Installation Notes – Updated

In positioning any speaker system you need to consider its position and attitude in all six axes. With large, wide-bandwidth designs, that means physical placement adjusted in increments of less than 1mm (including height off of the floor) and attitudinal tuning to less than 0.1 of a degree (toe-in, rake angle and azimuth). For all those spluttering in outrage at this point I’d say two things: I’ll return to the specifics of this subject at a later date and, in the meantime you should try it – you might just surprise yourself! The point here is that this positional accuracy is just as important to smaller speaker designs. It’s just that the challenges to achieving it are rather different.

With a huge and heavy speaker, just moving it can be difficult – especially just moving it a tiny, tiny amount. With smaller designs the challenge is that often they are too easy to move. On the one hand that impacts your ability to make really small adjustments: on the other, it can make achieving real stability an issue. But there’s an additional, aggravating factor involved: budget priorities and hardware costs. With a big speaker system and its associated (often enormous) price tag, there’s plenty of space in the design budget and BOM for a set of properly engineered, adjustable feet. The fact that such well-considered solutions are a rarity is a whole other issue – and one that plays directly into the whole adjustment and set-up debate – but in the case of more cost-conscious designs, the funds available to provide effective feet or spikes are even more constrained. It’s always the drivers, the cabinet, the finishing, the crossover, even the packaging that are going to receive a higher priority than the ‘spikes’. In fact, in many cases the spikes or feet supplied with budget speakers are quite literally after-thoughts, simply inherited from other models (where they were probably after-thoughts too) or added after the fact. The standard M6 (occasionally M8) spikes supplied with the vast majority of even relatively expensive speakers are ‘stock’ items that have little thought expended on them since they were first introduced nearly 50-years ago and thus just repeat the same mistakes over and over again.

The elegant and minimalist cones and outriggers fitted to the Mozart Infinity as standard. Pretty? Yes. Fit for purpose? Not so much…

That isn’t the case with either the Nel Signature or the Vienna Acoustics Mozart Infinity. Both have custom spikes, albeit ones selected for different reasons. Let’s start with the Mozart. VA has a history of supplying speakers with some of the best spikes on the market, despite their approachable pricing. The Liszt and Beethovens both feature solid outriggers and meaty spikes, easily adjusted from above and firmly lockable. The Mozart has a scaled down version of that, with short, chamfered outriggers and cones that blend seamlessly with that profile. In the name of neatness, the cones are threaded into blank holes that don’t extend through the outriggers. The result is short threads and no lock nuts – and therein lies the challenge, especially on the ancient floors of the Studio and Reading Room.