Mike Stone is the man behind Oriton and his background in the military has led him to take a path of designing audio components (racks, cables and cones) with vibration control very much to the fore. Danny has reviewed Oriton cables in the past and very much enjoyed what they did.
The R33 Support System looks for all intents and purposes to be a regular and straight forward hi-fi rack, but look a little closer and you begin to see that first impressions can be deceptive. The pillars are made of carbon fibre, the whole thing is very light and each of the four removable shelves is isolated from the rack by four cones which allow the individual shelves to move around. The whole rack is quite wobbly and this was initially a bit of a worry, but it needn’t have been – the R33 will happily take my not inconsiderable weight and once in situ and with kit on it it’s certainly not going anywhere.
Putting the rack together was a simple enough affair but care is needed as tolerances are very tight, but fifteen minutes was all it took for me to have the rack ready for the kit it was going to be housing.
Finish on the rack is exemplary and whilst the yellow and black colour scheme I got may not be to everyone’s taste I really loved how it looked. Mike tells me that other colours are in the pipeline and so those wanting a more subdued colour scheme will be well catered for.
There are a set of hefty spikes on the bottom of the rack which in turn sit on some specially made pucks and it’s the spikes you adjust to get the whole rack level. Each of the spikes has a 4mm hole through it so you can stick in a suitable implement and adjust the level of the spikes so you get the rack dead even – actually I was able to turn the spikes quite easily by hand. Again the finish on the spikes is really first rate and they really add to the high-end feel of the rack. Fortunately I chose a spot that was pretty much level and so I didn’t really need to adjust the spikes very much at all, but for the sake of completeness I can report that the whole procedure is really simple and straightforward.
You definitely get the feeling that the R33 has been designed from the ground up with no buying in of off the shelf items and, despite its very modern appearance, it really does exude a certain luxury and high-end feel to it – much in the same way that a modern super car does. It may not be all polished wood and whatnot, but the modern materials used and the way they’re put together lend it a feeling of being a quality item.
Spacing of the shelves is not uniform (ie spaces between the shelves are not the same) as you can see from the photograph but you can set the rack up pretty much as you like to accommodate the equipment that you have and I’m sure that you can tell Oriton exactly what you want and they’ll build something accordingly – I had the biggest shelf in the middle to accommodate the valve DAC… I put the Technics 1210 on top of the rack, then the CD player, then the DAC and I sat one of my power supplies on the very bottom shelf.
For the last twelve months I’ve had a turntable on a wall mounted shelf and the second turntable (the Technics 1210) has been on a IKEA type rack on suspended floorboards rendering it all but unusable unless everyone was told to sit down and not move whilst I was playing records on it – hardly an ideal situation with regards domestic harmony – and so I was keen to see how the R33 from Oriton would cope with the Techy sat on top. Walking around pretty heftily causes the rack to wobble quite bit but the needle refused to jump. Walking around the room normally you’d be forgiven for thinking the turntable was actually on a wall shelf and I couldn’t detect any footfall at all through the headphones. Put the stylus on the record without the platter spinning, tap the turntable and you get the expected thud in the headphones, but tap the shelf the turntable is sat on and this thud is reduced a good deal. You need to tap the legs of the R33 quite hard to get a sound through the headphones at all with the stylus sat on the record and as I say I couldn’t perceive normal footfall at all.
My kit is pretty well isolated from the loudspeakers as the electronics are in a different part of the room, but it would seem that the Oriton rack doesn’t just limit external vibrations from reaching your equipment and it does seem to be doing something to the overall sound of kit placed on it to a greater or lesser extent. I’m suspecting but have no way of confirming that internal vibrations within the kit is being subdued somewhat.
The effect on other kit (CD Player and DAC) is less dramatic than with the turntable, but still very evident to my ears and I’ve listened long and hard to try and make sure this is an actual effect rather than “expectation bias”. Bass frequencies appear to be somewhat tighter and the effect is one of there being an increase in definition of the stereo image… which has to be a good thing. On vocals there is an increase in the overall clarity and the stereo image (possibly as a result) seems to be more accurate. Taking the CD drive and the DAC on and off the shelf by way of experimentation, I’m convinced the effect of this tightening and increase in definition is very real and indeed positive to the overall sound.
The price of the Oriton R33 is to be confirmed but, given the materials used, the way that it is clearly very well thought out and put together and with its overall luxury feel, I doubt it is going to be bargain basement fodder – I suspect it to be a major purchase for most given the price of units that purport to offer similar benefits. The R33 rack screams luxury in a high-tech and high-end kind of way.
The Oriton rack certainly works, looks great and performs well, offering great isolation from negative external forces as well as offering a positive effect on overall sound quality.
I couldn’t test the efficacy of the R33 with amps and pre amps as my current kit just doesn’t fit (both pre and amp are big and hot) but I’d certainly be keen to try having the amp sat on a purpose built version of the R33.
On the negative side (and for my specific purpose) the vertical rack format doesn’t really work for me and I’d have liked to have seen a 3 shelf high unit made double (or triple) width, but keeping each individual shelf isolated from each other as they are now – but then not everyone is forever pulling kit and cables out of their rack as I am. I suppose an alternative would be two shorter units placed side by side.