Gaia. No, we’re not talking Greek mythology today but the loudspeaker isolation feet made by Canada’s IsoAcoustics. Contributor Phil Wright enjoyed extremely favourable results when testing the Gaia III (review here). I wanted in on the same. Not the same results necessarily but the same suck-it-and-see experimentation. If the Gaia made an audible improvement, I’d make ’em a permanent fixture.
IsoAcoustics explain the Gaia thusly: “When a speaker is placed on a hard surface, secondary internal reflections result. Any artefacts of this smear that is similar in the two channels are perceived to be in the centre, causing the sound stage to collapse. The GAIA series of isolators eliminates this smear resulting in a larger 3-dimensional sound stage.”
After a short to and fro, the company’s Stateside PR company came through with a set for yours truly to try at home: not the 4.3cm Gaia III (€199 for 4) but the slightly larger Gaia II (€299 for 4) whose 5.1cm ‘shoulders’ elevate weight handling (from the Gaia III’s 32kg) to 54kg. More unusually, I wouldn’t be screwing the feet into the base of a pair of floorstanding loudspeakers – I don’t have any – but into a pair of Atacama Nexus 6 stands that hold up the Buchardt A500 standmounts. Screw out the spikes and screw in the IsoAcoustic pucks. I used the quarter-inch thread size but M6 and M8 fittings also ship inside the box. Fundamental to the Gaia’s proper function is to have all four IsoAcoustics logos facing forward (or backwards).
From the UK distributor SCV via Phil’s coverage: “The directionality helps manage the on-axis movement of the driver, combining isolation, energy absorption but also providing enough resistive force for the driver to move quickly and efficiently. That’s obviously very important, especially for dynamics and timing. During testing, IsoAcoustics tried hanging speakers from bungee cords, which gives great isolation but the dynamics and timing go to pot as the driver and cabinet have no opposing force to push against.”
The most immediate (if somewhat banal) benefit is how the Gaia’s rubber feet permit angst-free repositioning of the loudspeaker and its stand on wooden floors. That’s useful for anyone who would otherwise be slowed by keeping the shoes that prevent nasty floor scratches firmly planted underneath the spikes.
The audible improvements to the Buchardt A500, caused by the introduction of the Gaia II, were threefold: 1) a better, more sharply focussed centre image; 2) better soundstage depth, especially in the midrange and 3) more elasticity in the bass, specifically kick drums. What caught me by surprise was the magnitude of these improvements: greater than I’ve witnessed from a typical streamer, DAC or amplifier switcheroo. The irony of the isolation feet (€598 for 8) costing four times as much as the speaker stands (€150/pair) is not lost on me.
This short, sharp experiential shock means these weighty metal pucks from IsoAcoustics won’t be going anywhere. Moreover, I’ll be putting a set of the Gaia III on the KEF S2 stands as soon as funds allow.
And it was IsoAcoustics that provided the jumping-off point for my first podcast chat with Twittering Machines’ Michael Lavorgna, in which we discuss the obvious: that speculation is no substitute for experience; that curiosity is what pushes us to experience new things; and that without curiosity we’d just dig ourselves ever deeper into the trenches of our preconceptions and prejudice.