Product Review -
The Titan Vibration and
Resonance Control System - February, 1996
By Daniel Long
The Titan Vibration and Resonance Control System. Isobase Technologies, 1 Sims View, Singapore 1441, Republic of Singapore. Tel: (65) 841-5887. E-Mail: Isobase@singnet.com.sg
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|Model||Description||Size (WxDxH)||Retail Price|
|Titan I||Double Ply Isolation Platform||20x16x1.75||S$395|
|Titan IV||Double Ply Isolation Platform||17.5x13x1.75||S$295|
|Titan V||Double Ply Isolation Platform||20x19x1.75||S$450|
|Titan Mi||Triple Ply Isolation Platform||10x18x1.5||S$350|
|Titan Caps||Speaker Resonance Damper||6.5x9x1.2||S$195 Pr|
|Titanic I||Isolation Trough||23x19x3||S$395|
|TFS||Titanic I with Titan I||23x19x3||S$790|
|Titan I||56.32 lbs|
|Titan IV||40.92 lbs|
|Titan V||67.32 lbs|
|Titan Mi||28.6 lbs|
|Titanic I||52.8 lbs (sand to fill it - 2.2 lbs approx.)|
When audiophiles talk of upgrading equipment, they commonly think of a better DAC, a new phono cartridge, speakers with more resolution of detail, etc. However, many people tend to overlook the importance of proper physical support of their expensive electronics. This isn't very judicious, considering that such equipment encounters a lot more mechanical disturbance than meets the eye and ear. A few examples may be in order: the speakers generate major changes in air pressure (the musical sound waves) - a primary forward wave emanating from the driver, and a back wave. The sound waves travel freely, reflecting off walls and furniture until they are finally attenuated, either purposely or otherwise. These waves will strike turntables, CD transports, preamps, etc. along the way, causing internal sensitive parts to vibrate. Then there is floorborne vibrational energy. It occurs from powerful music coming out of powerful speakers, but also from such events as when a large vehicle passes by outside or even when someone walks around in the house. This is especially a problem when your equipment is placed mid-way between the points of support between opposite walls; these places flex the most (you can't see this flexing, which doesn't mean it isn't there). There is also vibration energy generated by the source components themselves (rotating motors). When these energies are minimized, or better, removed, then you'll hear what your system is capable of, really.
A number of vibration isolation platforms are available, and a pair of audiophiles here in Singapore have developed a new set of products, which are marketed by their partnership, Isobase Technologies. They collectively call their products, which deal exclusively with the control and removal of resonance and vibrational energy, the Titan Foundation System. At present, there are four basic Titan models, differing only in size and (in the case of the Titan Mi) the number of granite slabs used. These are support bases. Three further models, one a speaker damper (Titan Caps), another an isolation trough (the Titanic I, used with the Titan I, but models for the other Titans will soon be available), and the last simply a Titan I/Titanic I combination called the Titan Foundation System or TFS, are also available. The Titans' cost varies from S$295 to S$450, the damper is S$195/pair, the Titanic I is S$395, and the TFS is S$795. Other sizes can be custom ordered from Isobase. Also, since the Titan hasn't been marketed overseas as of this writing (prices listed above are in Singapore Dollars, at US$1 to S$1.42), you can call them up to inquire. Speak to either of the partners, Gary Proctor or Yong Kim Hong. They would be happy to provide you with information.
According to Isobase (and common physics), increasing the mass lowers the resonance frequency of a structure; also, the amplitude of this resonance can be damped using a constrained layer of material to absorb vibrational energy that may be transmitted through to it by the top and bottom layers of high-mass high-density material (in this case, granite). These granite slabs in turn will reject whatever vibrational energy impinges upon it via the air. Any resonance generated will be moved higher up in frequency where the damping layer will effectively convert it to heat. This is the principle upon which the Titan is constructed.
The Titan Foundation System, which combines the Titan I with a sand-fillable trough (the Titanic I), adds a further layer of sand which absorbs any energy that gets through the Titan, converting it to heat ("converted to heat due to friction caused by the sand grains rubbing against one another").
For the tests of the Titan system, I used a Rega Planar 3 turntable fitted with an RB300 arm and an Audio Technica AT 91 MM cartridge. I keep this front-end setup apart from my digital source for a number of reasons. I have about 800 LPs collected through the years. When digital came along, I had pushed the LPs aside but never quite had the heart to throw them away (I now am quite grateful that I wasn't stupid enough either). Then one day my brother-in-law asked if I could please do him a favor and keep his Onkyo turntable with an AT MC cartridge while he moved house (actually, I asked him if I could maybe keep it while he moved; he wouldn't want all that dirt and debris getting into it, would he?)
