Friday, November 4, 2016

Learning More About The Equi=Core


I and some audiophile colleagues have been experimenting a bit more with the Equi=Core balanced power transformers in a power cord and have a few new insights. The Equi=Core is one of the best values in a power product we have come across in quite some time. I personally use an Equi=Core 300 on my AURALiC Vega with amazing results.

1. Plug it straight into the wall - I've tried it plugged in to a few power conditioners vs. straight into the wall. The Equi=Core prefers the wall.

2. The most cost Effective tweak may be to just swap out the ends - We have been experimenting with a few different terminations and rhodium plated copper ends that we use to terminate our power cords seem to offer a smoother high frequency response than the stock ends.
These Ends work very well with the Equi=Core. Offering a nice
improvement to the already excellent sound. Email us for more info.

3. You HAVE to put one on your music server/Audio PC/NAS - Aside from the DAC, this is a most significant improvement. It significantly lowers the noise floor, providing for a deeper soundstage and more detail coming through. We use an Equi=Core 300 on a power strip that feeds balanced AC to our server, external hard drive, and router.

We haven't found a better performing power product near this price point. If you are shopping for a power cord, power strip, or conditioner you absolutely need to try an Equi=Core before buying anything else. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Just The Facts: The Telos Audio Grounding Noise Reducer



Ground noise reducers have become a bit of a thing in audio over the last couple of years, and with good reason. There is a ton of noise riding on your signal and AC ground lines coming from inside and outside of your audio system. Manufacturers such as Akiko, Entreq, and (for the 1%) the Tri Point grounding devices. All have their own unique way of cleaning the noise off of ground lines, and all sound somewhat different as well.

Unlike all of the above mentioned devices, the Telos GNR (Ground Noise Reducer) is an active ground noise reducing component whose goal is to achieve a "reference" 0 volt ground for every component connected to it.  The GNR is separated into three sections. On the left and right hand sides are Telos Audio's Quantum Noise Resonator modules. The middle section houses a CPU that is the core technology of the GNR. There are six binding posts to connect your audio components to. The two Quantum Noise Resonator modules aid the GNR in cleansing the ground noise out of your system. 

The chassis is quite heavy and milled out of a block of copper (photo courtesy of Mono & Stereo).


Cables are available in lengths from 1.5 to 10 meters and can be configured with all sorts of termination options from RCA, XLR, HDMI, LAN, USB, Spade, etc. Of course, all are connected to the ground pin only. The overall dimensions of the GNR are 9.75 in deep (including binding posts) x 15 in wide. The weight is approximately 17 pounds.
The Telos Ground Noise Reducer sitting atop MagicHexa footers and an Ikea Aptitlig bamboo cutting board.

Initial Listening

I attached the GNR to my preamplifier first, which was already connected to an Entreq Olympus. The result was a quieter background with more detail. I then connected cables to my Aries Streamer, and my Vega DAC. With each subsequent addition, I heard a bit more detail. The GNR was definitely working on my already very quiet system. 

The difference I noted between the Telos and Entreq devices was that the Telos leaned to the analytical side slightly, while the Entreq leaned to the more euphonic side slightly. The two combined worked together splendidly allowing for loads of detail to make its way through, but in a very musical way, if that makes sense.
You can see the LED's from the Quantum resonators on the right and left, as well as the LED's from the CPU.

Conclusion

The Telos' unique approach of actively removing ground noise by creating a reference 0 volt ground was effective, and sonically different than the Entreq. I liked having 6 binding posts for up to 12 components, and I liked the multiple cable termination options. I totally concur with Dave Clark of Positive Feedback and his review on the Telos, the combination of Entreq and Telos is outstanding. The Telos has the advantage in the sheer number of components one can connect to the GNR, but the Entreq has the ability to connect to the negative binding posts of amplifiers and speakers, something the Telos Can't. Each product has definitely earned it's keep in my system.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Holy Sh*t Moments #3: Enhancing the Copper

If you've been following my blog or my web site for any length of time, you know that my all-time favorite tweak is the Stein Harmonizer system. It psychoacoustically expands the boundaries of one's listening environment (the room and space sound bigger than they are), creates silky smooth mid & high frequencies, and reveals subtle textures and information like nothing else I have used to date.
A Stein Harmonizer - Still my favorite tweak.
It's also really expensive to do properly. You need at least 2 Harmonizers, then there are the Blue Diamonds to place atop the speakers, and the blue suns to disperse about your room that adds even more to the effect. It's amazing when implemented properly.

