IsoAcoustics
zaZen vs Delos Isolation Bases

Choosing the Best Platform For Your System

In this article, we hope to give you some insight into the line of IsoAcoustics isolation platforms. IsoAcoustics is out of Canada and they specialize in very well thought out products for both home and professional use. As you might guess from the name, these are all about isolating components.

Why Isolation is Important

For those of you who may not be familiar with the concept of isolating components, in some situations, properly isolating your gear can make just a huge improvement in the sound quality.

Isolation is really all about letting your speakers only send the musical signal out with nothing added. In many systems, especially where your speakers can produce good deep bass, or you have a subwoofer that can, the speaker vibrations get back into your components and have a detrimental effect on the sound.

There are three main types of components that are affected most by these external vibrations, but as your system gets more refined, you can hear a level of improvement by isolating almost any piece of gear, if you have a system capable of deep bass.

Turntables

Turntables are usually the most susceptible to external vibrations affecting their performance.

The phono cartridge on your turntable is tracking the grooves of your record and converting those movements into an electrical signal. When deep bass sound waves produced by your system hit your turntable, if it does not have good isolation, or even if it does, and is just too close to your speakers or subwoofer, those deep bass vibrations can get picked up by your phono cartridge. They will not only feedback into the music but also affect how well your cartridge tracks the record grooves.

In the worst of cases, this is presented as a howling sound that gets worse the louder you turn up the volume. In other situations, once you allow your turntable to just track the record with no vibrations affecting it, your music will sound like a veil has been lifted with more clarity and focus.

With the right isolation base, the improvement in sound quality can be remarkable!

Tube Gear

If you own any equipment with vacuum tubes, you probably love the warm, musical sound they provide. What you may not know, is just like turntables, the tubes themselves can pick up external vibrations that get transmitted back into the musical signal.

Every once in a while, a tube will go bad and become what we call “microphonic”. This is when any vibrations at all cause the tube to emit a high pitched ringing sound. Intense deep bass sound waves coming from your speakers or subwoofer can cause your tubes to vibrate ever so slightly, which can color your sound.

Just like with a turntable, an isolation base or isolating support feet can make a big difference.

CD Players

CD Players have to spin the disc for the laser to pick up the digital fingerprint and any vibrations that hit the pickup or transport mechanism can also impact your sound. While we do think the improvements offered by isolation are easier heard on a turntable or tube component, on a high-resolution system, you might experience a pretty decent jump up in sound quality by isolating your CD player better.

While there are several isolation products on the market, we think IsoAcoustics is probably one of the best values out there. If cost is no object, and you have a very high-resolution system, we do feel the HRS products are even better, but for the money, the IsoAcoustics pieces are really hard to beat.

IsoAcoustics makes both isolation bases and isolation feet. We covered the feet here and will focus on their two different bases in this review.

The company has a pretty interesting history. In the world of audio, they are fairly new, having only been launched in 2012, but the main brainchild behind IsoAcoustics has been in the business for several decades. Dave Morrison earlier in his career was on a team that helped build a 1.72 million square foot multi-media center. His job was to design isolation systems for the TV and radio studios, recording studios, and special effects studios. This led him to develop some great ideas on acoustic isolation that eventually helped create IsoAcoustics.

How To Choose the Best IsoAcoustics Base for Your Component

IsoAcoustics has two series of bases called the zaZen and Delos. They both work in a very similar fashion and picking the best one comes down to matching the size and weight of your component to the right base.

Both of them work on the same principle of using a base with some degree of mass integrated with their special isolation feet.

The base on the different models will vary in mass based on the weight of your component and the feet are a similar design to that used in the award-winning IsoAcoustics GAIA Series. These use a top isolator, a bottom isolator, and a component to connect the isolator to the base. The shape, stiffness, and materials of the feet used for each base are specifically designed for the weight range of the base and your component.

These feet are slightly recessed into the base for a look we feel is pretty cool. While you could just purchase the correct isolation feet for your component, you’ll have to play around with the feet to get them positioned properly and the base takes all the guesswork out of that. The base is also perfect for those turntables with a separate motor like a VPI or Pro-Ject RPM series. Plus, the mass of the base itself will help most turntables and tube products as well.

The company has a pretty interesting history. In the world of audio, they are fairly new, having only been launched in 2012, but the main brainchild behind IsoAcoustics has been in the business for several decades. Dave Morrison earlier in his career was on a team that helped build a 1.72 million square foot multi-media center. His job was to design isolation systems for the TV and radio studios, recording studios, and special effects studios. This led him to develop some great ideas on acoustic isolation that eventually helped create IsoAcoustics.

zaZen Isolation Models

The zaZen, which means “sitting meditation”, has two versions. Both models have the same footprint with a size of 15” deep by 17” wide. The zaZen I is about 1 ½” thick, while the zaZen II is 1.65” thick.

