Golden Sound DH Cones and DH Squares
by Todd Warnke
Libel, Slander, Outright Lies and Neglect
It's not fair, but cones and footers come in for either an undue amount of attention or undeserved neglect. The attention comes from that contingent of (dare I call them) audiophiles who assail everything that fails to fit cleanly into their world view. To this group, footers, especially of the whacky and esoteric variety, with their promises of radical transformation, embody all that is wrong with the high end. Another group of audiophiles, while open to the idea that footers count, fail to act on that knowledge. Their reasons may be understandable, focusing on other priorities, not taking or having the time to experiment widely, or basic benign neglect. But regardless of the reason, by ignoring footers they fail to get all that their systems are capable of.
In my mind, just like the attention on the cable segment of the industry, most of the blame for this situation lies in the ad hype used to promote footers. Many of the claimseven if they are just like those used to promote amps, source components, speakers and wireare unbelievable. And even more damning, on occasion, they border on outright fabrication. Now, don't take all this as an indictment of footers. I've listened closely to various footers and heard the differences. I believe in them. I use them. And I recommend them to others. However, it does explain why, when I told an audio bud (who just so happens to be in the industry) that I was reviewing Golden Sound Cones and Squares he replied, "So, what are you going to say? They held my components up without breaking. Go buy 'em." I kid you notthis guy is in the industry! Of course, maybe he did give me the perfect opening. Yes, the Golden Sound Cones and Squares do hold my components up quite nicely. And yes, you should go buy them. But there really is more to the story than just that.
Everything has a sound. Anyone who rejects this statement just isn't paying attention. Now, if you affirm that first statement but go on to say, "Yes, it has a sound, but as regards to X, it's too far into the noise floor to hear," depending on what X is, I just may agree with you. But I would ask you to keep in mind that as components get better the noise floor drops rapidly. Which really is just another way of saying that as we get closer to accurately reproducing the recorded media each small distortion or sound becomes more significant. To use a digital metaphor, in a 16-bit word, if the most-significant bit is off, who cares about the least? But if you have all but the least-significant bit right, that error is readily noticeable. In the audio world, some poorly matched and thus non-revealing systems have difficulty demonstrating the differences between $500 and $2500 CD players. In this sort of setup the major flows mask the often subtle but musically important gains of using the appropriate footers. On the other hand, in well-integrated systems, footers, or rather the right footer, has the capability of moving the system to the next level of accuracy.
In my search to do just that, I own or have extensively used AudioQuest sorbathane pucks (man, when I was playing goalie I wish pucks had been made of this stuff), German Physics cones, Michael Green AudioPoints, Simply Physics ToneCones, Marigo Bear Feet, Mod Squad cones, and Ebony Pyramids. Each has its own sound, and each has had an area where it worked well and an area where it had little effect. For example, I loved the Marigo Bear Feet under my speakers, but under my JVC XL-Z1050 CD player (used as a transport) it had minimal effect, positive or negative. However, the AudioQuest sorbathane pucks are the cats pajamas under the JVC and thoroughly screw up any speaker I have tried with them. All of which brings us to the Golden Sound DH cones and DH squares.
Unlike any cones Ive used before, the Golden Sound DH Cones are ceramic. As such, they are extremely hard, according the Golden Sounds literature they have a hardness degree of 9.5 and are exceeded on that scale only by diamonds. They are also capable of supporting massive weight. According to Allen Chang, head honcho at Golden Sound, each of the four sizes of DH Cones are capable of supporting several tons. Another benefit of ceramic is that it is impervious to electrical or magnetic influence. Also, unlike other cones Ive used which are shaped like the chest protection devices worn by Madonna several years ago, the DH Cones have rounded tips and a more organic shape, resembling uh well lets just say something more natural than Madonnas brassiere.
The rounded tip of the DH cones concerned me at first, since I planned on using them under speakers and wondered if the tip would prove ineffective on carpeting. The short answer is that they did not cause any problems, although lacking pointed ceramic cones I can't definitively state whether the overall quality of sound I attribute to the Golden Sound cones is due to the material or the shape. Still, the rounded tip is something I grew to appreciate very much. I was able to use the cones not only with the carpet, but also on the remarkably beautiful and functional SoundRack Reference equipment stand without fear of marring the hand-finished surface.
Golden Sound DH cones come in four sizes, appropriately called small, medium, large and jumbo. The small cones are 5/8 of an inch tall and are $20 for a set of three. The $40 medium cones are 7/8 of an inch tall. The 1-inch-tall large cones go for $50 a pair, while the 1 3/8 of an inch jumbo cones are $70 a pair. Once again, according the Allen Chang, since the weight-bearing capacity of even the smallest size is sufficient for all components, choosing a size is dependent on the type of component in question, whether it would benefit from additional height (say, for cooling) and aesthetics. Yes, there are some audible differences when using the small or the jumbos under heavy components, but in less-than-revealing systems the differences may not be noticeable.
As for the DH squares, they are an altogether different thing. The squares are composed of a polymer resin, and according to corporate literature, "possess a high sear factor which dissipates vibrations effectively." Each square is 2 inches by 2 inches by ½ inch tall. They are sold in sets of four for $40, but can be bought individually for $10 each. The squares are meant to be used either alone or in conjunction with the Golden Sound DH cones. When used with the cones the instructions indicate that they can be placed either betwixt the cone and component or between the cone and the floor (or shelf).
Now, the inevitable question, do they sound golden?
You've hung in there with so far, so I'll not make you wait any longer. These cones have a wider applicability in my system than any I've tried. Where the Marigo Bear Feet had minimal impact under the JVC transport, the DH cones had both a noticeable and beneficial effect. Bass timing was just a bit tighter, and extension was increased as well. Highs were also slightly smoother, with a small but significant amount of grain being removed. When I placed the squares between the cones and the JVC, besides the preceding gains, midrange harmonics were also slightly warmer. The effects were even more significant under the Theta Miles CD player (review very soon).
When used with the various DACs I've had on hand over the last bit, the cones produced changes that ranged from minor but there nonetheless (Audio Alchemy DDE 3.0) to very nice indeed (Assemblage DAC-2). My Audible Illusions L-1 preamp benefited most from the cones alone, while the Warner Imaging VTE-201S amp liked the squares between it and the cones. On the other hand, the Blue Circle BC6 amp was the only product that seemed largely unfazed by the Golden Sound cones. The squares did have a slight beneficial effect on the BC6, but it was, in fact, very slight. As for speakers, the Dunlavy SC-III preferred the cones alone while the Kharma Ceramique 2.0 soared with a combo of cones and squares. Overall I found that in most cases the cones alone were better than the squares alone, but that the combo was what really rocked my roll.
If you spring for the large cones, at $50 a trio, $80 with matching squares, the Golden Sound products are extremely affordable and offer some of the best value in all the high end. I've got to say that I am quite surprised to find how many components they work well with. No doubt, part of that broad range of applicability is due to the flexibility of the cone/square combination. But still, it is very rare to find any high-end product that has near universal application. I recommend that if you aren't using footers right now get yourself some Golden Sound DH cones and squares today. And if you are using footers, at your next chance beg, borrow, or buy some of the Golden Sound products and see if the flexibility of the cone/square combo won't work for you too.
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