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Anti-vibration platform

Thunder Melody

Manufacturer: INNOVACOM sp. z o.o.
Price (in Poland): 24 900 PLN

INNOVACOM SP. Z O.O. Oddział Henryków
Henryków 28C, 67-300 Szprotawa | POLSKA


The tested product was supplied by THUNDER MELODY


Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Images: Wojciech Pacuła | Thunder Melody

No 202

March 1, 2021


Thunder Melody is one of the newest Polish audio brands, founded just last year. The men behind it are Mr. KONRAD RAŚ and Mr. RAFAŁ HLADZIAK and it is to specialize in anti-vibration, noise reduction and conditioning of the supply voltage products. They start with a top shelf product - the MONUMENT anti-vibration platform we received for this premiere test. It is also the most expensive product of this type that I know.

E DISCUSSED THE MONUMENT PLATFORM TEST with the founders of THUNDER MELODY, Mr. KONRAD RASIA and Mr. RAFAŁ HŁADZIAK for quite some time. I wanted to learn something about themselves, about the products they are introducing, and above all about the platform itself. It took us a lot of time, because it is the most expensive anti-vibration platform I have ever dealt with, and the manufacturer is extremely sparse when it comes to offering technical details.

But that's the way it is, because, as is usually the case in specialist industries, the development, the execution of an idea is only a part of the value of a given product. In many cases the idea is the most valuable one. And, as I assume, this is the case here. The owners of the company seem to confirm it, saying:

We take a great care of the protection of our intellectual property. It is a non-negotiable value. Products are designed to self-destruct in case of any interference (emphasis - ed). They largely lose their properties, and their reproduction is not possible without our competence and materials.

At the level of a suppliers production organization, components and materials are anonymized, nobody except us knows them and also does not know the material recipes. Even the suppliers do not know the specific application of components and materials. Printed circuits are secured in such a way that they self-destruct, hence reverse-engineering is impossible as there is no product left. Therefore, the products can not be counterfeited.

I asked both Thunder Melody owners about the sources of these ideas. It is an interesting trip through the meanders of the audio industry and a story about friendship that grew in this soil. And above all, a tip for other designers: audio is based on two things: "hard" knowledge and musical sensitivity. Only their combination gives one a chance to create a valuable project. The stairs one has to climb start only later ...

| A few simple words…

Owners, designers

KONRAD RAŚ KONRAD RAŚ, BORN 1975, education - technical electronic college, specialization: digital circuit technology. Later, he studied at the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń at the faculty of experimental physics, specialization in computers and optics. At Thunder Melody, I deal with the very idea, materials, alpha-tests and the implementation of the electronic part, as well as drawing conclusions from the feedback we get from testers and customers.

From the business standpoint, I am a shareholder and the President of the Managing Board of an IT company INNOVACOM, which specializes in dedicated business systems, for example telecommunications billing, industrial electronics controlled by our systems, system analytics, designing business system architectures, process and technology audits. We mainly work in the background as technological OEM for other vendor companies. Hence, it is difficult to find more information about the Company's activities.

Why audio? A combination of many circumstances, not accidental at all. Music has always accompanied me, but without exaggeration (although I have quite a good ear, in the sense of feeling harmony, rhythm, abstraction) + the old days of the using soldering iron + considerable architectural and programming deviation reinforced by the education of an experimental physicist.

For me, audio (apart from a content) is simply physics, my own playing with audio and a stricte experimental approach, and reluctance towards the colloquial and superficial understanding of physical phenomena that characterizes an experimenter, especially one in the field of optics, plus an experimental pragmatics, all that resulted in extracting something really impossible from an average class system. Virtually all of the things I do go against the mainstream understanding of audio ... So do the conclusions - 95% of the diagnoses of problems are different from those proposed by others. That is why I did not participate in the forums at all or to a small extent, because it is difficult to talk about the same topics, while operating different concepts.p>

It just so happened that two years ago, accidentally Rafał and I found a common language on the forum, but only because he is an open person and he can listen. More importantly, he wants to test things, not just theorize. He got a few different prototypes from me that drew he and his local colleagues and friends found very attractive. We met and it turned out that the audio life of his colleagues suddenly moved forward from a place of complacency and often apathy.

