Symposium Acoustics - Rollerblocks

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Symposium Acoustics - Rollerblocks
Point Pods, Fat Padz, Ultra Padz & Couplers

Rollerblocks Series

Rollerblock Series 2+ Rollerblock HDSE Rollerblock JR.

Rollerblock Series 2+  
 
Symposium Rollerblock Series 2+ Box

Symposium Rollerblock Series 2+ is an equipment support system providing simultaneous coupling and decoupling of audio and video equipment. When properly installed, a set of Rollerblocks can increase overall system performance by an order of magnitude similar to a wholesale upgrade of the component it treats.

Please note: The Golden yellow material is a proprietary acoustic foam (on the bottom of each Rollerblock) to eliminate Helmholtz resonance in the “matrix". Place them face down on your Rack Shelves or Rack Platforms etc. The portion with the cup faces-Up with a ball placed inside the cup! Your equipment effectively sits on top of the each one of the set of 3 o set of 4 Rollerblock systems Balls

Specs

Pricing

Utilizing technology employed in earthquake protection and combining it with proprietary mechanical transmission techniques, Rollerblocks are the most sonically beneficial coupling devices available. Used beneath digital equipment, DVD players, preamplifiers and other components, results can be nothing less than astonishing. Increased focus, soundstaging, image stability, dynamics and delicacy are just a few of the sonic delights awaiting the serious audiophile. When used with an effective equipment base (such as Symposium Platforms), the Series 2+ Rollerblock system provides an additional step toward ideal equipment support, which is simultaneous component isolation and drainage of chassis-borne vibration.

Symposium Rollerblock Series 2+ systems achieve their seemingly "magical" results by obeying laws of physics. Their strict manufacturing tolerances (much higher than usually found in an audiophile "tweak" device) are responsible for their world-wide reputation as the best ball-bearing isolation device available. Professional reviewers and private owners alike have spoken emphatically about the ability of Rollerblocks to enhance and improve the performance of virtually any component, including CD players, DVD players, digital transports, preamplifiers, amplifiers, and more.

Tungsten Carbide balls standard
Beginning September 15, 2002, all Series 2 Rollerblock systems were supplied with Tungsten Carbide balls, which were previously available as an option. These sets are designated Series 2+ to signify Series 2 plus Tungsten.

Grade 10 Precision now standard
Since November 1, 2004, all standard Tungsten Carbide balls supplied have been Grade 10 precision. State-of-the-art precision Grade 3 Superballs are available as an upgrade at a later date or can be purchased at the outset as packaged with the Series 2+G3 set. (Note: Grade 2.5 Superballs are now available)

How Rollerblocks improve sound and picture
 Improvements in sound and picture quality are accomplished by reducing noise in the component (caused by vibration) which the Rollerblocks support without introducing any new resonances or distortions, or changing tonal character of the component. Rollerblocks drain and dissipate mechanical energy (vibration) which originates from the component itself, while simultaneously providing isolation from external vibration. This specialized, two-pronged attack on vibratory energy distinguishes the Symposium Rollerblock systems, and is responsible for their unsurpassed effectiveness and performance.

The strength of the Series 2 Rollerblock is its simple yet effective design. They are small enough to be unobtrusively inserted into any system with a minimum of fuss and setup, and require little or no maintenance or adjustment. Unlike flat race devices, Rollerblocks are self-centering and do not require that the component or the support surface be level, or that their surfaces be parallel. Also, if the component is touched or moved, the component will simply return to its center position and not bind up Series 2 Rollerblock body is made from solid, rectangular blocks of extremely hard alloy aircraft aluminum, and are finished with a black "hard-coat" anodizing. This relatively thin, special layer, harder than the aircraft aluminum itself (which is harder than some types of steel), improves contact efficiency and provides "constrained layer" resonance damping to the body. The bottom of the Series 2 Rollerblock has four beveled edges, and a matrix consisting of a pattern of holes. This unique design improves mechanical coupling between the body of the block and the supporting surface, like a cone, but with much greater stability. The matrix is filled with an acoustically absorbent material. On the top surface is a precision, spherical depression which is polished to a mirror finish, specified at 6 microns or better. This is an especially good finish, difficult to manufacture with precision. It is absolutely necessary, however, for state of the art results in a bearing isolation device.

One precision ball sits in the cup depression, and rests at the bottom. At least three Rollerblocks are placed beneath a component so that the component's chassis contacts the tops of the three balls, which now function as bearings. The component rests directly or indirectly upon the ball bearings, which rest at the bottom of the polished cup.

