There are a lot of accessories and extras in audio. Few cross the great divide between home and studio, but the Auralex MoPAD loudspeaker isolators are one of the rare exceptions. That might be because they are studio-side products that ‘leaked’ into our world, but whatever the provenance, the MoPADs are genuinely super-useful.
It really couldn’t be any simpler. A box of MoPADs contains eight wedged-shaped bits of dark grey foam; the four larger ones have a small lip designed to stop the front of the loudspeaker from slipping off, and two of these have the oval Auralex logo on the front lip. The smaller four are simply narrow foam wedges allowing the MoPAD a good degree of height adjustment and front/back tilt (depending on where you sit relative to your monitors). You simply place two of these under each loudspeaker on your desktop, to raise the loudspeakers slightly off the desk and to isolate speakers from table; in essence, bass stops sinking into the table, which means no more feeling the bass lines through your fingers. Audiophile nervosa sufferers also like the idea that this limits the propensity for feedback between disc and speaker in either direction, but this is not as important as preventing the bass from vanishing behind the computer. This isolation has an added bonus, because it stops bass notes from transmitting through your desktop and even into the floor. This means you can play louder, cleaner; although paradoxically, you tend not to need to turn it up at any given level, after the first flourish of playing loud.
I use them on my desktop, beneath a pair of old active AVI Neutron loudspeakers and – more recently – a pair of KEF XA300 desktop monitors. The MoPADs require an amount of loudspeaker weight, and they tend to make the loudspeakers bounce around when used with the Bowers & Wilkins PM1. Without the MoPADs under the loudspeakers, the bass is thin, and lacklustre. The MoPADs will both lower the bass and tighten up the transients. In fact, that’s two aspects of the same effect. It’s not a subtle change; it’s a two-second, where have you been all my life change and comes very highly recommended.
OK, there are better options out there from the pro world, but they are generally more expensive. Then there’s the free option of a couple of layers of bubble wrap, which works almost as well, unless you have a pair of cats that use stereo loudspeakers as headquarters in their own pitched battles of sibling rivalry. Then, you’ll find one day, one of your speaker stands has a puncture.
Auralex MoPADs are not loudspeaker stands. If you try to use a pair of loudspeakers that are happiest being connected to heavyweight stands, the speakers will sound a little light in the upper bass. The only other consideration isn’t even a consideration; if you have to put them back in the box, but them back as one complete block of eight pads; putting them in one at a time is impossible.
Let’s not underplay the importance of these. There’s a tendency among ‘studiophiles’ (audio enthusiasts who prefer to buy pro-studio equipment) to over-compensate and reject even the most obvious improvements as so much ‘foo’. These are not ‘foo’. And there will be some high-enders who think the Auralex MoPads are too inconsequential to make a difference. Just try them!
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