by Roy Harris
All components have resonant frequencies. Some may be experienced as pleasant, others, not. So, it was with some curiosity that I followed a suggestion from a friend who informed me about World Audio Distribution, the importer of the Eben Cold Ray products. His suggestion was to contact the importer and review one of the products he sells. Obviously, I did call and decided to accept a challenge, namely reviewing a hybrid anti- resonant device.
The Eben Cold Ray Ceramic Black Anti-Resonant devices costs $470 for a set of 4.
The Eben Cold Ray System includes a steel solid inner cone, a ceramic ball-bearing and a hollow aluminum outer cone. The ball sits on a hemisphere on top of the steel cone. The aluminum cone sits on the ball bearing, and is flat at the apex. A component rests upon the outer cone. The ball absorbs energy, drawing out resonances from a component and preventing them from being amplified and transferred to other surfaces. The system is designed to reduce noise and prevent sympathetic vibrations from being transferred to other components.
The bell acts as a resonant sink. It couples with the component, drawing out resonant energy. The conic section at the bottom of the steel cone transforms mechanical energy into heat. Additional information is available at the website.
My reference anti-resonant device is 4 Sound Boosters under preamp, amp, and DAC.
I use furniture foam under my transport.
I expect the Cold Ray product to enhance focus, clarity and take the “fat” out of the music. THE FLIGHT OF THE COSMIC HIPPO, track 4, Warner Bros 26562, is a test of bass frequencies generated by an electric bass. As I listened, I perceived some spatial cues, indicative of space behind the banjo. I had not noticed this when using Sound Boosters under the preamp. Bass frequencies were reproduced without a sense of attenuation.
What can a solo harpsichord reveal about a component ? It’s ability to revolve all of the facets of instrumental performance. I selected FANDANGO-SCARLATTI IN IBERIA, CHANDOS 0635, track 1, Sophie Yates, soloist..
It was easier to distinguish between attack and release using the Cold Ray products than with the Sound Boosters. Representation of depth was about the same for both products.
Instruments having a percussive quality tend to reveal differences between hard and soft anti-resonant objects. I selected a recording of a guitar duet, TOGETHER, with Julian Bream and John Williams, RCA 61450, track 1. I was not surprised at the results.
There was a difference in string tone when using one or the other anti resonant product. The Cold Ray created a tauter, harder-sounding string than the Sound Boosters. I believe the Sound Booster produces a less timbrally inaccurate portrayal of the sound of a nylon string.
Arthur Fiedler’s interpretation of “Gaite Parisienne”, JVC XRCD 0224, track 1, is a classic recording. Ensemble placement, dynamics and spectral balance were, essentially, unchanged relative to the Sound Boosters. The only noticeable difference was the sound of a triangle. The Cold Ray products emphasized articulation. Individual strikes were more delineated and the overtone structure was more fleshed out. The sound of the triangle was less timbrally inaccurate using the Cold Ray product than using the Sound Boosters.
The Steel Dan CD Aja, MCAD 37214, track 3, further confirmed some of the results, in a quantitative sense, of the previous disc, namely demonstrating slight differences in the affect upon the sound produced by either anti resonant device. The difference between the two materials was evident when observing Donald Fagen’s voice. There was a slight increase in the clarity of his voice using the Cold Ray product as compared to the Sound Boosters.
DON’T SMOKE IN BED, Alert Z2 81020, is an audiophile favorite. It is a challenge to any stereo system. It is also a test of sibilance production and spectral balance.
The playing of an acoustic bass is an indicator of mid bass response. When the Cold Ray system was used, the strings of the instrument possessed greater clarity and focus compared to the Sound Boosters. In addition there was a reduction in scale and a slight leanness in comparison to the affect of the Sound Boosters.
Holly Cole’s close-miked voice exhibited the expected consequences of placement, namely an (over) emphasis upon certain consonants, especially the letter “s”. However, the quality of the sibilance was dependent upon the anti-resonance product placed under the preamp. When using the Cold Ray system, the “s” had a whistling or sharp character, while the Sound Booster was associated with a softer and more diffuse “s” presence.
My hypothesis regarding the effects of anti-resonant devices upon the sound of stereo systems, with respect to material, is that hard objects enhance focus and clarity, alter the spectral balance, whereas, soft objects create diffusion, soften the sound and possibly alter the spectral balance as well.
The results of my audition of the Cold Ray system, in the context of 6 musical selections, have confirmed my hypothesis. An interesting finding concerned timbre. I heard a variation in timbral inaccuracy produced by each product which was CD dependent. This means that there is some interaction between colorations inherent in a recording and the anti-resonant device itself, which engenders more or less timbral errors.
While all hard objects are not created equal, I have never experienced a metallic, ceramic or graphite-based anti-resonant device which softened the sound. The difference between the Cold Ray product and other hard objects, I believe, is that the former produces minor changes in frequency response as compared to some of its competitors.
Digital Vincent CD S6/Ess Sabre 32 Evaluation DAC
Preamp Maple tree Ultra 4A SE
Amplifier: VTL Deluxe 120 Speaker: Magnepan 1.6, Quad 57
Interconnect: Aural Thrills gold , Homemade hybrid Mundorf gold and
Speaker Cable Ear to Ear
AC Cords Soundstring, Ear to Ear, Clarity Audio, Distech, Element
Power Conditioning: PS Audio P 300, PS Audio Noise Harvesters,PS Audio Juice
Bar, Chang, Iso 6400, Nirvana Audio isolation transformer,
IDOS, Bob Young line filter
Anti Resonant Devices: Room Tunes, Corner Tunes, egg crate mattresses, Sound
Fusion Sound Boosters, Enacom filters, PS Audio Noise