Theory of Operation
Vibration affects the performance of electronic components, usually with negative results, and originates from sources outside or inside the component. Rigid supports such as cones or spikes provide an escape route (in essence, a mechanical "ground" connection) for vibration that is more efficient than the typical rubberized feet of most components. These cone devices work by acting as a crude "waveguide" for mechanical energy, funneling energy to a point and forcing it to encounter the support structure at an angle of 90 degrees, the optimum approach angle for energy transfer (please see our web page on the nature of equipment cones in the "Our Technology" section for a more comprehensive discussion of how and why they work). While there are some directional characteristics to these devices in that more energy can flow from the large area side to the point side than the reverse, they are unable to isolate or absorb low frequency waves, as these readily traverse the pathway, moving the support structure, the cones, and ultimately the component.

Rubber Feet, Rubber Balls and Sorbothane Pads
Such low-frequency external vibration, including footfalls, sound, or shock waves from loudspeakers or other sources, can be reduced by introducing a high compliance between the component and the support, such as rubber air bag devices, or very soft, compliant materials, such as sorbothane rubber. While these devices seek to decouple the component in a crude approach to "isolation," they trap vibrations in the component itself by closing off its drainage path. In other words, what can't come in also can't get out. Worse, rubber-like materials store and release energy back into the component, and usually worsen results with a new source of secondary vibration. For a more comprehensive technical discussion of Rollerblock devices versus these compliant materials, please click here..

Specs:
ROLLERBLOCK® Series 2+ Specifications
Dimensions: 2" x 1" x 0.75" (5x2.5x1.9 cm)    Material: 7075 aircraft alloy aluminum
Finish: Black "hard coat" anodized with laser-etched legends    Bearings: Tungsten Carbide Grade 10 standard; Grade 2.5 Superball optional
Matrix material: Acoustic foam    Suggested Weight Limit:
Set of 3: 300 lbs.
Set of 4: 400 lbs.
Each Rollerblock Set is individually numbered
BEWARE OF COUNTERFEITS!
If in doubt, contact Symposium directly for verification of genuine ROLLERBLOCK® product
Rollerblocks are protected by U.S. Patent #5,804,776

Pricing:

Set includes Rollerblock bodies, 2” x 3” Laser-cut stainless steel Rollerplates and high precision Grade 10 tungsten carbide balls.

Set of 3: $449.00, Set of 4: $599.00

3-Set, w/Grade 2.5 Superballs, $699.00, 4-Set, w/Grade 2.5 Superballs, $929.00

Double Stack Kit Adds (3 bodies only) $349.00, (4 bodies only) $465.00


Rollerblock HDSE

For isolation of power conditioners, amps/preamps, subwoofers and loudspeakers.

HDSE stands for "Heavy Duty Special Edition" but it could also stand for "High Definition Special Edition." HDSE is identical in size and form to standard Rollerblock Jr. but has the following enhancements:


1) Top grade 7075 "aircraft" aluminum alloy body

7075 aluminum is harder than some steels and provides superior Brinnelling capacity (resistance to denting and deformation under extremely severe conditions) and superior mechanical coupling over 6061 aluminum.

2) Special "Hard Coat" anodized body and cup area

Hard Coat anodizing provides a thin, precision skin of enhanced hardness which constrained-layer damps the HDSE body and also retards wear in the cup area. This is the same coating used in the Series 2+ Rollerblock.

3) High precision Grade 10 Tungsten Carbide balls standard

Tungsten Carbide is the best material for use in ball bearing isolation devices; Grade 10 means that each ball meets or exceeds a sphericity and diameter tolerance of 10 parts per million, which is 2.5 times better than the best "off the shelf" ball bearings available. These are the same high precision balls that are supplied with Series 2+ Rollerblocks, and are bettered only by the
Grade 2.5 Superballs

Pricing HDSE - Special edition with 7075 alloy body and “Hard Coat” anodized skin. Includes Grade 10 Tungsten balls.

Set of 3 Includes 6 Rollerblocks and 3 G10 balls, Set of 4 Includes 8 Rollerblocks and 4 G10 balls

(7075 + Hard Coat + G10 balls) set of 3 $349.00, Set of 4 $349.00


Rollerblock JR. & JR+
Pricing

For isolation of power conditioners, amps/preamps, subwoofers and loudspeakers.

Symposium introduced lateral ball bearing isolation with the original Rollerblock® in 1997; since then, Symposium's Rollerblock® Series 2 has been the standard of excellence for ball bearing isolation in the high end audio industry. Many rave reviews and customer comments reinforced their position as the premier ball bearing isolation device. However, it became evident that there was a need for a lower cost "introductory" ball bearing isolation device designed with the same audio expertise and commitment to quality as the original Rollerblock. Thus, Rollerblock Jr. became a reality.

