August 2, 2009

Of finite elemente's Rack

This is an old post of ours in the blog we previously contributed to.

My finite elemente pagode signature rack finally arrived at Audio Image last Friday.

I got it assembled at home myself last night. Though its structure did not seem too complex, it still took me one and a half hours to put it together. As the assemblying progressed, I had more and more respect for the design and manufacturing quality that finite elemente had put into their product. Every thing - every nut, bolt, spike, pillar, platform - just fit into each other with very very little tolerance if at all. The final fit and finish was simply exemplary (an interesting aside - the top of the range pagode Master Reference comes fully assembled, Adrian (owner of Audio Image) had one which he showed me on Friday).

Well packed and well labelled

One particularly great user-friendly touch is in the side-spikes. Finite elemente had a small hole drilled through the spike body so that adjustments, even very fine ones, can be carried out easily with the metal pin provided. Dimples are also drilled into the locking collar nut, to allow you to easily lock the spike in place, again using the same metal pin.
Note the spike in the upper part of the photo, the owner can easily adjust the spike with the supplied metal pin, shown sticking through the spike

It is this kind of great engineering and design precision that make me think of the finite elemente pagode rack as the Mercedes Benz in the hifi rack world.

All this is of course as it should be, the pagode signature has a premium price to match, coming in at more than RM7k list (model E12, 60cm height, 3 tiers). Adrian also told me that the price has just been raised again by the manufacturer, check with him for the latest (016-6001218).

The only complaint I have is the assembly instruction. If I did not have Adrian's briefing on Friday, I think I would need an extra hour to figure everything out. It is well written all right, but poorly organized - it is all in words, no picture or diagram; in one numbered step there are many tasks to carry out, all written in 1 long paragraph. This is no way for reader-friendliness really.
The one-sheet assembly instructions that reads like an essay :-)

The assembled rack
Some may question whether it is worth spending so much on a hifi rack. Buying the pagode signature rack could be a moment of insanity on my part. :-) However, after a few listening sessions, I know it is the right path to take. I listened with all the equipment placed on the pagode signature straight (i.e., without the finite elemente ceraballs), its performance is so much more superior than my acrylic+wood rack plus 2 sets of ceraballs (both racks have the bigger cerapucs installed under the feet).

With the Pagode Signature, more low level details emerge, the sound floats free of the speakers; bass gained extension, has better definition and articulation; the entire soundstage is more solidly placed. The magnitude of improvement is no less than upgrading a major piece of component.
The finite elemente pagode signature rack in action

I'll introduce the cera feet to the equipment on the pagode rack one by one and see whether I could get further improvements, will share my experience here later.

I wish I have come down this way earlier. If you have a competent system already assembled, rather than looking at the next equipment upgrade, look into the racking aspect. Your equipment may perform fine on your existing rack, such as those ubiquitous metal or acrylic rack, you really will see a further substantial leap in performance when you install a properly designed rack.

A good rack will stay with you for many cycles of your equipment changes. So in the long term, it is actually a better upgrade step for your money.

It will not be a wrong decision, how many finite elemente racks do you see on the used market?

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