An Opportunity To Experiment

I had lent out my Harmonizer system in late September, and it would not be returning until right before RMAF. I missed them terribly while they were gone, but it also gave me a chance to experiment with my other tweaks, trying to recreate the effect of the Harmonizer system I had lent out.

The net result of the absence of the Harmonizers was the DIY tweak consisting of .1875" and .3125" copper rods along with copper cups was proving to have a mind bogglingly good effect on the system. Similar to the Stein in that it made the room appear larger sonically, also enhancing dynamics and resolution. It was not as powerful as the Stein, but still pretty darn good on its own.

I didn't have a whole lot of time to see how the copper interacted with my other room tweaks with RMAF approaching, as I had removed all other tweaks from the room and had them packed away. But that would allow me to do one of my favorite things once I returned from the show to a "tweakless" room. 

Starting With A Clean Slate

I like removing all of my tweaks and disassembling my system every few months, it serves as a sanity check (along with having a group of audiophile friends whos ears I borrow once in awhile). I get to re-introduce tweaks one at a time to asses their effect, and synergy with the other tweaks.

So, returning from RMAF with copper "sculptures", copper cups, Bybee QP's, and the Stein Harmonizer system, and some other tweaks that were lent to me by my friends at Stillpoints (more on that later), I began re-introducing the tweaks.

The Experiment

Starting with the Copper cups and sculptures. I ended up with 2 .1875" rods centered in front of me, 2 .1875" rods off to the left and right of my listening chair, and 1 of the larger .3125" rods behind me. This had a pleasant, warm and rich tone with, nice dynamics a fairly holographic soundstage. Nice but not the Steins.

Stillpoints Ultra 6 under the AcousticImagery Jay-Sho preamp
I had several Stillpoints Ultra 5's and Ultra 6's to experiment with as well as a new active grounding conditioner from Telos. The short story here was the Ultra 5's and 6's shocked me with the improvement in high frequency clarity, transient attack and dynamics they allowed my system to reproduce with such ease. The Telos worked in addition to the Entreq ground boxes I had in place already. Further reducing the noise floor by creating an active reference ground. More detail without becoming sterile.
Stillpoints Ultra 5 under speakers - Whoa...

My system was starting to get to a very good place, with focused imaging, incredible dynamics, and a pretty wide soundstage. If I had never had the Harmonizer system, I would be very happy, but I knew I could achieve more..
Copper rods in stand, 2 copper cups.
The next introduction would take more time. It was re-introducing the Bybee Quantum Plugs. This has to be done over time because the Quantum Plugs need to charge, or settle in. It takes a day or two. I started with two at the back of the room. It's a long room and they were roughly 20' from my listening chair. I let them settle in overnight and came in to listen the next morning. This was a subtle, but pleasant improvement in the wrap around effect the soundstage was producing. I was getting more ambient information, decays were longer, and the immersion into the soundstage was more pronounced.  Moving forward cautiously, I only added 1 Quantum Plug. I placed it as close to the center along the wall behind the speakers as I could. 
.3125" copper rod. I hit this with a torch
to get the colorful look.
The next morning, the front to back, as well as side to side aspects of the soundstage really began to fill in. This was about 80% of the Harmonizer system's effects, especially when implementing the large 12 oz copper cups in the center behind the speakers as well. The speakers had disappeared, leaving a wrap around soundstage, with focused imaging and fantastic dynamics. If I had never heard the Harmonizer system, I could stop there and be extremely happy.
A Bybee Quantum Plug.
So there you have it. My "Poor Man's Harmonizer System". It consists of the following:
  • 6 .1875" copper rods, placed in 18" long 4" x 4" boards that I had sanded and finished.
  • 1 .3125" copper rod in a finished wooden board like above.
  • 3 Bybee Quantum Plugs - You may only need 2, depending on the size of your room.
  • 2 large 12 oz Sertodo copper cups.
  • 2 small 2 oz Sertodo copper shot glasses.
This will get you 80% or so of the effect of the Stein system, and cost under $600. 

