Stillpoints have been instrumental in helping me unlock more performance and music from customers systems over the past couple of years, they rarely disappoint and they can completely transform the way a system can perform. They don’t manipulate the presentation but simply allow you to hear your system perform to the very best of its abilities, getting the best out of what you have already paid for!
All of the components that make up a system, the speakers, amplification, sources and power distribution all create unwanted mechanical noise and vibrations that rattle around inside the casework of your electronics and loudspeaker cabinets. These vibrations and energy can be very small in some cases, but it can be enough to veil and disrupt what a system is trying to musically communicate.
By placing some Stillpoints under the components in your system and bypassing those soft rubber feet and metal spikes you are effectively giving that bad energy somewhere to go. The ‘technology pockets’ within the Stillpoints are made from multiple layers of ceramic ball bearings and they trap and dissapate this energy within and effectively lower the noise floor and subsequently lift the veil.
The small Ultra Mini is where the range starts, they are priced at £345 for 3 or £460 for 4. They are 1.25 inches tall with a diameter of 1 inch at the base, the narrower end is decoupled from the wider base by a stand-off and you get a small amount of height adjustment. The Ultra Mini is primarily designed to be used underneath electronics. Being relatively compact they are easy to install and you will not lose too much height. You can even use them under smaller stand mount speakers on side boards or stands providing you consider the safety aspect.
The Ultra SS is the next step up the range; physically larger than the Mini, they are 1.5 inches tall when the adjustable top hat is wound in, extending to 1.68 inches when fully opened up. It is tall enough to fit under most equipment and clear all but the very largest of feet. If you look at the underside of the Ultra SS you will see there is a 1/4 x 20 thread, so with the appropriate sized adapters you can use the Ultra SS underneath your loudspeakers replacing their spikes. Adapters in just about every thread size you can imagine are available, from M6 all the way up to M24 and beyond, with the ability to custom machine for any situation.
As you can see below there is an image showing an Ultra Mini and SS side by side for size purposes, you can see an Ultra SS fitted with a threaded adapter as well, ready to go underneath a floor-standing loudspeaker. You can also fit an Ultra Base to an Ultra SS should it need even greater stability or more levelling adjustment than a top hat can offer.
The Ultra 2 is the newest additional to the range, these are priced at £370 each and come including an Ultra Base. There is no top hat with the Ultra 2 like there is with the Ultra SS, adjustment is made via the included Base. Instead the top of the Ultra 2 has an exposed technology pocket on the top so it is in direct contact with the underside of the chassis. There is also a recessed technology pocket on the underside of the Ultra 2, helping to give the big performance boost over the Ultra SS.
The Ultra 2 can only be used underneath electronics, they are quite a bit taller than the an Ultra Mini and SS so you will need more height in your rack to accommodate them, but it’s quite an upgrade!
The Ultra 5 is a big physical step up over the Ultra Mini, Ultra SS and Ultra 2 as you can see from the image below, and are priced at £610 each. They offer no height adjustment as standard, but Ultra Bases are £60 each if required (pictured above with a base attached). The Ultra 5 can be used under both electronics and loudspeakers and should be considered the ultimate speaker support.
The Ultra 5 are 3 inches in diameter and stand 2.25 inches tall (without a base attached). As the name suggests the Ultra 5 contains 5 technology pockets. The Ultra 5 are heavy given their size weighing in at around 1.3kg each.
The Ultra 6 is the flagship Stillpoint, these are priced at £860 each including an Ultra Base. Just like the Ultra 2 the Ultra 6 is designed for use under electronics only. There are 6 exposed technology pockets on the top of the Ultra 6 and a single recessed pocket underneath. The height of the Ultra is just under 2 inches and their diameter is just under 3 inches. They are not quite as heavy as an Ultra 5, that said you wouldn’t want to drop one on your foot!
The remit of Stillpoints is simple, to increase the transparency and resolution of whatever you use them with and they really do work incredibly well, it is quite unusual for their impact to be anything other than instant and the vast majority of people who try them end up putting some in their system. They give your music more immediacy, space and air and give you an uplift in clarity and resolution.
As mentioned above Stillpoints do not have a sound of their own they simply show you what you system is really doing.
Looking across the range Stillpoints exist at a wide variety of price points and there are obviously plenty of applications for them within most systems. The most commonly asked questions about Stillpoints are which ones do I need and how many of them – there is no real right or wrong answer for this one, it very much depends on the system, how it sounds and your budget of course.
You could throw all your budget at 3 x Ultra 6 and put them under your DAC or CD player and you would get great results, but in my experience your budget you would get better results from going for a smaller Stillpoint like an Ultra SS and floating the entire system, including the speakers and even a mains block or conditioner if one is in use. The overall effect from Stillpoints is cumulative, put simply, the more you float the bigger the overall improvement.
Stillpoints cannot transform a fundamentally poor system and in some systems more resolution doesn’t help, you cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear ultimately, but if your system is in a good place the addition of Stillpoints is almost always positive.
Take a Melco N1A/1 – a very popular item around these parts and for good reason. Fitting 3 or 4 Stillpoints under an N1A/1 is a great upgrade and one plenty of customers have done – but which Stillpoints?