My records were all in pristine condition because when I bought them, I'd make a copy of the album on tape as soon as I got home (for my own use of course) for further listening. Most of them (the records) I only played once through and wore out the tape after that. I put Steve Winwood's Arc of a Diver on the Onkyo and I traveled back through time with Steve. I didn't believe how good he (and the record) still sounded! So I shopped around for an affordable turntable (I had long since gotten rid of my old Akai). To my surprise, there was no such thing. You could buy CD players for S$200 (US$120), but turntables were S$600 and up (... what! You don't include a cartridge?!). Then I discovered Rega. It was S$770 (with the Goldring Elektra MM). I bought it, and the rest, as they say, was ecstasy!
I used both the Rega as well as my "new" Pioneer CLD-S703 (no AC-3, but that's about all that is wrong with it! A great bargain) CD source. First up was the Pioneer. I had a friend come over and assist me. Yong Kim Hong of Isobase Technologies had set up the Titan I (20" x 16" x 1.75") on my oak cabinet ("not ideal, but it'll have to do", said he), on four adjustable spikes correctly leveled with a bubble leveler; I cleared a space beside it so my friend could put the Pioneer on or take it off (without telling me). With CD, we could play tracks off of different CDs conveniently; I only did this (single blind test) with CD. Tracks used were "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" from Kenny Rankin's Professional Dancer (Private Music 01005-82124-2), Jaromir Weinberger's Polka and Fugue from "Schwander the Bagpiper" off Pomp and Pipes (Reference Recordings RR-58CD), "Don't Let the Teardrops Rust Your Shining Heart" from The Holly Cole Trio's Don't Smoke in Bed (Manhattan CDP 0777 7 8 1198 2 1) and "While You See a Chance" from Steve Winwood's Arc of a Diver (Mobile Fidelity UDCD 579).
All the tracks were played each time a position was assumed (i.e., off the Titan or on the Titan). My friend Michael (not his real name) had the Pioneer ON-TITAN seven times and OFF-TITAN seven times (random order). Of the seven positions I identified as sounding distinctively better (I judged the sound "superior" or "inferior"), six were ON-TITAN. Before the tests began, I listened to the tracks once through, on and off the Titan, to get a feel of how much difference the Titan made to the music.
My notes during this particular session read, "the musicians seemed to be playing in a larger space, yet individual images had a specificity not present in the "inferior" (rating of the sound) positions." I also noticed plucked bass had a character, well, like plucked bass, not bass drum-like or synthesizer-like. The decay of a note was distinct from the attack, yet wasn't pronounced or droning. As a result, music like the Kenny Rankin track really drew me into the music, sounding very pacy and very toe-tappingly inviting. Low bass as heard on the Jaromir Weinberger piece had a viscerally exciting impact somewhat missing from the "inferior" positions (my ratings). However, in the "inferior" positions, the very same track sounded more ominous when the room shook under the lock-hold of the very lowest organ pedal notes, though it was tighter and less raspy on the "superior" positions.
The turntable was up next and for these listening sessions, I listened to LPs extensively in the OFF-TITAN position, then listened further in the ON-TITAN position. I used the Steve Winwood LP of Arc of a Diver, a very clean copy of Stravinsky's Firebird suite and Debussy's Afternoon of a Faun by the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Erich Leinsdorf (Sheffield Lab LAB-24) as well as the Eagles' The Long Run, and Steve Winwood's Back in the High Life.
Well, I have never heard these old LPs (except the Sheffield Lab, which is only about a year old) sound as good as they did when I had the Rega up on the Titan. The differences were significant enough that it was not necessary to do a blind listening test. In all cases, it was so much quieter, this then allowing every recorded detail through; yet this wasn't at the expense of the music itself, these extra details merely helping define the musical fabric and not overshadow it. The result of this was simply that I enjoyed these records much more, not just because I now heard more, but because I now heard close to everything that went into these classics (I think they are!).
Is the Titan worth it (even though at S$395, it really isn't expensive)? I must say it made an improvement whenever I used it; And the good thing is, you can have it in any of the sizes it's available in, or get Isobase to custom-build one for you. Then when you find it works, you can upgrade each Titan with a Titanic (once they are available for all Titan models). If I get a chance to move up to the Titanic I, you'll hear about it.
© Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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