Description
Rollerblock Jr. consists of of 6 tops and bottoms and 3 center bearings, to make 3 "Double Stacked" or sandwiched isolator/coupler units. Each top and bottom is constructed of black anodized, aircraft alloy aluminum, and has a 1.875" diameter (4.76 cm) and 5/8" (1.58 cm) thickness. These dimensions were carefully chosen to make Rollerblock Jr. easy to use and set up, yet strong enough to withstand the rigors of use under heavier equipment such as large amplifiers and heavy loudspeakers. The special cup interior has been designed so that the top and bottom "sandwich" is stable with the ball inserted in the center, making for easy setup. The bottom and top are flat and suitable for all equipment chassis as well as flat surfaces and carpeting (including deep pile carpets).

Version 1.1 introduced
After its first production run, Rollerblock Jr. was modified to include a 1/4-20 threaded hole dead center on the opposite face from the cup. This threaded hole allows the Rollerblock Jr. body to be screw-mounted to many existing equipment foot fastener systems, and facilitates secure fastening to Symposium Precision Couplers (this allows making an effectively thicker [1.625" or 4.1 cm] Rollerblock Jr. for clearing extremely high equipment feet, or other applications) or with "hanger bolts" for securing into wood platforms, etc. Also, the alloy material of the blocks was upgraded to a higher grade aircraft aluminum. Cup sphericity and all other geometric relationships were maintained.

Ball bearings
Standard Rollerblock Jr. is supplied with 3 chromium steel balls, with Super-precision Grade 10 Tungsten Carbide balls available as an optional upgrade. This configuration is known as "Rollerblock Jr.+", with Tungsten bearings included.

Application
Rollerblock Jr. is effective with virtually all components, especially digital sources (CD players and transports), preamplifiers, and amplifiers, but can also be used to isolate and couple entire shelves and platforms, turntables, power supplies (including AC "line conditioners") and loudspeakers. Rollerblock Jr.'s virtues, like the original Rollerblock Series 2, are subtractive in nature. That is, rather than attempting to compensate for an existing problem or deficiency in a system through the introduction of new resonance, Rollerblock Jr. is designed (as are all Symposium products) to remove the cause of resonance and distortion. Footer devices and accessories should not create another problem by adding a new resonance; many will thicken bass and lower midrange with artificial bass overhang, lending a false "warmth" and impression of superior bass, which eventually becomes fatiguing, damaging timber accuracy and transient response of the entire music system.

Sonic Benefits
Proper installation results in increased transparency, dynamics and musicality, properties which include better harmonic separation and reduction of vibration-produced excessive sibilance. Further, one may expect to discern greater clarity between instruments in the sonic field, and better defined bass performance with more accurate timbral balance.

Theory of Operation
The purpose of a ball bearing isolation device is to laterally isolate a component from external mechanical waves (vibration) without inducing additional colorations or distortions (which can be induced through poor choice of materials, which in turn may resonate or vibrate, inducing new distortions in the component being treated). While it may seem that any sort of ball-and-race bearing will do (such as "marbles and spoons"), proper execution requires care and precision. The careful engineering of the problem is the difference between a "toy" and an essential component, and if not done correctly, will create new problems.

A Few of the Problems - and their Solutions
All bearings create noise, called chatter, as they roll upon a surface. This noise is directly transferred into the component, and can become a secondary source of distortion. If chatter is not adequately reduced, the "cure" can become worse than the "disease." Devices which use more than one ball induce more noise than devices with fewer balls, all things being equal. Accordingly, Rollerblock Jr., like all Rollerblock devices, use the fewest number of balls possible - one per device - to ensure the lowest possible chatter. Further, not only is the ratio of the ball diameter to the cup critical for the best compromise between mechanical stability and performance, but so is the absolute size of these elements. Symposium pioneered the lateral plane ball bearing device for use with active components; since 1996 we have experimented with many different combinations and found that a 1/2" ball with our standard cup sphericity offers the best solution for real-world performance. Many positive reviews and a virtual avalanche of positive responses from owners seem to confirm these findings.

For this reason, Rollerblock Jr. employs the same basic ball and cup relationship of the Series 2+ Rollerblock. Experiments with different cup sphericities and ball materials have suggested that while different resonant conditions may be created, lateral isolation performance is no better, and in most cases, worse.


