Stillpoints Ultra 6 vs Critical Mass Center Stage 2


Hello, I am about to pull the trigger on a set of four to place under my amp. A dealer senT me a set of stillpoints ultra ss to try under my new dac and the results were amazing instantaneously. I love that it is so easy to test as well. I am now a firm believer in isolation footers.

I would like anyone who has any experience in these two products mentioned as it seems they are the two best options. Ideally, if anyone has done an a/b comparison it would be really helpful to hear your experience because they are far from cheap..! Thanks for any input.
Cheers!
b345t
We were stilppints dealers dropped them beause ctitical.mas. was way superior

The critical mass did everytjing the stiolpoints did weel but also ñowered the noise flor onlt críticas mass acts as b othan isolatorand as an absorbr

They make the worlds best racks and the footers willtake a systemtoa new le el m of pefformance this isas big of a diference as doing a major component upgrade notsubtle T all

Dave and troaudio intellect nj críticalmass dealers





Thanks for your reply, albeit strange typing and grammatical choice. I have read quite a lot of your reviews regarding T+A amps, as I have a PA 3100 myself. Is the biggest size footer always the best case for all equipment or does it depend on the weight of the component? Thanks
@audiotroy  appears to be drunk typing at 4:46am???   I know his spelling and typing prowess are typically much better than that.
CRITICAL MASS CENTER STAGE 2 1 1/2 inch will blow away Stillpoints big time.
Post removed 
Hi b345t

I have never tried the Ultra 6’s but I did own the Ulta 5’s. The Ultra 6’s are supposed to be better than the Ultra 5’s. I believe the only difference is more ball bearings in the 6’s compared to the 5’s. The Stillpoints did open up the midrange and also smoothed out the high frequencies as well. They lowered the noise floor and also made the bass noticeably tighter. All good things. The one thing the Ultra 5’s did that I didn’t like was they killed the tonality, it was gone. The accuracy of the timber and the tonal color was missing in action. I think most audiophiles are so focused and impressed with the positive that they tend to not notice the negative. I first noticed this after I got a new SACD player and was so impressed with the gorgeous tonal color/and the beautiful timber that I didn’t get with the old CD player. When I put the Ultra 5’s under the new player, I noticed that the tonality and beautiful timber that had so impressed me was gone! When I removed the Ultra 5’s and put the player back on the factory feet all that gorgeous tonal beauty immediately was there again. 

Then, I made the mistake of trying a set of the Critical Mass Systems Center stage feet (1.5” models). These feet require patients on the part of the user. At first, your system will sound worse, that’s right, worse. I don’t understand why but it’s clearly audible. It takes somewhere between 5 - 10 days for them to “settle in”. Something about a break in period deeply rooted in physics. Way beyond my comprehension, yet clearly audible. I was not prepared for the results. The reaction was all positive with absolutely no negative. They are stupid expensive but I warn you, the improvement must be heard to be believed, they are that good. Find a dealer and try a set, you will not return them. I now have them under my transport (remember those), my dac, my preamp and soon to be under my amp. A must audition. Good luck.

Scot
Thanks so much for your response. Scot, awesome review that is exactly what I was looking for. I'm surprised that a footer could do such a thing as 'kill the tone'. But reading a number of other people's reviews I have seen quite a few people say that about the stillpoints. I just have 3 ultra ss under my chord tt2 dac and to be honest, I just hear positives. Seems like the transients come out a little clearer and the the mids and bass feel 'cleaner', possibly slight more attack. But I will remove them for a couple of days and see.

Any idea where it is most beneficial to place them? I see you choose to place the footers under your amp last, whereas for me I was thinking of starting there. Also, is it best to go for biggest size footer all equipment or does it depend on the weight/size of the component?

