This review page is supported in part by the sponsor whose ad is displayed above

Reviewer: Paul Candy
Source: Eastern Electric Minimax CD player with NOS Philips Miniwatt 6DJ8s, Pro-Ject 1 Xpression turntable w/Ortofon 540 Mk II cartridge, Pro-Ject RPM 5 turntable w/Ortofon Rondo Red cartridge [in for review]
Preamp/Integrated: Manley Labs Stingray, Audio Zone AMP-1, JAS Audio Array 2.1 [in for review], Pro-Ject Tube Box phono stage
Speakers: Green Mountain Audio Callisto (on sand filled Skylan stands), Zu Cable Tone [in for review], REL Q108 Mk II subwoofer
Cables: Zu Libtec speaker cable [on loan for review], Zu Gede interconnects [on loan for review], Audience Maestro interconnects and speaker cables, DH Labs Air Matrix and Revelation interconnects, JPS Labs Superconductor+ interconnects, Auditorium 23 speaker cables, BPT IC-SL interconnects and SC-7.5L speaker cables [in for review]
Power Cables: Zu Birth [on loan for review], BPT L-10 [in for review], Gut Wire Power Clef 2, Power Clef SE, Audience powerChord
Stands: Premier three-tier, filled with sand
Powerline conditioning: BPT Pure Power Center w/Wattgate 381 outlets w/ Bybee Quantum Purifiers and ERS cloth, Blue Circle BC86 MkII Power Line Pillow, GutWire MaxCon
Sundry accessories: Grado SR-60 headphones, Pro-Ject Speed Box, Gingko Audio Cloud 11 platform, Skylan isolation platforms [in for review], Grand Prix Audio APEX footers, Isoclean fuses, Walker Audio SST contact enhancer, Walker Audio Ultra Vivid, GutWire Notepads and SoundPads, HAL-O Tube Dampers, Herbie's Way Excellent Turntable Mat, Herbie's Grungebuster2 CD Mat, dedicated AC line with Wattgate 381 outlet, Echo Busters acoustic room treatments
Room size: 11' x 18' x 8', short wall setup, hardwood floors with large area rug
Review Components Retail: $2,250 first tier; $1,950 each additional

Equipment racks along with room treatments are arguably the least sexy of audio components. There are no fancy lights, no brushed aluminum front panels, no fancy badges and no glowing tubes. No allure whatsoever. When I see an audio product in this price range, I normally expect to at least see a power switch and a beefy AC cable. No such luck here. I'll freely admit that I was secretly dreading this review. The idea of finding anything positive to say about a $4,000 two-shelf wall mount support seemed a ludicrous and impossible task at first blush. That ambivalence and reluctance evaporated the moment I dropped my turntable, phono preamp and Manley Labs Stingray on the Grand Prix Audio Brooklands. Oh my! The experience was one of those all-too-rare moments when one's world turns upside down. Once it happened, I realized that I hadn't truly heard what my components were capable of before. Now I felt myself questioning the validity of my previous reviews. The Brooklands made that much of a difference. The Brooklands simply validated what I have long suspected but never really had a chance to experience first-hand: that controlling the music-robbing effects of resonance and vibration pollution is far more important than most of us realize. Now that I have heard it, it will be impossible to go back and pretend I didn't know better.

There has been considerable nonsense written about resonance control. The claims from some companies in this sector seem to defy the basic laws of physics. Take a look on the web and see how many companies can convincingly explain how their product functions without spewing Star Trek pseudo science. How many of these guys actually use accelerometers and shaker tables when designing their products? Grand Prix Audio is one exception. Indeed, the folks at GPA have an impressive high-tech background. GPA's top man Alvin Lloyd was VP of Operations at Swift Engineering and oversaw the construction of its high-speed ground plane wind tunnel which apparently was the world's most advanced research and testing facility at the time. Alvin and his team also developed the Swift 007 i.C.A.R.T. which became the first US-built Indy car to win in 14 years. Alvin along with motor sports engineering alumni Henry Wolf and Tom Huschilt took their extensive backgrounds in advanced suspension systems and space-age materials and applied it to high-end audio. 6moons and publications like Stereophile and Positive Feedback have extensively covered the Monaco equipment rack and other GPA products. For further insight, check out Srajan's and Stephæn's reviews and read through GPA's site.