Technical Discussion
Rollerblock Jr. uses two cups of similar sphericity, positioned in opposition to each other, with a single ball in between. This "double stack" design was invented and first described by Symposium in our original patent on the Rollerblock, which was filed in 1997 and predates all descriptions of similar "DIY" ("Do It Yourself") audio isolation devices, as well as the many imitation ball and cup devices marketed by various competitors by several years. The use of a cup, as opposed to a flat surface race, has several advantages when operated without external force fields to damp ball motion. (Please note: Symposium has since been granted a patent for a magnetic bearing bias and stabilization in which a magnet is used to stabilize, center and provide frictionless resistance to ball bearing displacement. At present, this technology is employed in the Symposium Isis Rack and Osiris Rack, and will be used in future Rollerblock systems.) For a further technical discussion of the theory behind ball bearing isolation devices, please click here.

Materials Choices and Mechanical Drainage
The material used in the Rollerblock body is critical to non-resonant, neutral performance: Rollerblock Jr.'s robust aircraft alloy construction resists inherent resonance and allows efficient drainage of spurious mechanical energy out of the component through itself to mechanical "ground" (in other words, the support surface). This technique reduces the level of "mechanical voltage" in the component treated and this reduces inherent resonances and all forms of attendant intermodulation distortions caused thereby. Aluminum alloy was chosen for a specific reason: it is better as a coupling medium than brass, steels, ceramics, polymers, woods or other materials because of its superior mechanical transmission speed which is bettered in nature only by two other metals, silver and copper. Aircraft aluminum's excellent machinability, strength, hardness, general resistance to corrosion and reasonable cost make it a best choice as a mediating element, that is, as a bridge between one place and another, those two places being, in this discussion, a component and a mechanical ground.

Similarly, listening tests in different systems with various components confirmed that Tungsten Carbide was the best ball bearing material. While many might assume that this is due to Tungsten Carbide's extreme hardness, Tungsten Carbide's excellent mechanical transmission qualities, which are close to aluminum, make it a better "match" to aluminum alloy and thus a much better choice than ceramic balls (which have slightly greater hardness but unfortunate transmission characteristics) for preserving mechanical transmissivity through the entire Rollerblock structure, a primary design consideration.

Pricing:

Both Jr + Jr+

Set of 3 Includes 6 Rollerblocks and 3 balls, Set of 4 Includes 8 Rollerblocks and 4 balls.

Rollerblock JR. Grade 25 chromium balls set of 3 $189.00 / set of 4 $249.00

Rollerblock JR+ Grade 10 Tungsten chromium balls set of 3 $249.00,  set of 4 $329.00
 


G2.5 Superballs
Symposium G3 Superballs
What is a "Superball?"
The Superball is a very special ball bearing made to the very limits of current, 21st century technology, made from the hardest machinable metal known. Quite literally, it is "state of the art."

What is it used for?
Superballs are the ultimate bearing replacement/upgrades for Symposium Rollerblocks. In order to deliver the finest resolution and lowest distortion possible, the Rollerblock® is machined to tolerances beyond any other bearing isolation device in the world- and the Superball exploits these inherent advantages to the fullest degree, by taking the envelope of resolution and blowing it wide open.

What does Superball mean?
"Superball" is this ball's pedigree. The "Grade" number of a ball refers to how many parts per million precision it meets. For instance, a Grade 3 rating means that the ball meets guaranteed tolerances of an incredible 3 parts per million, or better. When available, we now offer Grade 2.5 Superballs. There is no higher grade available at present - anywhere. Symposium is always striving to improve our products and services; the power and beneficial effect of the Superballs makes the long hours and hard work we put into perfecting the Rollerblock well worth the effort.

Why Bother?
Spending just a few minutes listening with a set of Superballs in your Rollerblock set will forever answer that question! You'll hear even more detail without harshness or "edginess," more soundstage air, superior extreme low bass impact and definition; in short, imagine any of the Rollerblock's impressive qualities, and take those to the next level. The Superball pushes the "state of the art" performance of the Rollerblocks by an order of magnitude, or more.
 

What will I hear with Superballs that I don't hear with my regular Tungsten Carbide balls?
More air, more detail. More musical "sweetness." A greater ability to visualize and hear instruments as individual entities, rather than sonic parts. A dramatically wider, deeper, and larger soundstage. And a surprising advance in extreme low bass performance. And, while it may sound like a cliché, you will hear "hidden" details and instruments on your favorite recordings you probably didn't even know were there!

...the Superball is the most perfect tungsten carbide ball possible with present day technology, and makes an almost "perfect" bearing...

