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).

Well packed and well labelled

One particularly great user-friendly touch is in the side-spikes. Finite elemente had a small hole drilled through the spike body so that adjustments, even very fine ones, can be carried out easily with the metal pin provided. Dimples are also drilled into the locking collar nut, to allow you to easily lock the spike in place, again using the same metal pin.
Note the spike in the upper part of the photo, the owner can easily adjust the spike with the supplied metal pin, shown sticking through the spike

It is this kind of great engineering and design precision that make me think of the finite elemente pagode rack as the Mercedes Benz in the hifi rack world.

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.
The one-sheet assembly instructions that reads like an essay :-)

The assembled rack
Some may question whether it is worth spending so much on a hifi rack. Buying the pagode signature rack could be a moment of insanity on my part. :-) However, after a few listening sessions, I know it is the right path to take. I listened with all the equipment placed on the pagode signature straight (i.e., without the finite elemente ceraballs), its performance is so much more superior than my acrylic+wood rack plus 2 sets of ceraballs (both racks have the bigger cerapucs installed under the feet).

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.
The finite elemente pagode signature rack in action

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?

17 comments:

maggielurva 愛美姬 said...

congrats on a brilliant investment! i have no about it will up your system's performance by a few notches.

FE is great stuff if applied correctly.

i am saving up for one... do they have 2-tier?

zimmermann said...

HI-fi kaki,

CONGRATS...you have a deep understanding of FE concepts.yes you are right,the stands will remain long after the electronics has been changed.

HARRIS said...

I feel it is an astounding investment;it shows your maturity as an audiophiles;and i am sure your electronics cant thank you enough

Anonymous said...

You should have gone all out and get the FE master reference instead of the signatures, now you will still have to upgrade in future ;-)

Panzer said...

Wah! Nice one hifikaki,

Great looking and I am sure even better sounding rack!

Congrats!

stewart said...

anonymous,

based on my experience,the difference between the sig and master referance is very,very minute ....

i had the fund for the master ref but after auditioning the 2 extensively I realized that 99%of the time there is no difference at all....

GCK said...

Hifikaki, congrats on your excellent investment. I am sure it will take you system few steps higher. Congrats also on your new front end (looks like I have seen it somewhere :-)))

jose said...

agree with stewart.

it is worth upgrading the feet to the cerabase tho;

no audible diff.between master ref and sig in most system;especially if the cerabases are used as feet,

that has been my personal experience.

lee said...

wow,what a gorgeous stand.the look alone is worth a million....

futurekaki said...

Hi hifi kaki,

Great to have the German made product. It looks decent and German products well known on mechanical design for big stuff, it fits your system, and must make it sound very good lah!

jamel said...

THAT,certainly look like a world-class system;all electronics sit majestically atop the throne.

and you say it sound good too.....now i have to try this rack

kent said...

hifikaki,

i know exactly how you feel when assembling those rack;the instructions are so brief and impossible to follow!!!

anyway i feel once you have gone through assembling one,you need to help those who try to put on their rack.make sure you are there to help ML to assemble his if he gets one.................

tt said...

looks like you have many happy weeks ahead ....enjoy it

km ng said...

Hifikaki,

Your modest RM7k (in relative term)
stimulus package came about the same time as the M'sian government massive RM60b stimulus package.

Which is more sound, pun not intended, is anyone's guess thought I can bet 100:1 on where M, Panzer, Master Ken (and most other readers here) would rack their bets on.

When things have settled in, do invite the torquers to have a screw or two at the rack.

Then with each screw and nut fully aroused, the rack would have a hard on to give rock solid performances.

hifikaki said...

So many thoughts on the finite elemente rack, seems that it really struck a chord with people!

maggielurva,
Yes, FE has 2-tier pagode rack. You really should seriously evaluate it.

zimmermann, HARRIS, Panzer, GCK, lee, futurekaki, tt,
Thanks for your kind thoughts! I am absolutely enjoying the pagode signature in my system. It is both hi-fi and 'eye-fi' (as panzer would say :-) )

anonymous,
The admission for the master reference is too steep for me.
Well, at least stewart and jose said that the two perform almost the same, so it is a consolation. :-)
I have the cerapucs under the the pagode now, will try the bigger cerabase later.

jamel,
yes, you should try this rack. Its effect on sound quality is quite something

kent,
Exactly my sentiment when I read the instruction sheet.
If ML or anyone is getting one, I would be more than eager to help. But for ML I think he should get the royal treatment by having the dealer assemble and deliver the whole thing to his place!

km ng,
You are creative as usual.:-)

Anonymous said...

Finite Elemente Master Reference performance is certainly above the signature. I upgraded to it from a signature. For a report on what's the difference, do check
this comparison at

http://www.rikstoet.nl/producten/producten.php?
merk=Finite%20Elemente&product_id
=483&menuoptie=41&productmenu=
foto

jose said...

anonymous,

while I congratulate you on the fine upgrade, I AM quite sure that your system must be vinyl based,using all tubes amplifications,right?

THESE ARE,IN MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE....

if you have a digital front with SS amplifications,the master ref would not add much to the benefits that you could get fr the sig.