Silent Mount SM3 in sight…

Rarer than rocking horse droppings, the titanium footers are about to reappear!

By Roy Gregory

The original, well-used SM-3TX footers – the scars a testament to their effective contribution!

When CH Precision upgraded the grounding spikes on the 10 Series amplifiers, I experimented with a two-part titanium footer – the SM-3TX from Silent Mount in Japan (hereafter referred to as the SM3). The results were extremely impressive, bringing order, clarity, rhythmic continuity and dynamic range to musical proceedings. All in all, a nice and far from trivial performance boost that I reported enthusiastically. Which is where the wheels fell off. As 10 Series customers set out to lay hands on the ‘magic’ discs, it soon became apparent that their disappearing was their favourite trick. In fact, they couldn’t be had for love nor money.

Until now…

Having the (dubious) advantage of fleetingly enjoying the benefits – along with a steady trickle of reader enquiries – encouraged me to stay on the case. Well – I finally have news. A shipment of the elusive discs (it’s an inside joke) are finally winging their way from Japan to The Chord Co. in the UK. I’m reluctant to count my chickens but they should arrive shortly, just in time for CH to use them under their Munich show system.

Why titanium? Because it has worked so well in other grounding products (like Nordost’s Sort Kone TC) – which is the same reason that the composite spikes created for the 10 Series are tipped with the material. Why two part construction? Because unlike simple discs, it prevents ringing. Seasoned CH owners and watchers will know that, although the 10 Series titanium tipped spikes are available as an upgrade, 1 Series products are now delivered with a similar spike, but tipped with hardened aluminium. Given their imminent availability, it seemed like a good time to revisit the SM3, with both the 10 Series titanium spike and the 1 Series version. And I’m glad that I did. It served to remind me just why I got so excited in the first place, as well as underlining that the Silent Mount footers are just as effective with the 1 Series spikes.

Silent Mount footers, the CH Precision 1 Series spikes and a ‘knee lifter’ – by far the easiest way to install the SM3s under heavy equipment.

Arming myself with a D1.5, both a titanium and aluminium tipped spike set and the SM3s (as well as a few less successful alternatives) I established the test rig on the Blue Horizon PRS rack. The bamboo shelves of the PRS already provide a more than decent interface for the CH spikes, so the footers were going to have to work hard if they were going to prove their worth – at least that was my thinking. In practice, the SM3s proved embarrassingly superior to the direct contact. First I re-established the general superiority of the titanium spikes, with their added weight, broader range of colour, greater sense of flow and space around and between notes and instruments. Then, with the titanium spikes installed, I listened with and without the various footers. Long story short, the SM3s simply walloped the competition, some of which actually sounded worse than the D1.5 spiked directly to the shelf. With the SM3s in place, the music gained more of what made the titanium spikes better in the first place, with body, colour and musical clarity and momentum all taking a healthy step in the right direction. But the good news is that the SM3s pulled the same trick on the aluminium spikes, giving a sense of body, shape, musical energy and purpose to the performance. It doesn’t matter whether you are listening to a small group, original instruments recording, roots rock, large-scale romantic era orchestral or small group jazz, the musical benefits are always consistent: more body, more natural, more intent and more energy, directed to a more clearly defined goal. Yep – these things are every bit as good as I thought they were – which brings us to the question of price, which at this point is the great unknown. Given what’s happened to the price of raw materials – and metals in particular – over the last few years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the price rising over the previous £530 for a set of four. Even so, the sonic and musical performance boost they deliver makes them a no-brainer, certainly in the context of CH Precision components. I can’t wait for the opportunity to get more SM3s under the CH pieces in my system. In fact, I’ll be trying them under a few other things as well – just as soon as I lay my hands on additional samples. The rest of you can form an orderly line, behind yours truly and outside The Chord Co…