Canadian company IsoAcoustics have quickly established an impressive reputation in the area of vibration control and isolation for monitor loudspeakers and other equipment. Our esteemed Editor In Chief and I have both been very impressed with the effectiveness of the company's ISO‑L8R stands, which we have employed on several Studio SOS sessions.
However, arguably the company's most elegant vibration solution is the Iso‑Puck, which I reviewed back in January 2018. Named to reflect its resemblance to an ice-hockey puck, these neat little units comprise interlocking top and bottom caps permanently coupled by a compliant internal membrane. This is configured to damp the transmission of vibrations with a bias towards the fore-aft direction rather than side-side (the front being identified by the product badge).
Sold in pairs, these standard Iso‑Pucks are designed to sit under loudspeakers — or any other devices which benefit from vibration isolation — subject to a load limit of 9kg per puck. For my review I employed a trio beneath each of my Neumann KH310 monitors and found them to be very effective, with the added benefit that, unlike many isolation mounts, they don't significantly raise the height of the speakers.
That weight limit is important, as the effectiveness of the vibration-damping membrane is dependent upon optimal loading. Since three Iso‑Pucks provide the minimum stable configuration, the optimal loading range for the standard Puck starts at around 16kg, which translates to a relatively chunky loudspeaker. And that's why IsoAcoustics have just introduced the Iso‑Puck Mini...
Clearly based on the same technology, the Iso‑Puck Mini is basically a miniaturised version of the standard Iso‑Puck, measuring 44mm in diameter by 24mm in height (as opposed to 61 and 30 mm, respectively, for the standard model). Along with its smaller dimensions, the maximum load per puck is also reduced from 9 to just 2.75 kg, so a trio of mini Pucks can cope with a very compact monitor of around 6-8 kg, while a sextet could accommodate up to 16kg, which is where a trio of standard Pucks would take over. The Iso‑Puck Mini is sold in packs of eight (catering for a pair of monitors of up to 11kg each), and the price works out to roughly half the cost (per Puck) of the standard model.
If the vibrational energy from the speaker is transferred into the work desk... it can cause unwanted sympathetic resonances. In such situations the Iso‑Puck Mini really does reduce the energy transfer dramatically.
For testing, I used a pair of passive two-way ATC SCM7 sealed-cabinet monitors, which weigh 7.5kg each, requiring a trio of mini Pucks per monitor. As with the standard Pucks, the acoustic benefit from their use is largely dependent upon the nature of the supporting platform, and I didn't hear any significant improvement with the SMC7s placed on heavy, solid stands. However, when I moved them to the raised rack-shelf of my work desk there was a very noticeable difference. If the vibrational energy from the speaker is transferred into the work desk, console meterbridge, or similar, it can cause unwanted sympathetic resonances. In such situations the Iso‑Puck Mini really does reduce the energy transfer dramatically, and that translates into an audible improvement in mid-range clarity, stereo focus and — probably most obviously — a tighter, snappier bass response.
Although less expensive speaker isolation systems are available, the IsoAcoustics Iso‑Pucks, both standard and Mini, are extremely elegant both in terms of their styling and engineering, and they are genuinely, impressively effective. Highly recommended.