[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
December 2005


Kestrel or...?

December 26, 2005


I recently read your review of the Meadowlark Audio Kestrel loudspeaker. I did catch your comment about your short-lived interest in home theater, which is what my question was about, but I so liked your review I thought I would ask your opinion on a pair of loudspeakers in the $1000 or maybe even $1200 range, and any other speakers that make up the home theater. I have a Denon 3805 receiver that I'm building around. My preference is a crisp, tight-sounding speaker that can cleanly pound if called upon.

Scott Isley

Boy, you found one old review. That one is approaching ten years old, and Meadowlark is no longer in business.

The speaker I would buy in your price range is the new Axiom M80 v2, which Doug Schneider just reviewed. Axiom speakers are high value, and they're sold direct in the US. The company also makes matched speakers for home-theater use and a great subwoofer....Marc Mickelson

"...ten years of audio reviews"

December 21, 2005


I just wanted to congratulate you on ten years of audio reviews. Thank you for your efforts, which help people like me on the other side of the world (I'm in the West Indies) make informed decisions about purchases. I have been with you for seven of your ten years, and I bought a MSB Link DAC years ago thanks to a SoundStage! review. I wish you all the best for the new year and beyond.

Rory Roopnarine

"...60% for music and 40% for movies"

December 19, 2005

To Doug Schneider,

I've been debating between both the Paradigm Reference Studio 20 v.3 and the Von Schweikert Audio VR-1. I've read your reviews of both, and I'm still not sure which speaker I would like to buy. Unfortunately, my location prevents me from listening to the Studio 20 v.3s or the VR-1s. What's your opinion between the two? You are the only one I can find who has listened to both. My setup is used about 60% for music and 40% for movies. If there is anything else you need to know to answer this question, please let me know.

Blaine Morrissey

Obviously, you and I both know that it’s going to be your ears that have to decide which is better for you -- that’s just the way it is in audio when you narrow it down to two good products. However, I can perhaps add something more since you’ve provided the information about your music-to-movies ratio. You’re actually going to use the speakers for movies quite a bit; in fact, I’d estimate that your amount of movie viewing is higher than that of most SoundStage! readers. Therefore, although you haven’t mentioned possibly upgrading to a full five-channel speaker system, I can assume that it’s a possibility for the future. While each company does offer other speakers to complete a home-theater system, it’s Paradigm that really has the edge here with a topnotch assortment of speaker products in the Studio series, including two different center-channels, the CC-470 and CC-570; as well as the ADP-470 surrounds. The company also has a wide array of subwoofers. Future expansion is something you should consider, and I feel it’s better to stick with one company’s products than to try to mix’n’match….Doug Schneider

PMC and Bryston -- "natural synergy"

December 14, 2005


If Roger Kanno was impressed with the PMC GB1 loudspeakers, and John Crossett liked the Bryston 4B-SST amp, you should really hear PMC and Bryston together. There's a natural synergy because PMC uses Bryston amps during development. The results are magic when matched to a warm/textured source like a dCS player.

Something like the PMC OB1 with a 4B-SST stereo amp or 7B-SST monoblocks would make for an interesting review: rare dome midrange, transmission-loading in a bigger box than GB1, with much better power handling, scale, and power. I liked the GB1, but I loved the added refinement of the OB1.

Peter Chew

Belles 350A Reference?

December 12, 2005


First, I would like to compliment your website for the very insightful reviews. Out of all of the reviews out there, I find yours most on the mark.

I recently demoed Dave Belles's 350A Reference amp based on your review of the 150A Reference. Your enthusiasm for the Reference 150A was right on based on what I heard from the 350A Reference, which is an amazing amplifier. It is in my experience the best amplifier under $10,000 and possibly the best amplifier under $30,000 in mono configuration. All this for $3995. Unbelievable.

My friend has a modified ARC VT200, and it is one of the better amplifier I've heard. Another friend has a Atma-Sphere MA-2 Mk II.3 monos. I can tell you from the listening session that the Belles 350A Reference was not outclassed by these amplifiers. I found that its attributes were more tube-like than the ARC amp's sound (images were denser, spatial placement was better, and the experience was closer to real). The ARC amp had a little better extension and greater microdynamics, with a slight increase in clarity. The Atma-Sphere amps took those things that the ARC amp did slightly better than the Belles amp a step further. But were talking slight advantages here. And in terms of overall musicality, the 350A Reference served the music perhaps better than both. I can only imagine what the outcome would have been if we were running 350A Reference monoblocks.

Marcus Martin

We will be reviewing and measuring the Belles 350A Reference amp sometime in 2006. Right now, it looks like we'll write about the stereo amp only, but we will try to get a second amp to run in mono as well. Stay tuned....Marc Mickelson

Tunnel of Love

December 9, 2005

To Doug Schneider,

I just read your review of Bruce Springsteen's Tunnel of Love and couldn’t agree with you more. I’m not a big Springsteen fan -- sure, some of his stuff is catchy, but I’ve never been the kind to refer to him as "The Boss" and pay 75 bucks to see him in concert. However, I have been listening to Tunnel of Love since I was in high school in ’87, and each time I listen to it, I get something new and am always impressed by what an astounding album it is. It really gets few compliments, to my surprise. Thanks for a great review.

