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Graphite Audio

Manufacturer: GRAPHITE AUDIO
Price (when reviewed): 3699 PLN/3 pcs

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Provided for the test by: GRAPHITE AUDIO


zdjęcia „High Fidelity”, Graphite Audio

No 234

November 1, 2023


Graphite Audio is a young Polish brand, established in 2020 after many years of work and successive anti-vibration solutions. SZYMON RUTKOWSKI is its founder and designer. The company's offer includes platforms, cones and isolation stands. We are conducting a PREMIERE test of the PREMIUM version of the IC-35 isolation cones.

HE FIRST PRODUCTS that the Polish company offered were isolation stands for use with devices and speakers, which are still the core of its product range. The IC-35 Premium model comes in the form of cones with ϕ 35 mm diameter and 30 mm height, accompanied by base cups, which distinguishes them from the "ordinary" IC-35. The manufacturer believes that they work best placed directly on the floor or a table. The cones are quite large, although they do not lift devices too high.

As we wrote on the occasion of testing the Classic 100 Ultra isolation platform, the basic material that the designer chose for his products is a polymer with an addition of graphite. He then wrote in an email to the HF editorial board:

First there was work on the appropriate material and composition. Once I was satisfied with the material, which contains graphite in the right proportions, the brand name came thanks to the color and composition.

After countless tests of products available on the market, which are mainly made of various metals, our attention was drawn to plastics and polymers (all the bolding by the Editor). It took us about five years to find the right blend of ingredients that would not only have the right properties, but most importantly, would get us closer to achieving the most engaging and natural sound possible.

| Grafit

GRAPHITE IS ONE OF THE four allotropic forms of carbon, next to diamond, fullerenes and graphene. Without getting too deep into details, let us look at the basics described on the Integrated Educational Platform of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education (ZIE):

Graphene forms the most stable structure of carbon. Its lattice is made up of flat layers stacked one above the other. Each layer resembles a honeycomb structure. Carbon atoms are arranged in regular hexagons with common sides. Within each layer, atoms are connected by strong covalent bonds to three neighboring atoms of the element. In contrast, there are only weak (van der Waals) interactions between the layers, so graphite crystals are soft and can be easily split.

The distances between the planes are almost 2.5 times greater than the bond lengths between carbon atoms in the rings, hence the bond strength between the layers is low. Therefore, different layers of graphite separate relatively easily, which we take advantage of every time we press a pencil against a piece of paper., accessed: 12.10.2023.

THE POLISH MANUFACTURER has exploited special mechanical properties of graphite, i.e., unusual softness, high pressure resistance and, on the other hand, high tensile strength. High thermal conductivity is also important, which is highly desirable in products based on damping vibrations through heat emission. Since this material is very brittle, it cannot be used on its own. The Polish manufacturer therefore chose one of polymer varieties with an addition of graphite.

IC-35 Premium

THE PREMIUM VERSION OF THE IC-35 CONES that we are presenting to you is the latest addition to the Graphite Audio catalogue. However, as we said, it is not such a brand-new product. These are the IC-35 cones that have been present in the company's offer for some time, but now with matching bases. Only such a set, Mr. Rutkowski says, shows the full capabilities of his products.


⸜ A few simple words with…

owner, designer

TESTING OF DIFFERENT MATERIALS began in 2017, 2018 was fully dedicated to the exploration of plastics and polymers, and in 2019 the final version of the polymer from which Graphite Audio accessories are made was developed. 2020 brought the pandemic and a premiere of the basic version of the IC-35 Isolation Cones, ISSB-40 Isolation Speaker Spike Bases and the CIS-35 Cable Isolation Stands. The first one hundred sets of cones were distributed within two months, thanks mainly to word of mouth among users.

The cones tested in "High Fidelity" are a result of experiments of users who began combining the IC-35 cones with the ISSB-40 bases, thus entering, as they would trumpet, another level of quality, and who shared their observations on the Internet. In the end, the IC-35 Premium combining three IC-35 cones and three ISSB-40 bases debuted in December 2021, becoming a best-seller in our company offer.

⸜ Photo of one of the last prototypes made on a manual machine tool. In the background there are IC-35 cones already made on numerical machine tools.

