Sunday, February 3, 2013

Improvements by Mapleshade

I always enjoy the Mapleshade catalog when it arrives, though I am not sure if it's the products or the claims that capture most of my attention. If you're not familiar with Mapleshade, they are home to a range of products from recordings to modified turntables. They also are probably most known now for their massive maple racks and plinths, which they sell as bases for everything from CD players to bookshelf speakers (which they recommend positioning low on the floor but tipped back so the drivers aim up at the listener).

The latest catalog doesn't disappoint and comes with the usual tales of endless listening tests behind their products such as the thin $100 speaker wire which 'customers' report besting mega-buck cables, the choice of maple over everything else for supporting gear, and their proprietary wash for steam cleaning LPs, that before you place them on their microdot platter spots which, you've guessed it, are of optimized geometry and yield 'bigger sonic dividends' than spending $3k on a cartridge upgrade. All of this might be true but I don't actually know anyone who's tried their products so unless they are sending stuff out for review, I'll just have to continue enjoying the claims.

Their thin power cords and strips, which look like they are wrapped in cellophane bags certainly lack the bling factor of most audiophile products, but they also probably elicit shrieks from spouses when introduced into a living room. All a matter of taste, I suppose, but among their free tips for better sound, they recommend sitting with your chair back to the wall behind you (long wall preferably) with the speakers pulled up to 5ft in front of you. Now, I might be able to sell my significant other on the cellophane wrapped wires but rearranging the furniture and speakers in this way would be a quick path to bachelorhood I fear. If you try it, let me know how you get on, sonically that is (I don't want to know about your relationships!)

Now I am not saying there is nothing of value here - the Stanton table upgrades seem impressive, but the endless claims of listening tests, $90 tweaks that outperform multi-grand component upgrades, and exact percentage increases in sonic quality that result from one or other addition tends to elicit guffaws rather than respect after awhile but who knows? If you've tried one of these products, share your experience.  


barryb said...

Their ribbon ICs are outstanding -- living up to the hype. They are a 4 star product for $125. Their double helix digital IC was okay, but not great. It was clean, but not as good sounding as my favorite $100 digital ICs. Their brass tube dampers are inconvenient and not as good as Herbies.

PatrickD said...

Thanks Barry -- that's useful. Anyone else?

Anonymous said...

I'm a convert of their idea of placing smallish bookshelf speakers on 2" thick wooden maple blocks that are spiked to the floor, and then using a tall upward-facing spike to tip the front of the speaker way up. I didn't buy the Mappleshade product, but I did buy their unfinished wood and then make my own equivalent. The idea sounds like it would be a disaster of soundstaging, but in practice, it turns out to be just the opposite. If you have bookshelf speakers, you REALLY should try it. Just use a piece of wood and and a battery to test it out for nothing! That's how I got hooked on the idea. This might be the best kept secret in all of high-end audio. I use the technique with Dynaudio BM5a powered monitors. It totally sings... seriously!

mike drinkwater said...

Their power strip was a huge improvement over my chang lightspeed. Also love the ribbon interconnects.

Anonymous said...

I've tried a number of their products and I've generally found them quite to be of good value and (sometimes great) performance.

Ribbon ICs are outstanding but fragile and static issues. Yea, this is up there with a component upgrade.

Power cord kit...great sound...but fragile and static issues.

Digital IC...good, not great, sound; fragile

Maple floor amp stand with carpet piercing feet + mega feet under amp...outstanding under my heavy tube amp.

IsoBlocks a good value and quite an improvement over stock equipment feet, esp on glass/MDF shelving.

Generally speaking, I've had positive experiences with Mapleshade products.

Anonymous said...

I wanted to try a number of their products and wrote them an email asking advice. the guy dissed practically every component in my system and recommended that i change basically everything to his products because otherwise everything will sound like s**t. needless to say i didnt buy anything from him. Since then i had brass weights custom made for my electronics and they work really well.

Unknown said...

I enjoy their catalogs as well. The free tweak I swear by is putting maple pieces between the speaker and stand. In my case I switched from sorbothane to to the maple hole plugs that are flat on one side and half round on the other. They are available from Home Depot. Of course, the speaker is able to move so care must be taken, but the improvement in bass definition for me has always been substantial.

Anonymous said...

I have a Samson v.3 rack, platforms, assorted footers, wires and interconnects. it seemed every upgrade improved sound quality. The wires and interconnects finally broke in and now system took another leap forward. Rewarding to say the least!