IsoAcoustics GAIA Acoustic Isolation Feet
Fortunate for me, I attended the 2018 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest, last year. I have attended RMAF about a half-dozen times since ’08, and each trip proved enjoyable. Upon arriving and meeting my good friend John. He was quite excited about visiting an exhibit called IsoAcoustics, he was very excited about the demonstration he had observed earlier and wanted me to experience what he thought was a unique presentation. After an exhausting day of visiting a plethora of exhibits, collaborating with all sorts of people, and eating way too much food – near the end of the day we finally made it to the IsoAcoustics room. We sat through their demonstration of the IsoAcoustics GAIA Acoustic Isolator feet. The demo was well put together, the representatives from IsoAcoustics performed a comparison using two pair speakers, one pair with the IsoAcoustics GAIA feet and one pair without. Upon A-B comparisons the differences were pretty obvious. Almost night and day.
I immediately became interested in getting my hands on a set of these IsoAcoustics GAIA feet to see if what I heard at the show would translate into my listening room at home. Keeping in mind that what you hear from some of these shows very seldom is duplicated the same way at home, it’s either better or worse.
Thirty days prior to attending RMAF I had purchased a pair of Tekton Encore Speakers (reviewed here) simply put and without reservation, the Tekton Encores (at only $8k), are, in my humble opinion, the best loudspeakers I’ve owned. The reason I mention the Encores is because, my intention is to use the IsoAcoustics GAIA Isolator Feet with the Tekton Encores to see if I could capture the same magic I heard at the show.
A Bit of History
IsoAcoustics Inc. has been manufacturing and distributing isolation products in the audio industry since early 2012. The patented IsoAcoustics technology is based from years of experience in the design and construction of radio and television studios. The driving force is Dave Morrison, closely involved in planning and building radio and television studios for close to 20 years. Dave Morrison was part of the design team faced with the challenges of building the world’s largest multi-media center in Toronto Canada: over 1.72 million square feet, with recording studios for drama, music, and chamber ensembles, special effects, radio and television shows.
Based on patented designs, IsoAcoustics has developed products for the Professional Audio and home project studio, the HiFi and consumer market, and large applications that include Pro Audio, HiFi and Live Sound. IsoAcoustics distribution is structured with separate channels for Pro Audio and Home Audio, with product development within these channels. In this relatively short period of time, IsoAcoustics has grown rapidly and now sells in over 70 countries.
IsoAcoustics has went through great lengths explaining and describing how speaker isolation works. This is accomplished thoroughly and exquisitely on their website. Some of the points that caught my interest;
A) The three challenges with loudspeaker placement:
B) Review test results from the National Research Council of Canada
Measuring frequency response in the anechoic chamber to test for colorization
Measuring transfer of energy to supporting surface
Measuring vibrations: IsoAcoustics vs Spikes
Measuring vibrations with suspension on bungee cords to provide a baseline
C) Explain how IsoAcoustics uses patented isolation technology to provide the best speaker performance.
Just these points of interest captured my interest and conveyed to me that IsoAcoustics is very serious about what they seek to accomplish as a company. It seems to me no expense is spared in their pursuit to put out the best product money can buy.
In my opinion, the mark of a great company is shown in the emphasis they pay in the area of attention to detail, and quality. This point was evident when the package arrived at my door with the IsoAcoustic GAIA I Acoustic Isolator Feet. The package arrived via UPS, the box contained 2 separate leather cases of 4 IsoAcoustics GAIA and accessories. The package itself weighed over 25 pounds, very hefty for 8 Isolation feet. Once I opened the package, there were 2 boxes of IsoAcoustics GAIA I Isolator feet (4), housed in leather clad cases also consisting of three sets of differently sized threaded inserts (M8, M6, and ¼-20), each with their own matched locknuts and a single wrench to tighten with. (Nothing was overlooked) The different sizes will accommodate most speaker designs. There are also adapters plates available to fit Bowers and Wilkins Diamond and Nautilus Series speakers. Another option offered is the matching GAIA carpet spikes (in sets of 4) to provide a firm, flat surface beneath the GAIA Isolator feet on carpet.
The patented design of the GAIA Isolator Feet includes a top and bottom isolator with a connector sandwiched between them, thus creating three points of contact. The bottom of the footer has a suction cup-shaped rubber base attached, which is meant for use on hard surfaces. The GAIA Isolator Feet are made of machined metal and finished in smoked chrome, resulting in an elegant, high-end appearance. Each GAIA I weighs approximately 8 lbs each with the IsoAcoustics label on the front.
