New Grounding Spikes for CH Precision products
By Roy Gregory
My high regard for CH Precision’s various products is well documented. I’ve written, often at length, about almost every product in the range, finding them increasingly impressive and, in the case of the latest 10 Series amplification, a step-change in performance potential and what is possible. But since their products first crossed my path, one thing about them has continually irked me. Having taken the whole issue of mechanical grounding and levelling seriously enough to have instituted a clever, four-point adjustable spike solution that allows a solid mechanical ground, levelling and even the stacking of components (if absolutely necessary) – they went and bollixed the whole thing up by using full depth, hardened steel spikes that drop into shafts in each corner of each component. Not only are these magnetic (creating what might be viewed as an inverse Faraday cage) but being supported at the lower end only, each solid column is both heavy and free to vibrate. End result? The units invariably sound worse with the spikes in place than without and it ain’t difficult to come up with a significantly superior solution. In my case I’ve tended to rely on a combination of HRS Nimbus footers and Damping Plates, generally used in conjunction with the R Shelves of the RXR rack.
But with the advent of the 10 Series, CH revisited the grounding question and redesigned the supplied spikes. The new versions are a whole lot smarter – and they work. Actually, they work really well!
The new 10 Series spikes are a two-part construction. A short titanium spike mirrors the threaded portion of the old steel version, but it is now mated to a black polymer column with a slot across its top that allows users to adjust the spike easily from above, without the need for an impossibly long screwdriver. There’s even a tiny magnet sunk below the slot so that you can extract a loosened spike out of its well (using the supplied stubby screwdriver) without turning the unit over. Less resonant, non-magnetic, superior spiking material and easier to use – what’s not to like? However, even better is the fact that the technology has trickled down to the 1 Series, with current products now receiving their own version of the new spike, identical except for the use of hardened aluminium tips and white polymer. But best of all – assuming that the spikes perform as promised – both of the new versions are available as an upgrade for the units of existing 1 Series owners. So with that in mind I set out to establish not just whether the new spikes work, but whether there’s an appreciable difference between the two different versions/materials.
Test mule for the exercise was my own P1/X1, although with the X1 sat on a trio of the proven HRS Vortex couplers, I confined the spike/support changes to the P1 itself. In the name of completeness I assembled no fewer than three different supporting surfaces (an Ikea laminated bamboo block, the HRS R Shelf and an HRS M3X platform), HRS Nimbus and Vortex footers, CH aluminium and titanium spikes, a set of the CH polymer spike shoes and some rather nice Silent Mount titanium two-part footers obtained from The Chord Co. in the UK – of which more later…
Ch… Ch… Ch… Changes!
I started out with the P1 sat directly on the R Shelf and started to ring the changes. Adding the Nimbus footers and a Damping Plate produced the expected improvement, with more body, weight and energy, fluid, sure-footed rhythmic expression and richer tonal palette – all the reasons I settled on the Nimbus solution all those years ago. It’s a solution that I’ve not felt it necessary to change – until now.