Thanks!
I have booth and would suggest still points on analog equipment and centerpoints on preamp or DAC.  PM me if you would like to discuss.  I might have another option from Oregon that will rival these for a fraction of the cost.  This is a referral from Dan at Modwright Instruments, works wonders under my Oppo/Modwright.
Hi b345t

I spoke directly to Joe Lavrencek (the owner & chief designer of CMS) and told me (in an email) that the 1.5” feet do sound better than the smaller feet regardless of weight. More room on the inside for the secret sauce inside the foot. I started with my preamp but I probably should have started with the transport as that piece creates the most vibration. The amp should have been next but I can’t install them by myself because the amp weighs 90 lbs and I can’t lift it by myself AND place the feet under it at the same time. No matter which piece of gear I put them under the results are incredible. Try a set and wait the 5 - 10 days and prepare to be amazed. Good luck.

Scot
Scot, thank you so much, so helpful! I'll probably order a set of 4 1.5'' feet this week. I don't know why but I feel I want to start with the amp. I guess I'll leave them there for 2-3 weeks and see if I want to try them under some other component. Can't wait..! Thanks again Scot.
Hi b345t

Nothing wrong with starting with the amp. I would find out where the power transformer is and put one foot under that or under them both if your amp has two transformers as they create the most vibration. Joe (the designer) recommends four of the feet under each component instead of three, that’s why he includes different thickness metal shims which allows the user to shim the fourth foot so there is no rocking motion and the component is rock stable on the shelf. They’re designed to go flat under the chassis, not under the components factory foot. The are vey expensive but after hearing the improvement, I found it impossible to live without them. Enjoy!

Scot
I would be grateful for your advice.I choose the best feets for monoblocks (now Stillpoints Ultra SS) and sources (now SR MiGs).
Has anyone compared Townshend Pods and CMC Stage 2?

I haven't compared CMS footers with the Townsend pawns but looking at the physics of both to me the pods would do a better job because you're now floating everything on a cushion of air and the component is riding on the spring which makes it move freely so no vibration will get into it that's just my opinion though and the critical mass stuff are ridiculously priced big ripoff.

Magnuman, i would’ve thought the same thing - until I got the Center Stage 2M in my system and let them "settle" for 10 days.

As good as the Townshend isolation pods/Sesmic Isolation Platforms are (and I have both the iso pods and the Seismic Isolation platform), they do not perform at the level of the Center Stage 2ms. What the 2m does, is to "liberate’ instruments and voices so that they "move" the way they in life (and the symphony hall or jazz clubs).

Most recorded/digitized media (CDs, vinyl, streaming) make music sound "slow" compared to how astoundingly dynamic music is in real life (without microphones and amps). The Center Stage moves you much further closer to that real-world experience.

I was surprised at the magnitude of the improvement. It really was more akin to getting much better electronics. But more than just better "sound", the lifelike quality of human voices is startling to hear. Hearing Cleo Laine Live at Carnegie Hall on songs I’ve heard for 50 years was astonishing. Ditto some pretty mediocre CDs, where the recording itself sounded fresher as though there had been an alternate recording made the same day as the original, but it was on voices that one notices it instantly. I find the effects easiest to hear on human voice, although symphonic music, jazz and even vintage r & B all sound equally great; more "live" (by far) and the dynamics less "reproduced" or "bland," no matter what I play. It reminds me of my Antique Sound Lab Hurricanes, which - to this day - remain the most "real-sounding" component I’ve ever owned, even among the Goldmund/Jadis/Audio Research/VAC components. Only the Hurricane - less than 30 seconds into listening - sounded convincingly "real." The Center Stages don’t do that, but they sure allow one’s electronics to perform free of vibration, no matter that we do not hear it. With these devices, you realize that with vibration removed, it’s a whole new ballgame, and supposedly the footers remove internal vibration (from whatever component it’s under) as well as vibration from the room itself.

It would be unlikely that I would buy another set of electronics until I had at least one more set of these for the integrated amplifier, so that I can hear what it "really" sounds like when vibration - both internal and external - are removed from it. The musical experience with these in the system is far more engaging. I can listen to my system and not be moved unless I love the music (sentimental memories), but with the footers, I find ’60s rock (which is usually poorly recorded) and ’50 jazz singers (who were minimally miked) waayyyyy more involving. Singers  liked, I now still just "like," but i find their voices more "complete" as though an electronic haze as removed, and I have dedicated circuits, Furutech outlets, and quite good power regenerator, so I know it's not my electricity getting better as the evening wears on.

