However, even establishing an initial placement with the speaker on the polymer dome tips, it was immediately apparent that this was both an entirely different proposition and a significantly reduced challenge. Moving the speakers on the POM-C domes was incredibly easy, the smooth, polymer interface allowing really precise movements with minimal effort. But what was also obvious was a new clarity, low-frequency transparency and dynamic precision – even with the speaker simply zero-ed out (neutral in all axes) and slid roughly into place. With the easy adjustment of the posts from above and the natural resistance of the large threads making small, accurate adjustments simplicity itself, getting the speakers positioned, installing the INOX cones and footers one at a time and then setting height and attitude took around 45-minutes, including dialling in the height and angles exactly! The resulting position placed the speaker 114mm off the floor and around 10mm further forward – suggestive of a more tractable and linear response from the speaker, resulting in a deeper and more powerful bottom end, in room. I also arrived at the same 0.2 degree rake angle and 0.1 degree inward tilt on the left speaker – although this time entirely by ear, which is telling in itself.
As usual with set-up, the first track I played was ‘Do nothing…’ from This One’s For Blanton (Duke Ellington and Ray Brown, Analogue Productions CAPJ 015). The clear call and response between piano and bass, combined with Ray Brown’s extended, descending lines provide an acid test of rhythmic integrity, bass weight and mobility. The Pablo recording isn’t great: get it wrong and it rewards you with a lethargic, ploddy bass from what sounds like wet strings and a glass piano. But it also makes the musical impact of even small positional changes immediately apparent. Adjust the speaker and you hear the affect in terms of the relationship between the instruments, the weight, mobility and linearity of the bass. I’m used to systems getting this disc badly wrong and I’m used to nudging and nurdling the speakers into proper position and attitude, an often painstaking process – and one I’d gone through with the initial set-up on the standard cones. But as noted above, with the speakers mounted on the X-base, roughly positioned and level, the sound that they delivered already had more depth and weight, more attack and more rhythmic agility than the previous set up. The bottom end of the bass was more clearly defined, with more apparent pitch definition, note shape and note-to-note definition. The pluck and release of each note was more obvious, giving the lines a clearer sense of shape and intent, with more developed harmonics and a clearer decay.
The affects of adjustments in position were even more obvious than before, making the necessary changes in location easy to predict and execute – all while still mounted on the polymer domes intended for initial placement. Swapping to the INOX cones and footers was quick and simply a case of raising each post in turn, replacing the POM-C dome with the shallow cone and then winding the post back down onto the footer. The legs extend sufficiently that except in situations with the most extreme forward rake (unlikely at this point in the process) there’s no risk of the speaker tilting, but if in doubt, just place a thick book beneath the leg you are working on. It’s a one-man job, it doesn’t demand a jack and more importantly, the fact that you are working with four feet means that the height and attitude of the cabinet is preserved throughout.