Lateral Audio Stands LAS-9 Discovery Review

Posted on 19th March, 2020

Lateral Audio Stands LAS-9 Discovery Review

David Price samples an interesting new British equipment support, declaring it a sound foundation for any affordable audiophile system…

Lateral Audio Stands

LAS-9 Discovery 

£900 (4-Tier)

Remember the first wave of system supports from the nineteen-eighties? The hi-fi world finally realised that putting expensive equipment on old coffee tables was a sub-optimal solution, and unleashed a wave of steel stands with MDF or glass shelves. Despite most of those products ringing louder than Big Ben, many were met with rave reviews back in the day!

Since then, we have got a lot smarter, and have come to better understand what a system support should do – and how it should do it. Kevin Hancock of Lateral Audio Stands has given this problem decades of thought and has come to believe that an equipment rack should be a carefully tuned mechanical filter. Its job, he argues, is to remove vibrations coming into the hi-fi system from the loudspeakers by ground or air, as quickly as possible. His products are designed to not introduce resonance, nor to store it – instead, by a careful combination of materials and geometries, it is reduced and then grounded.

In the design of the LAS-9 Discovery, we see careful attention to detail being paid to things like bolt tension, so specially selected o-rings are used to ensure subtle decoupling. Understandably, Kevin isn’t willing to fully reveal the intricacies of his thought processes but says he always goes for the highest quality materials possible at the price. For example, the upper surfaces of the frame and shelves are oak veneered for better rigidity; this is a tough and resilient surface whose ‘skin effect’ confers extra strength, he says. Indeed, materials with high strength-to-weight ratios are used throughout.

The £900 four-tier Discovery stand is surely the most interesting in his range? Despite being British designed and built, it isn’t prohibitively expensive – indeed it’s priced just right for people with separates in the popular £1,500-£2,000 range. It comes in a choice of black, white and red lower surfaces; I think the white complements those with silver equipment, whereas red or black undersides suit black finished kit. There’s a range of leg options – 500mm, 630mm or 780mm – offering different shelve spacing. The three-tier 500mm stand costs £750, the four-tier 630mm is £900, and the four-tier 780mm is £950. Lateral’s £400 Concert isolation platform can be added for an extra performance boost; it’s been specially designed to direct-couple to the stand. You can run anything between two and five tiers, with a weight limit of 25kg per tier.

I tried various hi-fi components on the four-tier stand and was surprised by the improvement in the sound, compared to a standard ‘metal frame and glass shelf’ rack. There were two fundamental improvements – frequency domain and time domain. Tonally, music was more natural and organic; the upper midband was less ‘well lit’ and that means vocals – especially female – were smoother and more realistic. Percussion – like snare drums and rim shots – was also less forward too, making things less tiring. At the frequency extremes, the treble gains a more textured sound that is less shouty; hi-hat cymbals, for example, appeared more believable. Bass was tonally slightly drier, with a crisp and sinewy sound from bass guitars. 

All of this means the music is smoother, but that’s not another way of saying it’s more boring – quite the reverse. Indeed, the most profound improvement over a standard rack is how the music is delivered. Things are substantially more fluid sounding, as things just sashay along; there’s no longer any sense that rhythms are over-cooked to the point where the life has gone out of them. Reverb trails from hard-struck cymbals, for example, were longer. Bass guitar notes stopped and started more distinctly. The natural phrasing of vocals was easier to make out, as was rhythm guitar work. The music appeared as a sequence of notes that flowed along from one to the other, rather than just dots being joined for the sake of it. It’s rather hard to describe, but very easy to hear!

Overall then, the Lateral Audio Stands LAS-9 Discovery is a superb product at its price. It’s not the very best system support I have ever heard, but nor is it the most expensive – by a long way. It does an awful lot of what exotic designs do but at a sane price. At the same time, it looks nice and is very well made. Indeed it hits a sweet spot in price and performance that few others manage, so duly comes highly recommended.

For more information, visit Lateral Audio Stands.

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David Price

David started his career in 1993 writing for Hi-Fi World and went on to edit the magazine for nearly a decade. He was then made Editor of Hi-Fi Choice and continued to freelance for it and Hi-Fi News until becoming StereoNET’s Editor-in-Chief.

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Tags: lateral 

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