- Manufacturer & Model
- IsoAcoustics GAIA II Loudspeaker Isolation Feet and Carpet Spikes
- Isolation Feet: $299, Carpet Spikes: $59
High-quality compact design created for speakers weighing up to 120 lbs, provides isolation in addition to helping a speaker resist lateral movement, accessory carpet spikes allow the GAIA II isolators to be used in rooms with both thin and thick carpets.
IsoAcoustics' GAIA Series of Isolation Feet deliver superior loudspeaker isolation via four compact isolators. Using the included hardware, installation is quick and nearly foolproof. The inclusion of carpet spikes allows the GAIA isolators to be used on both hard and carpeted surfaces. Impressionary two-channel testing revealed a cleaner soundstage with impressive clarity and spaciousness.
When it comes to audio, detail matters. And if you’re like me, then you’ve undoubtedly explored various degrees of tweaks and adjustments to squeeze as much detail from your system as possible. Today, we’re venturing into the world of IsoAcoustics and the company’s nifty GAIA loudspeaker isolation feet. These pint-sized high-quality isolators are designed to replace the stock feet and carpet spikes found on larger floorstanding speakers, while tapping into a unique proprietary design that lends to a sharper soundstage and better overall imaging.
IsoAcoustics is no longer a new kid on the block. Over the last six years, the company has grown its market presence from a single stand design (the inaugural ISO-L8R155) to a wide range of products for both commercial and home settings. The force behind the company is Dave Morrison, a seasoned industry veteran that spent several decades working for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). There, Morrison helped design the CBC’s state-of-the-art broadcasting center through the incorporation of technically advanced room isolation standards. His original stand concept was born from experience and observations at the CBC, and his company has flourished as enthusiast ears and industry experts have found success integrating his designs into their setups.
I first met Morrison at AXPONA 2014 (Chicago) through a bit of blind luck. Truth be told, my entry into IsoAcoustic’s magical demo room practically happened by mistake. But as James Joyce once eloquently slayed the notion of mistakes for those that are genius: “errors are volitional and are portals of discovery.” And while the genius part may not apply in this circumstance, the latter part of that prose couldn’t be truer when it comes to my introduction to Morrison and his isolation stands. It was a moment that piqued my curiosity and most certainly opened my ears.
IsoAcoustic’s industry validation is impressive, with world renowned Engineers, Producers, and brands jumping on the company’s train. In fact, the GAIA series of isolators (subject of this review) can be found in the control room of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and – as of last October – attached to every piece of equipment that leaves Merrill Audio’s factory. And that goes without mentioning that the GAIA’s are now permanent residents in my own home theater room (perhaps that’s a bit of a spoiler, but it's grounded truth).
GAIA isolators were originally launched at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2016, presenting enthusiasts with three unique options designed to handle different sizes of loudspeakers. The GAIA III is intended for speakers weighing up to 70 lbs, with the GAIA II and the GAIA I handling up to 120 and 220 lbs of heft, respectively. That diversity allows the devices to be retro-fitted to a wide range of speakers.
Each GAIA isolator is crafted from machined metal (the top-line GAIA I features machined stainless steel), lending to a great sense of quality in the hand and a sharp look to the eye. The review samples we received (GAIA II, $300 for a box of four) featured an impeccable dark chrome finish that looked stunning out of the box. The GAIA II’s overall size (2” wide x 1.4” tall) is rather negligible, but adds about 1.75” of height to the base of the speaker once its fully installed.
The bottom of each isolator is a thick rubber footer with a slightly concave base for superior stability (it practically suctions itself to flat surfaces, including IsoAcoustic’s carpet spike accessory), while the top presents a universal threaded attachment point to allow for adaptability to nearly any speaker on the market (included stud sizes are M8, M6, and 1/4).
Internally, each GAIA houses the same proprietary design found on IsoAcoustic’s Aperta stands. That is, the isolator’s innards are crafted to resist lateral movement, keeping the speaker’s alignment in tune with the natural forward and back movement of its drivers. Each isolator ships with the company’s logo emblazoned on its forward-facing side, making installation easy and insuring the isolators are positioned to work correctly.
As mentioned, GAIA isolators are crafted for hard surfaces, but can also be deployed in carpeted rooms using separately available carpet spikes ($59 for a pack of four). Each carpet spike is a machined metal disc that’s a smidge wider than 2” in diameter with three 0.5” spikes mounted to its bottom side, perfect for a range of carpets including those that are thick and plush. Much like the GAIA II, the carpet spikes exhibit quality craftsmanship.
