Great audio accessories are like classic items, they never quite go out of style. Firmly resisting fashion and flavour-of-the-month things, they are able to withstand the test of time.
Finite Elemente has for many years been one of my favourite and go-to brands for footers. They were are Teutonic as you could get - precision engineered with a no-nonsense approach to improving the sound of your audio system. They were not cheap by any stretch of imagination, but good things seldom are. Besides, the sonic rewards were more than commensurate with your financial outlay.
It was with a bit of sadness then when I heard that Finite Elemente went out of business recently. Fret not - they are now back !
The Ceraball sits at the bottom of the footer range, but some important changes have been made. I happened to have both the first and second generation Ceraball on hand, as well as the current third generation model, so here is a family photo.
The Ceraball has steadily gained weight over the years, just like my waistline. The first Ceraball model weighed 24 grams, growing to 55 grams for the second generation model. The current model weighs a whopping 154 grams. Needless to say, the bulk of this comes from a change of material from Aluminium to Stainless Steel (previously reserved only for higher end models).
While the second and third generation Ceraball footers look similar, the ceramic ball bearing has also gained in size. Both the first and second generation ball bearing measured approximately 6.3 mm in diameter, while the latest ball bearing measures at 9.5 mm.
For those unfamiliar with the Ceraball, it is made out of two pieces. The top piece rests on a ceramic ball bearing that rests in a recess in the lower piece. The pieces fit snugly, with a small o-ring providing some damping. The Ceraball by itself is not height adjustable although you can level them if you have attached them using the threaded bolts supplied (both M6 and M8 bolts are supplied in the box). You can purchase the Ceraball in either a trio or quartet to a box.
I personally thought that both the second and third generation Ceraball footers sounded quite similar. Used under my Totaldac d1-six DAC (7 kg), there was a very noticeable clean-up of the sound, with added precision and focus to imaging and staging. High frequencies gained clarity, while bass was tighter and cleaner. Unlike most footers, the Ceraball is relatively neutral and does not alter the tone of your system too much.
One key difference between the Ceraball and it's predecessor is bass authority. Perhaps it is the additional mass, but the new Ceraball has a heft and slam that is quite noticeable. If you are looking for an injection of dynamics into your system, these footers are well worth trying out. A more subtle difference is a slight increase in resolution and focus, although this is not a day and night difference.
However, I would still say that the Ceraball lacks the fluidity and organic flow of the Stillpoints Ultra SS which I use as my reference. In comparison, the Ceraball has a drier and more analytical sound. Given that the Stillpoints are three times the price of the Ceraball, this criticism is easily overlooked.
Given the very modest increase in price, I was very pleased at the improvements that the latest Ceraball were able to bring to the table. They redefine the reference point at this price range and are highly recommended. For outstanding value, they are also a Best Buy.
Thanks to the local distributor for Finite Elemente, Qubes Audio for arranging for my review set. Needless to say, I purchased the review set.
Finite Elemente Ceraball
Price - S$380 for a set of four, S$ 285 for a set of three.