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IsoAcoustics ISO-L8R200 Large Studio Monitor Stands

Are the IsoAcoustics ISO-L8R200 Large Studio Monitor Stands worth their hefty price tag? 

Kind of…

 

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!

 

Product Ratings
  • Decoupling Ability
  • Price
  • Quality
  • Value
3.2

Pros

No use denying it, the isoAcoustic ISO-L8R200 large studio monitor stands do what they claim and set out to do.  I immediately noticed a huge difference between them, and the crappy no-name knockoff foam pads that I was using before.  The difference was night and day, and my monitors instantly sounded much more clear, pronounced, and less ‘muddy’ in general.  There is no doubt that these stands increased the height at which my monitors sat, and I’m sure that added height combined with them being angled better also plays a huge role in how these sound as well as the perceived increase in clarity from my productions in the studio.  Still, there is no denying it, be it from better decoupling, better alignment with my ears and sitting position, or as I suspect – a combination of both; I’m quite pleased with the results.  After hearing the difference these have made, I won’t ever be going back to foam isolation pads again as I truly feel that would be a step in the wrong direction.

 

When it comes to build quality, I’m a bit torn.  As this is the Pros section, I’ll stick to the positive aspects in relation to their build.  The monitor stands are a good size and they are certainly thick and durable.  They take the full weight of my 8″ Yamaha studio monitors without any issue at all.  I was a bit worried – originally thinking they might wobble around or flex/slope, but they really don’t have much give to them.  More so, once they’re together, they’re together and they don’t feel like they’re going to separate or fall apart without being purposely taken back apart.  The one thing that I really do like about these stands is that the tops and bottoms of the stands (where they contact your studio monitors and desk) are made of a very nice rubber/silicone type material.  It’s not sticky per say, but it’s also not slick/slippery.  It’s firm, yet also soft to the touch, making it ideal for retaining the position of your monitors, and also the stands wherever you decide to place them.  The monitors feel incredibly stable and secure on these, and the silicone material was a nice touch to both the top and bottom, as the last thing you want is your monitors sliding off.  This was a fear of mine initially, however I now know they are solidly planted on the stands, and the stands are consequently planted firmly to the desk.

 

The angling is truly one of the most important features of these stands, at least for me, and it was nice to see that IsoAcoustics lets you choose the height that’s right for you based on your particular and unique setup.  The stands come with 2 non-adjustable static height rods.  While I didn’t use the really tall stand separators, it was nice that they included them.  I’m sure if you were careful, you could probably cut these to make them a custom height if needed.  For my needs, the shorter ones were perfect.  The angle that these stands allow for, while non-adjustable, is perfect for my needs, and I expect with it being static, IsoAcoustics probably did a lot of research to determine the most widely used angle.  Of course, you may not need to angle your monitors in your studio setup.  That’s the other great thing about these stands, you don’t have to angle them if you don’t want to – it’s your choice, and you can angle them downward or upward, but again you’re still limited on that exact angle unless you’re willing to get in there and start modifying the rods yourself.

 

I hate to say it, but there’s not much more I can really list under the Pros for these stands.  They shipped and arrived really quickly, but I ordered them from a third party, not from IsoAcoustics direct.  I suppose I will say that the packing of them was nice for the most part.

 

Considerations

I have to say that while the IsoAccoustic monitor isolation stands do tend to work well, they also have a fair amount of cons associated with them, and that’s truly unfortunate.  The biggest shock to me was their value and build quality once I removed them from their packaging.  Yes, they are sturdy, but let’s move beyond that and talk about how they are actually built.  It’s quite clear from the moment you unpack these stands that they are mass-produced, and very likely done so overseas, and for *very* cheap.  The entire stands themselves are essentially nothing more than injection molded  plastic pieces, a few pieces of aluminum tubing, a couple plastic stand off angle pieces, and some rubber grommets that are pressed in place.