Due to the fact that I sent them new things, and they began to attract users and - importantly - customers, all products developed rapidly. This emboldened me and after a year of internal efforts, I decided to show the results of my work to a wider public. Thunder Melody is a small, two-person manufacture and we make everything by hand. Our ideas go through a long way of testing and it’s tests, i.e. practical experiences, that are our priority. Basing in physics and practice, long tests in several different systems is the norm for us. KR

RAFAŁ HŁADZIAK MY NAME IS RAFAŁ HŁADZIAK and I am 51 years old. In Thunder Melody, I am mainly responsible for the housing, that is designing elements made exclusively of Panzerholtz, which has probably become TM's showcase. Additionally, in some projects I deal with internal assembly. I am also largely responsible for customer relations, organization of presentations, etc. As I have already mentioned, I also test prototypes and any projects that are born in Thunder Melody.

I have always been interested in music, it has always been important to me. Almost three decades ago, the quality of its presentation also became an important issue. Since then, this aspect has always been very important to me and over the years I have tried to improve my audio systems performance in every way possible. I tried, to the best of my ability, to make the most of them. I think that for Konrad it was the decisive factor when he was looking for a person who would be open to conducting tests in their own system and checking his concepts and solutions.

A few years ago, on one of the audio forums, Konrad contacted me about this and suggested some quick tests. These turned out to be surprisingly effective and the first steps I took in this matter made me quickly take the next ones. I think on the basis of our shared passion we became true friends, which a year ago resulted in the decision to create a joint project we called Thunder Melody. RH


THE BASE The MONUMENT PLATFORM is relatively inconspicuous. It weighs just over 20 kg, so it's heavy, but it just looks like a flat box measuring 500 x 450 x 100 mm (W x D x H). The dimensions of the platform are standardized for most amplifiers, sources, DACs, loudspeakers, power strips, but - as we can read in the press materials - for larger devices sizes can be customized in accordance with customer’s needs.

The material used for the construction of platforms, as well as other Thunder Melody products, such as the Graal conditioner and cable supports, power supplies, LFG generator, is Panzerholz, i.e. plywood with anti-vibration properties, in a dry version, which is produced for this brand upon, as its creators say, "strictly defined order". It is a specialist material, therefore the lead time is approx. 3-4 months from placing the order. The material is seasoned immediately after production and after making, so that it retains its properties for many years. The company has its own professionally equipped carpentry workshop, the staff of which, as we learn, has 30 years of craftsmanship experience.

GROUNDING MONUMENT IS A DESIGN that works in two ways - reduces vibration, but also reduces HF interference. I may be wrong, but it seems that this is an original response to similar problems that Synergistic Research responded to in TRANQUILITY BASE platform.

As Peter Hansen, head of Synergistic Research, wrote to me during the test, Tranquility Base works in several different directions, generating a constant, active EM field, eliminating negative interactions between components on printed boards (e.g. between resistors and capacitors, etc.), blocking the resulting external EMI and RFI interference from other devices.

The Thunder Melody platform isn't powered, but it seems to operate in similar areas. Inside it, there are materials that require grounding to discharge the charges that are accumulated there. Hence my suspicion that - perhaps - they are partially piezoelectric materials. The grounding in question is connected to the high quality WBT Cu terminal, connected inside to a copper electrode embedded in the material.

The grounding of the platform is optional, and the filling it is connected to is, as the company owners say, "is a proprietary blend of rare, top-quality materials that constitute the company's intellectual proprietary secret". The first products to use this technology were the LFG generator, AC mains voltage filters and a conditioner. As we read further: “We have mastered the technology and now we use it in other products. Everything we use in them has common features, because it is to constitute one common concept ”.

