Positive Feedback reviewed by Bob Neill
"Neill, of all the things you have done to your audio system (putting in dedicated lines, adding (and taking out) power conditioners, putting in (and taking out) after-market power cords, treating your CD's with Auric Illuminator, spinning your CD's on the Bedini Clarifier, treating your cables with Nordost Eco spray, replacing your cement block and pine board shelf system), which is the most significant?" My new SAMSON shelf system, with two-inch maple shelving and steel connecting rods and brass alloy couplings. All of the others have made an audible difference, notably the power cords on hybrid and solid state electronics. But time has faded my excitement about all of them, which is what should happen.
What is the SAMSON doing? What I expected from it was more firmness, punch, and warmth. You know, the 'wood effect.' (Sorry Clark.) But over the first week the most dramatic change was a huge addition of Ease. The tension drained out of my system and everything seemed wonderfully relaxed. And better. Too relaxed? In went Mapleshade's Triple Points, three large brass alloy cones per component under my tubed preamp and tube DAC, and as a bit more resolution appeared, the question retreated for a while. The Triple Points didn't do anything good or bad under the Audio Note CDT Two transport. Putting cones of any kind under transports is an iffy situation: I remember Blue Circle Isolation Cones saving my Naim CDX but killing my CDS2. Apparently, it depends on how well a player is suspended internally. I also concluded they didn't improve the performance of my new turntable.
With Triple Points under the AN M6 preamp and under the AN DAC 4.1 Balanced (and later under the AN OTO integrated amp and an AN 3.1x one-box CD player), all sitting on the two-inch maple shelves, the whole sitting on integral brass alloy cones in contact with my three-quarter inch oak flooring over cement slab, there was added zip and detail amidst the ease. After much shifting in and out, I found that the Points were really a system-tuning device. I liked them in the system with Reynaud speakers, liked them less with Audio Note speakers. Infer what useful counsel you can from this observation.
And then, as I grew accustomed to the increased ease, I began to notice the added firmness, authority, and natural warmth I had expected, most rewardingly from the new ten-watt OTO and 3.1x player I'm playing with in my 'value system.' They are driving Reynaud Twins on newly re-introduced JMR Magic Stands, and the bass authority from this combination is now quite startling, both in authority and clarity. And finally, I stuck 12" x 22" two-inch Mapleshade maple boards on Mapleshade Isoblocks under my Neiro monoblocks, and the improvements went a step farther. Not dramatically, but incrementally.
Backwoods Barry has been on me about a lot things over the last couple of years, but never so much as getting maple into my system. His wife noticed the difference when a friend suggested maple kitchen cutting boards. She bought several, stuck them under their system's principal components, and has now cornered the maple cutting board market in North Bay, Ontario. Barry found my cement blocks 'n' boards mildly amusing but shook his head. So I am eating crow lately, publicly and privately, about the role my jerry-rigged rack has played in determining the sound of what I've heard and assessed here in my system over the past few years. I am forced to wonder how much firmness and glory my rack has sucked out of the gear that has sat upon it. Perhaps less than I fear, because the SAMSON does appear to have more effect on the still rather recently acquired Audio Note gear, with its tubes and transformers, than on my Blue Circle CS all-solid state amp. And the (tubeless) CDT Two transport probably isn't getting all that much benefit either, though who knows? The TT2 turntable does seem a bit tighter and firmer in its presentation, but I can't swear to that. I'd welcome others' experience on this matter.
There is not a whole lot more to say here. Pierre Sprey has been preaching the major sonic benefits of maple shelving (his is cut, dried, and finished by Amish carpenters) for years. He has experimented with various kinds of wood and has found maple superior to all others. He tells me that four-inch boards are better yet, and would even have purists put components on two-inch boards and Isoblocks and then on the Samson shelving! I have heard this kind of zealotry often in the world of high end audio, but based on what I'm hearing here, I am confident he is correct. It's just a matter of how far one wants to go. For now, I am extremely happy with my SAMSON.
Fantastic Rack. This was beyond my expectations. The maple is beautiful, beautifully finished and gorgeous. The fit and finish of the hardware is first rate. What else can I say, I'd buy it again. - Ira
Some recent additions to our family necessitated some revisions to my audio system. One item that was going to be replaced was a very nice and pricey carbon-fiber/stainless steel equipment stand that I had sold when I had my audio shop. The existing stand I was using is quite popular and does a nice job in wringing out everything your components can offer- or so I thought. Basically, I didn't need four shelves anymore since I went with some integrated components.
After a lot of research- and experience with many other equipment stands- I decided to check out the Mapleshade products. After some enjoyable conversations with Pierre, I decided to try the Samson rack, It arrived in about one week in several boxes. The finish is excellent and the grain of the maple looks great. Assembly took about 1 hour from unpacking to loading the gear. At first I dreaded having to thread the support rods, but the rods are extremely well made and the threading was effortless- no mis-aligned threads requiring Herculean strength to move the shelf nuts through. This is definately not cheap hardware. Tools are also provided to make shelf levelling and tightening pretty easy. Once the shelf was assembled, a bit of tinkering with levelling the shelves was completed in about 10 minutes.
