REALISM” in high end audio, the intersection of detail, musicality and emotional connection brought about by vanishing noise floors revealing the engineering genius poured into audio components.
Granted, knocking down the 4th wall may require combined CS2 technology for components and loudspeakers in some cases, but nonetheless I think this calls for a celebration.

From November 20, 2020 until December 31, 2020 in the United States and Canada, you can purchase 5 CMS LS1.5 ot LS1.0 feet and get the 6th free or 7 LS1.5 or LS1.0 feet and get the 8th free. If you get your order and payment into any US dealer or our Canadian Distributor by the 12/31/2020 deadline, this offer is good regardless of when we ship the feet.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of disclaimers/disqualifiers. Please note LS 1.5 and LS1.0 feet will not work with every loudspeaker design as the entire top surface of the foot must be covered by the bottom of the loudspeaker. CMS reserves the exclusive right to evaluate loudspeakers for applicability. If we feel the loudspeaker is not a candidate for the LS design, this offer is null and void. Also, it is important to purchase the quantity of LS1.5 or LS1.0 feet that equals the number of feet with which your loudspeaker was originally shipped. For example, if a pair of speakers were shipped with 6 feet, you should buy 6. If a pair of loudspeakers were shipped with 8 feet, you should buy 8 feet.

Today is a brand-new day for high end audio!
 
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Coimbra

Member
Dec 26, 2019
8
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This is a groundbreaking day for me, a professional triumph. Back in 2018, The Absolute Sound published my interview with Neil Gader in the January issue. Neil asked an important question, and here was my answer:

“Looking towards the future, how will high-end systems change in the next ten years or so?
Great question! There is an imaginary “wall” that exists at the front plane of the loudspeakers separating the musicians from the listener. We live with it every day and have come to accept it as “normal.” We’re going to knock down that wall by dramatically lowering the noise floor using new innovations in material science. You can’t do this with earbuds. The technology is already inside analog and digital components, and we’re catching up to them using material science innovations in our support systems today.”

Today, is the 1st day of a new era in high end audio. Center Satge2 technology has rendered the 4th wall ancient history. Dead. Gone. We have entered the era of “REALISM” in high end audio, the intersection of detail, musicality and emotional connection brought about by vanishing noise floors revealing the engineering genius poured into audio components.
Granted, knocking down the 4th wall may require combined CS2 technology for components and loudspeakers in some cases, but nonetheless I think this calls for a celebration.

From November 20, 2020 until December 31, 2020 in the United States and Canada, you can purchase 5 CMS LS1.5 ot LS1.0 feet and get the 6th free or 7 LS1.5 or LS1.0 feet and get the 8th free. If you get your order and payment into any US dealer or our Canadian Distributor by the 12/31/2020 deadline, this offer is good regardless of when we ship the feet.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of disclaimers/disqualifiers. Please note LS 1.5 and LS1.0 feet will not work with every loudspeaker design as the entire top surface of the foot must be covered by the bottom of the loudspeaker. CMS reserves the exclusive right to evaluate loudspeakers for applicability. If we feel the loudspeaker is not a candidate for the LS design, this offer is null and void. Also, it is important to purchase the quantity of LS1.5 or LS1.0 feet that equals the number of feet with which your loudspeaker was originally shipped. For example, if a pair of speakers were shipped with 6 feet, you should buy 6. If a pair of loudspeakers were shipped with 8 feet, you should buy 8 feet.

Today is a brand-new day for high end audio!

I own a Focal Grande III EVO. Does your footer improve this speaker? Regards Martin
 

joelavrencik

Industry Expert
Nov 15, 2016
271
45
93
Chicago
www.criticalmasssystems.com
Thank you for fast reply. I live in Portugal but your dealer has your footer not inhouse. I am interessted but don't want to buy " blind".
Hi Martin

Please be patient. With Covid affecting the world we are staggering the roll out of the feet. For now, we are concentrating on introducing the feet in the US and Canada. We will expand availability in the future. No worries.
 

Damon Von Schweikert

[Industry Expert]
Sep 15, 2016
45
89
105
California
www.vonschweikert.com
Hi mountainjoe ,

It was wonderful to read your comprehensive impressions of the new Center Stage2 LS 1.5 Speaker Footers, thanks for taking the time to create such a detailed post.