How does the Superball make this possible?
The Rollerblock, like any "ball bearing" isolation device, depends primarily upon a few key aspects of bearing design for good performance: the degree of "chatter" (or bearing noise) generated; and the uniformity of ball rotation. The near-perfect quality of the Superball means that its surface is extremely uniform- so good, in fact, that Superball balls are slippery to the touch. Interfaced with the mirror-smooth surface of the Rollerblock's cup, the Rollerblock's already very low chatter is vanished to practically non-existent levels, making an almost perfect bearing point. This aspect of bearing-isolation engineering is primary. Without a perfectly quiet bearing, the device (if intimately coupled to the component) will actually add noise (and thus distortion) to the component's output, which, since it is usually in the high-frequency range, will be heard as a "brightness" or "forwardness." This may initially be perceived as an increase in definition, but it is actually an increase in distortion. Eventually, on truly high resolution systems, poor bearings will yield unlistenable results. Leaving them in one's system creates more problems later, as one tries (in vain) to "compensate" for the extra brightness, since the only way to do this is to reduce the overall definition of the system (you cannot "equalize" for randomly generated noise- you can only remove it at its source!). The sad result in these situations is that one is now gravitating toward euphonic coloration instead of toward musical transparency- that is, in the wrong direction.

The Importance of a Well-Rounded Existence
Everyone understands the importance of tire balance on an automobile: enough velocity and enough improperly-placed mass can have deadly results at high speeds. While there is no life and death issue (we hope) in high end audio and video applications, the importance of balance in a bearing isolation device is of paramount importance. As lateral vibration occurs, the bearing isolation device's body slips and its ball (or balls) rotates. How well the system can isolate and dissipate (as work) lateral vibration is directly related to how fast its balls can rotate and respond to tiny amounts of lateral displacement. In this function, the quality of the ball is akin to the diaphragm speed of a very fast tweeter in its ability to correctly reproduce high frequency waves, although the ultimate function is opposite: in the tweeter's case, it is making waves, and in the Rollerblock's case, it is absorbing them. Any departure from perfection in roundness will cause the balls to "wobble," and will also create disparity between the rotation rates of the different Rollerblocks. Each of these results of imperfection in roundness has its own damaging effect upon the job of the bearing isolation device. Wobble in the ball's rotation causes additional vibration, which is in turn transmitted through the system, just like the vibration caused by a car tire that is out of balance. The Superball ball's nearly perfect roundness practically eliminates bearing "wobble" or non-linearity of motion. This reduces vibration further and makes for super-quiet and extremely linear behavior. Further, any ball-bearing isolation system with more than one ball (the Rollerblock system exploits the minimum number possible - one per device, for a minimum of three in establishing a plane) is affected if each ball is not absolutely identical in size. Imagine a system with three different diameter balls: each, for an equal amount of lateral displacement, rotates at a different speed. These different rotation rates induce directional "prejudices" and skew lateral motion. Thus, it is important that all the bearings be as identical in diameter (size) as possible. Diameter precision is another vital aspect of the Superball: if the diameters of different balls in the same system are different, the rotation rates will be different. If the rotation rates are different, the different balls will, in effect, "fight" each other and constrain each other's ability to move freely and quickly. The super-uniformity of each of the Superballs minimizes problems in this area, and contributes to how the Superball and the Rollerblock achieve their unparalleled levels of performance.

Make Sure It's a REAL Superball
 The Superball balls are specially made for Symposium, and each batch made is certified by precise calibration that guarantees their incredible ±0.0000015 precision (click on image at right). Extremely expensive and time-consuming to make, these balls require one hour to grind off just one millionth of an inch of tolerance in the final stages of their manufacture.
(BE ADVISED! Other sources of "Superball" balls do not have the same unit to unit tolerance as Symposium Superball. Other sources will be very happy to sell you "orphan" balls from different batches which may vary by 5 years or more. What this means is that the balls you buy will differ from one another by much more than ours, and to realize best sound quality, all balls in your Rollerblock set must be as close to each other in size and sphericity as possible for best performance. Our Superballs' diameter tolerance is certified and guaranteed to be +/- 0.0000015 inch or better among each other - an order of magnitude better than the nominal Superball specification of +/- 0.00003. Please call for more information.)

Tungsten Carbide Grade 10 or Grade 25 Trade-In Program
If you already own standard Grade 10, or older Grade 25 Tungsten Carbide balls originally sold with genuine Symposium Rollerblocks, you can trade them in for FULL original retail credit at any time toward the purchase of an equal number of Superballs from Symposium.

Please call for pricing and trade-in.

WARNING! BEWARE OF FRAUDULENT SELLERS MISREPRESENTING BALLS AS GRADE 3 or GRADE 2.5. Unscrupulous sellers have been offering COUNTERFEIT Rollerblock products with balls represented as "Grade 3," but which are of unknown origin and vastly inferior quality. If you have any doubts, call or email us for assistance in determining authenticity.