I still had my existing stand, so I had a chance to do some A/B comparisons. Simply put, the Samson (w/Ultimate Triplepoints under the pre-amp) held it's own against the over the 6x as expensive stand I was using. Transients were sharp and clean with no change in the tonal balance. The dynamic range also seemed a bit better with the quieter passages being more quiet. Low level resolution and vocal nuances were excellent. Adding in the detached 4" maple amplifier stand I purchased at the same time, the sonics of my system surpassed what I had experienced with the prior stand- and all this for about one-quarter the cost of the hi-tech rig I was using.
In my opinion, the Samson is a big time best buy and should be on a short list of anyone looking for an equipment stand that will bring out the best of one's components. - Mike M.
This would probably be your best and most sonic upgrade to your system, after using the mega brass footers I wish I would of spent the extra for on the bottom of the rack or a speaker platform. I’m sure that’s incredible, but when I got this rack and put all my equipment on it I put on a blu ray and I was blown away with the improvement. Now with a lot of mapleshade products movies are mind blowing, I have no reason to go to a movie theater. Don’t let the price steer you away, pretend your buying new speakers and don’t forget the footers under your gear. It’s worth it you’ll start to appreciate the sound of the singers voice - Matt S.
Just wanted to let you know that I finally set up my Samson after doing some rennovation work - which took much longer than anticipated. The rack is terrific! I'm very impressed with the quality and feel secure that my equipment, despite its considerable weight, is safe and is producing just fantastic sound. I ended up moving the shelves around a couple of times, and eventhough this required some careful use of the level and tightening wrench, I couldn't be happier with the results. Thanks for all your help in arriving at the optimal combination of rack and accessories. Hopefully my photo comes through. - Frank
Why did I wait so long ? After years of tweaking (various cones, platforms,power cords and components) I am now the very satisfied owner of a Samson rack. Who knew that a rack could make such an improvement in a systems sound? The first CD I played was your new Redwine Trio disc. Pierre, you have truly outdone yourself on this one. The transparency and delicacy of this CD simply has to be heard. I was holding back tears halfway through track #1. The new rack was, of course, contributing its full share, as I found out later with many of my favorite CD's. The "reediness" of wind instruments, the plucked guitar strings and the shimmer of struck cymbals all given new life and naturalness by the Samson rack.Add to this a completely silent background and a solidity to each performance that really makes for fatigue free listening. Thanks for designing such a superior and attractive product. - Jim
I am currently using a 48" SAMSON rack in conjunction with the Mapleshade platforms, brass footers and isoblocks. Three components are mounted on the rack: a Magnum Dynalab tuner, Lindemann D680 CD player and a DIY passive preamp based on autoformer attenuation. The latter two are also on Mapleshade footer-platform-isoblock support. My Berning Siegfried amp sits next to the rack, with cone-platform-isoblock support directly on the wood floor (no carpet). The rest of my system consists of Avantgarde Duo 2.2 speakers, Nirvana and Sahuaro wire and a CFX Sound Application conditioner...I have given my system over completely to the Mapleshade isolation/support system. The rewards have been tremendous. I'm no good at picking out some of the attributes that some reviewers can (e.g., a "midbass hump" or "discontinuities at the crossover region"). I tip my hat to those with the experience and acuity to do so. The distinctions I find easiest to draw are those that make the presentation less hi-fi and more 'concert hall' real. I go to a decent number of concerts, mostly classical and jazz. And I've found that as you swap equipment in a system, it isn't hard to tell which stuff is better at bringing you closer to the real thing. I find that the less I have to think, the better it is (a real advantage non-professional reviewers have - we're not being paid to dissect!).
When I first used the Mapleshade brass footer-platform-isoblock support for my old transport 6 weeks ago (in place of a Vibraplane), I was astounded. After I put the whole system on a SAMSON, the sound took another mighty leap in the direction of the concert hall and away from hi-fi. The change was consistent with what the platforms give, notched up by maybe a factor of 5. And I,wasn't changing from a cheapo rack - I was replacing Zoethecus and Sound Anchor racks. Example: The sonority of the concert piano takes on the warmth, body and aura of live music, with the sense of space and place wholly intact. In fact the much-abused word "holistic" is a great descriptor here - no sonic checklist, but a presentation that breathes. The sense of completeness is entrancing -- your urge to intellectualize is totally disarmed and you don‚t want it to end.