Leif and I found ourselves in the very honored position of participating in the beta test as well and our experiences were nearly identical to yours. I do not think I can add many new observations; you did such a great job covering it. But at the risk of being redundant, I’ll share our experience which support your own.

But before I do that, I think a little context is in order. One of the core principles my father adhered to and instilled in the culture of our design team is to always maintain an open mind and leave as many preconceptions as possible “at the door” before entering the evaluation process. You never know where the next advancement will come from and only by keeping an open mind will you minimize the chance of “missing it.”

And prejudice can manifest in many ways. In the case of CMS technology and the products they produce, I am very biased in favor of them. When I hear they have something new, I am eager to experience it and I have an expectation that it will deliver on the promise, often exceeding my preconceptions.

So I must fight against that when evaluating Joe’s work. I like to say I put on my skepticals beforehand; not unlike testing one of our new designs.

But CMS has earned that bias from us, Joe consistently delivers products that expand or shatter the current concept of what’s possible. And to piggyback on MountainJoe’s observations, they do it by removing artifacts from the playback, not coloring it in pleasing tones which from my experience is the pitfall for these types of components from other manufacturers.

For the last bit of context, here’s a post I made regarding the CMS Center Stage2 footers for electronic components. I did not then nor think now that it’s a controversial position, but some did so I’ll share it here.

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/thre...in-positive-feedback.26948/page-5#post-550293

To sum it up, these are MUST HAVE components for any permanent reference system installation and should be considered as an upgrade even before stepping up to more expensive components including in some cases our loudspeakers.

So now on to our beta testing observations…

Like with MountainJoe, we evaluated these on our ULTRA 55 and just like him, we needed roughly three weeks of settling to achieve the true scope of their performance enhancements. I don’t want to “bury the lead” here by speculating too heavily on why our loudspeakers might take longer than others aside from pointing out that we have an entirely unique approach to minimizing the impact of cabinet resonance and that probably factors into this.

But after three weeks, the improvement to the system is far more than I would ever have hoped for. As I said before, Leif and I had confidence going into the review process that we would experience an improvement. But we had no idea it would be as good as it was. Allow me to elaborate.

As with all CMS isolation components, the noise floor was much lower than without the footers; we attribute that to the elimination of previously indiscernible distortion caused by micro resonances. The unexpected side effect is that I found myself increasing the volume on our preamp from where I normally listen without experiencing the sensation that the sound was “too loud.” At the same time, the system demonstrated great percussive weight to the bass even at exceptionally low listening levels, to the point where you could have a conversation from across the room without raising your voice. For us, that is the sign of a great system with impressive dynamics at low levels and the CMS speaker footers only enhanced that experience.

The overall tonal balance of the system was noticeably more lifelike with sweet highs and extremely deep and weighty bass while retaining the speed and tautness we expect from our reference system.

I must point out an assumption we have with any system we setup with our loudspeakers. When done correctly, the system will sound organic and not as if the sound is originating from our speakers. This is best represented when you look directly at the speakers while listening to the system and in no way can you associate the sounds you’re hearing as coming from the speaker, as if they are entirely inanimate objects in the room. If we don’t achieve that, we know the system isn’t setup correctly or hasn’t fully broken-in or settled if recently moved. But with Joe’s speaker footers, this “disappearing act” is of a much greater magnitude than we’ve achieved without them.

But for me personally (I won’t speak for Leif here), the most unexpected and impressive aspect of the CMS speaker footers is how they’ve impacted the size of the soundstage.

One of the first comments we get from new listeners to our speakers is how wide and deep the sound stage is. That and our speed and tonal accuracy. We expect a sound stage that is very deep and projects well outside the width of the two speakers. But with the inclusion of these footers, I found the soundstage grew dramatically in every dimension. We use Roger Water’s Amused to Death as one of our test recordings. As you probably know, it was recorded with Q-Sound but if you’re not familiar, it utilizes phasing to steer sound around the room. Needless to say, it is impressive to experience but we use it as a setup recording because it requires precise placement in order to achieve the most dramatic performance. And it immediately highlights when a system isn’t imaging correctly. Leif and I can listen for only a few minutes of one track to immediately identify imaging issues. It is very helpful for setup as well as impressing listeners.

