September 12, 2011

Spidey's Secret. FE Spider Clone Set Up Tips.

I bought my two FE Spider clone racks a few years back when I re-modelled my man cave. As a hifi green horn at that time, I wasn't even aware of the Finite Elemente brand of hifi racks. However, I thought the Spidey clone on display at the Middle Kingdom shop in Amcorp Mall looked good and very adjustable for my needs at the time and sometime in the future.

And I was not wrong! When my Pass Labs X-0.2, a 3 chassis preamp came about I set out to look for another 2 Spidey clone shelves. I found them on our local Hifi4sale website, I contacted the seller called Kakibook, and made the arrangements to pick them up from him.

Illustration #1

I brought the 2 extra shelves home and started to dismantle my existing set up to accommodate them. In my usual spirit of sharing, I hope that some of you readers out there are using the same stuff, be it the clone or the real Mc Coy(I am not sure this tip works with the real Mc Coy though?) may benefit from this set up tip. I've tried to set up the Spidey clone rack many times, and the result is a hard, card boardy, if very focused sound. Some of my buddies who use the same Spidey clone also report a very pitchy, sharp high mid range cut in the ear bleeding sound. A few of them are on the brink of giving up on this cheap Chinese sh*t(as they call it!). I hope this article comes in the nick of time?

As I've said, I've set up these Spidey clone a few times now, each time with a different method, and each time, result in different sound from the same hifi components. I am most happy with the sound I got from the latest set up method, which I am sharing here.

Illustration #2

I started by observing the quality of the new shelves and compared them to the older ones I got a few years ago. The latest shelves have better finishing on the wooden spider links, otherwise all else looked on par quality wise. I am glad to report that cheap made in China sh*t have very consistent fitting tolerances, as the latest shelves fit on the the older outer aluminium columns with the same precision too. 

First, when assembling the wooden spider links to the centre crown, as on illustration #2, note the hex screws with the red washers(from the inside of the crown), when tightening the hex screws, at this stage, do not tighten fully, I suggest finger tight or perhaps even a little free play is alright too, and leave it at that. Continue all four wooden spider links exactly the same and the result will look like illustration #1 on the top.

Illustration #3

Then continue to attach each shelve tier to all the four aluminium outer columns. This time again, do not tighten all the hex screws yet, again finger tight or a slight free play is ok too. Once you've got all the shelves on just like the picture above(illustration #3),  then you can use either the black rubber interface provided, or like me, use the FE Ceraball Spider(the real ones as they are no clones of these yet!). Now you can attach the spike feet and cups provided, or in my case, FE Ceraball Universal to the bottom of the four outer columns, as shown on illustration #6. Then put your equipment on to each shelve. I know, all the hex screws are not yet tightened and the whole Spidey assembly is a little wobbly at this point, but do not worry, it'll hold, provided your gear is not extra ordinarily heavy. All my equipment weight and 8mm thick glass interface adds up to about 80kgs or so, and it held as pictured in illustration #5.

Illustration #4

Now with the aid of a spirit bubble leveler as seen on top of my Linn LP12 turn table's platter(illustration #5 again). You can start making adjustments to the four outer columns by either extending the spikes up/down wards or in my case the FE Ceraballs Universals(as shown on illustration #6 below) to level the whole Spider rack assembly.

Illustration #5

Now here's the funny thing, once you've got the top tier shelve leveled, all the lower shelves will sort themselves out, with very minor adjustments required, which we now get to. The final part! The minor adjustment of each lower shelve required is the small free play of the connecting hex screws on the centre crown and the outer columns. At this stage, there's nothing you can do about the free play inside the centre crown, but tightening the outer columns hex screws as pictured on illustration #4, you can actually push up/down slightly the connecting wooden spider links to level them on each individual lower shelve whilst tightening the hex screws. Once all the shelves are levelled, you can sit back and start playing some music.

Illustration #6

With the FE Spider clone rack set up this way, the hardness of the sound is no more, replaced by a more expansive sound stage with organic imaging qualities. The pitchy high mids are gone too, replaced with smoothness and solid mid range density. the whole system some how sound more effortless too. There is an openness to the sound which made the music on play very liberating. I am enjoying my music with a new perspective all over again.

A note about those original FE Ceraball Universal and Ceraball Spider, when used with the Spider clone rack, they do bring about some sonic improvements over the standard issued spikes and rubber interface. However, the cost of the original FE Ceraball varieties is very high and some might question my use of them with that cheap Chinese sh*t of a rack. For me, hifi is an irrational hobby after all!

The whole dismantling and re-setting up of the FE Spider clone took me about six hours in all, or a good part of my afternoon, with the aid of some elbow grease, but for me the results are worth the effort. I hope this little tip helps other users of the the same product.

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