Superspikes by Soundcare – Bargain Isolation

The Soundcare Superspikes 

I was having a clear out last weekend sorting through a box of old cables, cones and audiophile accessories when I came across two sets of these.

I had completely forgotten that I had them. The last time I recall using them was under a pair of Living Voice OBX’s and I have owned a several pairs of speakers since these went to their new owner.

The spikes are manufactured by Soundcare a company based in Norway. The packaging boldly suggests that they provide the some of the best isolation that money can buy. Quite a claim if a little pointless in light of the subjective nature of audiophile opinion.

In any case I was curious to hear what they could bring to my system. What I can say is that before I inserted these into the base plates of the Custom Design Reference stands I was more than happy with the systems balance and sound quality. I hadn’t, since installing the system in the lounge, thought about adding anything to try and improve what I had. The musical balance was just right to my ears and needed no tweaking.

So, spikes installed, I put one of my favourite CD’s in the Mini-Droplet: The Dougie Maclean Collection on the Putamayo label. As you might have guessed from the title this is a  compilation of some of Dougie’s best work from his first 5 or 6 solo albums.

One of the tracks I usually use for evaluating anything new in my system is called Broken Wings – a very simple track but easy for a system to get wrong. The song starts with an acoustic guitar and bodhran. So many systems gloss over the importance of the bodhran’s impact in moving the song forward.

Before I installed the spikes the deep thud of this musical instrument was clear and precise. What the spikes did was take things to a new level. The bass became even deeper and slightly more thunderous and insistent. Each bang upon the skin of the instrument was more defined and apparent. Very, very impressive.

The improvements continued with the greater vocal separation and projection and the timbre and tone of the acoustic guitar was more realistic.

I have alluded to the fact before that this not a system that is easy to sit and dissect. It sounds so right as to make specific, audiophile evaluation difficult as you are drawn into the music.

It says something then that the improvements wrought by the spikes were so apparent and positive that I could appreciate immediately the benefits of having them in under the Dulcets.

I have had them under the speaker stands for a few weeks now and feel that they are an essential and integral part of the system and highly recommended.

They can be bought here if anyone wants a set: http://www.bkelec.com/HiFi/Sub_Woofers/Accessories.htm

I am tempted to try some of their other products out. They all seem to be reasonably priced and worth a shot.

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Julie Fowlis – Live at Perthshire Amber

Julie Fowlis – Live at Perthshire Amber

If you are looking for an exceptional live album in terms of musical content and sound quality then this is certainly the album for you – depending naturally on the genre being to your taste!

I have always believed that as far as your hi-fi will allow a live album should give you a feeling of being there, transported to the venue. So many albums are badly mixed with an inordinate amount of overdubbing and manipulation.

Perthshire Amber is a festival that has been running for a few years now and is organised by the legendary Scottish singer/songwriter Dougie Maclean.

As the title would suggest Live at Perthshire Amber was recorded at the festival and is truly an exception to the usual live albums churned by the major labels. It has a supremely natural acoustic placing Julie centre stage with her vocals clear and full of emotion. Her band of top quality Scottish musicians offer a perfect, atmospheric backdrop.

The last track is a superb rendition of Pabay Mor with Dougie Maclean joining Julie on vocals and guitar. It is the perfect finale to a marvellous album. It would be fantastic if Dougie could produce a live album of his own offering similar production values.

For now though I am happy to sit back and imagine that I was lucky enough to attend this concert in the comfort of my living room.

Dougie Maclean – A Scottish James Taylor?

A Scottish James Taylor? Well this is how he has been described in the past. And to do this, in my opinion, is to do this brilliant singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist a disservice.

You see to me there is no substitute for authenticity. As brilliant as James Taylor is, Dougie just seems more real and writes songs about love, homesickness, loss, his roots and injustice. Yes, James Taylor is great in his own way but, early material aside, has become a little too polished by comparison.

Over the dozen or so albums that he has produced Dougie Maclean he has remained consistent throughout. From his wonderful plaintive voice and amazing guitar playing to some of the most emotive fiddle playing I have heard Dougie has an uncanny knack of connecting with the listener.

Live, he takes things to a whole new level with anecdotes that will make you laugh and cry and a way of engaging with an audience I feel is rare. People go to his concerts to be moved and drawn into the music and Dougie is able to do this with ease.

The best introduction to his music? The Dougie Maclean Collection on  the Putamayo label. This provides a great overview of his work.

If you thought that folk music was old men with beards singing in pubs,  think again. This is real music that speaks to the head and heart. Give it a try, you will be pleasantly surprised.