Well with the CMS speaker footers, the soundstage was far deeper and wider than I’m used to. But it was the height that really impressed me. With the track Perfect Sense Part 1, there’s the sound of rolling thunder the crosses the soundstage from left to right about 30 seconds into the track. What I experienced with the footers was the sound of thunder rolling over and behind my head as if I were in the soundstage. It was simply incredible! There are many moments like this in the recording but wow! This was unlike anything I’ve experienced before with our system. To put it simply, I can’t recommend these footers enough!

One last thing I would like to add to MountainJoe’s observation about the bass improvements. Joe is correct, the bass does not actually extend deeper but that IS the impression. This may be a poor analogy, but I liken it to ridding in a car versus riding a roller coaster or on a motorcycle. While the speed of the vehicles may be the same, the car is at least one step removed by being sealed up from the wind whereas the coaster or motorcycle give the “true’ sense of speed resulting in increased exhilaration.

By lowering the noise floor, the Center Stage2 LS 1.5 Speaker Footers remove a barrier of distortion that brings you closer to the source which in turns, grants you the increased exhilaration. This is something we pursue in all our designs and it’s why we have such a deep respect for Joe’s work.

But please don’t take my word for it. I think this must be experienced firsthand and is worth seeking out.
 
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mountainjoe

Industry Expert
Mar 25, 2015
156
65
235
Bay Area, California
eigenaudio.com
Hi mountainjoe ,

It was wonderful to read your comprehensive impressions of the new Center Stage2 LS 1.5 Speaker Footers, thanks for taking the time to create such a detailed post.

Leif and I found ourselves in the very honored position of participating in the beta test as well and our experiences were nearly identical to yours. I do not think I can add many new observations; you did such a great job covering it. But at the risk of being redundant, I’ll share our experience which support your own.

But before I do that, I think a little context is in order. One of the core principles my father adhered to and instilled in the culture of our design team is to always maintain an open mind and leave as many preconceptions as possible “at the door” before entering the evaluation process. You never know where the next advancement will come from and only by keeping an open mind will you minimize the chance of “missing it.”

And prejudice can manifest in many ways. In the case of CMS technology and the products they produce, I am very biased in favor of them. When I hear they have something new, I am eager to experience it and I have an expectation that it will deliver on the promise, often exceeding my preconceptions.

So I must fight against that when evaluating Joe’s work. I like to say I put on my skepticals beforehand; not unlike testing one of our new designs.

But CMS has earned that bias from us, Joe consistently delivers products that expand or shatter the current concept of what’s possible. And to piggyback on MountainJoe’s observations, they do it by removing artifacts from the playback, not coloring it in pleasing tones which from my experience is the pitfall for these types of components from other manufacturers.

For the last bit of context, here’s a post I made regarding the CMS Center Stage2 footers for electronic components. I did not then nor think now that it’s a controversial position, but some did so I’ll share it here.

https://www.whatsbestforum.com/thre...in-positive-feedback.26948/page-5#post-550293

To sum it up, these are MUST HAVE components for any permanent reference system installation and should be considered as an upgrade even before stepping up to more expensive components including in some cases our loudspeakers.

So now on to our beta testing observations…

Like with MountainJoe, we evaluated these on our ULTRA 55 and just like him, we needed roughly three weeks of settling to achieve the true scope of their performance enhancements. I don’t want to “bury the lead” here by speculating too heavily on why our loudspeakers might take longer than others aside from pointing out that we have an entirely unique approach to minimizing the impact of cabinet resonance and that probably factors into this.

But after three weeks, the improvement to the system is far more than I would ever have hoped for. As I said before, Leif and I had confidence going into the review process that we would experience an improvement. But we had no idea it would be as good as it was. Allow me to elaborate.

As with all CMS isolation components, the noise floor was much lower than without the footers; we attribute that to the elimination of previously indiscernible distortion caused by micro resonances. The unexpected side effect is that I found myself increasing the volume on our preamp from where I normally listen without experiencing the sensation that the sound was “too loud.” At the same time, the system demonstrated great percussive weight to the bass even at exceptionally low listening levels, to the point where you could have a conversation from across the room without raising your voice. For us, that is the sign of a great system with impressive dynamics at low levels and the CMS speaker footers only enhanced that experience.

