Re-learning old lessons…

The story of the tight spikes

By Roy Gregory

The journey towards audio and musical Nirvana is far from straight and narrow, with a horribly unpredictable tendency to dip and weave. It makes for a journey of highs and lows and a constantly demanding learning curve. Barely a manufacturer visit or new product goes by without adding a new wrinkle to the knowledge base.

And that’s part of the problem…

With so many new approaches, techniques and tweaks capturing my attention, I find the old, the tried and the trusted getting overlooked or forgotten. It’s a lesson that was brought home while setting up the Vimberg Mino loudspeakers. Like their Tidal stable-mates, the Vimbergs are equipped with substantial outriggers to aid stability and set up. The Minos are bigger and considerably heavier than their svelte profile suggests. They are supplied with adjustable feet, M8 posts with rounded tips that sit into the deep wells of the matching, conical footers. The upper end of each post protrudes through the outrigger and an allen head allows you to make simple and really precise adjustments to height and attitude. Once the speaker is set up, screw on knobs cover the posts and keep things tidy. It’s an elegant, practical and extremely effective solution to the challenge of proper set up, especially with a speaker this heavy. Except for one thing. Set up in the Reading Room, the Minos wanted to sit close enough to the floor that in some cases the threaded knobs weren’t deep enough to lock the spikes against the outriggers. No big deal – I simply dug out a set of M8 nuts and used those (along with the correct spanner) instead. The knobs can even be added on top, hiding the nuts and preserving the speakers’ aesthetic modesty.

What I wasn’t ready for was the dramatic difference in sound between the free-standing posts and the same set up with the nuts locked securely in place. The improvement in dynamic range, low frequency clarity, definition and the space between notes lifted the performance significantly. This was no minor tweak and contributed significantly to the speakers’ overall performance, especially its sense of rhythm, timing integrity and temporal security – all key factors in a convincing, communicative and enjoyable performance.

Now, I should not have been surprised by this result. After all, I grew up in a country and an industry where one of the catch phrases was, “There’s tight, bloody tight and then there’s Linn-tight!” I knew that taking a spanner to those M8 nuts would improve things, but the scale of that improvement left me shocked. People pay serious money for this sort of upgrade, yet getting your speakers properly planted and locked down is free!

Since then I’ve experienced and noted similar sonic and musical benefits while installing the Stenheim Reference Ultime 2 and the Göbel Divin Marquis (in the latter case, removing the Teflon shoes from its feet). In the same period I’ve witnessed dealers and manufacturers demonstrating speakers still mounted on their wheels or floor protectors and a set of Wilson Alexias set up in a customer’s home with the lock nuts not even finger tight!