Some things to note

  1. More is not necessarily better - Too much copper, or too many QP's and the sound gets a little artificial. Move slowly, take your time. Start with the copper first, then start adding QP's.
  2. Placement of the QP's does not have to be exact. The front and back of the room placement is more important than being placed exactly at the center of the wall they are plugged in to. If you are concerned about this at all, buy a 3 prong extension cord for the QP. Then you can place it precisely. 
  3. The copper rods work best near a wall. These too do not necessitate exact placement. If you have a choice between placing them exactly but far from a wall or slightly off but near a wall, near a wall is the way to go.
  4. If you have a Harmonizer system already, don't sell it!  The rods and the QP's will work with the Harmonizer products really well. Think of it as having more tools to treat your room. I use 2 Harmonizers, 2 blue Diamonds, and 3 Blue Suns along with the copper and QP's.  I found this to provide the best blend of dynamics, texture, tone and resolution.



Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Holy Sh*t Moments: Part 2 - The $75 DIY Tweak That Will Blow Your Mind.

I don't understand why the following DIY tweak/project does what it does. But it is effective and if you take the time to make and place the items I am discussing, you will find your music to be more enveloping, engaging, dynamic and satisfying.

My motivation for telling you this? Nothing other than I want you to experience the amazing benefit of this DIY project. I make nothing off of this.

A Serindipitous Discovery

This all came about when a customer of mine called and relayed a story to me. He was telling me about a day when he was listening to his audio system. His wife had acquired an antique copper kettle, and proceeded to put it on a shelf behind him in his listening room. It changed the sound in a very noticeable manner, for the better. The following weekend they were travelling, where he was in a gift shop and spotted some solid copper cups and shot glasses. He remembered the tea kettle, and picked up a few of the cups with the intent of seeing what effect they might have on his listening room. They worked, creating a more relaxed, spacious sound, with improved dynamics. He liked the effect so much he kept going, adding more cups, and then experimenting with copper wire. Bending the wire into shapes and placing it about the room.

I took this information and bought some of the hammered, solid copper cups myself. 4 shot glass sized cups and 2 of the 12 oz. tumblers. Figuring if it didn't pan out, I had some nice shot glasses and could make Moscow Mules for 2...

When the cups arrived, I placed the two larger cups at ear level, directly in front and behind my listening position within my room. There was a definite increase in image focus and more texture in the vocal ranges. I then placed 2 shot glasses on top of the stacked Stillpoints Apertures in the corners  behind my speakers. The remaining 2 shot glasses were placed at my sides, again at ear level. This brought a sense of air and spaciousness that also seemed to move the image into a space that now surrounded me. Dynamics and energy seemed to increase as well. Not a bad improvement for around $120.
Sertodo Copper cups. Available at Amazon. The shot glass is on the far left, followed by 2 12 oz. cups.

Further Experiments

Still it wasn't cheap, and I really didn't feel like filling my listening room with copper cups. I started thinking about alternatives, and experimenting. The easiest and cheapest solution was to use solid core copper wire. I bought several different gauges, 18,16, 14, 12, 10, 8 and 6 awg wire was ordered up, shaped into various sculpturesque shapes, and tested in my room. I learned that It doesn't take a whole lot to make a difference, and second you want to allow it to resonate freely in order for it to be it's most effective. Nearly all of the wire I tried with the exception of the 6 awg, added shrillness or brightness to the room. The 6 awg while tough to bend into shapes seemed to offer the best sound without becoming bright or shrill.

I experimented with shaping the 6awg wire into self supporting triangles, then setting them atop my corner placed Apertures, and positions off to the side of my chair, as well as behind. Even hanging off of the ceiling. It was interesting, and quite nice. With the right amount there was more depth, detail dynamics and the sound went from sitting at the front row of a concert to being on the stage, depending on where I placed the copper bits that were at my side walls. The image expansion seemed to depend on where the triangles at my side walls were placed.

