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Yamamoto PB-9, PB-10, PB-20 & PB-21 - setting bases

More Yamamoto tuning stuff!

[Italian version]

Manufacturer: Yamamoto Sound Craft - Japan
Product: Yamamoto tuning PB-9 ebony pin point base
Price: 3,500¥
Approximate European cost: ~26€ (YMMV depending on currency fluctuation)
Product: Yamamoto tuning PB-20 ebony pin point base
Price: 5,000¥ per four
Approximate European cost: ~37€ per four(YMMV depending on currency fluctuation)
Product: Yamamoto tuning PB-10 ebony receiver base
Price: 3,000¥ per four
Approximate European cost: ~22€ per four(YMMV depending on currency fluctuation)
Product: Yamamoto tuning PB-21 ebony receiver base
Price: 4,500¥ per four
Approximate European cost: ~33€ per four(YMMV depending on currency fluctuation)
Reviewer: Mark Wheeler - TNT UK
Reviewed: 6 months of 2010

"More Yamamoto stuff in for review?" accuse plebs, stage left, "The old scribe must be taking payola from Yamamoto San!"

Mr Shigeki Yamamoto makes a vast range of tuning devices of which he is inordinately proud, so despite the plebs' aspersions, no money has changed hands. Indeed, such is Yamamoto San's confidence in his products that he has submitted the full range for test by the only fully independent webzine's sceptical old scribe. So far, beginning with the least expensive devices in the Yamamoto range, the Yamamoto PB-22 pyramid setting bases, the whole range has been examined:

[4 small points] [socket 2me x4]

Yamamoto PB-9 and PB-10 pin point and point receiver Bases

Bill Cosby is not dead. Seriously; Bill Cosby is so alive that on Wednesday 4th August this year he appeared live on CNN to confirm that rumours of his death had been greatly exaggerated, as were rumours of Oscar Wilde's death over 100 years ago. Bill Cosby was incensed that this was the fourth time he'd had to respond to widespread news of his death.

"Has the old scribe finally lost his marbles?" demand plebs, stage left, "Why is he ranting about Bill Cosby remaining alive, which while it is a jolly good thing, surely has no place on an audiophile page?

Because each of these rumours, just like the one that Jeff Goldblum had fallen to his death while filming in Australia, arises from a report on the internet. This report gets repeated by other blogs and websites until it appears to have the weight of truth through shear mass of repetition. Just as the peer review process is intended in every avenue of serious academic enquiry, to lend weight by the intellectual respectability of several people of acknowledged expertise supporting that the statements made, while not necessarily agreeing with their own opinions, nevertheless have been arrived at by a process of sufficient academic rigour. The mass of (repeated as though unalloyed truth) expressed on the internet on every topic superficially resembles a critical mass of opinion. However, the world is a very big place and millions of people have access to the internet and we have an inbuilt social drive to repeat information given to us as a means of forging social relationships. This drive has not yet adapted to the age of the world wide web and our brains are still at the chat by the village pump phase of evolution. Hence each such rumour of a celebrity death gathers momentum as it rolls on like a snowball gathering mass as it accelerates down a hill until it begins to be repeated as news on TV and in the print media. Yet it is still as untrue as it was when the first claim was made for whatever reason, be it a mis-heard conversation in a hospital corridor or a person listening to police or ambulance radio messages for whatever bizarre reason, and such people apparently do exist (although I could have made that up to start a ridiculous rumour).

The desire to repeat news and opinion is known as gossip. It is a splendid tool of social coherence BUT IT IS NOT A CONDUIT FOR RIGOROUSLY RESEARCHED FACT. It may repeat rigorously researched data but it is just as likely to repeat opinion, dogma, vested interest or sweeping generalisations based on unique events. Audio is equalled only by celebrity gossip in this respect. Audiophiles are no more likely to be having a beer with a supermodel while she tells the unvarnished truth about a recent affaire de couer than to have tried one particular 1000€ interconnect between their unusual combination of pre and power amplifier. They read a gossip paper for unsubstantiated opinion about the former if they have any interest and they hope to extrapolate from a review in the latter case. The problem is that accessories are relatively inexpensive and completely Dependants on the system context for their performance. However, to test them in a variety of contexts requires far more time and complication than to test a pair of loudspeakers. The paid by the word journalist will get more print column inches from a 30k€ pair of loudspeakers than for a mid price interconnect. So most bits of wire get tried in two or three contexts at most, and most vibration isolation components get tried under one example of each link in the audio chain, source, amplifier and loudspeaker. Since the start of this vibration control oddysey one thing has become clear above all others: THERE ARE FEW UNIVERSALLY APPLICABLE RULES IN TUNING AND VIBRATION CONTROL OF AUDIO COMPONENTS. Anyone who claims product X or product Y is the universal panacea for audio component support clearly has not tried it in enough diverse contexts. They also clearly have an over inflated opinion of the conclusions they can draw from one short test in one specific situation. A fool and his money are soon parted and the seasoned audiophile knows better than to trawl the interweb to witness endless repeats of an opinion of one review, at best. At worst, repetition of an opinion unsupported by experience or fact, for lack of any other data.