The overall tonal balance of the system was noticeably more lifelike with sweet highs and extremely deep and weighty bass while retaining the speed and tautness we expect from our reference system.

I must point out an assumption we have with any system we setup with our loudspeakers. When done correctly, the system will sound organic and not as if the sound is originating from our speakers. This is best represented when you look directly at the speakers while listening to the system and in no way can you associate the sounds you’re hearing as coming from the speaker, as if they are entirely inanimate objects in the room. If we don’t achieve that, we know the system isn’t setup correctly or hasn’t fully broken-in or settled if recently moved. But with Joe’s speaker footers, this “disappearing act” is of a much greater magnitude than we’ve achieved without them.

But for me personally (I won’t speak for Leif here), the most unexpected and impressive aspect of the CMS speaker footers is how they’ve impacted the size of the soundstage.

One of the first comments we get from new listeners to our speakers is how wide and deep the sound stage is. That and our speed and tonal accuracy. We expect a sound stage that is very deep and projects well outside the width of the two speakers. But with the inclusion of these footers, I found the soundstage grew dramatically in every dimension. We use Roger Water’s Amused to Death as one of our test recordings. As you probably know, it was recorded with Q-Sound but if you’re not familiar, it utilizes phasing to steer sound around the room. Needless to say, it is impressive to experience but we use it as a setup recording because it requires precise placement in order to achieve the most dramatic performance. And it immediately highlights when a system isn’t imaging correctly. Leif and I can listen for only a few minutes of one track to immediately identify imaging issues. It is very helpful for setup as well as impressing listeners.

Well with the CMS speaker footers, the soundstage was far deeper and wider than I’m used to. But it was the height that really impressed me. With the track Perfect Sense Part 1, there’s the sound of rolling thunder the crosses the soundstage from left to right about 30 seconds into the track. What I experienced with the footers was the sound of thunder rolling over and passed my head as if I were in the soundstage. It was simply incredible! There are many moments like this in the recording but wow! This was unlike anything I’ve experienced before with our system. To put it simply, I can’t recommend these footers enough!

One last thing I would like to add to MountainJoe’s observation about the bass improvements. Joe is correct, the bass does not actually extend deeper but that IS the impression. This may be a poor analogy, but I liken it to ridding in a car versus riding a roller coaster or on a motorcycle. While the speed of the vehicles may be the same, the car is at least one step removed by being sealed up from the wind whereas the coaster or motorcycle give the “true’ since of speed resulting in increased exhilaration.

By lowering the noise floor, the Center Stage2 LS 1.5 Speaker Footers remove a barrier of distortion that brings you closer to the source which in turns, grants you the increased exhilaration. This is something we pursue in all our designs and it’s why we have such a deep respect for Joe’s work.

But please don’t take my word for it. I think this must be experienced firsthand and is worth seeking out.

Hi Damon - thanks for adding your observations to the discussion. You brought up something that I neglected to mention - with the LS 1.5 footers, low level performance is enhanced and makes listening at night, when I have to reduce the volume much more enjoyable. I attribute this to the lower noise floor (as you point out) but also to the improved 3D soundstage. For any given recording, there's usually a level at which you need to play it to get the full 3D soundstage presentation. WIth these footers, that level is reduced - perhaps this is purely an artifact of the lower noise/distortion or maybe that and some other factor - but it is a really welcome benefit ime.
 

Steve Williams

Site Founder, Site Owner, Administrator
i totally agree. I‘ve said in my review that the LS series is Joes best effort so far. And yes it is all about soundstage which is expansive and completely uncolored
i have also commented that they produce such a sense of “ I am there” that paired with the large immersive soundstage puts me right into the soundstage. Truly the best sonic experience I have ever had in all my years in this hobby came when i put these under my speakers
 

Leif S

Industry Expert
Feb 14, 2015
760
149
255
California
www.vonschweikert.com
I will try and sit down today and write about my experience with these new footers. I have both the 1.0 and the 1.5's. I'm going to bring the 1.0's to my house and put them under my E-5 speakers:)
 

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