[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
September 2005


DK Design differences

September 30, 2005

To Doug Schneider,

I don't know if you remember me, but I've gotten some advice from you in the past that kept me from buying the wrong product. I've also been very entertained and guided by some of your most memorable reviews. I know I can trust your ears!

As I'm reading your review (for the fifth or sixth time) of the DK Design Group VS.1 Reference Mk II integrated amplifier, I cannot believe we're talking about the same product. I just got mine a few weeks ago, but it doesn't sound as transparent as I understand your sample did. I tried changing tubes; put some Jan 6922s, some 6H23nEBs, and although these change the flavor of the music a little, they don't help the VS.1 Mk II sound as transparent as other amplifiers I have at hand, such as the Aragon 4004 Mk II and Sunfire Cinema Grand.

I purchased this big guy for my family-room system for the wife and kids to play their music, but once I put it into my two-channel rig, it does not give me what you heard.

Should I tinker with it a little bit, or did a get a defective unit? What do you advise I do?

Gonzalo Masó

You've trusted me so far, so let's hope this doesn't mess that up! The way I see it, the problem could be a number of things. First, you could have a defective unit. Second, it could be that your definition of transparency and my definition of transparency differ. Third, it could be that your expectations for the unit are quite high. Fourth, it's quite possible that the Aragon and Sunfire amps are holding up well against the DK Design Group unit you have. And, finally, it could well be that your unit is not identical to mine. In the latter case, my review unit was procured many months ago, long before DK Design Group's ownership changed hands. Is your unit the same as the one I reviewed? Did something change in the production from when I received my unit or since the new owners took over? Honestly, I don't know. We've had no contact with the new company since the changeover. The only thing I can say is that the unit I reviewed sounded superb for $3000. It couldn't necessarily better units costing two or three times its price, but it could hold its own with these, and that's quite an accomplishment....Doug Schneider

Dynamic limits of small speakers

September 26, 2005

To Doug Schneider,

Most of the bookshelf speaker reviews I have read (many of which were written by you) discuss two limitations on the use of small speakers. The first is the limited bass extension and the second is a reduction in dynamics. While the first is a natural limitation due to the inability of a small woofer to move enough air to produce the lowest octave, I don't think I understand exactly what is meant by the limited dynamic ability of such speakers. I thought that referring to a speaker as dynamic meant that it could be played at high volumes and still maintain its composure. I recently had the pleasure of listening to PSB's Platinum M2 and (by my own definition) I thought it was a very dynamic speaker.

I have two questions. Could you please explain what reviewers mean when they speak of the dynamic limits of a small speaker, particularly with reference to reproduction of orchestral recordings (which is often where I see it discussed most)? Second, can this limitation be overcome by placing a speaker such as the PSB Platinum M2 in an appropriately sized (small to medium) listening room?

Philip Beaudette

In the simplest terms, "dynamic compression" sets in when a loudspeaker is pushed to produce higher SPLs than it's meant to, stops getting any louder, and just gets more distorted, or in severe cases, damaged when pushed that far. You can see some of the effects of compression in our speaker measurements when we do our THD+N measurement at 90dB and then, providing the speaker can take it, at 95dB. Speakers that "compress" at these SPL levels start showing high distortion, usually at specific frequencies, and their frequency response starts to change from what it looked like at lower SPLs -- in other words, frequency response is not rising linearly, and neither is distortion. And providing you have enough power, you can just keep driving the speaker up and up and up where you'll likely find more and more areas of compression with high distortion until the speaker is finally damaged and stops working (we don't push the speakers that far). All speakers will eventually compress; finding the level they do it at, and if it's far, far louder than you'll listen to them anyway, is what we're interested in. But if compression sets in lower than you'd like, it can be quite important. As well, room size will also come into play, so all this has to be considered together.

As for the PSB Platinum M2, it's one of the most dynamic small speakers I've heard, which is why I consider it one of my references in small-size speaker design. It can play astonishingly loud for its size -- it fills my very-large listening room quite well. However, it too has limitations and does eventually give out, although my ears usually tire long before that....Doug Schneider

Paradigm Signature S2 vs. S4

September 22, 2005

To Doug Schneider,

I have read your Paradigm Reference Signature S2 review. I am considering the Signature S4. Compared to the S2, the S4 reveals more detail in the high frequencies; however, sometimes I feel that it emphasizes the highs too much. Did you have the chance to listen to the S4s? What do you think about them?

In addition, regarding the Signature S2 and S4, would you recommend them for both audio and home theater, or one of them only?

Dror Jerushalmi

Your question surprises me a little, because the differences I've felt the S4 to have over the S2 are in the bass, not the highs. The S2 is a two-way design -- a 7" woofer with a 1" tweeter -- while the S4 is a two-and-a-half-way design using two 7" woofers with the same 1" tweeter, but in a larger cabinet. In the S4, one of those woofers (the top one) is crossed over to the tweeter at about about 1.8kHz (according to Paradigm's specs), and runs down throughout the bass region, as low as it can go. The lower woofer is crossed over at about 400Hz and runs throughout the bass region, again going as low as it can go. The key with a two-and-a-half-way design is that two bass drivers work in the lowest frequencies, while only one runs up through the midrange. That's why your question surprises me -- I've never heard that the S4 is more pronounced in the highs compared to the S2, only the lows.

As for audio and home-theater listening, both would work very well. I know that Paradigm doesn't distinguish its speakers as "audio only" and "home theater only." Instead, Paradigm speakers are designed to work in both applications. The key here is that the S4 will likely have stronger bass in your room, and that may mean that depending on your room size and your desire for deep bass, you could possibly get away with using the S4 without a subwoofer. However, if you decide to use a good subwoofer -- Paradigm's Signature Servo would be the natural choice -- then you could likely make either work equally well....Doug Schneider

Input impedance, please

September 20, 2005

To Doug Schneider,

I just purchased a pair of Stello M200 amplifiers and, as always, I went to check your review and measurements. I am sorry to say that I didn't find all that I was looking for. I would like to suggest that when you test power amplifiers you include measurement of input impedance, which, in my opinion, is almost as important as the output impedance of a preamplifier, given that many audiophiles today prefer to pair amps and preamps based on these figures.

By the way, I will combine the Stello amps with the great ACI Sapphire XLs. Thanks for that review too!

Vladimir Dorta

"...the most important part of any sound system..."

September 19, 2005


Just a comment regarding the most important part of any sound system -- the room. I recently moved into a large house and for the first time have a first-rate space for my listening system. Wow, wow, and wow! In my case, the dimensions of the space are 20'L x 14'W x 9'H. The speakers are set up along the long wall, with very minimal toe-in, and are 4' from side walls, 3' from front wall and 11' apart (all distances measured from the front center of the speaker cabinet). I am in heaven! Just had to share my joy.

Kelly Williamson

In praise of AudioQuest Sky

September 7, 2005


I took the plunge, and traded in my AudioQuest Cheetah interconnects for Sky. It really sounds good. It reveals so much more emotion as well as fine detail. It also has a deeper soundstage. Timing is better, and so is the bass. There is also no harshness (edge). Instruments retain their natural sound. It is simply one of the most, musically satisfying interconnects on the market.

Johannes Nel

I'm glad you like AudioQuest Sky. Of course, I do as well. Many people I know in the industry admire it, too....Marc Mickelson

Happiness is...

September 1, 2005


Yippee!!! The new SoundStage! is here!!!

C.J. van Woerden


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