Having said that, there are trends to be observed. Exotic timber products are often more in the realm of tuning as of measurable vibration control while squidgy blobby products are almost exclusively in the realm of vibration control. Yamamoto manufacture a range of such devices alongside their amplifiers, loudspeakers and cartridges, some developed for specific applications and some more universal. The Yamamoto PB-9, PB-10, PB-20 and PB-21 are two different sized pairs of spike and receiver base. For readers who might skip to the conclusion before bothering with the substance, these are the ultra-bargains of the Yamamoto range. While the ultra low cost lower density PB-22 pyramids will make less impact on audiophile's credit cards, it is the PB-9, PB-10, PB-20 and PB-21 pairings that will allow audiophiles to explore the effects of effective vibration control tuning beyond their market position.

Whether 'tis nobler to use the points alone, or the receivers below the inbuilt spikes of speakers or stands, this test concentrates only on their use as pairs. Sure, under speaker spikes, the bigger receiver bases work quite well, although not as well as the dedicated PB-18 loudspeaker spike receiver bases compound ebony+ceramic spike receivers. Only experiment will determine the most effective configuration in any application. In these tests the combined spike & receiver base pairings are difficult to separate from each other; the guide to application by mass is probably close enough.

The point bases could be used alone, point up or point down and the receiver bases could be used beneath or atop spikes already fitted to racks or components. This test concentrates on these devices used as pairs of matching spike and receiver base, for which the term 'setting base' is used by Shigeki Yamamoto, a term your old scribe much prefers to 'footer' and will therefore continue to use in this review, where appropriate. These are rigid spike and receiver combinations in direct contrast with lossy blobs or springs, magnets or cables in tension. At the pitiful budget end, we established that DIY vibration isolation pumice cut into triangles is almost as good as RDC, if somewhat crumbly and now that the much superior PolyCrystal seem to have ceased production, there is a gap in the market. The Yamamoto PB-9 & PB-10 or PB-20 & PB-21 fill that price point niche. Tested as tuning devices and as vibration isolation by use atop two different support arrangements, these Yamamoto proved to be the stars in Mr Shigeki Yamamoto's firmament.

As tuning devices the Yamamoto PB-9 & PB-10 combination are exemplary beneath lightweight components upon the superb vibration isolating Something Solid XR4. They seem to lift the subjective signal to noise ratio by making the tune carrying instruments more explicit, the rhythms tighter and the background mush more distant. Your old scribe is annoyed that they're sold in sets of four, for no reason more rational than sets of four fit easily into square packaging as 3 PB-9 on PB-10 is ALWAYS superior to 4 PB-9 on PB-10. Well, there's a surprise...not.

Beneath the established exaggerator of tuning devices, the modified Shanling the Yamamoto PB-9 & PB-10 pulled out [nearly] all the stops. Well above the expected performance at the price point, these babies really rock. Equally they really do the bizz for acoustic instruments, seemingly managing to emphasise the qualities of instrumental timbre...

"The old scribe's making a bid for Private Eye's Pseud's Corner already," accuse plebs, stage left.

In combination with effective vibration control, the Yamamoto PB-9 & PB-10 combination do similar things as products like the ERaudio SpaceHarmoniser Platforms to a lesser degree, at much lower cost or space demands. Without additional external vibration control, the effects of the Yamamoto points & receiver combination do effect some vibration control but with reduced tuning effects.

Oh dear, this review is not going to read as one of those "Buy this male hobby product! It is not the answer to your impotence problem nor reduced phallus size dilemma. Nor is it the opiate of the masses, nor will it cure diseases or make you more handsome". It is an audio tuning device and therefore interacts with the hardware that it is supporting. However, it does have the best price/performance ratio of any of the recently reviewed rigid feet (or setting bases as these are called). The Yamamoto PB-9 & PB-10 combination is way ahead of its cheaper sibling, and close on the heels of its much more expensive cousins.

[where's the point?] [point taken]

Yamamoto PB-20 and PB-21 pin point and point receiver Bases

Well, more of the same for bigger components, but lighter components are as good if not better on the smaller feet.

Frankly, it was really obvious under the modified Shanling CD100c, that feet with metal and wood like the Waipuna Sound Myrtlefeet and the PB-4-2 CD player setting bases offer a more explicit presentation of leading edges and timing, with the all wood Yamamoto PB-9 & PB-10 or PB-20 & PB-21 coming very close to the more expensive PB-4-2 in all but those dimensions. Forced to put them in order in that context, the PB-4-2, come out tops, the PB-20 & PB-21 come second and the Waipuna third, but if extra bite were needed the Waipuna would be the preferred second choice. Under the clangy cased Avondale Audio AAA5 the PB-9 & PB-10 came out top in this trio but are bested by compound devices like Avondale's own carbon fibre tipped feet (actually supplied in threes, hooray). DIY SET6080 in Torlyte case power amplifier, that the low mass contributed of this amplifier to NO DIFFERENCE AT ALL between the Yamamoto PB-20 and PB-21 and the Yamamoto PB-9 and PB-10, but both pairings were spectacularly effective compared with anything else in the same price league or money order of magnitude. Similarly priced products like the Waipuna Sound feet have their place under CD players and are effective under this amplifier too, but the Yamamoto PB-9 & PB-10 have a synergy with this wooden cased all triode amplifier with outboard mains transformer (itself upon BrightStar IsoNodes for best effect). Under this valve amplifier there is a special quality to the enhancements brought about by the Yamamoto PB-9 & PB-10.