Having developed a SOTA floorstanding equipment rack, Alvin and company decided to tackle wall shelving. There are advantages to affixing shelves to a wall. Floorstanding racks, no matter how well designed and constructed, are still subjected to floorborne vibrations, mostly resulting from the jack hammer effect of loudspeakers on the floor. Even solid concrete floors are not immune. Based on that assumption, the Brooklands should actually perform to a superior level than even GPA's Monaco. Those vibrations left unchecked will find their way to your sensitive gear through the supporting rack. Said bad vibes will manifest as a distortion of sorts to mask crucial musical information and/or alter it. That hard bright edge you currently blame on your power amp might actually result from the rack transmitting your speakers' vibrations propagating through the floor. Mount equipment on the wall and the effect of these spurious vibrations will reduce, especially if the room contains suspended wood floors. Sure, wall-mounted gear will still be subjected to airborne vibration and to a lesser extent, floor vibration rising through the supporting wall. The trick is to reduce that vibration as much as possible. Anyone who has a turntable and tried either a DIY or dedicated wall shelf knows how effective this can be. However, no firm has ever offered a high-tech fully tricked-out wall shelf like GPA's Brooklands. Named after the famous British sports car and race track, the Brooklands is like no other wall mounted rack I have ever seen. As with the Monaco, the Brooklands utilizes several materials including carbon fiber, acrylic and weight-matched Sorbathane visco-elastic decouplers. GPA believes that a mix of various rigid and compliant materials will offer optimal vibration control.

Visco-elastic materials such as Sorbathane have an unwarranted bad rap in audio circles. Some folks claim such materials "over-damp" sonics, causing a mushy, overly warm effect. The truth is, these materials only function optimally when they are loaded at the correct weight. That's why GPA's racks come with several different dampers to ensure proper loading for maximum effectiveness. The Brooklands even ships with a template showing the proper compression of the dampers. Therefore in circumstances where you don't know the weight of a component, you install the various color coded dampers until you achieve the proper compression profile.

For truly effective resonance control, visco-elastic devices are required. Rigid materials cannot adequately control vibration. Would you mount a sensitive electronic microscope on brass or steel cones? I didn't think so. How can a trio of brass cones isolate a CD player? The fact is, they don't. When I place these hard footers under my equipment, I can still feel it vibrate just as much as it did before and in some cases even more. Then why are audiophiles so quick to accept these materials in their systems? When it comes to audio, it seems the laws of physics and just plain old common sense go right out the window. These sorts of products are not isolation but really tuning devices. They alter the frequency range of vibration and thus the sonics of the component. I find these sorts of tweaks completely unpredictable and results vary dramatically from one component to the next. Used indiscriminately, a system's performance can become unbalanced. Wouldn't it make more sense to reduce resonance as much as possible first before fine-tuning? Perhaps you won't even want to with a GPA platform. I didn't.

Submarines have used visco-elastic materials for decades to isolate machinery and motors from the hull. This prevents the transmission of noise and vibration to the surrounding water, thus reducing the chance of detection by passive sonar. But there is an additional benefit. Isolating sensitive electronic equipment from a potentially noisy environment increases its signal-to-noise ratio and thus improves performance. The Command Center deck containing all the sensitive electronics of the US Navy's new Virginia class attack subs is completely isolated from the hull with visco-elastic materials. Less background noise through higher S/N ratios lead to increased sensitivity and thus greater detection range on seaborne contacts. It stands to reason that if this technology is so effective on the most complex machine yet built by man, it should have similar effects on audio equipment. So the next time you try visco-elastic feet, try to get the weigh matching right. If you do and the resulting sound doesn't impress, the problem is probably somewhere else.

The Brooklands is available as a one or two shelf system. I requested the latter as I wanted to audition it not only as a turntable support but also as a complete system support for those who have small systems built around an integrated amp and CD player or turntable. I installed the Brooklands high enough on my wall so my existing equipment rack would fit below it. Therefore, I could easily swap components from one to the other.

The packaging and instructions were beyond reproach. It took no more than two hours to install the Brooklands. Unless your name is Homer Simpson, I can't see how anyone could possibly have trouble installing the Brooklands. The trickiest part was lining up the template over the wall studs. The only tools required for assembly are a stud finder, 7/16" open end wrench, 7/16" deep socket and wrench/ratchet, beam level and power drill. Included were a drill bit, hex key and a small screw driver. The Brooklands also comes packaged with a soft dusting cloth, a bottle of polish for the acrylic shelves and cotton gloves to keep those pesky finger prints at bay.

The Brooklands requires 3 relatively straight studs 16" on center. Since 16-inch spacing is more or less the standard in North America, this shouldn't be a problem. For non-standard on-center framing, Grand Prix can assist you with mounting a subordinate plate. A solid stone or brick wall would be ideal but here in North America, most homes are constructed with suspended wood floors and drywall mounted on wood framing. Therefore it is imperative that the Brookland's wall anchors bite solidly into the supporting stud and not the drywall or you could experience a rather nasty and expensive accident. Finding an appropriate wall was a challenge in my room as the wall behind my system features three tall windows. The rear wall wasn't suitable either. I mounted the Brooklands against the west side long wall which also happens to be an exterior brick wall. I used a stud finder to locate and mark the studs. I attached the template to the wall with a few pieces of masking tape. With the use of a level, I adjusted the template so it was plumb. I drilled the holes through the template, removed it and started to install the various anchors and hardware. Also included were several shims in case of small variances in stud spacing. I soon learned that one of my selected studs ran at a slight angle. With the shims, I was able to secure the mounts firmly to the offending stud. Once I tightened all the support rods, I placed the appropriate Sorbathane dampers in the dimples on the carbon fiber support, and then placed the acrylic shelves on the dampers followed by my equipment. I noted the degree of compression on the dampers and replaced those that showed either too much or insufficient compression.