The IsoAcoustics Isolators are available in three sizes depending on the weight of the loudspeaker. The GAIA I is designed for speaker loads up to 220 pounds; the GAIA II for speakers up to 120 pounds and the GAIA III for speakers up to 70 pounds. For this review I used the GAIA I, since my speakers weigh in at a hefty 175 pounds, I also used a set of the carpet spikes, which are sold separately.
Installation of the GAIA I isolator feet and carpet spikes were not a problem, however in order to install it will take two people depending on the weight of the loudspeaker. Since my Tekton Encore loudspeakers are tall and heavy so I solicited the help of a friend to carefully tip the speakers as I carefully screwed in one Isolator at a time. However, if you don’t have any help with tilting or lifting your speakers, I’m told this can also be accomplished by using four Winbag air wedges. These contraptions can be found on Amazon.com and other affiliated websites. One other important instruction to be aware of is during installation make sure the center of the logo is rotated facing the listeners position. This is per the instructions to ensure that the optimal benefits of the GAIA are obtained. The GAIA Isolator feet are designed to work with the logo facing toward the listening position or 180 degrees opposite. The patented design of the GAIA Isolator Feet are intended to resist lateral movement and oscillations of the speaker, but to continue to allow alignment on a plane in line with the listener.
I knew from the beginning this writing would not be the typical type of a review, meaning, there was no way I could perform an A-B test due to setup and location of the Isolator feet along with the weight of the speakers. It would not be feasible to listen and then remove the Isolator feet and reinstall for another listen, that would not be practical at all. So, with that said, I had to conduct my listening tests from recent memory of music that I was very familiar with. I would listen for possible sonic and frequency changes, sonic improvements, width of sound staging. Observant of stage collapse, or expansion, or would there be no change at all; would the bass become tighter or sound muddy, how about the upper frequencies, would they be concise or smeary. I had a list of things I would be focusing on, but as I mentioned this could only be accomplished with music I had familiarity with.
For those who have read any of my previous product reviews, I often use Herbie Hancock’s Grammy Award winning album “The Joni Letters” as a test sample. Herbies masterpiece in my opinion is one of the greatest contemporary jazz recordings of all times, an absolute jazz classic. I know this recording better than any of the thousands of recordings that I own in my record collection. I decided to start with it as my first test selection. Getting right to the point, the sound with the GAIA’s installed was stellar, I was mesmerized at what I was listening to, it was as if I had a new HDCD, however the media played was CD Redbook. It took on a HDCD sound, the bass was tighter, with a midrange that was fuller and quieter. Vocals throughout each track presented a stellar imaging and the soundstage was wider and more 3-dimensional, the overall sound throughout the entire CD came across natural and focused. Everything to my surprise took a step up to a different level. As large as my speakers are, they just vanished from the room. I sat there immersed in the music, could not believe how could a system this good; sound so much better in a matter of minutes. Ladies and Gentlemen, the IsoAcoustics GAIA Isolator Feet are a remarkable product.
Luther Vandross “Live at Radio City Music Hall 2003”, has a special place in my heart. This stellar recording was released a few months after my wife and I attended one of his live concerts in Kansas City in 2004. The exhilarating sonic overtures captured from this recording is exactly as I remembered while sitting and applauding at what I remember enjoying one of the greatest performers ever. Listening to this recording on my system with the Tekton Encore Speakers placed on top of the IsoAcoustics GAIA Isolator Feet allowed me to relive every sonic occurrence exactly as I experienced it while at his live concert in Kansas City back in 2004.
I could go on and on explaining what I heard over the next few days from my music collection. I will without conviction, that since the addition of the Tekton Encore speakers, I was convinced that my system could in no way (with the exception of a major component change) get any better. I now retract that statement in spades. With the addition of the IsoAcoustic GAIA Isolator Feet underneath my speakers, I have never heard such detailed more insightful sound, the bass extension throughout the upper regions were breathtaking. Bandwidth and micro details were impactful with more holographic with much cleaner tonality and timbre. A message to all you Tekton and non Tekton Speaker owners, if you feel you’ve reached the pinnacle, I’m here to tell you, you may be close, however if you want to lay claim to “I’ve made to the mountain top”, then reach out to the folks at IsoAcoustics and invest in a set of the GAIA IsoAcoustic Isolator Feet. I can confidently guarantee that you will thank me!
Price: Isoacoustics Gaia Isolators (GAIA I $599, GAIA II $299, GAIA III $199)
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