[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
October 2005


TSM-MM placement

October 25, 2005


Great review of the Merlin TSM-MM. I am considering purchasing, but would like your expert opinion. I have heard that for optimum performance you should listen at least nine to nine and a half feet from the speakers. I am wondering what distance you listened to them from and what the effect would be if you were to listen from, let's say, eight feet away. If I were to listen nine feet away, the front of the speakers would only be two and a half feet from the front wall.

Mike Finnedt

My room is very large, and I sat over ten feet from the TSM-MMs. However, I used the same speakers in an earlier iteration in a much smaller room with no issues. Because the TSM-MMs are sealed, the wall behind them is much less of an issue than if they were rear ported. I think you'd be OK from nine feet, but Bobby Palkovic could tell you for sure....Marc Mickelson

"I'm finally happy with my choice in speakers"

October 17, 2005


Good review [of the Merlin TSM-MM speakers]. I couldn't agree with you more. I recently picked up my new pair of TSM-MMs from Bobby Palkovic and have been very pleased ever since. Having been in this hobby for 30+ years, I'm finally happy with my choice in speakers.

Jeff Fitch

Which Paradigm?

October 10, 2005

To Doug Schneider,

I am having trouble with my speaker selection and thought you could help. I have a base-model Pioneer Elite receiver and can't decide between the new Paradigm Reference Signature S2 or the Reference Studio 40.

Since I'm not running a high-end receiver, would I really hear the difference in the S2, or would the Studio 40 offer me more for the money? Could the Studio 40 be too overpowering for an 18x14 room that opens to a large open floor plan?

Scott Metzner

The Studio 40 would probably offer the better value, simply because it's an outstanding performer, costs less, and would likely deliver deeper bass due to the dual woofers. However, the Signature S2 is probably the better speaker overall. For example, when I compared the Studio 20 directly to the Signature S2, I found there was certainly a family resemblance in their overall sound, but the S2 just sounded more refined in every way, from the bass through the mids and up through the highs. And even though you only have what you say is a moderately priced receiver, I have no doubt you'd be able to hear the differences between speakers....Doug Schneider

Amphion, Paradigm or ProAc?

October 6, 2005

To Doug Schneider,

I always enjoy your reviews. I'm currently in the hunt for a high-end minimoniter for my small office studio (11' x11') to accompany my Musical Fidelity X-150 integrated amp and X-Ray3 CD player. I have narrowed it down to two that you've reviewed (Amphion argon2 and Paradigm Reference Signature S2) and one I don't think you have (ProAc Tablette Reference 8 Signature).

In your review of the S2, you didn't make any comparisons to the argon2. I know the argon2 has crept up in price due the the declining dollar and now approaches the cost of the S2.

If you were recommending one of these speakers to a friend, which one would you suggest? And have you ever heard the ProAc Tablette?

Greg Clarke

I haven't heard the ProAc speaker you mention. In terms of the other two, there were two reasons I left the Amphion argon2 out of the Signature S2 review. First, as you mentioned, the price has gone up significantly, for whatever reason. Second, I hadn't had the argon2 in my listening room for a long, long time, making a meaningful comparison impossible. That said, I liked the argon2 when I reviewed it a number of years ago, and I can wholeheartedly recommend the Signature S2, which I not only reviewed much more recently, but also own....Doug Schneider

A call to action for the high-end community

October 4, 2005


So...are the doomsayers right?

Is high-end audio headed for extinction? Is it true that people no longer respond to high-quality music reproduction?

Not at all.

But it’s up to us to prove the doomsayers wrong. And we can. This is an invitation to join "The A5" -- The American Association for the Advancement of the Audio Arts. We’re setting up as an LLC run by a board of directors.

On our own, as individual companies, we can do little to improve public awareness of high-end audio. Working together -- manufacturers, distributors, reps, retailers, reviewers -- we can turn on the public to one of life’s great pleasures (and our passion): great music combined with stunning sound.

Things are not so bleak.

People are still buying music and listening. Look at the iPod phenomenon and the growth of satellite radio. These listeners are excited about music in their lives. It’s up to us to turn more of them on to high-quality music reproduction. It’s less of a hard sell than it looks. People are already sold on music! To put it another way, Apple Computer, XM, Sirius and the like are creating potential customers...for us!

Despite a lack of growth in high-end sales, our industry is more innovative than ever before. Take any product category, any price point in specialty audio: the performance of products today is at an all-time high. The Golden Age of Hi-Fi…. This is it!

What will the A5 do besides collect your dues?

Well, one thing we won’t do is hold an annual awards dinner. The A5 is not about self-congratulatory hype. What we propose to do is real. We aim to act and here are some of the ways:

Set up a website that directs visitors to the messages, products, and services of our members.

Set up a user group for our members so we can communicate more freely and share ideas.

Create the conditions for freer communication among all of us...and this includes the end user.

Forget unproductive controversies, like the objectivist versus the subjectivist camps. There’s room for both. And the truth is, one does not have to exclude the other.

Make the buying public aware of the benefits of value-added service. We can prevent high-end audio from turning into a commodity. Look at the job that luxury car makers do or Swiss watchmakers!

Focus our message and get it to the public through whatever means we can muster and ways we can think of:

Ads for our industry in upscale magazines like Forbes, Wine Spectator and Architectural Digest, just to name a few. We will advertise in new venues outside of our industry.

Run a weekly program on high-end audio for cable television, PBS or a program for public radio.

Demonstrations at concert halls, museums, music schools.

Regional shows or events at music educator societies, Mercedes & BMW clubs, jazz or folk festivals.

Events at fine restaurants. Have a good meal, meet some interesting people. Hear some great sound. (There are people who never go to shows, who don’t like crowds. Let’s reach them!)

Create a public relations campaign for our industry as a whole -- including articles that we could send to newspapers looking for free content. If we are not blatantly trying to promote certain brands (not the goal) this will work!

Training programs for sales people. How to do a good two-channel demo. How to demo both home theater and great music, creating more excitement for both!

The initial response to A5 has been gratifying, and we are just getting started. We need YOU in at the start. There’s strength in numbers. Power, too.

There’s something else in numbers: confidence.

The A5 will give members the confidence that we are (finally) taking matters into our own hands and doing something about the vitality and future of our industry.

We need your support and ideas. If not you, who? If not now, when?

Please email your thoughts to: Ted@highendaudio.com.

Our Best Regards,

Walter Swanbon
Ted Lindblad
Doug Blackwell
Tom Gillet


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