The grounding terminal should be connected to the so-called "Earth", ie a point with zero potential. In domestic conditions, the closest available ground is the protective conductor in the wall socket. The set includes a special cable with a great Neotech plug on one side, and a Furutech rhodium-plated spade on the other. The clamp can also be connected to an artificial ground. It can finally be left not grounded - we looked at all three cases in this test.


HOW WE LISTENED ANTI-VIBRATION PLATFORM Monument has been tested in the "High Fidelity" reference system. It was placed on the top shelf of the Finite Elemente Master Reference Pagode Edition rack. For the purpose of this test I listened to the Ayon Audio CD-35 HF Edition SACD player, which was placed on the tested platform, and for comparison directly on the top shelf of the Finite Elemente. It was a multiple repetition of a A/B/A and B/A/B comparison, with the A and B known. I also compared the Monument to the Acoustic Revive RAF-48H pneumatic platform.

On a daily basis, the Ayon player is connected to a power strip and a preamplifier - respectively - with a power cable and the RCA Siltech Triple Crown interconnect. These are stiff cables, which makes it impossible to move it. That is why for this review I replaced them with a much more flexible ones - the Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version power cable and the RCA Crystal Cable Absolute Dream interconnect.

The test was divided into two parts: the first was to establish the best conditions for the Monument platform. This is to find an answer to the question of whether it works better when plugged into a wall socket via a proprietary cable, or whether it works better with an artificial ground, or without grounding at all.

In the first case, the proprietary ground cable was connected to the wall socket. It is separated from the power line to the audio system - the latter features a separate fuse in the fuse box, and a 6 m long Oyaide Tunami cable with Furutech wall sockets at the end. Since the Nordost QRT QKore 6 artificial mass module works in the reference system, I tried this option as well.

Recordings used for the test | a selection

Super Audio CD
⸤ CANNONBALL ADDERLEY, Somethin’ Else, Blue Note/Esoteric ESSB-90125, SACD/CD (1958/2015) w: 6 Great Jazz, „Master Sound Works”, Blue Note/Esoteric ESSB-90122/7, 6 x SACD/CD
⸤ CHET BAKER, Baker’s Holiday, Verve Records B0003279-16/SUHD 009960, Test Press SACD (1965/2004)
⸤ PAT MARTINO, East!, Prestige/Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab UDSACD 2018, SACD/CD (1968/2006)
⸤ PETER GABRIEL, So, Realworld/Virgin SAPGCD5, SACD/CD (1987/2003)

⸤ JEAN MICHEL JARRE, Magnetic Fields, Dreyfus Disques/Epic EPC 488138 2, CD (1981/1997)
⸤ RADIOHEAD, OK Computer. OKNOTOK Edition, XL Recordings/Beat Records XLCDJP868, 2 x Ultimate HiQuality CD (1997/2017)
⸤ STAN GETZ/JOAO GILBERTO, Getz/Gilberto, Verve/Lasting Impression Music LIM K2HD 036, K2HD Mastering, „24 Gold Direct-from-Master Edition UDM”, Master CD-R (1964/2009)
⸤ VARIOUS, For The Masses, 1500 Records | A&M 540 919-2, HDCD (1988)


I KNOW - I KNOW it is only a technique, i.e. physics applied in a certain way, but even for me it was difficult to explain why connecting the ground interferes so significantly with the presentation of music, and even more difficult to figure out why different ways of grounding strongly affect the sound of the player set up on the Thunder Melody platform. I am supposed to be "seasoned", I have heard many things, tested various components, and yet ... Which shows how little we know about audio and how many elements we need to improve.

In this case, minor differences in the starting point, i.e. at the operating stage, translated into large differences in the arrival point, i.e. in the sound. Although maybe it should not surprise me, it's just physics. After all, by lowering the level of distortions, usually noise, we bring out other problems, previously masked, from under them. It is often the case that these new, smaller problems then grow to an unacceptable level. That's why engineers designing inexpensive audio products have to do their best to show as much as possible, but also as little as possible ...