You will want to make sure your surface you are putting the base on is level first. The way the feet for the IsoAcoustics bases are designed does not lend them to being adjustable.

If your component is less than 25 pounds in total weight, the zaZen I would be your best choice. The zaZen II is made for components weighing up to 40 pounds.

Putting your turntable, tube component, or CD player on a zaZen base will usually greatly improve clarity and detail. We find, the deeper bass tones your system can produce, the bigger the improvement you will hear.

  1. IsoAcoustics ZaZen Isolation base on white background IsoAcoustics zaZen Isolation Platform
    Rating:
    0%
    $199.99 - $229.99

Delos Isolation Models

The name Delos comes from Greek mythology, meaning the floating island. The Delos lineup is broader than the zaZen with both size, weight limit, and wood species options. To work properly with a Delos, your component needs to be pretty heavy, weighing at least 40 pounds or more.

What is neat about the Delos is they can support gear weighing up to 100 pounds! This makes them perfect for some of those massive VPI and other larger turntables or big tube amps on the market.

IsoAcoustics choose maple and walnut as the woods to use for the platform. Both of these hardwoods are used in the making of musical instruments from guitars to pianos. They take different sized pieces of wood and bond them together using a green type glue that dries quickly and is formaldehyde-free. This results in a much stronger structure than a single piece of wood.

  1. IsoAcoustics 2216M1 Delos Maple Top IsoAcoustics DELOS Isolation Platform Base
    $399.99 - $899.99

This solid structure is then finished with a very durable urethane based satin finish to keep it looking great for years. IsoAcoustics tells us the two finish options just come down to personal preference and there is not a performance difference between the woods they can measure.

Within each type of wood, there are two sizes and two different thicknesses. You’ll find one to be 18” wide by 15” deep and the other 22” wide by 16” deep. Then you get to choose between 1 ½” thick or 3” thick. The thicker wood does provide more mass, so if your turntable is based on a massive type design, we suggest going with the 3” version.

The smaller 1 ½” version can support up to 65 pounds and the thicker 3” model is best for components up to 55 pounds.

When you move up to the larger models, your gear can be up to 100 pounds for the 1 ½” thick model and up to 90 pounds for the 3” version.

The 22” by 16” versions also use 6 isolation feet compared to the four on the smaller ones.

Performance

Adding mass and isolation to audio components, especially turntables has been a path many music lovers have taken for decades. Whether it was a piece of granite, a heavy butcher block, or whatever, people have experimented with adding mass to help their gear sound better. Heck, we even remember cutting tennis balls in half before any isolation components were on the market.

A real shocker in terms of audio improvement was the first time we heard an HRS isolation base. HRS uses some pretty special tech to improve your sound but does carry a much higher price tag than these IsoAcoustics bases. What we heard then was much tighter bass, more dynamics, better imaging, and a far more effortless and involving sound. In other words, tons of improvements.

We decided to give these IsoAcoustics bases a real challenge and see if they could improve what was already a great turntable. A new turntable from Mark Levinson had just hit our demo floor and this 75 pound beast of a turntable already had some really good isolation. As an aside, the new 5105 turntable from Mark Levinson sounds fantastic and is quite beautiful.

We set this up on the Mark Levinson 5805 integrated amp, which was driving a pair of Aerial 7t speakers. It took two people to move the table each time and add the big IsoAcoustics 3” thick larger base. On every record, the difference was immediate! The sound was more effortless, had more detail, but the interesting part was it even sounded like the surface noise was reduced. Needless to say, it was a most impressive demonstration for us!

Summary

These new bases from IsoAcoustics allow many more people to experience a similar improvement for far less cost. Plus, with the Delos, they add that super cool factor a big piece of butcher block accomplishes with the added benefits of their isolation feet.

Which model suits you comes down mostly to simply matching the weight of your component. We do feel the 3” tall models are better for turntables or big tube pieces that have a lot of mass.

The benefits isolation provides will have a lot to do with the acoustic profile of your room. If your gear happens to be sitting in a spot where it gets hit with a big bass mode, you’ll likely hear huge benefits.

FEATURED PRODUCTS

  1. IsoAcoustics ZaZen Isolation base on white background IsoAcoustics zaZen Isolation Platform
    Rating:
    0%
    $199.99 - $229.99

  1. IsoAcoustics 2216M1 Delos Maple Top IsoAcoustics DELOS Isolation Platform Base
    $399.99 - $899.99

  1. Aerial 7T Aerial Acoustics 7T LoudSpeakers - Pair
    Rating:
    100%
    $11,995.00 - $12,795.00

MORE VIDEOS & REVIEWS

Wishlist
Copyright © 2020 Audio Advice. All rights reserved.