Still curious, I ordered up some OFC copper rod from OnlineMetals.com. I started with the .1875" rods in 4 foot lengths. I cut up a cedar 4x4 fence post, sanded and finished it, then drilled holes in it to accomodate up to 4 rods. After much experimenting, I settled on this configuration as the best solution. I could shape the rods a bit to make them look a little more like sculptures, and less like some crazy project. I chose 2 rods for each base. Placing them in front, back and to the sides of my listening position.
Four .1875" x 4 foot long copper rods in an 18" long piece of cedar
4" x 4". I sculpted the rods by bending them around a steel pipe. It
gave them their wavy shape. 

Important things to note


  1. Copper seems to work the best. Brass, Bronze and steel were awful sounding in my room. Immediately shrill and unlistenable. Gold and Silver at those lengths and diameters was impractical.
  2. Larger diameter rod/wire seems to work best. 6 awg wire works and .1875" rod works well. I tried .3125" wire and it did seem to work on midrange frequencies well, but it was easy to get too much too fast. One rod max is enough in my opinion.
  3. The rods or cups need to be near the wall to work their best. They lose about 50% of their effectiveness if you move them a foot or more out from the wall. 
  4. Whether you use rods or cups, having them at ear level increases their effectiveness as well. With the 4 foot rods, it was no problem for the stands to be placed on the ground, with  the height of the rods extending to ear level and above.
  5. It's easy to overdo it. Too much and the sound becomes too hollow, bright or shrill. I would start with 4 to 8 copper rods and 4 wooden stands. 

Listening

As I said before, the copper offered up a pleasant, relaxed ease. It seemed to diffuse the electronic tension that was present. It also seemed to depressurize the sound in the room, making the walls less of an obstacle to the sound. My guess as to why is that the rods vibrate sympathetically to energy bouncing off of the walls, sort of mechanically dissipating that energy before it gets to your ears. That would explain the sense of ease, the room sounding larger than it physically is, and the need for the copper to be placed near walls. I also heard more clarity and detail, less smearing of the higher frequencies, and especially with the large cups, I heard more body and texture to the vocals. It was all very natural sounding.

This was in a system that was already using acoustic treatments and many tweaks, including Stein Harmonizers and Bybee Quantum Plugs. The copper still had a positive impact that was different from that of the Stein and Bybee. Not to mention that 8 copper rods and an 8' long 4" x 4" cost about $75.

Sure I could have made up a story about the exotic nature of the particular copper I was using, or how it was treated, or how the wood was an integral part of the process. I could have charged a small fortune for these room tuning devices, but for me it would be wrong to call it or make it anything more than what it was.

Try It Yourself. It's not expensive, and takes almost no time to put together.


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Holy Sh*t Moments: Part 1

I have been in a creative mode lately. Lots of ideas have been born and tried. Some worked, others were learning experiences in what doesn't work.  I will quickly elaborate on two that have worked, producing "holy shit" moments that have me grinning from ear to ear, and don't cost too much.
The Bybee AC Module: Mine are specially wired with Furutech 12 AWG "nano wire". Yes you can buy them from Tweek Geek. We can also install them in Equi=Core balanced power conditioners for you as well.

Holy Sh*t Moment One

My first experiment involved installing a "special" Bybee AC module inside an Equi=Core 300. This would be powered by my new Dark Matter conditioner, then ultimately power my Auralic Aries streamer. So the chain of power goes like this:

Wall > Dark Matter Conditioner > Equi=Core with Bybee AC Module > Auralic Aries.

Even I will admit this seems like excessive power filtering and conditioning. There's no doubt to the normal person (which I am definitely not) this seems like crazy overkill.

The net result was stunning. So much more low level information, vocals were smoother, more textured and engaging, and the horns on my test track "Isn't This A Lovely Day" by Ella and Louis didn't want to rip my head off, even at ludicrous listening levels the horns sounded like...horns. Not tinny, metalic noisemakers trying to make my ears bleed. Muddy waters "My Home Is In The Delta" had superb vocal textures and the dynamics in his voice were un-believable.

Granted the combination of the Equi=Core and Bybee AC Module were just under $2000, the sound I was getting from the Aries was the best it had ever been.
The Core Power Technologies Equi=Core 300. Excellent on source components, preamps, and your music server.

