CUSTOMER FEEDBACK ON OUR MAPLE PLATFORMS FOR TURNTABLES
As soon as I put the Mapleshade Platforms (2 inch model) under my turntable (Linn LP 12), I knew I had a winner. I don t know how it works and why all what I hear is more music, more tune, less harshness in the sound. In my system, in my room, the maple platforms did wonders! - Samir
I recently used two custom-made brackets to mount my VPI TNT turntable on a Maple Platform on the wall of my listening room. Not only does the turntable sound much better mounted on the wall (records with good pressings now sound incredibly quiet), but the platform with beveled edges looks great. - Randy Fishman
Just a note to thank you regarding the Isoblocks, Phonophile Record Brush and Mapleshade Platforms!!
After a lot of conversations with my Iowa bro-in-law and his reportin' all conversations to me, you got my (re-newed) more focused attention. With that, I looked anew at your products with your philosophy now in mind.
Turned my head around and made me a convert. Initially we discussed it on only an intellectual level, then...for real needle-in-groove, especially after my bro-in-law got one of your Platforms with Isoblocks for his Pro-Ject table. I auditioned his system and shortly thereafter snagged one of the Mapleshade Platforms with Isoblocks for my Music Hall 2.2 . Immediately improved focus & definition. Quieted background, too. Then...
Next day got my Phonophile Brush and my High Desert problem with static 'lectricity simply disappeared after 10 years of compromised dust chasin'. Zerostat and assorted brushes now relegated to 'The Shelf of Abandoned Accessories'. Too bad, so sad!
Know you get a lot of these accolades but just wanted to let you know...and say,..Thanks! - Mark S.
Two years ago, if someone had told me that in the near future I would be investing nearly $400 in a 50+ pound piece of maple to put under my turntable I would have said "only if yo' mama carries up the stairs to my apartment." Life plays funny tricks on us sometimes, though, doesn't it?
A number of months ago, shortly before I received my VPI Scout package, the esteemed HW of VPI posted that the use of a wooden isolation platform would greatly enhance the sound of the Scout. He suggested a cheap, DIY version that involved two Crate & Barrel cutting boards and some Vibrapods. I dutifully strolled over to the new Crate & Barrel that had just opened on the corner of Broadway and Houston and picked up two cutting boards for a total of $65, as I remember. I think there was a holiday sale on. Another Asylum Inmate had posted that several layers of bubble wrap would work well under the platform instead of Vibrapods. Not being entirely sold on the merits of isolation at this stage in the game, I decided to save a few bucks and went for the bubble wrap. I took these pieces home, used some wood glue to join the two cutting boards, cut the bubble wrap to size and, voila!, my isolation platform was up and running.
The results were noticeable if not jaw dropping. The turntable I was using at that time was of less than audiophile quality. Considerably less. So that was that, for the time being.
Mapleshade & Me
Some months later I became acquainted with Mapleshade Records. Of particular interest to me were their "tweaks and wires." In the months since I'd whipped up the isolation platform I had become something of a tweaking fanatic, given to assiduous experimentation and daily consultations with the fine folks of the various Asylums in search of avuncular advice. Mapleshade came up repeatedly and seemed always to get the thumbs up. I reviewed their marketing materials and found that I share a certain mindset with whoever it is that writes their material. Having been a musician for 25+ years and spent many hours in recording studios, I concur with them that wood and brass offer unique sound enhancements when used with instruments and recording equipment. It follows logically that they would enhance playback equipment as well.
I began by ordering some cones, then some isolation blocks, then graduated to a set of their eight foot Double Helix speaker cables. All were reasonably priced and added palpably to the quality of sound produced by my system. I was hooked to the point of becoming a Mapleshade myrmidon.
As the taxman's generosity earlier this year had aided considerably in relieving me of my usual parsimony, I decided to retire my DIY isolation platform and invest in a real one. Mapleshade seemed the logical choice for me, though I had read many good things about Ken Lyon's Nuance shelf and various other isolation shelves. I have not, though, actually heard any of these shelves, only my own DIY creation.
