08. July 2021 · Comments Off on Lateral Audio Stands LAS-CC Contact Component Isolators · Categories: Accessories, Hifi News, Hifi Reviews · Tags: , , , , ,

LATERAL AUDIO STANDS LAS-CC CONTACT COMPONENT ISOLATORS REVIEW

Ken Stokes gets isolated with British brand Lateral Audio Stands.

Like many in the audio world I have experimented with various approaches to isolating speakers and my HiFi units from each other; with or without room treatments and at different budgets, from cutting tennis balls in half to custom cut rock slabs and the ubiquitous Sorbothane in numerous guises! I have wanted to try some of the current more ‘technical’ isolation solutions on offer in the audio world for a while. I have long believed, approaching in a holistic way, that isolation; room to stands and platforms, to each individual unit matters and can make a significant difference to final perceived sound quality.

Lateral Audio Stands LAS-CC Contact Component Isolators

A set of three Lateral Audio Stands LAS-CC Contact Component Isolators

I was eager to try these from Lateral Audio Stands. The units I am sent for review are for placement under HiFi source and amplification units and can also be combined with the stands from Lateral Audio Stands, their stands are not part of my review, but as an aside, the platforms and stands look very nice indeed.

However, back to my review. These isolator units do not have to be used purely in conjunction with the platform systems made by Lateral Audio, these can be used in most systems and I was sent two sets of three LAS-CC units to try, a set was placed both under my amplifier and CD spinner.

Lateral Audio Stands LAS-CC Contact Component Isolators

The boxed Lateral Audio Stands LAS-CC Contact Component Isolators

These units come in packs of three and four to cope with components with weights up to 60kg or 80kg respectively, and floor isolators that can take weights to 85kg that are fitted with M8 studs.  Also worth noting Lateral Audio also make isolator platforms as an alternative to these ‘puck’ style isolators.

DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

First, maybe I should offer some basic information in terms of how these isolators are constructed. By way of a simple description, these isolators come in three parts, a machined stainless steel and brass base unit, a small sphere, which is a precisely machined ceramic ball, that sits in a machined hollow within the base unit (the sphere is coated with a light silicon-based lubricating fluid) and a machined stainless steel top section that also has a machined, hollow, brass section so it rests on top. The top and bottom are essentially separated by the sphere that fits, and sits, perfectly between them. The ceramic spheres arrive ‘pre-lubed’ in a packet, a useful addition might be a small bottle of the lubricating fluid in case they need a top-up over time.

In terms of appearance, these units are very well made and clearly machined to some tight tolerances, made from stainless steel with the brass insert in each stainless steel part. There is a dimple in the top, which I presume is for use with spikes and in conjunction with Lateral Audio’s other products. These units ‘fit together’ very easily and are simply placed under components in either a three isolator configuration or four. Even from opening the packaging I had a good impression, the packaging is stylish and befitting a quality product. I thought well presented and very much fit for purpose.  These units feel substantial in the hand, solid and they certainly have a look that would appeal to any passing style-conscious magpies! Getting to the point, I was impressed, they are well packaged, well made, easy to put together and easy to place under both my CD spinner and power amp. They looked the part and cosmetically are a huge improvement on my previous belt ‘n braces sorbo’ pods with cork toppers!

Lateral Audio Stands LAS-CC Contact Component Isolators

Lateral Audio Stands LAS-CC Contact Component Isolators

Inside the isolators you can clearly see the structure and the ceramic ball

The official construction description from Lateral Audio Stands is as follows: ” The LAS-CC design uses a ceramic ball bearing but allows for ‘micro pure motion’ inside the brass cup in which sits. The upper cap decouples from the base and is allowed to ‘perfectly alignment’ to the player, but only the centre brass is in contact with the underside of the player. Every detail and material and geometry choice is to control any resonance to an absolute low level, reducing any energy transmission through to the player. The ‘O’ ring which you see does not play a role, and only keeps the top cap vertical. The ball is delicately covered in silicone grease and this is also an important part of the detail of the LAS-CC and the extent to which it has been developed for its sound.

Lateral Audio Stands LAS-CC Contact Component Isolators

Lateral Audio Stands LAS-CC Contact Component Isolators

If I am to be critical with regard to construction, my only concern was about sitting metal to metal with no soft washer or cushioning between, either to the top or bottom of these isolators, meaning that my amp and cd player having metal bases, were sat metal to metal on the isolators and in my case, my wooden shelf HiFi unit under. If placed on a shelf or platform made of glass or other hard surfaces I might be concerned about scratches and some might be concerned about scratches to the underside of their expensive box components. I don’t feel this is a major issue though and this can easily be solved with perhaps a thin flat washer of some sort?  I do wonder if such could be supplied with these isolator units.

Lateral Audio Stands LAS-CC Contact Component Isolators

Lateral Audio Stands LAS-CC Contact Component Isolators before installing

Also, perhaps worth noting, in my case my CD spinner has, internally placed, a large and fairly heavy transformer, this did mean much of the weight is to one side of the unit and I think would have sat better on four, rather than three isolators as it had a tendency to tip (solved by moving the rear isolator toward the heavier side).

SOUND QUALITY

So, to the main course! How did these isolators affect the sound quality of my system? I installed these isolators, as suggested, under my CD player (I use the transport only to an off-board DAC/pre amp) and the other set of three under my power amp. Initially, at least I just wanted to spend some time playing music, not critical listening, rather just playing music as usual and reserve judgement. However, to be blunt, right from the outset I felt there was a difference.

