The other day a friend came by carrying what looked like Finite Elemente's Ceraballs, only slightly differently shaped. He had them off Ebay for 15 euro/3 pc. The real thing starts from 100 usd! Their name: A&B SYSTEMS ABS-02 Steel Balls Aluminum Isolation Cones. Naturally I had to compare them to real Ceraballs, read on!
On the left are Finite Elemente Ceraballs for Spider Racks, hence the cavity in their bases. In the rear are the universal variants of the same Ceraballs, now to be used on any surface except on Spider Racks. On the right hand side, in black, are the imitation Ceraballs. There are two major differences, one: the top part protrudes inside the base, not over it, Second: inside is no ceramic ball but a hardened steel one. The working however is very similar, with a soft rubber coupling between base and equipment-supporting top part.
The feet were tried under a range of mid-class, classic Philips cd players and the results were clearly audible. Ceraballs tend to sound like spikes, but gentler, more organic and often less harsh in the treble. And indeed, this time too, the Ceraballs made the sound tighter, faster, more dynamic and more interesting, without tipping over into clinicality. I for one was expecting the imitation feet to sound more metallic, brighter perhaps. Not so. As a matter of fasct, the imitation ones were very similar to the Ceraballs in that they too produced tighter bass and an overall faster sound, but they were different in the midrange, where they tended to sound more relaxed and arguably less dynamic.
After a few more swaps I was certain of the above and all of a sudden it struck me that the differences are reminiscent of the Finite Elemente versus imitation Spider racks. There too the imitation product sounded more relaxed through the midrange but in that case bordering on too laid back. Also the imitation racks are of poor quality. Not so for the imitation feet: they have nice fit 'n finish and work well.
Even though the real Ceraballs seem most effective, I like both presentations, and I can imagine that either product could do very well in a variety of setups. Recommended!
Quick specs A&B SYSTEMS ABS-02:
Made from aviation grade Aluminum (Black color)
The base plates height is 17mm, diameter is 35mm
The top plates height is 15mm, diameter is 16mm
6mm Japan steel balls
Total height is 25mm
Weight :1 set 83g
Max Loading: 12 kg / Equipment
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