Properly set up, the acrylic shelves are completely isolated from the wall and should not move when a load is applied. Even the two large rear mounts decouple from the wall with visco-elastic material. If there is some play or motion, further tightening of the support will be required. The manual also points out that further adjustment may be required a couple of weeks after installation due to compression of the rear dampers. Overall, I thought setup and installation was straightforward and hardly difficult. I did check the Brooklands for motion regularly and only found it necessary to adjust the links occasionally. I thought the Brooklands was quite attractive as probably most audiophiles will, too. I'm not so sure about the dreaded Wife Acceptance Factor, however. All my wife would say is, "It's your room. Do whatever you want with it." As most of you married guys know, that's code for "Make it go away. It hurts my eyes."

I admit that the Brooklands visually overpowered my relatively small room. Plus, I had to rearrange my furniture and move my system to the long wall which aesthetically wasn't my cup of tea. My photos also are a little misleading in that the Brooklands takes up more wall estate than is apparent. Keep in mind that 3 studs are required. You therefore need at least 32" in width of flat wall space and approximately 35" in height (50" for two shelf version). The Brooklands will also project into your room by 25", thus careful consideration is required before you start drilling holes.

After living with the Brooklands for several weeks, I'm a believer. I cannot begin to describe the effect of the Brooklands on my system. I can honestly say that nothing has made such a difference - with the exception of my Echo Busters room treatments. Place something modest like a Pro-Ject RPM 5 turntable on the Brooklands and I swear you'll think you're listening to a far more expensive deck. The same goes for a modest integrated amp such as the Manley Labs Stingray. Aspects of these components that I thought were caveats simply vanished. The slightly highlighted top end of the Stingray noted in my review? Gone. Moving the Stingray from the Brooklands to my existing rack provoked uncontrolled giggling. The effect was painfully obvious.

The most readily noticeable effect of the Brooklands was how the noise floor dropped considerably. I couldn't believe how much more musical information I could hear when I placed the Stingray and either my Eastern Electric Minimax CD player or my Pro-Ject RPM 5 and Tube Box phono preamp on the Brooklands. My existing rack obscured far more information than I had previously thought. Instruments and voices snapped into focus. I heard further into recordings than before. Nothing was unnaturally highlighted or tipped up. I simply could hear far more of what was going on a recording. Bass was more solid and fluid, the mids more detailed and full. The highs were extended and instruments and voices that contained considerable higher frequency information were clearer and more defined. Dynamic contrasts between soft and loud were awesome, from the pick of a guitar string to an orchestra at full tilt. The improvements were considerable and across the board but without being at all analytical. Downsides? There aren't any. The Brooklands was darn near perfection except for the severe withdrawal symptoms it would produce later on.

Unlike hard footers and other resonance control products which only seem to effect or highlight a narrow band, the influence of the Brooklands was completely coherent from top to bottom. I observed no undue emphasis anywhere in the spectrum. I noted enhanced refinement, inner detail and texture. Recorded performances became more believable and natural. It was easier to pick out ambient cues as were the richer tonal colors of instruments and voices. Placing my components on the Brooklands got me closer to the music than I thought possible. Yes, $4,000 is a considerable sum but I can tell you that money is far better spent on the Brooklands than the equivalent in cables.

Since disassembling the Brooklands for return, it has been painfully difficult to ignore the music-robbing effect of my welded steel-frame rack on my system. Now that I'm aware of it, I can't ignore it. However, I found that some of the deleterious effects of my existing stand disappeared when I placed GPA's Apex footers under the upright supports. Hardly an optimal solution but one that has been remarkably successful to date. My advice? If you can't afford a Brooklands or Monaco, don't try one for your sanity's sake. I'm
having a difficult time facing this myself as blowing four Cap'n Nemo squid (really really big quid) on anything is a sure path for marital disruption in the Candy household.

I'd have loved to have had a Monaco on hand to compare the two but considering Alvin himself is currently installing several Brooklands in his dedicated reference room, my guess is that the Brooklands might be even superior in reducing resonance. All I know is somehow -- no matter how many lawns I gotta mow or how many people I have to whack -- my system will be sitting on a Grand Prix Audio rack at some point in the future. Expensive it is, yes - but truly effective and damn sexy too.

Manufacturer's website