Britt Newsome

Whoa! You had me stumped for a second. I thought to myself, "I reviewed Tunnel of Love?" Would you believe that I actually went to Google and typed "Schneider Tunnel of Love Soundstage" to remember that, yes, I had reviewed it, way back in 1998?

I do agree with you -- this album doesn’t get enough praise. I think it’s Springsteen’s best, although many, obviously, would pick different albums of his….Doug Schneider

Mailing list or newsletter?

December 8, 2005


Do you have mailing list or newsletter option at your website?

Best regards from Belgrade,

Sasa Danicic

No, sorry, we don't. Some websites use a mailing list to pad their traffic numbers by getting the same people to visit over and over again, and others have a newsletter in order to "push" ads at those who sign up for it. We, however, hate spam and don't want to add to it. Just visit us on the 1st and 15th each month to see our latest content....Marc Mickelson

Making the call

December 7, 2005


I currently have Monitor Audio Silver S6 speakers with an Anthem Amp 1 tube power amp and Anthem TLP 1 preamp. I got the tube amp from a local dealer when he had it on clearance in the spring of 2004 and have been happy with it. A month after that purchase I decided to get the TLP 1 (instead of using my Rotel 1060 integrated as a preamp), a unit you have reviewed on your site.

I have no complaints with what I have now, mostly because I am not difficult to please and I don’t really know what to listen for to find faults unless something sounds really bad. However on a recent visit to my local dealer, I saw on display a Musical Fidelity A3.2 CR preamp. It was on clearance at half price (about $1200 CAD).

I am tempted to purchase it, but I am not sure what I will gain over the TLP 1, which, according to your review, is excellent. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Sanjay Chugh

We have reviewed much Anthem and Musical Fidelity equipment. Functionally, both of the preamps you mention offer remote control and a reasonable number of inputs. Your Anthem preamp has an AM/FM tuner and tone controls that the Musical Fidelity preamp does not. The Musical Fidelity preamp has a phono stage, which may or may not be important to you.

In terms of sound, no one at our publication has heard both of the preamps. Therefore, any insight we could offer would be speculation at best. But you have the most powerful audio tools at your disposal -- your own ears. Ask your dealer about borrowing the Musical Fidelity preamp for a weekend. You will then be able to compare it to your Anthem preamp and determine what you might gain -- or lose -- in sonic terms.

You'll have to make the call here, which is the best thing to do anyway....Marc Mickelson

Seeking a used CD player

December 5, 2005

To Vade Forrester,

I've read many reviews on SoundStage!, and I have a question about which CD player I should buy. Because I do not have the budget to buy a new high-end CD player, I am looking for one the on the secondhand market. I can afford one of several players, such as the Wadia 23, the Mark Levinson No.39, the Linn Ikemi, the Opera Audio Consonance 2.2 Reference, and Rega Jupiter 2000. Could you as give me an insight in the quality of these players and maybe recommend one to me? Maybe you could even tell me what reasonable prices are for these used CD players. That would help me very much. Maybe you would recommend even a player that I have not listed above.

Bram Huijgevoort

The only one of the CD players on your list I've even seen is the Linn Ikemi, and my exposure to it was only in a dealer's showroom. So I'm unable to comment on any of the players you list.

Reviewers get a lot of requests for equipment recommendations, but it is hard to give good advice without knowing something about the listener, such as the type of music you like, your listening habits, your other equipment, your listening-room dimensions and furnishings, your budget, and the what sonic characteristics you like.

There's really no substitute for finding a dealer and listening to a component in your system. Of course, if you're like me and live where there are very few dealers, home auditions are not feasible. If you're buying used, possibly out-of-production equipment, it's even harder to arrange an in-home trial. So, one does what you're doing: reading reviews, asking reviewers and friends....Vade Forrester

"...a very noticeable upgrade?"

December 2, 2005

To Doug Schneider,

I've written to you before regarding some Axiom Audio/Paradigm questions and you've always been a big help. I bought some Paradigm Reference Studio 20 v.2s in the real cherry wood about six months ago. They sound great, but I'm looking for something a little less colored-sounding. I'm considering opting for some Revel Performa M20s, but wanted to see if you thought it would be a worthy investment. Right now I'm running an Integra DTR 8.2 receiver (I'll be upgrading to separates soon enough) for my setup. I'll be using the M20s for both home theater and music. I just wanted your opinion on the M20s versus the Studio 20 v.2s. Is it a very noticeable upgrade?

Chris Salvo

Price-wise the M20s and the Studios 20 v.2 are quite far apart. When available (both models have been discontinued now), the M20s were about $2000/pair, and the Studio 20 v2. less than $1000. They’ve both been replaced now with the M22 from Revel, and the Studio 20 v.3 from Paradigm. In fact, the closer speaker for comparison in Paradigm’s lineup is the Signature S2, which is priced about the same as the M20. Also, I gather that since these are outdated models, you’re probably buying used -- not a bad thing since that can get you quite a good deal.

Based on what I’ve mentioned, I have no doubt, then, that you’ll hear quite a bit of difference between the M20s and Studio 20 v.2. They’re priced quite differently, and engineered to have a somewhat different sound. Will it be "a very noticeable upgrade"? I think it will be noticeable for sure, but in terms of an upgrade, your ears will have to decide….Doug Schneider


[SoundStage!]All Contents
Copyright SoundStage!
All Rights Reserved