Are the IsoAcoustics ISO-L8R200 Large Studio Monitor Stands worth their hefty price tag?
In the world of music production, it’s pretty common knowledge that if you’re not decoupling your speakers from the surface that they are sitting on, then you’re generally not going to be getting the maximum clarity out of your studio monitors. The simple fact remains that your studio monitors are loudspeakers, and those speakers deliver sound to your ears by creating vibrations in the air from cones that move back and forth. The issue is that while these cones are moving back and forth, they are also introducing these movements, or vibrations, into the speaker cabinet itself, and inevitably onto the surface in which your monitors are physically placed on. If some form of decoupling/isolating isn’t used, then a great deal of these vibrations will be transfered to the monitor stands, desk, or other surface in which they are currently placed. While this does’t sound like a big deal to most people as these small vibrations might not sound like much on their own, when you take into account that the size of your desk is much larger than the cone/speaker itself, the added surface volume begins to multiply the air movement that the monitors are trying to correctly (and clearly) create. As these vibrations continue to add up, they start to cause all sorts of issues in your listening environment, and ultimately they can (and will) start to adversely color your music in unpredictable and undesired ways. The topic itself is highly debated, and there are endless products on the market as well as lesser-expensive homemade options you can undoubtably use to mitigate this coloration. Of course, there are a lot of people who choose to just simply leave their monitors sitting flat on their workspace too, although this certainly isn’t recommended in any production environment.
When it comes to decoupling, as with most things in life, you can basically spend as little or as much as you want on it. However, there certainly comes a point where you have to weigh the cost of the products you’re using to decouple your monitors with while taking the rest of your studio setup into account too. If you never intend on further treating your working environment, it doens’t make a lot of sense to go out and spend $500 per speaker on a decoupling solution. Thankfully, you don’t have to spend a lot to get some decent performance and value for your money. More so, while I’m not a fan of them myself, home made products have been used with varying degrees of success too. I’ve seen people use moon-gel (drum muffling sticky gel tabs) placed on each corner of their monitor, random pieces of foam sourced from various places, and even extremely elaborate designs involving air-filled inner-tubes held in place by a small wooden enclosure.
For me personally, I started out in the early years of my production with some super cheap no-name knockoff foam isolation pads. I suppose they probably did something, but it was quite evident they didn’t do enough once I replaced the foam with these stands from IsoAcoustics. Foam is a funny thing. A lot of people think all foam is created equal. They use any old foam they find anywhere they can for isolation and expect it to behave as good as higher end foam products that sell for quite a bit. I’ll admit, it’s hard to swallow the price tag of some of those really expensive foam options out there, but there truly is a difference between the expensive stuff and the regular packing foam you find laying in old cardboard boxes. The problem is with the density of the foam itself. Too dense, and you may as well have your monitors sitting on your desk. Conversely, if it’s lacking in density – it just squishes down and then, yet again, you’re not really getting much benefit from using it. Although it did seem like I could spend the money better elsewhere at first, I finally had decided that it was time to replace those cheap foam pieces that I’d been working with for years now and to upgrade to something a little better that offered more.
Looking around at what some of my favorite producers were using, as well as what products were available kind of shocked me. Obviously, the big guys in their legitimate studios were usually using in-wall mounted monitors. As amazing as that is, it’s not an option for me, nor for many people working in home studio type environments. Next up were a new kind of decoupling device which closely resembles hockey pucks. These have started gaining ground and popularity over the last couple of years. Unfortunately, while they have great performance reviews, they’re quite expensive (especially since you need 8 of them to handle a pair of studio monitors). More so, you can’t really angle your monitors downward or upward with them very easily, although there are a couple models that have some angling abilities. For me and my production desk/environment, angling them downward was a requirement. Pucks were out, expensive foam was out, the only thing left was some actual isolation stands.
Over the years, I’ve seen a number of artists use stands from IsoAcoustics. More so, there really aren’t too many other names in the business when it comes to similar designs. My main requirements were that I wanted something to support my 8″ Yamahas, and whatever solution I found, they *had* to angle the monitors downward. It seemed the IsoAccoustics stands would work perfectly for my needs and in my environment. They looked nice from the pictures I had found online, they seemed to have decent reviews (albeit a few people saying they were happy with them but felt they were overpriced), they had the ability to angle the monitors in either direction as required, and while they weren’t exactly cheap – they weren’t terribly expensive and out of reach either.
I finally decided to bite the bullet and pick them as the decoupling/isolation solution that I would utilize for the foreseeable future. I looked around online, and basically found everywhere to have the same base price for these stands, but I did manage to stumble upon a store that offered free shipping, and to make it even more attractive, they also had an additional site-wide 10% off coupon at the time of my purchase that was going on. Seemed as good of time as any to take the plunge, especially given the rapidly approaching expiration date for the additional 10% off coupon. After viewing their entire product line, and measuring out my 8″ monitors to ensure that I ordered the correct size for my needs, I finally decided upon the Large ISO-L8R200 models, as the medium sized stands were simply to small to properly support my monitors entirely. With everything in line, I promptly placed my order and anxiously waited for them to arrive!