The Argent Roomlens & Rosinante Darkmatter Isolation Stands
|The Argent Roomlens & Rosinante Darkmatter Isolation Stands|
29 November 1999
Contact: Todd Laudeman
Argent Cable, Inc.
P.O. Box 161
69 Truesdale Road
Tioga Center, NY 13845
"Frankly, I've never heard my system do justice to the mallet instruments. Something gets lost among the lightning quick initial transient, overtone reproduction and decay. But this is closer than I've experienced."
At this moment I'm listening to an LP of the Ornette Coleman Trio (live), At the "Golden Circle", Stockholm (Blue Note St-84225 Vol. 2) and I'm a happy camper. I can't say it’s entirely due to the music. I find Ornette a little hard to swallow, even when he's in a subdued mood. Nevertheless, I'm transfixed by what's happening in my room. The trio is positioned across the stage, drums left, Ornette dead center and double bass right. On "Morning Song", when Ornette blows, it has close to the fullness and startle factor (or attack) I remember from late nights at the Village Vanguard or even later nights at the old Jazz Forum. Each cymbal in Charles Moffett's drum kit is just where it should be. Each shimmers with a different color. David Izenzon alternates plucking and bowing his bass. Then Moffett switches to xylophone. Frankly, I've never heard my system do justice to the mallet instruments. Something gets lost among the lightning quick initial transient, overtone reproduction and decay. But this is closer than I've experienced. These happy circumstances are in no small part due to two products under audition: the Argent RoomLens and the Rosinante DarkMatter equipment supports.
The Argent Roomlens
The RoomLens are well known and I found them to perform as advertised. They ratchet up resolution and clarify the stage in a powerful way. You'll be treated to more warmth and complexity. All this has been said before in the many positive reviews, so I'll just briefly mention some setup pointers.
I found symmetrical placement of the side lenses essential. The toe-in, distance from the speaker, and leveling to a true vertical, should be carefully addressed. Actual toe-in wasn't as critical as making sure it was the same on both sides. [Editor’s Note: If the room itself is not symmetrical, your results could vary. --FJA] The same applies to the distance from the speakers. The manufacturer recommends starting out by removing all other room treatment. It is claimed the lenses address all room anomalies, making other treatment superfluous. I consider the results of this arrangement Level 1. But you can go beyond Level 1 when additional treatments are added. Level 2 will put you over the edge to a further degree of excellence. I wound up with all original treatment back in place along with the Lenses. Suffice it to say they are now permanent in my room.
"Ostensibly, the subject was the RoomLens, but DarkMatter kept creeping in. His customers were reporting favorable comparisons with the Vibraplane Air Table. I was beginning to get interested."
DARKMATTER, or What We Should All Know About Intergalactic Spaces…
DESCRIPTION: Rosinante DarkMatter Isolation Stands are equipment support platforms made of a proprietary material. They come in 2 sizes: 13" W × 18" D × 23 " H for placement on racks. This weighs in at 28 pounds and MSRP is $500. For use as amp stands, 18" W × 20" D × 23 " H. This one is 52 pounds and MSRP is $850. Four black plastic feet are supplied to go under the platform if they are placed on the floor, as well as three large steel ball bearing feet, which go on top, between platform and component. They are designed and manufactured by Ric Cummins of Rosinante and marketed by Argent Cable, Inc. The company is changing its name and will soon be known as Argent Audio, Inc. Web site: www.roomlens.com.
Before the stuff arrived, I had several conversations with Ric Cummins at Rosinante. Ostensibly, the subject was the RoomLens, but DarkMatter kept creeping in. His customers were reporting favorable comparisons with the Vibraplane Air Table. I was beginning to get interested.
DarkMatter Meets the Doppelganger
Dark Matter (DM) is composed of a solid black "polymeric matrix composite of constantly varying acoustic impedance". The polymer is "specifically a non-orthothalic backbone polyester". The theory is that vibration is drained from your component into the platform. Then it is diffracted and broken up into smaller and smaller facsimiles of itself. The chaotic movement of these facsimiles in the DarkMatter dictates they will meet an equivalent facsimile moving in the opposite direction and be canceled. Think of this energy as sound waves. When a 200-cycle wave meets an out of phase equivalent, the result is no sound or a cancellation of sound.
It is claimed that all the vibes from your component flow into the DM and are entirely dissipated. There is no energy build up and no delayed release back into your component. Once vibrations enter the DM they are stopped. The transfer ratio of energy into the DM and dissipated is claimed to be higher than any competing isolation product.
The first areas to address for maximum impact are components with moving parts, like LP turntables or CD drives. Let me describe my current turntable setup. It is the result of lengthy experimentation. I removed the base of my LP12. The stock, flimsy, soft plastic feet never sounded good to me. This applies to the upgraded base and feet as well. The Linn salesman promised that if I bought the improved base with the dedicated feet, I would be done with the matter. But then we know Linnies are famous for their anti-tweak posture. Instead, I put Air Tight graphite cubes at strategic points on each side under the plinth. Below this is a Bright Star Big Rock sandbox. And under the sandbox is a Townshend Seismic Sink (the model with 2 bladders). Caveat Emptor: don’t try this if you have pliant floors.