Holy Sh*t Moment Two

So, thinking I have pretty much maxed out the power conditioning in my system, my thoughts turned to my server, and associated peripherals located in the adjacent room. It's no secret that PC's, powered external hard disks, routers, etc. are notoriously noisy beasts, so why not see what balanced power could do for the sound when powering networked servers and other bits.  I plugged a second Equi=Core into a Wireworld Matrix power strip, then proceeded to plug my server, the powered external hard disk, and the switch that is managing the network connection from the internet to my server and Aries.

This too was a step in the right direction. Not as jaw-dropping as the modded Equi=Core on my Aries, but again lower noise, more ultra low level detail emerging, and a less mechanical/electronic sound. The sound had more soul, more flow, less artificial tension in it.

Color me stunned.

My next post will cover a more "artistic" tweak I have discovered that, bang for the buck, I don't think can be topped. I am giving this DIY project away, as it is so simple I think it would be criminal to label it as something more exotic than what it is. Stay tuned...

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Review: Core Power Technologies Equi=Core 300


I have a lot of experience with power conditioning as it pertains to the audio system. Power cords, Power conditioning, Power supplies, and in-wall power. I've heard, expermented, tried, failed and succeeded at just about everything power as it relates to an audio system. Power is important. Wait, let me rephrase that, CLEAN power is important. It can make or break the performance of an audio component or system.

Enter Core Power

Core Power Technologies is a relatively new company making power cords with a balanced audio transformer wired in. A person can use them on a single component, or plug them into a power strip and use the balanced power to supply several components. They offer 5 models of their Equi=Core models, differentiated by the amount of power they can safely handle without limiting current. They make 50, 150, 300, 1200 and 1800 watt versions.

WTF is Balanced Power?

Our normal AC at the wall outlet consists of three "legs", hot, neutral, and ground. On the hot side,  +/- 120v of Alternating Current (AC) is presented, and it is said to possess 120 volts to ground.

Balanced power "splits" the 120v current into 60 volt legs. +60 on the hot and -60 on the neutral. There are still 120 volts present on the circuit, but it is now divided up, with the two AC legs being 180 degrees out of phase with one another.

With the 2 AC legs being out of phase, the noise riding the AC lines is cancelled out, but 120 volts are still delivered to your audio components. This is what makes balanced power such an effective noise reducing agent.

Watt?

To figure what components I could safely plug in to the Equi=Core 300 I had to consult the owner's manuals for the components I own. When they failed to mention wattage consumption, I looked at the value of the internal mains fuses (given in amps) and multiplied that times the voltage (120 volts).

  • Auralic Aries 120 volts x .5 amp = 60 watts peak (probably way less)
  • Auralic Taurus Pre 120 volts x 1 amp = 50 watts peak
  • Aqua Acoustic La Scala MKII 120 volts x 12.5 amp = 1500 watts peak (it uses tubes. Tubes in general consume more power)

Plugging In

So the Aqua La Scala was out, but I could use the 300 on the Aries and Taurus. I decided to allow the Equi=Core 300 to power both the preamp and my streamer via a Wireworld Matrix power strip. The Equi-Core would be working at about 1/3 of it's capacity, leaving lots of headroom in case it was needed. Headroom is always good.

Before we go any further, let me tell you what was filtering the power to my system. The same thing that has been filtering the power for 8 years, the Bybee Stealth. Nothing has displaced it as my ultimate reference. I can count only 2 other conditioners that came close, and they both cost much more. It was a totally unfair comparison with the Stealth costing over $6,000 and the Equi=Core costing only $899 as configured. But that is my measuring stick, and what I am intimitely familiar with.

I plugged the Equi=Core 300 to the wall, and connected the other end to a Wireworld Matrix power strip. The Matrix is a classic. Inexpensive and does no harm to the current being delivered through it. That made it perfect for connecting the Equi=Core to more than one component. The unit I received from Core Power Technologies was new, so I left the components on 24/7 for about a week before writing up my evaluation. That being said, straight out of the box the 300 made a noticeably quiet presentation.

