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LeadingEdge was formed as a partnership between VertexAQ and Kaiser Acoustics in Germany.

The LeadingEdge concept is to combine the elements of VertexAQ technology – established over nearly 20 years – with the acoustic knowledge of Kaiser Acoustics and to build the components to craftsman-quality standards in Kaiser’s superb manufacturing facility in Bavaria. (Read more about the underpinning revolutionary VertexAQ technology here: VertexAQ)

The components in the range include equipment platforms, rack frames that can be bought separately, acoustic panels for room treatment and Mini Panels that combine some of the technologies.  They are all available in almost any veneer or colour finish.  Download a brochure that describes the design principles and performance benefits  le-brochure.pdf and also a catalogue of components in the range le-components.pdf

In its report on the May 2012 Munich High End show The Audio Beat online magazine stressed the importance of Vertex's "Systematic Approach" and praised the LeadingEdge room as the best sound at the show:  Munich '12

This is high praise from an experienced writer because there were many fine products at the show, some considerably more expensive than those in the LE room, but the demonstrators had taken too little care over the set-up.

The technologies applied here are advanced and have impeccable pedigrees. The Vertex AQ acoustic energy absorption stems from non-destructive testing of aircraft and its effectiveness in a music context has been vindicated by one of the MoD's research agencies. So significant are their findings that the techniques will be incorporated into some defence equipment. 

The Kaiser micro-perforation system has been applied to concert halls and conference centres – see the Room Acoustics link below – and lines the air intakes of Airbus engines to minimise the noise of the front fan.

Those applications may not seem instantly relevant to music reproduction. However, by absorbing the velocity component of sound (as opposed to the pressure component) in a room the whole frequency spectrum is relieved of the damaging effects of excess bass. There is an immediate and significant improvement in clarity and separation with a drop in the effects of intermodulation.

LeadingEdge platforms and racks

Each shelf or platform, shown below in a complete rack, is available separately in a choice of finishes as a stand-alone equipment support. Its performance is a significant improvement over even the previous HiRez platform. 

Within its furniture-quality veneered exterior it has three hidden talents: the crucially-important vibration draining feature found in all the earlier Vertex platforms and the cables, new RF and EMI absorption using ‘Stealth’ material and a panel underneath with perforations, based on Kaiser’s acoustic experience, that disrupt airflow to create a 'quieter' environment. The 'Stop-choc' feet that can be individually leveled provide a high level of isolation from external vibration.

This diagram shows how energy over a wide frequency range is conducted swiftly from the base of the component by the cone into the labyrinth and absorbed.

A layer of 'stealth' material in the platform absorbs RFI and EMI while the micro-perforations create a quiet environment in the space below. Mini Panels can be placed either side of the equipment to increase shielding from EMI and RFI.

So, an electronic component on a middle shelf in a rack can now be screened from RF on four sides, drain its vibration into the platform and be shielded, again on four sides, from sound in the room.

The improvements to performance made by these deceptively simple-looking racks can be awesome:
  • The sound stage opens out,
  • there is a more natural decay to notes,
  • there is more 'presence' to performers,
  • distortion is reduced, especially as volume/energy increases,
  • timing of musicians greatly improves and
  • bass is deeper, tighter and has more character. 
All this detail is in the recordings but it is crushed by RF and acoustic interference.

The new platforms work in the same way as the established Super and HiRez Kinabalu range, using a hard steel cone as the conduit for vibration to be drained from the component (CD player, preamp, turntable, power amp etc) into the hidden labyrinth in the base.  However the granite top surface has been replaced by two oval metal plates as the interface and the platform can be turned to offer four alternative positions for placing the conducting cone under the most active part of the component's chassis, such as the transformer.

Each platform can be individually levelled, making them highly effective under turntables.

An equipment rack can be built up in modular stages with the side frames supporting the platforms. These frames can be veneered to match the platforms or painted in a suitable colour.

Acoustic panels

The acoustic panels are an entirely new venture, stemming from the experience Kaiser Acoustics has gained from treating major venues such as conference centres and concert halls.  See examples of their projects: Room acoustics  They are considerably more sophisticated in operation than the more common sound-deadening panels that tend just to absorb higher frequencies and thus distort the frequency balance.

There is a simplified technical explanation here that shows how uncontrolled low frequency sound can cause damage to the whole frequency spectrum:  room acoustic principles.pdf  Although aimed at improving music reproduction these panels can be built into a normal living room (or eg. a 'lively'-sounding restaurant) to create a quieter, more comfortable environment.

For some installations ceiling mounting – perhaps containing lights – may integrate better into the use of the room than the wall-mounted or free-standing versions.

The effect of these panels is to 'remove the room' from the listening experience. This can be especially valuable with the modern trend for hardwood flooring and more minimalist furnishing. It's rather as though one is in a very much bigger space.

The first photograph in the Room Acoustics link above shows a large living room that is remarkably 'quiet', despite having huge areas of hard surfaces. Even with a number of people talking, conversation is easy and voices are not raised. With such treatment music is more immediate and involving.

Panels can be made to any suitable size, with any finish, and can be built into the design of the room, again as in the room in the link, or can be free-standing for easy storage if that is more convenient.

 Acoustic panels are available in several standard sizes and single- or doube-sided or curved, as this D Panel (£1308 each). A pair of double-sided panels 1600 x 600mm is £1606 and smaller ones start at £857/pair.

A two-shelf rack with optional
 contrasting Piano Black frames

Platform in cherry
with cone set £1340