 

If I had to take an educated guess, I’d say the entire cost of these things to manufacture is probably only about $20-$30 in combined materials and labor for the pair, and yet for some reason, these are selling for roughly $160 through most retailers.  It’s blatant price gouging as it’s finest, simply because people will (and do) continue to purchase these at that price.  More so, at least from what I could tell, there aren’t many other brands out there or competing products in this price range, so people will pay the price to get a product that works for them and their needs.  Sure, they’ll complain about doing so, they certainly won’t be happy about it, but at the end of they day they will still purchase them.  It’s just really sad to open the box and actually see/feel these, after you know what you spent on them, and don’t even get me started on trying to put them together.  If these were priced more appropriate at say, $60-$80 for the pair, I would have felt much better about my purchase; but I don’t care how you cut it – these are absolutely not worth $160.

 

I would have liked the stand off height rods to come in something other than a tray in which they were just taped to, as a number of them were rolling around in the box.  Beyond that, after assembly, you’re left with the other unused rods with no real place to cleanly store them, and while you’d think for something this basic you wouldn’t need instructions, they might as well had not included any at all – as they weren’t in English.  Thankfully, they were pretty straight forward to figure out.

 

The worst part of these stands is actually putting them together.  Remember those angle pieces?  Well, they are nothing more than a little rigid plastic cap that is forced into the aluminum height tube of your choice.  This design works to set the angle just fine, but their implementation of it is lacking in my opinion.  Once you force these caps into the tube the first time, they no longer really stay in there.  More so, they’re not really in there all that well either as there’s nothing really holding them in place.  It’s not really a huge deal once the stands are assembled, but it is kind of a hokey setup.

 

Originally, I thought these angles and heights were adjustable, at least to some extent.  Looking at pictures, I had mistakenly thought that these were threaded to enable fine adjustment of the angle and pitch.  However, they aren’t – and for the high price point of these stands, a feature like that *should* have been thought out and included.  More so, the rubber grommets/bushings on these stands hold the these plastic stand offs in there so tightly that if you accidentally put them on or decide you don’t want them angled, they will become literally lodged in those bushings, and you’ll end up having to fish them out with a pair of needle noise pliers hoping you don’t accidentally destroy them in the process (ask me how I know that one).

 

Trying to put the stand off tubes in each slot properly and getting them installed was a royal pain.  The tolerances on these stands are horrible, and provide further evidence of the notion of them being mass-produced as cheaply as possible.  Some tubes went in effortlessly while others refused to go smoothly and required me to actually put a 2×4 piece of wood on top and use the wight of my *entire* body to coerce them to seat properly.  Of course, you have to seat both the front and back sides, and there are 4 rods per stand which all have to be even so your monitors set level and both are at the same height.

 

All in all, it was extrememly frustrating to put these things together.  Once they’re together, you’re good, so long as you don’t ever need to change their height again, but getting there certainly isn’t fun.  More so, the plastic on the bottom of these is sharp in areas, and you could potentially slice a finger or two open if you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing.

 

Final Thoughts

To be a bit blunt, it’s hard to not feel a bit ripped off by the IsoAcoustics studio monitor isolation stands.  While they do what they claim to do and I’m happy with them now that they are together and sitting on my desk, they also suffer from a lack of build quality and are extrememly overpriced for what they actually are.  A few improvements on IsoAcoustics’ side when making these, and a little more time, care, attention to detail, and tighter manufacturing tolerances would certainly go a long way toward making these a much better product and increasing their overall value to the customer.

 

Do I regret getting these?  No.  For the most part, I’m happy with what they do and how they perform.  Am I 100% delighted with them? Sadly, no.  I’m basically on the fence with them, as they kind of have the market cornered for this type of product right now.  It’s not a bad product, they’re just honestly not worth what they ultimately cost and what IsoAcoustics sells them for.  I have a hard time recommending these simply due to that fact, but at the same time I would still chose them over foam isolation pads, and in a lot of cases, over the pucks and other available products/methods that aim to decouple studio monitors from what they are physically sitting on.  I suppose what it really comes down to is you and your specific needs for your environment and monitors, what you’re willing to spend, and ultimately setting your expectations appropriately for what you’re getting for your purchase.

 

Bottom line: They work well, but are overpriced for what they actually are.

Haive Music Recommend?

Yes, albeit reluctantly

Product Cost:

$160.00