My love affair for these product began during the CES of 1998. While walking through the usual maze of ho-hum displays my bloodshot eyes gazed upon what seemed to be a full Formula 1 racing outfit! Formula 1 racing is my love, my soul, my passion! Needless to say i went gaga. Those who know me realize my deep love for all things Ferrari. From the substantial to the mystique, once you have been bitten by the "Prancing Horse" bug there seems to be no turning back (and why would you want to?). The point? Formula 1 is like high-end audio where even the most minute details are thoroughly explored. Small, almost immeasurable advancements in a full setup can spell the difference between winning and losing a race. Of course every Formula 1 team uses the most state-of-the-art tools for consistency and utmost precision. So why is it that for system set-up a high-end system owner uses lousy tape measure... or worse still "by one's eye" for proper speaker placement setup? Would you align your automobile's front tires "by eye"?
Get real! Your home music reproduction system is an investment as is your car. Would you want the manufacture it to simply judge parts alignment during the initial design "by eye"? And how about your home you systems resides in? Shall we build that by eye too? How about the initial land survey taken to achieve your property lines? So if all these professions use high precision tools for proper alignment how about high performance audio? Well it is now time i introduce you to the ultra-precise, totally accurate, Formula 1 meticulousness of speaker placement. Welcome to the Sound Alignment Systems' (SA-S) Laser Tools Checkpoint Professional system.
The Checkpoint system consists of various laser pointing products, laser accessories plus speaker Stackers and Base Plates. To give a basic overview simply think of how a land surveyor completes their job. We are referring to high-precision work where mistakes are not forgivable. What the wise men at SA-S. have done is make available tools much like a surveyor for the truly died-in-the-wool "audiophile" and system contractor to accurately setup their speaker systems. Of course the videophile will use this system for projector and screen alignment if they truly value proper placement. As for audiophiles, once you have decided where the basic positioning for the speakers and listening position are, then it is mapping time.
SA-S provides the professional installer with various grids to properly map frontal (front of the room), intermediate (approximately front 1/3 of the room) and center positioning (center room). This positioning could translate into being either the listening position or component location. Once all the basic positioning is well planned within the grid we can then use the SA-S's various laser tools and accessories for absolute precise placement.
As for accessories, they offer quite a few, though the main ones i used here the magnetic Mag Switch and Base plate. The Mag Switch attaches to the back of the laser tool (shown here in red) and attaches to the metal black Base Plate that has been attached to the speaker (preferably near the center). The laser then projects a red dot from the front. In my room the dot then shined on the rear wall and i was able to mirror-match the right and left speakers by insuring the red laser dot was hitting the wall at precisely the same alignment spec per each speaker's given proper positioning. So what happens if you want to insure vertical or horizontal alignment, or set-ups that use multiple speaker surround sound setup?
SA-S also offers accessories such as the Line Lens (green) or the Beam Splitter (red). The Line lens converts the single laser point into a laser line so that i got a straight line shining on to my sound room's rear wall. The Beam Splitter allows the usual dot to shine straight out of the front, but it also shines a dot 90 degrees simultaneously. This allows for absolute alignment to, say, those who desire perfectly square aligning of a system. Both accessories also rotate 360 degrees about the Lens Adapter Base and works in conjunction with the Protractor for degree referencing. There are other accessories offered, yet the above are the ones i used the most. The SA-S website gives full details of all the available accessories.
Well, those and the R2D1 or R2D2 Rotary Base. The R2-D1 is a single plate Rotary Base designed for tabletop or surface use and the R2-D2 is a double plate Rotary Base designed to be used on any surface application. Suffice to say i use the R2D2 unit. The really cool thing here is that it also fits onto any standard camera, video, light stand! For dudes like me who use professional medium-format photographic gear, the SA-S helps to establish the "zero" plane of reference for height and to calibrate product layouts for those important photo shoots.
The complete SA-S system brings a professional and thorough set of tools and procedures to insure a system is 100% aligned within it's environment. As much as i tried to describe the step by step procedure, the simplicity of the description on the SA-S website did a better job so here it is:
Ok, so you have the tools, you read the instructions and you have precisely aligned your entire system. So what is the benefit. Ahhh, here is where the men are separated from the boys. The men use the SA-S system as it brings their system into such precise focus that it will scare the pants off 'em. This includes my very well aligned system, which previously was setup precisely through measuring, was actually a bit off in some spots. Admitting off by a little bit, yet still not perfect. Once my system was fully SA-S laser aligned i was amazed how the depth of field was even more in focus and in fact became slightly deeper too! There was a small yet perceptible "opening up" of the envelopment. i would surmise the reason for the more opening up and envelopment is because the phasing precision of the right and left speaker now reach each ear at precisely the same time. This, in turn, gives a more unified sound cues to my ears. This is why we have time and phase aligned speakers, so it makes sense to time and phase align the speakers as they are within your sound room.
The bottom line here is that the SA-S is so important and so very impressive it has been given the THX blessing. While the system is not cheap, my feelings are that anyone who truly wants to have their system properly setup should investigate using these tool for themselves. If you claim to be a professional sound contractor, your customers deserve your using the SA-A system. In fact all high-end stores should offer the usage of the SA-S system to their customers. As for "professional" reviews such as myself, how do they know the speakers are truly setup correctly if they do not use the SA-S system? As for me, it's a keeper. Within the past three months this system has been used with standard box speakers, horns and panels. SA-S should be commended for finally offering the true music lover and music professional tools for proper systems alignment. Your system and your ears will thank you. As always... Enjoy the Music!
A quick note to say thank you for the very thorough and positive review. Your very good, and it's good to know that the industry is represented so well by you and Enjoy The Music.com™.