I placed my order for a fifty pound, finished, custom maple platform, 24" x 21" x 4" for use under my Scout. According to Mapleshade "Two inch maple makes a satisfying improvement under every stereo component I've tried. Turntables improved astonishingly! (Incidentally, the platform should be slightly larger than the component it supports.) Stepping up to a four inch thickness is a serious sonic upgrade. Solid maple this thick is nearly impossible to find at lumberyards, so I've hooked up with a nearby country sawmill that cuts maple logs to our spec. We air dry our maple, because kiln-dried wood—the only kind you can buy commercially—sounds deader. (The great violin makers only use air dried wood.) Local Amish cabinetmakers plane, sand, bevel and then finish our platforms with four coats of clear, hand-rubbed lacquer. This handsomely shows off the dramatic grain and nut-colored streaks of our maple."
Needless to say, I found all this most compelling.
The Beast Arrives
Some ten weeks after ordering, my platform finally arrived via UPS. Apparently the long winter lengthened the wood's drying time. Initial impressions: It is heavy. And huge. But let me not dwell on the obvious. After a few hours with it I thought it smelled funny, noticed it had been slightly damaged in transit (plastic peanuts crushed into the wood) and came with its own bugs. As a specialist in "dealing with it", I'm hoping that the smell will go away, that I can live with the peanut residue and that the insects were killed before they had a chance to nest inside my pre amp. The things we audiophiles will endure!
In terms of the way it improved the sound of my system, let me pick one of my favorite adjectives from Stereophile's lexicon and one the highest compliments possible—it made it sound positively stentorian. But before I crown Mapleshade king of kings and say goodnight, let me address exactly why I think this hunk of maple is so good.
After adding Mapleshade's Double Helix speaker wires I found that my system became, overall, more transparent, though still a bit wild with some recordings. But along with this transparency there was an almost shrill brightness in the upper midrange. Some female vocals were positively painful to hear at normal listening volume. This struck me as odd because my Grado Sonata is hailed as one of the best cartridges for reproducing female vocals. I remembered a review I'd read where an Inmate criticized the Mapleshade wires for being too bright. I wondered if it might be in my best interests to exercise my option on Mapleshade's 30-day money back offer. Could this be one of those issues of missing system synergy so often written about?
Over the next few weeks the wires calmed down and, though my system was still sounding a tad on the bright side, became a joy to listen to. Then I added VPI's Stainless Steel & Delrin record clamp (read my review.) This took most of the wildness out of the system without making it sound dull, lifeless, rolled off at the top or analytical.
The last step up the ladder came with the addition of the Mapleshade isolation platform. It further enhanced all the positives that the speaker wires and record clamp brought. The system sounds authoritative to a degree I did not think possible given the dubious pedigree of my Epos M12 speakers and oddly shaped listening room. Bass is full without being boomy, more fully realized and just plain deeper. Upper mids are fully revealed, though in proper proportion, and the fabled Grado lushness is displayed in all its glory. My system seems to grab a piece of vinyl, spread it out over the room and parade around every last bit of information available like a trophy wife at a high school reunion. Pardon my grandiloquence but I get pretty juiced up about this stuff.
Recently, in a discussion of Mapleshade, an Inmate said that a friend tried a Mapleshade platform and it sucked all the life out of his system. I can see how in some systems this might be the case. Synergy, again. But in my system the platform was just the right thing to quell any last bit of contumacy and has made it sound like I added more than $400 to my system overall.
I've been running through a number of my favorite records and had nothing but fun basking in their sound. Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 Equinox sounds glorious for a disposable piece of 60's pop ephemera. Cowbells have actual pitches and are no longer just percussive clangs, I can actually hear the distance between the mic and the piano and the soundstage is broad and deep. And Lani Hall's voice is gorgeous. That Herb Alpert knew how to set up a mic! The acoustic guitars on side one of Guns 'N' Roses Lies are shimmering and fill the room. Listening with eyes closed, the soundstage is so wide it seems to extend beyond the size of the room. The horns on my original Living Stereo pressing of Cootie Williams In Stereo are so buoyant and layered it's easy to see what all the fuss over these old RCA LPs is about.
In the case of Mapleshade I have to say that you can believe the hype. I did and I don't regret it. I have come to trust what they say and respect the fact that they stand so firmly behind their spiel and their R&D that everything, including their CDs, comes with a money back guarantee. Someday, I may upgrade to a more expensive turntable. Hell, hopefully I'll be upgrading to a more expensive everything! But I think the Mapleshade platform will be around no matter what evolution takes place in my system.
And, by the way, it was not "yo' mama" that carried it up the steps to my apartment. It was the UPS guy. - Greg B.