The Ultra Mini is the obvious choice given their price point relative to the N1A and if you fit 3 or 4 underneath an N1A the uplift in performance should be heard pretty quickly. As outlined it opens up the presentation with more focus, detail and a greater sense of air and space around the musicians who are playing. Step up to the 3 x Ultra SS and if the system is up to it you generally get the same improvements but on a larger scale. Now, in reality no-one would go beyond 3 x Ultra SS on a N1A, Ultra 2 are £1110 for 3 and 3 Ultra 5 cost more than an N1A/1 did when new for example, but that’s not to say that the Ultra 2 or 5 don’t have an even bigger impact on performance and the same applies for the Ultra 6 as well.
In any system you will always reach a point where you can’t get any more out of it until you overcome a weak point or bottleneck, be it a better source, amplification, speakers or even something as simple as speaker cable. If anyone wanted to buy 3 x Ultra 6 for an N1A they’d be better off buying an N1ZH/2 and Ultra Mini or SS for example.
It’s not all about weight either; many people I speak to assume the Ultra 5 and Ultra 6 are designed to be used only on very heavy large items. Whilst this is true on one hand if you take 3 x Ultra 6 and fit them underneath a Melco N1ZS/2 or a Vitus SCD-025 CD player the results can be staggering. The bigger the Stillpoint the more effective it is at doing it’s job essentially, regardless of what the equipment is.
The Ultra Mini is the smallest Stillpoint in the range and is quite happy sitting under most items that weigh 10kg or under, when you go above that weight the SS become more relevant, plus occasionally you will find the Ultra Mini are not big enough to fit under something if it has particularly big feet.
The one Stillpoint which almost goes against the grain is the new Ultra 2, these are priced at £370 each including the Ultra Base. The Ultra 2 is best thought of as a smaller Ultra 6, as in a good system the Ultra 2 performs well beyond everything apart from the flagship Ultra 6. Call it evolution if you like, but under electronics the Ultra 2 to my ears even outperforms the Ultra 5 (which are £610 each). For £1110 for the 3 the Ultra 2 is a incredibly effective upgrade, so far everyone who has listened to Ultra 2 in isolation has been truly bowled over.
In any system it is generally the speakers that will have the biggest impact on the overall performance of the system, they are the window to everything you hear ultimately and they also the part of the system that produces arguably the most unwanted energy in the whole chain. By installing Ultra SS or Ultra 5 under your speakers you will instantly make your speakers sound bigger, less boxy and as a result the system can more easily breath, it’s not a subtle addition.
From a price perspective 8 x Ultra SS are £1760 and 8 x Ultra 5 are £4880, plus the threaded adapters you need to physically attach them so no one with a pair of £1000 speakers is going to fit Ultra SS under them in reality. But if you have a pair of speakers that are £3000+ it is certainly worth considering as a future upgrade, taking your speaker plus some Stillpoints to just under £5000 will make them outperform plenty of speakers in that price and beyond. The Ultra 5 are a different proposition at nearly £5000 for 8, you will need a big, serious speaker to justify their place, but if you have a speaker like that the Ultra 5 is wonderful upgrade. I’ve installed Ultra 5 under B&W 800 Series, Focal Utopia, PMC, Avalon, Vimberg and Magico speakers with brilliant results – I would go as far to say that in some systems the addition of the Ultra 5 completely transformed the speaker, much to the pleasant dismay of the customers!
The other interesting concept with Stillpoints is using them under a mains block, mains power is noisy, lots of mechanical energy coming from the mains that gets directed right into your system. Isolating your mains block or conditioner is a very effective place to start with Stillpoints in any system, as in reality it’s an upgrade for the whole system.
If you are going to add Stillpoints into your system one component at a time (which is what most people do to be fair) I always get asked where is the best place to start, source, amp or speakers ? (I like to throw mains in as a nice curveball). In reality the best place to start can vary dramatically from system to system, in some systems it is the front end and in some systems it is the amplifier, or indeed speakers or mains. It is very much a case of listening. If you find you can’t hear the impact of what a Stillpoint is doing in any given place in your system it would suggest you have hit a bottleneck somewhere downstream. Plus, if you want to improve your system and find you don’t get on with Stillpoints it is likely the case that they highlighting the shortcomings of your system – but we can use this information to our advantage!
A great example of this was a customer of mine floated his whole system after a home demo about 18 months ago, but after a couple of months in use in his system he found the presentation too forward and lively and I ended up taking them all out, the customer found is system become too forward and lively for his taste. This customer ended up changing interconnects and speakers cables to Entreq, 6 months ago he revisited exactly the same Stillpoints in his system and completely fell in love with what they did the second time around.
So there you have it! Don’t make the mistake of thinking Stillpoints are just a tweak or accessories, the reality of it is they are absolutely fundamental in unlocking the potential in your hi-fi system, the one you already invested your hard earned money into!
The whole range has their place, don’t disregard the little Ultra Mini as being too small or the ‘basic entry level’ model and certainly don’t underestimate the potential of the Ultra 2 or Ultra 6, these 2 newest additions to the range are truly amazing. I don’t recall a customer listening to them and not buying them. We have the full range available for demonstration so please get in touch if you want to have a listen.