Compared to Ultra SS, Sort Kones—including TC—also tended to push the front of the soundstage back farther, and did so without a corresponding deepening of the soundstage. The end result yielded a small reduction of perceived soundstage depth. Width was also slightly reduced with Sort Kones. I could not discern any appreciable difference in image height between TC Sort Kones and Ultra SS. Overall resolution was also better with the Ultra SS and, more importantly, the musicality quotient—the emotional connection and artistic expressiveness in the music—was undeniably more apparent with Ultra SS in the mix.
My audio buddy, in whose system we also compared all of the Sort Kone models, confirmed exactly what I was thinking about the whole exercise without any prompting from me. I realize this is the opposite result TAS contributors Charles Zellig and Jay Clawson wrote about in Issue 248 in their series on “New Methods for Quantifying Sonic Performance.” I don’t know what to make of the Zellig-Clawson findings, as I usually hear many of the same sonic characteristics my fellow writers describe. In this case, all I can say is that these results are a good example of how system variables and personal responses to a given device come into play. Were Sort Kones preferable to stock feet? Most definitely, yes. Would I use Sort Kone if I did not have access to Ultra SS footers? Yes. My personal preference is for Ultra SS, though.
As mentioned, Sort Füts are designed for use as replacement for stock audio rack and speaker footers. They screw into the rack or speaker base with threaded studs and raise the speaker or rack height by about 2.75". Nordost offers some Sort Füt accessories that you can add to your installation as you see fit. Sort Kup ($299/four) is a matching floor protector that accommodates the dome shaped Sort Füt “tip.” Sort Lock ($179/four) is a large, visually-matched, finger-adjustable nut that allows you to lock in height adjustments so you can be sure the Füt stays in place, and also so you can easily return to a particular setting if you need to. I have a carpeted listening room, so Nordost did not send any Sort Kup, but it did include Sort Lock, which I used.
Nordost also offers a Premium Package ($1500), which includes four Sort Füt, an adjustment tool to make raising or lowering Sort Füt easier, a laser-equipped level, instructions to aid in precise speaker positioning, and an assortment of 8mm, 6mm, and other threaded mounting adapters. The Premium Package costs $100 more than a set of four Sort Füt on their own. You could go to a hardware store and buy a similar laser level for less than $100, but the Premium Package also includes an attachable laser-focusing device and a small plastic target to make speaker matching adjustments easier than a standard laser level would. I also found the custom adjustment tool came in handy. The fit and finish quality of Sort Füt is quite high.
Because changing out the existing spikes on my speakers and rack to Sort Füt was not a quick or easy task, I was not able to use the standard A/B/A evaluation method. However, I can report that I liked everything I heard with Sort Füt in my system. I do not believe I am too far out in pure speculation territory to attribute the following sonic improvements to Sort Füt and the Premium Package: greater sonic ease and less edginess, an improvement in subtle detail retrieval, and more coherent dynamics. Music just sounded more focused and less jumbled, as if small timing errors had been corrected. While I noted those improvements when Sort Füt were installed under my speakers, I believe the greatest improvements were wrought by using Sort Füt under my primary equipment rack (a wood and MDF unit made by QS&D with adjustable spikes for each shelf). Sort Füt helped ratchet up my system’s performance across the board without any apparent downsides.