After rocking Magnepans for nearly 20 years, first a set of 1.4s and more recently, a set of MMGs, I decided to go back to "box" speakers. Though I very much enjoyed the MMGs, my current listening room did not work well with them unless I pulled them quite a distance into the room, away from the front wall. I would then have to move them back to keep them out of the way, which I finally got tired of doing.
Accepting the inevitable fact that a set of smaller speakers would not sound as good, at least I wouldn't be wresting with speakers every time I wanted to enjoy some tunes. I did some research and ordered a set of Polk TSi400s and was ready to accept them, regardless of how they sounded. To my surprise, they sounded better than I thought they would which prompted me to sell them on ebay and step up into a set of LSi9s.
Of course, the LSi9s require stands, so many hours were spent online looking at different models. Since the LSi9s are not exactly light weight, I knew I would need something sturdy. After determining that something in the 24 to 28 inch height range would work the best for my listening area, I began judging various stands based on the following (in descending order of importance);
3. Aesthetics/cable management
My initial research narrowed my selections down to the following;
TransDeco 26 inch Tempered Glass Steel Speaker Stand
VTI VSP Series 24 inch Speaker Stand
Target Hi-Fi HR Series Fully Welded Speaker Stand
The Transdeco stands are gorgeous and would compliment the looks of my glass AV cabinet perfectly. However, the base is small on these stands and I was concerned about stability issues. Additionally, these stands have no cable channel, which distracts from their otherwise great looks.
The Target HRs are built like tanks with welded construction and their aesthetics are not bad. However, they were $100 more than the other models I was considering and do not have a cable management channel (though it looks pretty easy to secure the cable to the back of the rear column).
I ended up ordering the VTI VSP stands because they seem to offer almost as much strength as the Target HRs, and with their large cast iron base and low center of gravity, perhaps even better stability. Though not as pretty as the Transdeco stands, they are not bad either.
The VSP stands weight about 17 pounds each, with the vast majority of the weight in the cast iron base. The extruded aluminum center post is secured to the base with three machine screws, as opposed to two (or even just one screw) for some of the other models I looked at. The top of the cast iron base has a recess for the column to sit in. Between the recess and the use of three screws, there is no way the column will twist on the base, or the top plate twist on the column.
The center column also features a generous size channel to run the speaker cable through, with the cable entering through the back of the cast iron base. Very nice!
The top plate is 3/32" steel with three countersunk holes to secure it with beveled machine screws to the top of the column. The plate measures 6.5 inches wide by 8 inches in length, making it large enough to support the narrow & deep LSi9s.
I ordered mine in all black and the finish is textured yet glossy. The VTI VSPs are not the prettiest stands, but they are not objectionable either.
Putting the VTI VSPs together is very easy. The column secures to the base with three machine screws and washers. The top plate secures to the column with three beveled machine screws, which sit flush with the top of the plate. Interestingly, washers were supplied with the beveled screws, which obviously can't be used. But I did end up using the washers for another purpose (see below).
In order to make the connection between the base and column as strong as possible, I also used a 2-part epoxy to "bed" the column in. I placed a generous ridge in the recess of the base where the column sits and then secured the column using the three machine screws. Between the three screws and the epoxy, the connection is as good as a weld, at least for this application. I did not use the paper gasket that is supplied to go between the bottom of the column and the top of the base to prevent loose sand from leaking out - I used three zip lock freezer bags in each column, each containing about 2.7 pounds of sand ( about 8 pounds of sand in each column).
After securing the column to the base, I installed the supplied spiked feet into the bottom of the base. The quality of the supplied hardware is very good, including the spikes. I positioned the stands where I had found the optimal placement for the TSi400s and stood on top of the very sturdy cast iron base to drive the spikes through the carpet to the concrete floor below. I then adjusted the spikes so that the columns are plumb side-to-side and back-to-back with no wobble. In the same way I had the TSi400s placed, the stands are toed in so that a line straight from the face of the speakers intersects just behind my head.
I then placed the top plates on top of the columns and checked them with a level side-to-side and front-to-back. My goal was to have the plates perfectly level side-to-side but have a very slight pitch upwards towards the front. Since the LSi9 tweeter ends up at about 32 inches off the floor and my ear height sitting in my soft cushion listening chair is about 38 inches, I decided that I would aim the tweeters very slightly upward. This is where I ended up using the washers supplied for securing the top plate - as shims between the top of the column and the bottom of the plate. On one stand I had to use three of the washers to level the top plate the way I wanted it. Both plates ended up level side-to-side and the level bubble just breaks the front line front-to-back, aiming the speakers ever so slightly upward towards the listening position.
The plates are drilled and tapped for speaker spikes (one in each corner) and the metal spikes are included with the stand. However, I used some 1.5 inch diameter self-sticking anti-slip rubber pads instead, which provide isolation from the top plate and prevents the speaking from moving on the plate.
For $199 including shipping that I paid, the VTI VSP stands offer great strength and stability, an important consideration when using heavy (and expensive) bookshelf speakers. Though they are not the most elegant-looking stands, they do not detract from the looks of the system in any way. The cable management channel and the way the cable enters through the back of the base is really nice. My LSi9s are secure sitting on top of these stands, and the stand/speaker combo looks quite nice.
I cannot offer any insight on the sonic performance of the stands because the LSi9s are new too, but based on how sturdy they are, I don?t think you could do much better.
Photo 1 - Top of column showing the internal cable channel and sand placed in zip-lock bags placed in column as ballast;
Photo 2 - Top plate installed with anti-skid pads placed on top of plate;
Photo 3 - LSi9 placed on stand;
Photo 4 - Listening position view. SVS 20-39PC Plus subwoofer partially visible on the right;