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Sanus Steel Foundations SF26 Overview

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As a home theater reviewer, I have to be prepared for any piece of gear that comes through my door, and sometimes that means purchasing new equipment. When I heard that Polk Audio was shipping me their flagship bookshelf speaker, the nearly 30lb LSiM703, I knew I needed a new pair of stands that could handle such a large speaker. I already owned a pair of speakers stands (actually, some old Sanus stands), but nothing that I would trust such nice speakers on, especially with a Newfoundland dog running amuck in my home. Therefore, I went on the search for a pair of speaker stands that were sturdy, attractive, and affordable. I eventually decided to try out the Sanus Steel Foundations SF26 speakers stands. They are pretty reasonably priced at $169, could hold large speakers, and fit with my décor.

Overview

Sanus offers seven different series of speaker stands, and the Steel Foundations series sits just below their top of the line Ultimate Series. Originally I was looking at Sanus’ Ultimate Series stands, but they only come with a textured gray finish that would be impossible to integrate into my décor (Actually, I think it would be difficult into most people’s décor). The Steel series in made of, well, steel. There are six different models in the Steel Series, two of which are made for center speakers (18” and 22” options). The bookshelf stands come in 22”, 26”, 30”, and 34” options. I personally would like to see a 28” option, which would have placed the tweeter(s) of most speakers right at ear level from my main listening position.

Each stand in the series comes with a 6” by 6.5” top plate (except the center speaker stands, which have a 14” by 8” top plate) and two steel pillars to hold up the speaker. The 30” and 34” models are only rated to handle up to a 25lb speaker, while all other models can handle up to a 35lb speaker. Each SF26 only weighs about 14lbs, but the base is wide and the pillars can be filled with sand for increased stability. There isn’t any way to conceal speaker wire up the length of the stand, but there are two loops (one at the stop and one at the base) that the wire can go through in order to hold it close to the stand.  The loops are rather small so some pre-terminated cable might not fit through them. I personally prefer to not utilize the cable management loops, as I am sure many other people with “fancy” speaker wire will also do.

Assembly

Unlike some more expensive stands, the SF26 requires assembly, but it’s pretty painless. It took me less than 20 minutes to have both stands completely assembled. The instructions are pretty straight forward, but you have to read them carefully. The first step is to attach the outrigger feet to the base, then you attach the steel pillars. Each steel pillar attaches to the base with one screw and to the top plate with another screw. In between the top plate and the pillars is a small cork pad for isolation, and that’s essentially it.

 

SF26 -2 Assembly Parts      SF26 -2 Wire Loop

   Assembly Parts                              Speaker Wire Loop

SF26 -2 Top Plate      SF26 -2 Bottom View

 Top Plate With Speaker Studs              Base With Carpet Spikes     

The SF26 comes with your option of rubber feet for use on hard floors or spikes for use on carpet. It also comes with rubber isolation pads and speaker studs for use on the top plate. The speaker studs screw into the top plate, making for a secure fit. But, the rubber pads squeeze into the holes on the top plate (as opposed to screwing in), meaning they could come out with a tug. This isn't much of a concern, but you can see the underside of the rubber feet poking through the bottom of the top plate. It would be nice if the rubber pads were set inside a metal casing so they were threaded into the place, as opposed to just using pressure. I chose to use the rubber pads so I don’t risk scratching speakers that are on loan to me for review. The speaker studs, however, certainly look better and are a great option when you don’t have a dog the size of a person that might move the speaker with the wag of his tail. For the most secure fit possible you can actually bolt the speaker to the stand (not recommended when using the speaker studs), but your speaker needs to have a threaded insert on the bottom.

The only point of caution I would note is that you have to be careful when tightening down each screw to make sure you don’t strip the threads, especially because there isn’t much thread to catch in the first place. I would recommend putting the stands together and then leaving them alone, repeated deconstruction and assembly is sure to eventually lead to stripped threads. Of course, worst-case scenario, the steel could be rethreaded.

Build Quality and Listening Tests

The build quality on the Steel Foundation SF26 is commendable. No, these aren’t built to the same standards as more expensive alternatives, but they are right in line with other stands costing between $150 and $200 dollars. I found them to hold my MartinLogan LX16 speakers without a hitch. The rubber feet kept the speaker from sliding and even a full assault from the trunk-like tail of my dog couldn’t budge them.

I’m not going to go into an extensive listening test explanation where I claim the difference in sound when compared to the old stands was “day and night.” However, I will tell you that the SF26 never rattled, resonated, shifted on the floor, or negatively impacted the sound in any way. What they did do was hold my speakers off the floor, which is the only thing speaker stands should do.

Conclusion

If you are in the market for an affordable, sturdy, and good looking speaker stand, you can’t go wrong with the Sanus Steel Foundations SF26. They are easy to assemble and can easily handle a speaker up to 35lbs, but do lack the polished, “high-end” look of some of the more expensive options. I would, and will, gladly set any medium to large bookshelf speaker that comes in for review on the Sanus SF26 speaker stands.

 

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Recent Forum Posts:

j_garcia posts on February 19, 2013 01:21
I used just the smaller leveling pieces from the MoPads for my mains.
Dster posts on February 18, 2013 22:32
I have the sf30, and can say I am quite satisfied. I filled mine with play sand. I just attached the pillars to the bottom plate first, then put a funnel into the threaded hole. After that I put a mess off duct tape from the outside of the pillar up to the funnel to contain any overflow. As for the top plate I used mo pads, they were good at isolating, but to tall and bulky for my application. I found a much slimmer (and cheaper) solution for this, or any other speaker isolating in Duck Brand Air Conditioner Foam Insulating Panels on amazon. They worked surprisingly well. Hope this helps.
GranteedEV posts on February 18, 2013 21:05
Thanks for the review.
Steve81 posts on February 18, 2013 17:16
Cliff_is, post: 952340
There you go. How was that for listening tests?

Much better! From the sound of things, I might have to consider replacing my current stands which have been relegated to being the base of a makeshift bench in my “weight room”.
Cliff_is posts on February 18, 2013 17:12
Steve81, post: 952312
I will say I'm saddened that your listening evaluation section was cut short. Now I will never know if these stands compete with the Partington signature sound, namely bags of headroom, a solid soundstage, warmth and detail in the midrange, and deep bass sure to get your pulse racing in no time…

Partington Heavi review from the experts at whathifi.com


Steve, how could I!

Allow me to add this to the review,

The SF26 completely re-defined how I listen to music. It was a religious experience to say the least, as soon as the bottom of my speakers touched the magical rubber pads (I think they must have been dipped in pixie dust), my entire life was transformed. No, I don't just mean the sound was transformed….my entire life was transformed. The next thing I knew I had won the lottery, gained an inch in height, and had super models pounding down my door.

As far as sound, it was even better than when started using cable lifts. Even better than when I paid the utility company $10,000,000 dollars to replace all of the power cabling from my home to the power company with high-end power cables. The soundstage was bigger (not sure how or why). The bass was more impactful (might have been because I added another sub). The highs were clearer and dialogue was more intelligible (then again, the speakers were just sitting on the floor before). And the speakers even played louder (I might have accidentally just turned the volume up).

Needless to say, I'm excited to try out some even more expensive stands after this experience. And I was going to invest money in acoustics treatments and better speakers, glad I realized what's really important.



There you go. How was that for listening tests?
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