Out of the Box
IsoAcoustics scores high marks for packaging, delivering each set of GAIA IIs in high-quality boxing that presents well and is thoughtfully designed. The isolators are sold four to a box, internally nestled in thick form-fitting foam that’s easily extracted. Once the isolators are removed, a second layer of foam is revealed. Here, owners are presented with associated hardware, including threaded stud posts, additional M8 nuts, and a wrench – all of which are neatly arranged in rows that perfectly match an included hardware description sheet.
Boxing for the carpet spikes is less dramatic but equally effective, consisting of a lightweight box that slides open. The spikes are held in place by a solid square piece of foam. No frills, but in this case no frills are necessary.
You can watch the complete unboxing process by clicking on the video below.
The GAIA II’s were installed on a pair of SVS Ultra Towers (my reference home theater speakers). The process of replacing the Ultras’ stock carpet spikes was simple (taking roughly 10 minutes), and required the use of the provided M8 threaded posts. After twisting on the isolators and confirming they were facing in the correct direction, the speakers were situated on the carpet spikes.
Easy as pie.
It's worth mentioning that IsoAcoustics offers a range of stud sizes beyond what's included in the box. At the time of publishing this review, the company reported stocking nine additional sizes for the GAIA I and 17 additional sizes for the GAIA II and III, addressing compatibility requirements for speaker models made by Tannoy, Thiel, Revel, B&W, Wilson, and more. IsoAcoustics can be contacted directly for complete sizing information.
Associated gear for this review included an OPPO UDP-205 4K Blu-ray Player, a Marantz SR-7012 AVR, an Emotiva XPA5 amp, and a complementary array of SVS Ultra Center, Surround, Bookshelf, and Prime Elevation speakers, in addition to dual SVS SB16 and Power Sound Audio XS30 subwoofers.
My evaluation of the GAIA II was purely impressionary, ear-based, and simple: listening to intimately familiar music and movie audio on a system I know well. Prior to evaluatory demo sessions, I selected a range of CD music (from Norah Jones’ Come Away With Me to The Car’s Greatest Hits and Jon Bellion’s Human Condition) and listened to it in two-channel fashion with the Ultras on wood blocks that, for all intents and purposes, accurately approximated the height of the GAIA II’s when added as feet (speaker toe-in and position was kept constant using painter’s tape as a guide).
The initial listening phase (wood blocks vs standard carpet spikes) sounded familiar without surprises. Once the GAIA IIs were added, however, the audio experienced appeared to changed (and for the better). Those of you old enough to remember the smell of a freshly pressed school assignment pulled from a Ditto machine will appreciate my analogy: the introduction of the GAIA II’s was similar to your grade school teacher adjusting the classroom’s projector lens, luring the day’s film lesson from a slight blur to a cleaner image. My ears experienced a soundstage with seemingly tighter focus and larger expansiveness. Airiness appeared to be kicked up a notch. Imaging was graced with greater clarity and the overall separation of sound became more apparent. My listening sessions were fun, but fascinating, as my old familiar tunes were revealed under a new light.
To summarize with one word: beautiful!
Days after unleashing the GAIA’s influence, I introduced the entirety of my 7.4.4 speaker array for some multi-channel movie fun, bathing my ears with the likes of Gravity (Blu-ray, Atmos) and Baby Driver (4K Blu-ray, Atmos). While sounding stunning, the addition of 11 channels of sound made it more difficult to discern the same pinpoint differences my ears experienced during two-channel demos.
Back to music and the sound continued to be mesmerizing. Consider my two-channel interests re-invigorated!
IsoAcoustics has a great product on its hands. The GAIA II’s are simple, elegant, and easy to integrate. In fact, appearance-wise, they look better than factory. But where they truly shine is in the sound department, introducing noteworthy focus and forcing an uptick in soundstage clarity. Simply superb!
As hinted, the GAIA IIs are now permanently affixed to my Ultras; purchasing two sets was a no-brainer move. If you have an opportunity to experience IsoAcoustics at a show (the company will be at AXPONA 2018), then spend some time in their demo space and let your ears forge an opinion. Or better yet, try a pair on your own turf. My money says you’ll be impressed.
IsoAcoustics GAIA Series Specifications
Size: 2.5" x 1.6"
Weight Capacity: 220lbs (100kg)
Included Studs: M12, M8, 1/4-20
Size: 2" x 1.4"
Weight Capacity: 120lbs (54kg)
Included Studs: M8, M6, 1/4-20
Size: 1.7" x 1.2"
Weight Capacity: 70 lbs (32kg)
Included Studs: M8, M6, 1/4-20