Gingko Audio VCS Toolkit Review
Improving your music system with little cost and no downside.
It is always a thrill when you are asked to review products from a vendor for which you have already done an evaluation. It was exhilarating when your editor wrote you and asked if you were interested in trying out the new version of something you had been given a brief chance to try. Nevertheless, that is precisely what happened when Vinh Vu of Gingko Audio asked if I would like to try out the improved VCS Toolkit, it and I jumped at the chance.
Gingko Audio is an audio company that makes various types of components. These components range from the sextet modular speaker system and the Clarissa LE speakers to the VCS Toolkit. In other words, from audio components to vibration control devices to make things perform better than they usually would inside your system, or so it claims. That is the subject of this review.
The company itself is the brainchild of Vinh Vu and began in 2000, specializing in dust covers for high-end turntables, but soon moved into vibration control accessories and speakers. These vibration control devices have undergone several changes over the years to make them more durable, increase performance and even increase their visual appeal. The latest of these are now available either separately or as part of the VCS Toolkit.
The Gingko VCS Toolkit is a grouping of several of Gingko’s vibration-reducing devices meant to give the consumer a broad range of their products to try. The basic version consists of four Small Cloud22 Bases, eight Mini-ARCHs, and eight 0.5″-thick Equipment/Speaker ARCHs. A premium version of the toolkit contains more anti-vibration devices consisting of eight Small Cloud22 Bases, twelve Mini-ARCHs, and twelve 0.5″-thick Equipment/Speaker ARCHs. Gingko does not believe that this is a one size fits all type product either and is more than happy to work with the customer to configure a toolkit specifically for them, but these represent a good starting point, they feel.
Before delving into the review, I will give a little history of these devices to help increase your understanding of them. The ARCH is the evaluation’s first component and the toolkit’s central element. The ARCH is a curved piece of layered maple wood. Seven layers of hard and soft wood are bonded together in shape to maximize the amount of weight it can hold. Originally made of paperboard (sonotube) and then poplar, they found that maple hardwood had a more natural way, a warmer tone, and sounded better.
The ARCH devices come in a variety of sizes. The mini-ARCHs are made of wood and resin layers for lighter equipment, the maximum weight load per mini-ARCH is 5 pounds, and when used in a set, they can support up to 15 pounds. The ARCH is made for equipment or speakers which weigh more than 15 pounds. They can be made in different thicknesses and diameters to accommodate various implementations. In addition, they can be made with hardware to fit speakers or equipment that might have removable feet allowing the customer to replace their current ones with these without any hassle. Otherwise, they would need to be placed under the existing ones.
The second device in the Gingko VCS Toolkit is the Cloud22 base. This is also a vibration control accessory. However, unlike the ARCH, which is made of wood, the Cloud22 is made from an acrylic base containing a wool ball. There is one made with a wooden floor, should you want it, called the Classic Cloud22, again something you can change as part of your VCS toolkit should you wish to customize it. However, the one in the box was Acrylic. It is made to be put under an amplifier, and the small base is made exclusively for amplifiers under 15 pounds again, with larger ones available on the website.
Usually, the setup is a bit of a challenge, but it was simple. The mini ARCHs are placed under the components. The only real challenge is to place them where the equipment is balanced. I found that the best place was away from the feet and closer, but not too close to the center. However, it does take a little experimentation. The ARCHs I placed under my speakers had the prerequisite screw, so all it took was to remove the old legs and replace them with the ARCHs. Finally, the Cloud22 bases went under the amplifier without a hitch.
It was interesting that it took a little while for the vibration control platforms to settle into their place. I found that the longer they stayed in place, the better they sounded. Perhaps it was slightly because I became used to them, but more than likely, they relaxed, and their shape resolved. Either way, I found it seemed that after four days they had settled down enough to start the evaluation.
Once everything settled in, it was time actually to start the review. It seemed impossible to review each base type separately, so the decision was made to check everything together. This made it far simpler to give an overall opinion of how the toolkit worked within my reference system.