This triple level of isolation (Seismic Sink, Big Rock, graphite cubes) remained in place for years. I find these graphite cubes to be the best all-purpose isolation feet on the market. They add very little coloration and increase dynamics. At some point I got more graphite cubes and, on a lark, doubled them up under the plinth. Low and behold, it got better yet!
"SOOO QUICK! Sounds arrive out of nowhere. Decay is different depending on the source. What's new is the variety of arrival and decay info."
To install the DM, I removed the graphite cubes and the Big Rock and placed the DarkMatter platform on top of the Seismic Sink. The turntable sits directly on the DarkMatter with three sides of the plinth touching it. The fourth side hangs over the edge, to allow the protruding arm tube and cables clearance.
Results: This change was enough to give me the eerie experience with Ornette's trio that I described above. With a high-quality recording, the reproduction can overwhelm you so that the music itself may become secondary. The performance boost is so convincing you just sit back and let it flow. All this increased resolution took time to get used to. At first, the clarity and quickness seemed unnatural. I thought it was too quick and maybe a little lean. It is possible that some components will not be compatible with the DM. If a manufacturer has voiced a component to compensate for coloration’s induced by vibration, removing them could make things worse. This applies especially to solid-state electronics, and much less frequently with tube components.
Later on, I put a second DM platform under my solid-state BAT VK200 amplifier, replacing a Big Rock. I left the Little Rock and a Shakti Stone on top of the amp. More of the same improvements accrued, but not to the same magnitude. The platforms come with large steel ball bearings, to be used on top of the platform and under your component. These worked better than having the component sit directly on the platform, but replacing them with graphite cubes worked even better.
Then I moved the two freed-up Big Rocks onto the main five-shelf SolidSteel equipment rack, under the power supplies for turntable and phono pre-amp. Timbre dropped, instruments gained more weight and solidity, and dynamics got wider, with less distortion on peaks. This gave me the best sound yet. Now I recall how Russ Novak brought the sandboxes to my attention years ago, but I never followed up. One night at a meeting of the Gotham Audio Society, he made a case for the sand in these Bright Star bases as the ideal medium to damp resonance. Put sand under everything! At the time I questioned, "Why not air supports, or some other basic molecular material (earth, air, water, wood)?" Sand does work, both because of its absorptive properties, and because of its weight. The DM simply worked a lot better under my turntable, and my amp. And probably under the power supplies too.
SOOO QUICK! Sounds arrive out of nowhere. Decay is different depending on the source. What's new is the variety of arrival and decay info.
SOOO CLEAR! For the first time, adjustments in tracking force have a noticeable effect on image stability. I was never sure where to set this adjustment, since changing it didn't make an audible difference. Now, at the right setting, you get to hear every little nuance (including all the pops, ticks and analog hiss).
Psychological Space and Resonance Control
How can a given room sound larger or smaller to us? I'm out of my depth here, but here's what I gather from talking to Ric. The treble frequencies carry subtle info regarding stereo height, width, and depth. Even though you might be hearing the treble content, the spatial cues carried by the treble can be easily obscured. When the spurious stuff is removed, you get more exact dimensional cues. This means that instruments are more stable; there is less smearing and fuzziness. Your ear/brain can resolve depth and height that it couldn't before, and can put sounds in a more precise place on the stage. Hence, you perceive a larger room.
This new clarity enabled me to move the speakers back a half foot further from the listener without compromising the stage width, which also increased the distance from the side wall treatment for first reflections, allowing sound to come from all around the speaker. The stage is wider and more densely populated. I have not moved to a bigger apartment, but psychologically the stage got larger. This is a wonderful thing. I have always come up short on the compromise between stage width and image focus. Now I can have both. Before, the stage was concentrated in the area between the speakers. It felt cramped. So I adopted a near field listening position.
"While not cheap, the Rosinante DarkMatter Isolation Stands will give you dramatic gains in system performance that can't be approached by any isolation product in its price class."
Ric Cummins feels the audio realms to be addressed next are room acoustics and resonance control. He has plenty of company here. The electric circuits we use were invented long ago. They may need refinement, but the basic circuit designs are known. This is why so many of the best amplifiers and speakers today are re-workings of designs from the twenties and thirties.
The Argent RoomLens is the frontrunner in the serious audiophile's toolbox for taming room acoustics. There is nothing else like them on the market and they seem to work in all rooms.
The Rosinante DarkMatter products face a lot of competition in the area of add-on resonance control. The Vibraplane is certainly a contender for the gold medal. But it costs three times what a small DM platform costs. I have tried many of the more popular products and find the DM noticeably superior to all these comers.
While not cheap, the Rosinante DarkMatter Isolation Stands will give you dramatic gains in system performance that can't be approached by any isolation product in its price class. You will be amazed by the wealth of detail revealed in your presentation. It makes most of my record collection sound like Classic Record reissues. Audition is a pre-requisite for use with solid state components.
Don't forget to bookmark us! (CTRL-SHFT-D)