Glidin’ ‘n’ Slidin’

Mike Silverton

[October 2012.]

Some time before the last of my WATT / Puppies departed, rather than their customary floor-coupling spikes, I had them on Acoustic Revive quartz underboards. While nowhere recommended thus deployed, the speakers sounded great. And I was able to move them around effortlessly — that was the point. Repositioning heavy speakers with spikes is arduous and hazardous, the former for the mover, the latter to carpets and floors.

(An Acoustic Revive quartz underboard consists of a sturdy wood base, a layer of quartz-crystal granules and a snug wood lid. AR’s Ken Ishiguro uses several minerals in his audio products, quartz prominent among them. At present, my mono amps are on quartets of Nordost Quasar Points and the smaller of AR’s quartz underboards.)

The arrival of Wilson Audio’s Sasha W/Ps occasioned the WATT / Puppy 8s’ departure. The Sashas’ lower units are too large for the underboards I’d been using. The Sashas sat on their intended spikes.

(I’ve heard that Japanese audiophiles sometimes put their Wilsons on platforms. I tried to interest Kevin Tellekamp of Silent Running Audio in designing a speaker platform with a smooth, spikeless underside. While he didn’t say no, nothing’s come of it yet. I’m using the terms underboard and platform interchangeably.)

In keeping with the misgivings, longings, impulses and urges that beset our fretful kind, I questioned where I’d positioned the speakers. You need not say it. I know there are methods for moving speakers on spikes, but they’re a pain in this sluggard’s butt. So the Sashas remained where they dwelt. And then I discovered Herbie.

For background, we go (again) to Derrick Moss, my Integris CDP’s designer-manufacturer, and the inexpensive tweak he said I should try. HerbiesAudioLab.com is where one acquires the Super Black Hole CD Mat (see my review). So delighted was I with my SBH that I returned to the site to see what else Steve Herbelin’s been up to. Of particular interest are footers and such, including an item that really snared my attention: the Threaded Stud Glider. The TSG is available in a range of shafts. The purchaser consults a chart to determine which his speakers require. In Steve’s words:

“Nifty [gliders replace spikes] or cones for loudspeaker or rack decoupling/isolation with mobility and superb lateral stability. Fiberglass reinforced dBNeutralizer-filled vinyl base with smooth polymer bottom handles virtually any weight load on bare or carpeted floor. With jam nut to lock-in height adjustment.”

I admit here to confusion. I thought it would be necessary to remove the Sashas’ entire spike assemblies to accommodate the Gliders. Not so. All I had to remove were spikes and locking nuts, their foundations (Wilson calls them Conical Diodes) remaining in place. Nothing could be simpler. Having removed the Sasha’s top unit, I tilted the lower unit forward just enough to prop it with two-by-four lumber scraps. Books would also do. All I needed was enough clearance to remove the back spikes and screw in the Gliders and secure them with their locking nuts, likewise the front pair. A shallow tilt, forward and back, does the Gliders no harm. A spirit level, a twist here and there, achieves an alignment that would satisfy the farthest-gone victim of OCD.

And do my Sashinkas ever glide! Talk about honeymoons! What a treat trying positions! They’re a little wider apart now and a little more toed in. When I become curious, as I know I will, about how they’d sound yet differently placed, getting them there requires but a cautious embrace and gentle push.

Martha Stewart interlude: Homemakers, have you noticed the fuzz that’s been accumulating under your speakers? Can’t quite get the vacuum cleaner under there, can you? Another of the Gliders’ advantages.

Now, about those spikes. Like most designers of quality speakers, Wilson Audio doesn’t want its wares squatting, unmediated, on the floor. The Gliders elevate the Sashas to where the spikes had them: 2.5 inches of clearance ’twixt speakers and carpet. If there’s a downside to having replaced the spikes with Gliders, I don’t hear it. Indeed, the speakers sound all the better in their new positions. The low end’s as well defined as ever and the midrange is as delicious as ever. And what a soundfield!

I’m pleased to have made Herbie’s acquaintance.

Threaded Stud Glider, $16.34 each (depending on which Glider, prices vary slightly)
Herbie’s Audio Lab

240 Cloud Crossing, Cibolo, TX 78108

http://www.herbiesaudiolab.com

audiolab@herbiesaudiolab.com
210 658 9439

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Cover of Alia Vox AVSA 9887

La Sublime Porte: Voix d’Istanbul (1430-1750), with Jordi Savall, Hespèrion XXI, vocal and instrumental soloists (Alia Vox AVSA 9887).

ArkivMusic.com sells this handsomely presented historical survey of the Ottoman Empire’s music for $20. The booklet alone is worth the price. Savall and his Hespèrion XXI are period-music specialists who here team up with vocalists and instrumentalists from Turkey, Spain, Israel, Armenia, Bulgaria, Greece and Morocco. If you’ve a taste for the Levant’s musical treasury, you’ll relish these well-recorded tracks.