The first thing on the list was Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon [Capital Records CDP 72435 8213621]. The album always gives a good representation of how the system performs because it has quite a bit of bass and treble and is often difficult to resolve. Even in my reference system, any tweak will make the playback somewhat different and easy to recognize.
The results were immediate and very easy to discern. The high treble was more precise than it had ever been. You could easily hear the changes in tones without straining or trying to pick up the subtle nuances that are typically only a thought. Likewise, the midrange was astounding. It almost seemed like it was another mixing of the album. The detail and separation were such that it led to being able to discern more imagery and an almost holographic soundstage. Certainly, something I had not come to expect from this album. It seemed as though they made it even lower.
A second selection on MoFi’s Collection 2 [Capital/Mobile Fidelity SACD 2], “Feels Like The First Time,” by Foreigner, came alive. The sheer amount of detail in the selection was terrific. Mobile Fidelity is superb at remastering typically mass-market albums or songs and bringing them to a more audiophile level. In this particular case, the mid-range stole the show. It gave the selection an almost lifelike feel. You felt like the performers were in your living room even though it was a studio performance. The attack and decay of the instruments, which tend to get lost, only improved the overall sonic performance and made the sounds more enjoyable.
Another selection, John Coltrane’s Soultrane [Mobile Fidelity USSACD 2020], a monaural recording, seemed an attractive choice for this review. The music is light, and the trumpet requires much finesse to sound natural and lifelike. The ensemble is quickly rendered muddy without the correct tonality or separation. Although my Martin Logan speakers make easy work of it, there is still a great deal of resolution that can be attained with the correct equipment.
The Gingko VCS Toolkit again rose to challenge. The full range of the performance positively exploded and enveloped me. The separation between the instruments was incredible. It was entirely possible to pick out each one. Further, the instruments’ notes were highly detailed, and each sounded alive and lifelike. The soundstage was cohesive, and you knew you were listening to the performers themselves by closing your eyes.
Most importantly, John Coltrane’s saxophone sounded above it all. It was not dull but had the vibrancy that can only come with the correct amount of treble, midrange, and bass. The exact place where none of them overshadowed each other. The notes rose effortlessly and collected with the accompanying musical ensemble to make it a delightful experience.
The final selection was Holst’s The Planets. This selection was played streaming from Tidal. Indeed a different experience from the other samples. The goal was to see what the Gingko VCS Toolkit would do with orchestral music. The vibrations from this selection are much more significant as the music itself is far louder and contains many different parts in its composition. As one might expect, given the result thus far, there was a significant improvement in the reproduction of the music.
One of my favorite choices in The Planets is “Mars: The bringer of War.” The choice has a lot of peaks and valleys, which tend to get lost. The treble and bass are often truncated, even on my system. However, the vibration control implements certainly made concise work of reducing concern. Some points felt like parts had been missed on the recording before this point.
The Ginkgo Audio VCS Toolkit is one of the few products with no downside. They certainly caused no degradation in my reference system. The bases only served to accentuate the musicality of the choices made. They improved all areas of the music, and it is hard to resist the tweak for the price. If you are strapped for cash, you can purchase the bases independently, but I suggest buying the toolkit. The company will be happy to customize it to your system.
|Sub–bass (10Hz – 60Hz)|
|Mid–bass (80Hz – 200Hz)|
|Midrange (200Hz – 3,000Hz)|
|High Frequencies (3,000Hz On Up)|
|Soundscape Width Front|
|Soundscape Width Rear|
|Soundscape Extension Into Room|
|Fit And Finish|
|Value For The Money|
Check out Enjoy the Music!
Type: Premium audio tweaks for a high-fidelity audio syste
VCS Toolkit Basic
Four small Cloud22 bases
Eight Mini-ARCH units
Eight 0.5″ thick equipment / loudspeaker ARCH units
Price: $599 for Basic as reviewed and $899 for a more extensive system
Special Holiday Sale: Gingko Audio is having a 25% off Holiday Special Sale until December 31, 2022. Use code ETM25 at checkout to get 25% off MSRP of all VCS products.