Designed by Joe Lavrencik, Critical Mass Systems. U.S. patent pending
We’re thrilled to introduce Center Stage, a breakthrough anti-vibration product support system that is the culmination of 17 years of experience in the rack designing business. We can say with high confidence that no matter how good your system is, Center Stage will add a new dimension to your listening experience that you will find highly beneficial. Once heard, our overwhelming feedback from listeners is that they do not wish to remove the sonic benefits they have gained using the product. Center Stage can make any system sound better top to bottom and the better the system, the better the results.
There were several objectives behind the development of Center Stage.
Firstly, we wanted to develop a novel approach to solving the problem of vibration degradation in audio systems.
Secondly, this new innovative approach had to be applicable to the widest array of components possible. And, we wanted Center Stage to bring a consistent level of improvement to the least expensive systems and the most expensive systems.
Thirdly, we wanted to make sure that Center Stage was beneficial across the audible spectrum rather than effective in a limited range of frequencies.
Finally, and most important, we wanted to develop a product that brought methodologies found in our most expensive products to the audio community at the lowest possible cost.
We are thrilled with Center Stage and we hope you will give them a try throughout your system.
What Makes Center Stage Novel and Better?
Everyone likes to ask, “How do you do it?” I always tell the truth. The answer is choosing and sequencing materials that possess the perfect combination of damping, elastic modulus and thin rod speed to lock in the desired effect. No one ever seems satisfied with that answer; instead they want to hear about some new “isolation” discovery.
However, the truth is that the ultimate effectiveness of Center Stage lies in the disciplined application of material science to solve vibration problems that are specific to high end audio. The invention of Center Stage required the selection of the right materials; the correct sequencing of the materials; the correct proportioning of the materials; and finally, the addition of the correct amount and type of damping in exactly the right locations as the last step in the process. This is precisely, “how you do it”. It’s not mystery or anything obscure, but rather, good engineering using material science.
Center Stage is different and better because it uses novel applications in material science to achieve its isolation and damping benefits. Your components will now immerse you in a sonic environment that has been described as a unified acoustic field. That’s why we think our product is aptly named when we describe the listener experience as being “Center Stage”.
How Does Center Stage Work?
Gain, relative permittivity and the efficiency of electrical devices can be expressed as dimensionless numbers. For a moment, think of electricity as dimensionless energy moving through 3 dimensional pathways; printed circuit boards, resistors, capacitors, inductors, power supplies, wire, transformers, etc. When vibration is introduced into the atmosphere at the front baffle of the loudspeakers, vibration becomes a 3-dimensional form of energy that can only dissipate by permeating into 3-dimensional objects causing an unnaturally high state of mechanical excitation to occur within them; the objects vibrate. They will continue to vibrate when music is playing and eventually establish a relatively constant state of unnaturally high equilibrium that is well known to degrade the performance of audio components.
We thought about evaluating Center Stage using standard accelerometer tests but, we were getting audible results so undeniably powerful we knew that something was likely occurring beyond which an accelerometer might reveal. Center Stage is a foot with a sonic footprint that exceeds most anything we’ve heard from a “shelf”, or a “box”.
It might be more appropriate to view Center Stage as a catalyst in a complex energy reaction that occurs between your equipment and its environment. While this amount of kinetic and vibration energy is relatively small, the sonic consequences can be very large if these energies are unregulated and undamped. Center Stage is a catalyst designed to change the prevailing state of equilibrium in that energy reaction and to permanently hold it in a reduced or damped state.
The Total Immersion Effect
The Total immersion effect can be described as a highly articulated acoustic sound field that extends out from the loudspeakers and wraps around the listener. Another way to say it is, the listener becomes immersed in the recorded acoustic.
In a “normal” listening room, you see an image in space and you hear a musical event occur at that location. With the Total Immersion Effect, you experience something on the order of a 4k hi-rez 3D surround-event. At times, you see the image in space, you hear and see the musical event occur inside the image, and then you hear, see and feel the sensory event spread out around you from the soundstage. You become immersed by the sound field.