Anyway, the differences between the lack of grounding, the Nordost artificial ground and the ground taken from the protective wire of the wall socket were really big. The Monument platform without grounding behaves like a high-end anti-vibration platform - I would say a pneumatic platform. It adds mass and depth to the sound, and saturates the lower midrange. And yet it is so that mass platforms, and the Thunder Melody is one, most often reduce richness of the sound. They clean it, but also often take away its filling. The Monument saturates the sound.

Connecting the Nordost artificial mass to its clamp improved the resolution and slightly "raised" it tonally. The foreground moved slightly away and the whole thing seemed clearer. Interestingly, the hissing sounds in Joao Gilberto's voice from the Getz/Gilbetro, listened here from the reference Master CD-R, were clearer, stronger. It was still a warm sound, this is how the album is produced, but also lighter, shown in the deeper perspective.

| Our albums


„24 Gold Direct-from-Master Edition UDM”
Master CD-R

The first album we looked at in the "Here's an album" series was Stan Getz w Polsce (more HERE). The album, which was not supposed to be recorded at all, was recorded overnight, on November 1, between 3.30 and 6.32 at the Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall, on the occasion of the 3rd International Jazz Festival - Jazz Jamboree '60. It was a farewell to the "middle" period of his activity.

Soon after he returned to the United States and fascinated with Latin music, mainly Brazilian, he recorded such albums as: Jazz Samba (1962), Big Band Bossa Nova (1962), Jazz Samba Encore (1963) and the last in the series Getz/Gilberto (1964). The song Girl From Ipanema from the latter, in which Astrud Gilberto, a Brazilian singer, privately wife of João Gilberto, who also had an affair with Getz himself, sang, was a huge hit and went down in the history of jazz.

Getz/Gilberto is an album reissued many times, in various ways and in all formats. The disc I am talking about is one of the hardest to get - there were only 10 pieces and each one bears the name of the buyer. Each of us also had to sign a contract prohibiting its sale to third parties. This is because Mr. Winston Ma, the owner of the First Impression Music label, which released it, treated it as a "master" disc for a pressing plant (the last interview with Mr. Ma HERE).

We have written about Master CD-Rs many times (for example HERE), I also met with you twice during the Audio Video Show to show you what it is, I also held a meeting of the Krakow Sonic Society devoted to this subject. The point is that this is the sound closest to the master. I would even say - it’s a heresy, I know, but what can I do - that it offers a better sound than the master file. Why is it so - I do not know, but repeated tests confirm it.

The disc in the "24 Gold Direct-from-Master Edition UDM" version was made using a complicated technique on an old Plextor burner, on a gold CD-R. The album was pre-demagnetized and subjected to an ion "bath" - we have written many times about both devices used in the best Japanese pressing plants. The next step was to cover the disc with a special paint and cut its edges to improve its centricity. Let me just add that the music material came from an analog master tape remastered for First Impression Music. The uniqueness of the disc is confirmed by the measurements of reading errors, individual for each disc, which are almost zero. ♦wybórla First Impression Music. Wyjątkowość płyty potwierdzają pomiary błędów odczytu, dla każdego krążka indywidualne, które są niemal zerowe.

CONNECTING THE PLATFORM TO THE GROUND from the power outlet changed the sound differently. The mass of the sound returned and the foreground was strong and tangible, even more so than without any grounding. Not only Gilberto's voice and guitar reacted in this way, but also electronic instruments from Jean Michel Jarre's Magnetic Fields; I listen to it in the Scot Hull’s 1997 remaster, in my opinion it's its best version. The "socket" grounding lightened everything up beautifully, but also opened it up. This is the effect of better resolution - and a really BETTER one. Because 'resolution' is the keyword for the Monument platform.