Beneath the heavier steel case modified Assemblage SET300B the larger Yamamoto PB-20 & PB-21 are necessary, two at the rear (directly under the output transformers) and one at the front (directly under the CV181 valve) sounding best. Until more elevated price levels of wooden tuning shelves like the ERaudio SpaceHarmoniser (and Yamamoto make their own in Cherry Wood), solutions like these point and receiver combinations represent excellent value. Whether wooden tuning feet are adding euphonic colourations is a moot point, when compared with squidgy vibration absorbing feet, or mag-lev magnetic suspensions, because to choose single ended triodes is to choose the Dionysian rather than Appollonian path.

Under loudspeaker spikes the Yamamoto PB-21 receiver bases make a massive difference compared with spikes direct on a hard (Slate) floor. However, if your listening room is carpeted you should rely on the spikes to penetrate the carpet all the way to the timber or masonry underneath. On the stone floor used in this test, the PB-18 Loudspeaker Spike Receivers were much better at leading edge definition than the all wood Yamamoto PB-21, which in their turn were better than the Michell Tendercups (inexpensive turned aluminium spike receivers that were not submitted for testing but included as they are an industry standard), which in their turn are better than spike on floor. It depends how much you spent on your loudspeakers and stands; If they cost over 1000€ then it is worth spending 100€ optimising them, but it is never worth spending as more on stands+cables+tuning as the speakers cost themselves (unless DIY). So under speakers Yamamoto PB-18 are better than Yamamoto PB-21 but either is worth the cash outlay.


The entry level triangular devices redefine the standard for low budget organic sounding gizmos for bunging under one's audio components, but the Yamamoto PB-9 & PB-10 and the Yamamoto PB-20 and PB-21 take it to the next level. What is frustrating for reviewers is any situation where there really is no hierarchy of goodness. In vibration control, as in cables, and as in real life itself, context is everything.

If there is any reader out there who has still not tried tuning devices or vibration control, the basic Yamamoto PB22 triangular setting bases will surprise you at the price/performance ratio, compared with cable or hardware upgrades. Moving up to the next level, as defined by the combination devices tested here, the first step seems irrelevant compared with the order of magnitude change offered. The sole exception will be occasions where blobby, vibration absorbing devices, are indicated.


[begin thousands of years ago]

Your old scribe has now being reviewing a vast tranche of Yamamoto tuning devices for over a year. The PB-9, PB-10, PB-20 and PB-21 have been saved until last, just like the concert where the rousing anthem is played as a climax to the show, this product represents the climax in the Yamamoto range of tuning devices. Extending the concert analogy further, the last piece played before the audience spills out onto the pavement outside the venue, that last tune ringing in their ears, is often a simpler piece, easier to perform than earlier tunes.

The Yamamoto range includes more sophisticated designs, some application specific. The MGB-1 and MGB-2 magnetic bases magnetic floating bases are vibration isolating sprung devices par excellence and the CD bases focus on excellent information retrieval at the front end of the system. The PB-9, PB-10, PB-20 and PB-21 are more universal in application.

As rigid tuning devices the Yamamoto PB-9, PB-10, PB-20 and PB-21 should be in every high end audiophile's armory of tuning devices to try under each new component while establishing whether that component benefits from stiff or lossy support. Should the former 'stiff' support condition prevail, readers would have to spend a lot more money to find better support feet uniquely matched to their hardware. The decision whether to choose the smaller PB-9 and PB-10 or the larger PB-20 and PB-21 is a tough one without audition. Intuition suggests less mass is better as the leggera vehicle usually stops and starts with more alacrity. However, with audio tuning devices bigger lumps of stuff are often superior. Frankly, your old scribe could not detect a distinct and consistent case either way. It probably depends on how heavy your components are, but even this was not clear under test. This is why, here at TNT-audio we test with as wide a range of components as possible; other journals sometimes just try tuning devices under their favourite CD player, amplifier or loudspeaker and make sweeping generalisations of apparent certainty. Certainty is very seductive to potential purchasers but is a dangerous path leading to flavour of the month territory.

TNT-audio readers are more highly evolved audio animals who can tolerate the joys of discovery that safe uncertainty renders possible. So, because Yamamoto San insists on selling these setting bases in sets of four, and three are always superior, buy three sets to enable four pieces of equipment to be supported and get experimenting. Try a trio between speaker and stand, under CD player and pre-amplifier and compare each with lossy supports. At this price the experience will either point high end audiophiles toward further experiment or prove to be the ideal tuning support option with the Yamamoto PB-9, PB-10, PB-20 and PB-21.

© Copyright 2010 Mark Wheeler - mark@tnt-audio.com - www.tnt-audio.com

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