If something’s worth saying, it’s worth saying twice; Lateral Audio Stands’s nomenclature sounds like it comes from the world of military hardware or hard sci-fi. The LAS-9 Cadenz could be an equipment support system that leverages much of the company’s top-end performance at an even keener price, or it could be a battledroid drop-ship plummeting through the atmosphere of the planet of the dog-lizards. Given the title of the magazine, I’m going with ‘equipment support’.
Lateral’s original LAS-4 Integral (reviewed in Issue 173) is a high-end equipment support system, and LAS-9 Cadenz is designed to deliver many of the goals of the Integral at a significantly lower price. Note that even LAS-4 Lateral breaks the link between ‘high-end’ and ‘high price’; there are many support systems that produce similar performance improvements to Lateral’s systems that cost several times more. However, where many companies produce a lower cost model by cutting corners on the original design, Lateral Audio went back to the drawing board with LAS-9 Cadenz; the two share basic concepts, but the approach taken to achieve those concepts is very different.
At first glance, LAS-9 Cadenz is very much the traditional modular equipment stand, with four screw-in tubular uprights at the corner of each platform, with contrasting finials for the top plate and spikes at the bottom. You can choose anything from two to five tiers, with 120mm, 160mm, 220mm and 280mm uprights to accommodate anything from narrow DACs to chunky power amps. It will hold up to 25kg per level on the upper tiers and 35kg on the lowest level. The vicious looking LAS Counterpoint spikes and optional full set of spikes and feet finish the look.
Looks can be deceptive, however. There are a lot of clever techniques used to help dissipate vibrational energy. Those uprights, for example, are not simply well-finished tubes, but end with a Delrin cap to reduce any hysteresis effects those uprights might introduce. Then, if you flip over one of the platforms, a pattern that Lateral calls its ‘Dissipation Array’ is cut deep into the underside of the board itself effectively ‘wicks’ vibrational energy away from the device that sits on the platform.
As mentioned, LAS-9 Cadenz offers a substantial saving on the original LAS-4 Integral, and yet doesn’t compromise on performance. More importantly, I think it offers the best balance of price and performance to demonstrate just how important the support system is to those who are taking their first steps into ‘real’ audio. The original is an even bigger step in the same direction (in a very high-end system, I could also see someone using the Integral for the main components in a very large system, with the Cadenz being used for power supplies and secondary devices, such is the dove-tailing of performance between the two).
In a very real way, Lateral’s LAS-9 Cadenz has a tougher job to do than the original LAS-4 Integral because it must convince those who think ‘furniture’ can’t make a difference to the sound of a system, as well as those more convinced by the effect of a ‘proper’ equipment support system and wanting to check out what Lateral has to offer. By way of contrast, LAS-4 Integral is almost ‘preaching to the choir’.
Fortunately, if the LAS-9 Cadenz has a tough job to do, it rises to the challenge. Unlike some of the more demanding equipment support systems out there, it builds up quickly and easily; you’ll probably spend more time levelling the stand than you will building the stand, but – like all equipment support systems worthy of the title – it’s worth spending that time getting the LAS-9 Cadenz perfectly level and wobble-free.
More importantly, it imparts much of the same ‘light, precise and quiet’ performance of the LAS-4 Lateral but scaled to match the kind of products you might expect to place in three-tier stand at this price. I used it with Primare’s I35 being fed by a Naim Uniti Core with a Nordost Qbase power block on the bottom rack (without any Sort Kones or any other additional support techniques). In this context, the LAS-9 Cadenz imparted a positive ‘let the equipment do what it was meant to’ approach. The Primare had a noticeably lower noise floor and a slight nasality and chestiness to the sound simply went away, this was especially when playing vocalists like Joyce DiDonato [Stella Di Napoli, Erato]. If you think good hi-fi can ‘get away’ with resting on cheap furniture, the LAS-9 Cadenz politely tells you to ‘guess again’.
In comparison with rival dedicated platforms and support systems, the LAS-9 Cadenz makes a similarly cogent argument. Here, I think you are trading performance parameters; many support systems around this price strive for a similar ‘do no harm’ approach, but in the process tend to place emphasis on bass depth or upper bass ‘bounce’. While both are noble goals, the Lateral LAS-9 Cadenz approach is arguably more rounded and grounded; by reducing the noise floor, Lateral brings the innate character of the equipment to the fore. If there is a tonal ‘signature’ it is an open, clear midband precision. The Lateral LAS-9 Cadenz also digs deep into the bass, but there is no sense of enforcing a rhythm or emphasising the upper bass to simulate or enhance timing effects; the LAS-9 Cadenz is far too honest for that.
I can’t help but feel the Lateral LAS-9 Cadenz should be one of the main ‘go to’ equipment stands for those who want to extract more of the performance of their equipment without necessarily opting for additional platforms, cones, or blobs (although users of such things get a Cadenz benefit, too). Best of all, for such users, the LAS-9 Cadenz looks like an ordinary equipment rack even if it performs far, far better. I started this by saying the name sounds like military hardware… who knew it was made for stealth!
Price and contact details
- Lateral Audio LAS-9 Cadenz: £425 (two tier), £595 (three tier), £795 (four tier), £995 (five tier)
- Spike options: LAS-Counterpoint, £75, LAS-Counterpoint Spikes + Cups, £125
- Shelf Spacing: 120mm, 160mm, 220mm, 280mm