My finite elemente pagode signature rack finally arrived at Audio Image last Friday.
I got it assembled at home myself last night. Though its structure did not seem too complex, it still took me one and a half hours to put it together. As the assemblying progressed, I had more and more respect for the design and manufacturing quality that finite elemente had put into their product. Every thing - every nut, bolt, spike, pillar, platform - just fit into each other with very very little tolerance if at all. The final fit and finish was simply exemplary (an interesting aside - the top of the range pagode Master Reference comes fully assembled, Adrian (owner of Audio Image) had one which he showed me on Friday).
All this is of course as it should be, the pagode signature has a premium price to match, coming in at more than RM7k list (model E12, 60cm height, 3 tiers). Adrian also told me that the price has just been raised again by the manufacturer, check with him for the latest (016-6001218).
The only complaint I have is the assembly instruction. If I did not have Adrian's briefing on Friday, I think I would need an extra hour to figure everything out. It is well written all right, but poorly organized - it is all in words, no picture or diagram; in one numbered step there are many tasks to carry out, all written in 1 long paragraph. This is no way for reader-friendliness really.
With the Pagode Signature, more low level details emerge, the sound floats free of the speakers; bass gained extension, has better definition and articulation; the entire soundstage is more solidly placed. The magnitude of improvement is no less than upgrading a major piece of component.
I'll introduce the cera feet to the equipment on the pagode rack one by one and see whether I could get further improvements, will share my experience here later.
I wish I have come down this way earlier. If you have a competent system already assembled, rather than looking at the next equipment upgrade, look into the racking aspect. Your equipment may perform fine on your existing rack, such as those ubiquitous metal or acrylic rack, you really will see a further substantial leap in performance when you install a properly designed rack.
A good rack will stay with you for many cycles of your equipment changes. So in the long term, it is actually a better upgrade step for your money.
It will not be a wrong decision, how many finite elemente racks do you see on the used market?