Knocking down the “wall” that separates the listener from the musicians at the front plane of the loudspeakers requires the electromechanical balance inside the components to reach an ultrafine point of equilibrium and to hold that equilibrium point across 20,000+ Hz in a fluctuating energy field so that the component can remain stable enough to create the Immersion Effect with consistency in the listening space.
Center Stage 1.5 (new for 2018)
The new Center Stage 1.5 was designed for use with tube amplifiers and class A solid state amplifiers that benefit from increased ventilation. Of course, amplifiers are generally subjected to elevated levels of vibration because of their close proximity to loudspeakers. The Law of Inverse Squares states that wave amplitude is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the actuator. This means that there is an exponential increase in vibration as components approach the loudspeaker. We paid very close attention to this effect.
To mitigate the negative effects of proximity-related vibration and to improve ventilation, we increased the height of the standard foot to 1.5” and we increased its mass and, finally, we increased the diameter of the foot to 2”. Internally, precise changes were made to accommodate the increased mass of the foot while striving to improve upon our class-leading level of performance. In the end, we produced a new Center Stage foot that performs better than the standard feet. The Center Stage 1.5 is perfect for all amplifiers and is especially helpful for tube and class A solid state amplifiers.
What to expect during break-in
While no audiophile enjoys the process known as break-in, it is unfortunately true that Center Stage requires a break-in period of 7-10 days to achieve its maximal benefit. In fact, it was expressly designed to do exactly that as the reduction of kinetic vibrational energy requires some time to achieve an optimal steady state. Again, think of Center Stage as a catalyst in energy reactions that occurs in, on and around the circuit boards of a component and its chassis. The break in process can be likened to the swinging motion of an undamped pendulum. Upon release, the pendulum swings freely on both sides of an equilibrium point where it will eventually settle.
Because Center Stage will dramatically change the operational electromechanical equilibrium of your components, you should expect your system to sound less than optimal at the outset. This is not unlike the effects one can experience when breaking in any high quality piece of audio gear. Your soundstage will then begin to reconstruct itself by gently tipping upward and downward as it establishes a new and better equilibrium point. However, “better” is inexorable and well worth your patience.
Once achieved, the sonic benefits including a noticeable improvement in sound-staging, articulation of instruments, and a reduction of the noise floor will be obvious. It is extremely important to let the system play for 7 days before assuming it has reached equilibrium. Playing a system 24/7 is not necessary, but the more playing time the better.
Your end of the Bargain, or Making the Experience Better
Center Stage is good for beginners and advanced listeners, so long as you exercise extreme patience during the settling period. Sonic fluctuations you may experience during the settling period will subside as time passes. Here’s what you need:
Components crafted by a known and reliable manufacturer. Your components do not need to be among the “most expensive” or the purported “best” in the world. You will experience excellent results with low cost components. A host of components were used to design Center Stage, some of them very low cost. This was done to assure consistency of performance. It is certainly true, however, that the better your components, the better your results.
Neutral wiring crafted by a known and reliable manufacturer. Some wiring is a “tone control”. Tone control wiring is not necessary. The more invisible your wire, the less it makes its presence known in your system, the better your results.
Stable rack(s) and/or stand(s). Home furnishings are fine. Center Stage was vetted on various flat wooden surfaces with Janka ratings of 1200 and higher equating to an elastic modulus of 4 GPa or greater. This means that virtually any flat surface will net tremendous results. Having said this, the better the surface with respect to its associated and/or inherent technological properties, the better the results. The results on CMS racks is superlative.
Proper loudspeaker set up. This is essential. Center Stage was designed to be most effective in 2-channel stereo listening rooms with conventional loudspeakers of appropriate size and dimensions for the room, and with seating positions reasonable and appropriate for both the loudspeaker as well as the room dimensions.
When you put Center Stage in, pull every tweak out. Center Stage will take about 7 to 10 days to settle. Be slow, careful and cautious about adding any other device(s) back into your system. Adding Center Stage under more of your components is the only means to realizing the full “Total Immersion Effect” so highly valued in high end audio.