These accessories are made of a special polymer that owes its color to the addition of graphite in a precisely defined amount that we have experimentally determined. The brand name Graphite Audio was inspired by the color of the final version of the material. SR


ACCORDING TO COMPANY MATERIALS, the IC-35 Premium, similarly to the IC-35, "absorb and reduce mechanical energy and resonances" accumulated in the housing of devices, and "isolate them from external vibrations and the surfaces on which they stand." As their designer said, the addition of bases made of the same material to the cones not only "gives a new level of naturalness" in the music played, but also protects racks (shelves) from scratching. The manufacturer points out that the cones should stand directly on a rigid surface, without the mediation of soft pads.

The cones are designed, as we read, to stand on all kinds of audio components, such as amplifiers, preamplifiers, integrated amplifiers, CD/SACD players, DACs, file players, power supplies, power distributors, etc. A set of three cones can be used with a device of up to 50 kg.

Finally, let us add that the IC-35 Premium cones come in a nice, unpretentious, little box made of cardboard, filled with properly cut foam.


⸜ THE WAY WE LISTENED • The Graphite Audio CI-35 Premium isolation cones were tested in the "High Fidelity" reference system (more → HERE). I always test anti-vibration feet (cones) in the same way in my system – under the signal source, sometimes assisted by other devices. This time I tested them under an Ayon Audio CD-35 HF SACD player. When a set of three cones comes in for testing, I set them up in a triangle, with one at the front and two at the back.

I move the player during a test, so its connections must be flexible. I use Crystal Cable Absolute Dream interconnects for that purpose, and the player is powered by the Harmonix X-DC350M2R Improved-Version cable. The comparison consisted in listening to the same fragment of a track (2 min) on the Divine Audio Galileo reference feet and transferring it to the tested cones. The reference and tested feet/cones stood on the upper carbon shelves of the Finite Elemente Pagode Edition Mk II rack.

» ALBUMS USED IN THE TEST ⸜ a selection

⸜ MAYO NAKANO PIANO TRIO, Miwaku, Briphonic BRPN-7007GL, Extreme Hard Glass CD-R (2017).
⸜ REYNA QOTRUNNADA, Passion, Master Music MMXR24001, XRCD24 (2019).
⸜ CZESŁAW NIEMEN, Katharsis, Polskie Nagrania „Muza”/Warner Music Poland 9 77373 3, „Limited Edition SACD Hybrid”, SACD/CD (1978/2023).
⸜ MADONNA Ray of Light, Maverick | Warner Bros. Records 9362-46847-2 | WE 852, CD (1998).
⸜ GEORGE MICHAEL, Older, Epic | Aegean/Sony Music Labels SICP-31544-5, 2 x Blu-spec CD2 (1996/2022).


CONES, SPIKES, PINS – are classic choices in audio when it comes to the shape of decoupling elements. They take advantage of the mechanical properties of such shapes and how an impulse propagates in them. Manufacturers, as I said, call them "mechanical diodes" which transmit an impulse faster in one direction than in the other. The ubiquity of this type of solution comes, I think, from the low cost of making them and the good results that can be achieved thanks to them.

However, this solution has not appealed to me for a long time. What proves much more effective – it is not an axiom, but my opinion, I repeat – are anti-vibration elements based on roller bearings, whether in the form of balls between two surfaces or as side bearings. However, this is the first time I've heard cones that don't bring dryness and jazziness, i.e., qualities that I always hear with spikes.

The IC-35 Premium played the Miwaku album by MAYO NAKANO PIANO TRIO softly and densely. It was immediately audible that the Graphite Audio cones have their own "character" and that they lead sound in a particular direction. And it was a good direction. That's why both the double bass on this album and the drum foot had a distinctive combination of mass and attenuation, as from closely positioned microphones in a small space. The version of this album on a glass CD that I played shows this particularly strongly, and the cones still emphasized this element.

This is because they present musical material in a warm way. I'm not going to talk about it in a round-about way but will say it directly: this anti-vibration element reduces brightness in sound and tones down the upper midrange. The percussion plates and the piano treble both had mass and sonority, and yet I knew momentarily that some kind of softness, silkiness showed up in the musical message; without slowing down, it's not the case, but still.

Reaching for REYN QOTRUNNAD's album Passion I expected a big vocal - and that's what I received. I expected a big piano - and that's what it sounded like. With the Graphite Audio cones, both sound sources were even bigger than with the reference feet. This is because the IC-35 Premium bring the message closer towards the listener. They do not push it out in front of the speakers, but thicken the "action", so to speak, i.e., fill the foreground more strongly.

