Product: elastic feet for audio equipment
Manufacturer: XSSH Audio Store - China
Recommended Retail Price: approx. 20€
Reviewer: Piero Canova - TNT Italy
Reviewed: October, 2021
International travel is, today, more complicated than it used to be. No more do I have my usual annual pair of trips to China for business and with them the chance to look for interesting audio. To replace these trips, at least on the audio side of things, I regularly visit the Aliexpress website. If I need to build a new cable or I am looking for some specific accessory at reasonable cost a visit is almost mandatory; the only problem is that the website is so big that in looking for one specific thing, you end up buying several others. I have seen these particular feet some time ago and I was curious to check how they work so I bought four of them and carried out a thorough test. I chose the cheapest among the options available and one mont later the envelope arrived.
My reference product for vibration isolation of electronic devices are the G-Flex feet, tested here on TNT by our Editor in 1999. Unfortunately they have been out of production for many years and also it is tough to find them second hand: I have tried to reproduce them using some spare springs I have, but the cost is simply unreasonable. G-Flex feet are made such that the upper part of the foot is separated from the lower part by the use of flat springs that provide the dampening component. The manufacturer always recommended the use of four feet and looking at the XSSH feet description there were several common things: four feet each time and springs as dampener.
XSSH feet are made from three parts: two aluminum disks with, on one side, some blind holes to insert the springs and some 10mm diameter spiral springs. The two disks are dimensionally identical so there isn't an "upper" and a "lower" part. The pictures below show well how they are made. The quality of the finish is excellent: machining of the disks and high quality of the anodization. Aesthetically they look very nice and the perceived value is far superior than the 20€ I paid for them.
Inside the box I received there was no data-sheet or instructions so, after some pushing and pulling I found out how to disassemble them. The springs have a diameter just slightly bigger than the holes so, after reassembling them with the right number of springs, depending on the weight of your equipment, the feet hold together which is very practical for installation. In my view, in order to work properly,such feet need to perform with some compression of the springs; the lowest spring number to keep the feet stable is three. With three sprig the compression becomes visible with 1 Kg of weight so if your equipment weighs less than 3 Kg there will be no spring compression and vibration isolation will be poor. I haven't tested the maximum weight the springs can carry, but I am confident that 5 Kg per feet with seven springs is within the safe range. In the box there were also some self adhesive disks of a rubber like material to prevent the feet slipping, but I didn't use them because I never noticed any tendency to slip and some rubber in the system normally tends to confuse ther results of any tests.
To open the feet, select and fit the right number of springs and install them under your equipment takes just five minutes. After assembly, the first reaction is to compress them with your hands and here begins the negatives. They squeak. They make the same noise that you hear in cartoons when you compress a spring. The noise happens because when you compress the spring vertically it increases it's diameter and in order to enter the recessed holes it slides on the hole walls making noise. Now, to swap a vibration for a squeak doesn't sound ideal to me, but it is also true that it is unlikely, in normal use, you will have such excursions, but it isn't a good start. This time my guinea pig is my Parasound Halo JC3; it weights approximately 6 Kg so I did use three springs for each foot. Out with the G-Flex, in with the XSSH and we are ready to listen. The source is a Sony TTS 2500 heavily upgraded with a superlight 13" arm and a Dynavector Karat 23R loaded at 100 Ohm.
First record: Jeff Buckley "Grace". Just two minutes of listening and it is evident there is something wrong: highs OK, sound-stage OK, lows hyper-controlled and much too dry, mid-range almost absent. It can't be I thought, so I changed five or six records very quickly to confirm this first impression. Out with the XSSH, back with the G-Flex and everything returns to normal. I have tried to change the number of springs, but there aren't many differences to be heard. In my system, and my room, they simply don't work well. Now, in a system with a fat bass and a very present mid-range they might be perfect, but this is a mechanical equalizer, not a vibration dampener.
Unless your system needs some very strong acoustical corrections, I can't recommend them to you. They are cheap, but they impact the sound in a too evident and wrong way.
You know that I don't give up very easily. There must be a way to get them sounding right so I started modifying them. To begin, I widened the diameter of the holes using a 10,5mm diameter drill bit. In this way the squeaking is much reduced: perhaps not so important, but I feel much more comfortable. I have tried several dampening materials inside the holes or inside the springs and the best result I had was with a small amount of Blu-Tack inside the spring as in the picture below.
In this way the results are much better: there is always a bit of dryness in the lower range and the mid-range is a bit recessed, but the changes are much smaller and sometimes even welcome. I could change my judgement by saying that, if you are willing to make some tests and spend a bit of time setting them up, they are worth the purchase: they are very nice looking and also inexpensive and with little work they can sound very good. In the meanwhile I am testing some unusual springs to see if I can find some more improvements. I will keep you posted.
P.S. XSSH Audio have slightly modified these feet, now with acrylic bases.
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