A review of the Auralex GRAMMA™ and Great GRAMMA™ Isolation Platforms…
I’ve been wanting to write up a review for the Auralex Acoustics GRAMMA Isolation platform for a while now; it’s kind of a “spread the good word” thing for me. The GRAMMA has been an essential piece of gear for me for years now, and when anyone asks about it, they get more than an earful about how beneficial I think it is for live sound applications. When I recently and accidentally ran over my trusty version 1 GRAMMA with my car and broke it, I got a replacement GRAMMA v2 from Auralex and thought, OK the time has come!
For almost 40 years, Auralex has been making professional-grade acoustical treatment products for commercial audio applications around the world. Engineers have come to rely on Auralex’s products, they are basically the gold standard for acoustical dampening/diffusing/absorbing materials and most studios you will find yourself in are bound to use some sort of Auralex product to aid in their audio calibration/tuning.
The Patented GRAMMA and Great GRAMMA is Auralex’s solution for musicians in live and studio settings, for the purpose of improving the clarity and definition of amps and loudspeakers.
Auralex claims that using a GRAMMA results in “a tighter, more focused low-end” which lets you “Hear the true sound of your amp, loudspeaker or subwoofer”, and “Instantly improve your sound on-stage or in the studio”. The GRAMMA essentially “floats” your rig and isolates vibration from transferring to the floor or stage, which claims to clean up the sound and remove ‘unwanted resonance artifacts’ from the sound of your rig.
Auralex released the GRAMMA v2 a few years back, and since I had been happily using the V1 GRAMMA, I thought it would help to point out the differences.
The older GRAMMA had two pieces of 2-3” thick foam mounted to a piece of composite plywood or MDF-like substrate, covered in Ozite carpeting. The two long rectangular foam blocks flanked the long edges with a smaller piece of V-channel acoustic foam in between, and a plastic handle on the underside. The newer GRAMMA’s are much thinner, with about 1” of solid foam on the bottom and a flexible handle on the edge. Auralex claims that the V2 offers “even more mid and low-frequency definition”. While not earth-shatteringly smaller, I will say that the lower profile has made it easier to wedge in between gear in the back of my cramped hatchback.
From my own extensive yet anecdotal experience, the GRAMMA really shows its true colors when used on a hollow or wooden stage.
In venues I frequent with raised stages, using the GRAMMA consistently tightens up and focuses the low end and reduces boom and the muddy/blurry tonal effect that hollow stages can sometimes produce. The louder and more bass-heavy my sound, the more dramatically noticeable the improvement by the GRAMMA. Every room and stage is bound to interact with your rig in different and often challenging ways, but my experience is that in addition to improving clarity and definition, it improves consistency from one room/stage to the next.
Solid, concrete floors seem to have a less dramatic benefit with the GRAMMA, but I think that I still hear a difference in clarity and muddiness in almost any setting. Our friends at Bass Gear Magazine did a more technical and scientific review of the effect of the GRAMMA, which you can read here. Suffice to say, I’m enough of a believer that I just don’t leave home without it.
Another excellent use for the GRAMMA (or perhaps the Baby GRAMMA™, at 15”x15”) is to put one between your cab and your tube head (or tube preamp).
Some users report that isolating the head from the cabinet can reduce the amount of vibrations the tubes experience, which results in better clarity and definition from the amplifier. I’m not a tube head guy and can’t really comment on whether this was noticeable with my hybrid amp that has a tube in the preamp. I think it’s safe to say that there’s a range of how much of the “tube” you’re hearing in various hybrid bass amps (tube pre, SS/class D power), based on differing design and topology.
At the end of the day, we bassists spend hundreds, (cough cough) thousands of dollars on our gear, obsessing about improving our tone and how to make our rigs sound their very best.
To my ears, and for my money, the GRAMMA Isolation Platforms can make a huge improvement on your sound, using the gear you already have, for under a hundred bucks. The handful of people I’ve turned on to the GRAMMA have reported similar results and expressed wishing they’d known about it sooner, so I feel better about my anecdotal and unscientific analysis here. But suffice to say, my personal opinion is that the Auralex GRAMMA is the real deal. The GRAMMA V2 is 23”x15” with a weight limit of 300 lbs., and they also offer the Great GRAMMA V2 for larger rigs, measuring 30”x19”. At $87, and $99 respectively, this is an excellent way to improve your rigs tightness, punch and consistency.
Learn more about the Auralex GRAMMA™ and Great GRAMMA™ Isolation Platforms at auralex.com/product/gramma/