This is why musical events have a high emotional temperature. This happens with all records, so it is a property of the cones themselves. Ah, this made the piece ˻ 9 ˺ Epitafium (pamięci Piotra) from CZESŁAW NIEMEN's Katharsis album sound so wonderful! This is one of my three most beloved songs by this artist and one of the pieces I've most personally experienced. The problem so far has been that in the vinyl version it is right next to the label, which makes it not sound the best. And the digital version has never appealed to me.

The master prepared by Damian Lipinski for the SACD release is completely different, simply superb. I got all five Niemen's CDs on Friday, and started listening on Monday, so the test had to include the music of this amazing artist. In any case, the Graphite Audio's cones maintained wonderful coherence and the organic character of the album sound. The percussion plates at the beginning of the mentioned track also sounded really nice.

The whole album was warmer and more subdued than with the reference feet. The signal attack was stronger and more unambiguous with them. However, this is part of the "package" that the tested cones bring with them to the system. And it is more about showing sound coherence than selectively breaking it down into its first elements. It's more "vinyl" than "tape", if you know what I mean. That is absolutely physiological sound with an emphasis on full sustain rather than attack.

This shift, however, is not a distortion. After all, we are talking about a well-thought-out successful product that excellently emphasizes colors and connects individual sounds to each other, creating a large wide message. With the Graphite Audio cones, the soundstage is wide and, when necessary, sounds surround us. It was so, for example, with ˻ 9 ˺ Frozen, probably the most well known track from MADONNA's album Ray of Light. The sounds starting after the nineteenth second, passing from the front of the stage behind our heads, later multiplied, sounded strong, clear and extremely spacious.

In general, the message was extremely pleasant. This was due to the combination of all the elements I mentioned. The low bass was slightly rolled off and did not have such clear definition as with the reference feet. If you require a high degree of selectivity from your system, however, you may need to go for classic metal cones. The Graphite Audio ones do not blurr the sound picture, don't dilute the attack or the fade out. It is different. They show these elements brilliantly, but at the same time saturate the sustain, so it seems to us that this is the most important element for them.

However, ˻ 2 ˺ Fastlove from GEORGE MICHAEL's album Older, released last year as a very good remaster on a Blu-spec CD2, was energetic, fast and had a funky Groove (more about this version → HERE (PL). Importantly, listening to it with the player on the IC-35 Premium cones, I got everything that is most important in it: on the one hand, a lot of treble, as Michael liked long, bright reverbs, but also a strong bass base.

This material was recorded on a RADAR hard-disk recorder, which sounded – as musicians and sound engineers agree – like an analog tape recorder, with a slight softening of the bass, a warming of the high treble, but also a kind of smoothness (more about this technique → HERE). These very features were emphasized by the tested cones, even more strongly doped.


WHAT SYSTEM would the IC-35 Premium cones fit? Well, any system – but a good one. They give warmth, a velvety character, they also give high energy. The sound is saturated with emotion and "stormy" with them, if I may say so; stormy in the sense that there is a lot going on in front of us, in the window between the speakers, sounds are swirling around, creating a large, "electrically" charged musical message.

However, the cones have their own "agenda". They warm rather than brighten up sound, accentuate the low midrange more than its higher part. They let low bass resound, though without clear definition at its very bottom. They show the high treble with energy, but also with a velvety attack. They are consistent and internally coherent in all this. It's a well-thought-out type of musical message, selected on the basis of listening sessions, which gives records mass, weight and, ultimately, sense.

Dane techniczne (wg producenta)

Set: 3 cones + 3 bases
Height: 35 mm
Cone diameter ϕ: 35 mm
Base diameter ϕ: 40 mm
Max load: 50 kg/set of 3 cones

THIS TEST HAS BEEN DESIGNED ACCORDING TO THE GUIDELINES adopted by the Association of International Audiophile Publications, an international audio press association concerned with ethical and professional standards in our industry, of which HIGH FIDELITY is a founding member. More about the association and its constituent titles → HERE.


Reference system 2022

1) Loudspeakers: HARBETH M40.1 |REVIEW|
2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

  • HARMONIX TU-666M "BeauTone" MILLION MAESTRO 20th Anniversary Edition |REVIEW|


Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC