REVIEW: ISOACOUSTICS OREA BRONZE ISOLATING FEET
We have seen and heard IsoAcoustics products demonstrated at shows, and we decided to start with their smallest offering, the Orea, for review. Here is what we thought about the little Iso pucks.
Coming straight out of Markham, Ontario, IsoAcoustics have impressed us at various shows. We have been particularly amazed by the difference the Canadian firm's GAIA isolating feet have made in demonstrations, usually attached to some Focal loudspeakers of some descript.
The presentations take the form of live A/B testing (a method often thrown up on forums as soon as you mention you prefer something others don't). The GAIA feet are attached to one set of speakers, whereas the others go without. Then, using a switch to flick between the pairs, you are allowed to make your own mind up. The fantastic thing is, without fail, the speakers with the IsoAcoustics tweak sound better - clearer, with a low-end that's taut and focused and all that good stuff.
Here at StereoNET, we try to review something for everyone. It is tempting to always head to the high-end products, and we do love having that aspirational kit in our racks, but we also like finding out what less spendy options sound like.
Now, at £50 a corner used how we have for this review, we openly acknowledge that's more than beer money (even with our love of the alcomohol); however, if it improves the sound coming out of our system, then it may well prove cheaper than buying new stands or a rack. Who knows?
Noise can be the bane of any hi-fi lover's life. We're not talking about jets flying overhead or a flatmate who just won't STFU, but bad vibes.
Unwanted resonances are detrimental to audio equipment; we all know that. Additionally, we think it's safe to say that we've all seen a variety of methods and products that promise to evict these audio gremlins at a whole range of price points.
OREAlly Well Made
The IsoAcoustics OREA are sold separately. Splendid news because if your kit sits on three feet, such as components by YBA do, you don't have to waste your cash on buying sets of four. Also, a DAC or headphone amp might only need a pair.
They are well made, too. Each pod is solidly built and has a rubberised top measuring 50mm in diameter. The feet have an overall height of 29mm and, should you be using them under your speakers, shouldn't raise them too much. The rubberised surfaces ensure your beloved equipment doesn't slip off.
The Bronze variety we have here are suitable for 3.6kg each so, with four, they can take over 14kg as a team. Naturally, IsoAcoustics have alternatives for more substantial jobs in the Indigo and Bordeaux flavours of OREA.
As it is, the brand states that the upper flange of the OREA's are designed to provide a suction cup-like effect and adhere to the underside of the component, while the lower flange adheres to the supporting surface.
IsoAcoustics also tells us that all the energy is managed within the core of the OREA's, which are tuned to work within specific weight ranges.
The result of all this should be greater sound clarity and a more open soundstage. Well, let's see, shall we?
We were sent the OREA Bronze with the intention of shoving them under Marten Duke 2 standmount speakers. Of course, this is what we duly did. However, we also slipped the IsoAcoustics OREA Bronze pucks under other bits of hardware too - why not?
Generally, we start with our system as is and then swap out our regular stuff and replace it with the review kit. After listening for a while, swap back and forth, and so on. This time we were feeling cute and started with the Duke 2 sat atop the Bronze. We were using the Duke 2's own stands as the plinths are the same size as the base of the speakers. That gave us room to place an OREA puck at each corner as the plinth on our SolidSteel stands is not so large.
Kicking things off with A Perfect Circle and The Package we set the CD spinning. We are incredibly familiar with this track, and the Thirteenth Step album as a whole. The first track packs plenty of subtly in the intro and then some big, thick bass. On the first play, we could already hear that there was a difference. It was then off with the speakers to remove the IsoAcoustics pucks. The OREA feet really are sticky as they all remained adhered to the bottom of the speakers when we lifted them off their stands.
The second playthrough was without the Bronze. Although still good the bass seemed to be a little slurred now. Additionally, the higher frequencies were set back a tad.
Slipping the OREAs back in between the speakers and the tops of the stands tightened everything up again. The bass did lose a small amount of boom, but everything sounded more, well, musical with the IsoAcoustics in place. Whether it's because the bass was better controlled or the pucks somehow increase the high mids, there did seem to be more clarity in the upper ranges.
As we seem to have gotten smitten by Dido Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong's voice again after a 20-year break since buying No Angel it was time to put on her latest release, Still On My Mind.
Although we're not as familiar with Dido's new album as we are with A Perfect Circle's third album we had on earlier, as we watched the pink vinyl spinning on our VPI Prime we felt that we were getting more of the whole story with the pucks in place. Without the IsoAcoustics accessories, the album lacked energy, for want of a better word as Dido's music has rarely been accused of being urgent or energetic. But, her songs did appear to have more life with the pucks in place.
We did try the pucks under the YBA Passion integrated's trio of feet and could detect some improvement. Oddly, under the Passion CD player, it was more pronounced. Better still was putting one at each corner of the VPI. However, we found that using them under the Martens gave us the best bang for puck. Perhaps if the VPI's feet weren't so well engineered in the first place, they might have had more impact there.
There is no doubt in our mind that the IsoAcoustics OREA Bronze do what they promise. Remember, they do not so much add detail but reveal what is hidden by those pesky bad vibes.
To our ears, using them under speakers, especially if the stands aren't particularly great, will give you the best results. After that, used under your source equipment and then, finally, under amplification.
As we said earlier, £400 for eight pucks isn't pocket money, but it is certainly more affordable than some other solutions out there. If you don't want to take our word for it, find a store that will demo you some and we are sure that you'll hear the difference they make.
For more information, head on over to IsoAcoustics.
StereoNET UK’s Editor and Bass playing gadget junkie. He’s captained the good ship GadgetyNews for over a decade, making low jargon high tech a very handy thing. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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