by Steven Rochlin
In our last episode we discovered how the Pod People landed on earth and slowly transformed music-reproduction systems worldwide. Amidst all the fear and trepidation, even SoundStage!'s own Jim "badges, who needs badges" Saxon was transformed by the Pods (or shall I say his system was). Well, the Pod People have not only been highly exulted by many music lovers, they have been MUTATING! As our hunger for Pods increases, the Pod People have heard our cries. Not just one, but three new breeds of Pods are here! Is there no rest? As much as I try to resist the sinister lure of Pods, these new mutations have swooned me to the point where all of my willpower and strength have been taken away as my audio system has been singing the praises of THE POD PROGENY!
During this reporters last installment in the August issue of SoundStage!, we discovered how the Pods could perform unbelievable feats and make an audio system more enjoyable. Alas, in all the terror I forgot to mention that the small Pods covered in the previous review, now called the Model 1, handle only 2 to 4.4 pounds each. Therefore, those really heavy toys had to be left unPodded. Since that time the mutation has taken effect, and there are new Pods. The Model 2 can support 4 to 8 pounds, and the new Model 3 with 8 to 10 pounds. And there's another Pod just manifesting itself under my hefty Furman IT-1220 balanced power filter/supply right now. I call it PODZILLA (Vibrapod calls it the Model 4), and it handles 22 to 28 pounds. So theyre not only mutating but also getting stronger. Run!
Basically, my feelings and conclusions are that there is a sweetie spot where using, say, four, six or eight pods do the trick nicely. Using too many Pods under a piece of equipment seems to overmutate the Pod effect, making transients a bit recessed. With my favorite SE tube yummy, the Wavelength Audio Cardinal, I use three Model 3s for the rear and three Model 1s for the front -- the heavy power and output transformers are located at the rear of the unit while the front is pretty much just tubes. This actually seems to work better than the Podload of Model 1s that were previously used. Of course, your gear might be different, so some experimentation could be in order.
During my personal Pod transformations, I discovered a cheap ultra tweak. How cheap? Well, how does 20 cents for each Pod grab ya? That's right, only two thin dimes (or three Canadian whatever you guys use up there in the Great White "No S.R. Allowed" North, eh). Are ya ready for this stupidly cheap ultra tweak? Well, I quickly realized that just using the screws from the original footers to attach the Pods to my equipment wasn't allowing the center of the Pod full contact. So off to the hardware store we go. What seems to work well here are simple 7/8" washers (though the Head Pod dude said to me, after I e-mailed him about this new tweak, that 3/4" makes more sense cuz the inner area is around .77"). Well, all I got are 7/8" (.875") and they work great!
I have a life, so dont ever ask me about loosening this or that number of screws for better sound. I came up with 7/8" washers cuz that's what fit inside the Pods when I was at the store. OK, they barely miss fitting with some of the larger Pods until you tighten the screw that attaches the Pod to your equipment. 7/8", 3/4" -- please feel free to be your own PODiatrist. Again, I have a life and if ya want me to compare the 7/8" to the 3/4" washers you'd be better served somewhere else. What I do know is that using the 7/8" washers seems to give a teeny tiny bit more clarity and still keep all that lovely good stuff the Pods are known for. I call this washer/Pod combo Ultra-Pod in memory of my fave Saturday-morning show when I was a youngster, Ultra-Man. Another benefit is that the Ultra-Pods are really secure and will not work their way off the screws.
So in the end we now have more mutations -- four in total -- all at the same low, low "Kmart Blue Light Special" price of $6 each. For another 20 cents each, you can go from Pod to Ultra-Pod. There's no better time to become one of the few, the proud, the Ultra-Pod People!
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