Listening

I will get straight to the point. The $899 Equi=Core 300 was quiet, did not limit dynamics, and did not change the tonal characteristics of the music being reproduced. First the quiet, I expected this. Balanced power is quiet, but usually the transformers involved in this process can slow current delivery, or alter the tone of the music. None of this happened. Even with the added integral power cord, which is another item that can limit dynamics or change the tone. This thing was transparent, and able to easily deliver current to the Aries and Taurus.

This is important, because anti-power conditioning audiophiles lodge these 2 reasons as to why they go "straight in to the wall" more than anything. Many times their gripe is legit. Many power conditioners are fraught with a tradeoff. You can have clean mids and highs, but you will lose dynamic range. You will have a great midrange, but the highs may be rolled off. This did not happen with the Equi=Core. The Equi=Core impressed the heck out of me with it's tranparency. I expected the quiet, as I am familiar with balanced power. I did not expect this thing to be so darn transparent. The transparency is what makes the Equi-Core 300 such a killer value. Anything else I have heard in this price range either alters the tone or squashes dynamics. You usually have to pay A LOT more to get this kind of performance in a power conditioner.

Did the Equi=Core beat the Stealth? No, but it gave me 80% of what the Stealth does, and that to me is impressive for something that costs $899. I eventually plugged the Equi=Core into the Stealth at one point, allowing it to power the Taurus and Aries. The preamp and streamer were getting power from the Equi-Core, which was being fed power from the Bybee. What I got was an even blacker background than from the Stealth alone, with no sonic tradeoffs. Now if tradeoffs were going to show up, they would show up in this configuration. None, nothing. Just more quiet, and more music. Very impressive.

Conclusions

The Equi=Core 300 delivered clean, quiet power unlike anything I have heard in it's price range. This would not only benefit smaller, budget audio systems. It would be perfectly at home in very high performance audio systems. It could be used as a solo power conditioner, plugged into a power strip, or several could be used, each feeding individual components (within each Equi=Core's rated output of course).

If you've never tried power conditioning, try the Equi=Core. If you think you've got all the power condtioning you need, try the Equi=Core along with whatever  you are using. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how much more you will be able to hear with it in your system.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Stillpoints Aperture: Acoustic Treatments Like Nothing Else

The Stillpoints Aperture in Walnut frame with black cloth

Acoustic Treatments like no other

The Stillpoints Aperture acoustic panels represent a whole new form of acoustical treatment. Each 22" h x 22" w x 3" d Aperture is actually three products in one: an absorber, a diffuser, and a resonator. They cover a broad frequency range as well, from 40Hz to well over 20 kHz.

Unconventional

According to Stillpoints, what makes the Apertures unique is their ability to continually adapt to the dynamic changes in the amplitude and frequency of the music. They say that Static, conventional acoustic treatments that offer one continuous level of absorption or diffusion may offer too much absorption at low levels and not enough at higher ones. The Stillpoints Apertures utilize a blend of absorption materials, and a unique design of internal chambers to trap acoustic energy. The diffusion portion of the Stillpoints Aperture breaks up the wave forms which will ad mid to high frequency absorption and reduction. The resonator portion offers control of the lower frequencies only when it's needed.

John Miller from Stillpoints was kind enough to send me several Apertures and stands in order to familiarize myself with their qualities, and to compare them to the plethora of acoustic treatments I already have in my listening room.

The Room

My listening area is located in a walkout basement. The immediate area where the speakers are located is 20' wide, which narrows to 15' from the left side after about 10', but then opens up on the right side to two doorways positions at roughly 45 degree angles with a stairway at the center. It then narrows to 14' for the remaining length of the room. The picture below leaves out the doors and stairs to the right, but you get the idea. It's a large, long room. It reproduces low bass really well, but has some issues with the midbass and lower midrange. This is due, I suspect to the little alcove adjacent to the left speaker.
The room minus the doorways and stairs, which are situated to the right,
and start where the area to the left begins to narrow.

