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A.R.T. Q-Dampers

[ART Q-dampers]

[Italian version]

Product: Q-Dampers isolators
Manufacturer: A.R.T. srl, via Masaccio 176, 50132 Firenze (Italy)
Approx. price: 100 $ (set of 3)

We have written a lot about the importance of the proper control of the vibrations and resonances into a HiFi system: the means to achieve a good vibration insulation are so many and so different that we'll have to write a little more on this topic.
In this article I'll try to tell you about the effects these small graphite blocks can have on any HiFi component.

What are they?

The Q-Dampers, made by A.R.T., are just small dark blocks (4.5 x 4.5 x 2) of synthetic graphite, a material that has proven to be particularly efficient to dampen any vibration that passes through its crystal internal structure.
On the top of the block there's a small brass disk with a hole in the center which is meant to provide a firm lock to any pointed spike. This doesn't mean that you have to use them coupled with pointed spikes, as we'll see below.
Being quite small, these blocks are surprsingly heavy.
Each packages contains 3 or 4 Q-Damper, an owner's manual that explains how to use them and what to expect from them.

How to use them

If you're not using pointed spikes under your equipment, the Q-dampers should be placed directly under the cabinet, provided the contact is smooth and solid.
If you're using spikes, just put one Q-Damper under each spike.
Do NOT glue them or place under an elastic surface: the coupling is needed to be very stiff. This is all.
You can choose to place 3 or 4 Q-Dampers depending on the nature of the equipment you want to dampen since the effects may vary.

Q-Damping everything

I've started from scratch, putting 3 Q-Dampers under any HiFi component into my listening system, as suggested.
The first thing you can notice is that you suddenly need to turn the volume up, far more than usual: this is caused by the *cleaning* effect of the Q-Dampers. The bass range becomes tighter and cleaner, leaving the mid-range free to shine, retrieving and offering every musical nuance to the listener, nuances that were hidden by resonances before the *cleaning* treatment.
The bass becomes even slightly deeper and so it is easier to follow even the more complicated bass line, down to the first octave.

With or without...them

Then I've tried to take away the Q-Dampers from my system, one component at once, so to unveil under WHICH component their effect was more substantial.
Below you'll find my list of preferences, with a vote, from 0 to 5, where 5 means max effect and 0 no effect at all. With CD players and turntables the effects are not-reversible, in the sense that once you've listened to them with the Q-Dampers you won't be able to come back :-)

The minimalist use

This last test has been made thinking at those audiophiles who just want to discover the effect of the Q-Dampers without putting them everywhere.
For these guys I suggest to use just 3 Q-Dampers under the player, digital or analog, it doesn't really matter. With lightweight equipment it should be better to add a shelf of marble on top of the component, with the aid of some dots of blue-tac, so that the pressure over the Dampers (and hence the coupling effect) is higher.
I've even tried to put 3 Q-Dampers under each pointed leg of my TNT FlexyTable: this is maybe the first thing to try in order to evaluate the effects of these accessories. Indeed, the *cleaning* effect is still there, even if less evident than in the case of the *complete treatment* (3 dampers under EACH component).


These are not *accessories*, these are actually *components* that can make the difference. Not well-suited for absolute beginners (even considering the price) the ART Q-Dampers should be considered by any *advanced* audiophile. For the budget-oriented beginners I can suggest to evaluate the effect of our cheap TNT Stoneblocks. Once you have discovered the effect of these simple devices you can start thinking at the (better) Q-Dampers, which work substantially better, are far sturdier and look cooler :-).
The picture above does not give the idea of how elegant and classy look these blocks: the quality of the finish is simply superb.
For the standard 3-pieces HiFi system (player + amp + speakers) you need at least 12 Q-Dampers for a total of 400 $, not cheap...but you should evaluate this by yourself.
If you're in the market for a new expen$ive cable and/or component, ask a complete set of Q-Dampers for a test drive into your system: you may decide to leave your components as they are...and buy the dampers instead!
Then please think that the Q-Dampers will stay into your system forever so you can consider them a long-term investment.

© Copyright 1999 Mimmo Cacciapaglia

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