Lateral Audio Stands LAS-CC Contact Component Isolators

Lateral Audio Stands LAS-CC Contact Component Isolators in situ

I often wait to do a ‘reverse’ test, removing or reverting back to my rig as was without the review kit in situ, to really get to grips with what the effects are. I spent well over a week just enjoying my music as normal, that week stretched to two weeks due to other commitments. No one was pushing me to rush my review so I just enjoyed my music and tried to play as many albums, different genres and styles of recording as to befit my mood. As above though, I knew pretty much from the off and confirmed after a few days that I was hearing differences; more micro-detail, the soundstage felt bigger and everything felt to have more vibrancy. This was not at the loss of anything in terms of the overall balance of my rig, bass was still kicking and the top end still there. A simplistic way to express perhaps, but it didn’t feel as if my all-digital source set-up was gaining detail or presence at the loss of anything. In some ways, this is a subtle difference, but as with much of what we do by way of peripheral kit changes, once heard it’s hard not to hear!

Now I know in most reviews that there are usually lots of descriptions, hints of fingernail on guitar string and the puff of air as the singer got a teeny bit close to the microphone, vocals not heard before in the background. That is not usually my style and those who have read my reviews before will be familiar with my approach. I played and have a broad taste in music, Gregorian chants to Miles Davis to thrash metal to Porcupine Tree to John Martyn and even the occasional orchestral piece. However, no point bragging about a large music collection given present company, I guess many of us can do that! The essence is really that nothing suffered adversely and everything I played had a lift – a bit more space and depth, a bit more detail. In short, a bit more realism and attack.

CONCLUSION

All my feelings about these isolators and the effect in situ were confirmed when I did my reverse tests. My wife is often requested at some point, much to her chagrin, to offer an opinion when I change kit or components. So you get two reviewers for the price of one with me! Now my wife loves music and has good ears, she hates discussions about HiFi or trying to dissect music so she is a reluctant participant, but as I say, she has good ears so sometimes I feel needs must. I know if she offers a similar view to me without prompting, that I can’t be far off the mark.

The reverse test was of course pretty simple, all I needed to do was remove the isolators and let my units sit on the standard unit feet. after warming up my rig and getting settled we played a few tracks that from past experience offer good opportunities to assess various musical elements, John Martyn and Church with One Bell and The Sky is Crying for sub-bass, various Pink Floyd tracks and a few of my wife’s favourites, Kate Melua for vocals for instance. We settled on Pink Floyd for the final ‘reverse’ test, the track Time offers good range and soundstage testing.

With no prompting from me, my wife’s first comment on removing these isolators from under the CD spinner was that ‘everything has gone flat’.  What she meant, in parlance we might use in the audio world, was that the sound stage had shrunk. To be honest, I was a little shocked just how much of a sense of loss I felt, it was as if the sound stage had been pushed right back toward the speakers and was narrower. We further explored playing more tracks. We also put the isolators back. My wife, who is not prone to encourage me to spend on HiFi (laughs out loud to self!) announced that she preferred these Lateral Audio isolators in, rather than out. My wife also added that with these units in place, “everything just sounds more”. In my view praise indeed, but I’d have to say, confirmed exactly how I felt.

Lateral Audio Stands LAS-CC Contact Component Isolators

A single Lateral Audio Stands LAS-CC Contact Component Isolator

AT A GLANCE

Build Quality:

Superb, clearly made to high tolerances, fit together well, solid and look good. These units should fit well cosmetically with most kit. My only minor criticism being, as mentioned earlier, maybe a need for some ‘soft’ pads/washers of some sort top and bottom to prevent potential delicate surfaces being scratched.

Sound Quality:

A definite improvement with my system, more detail, bigger soundstage and a greater sense of dynamics and realism.  Add your own style of expletives, if you prefer blacker blacks or greater space between instruments feel free to think in those terms. To be fair getting poetic is all well and good, but if you have a system that is revealing and looking for some sort of unit isolation, these might just fit for you.

Value For Money:

In my opinion, this can be a moot point, we all have kit that resides in various price brackets, in my terms these isolators are not cheap, but I can vouch that they work and are robust, well-made products. If they fit within your budget they have to be worth consideration.

We Loved:

The simplicity of assembly

The looks and the clear improvement to SQ

We Didn’t Love So Much:

The tendency for kit to slide on them requiring care when inserting CD’s and controls or the possibility of scratching either the underside of units or shelf/platform surfaces

Elevator Pitch Review: A simple tweak that provides definite improvements in sound. They make ‘everything sound more’. You will miss them when they are gone.

Price: £450 inc VAT

 

Reviewer Ken Stokes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ken Stokes

Supplied by Lateral Audio Stands

Review Equipment: Roksan Caspian M2 CD player (transport only), Benchmark Dac3, Nord NC500mk2 Dual Mono Power amp, Speakers – Vienna Acoustics Baby Beethoven Grand SE. Cables – Chord Epic Digital, Tellurium Q Black XLR, Chord EpicX Speaker. All mains cables using Belden earth drain screen cable and used in conjunction with a Weiduka mains unit. I also use a MacBook Pro for ripped and streamed using a Chord Epic USB to Benchmark Dac3.

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