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Alto Extremo Neoflex Absorbers
Taming the Unwanted

 

April 2011

 

Resonance

Eliminating of resonances is an age old phenomena in our beloved hobby. Audiophiles all over the globe argue all the time over the absence and/or importance of quieting resonances in their respective high-end audio systems.

Dealing with audio and resonances is a very delicate matter. Many top high-end loudspeaker manufacturers invest quite a lot of time and research into the development of non-resonant enclosures. Others, I'm told go as far as to isolate the internal modules inside their electronics. There are many approaches at quelling unwanted resonances, but are they all effective? In my twenty some years in the high-end audio I have seen numerous solutions and exploitations of the subject on unsuspecting music lovers. Some of them worked while others did not work at all. Few really excelled. For specific situations, like turntables for example, I still recommend the wall mounting of any isolation platform. It’s the most efficient and proven way of eliminating unwanted resonances, but this is not always available due to many different factors, be it lack of space, too distant from other components, aesthetics etc. Do note, that even wall mounting needs a proper platform.

In the past few years some companies and individuals have approached resonance damping, elimination and absorption with scientific methods. We tend to trust our highly refined instruments of perceiving music (ears) and that’s the most important thing, but as I’ve seen over the years; science, right measurements, technical knowledge and most importantly, the proper implementation of all aforementioned methods can drastically help in achieving the wanted result in favor of music reproduction.

Meet the Alto Extremo

Alto Extremo manufactures some of the most exclusive absorbers on the market and many ultra high-end systems incorporate them. Alto Extremo invested several years of research and funds into their products and from a strictly aesthetic point of view, I would say it shows on first blush.

The Alto Extremo Neoflex absorbers (Neoflex for short)  are rather unique creatures. They are based on the principle of magnetic repulsion with the use of extremely powerful Neodymium magnets. Built like tanks and boasting an Made-in-Germany feel, the Neoflex are strikingly attractive and massive. I really loved the wooden-box packaging and professional approach that is kind of mandatory in this price range, yet many times left out of the picture by other manufacturers.

Installation

Neoflex absorbers are designed for direct placement under any high-end component. They are adjustable and this helps with any uneven surfaces for proper placement. I did try Neoflex in combination with few isolation platforms (Solid Tech, Pro Audio Bono, etc.), but they perform the best when used directly under a power amplifier, preamplifier and/or CD player.

Isolation products can be divided into the three basic groups. The first principle is the aforementioned art of direct mounting on the wall. The second uses a self-standing rack systems and third where mostly Neoflex falls into, is in direct contact with the floor. I have seen some crazy huge marble blocks that acted as absorbers and were based on a similar principle, but their price, weight and practicality were out of this world. Neoflex serves as more than a substitution for those giants. It cleverly uses a simpler and more contemporary approach to resonance damping and absorption.

In terms of installation, the Alto Extremo Neoflex was no brainer and it doesn’t take any specific technical knowledge or skills. Their sonic effect were immediate. One can experiment with the amount but even with a set of three worked to great results. Two pairs will give you long term flexibility if your amplifier falls into the heavy weight league. Double pairs also offer a fixed stability and prevention of bumping disasters.

Magnet magic

Alto Extremo Neoflex magnets holds the weight of the high-end component up to the 15-kg per absorber and 60-kg when using the set of four.

The basic principle of the Neoflex is transforming and elimination of the energy that is air born (speakers, room reflections etc) or produced by components itself.

I'm no magician but what an experience it is to levitate your cherished gear with the help of magnetism?

But seriously speaking, the Neoflex approaches the phenomena of resonances and energy absorption with an effective and modern way. The whole principle might look simple (and in a way it is, but hey, doesn't all of great solutions employ simple methods at their core?). We have seen the use of magnets in many contemporary turntables designs. Some, managed to “exploit” this natural force with great impact while others just promoted the use of magnets with an exorbitant sticker price.

Alto Extremo? Fair solution! For this review I really had to take extra-effort and time to do it properly. Why you may ask. Well, it’s easier to hear the difference listening to loudspeakers and electronics. But tweaks?

In use and real word effect




I have seen many of “serious” audiophiles neglect the importance of dealing with unwanted resonances.

Neoflex is a product that is said to refine your system and add an extra touch grace to its overall balance. The Neoflex's effectiveness will show the real potency of your chosen electronics while improving on synergy. I wanted to see the real effect of Neoflex and tried them with inexpensive integrated amplifier and a similarly priced CD player and turntable. Man, I stretched my ears and patience, but I heard the results. The difference were subtle.

What does it Neoflex do in the high-end “noble” society of components. It adds, subtracts and makes its presence evident. How does this translate into audible terms?

The Neoflex simply incorporate the right things to shape those nuances of refinement that helps music to flow and get a more lively imprint. The Neoflex handles the bumpy road with more conviction and focus. I also found the Neoflex to improve the realism with acoustic instruments while improving the aspects of rhythm. More bass? Thanks God no. I love bass, but a healthy one. High-end audio should be a quest for natural bass and not a boom box competition like many wants it. The Neoflex serves the purpose of controlled lower frequencies. No extension, rather valued focused improvement.

Alto Extremo moves in the high-end. They’re not hiding it and it’s respectable. Let me use understandable analogy from guitar making and playing. All the small details matters and make all the distinction. It’s quite the same with high-end audio. I would not call the Neoflex an accessory, but rather component-like in terms of effectiveness. Their role is still too important to not treat them as a remarkable part of system.

Conclusion

With the development of technology we cannot simply overlook all the tools and methods that help to carve our perceptions in audio reviewing. Any serious, so-called audiophile, high-ender or music lover should not overlook the listening or measurement method. When those two are combined, a great product might evolve. Alto Extremo Neoflex absorbers are exactly that.

A highly recommended component.



Specifications:

Technical information for one absorber:

Material:
Stainless steel body
Special metal cap for no magnetic flux leakage
Stainless steel platform
Air damping system
Adjustable height

Dimensions:
60 mm high
78 mm diameter
Weight:
1500 g
Load capacity:
0.5 - 15 kg per absorber
Price:
Set of three: 739.- Euro
Set of four: 985.- Euro


Website: http://www.alto-extremo.com

US importer/distributor: Alfred Kainz
highend-electronics, Inc.
Website: www.highend-electronics.com 
Email: office@highend-electronics.com 
Phone: 760-490-2410

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Luminous Audio