“Solidsteel SS-5” sounds like a tool of Dirty Harry’s trade. In actuality, though, they are elegant Italian speaker stands.
Speaker stands are not exactly the focus of the high-fidelity media. This is due to their less spectacular function of raising the speaker to the optimal distance from the floor. However, since most of the so-called “bookshelf speakers” should be placed anywhere but close to the wall on the shelf in order to enjoy their full qualities, there is quite a noteworthy need for them despite their wallflower existence. Compared to other accessories (cables, absorbers, etc.), the number of manufacturers is manageable. One of the rare specialists is Solidsteel, a company run by Gaetano Conti. It is based in Pescara, a small town on the Italian Adriatic coast, and has been manufacturing racks, stands and the like for private users and recording studios since 1990. Our interest was aroused by a proverbial “old-timer” that has lost none of its relevance to this day: the three-legged Solidsteel SS-5 speaker stand in black. The fact that its design, which has remained unchanged for over 30 years, still appeals to and convinces us today proves that the Italians have a knack for timeless design. And this is not only well received by the FIDELITY editorial team: At trade shows and in the showrooms of many dealers, the stands are frequently seen, even if only in the supporting role assigned to them. The answer to the question of how the Italians managed this, I could simply answer with “You just have to do everything right once” …
The SS-5 reminds me of tripods for cameras or measuring instruments, from which one expects exactly the same performance: a stable stand. Thus, the basic structure of the supporting framework consists of three steel tubes with a diameter of about 30 millimeters, which carry the vertical load. To counteract lateral tilting, these are splayed outward. Horizontally, the column is braced at the top and bottom by slimmer steel tubes. The tubes are connected by neatly executed brazing. All in all, this results in a very solid construction that is reminiscent of modern steel construction in its consistency.
To prevent vibrations from being introduced into the speaker cabinet via the stand and to quickly dissipate cabinet resonances in the opposite direction, further design measures are necessary, which Solidsteel has solved in a way that is as simple as it is elegant. The contact to the floor is made via spikes that deserve their name. They penetrated effortlessly through my two-centimeter-thick wool carpet onto the concrete floor. The manufacturer includes solid stainless steel coasters for sensitive surfaces. Permanently elastic pads connect the speaker to the backing plate, and steel balls transfer the load into the steel tubes via defined contact surfaces.
Since the stands are essentially delivered as fully assembled or hard-soldered units, all that remained for me was to assemble the spikes and carrier plate. A matter of a few minutes. First, I screwed the spikes, which have an M8 thread, into the steel cones that form the bottom end of the upright tubes. If necessary, metal shot, for example, can be filled through the threaded opening in the steel cones for additional resonance damping and lowering of the center of gravity, sales manager Roberto Mastrogiovanni explained to me. The upper end of the tubes is formed by a steel cap, into which I inserted the 12-millimeter-diameter steel balls. I screwed the 19 x 19 centimeter support plate made of black-coated MDF, which has elegant chamfers, to the steel crossbar underneath. A spacer sleeve with an elastomer ring underneath prevents the frictional connection. The load is to be transferred exclusively via the steel balls into the tubes and via the spikes into the floor.
The method of mounting the speakers may seem banal at first, but it turns out to be effective and flexible. To do this, I formed each of four Patafix pads (they are included) into spheres and positioned them on the corners of the support plate. The pads, which remain elastic, compensate for minor tolerances and suppress the transfer of vibrations. After aligning the stands with the help of a spirit level, I countered the spikes with the corresponding nuts. Now just press the speakers onto the support plate, and that was it!
In conversation with Mastrogiovanni, I expressed the idea of offering carrier plates in different sizes or even according to customer requirements. Similar ideas have been discussed within the company, but are not to be implemented at this time, according to the sales manager. Activities are currently focused on the new top-of-the-line product, the HB rack series, which was presented at the HIGH END 2022 in Munich and will go on sale at the end of the year.
When I looked at the unit of speaker and stand like this – Audio Physics Spark came to our aid during the test – I pondered how this perfectly coherent impression, both functionally and visually, is created. The basic construction, which is sandwiched between the speaker and the floor, clearly shows the course of the load transfer. The filigree structure means that the stand does not get in the way, either acoustically or visually. The slim spikes and small support balls fade into the background, also supported by their glossy reflective surface, so that the speakers seem to float. This is particularly evident in my silk matt black test samples.
The build quality leaves nothing to be desired, especially the joints of the metal tubes are extremely carefully executed, this is not a matter of course!
In my test setup, I could not detect any negative effects of the stands on the sound. The speakers sounded clear, defined, with dry and powerfully bouncy low frequencies. Imaging characteristics were flawless. Due to its stable construction, combined with a timeless design developed from function and flexible usability (even if the speakers have to go their way, the stands can continue to be used in many cases), the need for something new will not arise anytime soon. This is sustainability in the best sense.
These product features and the civil pricing explain, in my opinion, the more than 30-year success story of the SS-5 and its siblings SS-6/7. If there were a “Long-Time Top Performance Award”, the speaker stands of the Solidsteel SS series would truly deserve it!
Concept: robust tripod with superb resonance control, suitable for “medium size” compact speakers | Material: MDF head plate, stainless steel with resonance damping coating | Other: height adjustable spikes | Finishes: Black, white or raw metallic; also available as SS-6 (63 cm) and SS-7 (73 cm) | Dimensions (W/H/D): entire stand 33/53/31 cm, support plate 19 x 19 cm | Weight: 11,5 kg | Warranty period: 5 years | Price per Pair: around 480 €
Strada Lungofino 187 – Centro Ibisco, blocco B1
65013 Città Sant’Angelo (PE)