Max Townshend is unmissable at pretty much any Hifi show you care to attend. He’s a larger than life character and his team are likewise always knowledgeable but down to earth and fun. His demonstration of the seismic bars and platforms is one not to miss. Daniel Worth pops a pair of the company’s Seismic Isolation Bars costing between £999 – £1299 under his speakers to feel their effects. 

Townshend Audio Engineering have been established for almost five decades now. They are renowned for applying strict engineering policies to audio applications. Common sense and creative know how has allowed Max Townshend – the leader of the pack – to apply his experience and expertise to reducing some of the most detrimental anomalies affecting our audio setups.

Within the range of products inspired by Townshend’s topology are the Seismic Isolation Bars. Geared toward mechanical isolation between speaker and floor but in theory can be used under equipment, although Townshend produces some very nice looking isolation Platforms specifically for that role, the Speaker Bars can be designated in various sizes and supportive weights dependant on the speaker. Townshend also offer a bespoke service for customers who would like a more specific, size and/or weight compliment on each of their Seismic products.

I had initially wanted to try a pair of Podiums but unfortunately when placing underneath my speaker the shallow elliptical design didn’t suit the styling of the Podiums (which I have heard work wonders in other systems), so without the need to go back to the drawing board a very helpful Mrs Sue Townshend sent out the bars swiftly. (I chose the smallest of the sizes for my speakers, as I wanted the Pods to be as close to the underside of my speaker as possible, rather than being far away on each corner due to the odd shape of my loudspeakers and the Podiums design having them fixed to the outer corners) which unlike the first incarceration of the product is extendable and can accommodate speakers with a footprint up to 200% larger than my Ayons. The Load Cells on each end of the bars were the type C, this means that they will comfortably support speakers from 32kgs up to 64kgs. 

Installing these was a very straight forward process, I simply removed the current spiked outriggers on my speakers, placed the Speaker Bars on the floor where the speakers usually lived in a parallel front to back formation and dropped the speakers into place on the felt pads fitted to the Bars.

Some fettling and a few minutes later after very brief listening tests I found that using these with the Load Cells at the front and the back of my speakers, with the two rear Cells pushed almost together at the centre rear and the two front angled outwards on the front diagonals gave me maximum stability for my speaker’s shape and weight distribution which led to the most enjoyable sonic results.

The Sound

So how do these Speaker Bars from the Seismic Isolation range by Townshend affect the sound? Well in a nutshell extremely positively.

The first notable aspect was a change in the way that bass notes were presented to me. I initially thought that I was hearing a slight boxy-ness from the Ayons during the first few notes of Nils Logren’s ‘Keith Don’t Go’ but it was almost simultaneously evident that what I was hearing was a more natural rendition of the body of his guitar. This led on to my attention being drawn toward the acoustic temperament conveyed into my listening space which was large and full of normally more muted details of reverbs and crowd interactions. During the guitar solo I appreciated the pace of the music very much and decays seemed to last for a considerable time longer than usual, obviously due to the cleaning up of detrimental vibrations caused by coupling the speakers previously to a floor that was giving vibrational feedback as well as drawing it down from the speakers, almost oscilating. I urge everyone to watch the video on YouTube produced by Max Townshend which clearly demonstrates how the Seismic Cells work and how the reduction in impact ringing can be proven measured.

I delved into listening to bass notes much further, finding that a continuous lack of bloat, a cleaner and more defined upper bass with far greater weighted extension was apparent. ‘Blanket’ by Urban Species is victim of bass bloat in virtually every system I’ve ever heard it in and over the years, various equipment and tweaks either enhance it or reduce the decibel level of it but never anything I’ve tried under my speakers has ever been able to remove the bloat and just leave the deep bass note itself. The Speaker Bars did, the bass notes were now textured and in fact seemed louder and larger than before, louder I thought, surely not, not after removing the added bloom. So again and again I went backwards and forwards over the coming week, spikes, Bars, spikes, Bars and every time with each and every piece of music I listened too I felt that I was actually receiving more bass, more extension as well a more natural and enjoyable presentation, along with less shake, rattle and roll in the living room. 

I moved around the house, listening for the nasty nodes that everybody has – collected in certain areas of their homes and can honestly report that they had subsided all but completely and that actual mechanical vibration in walls, floors, shelves and other fixtures was non-existent. So I retiring the two young maidens of good strong stock that usually hold my speakers in the air during my critical listening tests, allowing them to snuggle up on the sofa with me instead and enjoy the music.

Looking more into the midrange, initially and as before with the bass notes, the sound presented to me was ‘different’. I needed to play some good vocals to get a grasp on exactly what was happening here. Never even from the first concentration on vocals was the sound ever ‘wrong’. From listening to a few of my normal vocalists that I like such as Norah Jones, Loreena Mckennit, Vanessa Fernandez I found their vocal to be projected still in a wonderfully clean manner with plenty of power but from a slightly deeper position, which in fact was very welcomed. I never had any issues to my mind from what and where vocals stood previously in my system but hearing the same music with Townshend Seismic Isolation in, I felt that the entire picture was more correct and palpable.

A wonderful amount of tone came from human voices and instead of each vocal whether male or female, had a system enhanced quality to them I felt that they were just that much more individual and bespoke to my system, as if I had walked from one studio to the next. I’ve spent a lot of time reworking my crossovers in the Ayons to get the all ceramic compliment of drivers to excel on transparency and speed which was the easy part but to get fantastic tone and midrange to upper midrange balance was more difficult and it ultimately became a system wide task. The Speaker Bars just added a calmness, an air of ease and stability that again I didn’t realise I needed until it was there, I had been meaning to go ‘Seismic’ with these for some time and as the opportunity arose recently and came at a time where I had just finished the latest mods within the speakers I felt that fate had a little hand in the timing of this whole scenario.

Fleshing out a top end unless your speaker is of particular pedigree can be a nightmare! I have had huge problems over the years making treble sound more dense, thick and tonally plush. Most of us get so used to an overview of what treble is and as long as we can obtain air and detail our attention wonders off elsewhere. Treble has so much more in undertones and body than what we are used to hearing that it’s only when we’re presented with something new we can understand what we have been missing. This has been another task of mine to achieve over recent years and especially more so since I decided to walk away from from all valve systems and concentrate on integrating good valve preamps with strong transistor amps. My current pre is a hybrid, basically a valve linestage feeding into a TVC made by Audio Music (the Reference 1). I find the combination with this and my Gamut D200mk3 power amp a great combination but it does lack the body in the upper regions of a good all valve setup, even if in reality being a second harmonic distortion, valve amps have an undeniable flavour which adds a certain beauty to the music.

Crossover components, cabling and isolation  are all ingredients in the right recipe and all require particular attention and without this particular attention my main speakers would not be where they are soundwise today. The Seismic Speaker Bars, gave a relaxed and controlled top end that flows with more ease and more confidence, whilst retaining the air and transparency I’ve worked so hard to achieve. As well as the Speaker Bars I’ve also just added the Townshend Maximus Supertweeters REVIEW HERE the combination of these two products has given me a certain personality to my speakers that I would never have been able to achieve with just crossover and cable modifications alone. It’s like going from a great digital system to an awesome analogue system.

As mentioned earlier the lack of injection into the structure of the room and the surrounding building was most noticeable here and less interaction with the framework of the structure equals less interaction back into the speakers and the oh so delicate equipment in our racks, doing nothing but damage to the delicate audio signal. In turn a complete lack of smear reveals how much more information can be obtained from the electronics and released through the transducers.

This culminates in a soundstage that is more holographic and three dimensional, bringing out more muted details in the soundtrack that we often would believe were recorded at the levels we were used to hearing them, if we can even hear them at all in some cases, here in fact they were meant to be more prominent from the outset. The old sayings ‘you don’t miss what you never had’ and ‘you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone’ are both very true in this case. Removing the Seismic Speaker Bars from the system, has a shrinking effect, a smearing effect and a connection to the music that diminishes the will to even listen to music anymore. A lot of us have had this sensation and it’s always wise when demoing anything to leave it in a system for a while and then see how you feel once it’s removed, if it’s missed then you know it’s a keeper. Well these Bars are definitely keepers and I’m very glad I had the foresight to pursue these after the Podiums didn’t work for me, but then in all honesty it really was just due to my speakers size and shape and not the technology employed here as all – Seismic products from Townshend are based on the same principles.

Conclusion

For somebody who works intently on all areas of his system and who has spent a lot of time and effort on crossovers and other modification within the electronics etc to gain a presentation which is more tonally mature and emotionally connective, at the same time as preserving pace, transparency and rhythm I was bowled over by the Townshend Seismic Speaker Bars. They became the piece of the puzzle that I never knew I was missing.

With an all ceramic driver compliment in my Ayons, I never felt that cleanliness and smear was ever an issue in my setup. My how wrong I was! The benefits of a Townshend a Seismic product works to stop all negative mechanical effects of a room charged with vibrations and micro vibrations, leaving the listener with a natural, clean, more tonally accurate sound. An absolute must for any music lovers wishing to obtain a more intimate relationship with their music, plus they keep the neighbours happy also!

 AT A GLANCE

Build a Quality – Very solid, very smart good looking design

Sound Quality – Natural Analogue presentation, tighter, cleaner and more textured

Value For Money – Very reflective of performance gains – great value 

Pros:

An unexpected Analogue type conversion

Micro detailed more prevalent

Bass is more natural

Enhanced rhythm with less bloat and smear

Soundstage increases in all directions

Less interaction with the building which I great for neighbours

Many sizes available for weight and length 

Cons:

None what so ever 

Price: £999 – £1299

 

Daniel Worth

 

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