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The TNT Akropolis: the ultimate stand
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing you the ultimate solution for your loudspeakers and HiFi components: the TNT Akropolis stands!!!
You all know which is the job that a speaker stand should do: put the speaker at the correct height from the floor, control its resonancies and be stiff enough to avoid any rocking when the speaker is playing (and hence vibrating).
This is not an easy task at all. HiFi designers have tried two different approaches: either keeping the weight of the stand as low as possible or building them as heavy and sturdy as battleships.
In the first case, especially when the stands are used with spikes and the loudspeaker is quite heavy, rocking back and forth plus flexing is always possible. So the designers have tried to increase the stiffness of the structure by increasing the diameter of the tubes used.
This way there was an increase in overall weight and price too, which wasn't very welcomed.
On the other hand heavier metallic or wood stands tend to resonate at certain frequencies though they do have the advantage of being pretty stiff (= better overall dynamics), but they are normally pretty expen$ive too, sometimes costing more than the loudspeaker itself.
These stands are also very often ugly to see and pretty intrusive in any living room (extremely low Wife Acceptance Factor).
Also, spiked metallic stand are dangerous if you have children or dogs...it is sufficient even a light touch to make them crash and you can easily figure out the consequences either for the loudspeaker and for the humans :-(
The TNT Akropolis solution
As you can see in the pictures above the Akropolis stand is a pillar made out of a mix of marble powder and concrete, easy to find at any store that sells garden furniture goodies.
These pillars are available in many different shapes, designs and sizes so that they can suit every audiophile's need.
If you don't like the Hellenic style of the stands shown here you can always search for something simpler and cleaner, less baroque.
Why are these stands the solution?
First of all they're heavy, very heavy (30 kgs/70 lbs each for an 80 cm height) and absolutely non resonant: this is a massive compact mixture of marble and concrete not a metallic tube!!!
Plus these stands are STIFF as they can be: flex is reduced to NOTHING, of course and so is rocking. Once installed it will be difficult to move them!
In other words, using these stands your bookshelf speakers will become heavy floorstanders since the Akropolis can be tought as a natural extension of the floor itself.
I've tried anything I could to make them oscillate but the result has been a painful aand sore hand or foot...:-(
Of course to get this amazing results there's something you should do, besided buying these marble/concrete pillars: first of all these items aren't very precise so you need to put at least three metallic washers between the pillars and the floor. This way any non-planarity is minimized. If the non-planarity is serious you can drill three holes and screw three adjustable spikes inside the pillar. No, don't worry, the spikes won't make the pillars unstable: the weight is sufficient to make everything stay firmly in place.
Then you need to glue the loudspeakers to the pillars: some blue-tac (plumbers' putty) is needed here: use at least four big dots of this magic stuff to firmly glue the cabinets over the Akropolis stand.
The final result, that you can see in the picture above, should be a ONE PIECE structure where the resonancies of the cabinets of the loudspeakers are damped by the blue-tac dots.
If you want you can still use some spikes between the loudspeaker and the stand but please keep in mind that some blue-tac damping is still necessary here. Too stiff the coupling of the loudspeaker to the floor and you'll lose some deep bass.
Now your Akropolis stands are ready to...not play.
Availability and prices
As said before, these pillars are easily available at any store that sells garden furniture. Their cost, depending on their size and design, may vary from 60 to 100 $ per pair.
Yes, Virginia, these babies are damn CHEAP.
Visit at least two stores to get an idea of the models which are available and ask for the lower price. Don't be afraid to ask a discount on the list price, who sells these items is pretty used to large quantities and, hence, good discounts. Remember this is not the HiFi market!
Before buying, check the correct size needed for your loudspeakers, especially height and width of the top of the pillar.
The Sound from the Akropolis
I was a bit skeptical. I was used to hi-tech steel and aluminium speaker stands costing an arm and a leg and these pillars didn't have an hi-tech look at all.
Then I put one of these below an integrated amplifier (the Sonus Faber Quid shown in the picture above) and then below a pair of mini-loudspeakers.
Well, do you really want to hear how your loudspeakers sound like? Give these Akropolis a try. To my ears the improvement with respect to the metallic stands is CLEAR and EVIDENT (I've several pairs of speaker stands at home). Which are the main improvements?
The sound gains some extra (lost) body and it feels like now it is free from any bond, bigger and much more realistic. Not to mention the stability of the 3D soundstage: every musical instrument is now literally GLUED into the wide and deep soundstage, no fluctuations nor shadows. To achieve this performance the blue-tac is a must, don't forget it! The blue-tac dots are necessary to convert the mechanical energy of the loudspeakers into heat instead into new and different vibrations.
The sound now flows from the speakers to your ears with ease and breath, naturally wild, I'd say. Micro and macro-dynamics being unbelievable, since it has not been modified by the time response of the speaker stand.
You may have heard of speakers that underline the pace and the dynamics, others that improve the bass performance and so on. True Lies. What nobody says is that each speaker stand (well each conventional metallic stand, to be honest) is a mix of subtractions (like a cable) and of terrific add-ons (its own resonancies).
So, if a stand is said to have nice bass it means that either it resonates at some bass frequencies or that it destroys in some way the highs, for example resonating at that frequency range.
For the virtual soundstage there's no hope: each metallic conventional stand flexes (like a spring), at least at high listening levels and when matched with loudspeakers with very good bass perfomance.
If a loudspeaker is capable of making vibrate and resonate the heavy door of your living room which is meters away from the woofer, imagine what it could to to the stand that's below the woofer.
Try this experiment at home: when playing Music with plenty of bass at high levels put your hand on one leg of the speaker stand: you'll be surprised by the amount of vibration. Now make the same experiment with an Akropolis stand...
These pillars work well and are even cheap and, according to my taste, they are even nice to see into a living room, both classical or modern/hi-tech.
Again, before you ask: why the HiFi stands designer are still making steel stands? The reason is: costs.
Making these pillars precise enough for HiFi use would cost an arm and a leg, plus consider tha shipping expenses: a pair of these babies weighs in mere 60 kgs/140 lbs and shipping expenses would be higher than the real value of the pillars. Also, the HiFi market is mostly a niche so the amount of sold items is extremely low when compared to other situations.
Another possible reason is that nobody ever thought of this as a solution :-)
The name Akropolis, that comes from the fact that these pillars remind some ancient Greek temples, has been given by Ivana, a friend of mine who fell in love with these speaker stands some months ago.
Anyway, if for some reason you won't like the performance of these items you could always re-use them in your garden :-) for which they were primarly designed.
I promise new better pictures of the TNT Akropolis will be published soon on these pages.
© Copyright 1998 Lucio Cadeddu
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