EVERYTHING IN MY SYSTEM'S SOUND was better with this platform, everything was more "mine". I had an impression that the Ayon player, without it and placed on the top shelf of the Finite Elemente Master Reference Pagode Edition rack, sounded as if it lacked something. It's an illusion, but very convincing one. Something was missing in its sound, something was lost definitely lost. The impression was not as intense when comparing the Thunder Melody platform to the pneumatic reference platform, the Acoustic Revive RAF-48H, but only slightly less. This impression, of course, was going away and it took a day for me to completely accept the sound of the player on the Acoustic Revive platform again. But a short "check" with the Monument and the impression came back.

The thing is that the tested platform significantly improved the Ayon resolution. And yet it is still one of the most resolving digital players I know. Yet, it was further improved. Monument deepens the three-dimensional nature of the instruments and introduces to the sound a better differentiation of their height. As in Somebody by Depeche Mode from the For the Masses with covers of this group, sensationally performed by Veruca Salt, an American alternative rock band.

In this case the track is very calm, because it's just Louise Post's vocals and electronic organs (Rhodes?), But the difference between "with" and without "the platform was very big. First of all, the voice was better separated from the organs. It's just that not artificially, but in an ultra-natural way, through a different "roundness", a different place on the up-down axis. The slight brightening of the treble disappeared, and an incredible coherence appeared within the entire frequency range. As a result, it all gained density and mass.

The treble is an interesting thing in general. Without the platform under the player they seemed clearer and brighter, yet they were more hazy. The hissing on the platform was better integrated with the vocal itself and it was audible, it was the producer's attempt not to extinguish or suppress them, not a mistake. With the platform, everything was more three-dimensional, so the voice was better defined in space, although previously the brighter treble seemed to promote a greater "aura". Because the organs already sounded incredibly dense and low. And if the sound were brightened, both elements would have been affected.

With each new album, my respect for the platform and its designers grew. Because with each subsequent disc I could hear more and more that it brings calmness to the sound, better differentiation and greater naturalness. Similarly to the Somebody, also in the Exit Music (for a film) track by Radiohead from the sensational UHQCD version of the OK Computer album, Thom Yorke's vocal was stronger and better articulated. Without a platform, everything seemed less dynamic, less colorful and less engaging.

I heard the same elements as with Depeche Mode covers before, and later on the Adderley Cannonball’s Somethin’ Else , which finally came out fantastically on Pat Martino's East!, released by Mobile Fidelity - the platform allows better differentiation of the sound, and therefore I had more of everything with it. But this "more" is also something "less", because the sound has less details, less subtleties. The point is that the chords of sound and big planes began to play a big role, presented in a much better acoustic aura.

It seems that the shifts we get with the tested platform are small, at least when we consider them separately. Together they create a "climax wave" that changes the rules of the game. I am talking about such things as the accidental hitting of a drumstick in the title track from the Pat Martino album, which is heard about 10 seconds after its beginning. It seems that the person mixing the material did not close the channels of the instruments that were not playing - thanks to this, the recording has a unique atmosphere. It can be heard without the platform, but it is shallower, less real. The presentation is not as tangible as with it.

It was similar with the bass. It turns out that the bass extension with the platform does not change clearly, and without it the Ayon also sounds great. But Monument deepens it, giving it energy as well. Perhaps this is why the space is so credible with the Polish platform. It has great perspective and depth. However, the "plans/layers" disappear and it is more difficult to point out the exact location of instruments with it. Thunder Melody shows them together with the acoustic environment, so they are more believable, more "live". The classic audiophile element disappears and realism appears.

| Podsumowanie

This is one of the two best anti-vibration platforms I know - the other one is the Stacore Advanced - but also the most expensive one. It just so happens that both are Polish products. The inconspicuous Acoustic Revive platform also works great, but in such a comparison it was obvious that it has limitations.

The Monument's appearance does not tell us how much it does improve the sound, because although solidly constructed, it is just another piece of “wood”. Once again, it turns out that the knowledge and sensitivity of the designers do matter and we pay for them. It is a platform for the top, most expensive, most refined audio systems in the world. Additionally, its sound can be shaped by plugging it into various types of grounding, which is a nice addition.


Reference system 2021

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2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

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Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC