For ages the adage with bookshelf and/or monitor speakers has always been getting the tweeter or tweeter/midrange as close to ear height will yield the best results. Of course proper placement in a room as well as in relation to your listening position also plays a huge role in how good or bad your small speakers are going to sound but that's assuming the speakers themselves are at the proper height. This known standard is no doubt why most monitor or bookshelf speaker manufacturers also build and/or sell stands that help their products reach such physical heights. Imagine my surprise when a friend of mine called me up and said "dude, do you have a pair of bookshelf speakers? You got to put 'em on the floor."
Well, he wasn't being wholly accurate when he said put them on the floor, in fact he had his monitor speakers on stands, they were just very low, oddly shaped stands. The speaker stands in question were from a company called Mapleshade, a small, esoteric company located in Baltimore with a slightly different approach to music and music reproduction; evident in their unique and specialized product catalog. Truth be told I've know of Mapleshade for some time and have been a customer of theirs for years having purchased everything from CDs to speaker cables but never equipment or speaker stands. The stands in question here were Mapleshade's Maple Bedrock stands, which at first glance look more like amp stands, albeit triangular, than speaker stands let alone bookshelf speaker stands.
Mapleshade says that only "low, on-the-floor mounting can make smallish speakers sound huge, warm and transparent." They claim the lower position can give small speakers more perceived bass response as well as firming up attack, dynamics and transients across the board. They also claim that the ridged maple bass and brass footers better drain vibrations from the speaker's cabinet more effectively making for a fuller, richer sound. At first blush I'd have to agree with them for my buddy's Paradigm Reference 20s never sounded better. The bass was firmer and the midrange and treble seemed to improve and open up considerably. Most surprising however was that the center image and soundstage didn't appear to take part in a sit in, instead remaining front and center and at ear level as if mounted on traditional stands. How was this possible?
Let's look at the stand itself for a moment. The Maple Bedrock is the entry level Time-Correcting Speaker Stand from Mapleshade. It retails for $395 a pair and is sold direct via Mapleshade's own website and comes complete with a 30-day money back guarantee. As their name would suggest the Maple Bedrock utilizes a two-inch thick slab of maple wood as its base resting on three very robust and heavy brass footers that can be ordered to work on carpet or hardwood. The base itself can accommodate speakers ranging in size from 11 inches wide by 10 inches deep to 18 inches wide by 20 deep though for speakers that large the price does go up.
My friend's Bedrock stands were the smallest Mapleshade offers. Placing the speakers on the stands themselves is all well and good however there is one more element, a large, solid brass "foot" that helps angle the front of the speaker up towards the listening position that completes the effect. The brass footer or Triplepoint can also be had in a threaded screw-in heavy foot design for those of you with bookshelf speakers with threaded mounting points.
Read about the high points and the low points of the Bedrock Speaker Stands on Page 2.
Setup and installation was very straightforward and simple with the
only real adjustments coming via the Triplepoint cone in getting the
angle of the speaker's drivers just so for perfect imaging and overall
sonic oneness. Once set we didn't treat his Paradigms any differently
than we would've had they been on a traditional stand, only the sound
was a bit fuller, more agile and void of some of the speaker's natural
"boxy" tendencies. It was incredible. Track after track, album after
album the music just flowed. I was amazed.
• The Maple Bedrock speaker stands are about as unconventional as they
come yet they are finished beautifully and are far more hidden and less
obtrusive than traditional stands.
• The sonic benefits are immediate and welcomed taking what was already
a stellar bookshelf speaker in the Paradigm Reference and bumping it up
a notch or two.
• The improved bass response and perceived depth was the most immediate
change in the speaker's sound making the need for subwoofer in my
friend's smallish listening space less of a must have.
• As cool and unobtrusive as the Maple Bedrock stands are they aren't
the ideal solution for audiophiles with children or pets for you can
accidentally kick or knock your beloved bookshelf speakers over without
• Because of their lower stature you'll have to make doubly sure there
aren't any obstructions between you and your speakers, for example a
side chair or love seat. Traditional speaker stands elevate bookshelf
speakers over such obstacles where as the Bedrock's will not.
• Visually, the Bedrock's take some getting used to especially if your
rack is centrally located with your speakers out in front and to either
side. It's a hard nut to swallow when you sit to listen to music and
your speakers appear to be sitting on the floor like an after thought.
It seems if you want quality speaker stands these days be prepared to
spend between $300 and $500 for a stand that will elevate your
bookshelf speakers anywhere between 18 and 24 inches off the ground.
Mapleshade and their Maple Bedrock speaker stands take a slightly
different approach, while costing roughly the same as the competition;
the Bedrocks won't elevate your bookshelf speakers physically but by
not doing so they will elevate them sonically. Don't believe me; try
them yourself for they come with a 30-day money back guarantee. They
might just surprise you... they sure surprised me.