Shifting Foundations…

Updating and improving system infrastructure at Gy8

By Roy Gregory

New year – whole new system? Not quite, but while reviewer systems represent a constantly shifting landscape of electronic components, pretty boxes that get all of the top-line attention, sometimes it’s what is going on (quite literally) underneath that is just as important – especially if you want to achieve any sort of meaningful, consistent or useful results.

Most systems are something of a movable feast; a reviewer’s system is more like a food truck that’s late for its pitch! With a constant stream of products entering and exiting the orbit, maintaining a degree of stability is a constant challenge, as is maintaining the optimum set up and tuning of each and every component. Meanwhile, new, permanent elements arrive and demand space, attention and pampering. Having three listening rooms spreads the load, but it also multiplies the problem, with each system demanding its own infrastructure and coterie of tuning devices. Over the past year, the Music Room system has undergone a number of changes, both to core components and infrastructure, with knock-on implications in the Reading Room too, so a catch-up is well overdue.

The arrival of the Wadax Reference PSU finally tipped what was already a demanding digital installation into critical mass. Four, well-spaced shelves became five and with it, the capacity of the long-standing, six-shelf HRS RXR rack that was housing the system’s front-end was well and truly busted. The issue with the Wadax isn’t just the number of shelves it takes up, it’s the size of the Reference components – and the resulting demand they have for vertical space. The RXR was already in trouble: its middle shelves could only just accept the Reference units – and that’s with the flush mounted R-shelves rather than the far from space-neutral M3X platforms – while the sheer mass of the Wadax units struck straight at the one serious Achilles Heel in the RXR design. The rack’s wooden frame sounds excellent and I preferred it to the aluminium frames that existed when it first appeared. But the double-bay RXR has a propensity to sag in the middle. In theory, the eight conical spikes that support the inner edges of the shelf frames and uprights should take care of that, but in practice, they don’t.

It’s partly a function of numbers and partly the mechanical execution of the ‘spikes’ themselves. With a total of fourteen feet supporting the rack (four of which are well and truly buried under the central uprights) getting the rack perfectly level AND all fourteen feet equally loaded is a significant challenge. But such tasks are sent to test the patience of persevering audiophiles. What’s going to tip all but the most saintly over the edge, is the inability to effectively lock the spikes and thus, their propensity to work loose over time. That’s down to the large diameter but course thread used, but also the fact that the spikes and collars don’t have post-holes so that you can adjust them really easily and then crimp them down. Load the RXR up with some seriously heavy kit and you exacerbate the problem to the point where what was an occasional trial becomes a regular pain in the butt – the elbows, the shoulders, the knees, the neck, the fingers and any other part of your anatomy that is involved in contorting yourself to reach all the various spikes…