I got the 0.8 footers, and they were dazzling enough. It’s said the bigger sizes yield more of what you get from the smaller one, but that is hardly a reason to buy the bigger sizes unless you need them. The 0.8 is more than enough to reveal the accomplishments of the Center Stage 2M footers.

Now to decide what to do with the Stillpoints and the Townshend isolation devices...

recently received Ultra TT and TC footers.  an amazing product.  it actually works pretty much straight away these days.  that said, there is definitely settling and changes that occur from that first moment.  firstly they work very well for vibration management.  you hear that instantly.  things sound relaxed.  for me i noted too that instead of parts of frequency range going missing it felt like i had everything being delivered.

over time the other changes occur which is more about sound stage and coherence.  i am on day 12 and more and more it is like all the equipment has disappeared.  the sound stage does get wider, deeper and starts to wrap the room a bit.  i must admit i don't really care.  for me what is more important is the sound.  as someone else said voices is where you hear it the most.  the tone, the timbre, the actual words they say.  it brings you closer to hearing that artist record the song.  consequently, stuff you have heard so many times it is hard to listen to (as in even if you play it your brain isn't interested), is suddenly very fresh.  i've been listening to desire by Dylan for 36 years and last night was easily the first time i've noticed a whole band with Dylan making the song as an intrinsic part of the sound.

anyway not even two weeks in.  if i did my audio setup from scratch i would buy these straight after the power cables.  any system could benefit, at any price point.  

 

it honestly feels like CMS solved a problem that was a foundational issue in audio reproduction.  i know that sounds mad but what i am listening to is the type of thing we get into audio for.  a sound so detailed and yet simultaneously the most musical.

the maddest bit i leave here for last.  i use an Audio Note Tomei integrated amplifier.  I pay close attention to its temperature.  Because why not when you are in Australia's summer and you have a big heater in your room but also because it is just in front of and below my expensive TV and i am worried the amp could cook the TV and ruin it.  

of late i have noted that the amp is very hot.  i put my hands on top of the transformer covers.  it would not be comfortable to leave your hand there for long.  but it was not "stove" hot. i'm guessing in order of 50-55 celcius.

last night it wasn't cold but it wasn't hot.  it was a much lower temperature than i expected (closer to body temp or cooler).  i had read that the Footers might reduce equipment temp but I mean c'mon?  anyway they have done exactly that - reduced the operating temperature of my big investment (in listening pleasure) SET amp.  

i have no idea how they work and i am not totally sure anyone does to be frank.  the creator seems like a great person to work with but i cannot say his explanations for how they work (and it might be inaccurate to say he has even tried to explain it) have benefitted my comprehension.

instead my sense of it is as follows:

1.  we (users) don't really understand what vibration (at very tiny scale and amplitudes) means for our equipment.  my brain gets a person stomping creates vibration that can make a TT skip. "resonance" is a word i use alot but i'm not sure what it means for an appliance trying to do it's job 

2.  my conceptualisations then of what should help (foam/inner tubes) aren't insightful (in this regard i bought EVP and used it and it sounds terrible - i have also used many other kinds of footers - never happy - some sound "hard" and so work in a coarser system but then fail as the system improves)

3.  as soon as the footers are installed they immediately solve some problem re: vibration.  i say this because there was an instant ease to the music.  if it had been a car it would have been coughing and spluttering and then suddenly it is revving free.  chalk and cheese.

4.  over time the footers somehow seem to optimise that initial solution  - with an intense feeling of the system being integrated into the room and seamless.  somehow no component is heard but the music is.  honestly sounds like what @mahgister describes sometimes

5.  the owner specifically celebrates how the footers don't have a signature sound.  he couldn't be more right.  truly this is one of the most amazing things about them.  perhaps that's the key to understanding them.  they somehow integrate with the equipment they support such that they aren't there anymore.

 

anyway highly recommended.  apparently speaker versions are even more profound in impact.  i am not an employee of CMS nor do i stand to gain in any way for any statements made.