When I recently called Stillpoints’ Bruce Jacobs to inquire about trying some of his Ultra isolation feet, he asked, “Are these for review or for personal audition? Because you’re not going to want to take them out once you hear them.” At the time I was amused by his remark. But after inserting them into my Wilson XLF loudspeakers, where they replaced the stock spikes, and underneath several pieces of equipment, including the computer controller for the Continuum Caliburn turntable, I quickly came to realize that he had a point.
Thanks to the valiant help of John Quick and Peter McGrath, I was able to execute the installation of the Stillpoints pretty rapidly. We did it one piece at a time. The changes were not subtle. I heard the same things that TAS editor Robert Harley reported hearing in his review in issue 218 of the Stillpoints—greater clarity, more midbass punch, blacker backgrounds, and improved spatial relationships. Fine transients, as Robert noted, sounded more lifelike because of a reduction in “transient blurring,” something that I would ascribe to the ability of the Stillpoints Ultra’s ability to lower, and not by a small margin, the noise floor. Both vinyl and digital playback were considerably improved. The overall impression is one of greater silkiness and refinement.
On Dusty Springfield’s rendition of the “Look of Love” on the Classics 45 rpm reissue, for example, I was riveted not simply by how much more distinct her vocal timbres sounded as she crooned her way through the song, but also by the closing notes of the trumpets. They had always sounded slightly out of tune, almost as though a rag had been stuffed into the bore of the trumpet. No longer. You could hear the metallic sheen of the trumpets as their sound had opened up. Again and again, I was able to identify subtle musical details and cues, whether in the treble or bass region, that had previously been absent.
Perhaps a friend of mine who heard the transformation put it best: “It’s both more information and less detailed.” By that he meant that while the sheer amount of musical information had increased, it’s conveyed in such an effortless and tuneful way that it never overwhelms or assaults the listener. This is a standout product that can take almost any high-end system to a higher and more elegant level of musical performance.