Artesania Audio Exoteryc Rack Review
Is a rack considered a component in the audio world, or is it just an accessory for holding our equipment? When I purchased my first audio system, the only requirements I had for a rack were that it was stable, supported the weight of all my equipment, had enough shelves to hold all the equipment, and, importantly, was cheap. The concept of vibration control was foreign to me, and honestly, I believe my dealer had not heard of it either, as all the racks in his store were the type that could find at any music store or chain electronics store.
Alas, my budget barely covered my equipment, so my first rack was the same one found in college dorms or apartments across the country. The stand, constructed out of concrete blocks and 1x12 pine boards, was everything a college student needed. It was somewhat stable, infinitely adjustable, held all the equipment, and was very cheap. I must admit that every time I got near the thing, I was afraid it would collapse, and that would be the end of my modest system. Fortunately, the rickety thing made it through the last two years of my education without collapsing, and upon my graduation, I left it with my neighbors.
Rack It Up
In 2020, I did a significant upgrade to the system. Included among the other upgrades, I felt it was time for new racks as my old ones suffered abuse over the last 15 years and were, frankly, looking a little ratty. After considerable research and a pleasant conversation with Philip O'Hanlon and his lovely wife Pandora of "On A Higher Note."
Audio Disclaimer: I have known Philip for over 15 years, and he is a good friend and one of the nicest guys in audio.
Based upon their recommendation, I settled on the Exoteryc Rack from Artesania Audio over another highly regarded brand. For me, the Exoteryc's provided the perfect balance of stability and adjustability that I had enjoyed with my previous rack.
The Exoteryc Racks are the brainchild of José Luís Lafarga, an Acoustic Engineer and Audiophile from Barbastro, Aragon (Spain). According to Lafarga, Artesania's goal is to provide absolute neutrality in sound reproduction. Using a process called "Acoustic Anti-Resistant Treatment," the Exoteryc Racks isolate electronic components from any external vibration that could influence their performance. José LuísLafarga accomplished this by using various dampening compounds throughout the design and different isolation methods.
After further discussions with Philip, I requested one of the three shelf units with the optional Krion Turntable Platform, a four-shelf unit, and the single-shelf "Aire" amplifier platform. Packaging is outstanding as they shipped the racks in either reinforced cardboard boxes or, for extra protection, wooden crates. They securely bolt both options to wooden pallets and come 95% assembled.
After getting the racks unpacked and up to my upstairs listening room, I stepped back to give the stands the once over. When unloading the racks, remember to draft a friend as the racks are heavy at over 300 pounds. I cannot emphasize the need for a friend because you cannot do the job without help unless you have a great desire for a backache.
Upon initial examination, you will notice the rack comprises two frames, one inside of the other. The external structure comprises four high-density 60mm tubes filled with crushed marble that ward off any hint of ringing or resonances. Artesania caps each of the towers with a conical stainless-steel plug, which is dimpled to accept the spikes of the optional turntable shelf. The bottom of the towers are threaded to accept adjustable stainless-steel spikes, which fit into stainless steel decoupling disks.
The rack also uses adjustable bars at the back of the unit to provide additional support to the Exoteryc Rack's external structure.
The internal frame is decoupled from the external frame using stainless-steel spikes resting on four 38mm nylon cylinders.
This effectively isolates the inner structure from the exterior structure, reducing the effect of vibrations on the equipment. The internal frame comprises four stainless steel rods on which the platforms for the various pieces of equipment are attached. These platforms are infinitely adjustable for height, allowing the platforms to be adjusted for each piece of equipment individually.
Mounted on each of these platforms are a pair of linear arms that can be adjusted left to right. Artesania drills precisely spaced holes to allow adjustment of the inverted spikes that support nylon isolating disks that are topped with dampening pads. The equipment rests on top of the damping pads, giving the equipment a firm footing. Using these isolation disks/damping pads prevents the need for shelves even though they are available in the instance where you just can't live without them.
My take is considering that the listening experience is subjective, and we all have our biases. Give each type a try in your system and go with what sounds best to you. After trial and error, I went with the felt dampers as the system seemed to have better focus than the neoprene ones.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the Aire platform and the Krion Turntable Platform. The Aire is essentially one level of the Exoteryc Rack that functions as an amplifier stand. It has all the same features and adjustability as the multi-level rack.
The Turntable Platform comprises a stainless-steel frame with spiked towers topped with the stainless steel decoupling disk. Usually, the Turntable Platform features a shelf made of glass sandwiched between layers of damping materials. Optionally, the glass top may be replaced with one made of Krion.
Krion is an artificial product that is like a natural stone. It is made from a mixture of aluminum trihydrate and natural resins. The product is very dense, easy to maintain, and absorbs vibrations better than the standard platform.
Setting Up The Rack
"Pie Jesu" from John Rutter's Requiem as performed by the Turtle Creek Chorale and The Women's Chorus of Dallas [Reference Recordings, RR-57] is one of my "go-to" tracks for evaluating equipment. There was a sense of increased depth and width of the soundstage. The layering of the instruments and the two choruses was among the best I have heard within that soundstage. Each row of singers was distinct from each other while at the same time being blended.
Bass was tight and controlled with the proper amount of weight. The critical midrange was very natural sounding with no hint of smearing or congestion. It was the highs that were the most significant improvement. They were silky with a crispness that shone through the Otello's.
No matter what, I played. Everything seemed better with the Exoteryc Rack in the system. While they are relatively expensive, I believe that they are worth every penny. Yes, they are a component. Check these racks out. You won't be able to give them up. I know I couldn't.
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