So what's going on here? Pierre is using materials that Alexander Graham Bell had at his disposal, not the NASA 'techno wonde' stuff that is all the rage. I have to admit, part of the enjoyment of the SAMSON is the utter directness and deceptive simplicity of its design. I have no doubt that there are equally valid high tech approaches that sound fantastic, but in my small sample it's not even close. I remember the story about the Buddhist artist who was praised for his sculpture. He declined the praise, noting that Buddha's head was already in the block of wood - he just brought it out. If the music is in your system, the SAMSON rack will bring it out. - David Z.
I bought the Mapleshade SAMSON V.3 shelf rack more for its looks than anything else. But boy was I surprised by the sonic difference it made in my system. Overall, the sound improvement is as significant as a component upgrade. My previous rack was a relatively cheap Sanus -- MDF shelves and sand filled hollow tubes, sitting on AudioPoints on concrete covered by carpet.
First, the rack is simply beautiful. The pictures on the website and brochure do not do it justice. The quality of the 2" maple shelves is extremely high, with a very nice finish. The nickel uprights are very substantial - each weighs about 12 pounds. And the brass spacers, carpet points and top caps are huge hunks of brass. After seeing the quality of materials and workmanship, the $620 I spent seems like a bargain.
After several weeks of listening, here's what I have heard with the new rack. First, there is an overall smoother presentation and everything just sounds more natural, maybe less electronic. Especially voices and acoustic instruments. I don't know what is causing this effect, but the music just sounds more relaxed. The midrange is warmer and more 3D. Vocalists have more of a body attached to their voice (good thing when listening to Diana Krall!). Same effect for acoustic bass and kick drum. You can hear the body of the instruments. At the same time, there is more detail across the entire frequency from lows to highs. I am hearing more fine details in the music than ever before. The overall presentation seems to be more rich and more intense.
Although it was hard to do, I took Mapleshade 's advice and have my equipment sitting on brass points (Audiopoints) stuck right into the maple shelves without the little brass disks that protect the shelf. Yes, they have dug into the wood and have left marks, but the sound is worth it. Besides, if a shelf ever gets too bad I figure I can turn it over and use the other side.
Maybe this sound improvement is all in my head. Maybe I am "hearing" these things because I am now staring at a beautiful piece of furniture. I don't know. What I do know is that I am perceiving a big difference that is well worth the modest price. - Dave N.
"I am a very happy customer at Mapleshade...With a limited budget, I made incremental changes noting significant improvements in the sound of my system. The maple SAMSON A/V rack and speaker stands made impressive improvements in the sound of my old system. Adding the double helix speaker wires was another step up...Each of the additions has been a well priced upgrade based on Pierre's knowledge and listening with my ears--I am quite the happy listener and customer, and think that my system sounds great!" - Michael T.
I just wanted to share ... I have one of your SAMSON Racks and love, love it. It looks amazing and sounds amazing and makes me smile almost everyday. I’m a cellist so I know when a component gets the midrange right - and your rack does :) I think about how lucky I am - if I won the lottery I wouldn’t change a single thing in my system. Yay! - Paul H.
The SAMSON rack, with the addition of the amp stand with isoblocks, made a large and very nice difference in my system's sound quality. The addition of the Micropoints under preamp and digital server made a large further difference. I think the website statement about the Micropoints doubling the good effect of the rack is accurate. My system now sounds better than it ever has, truly at a new level. It is a bonus that the rack looks beautiful. My order was perfectly prepared and beautifully packaged. Thank you for the excellent products. - Jim H.
I had enjoyed my SAMSON audio rack with the 2 inch shelves for quite a few years when I decided to upgrade to all 4 inch shelves. At the same time I had also bought a top of the line interconnect cable from a very well respected company. I set up the new rack with the 4 inch shelves, put on a CD and turned around to walk away. As soon as the first track began, I quite literally was stopped in my tracks! The instant upgrade was stunning! Oh I thought, I must have hooked up the new cable too. NOPE, it was still in the box. My Mapleshade rack with 4 inch shelves is not only beautiful I now consider it an essential component of my system. - Scott T.
I have had my SAMSON V.1 Equipment stand for about a 3 weeks and the sonic improvement is no less than amazing. Previously I had my Oracle Delphi Mk III - Bryston Amp 4B - Audio Research SP-9 and Audio Research CD-2 on a Hollow Tube Steel Stand with thin wooden shelves. After moving all equipment over to my Samson V1 the bass improved dramatically as did the top end. The stand is built like a tank and the nice thing about it is you can reconfigure shelf spacing as your equipment needs change.
After a couple of weeks I needed another shelf for my Magnum Dynalab FT-101 Tuner so I ordered one and received it on a Friday - unfortunately one of the brass nuts was missing and I called at 5:30 PM on a Friday night. James assured me one would go out on Saturday and to my satisfaction it arrived in Monday's mail. Fast service and quality equipment appears to be their Modus Operandi. I will check with Mapleshade first the next time I need anything Hi Fi related. - Roger F.