The rooms and stairway to the right. This area starts exactly where
the room narrows to the left. If it were in the drawing above, it would
be located at the top.
Before the Apertures, I had spent quite a bit of time getting my listening space optimized. I had hung rails near the ceiling in the listening area and used these rails for hanging the acoustic treatments. It worked extremely well. I could swap out absorbers and diffusers, and could place them horizontally and vertically along the walls without leaving a bajillion holes behind. 
An early iteration of the room. Three GridFusors flanked by 2 Whisper
Wave absorbers and 2 bass traps. There are more treatments on
the side walls (not pictured), and the corner from hell is off to the left.
I also had hung 3 Sonex panels on the ceiling above the listening position to help with the slap echo from the wall behind the listening position, and to absorb some of the directly radiated sound. I like the Sonex on the ceiling for another reason. Should they become detached and fall they won't kill anyone since they are made of very lightweight foam.
The "cloud" located slightly in front of the listening position. Three Sonex
Whisper Wave panels hung on rails. It  creates a cool wave pattern,
and absorbs a lot of slap echo.

Let The Experiments Begin!

After spending several months getting familiar with my room treated with more conventional treatments (GIK GridFusors, Sonex Whisper Wave Absorbers, and Acoustic Geometry bass traps), I decided to begin experimenting with the Stillpoints Apertures.

The first Apertures I stacked vertically and centered them on the wall behind my speakers. They replaced a Sonex Whisper wave panel which won out over a GIK diffuser in that location.  With the Apertures in place, I felt the center image remained centered and depth had a little more clarity to it. What was shocking was I heard more detail, especially at lower listening levels.
The Two Apertures pictured are centered behind
the speakers. They are flanked by a Sonex
Absorber and, a GIK diffusor, and two Apertures
are placed in the corner.
I then added two more panels, one on each side and slightly in front of my listening position. These two Apertures had replaced the GridFusor diffusors. The soundstage remained wide, but was more focused with the Apertures. The GridFusors worked great in this location, especially for the money, but the Apertures just seemed to add more clarity, quiet and focus to the sound. Again I was hearing more low level detail, especially in the high frequencies.  The 4 Apertures as a whole seemed to help my speakers create a more balanced soundfield within the room.
Aperture at the side position, slightly in front of my
listening chair. Whisper Wave absorbers in the
background along the same wall.

Apertures & Bass

The most impressive feats of the Apertures were yet to come. I left the 4 Apetures up, and then I removed all of the bass traps in the room, 4 total. These were pretty massive, fairly expensive traps from Acoustic Geometry. They did the job fairly well (or so I thought) making the bass response in the room a bit flatter. I have an oddly shaped room that trapped lower midrange & midbass. Things could get quite boomy and congested with no traps, and I was made very aware of that fact after listening to the room once the traps were removed. Ugh.

I placed 2 Apertures in the corners nearest the speakers, 3 corners and 6 Apertures total. The Apertures seemed to exhibit a little better control of the resonant frequency than the bass traps, and the lows were magical. Not a term usually used to describe bass, but damn. It was controlled, balanced, fast, dynamic. It was lifelike. This was hard to believe just due to the smaller size of the Apertures compared to the Acoustic Geometry bass traps. The effect the Apertures had on the bass made it's way through the upper frequencies as well. Everything became faster, more dynamic and clearer. Even when the volume was at ridiculous levels, the sound stayed the same.
The corner from hell. This part of the room was off to the side of the left
speaker. It created a nasty resonance in the lower midrange and upper
bass. I had 3 Acoustic Geometry bass traps in the corners before I
placed the Apertures there. The Apertures worked miracles on the bass...

Summary

Here is what I liked about the Apertures: They quieted the room, made the entire frequency spectrum more balanced, spacious, dynamic and lifelike, and they were tiny in comparison to the conventional treatments. They were finished nicely as well. I forgot to mention that one can have art or photos printed on removable grills that can be inserted into the frame of the Aperture. This could give the Apertures a more artistic appearance in one's listening room. If done well, it might be hard for the average person to tell that they were indeed acoustic treatments. 
Stillpoints Aperture with artwork.

Due to budget constraints, the Apertures didn't completely eliminate my usage of conventional treatments. But my guess is they could. I will continue to experiment as time and funds permit.  Bruce Jacobs of Stillpoints will be dropping by in October as well to do a final tweaking of the room, but what I have so far allows my system to create the best sound it ever has. The apertures are not inexpensive, but a few go a long way. The nice thing is you can start with one or two, and build from there.