[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
June 2006


"Any further thoughts on the speakers since the review?"

June 27, 2006

To Doug Schneider,

I read your excellent review of the Paradigm Signature S2s. I admit that I normally would not have taken the Paradigm speakers seriously, until I heard a pair in a shop in San Diego while on vacation. I also heard the S4s.

I have Spendor LS3/5a's, and I am looking for a great midrange like the Spendors with a little more bass and dynamics. Did you get a chance to compare the S2 to the S4? From the little listening I did and without the benefit of higher-end electronics, I really liked and was impressed by both speakers and thought both easily bettered the B&W speakers they were compared to. The S4 seemed a bit fuller, but that was in an audio shop without the best electronics.

Any further thoughts on the speakers since the review?

Richard Robson

Unfortunately, I know that some people still won’t take Paradigm’s Signature series seriously, but they’re only cheating themselves. Although I’ve heard both, I haven’t had the chance to put the S2 and S4 head-to-head, so I can’t give you any additional information there. However, even years past my S2 review, I still think very highly of these speakers, and even though some companies have released competitive designs, they haven’t necessarily surpassed what the S2 achieves at the $2000 price point. In summary, it’s quite a speaker that I think as highly of today as I did when I reviewed it....Doug Schneider

Crystal Cable Ultra?

June 21, 2006


You did a review of Crystal Cable products some time ago. I wonder if you have had any experience with the new Crystal Cable Ultra speaker cable. The ultra-thin design of Crystal Cables is very appealing to the eye, but I wonder if it affects the sonics at all. Your comments will be greatly appreciated.

Chi Chong

Your timing is impeccable. We haven't written about the Crystal Cable Ultra interconnects and speaker cables yet, but we will be receiving review samples very soon and will post a review thereafter. Stay tuned....Marc Mickelson

What's important

June 19, 2006


I took great pleasure reading your review of AudioQuest's Sky interconnects and Volcano speaker cables. And one thing I liked is:

"I'm no engineer, so I can't comment with any sort of credentials about AudioQuest's Dielectric-Bias System, but I can say that it sounds like it works."

Manufacturers can say a lot of things about their products. In the end, it is how the music sounds that's important. And that's what I like about your review.

Jean-Claude Blouin

"...the next time you cover a speaker in this price range..."

June 12, 2006


Your review of the Paradigm Signature S8 speakers was helpful, and I do appreciate your efforts. I have heard these speakers, and I think I have a pretty good idea of their quality, value for the dollar, and place among other great speakers in the business. In my mind, the S8s are probably near or at the top in the "bang for the buck" category.

However, the next time you cover a speaker in this price range I wish that you would offer the average person some insight concerning "affordable" amplification for speakers such as this. The amplifiers you powered the S8s with are $20,000 per pair. What average person has this kind of cash? This is where your review tends to fail in its usefulness for the average consumer of good-quality two-channel stereo components.

The S8s are affordable at $6000, but to then go and spend another $20,000 on power amps and then $8000 on a high-end CD transport and interconnects seems way over in the "money is no object" category, which is not the S8's market. B&W Nautilus 801 and 802s? Sure. Focal Grand Utopia BEs? Absolutely. But not Paradigms -- not even their flagship speaker.

Two weeks ago I was able to listen to the S8 powered with a $2700 Plinius 9200 integrated and then a $3000 Krell xi4000 integrated. They both sounded nicely matched for this speaker. I'm sure people would appreciate it if you matched speakers with similarly priced components. The units you used have no meaning to the average consumer -- and this should be part of your concern when writing reviews. Cover both -- the high-end, "money as no object" and then the more moderately priced and matched equipment that most of us average folk can afford.

Ron McNames

I understand your point, and agree with it in principle. We do arrange reviews based on the each writer's reference system. However, there are obvious issues involved with owning electronics in essentially every price range, even for reviewers: cost and space. In the case of the Signature S8s, I could have sent them to a reviewer whose system more closely matched that in which the speakers would be used, but I knew that my reference electronics were certainly no hindrance to the speakers and would definitely help me discover their sound. Also, I have reviewed a number of speakers in the S8s' general price range and therefore was perhaps the best person on our staff to write about them....Marc Mickelson

Wharfedale or...?

June 9, 2006

Doug Schneider,

I found your e-mail address at the bottom of a 2002 review of a bookshelf speaker and was hoping you wouldn't mind giving me some quick advice. I'm looking for a pair of bookshelf speakers (new or used) and had read favorable articles about the Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 (or 9.2) for about $350 a pair. I was curious if you were familiar with these speakers and if you recommend something else over them in the same price range.

Dan Diamond

I’m not sure which review of mine you were reading, but I’ve reviewed plenty of bookshelf speakers and can actually recommend quite a few in your price range. Unfortunately, I haven’t reviewed any of the Wharfedale models, but I’ve reviewed speakers from Athena Technologies, Axiom, Energy, Mirage Paradigm, and PSB. All of these companies have good speakers that fall into that price range. Sorry I can't point you toward one speaker; I definitely suggest looking all of the brands I mention in order to get the best speaker for your money....Doug Schneider

"...a serious upgrade"

June 7, 2006

To Philip Beaudette,

Your review of the Revel F12s was the most relevant and timely audiophile article I have ever read, and I'm not just buttering you up! I'd be very appreciative of your perspective. I also started this hobby in college, and we seem to share the identical tastes in music.

After many years of enjoyment, I've decided to invest in a serious upgrade. My system is:

NAD 705 receiver
PSB Century 300 speakers
Sony DVP-NS900V CD/SACD player

I'm thinking of using my NAD receiver as a preamp only and jumping into a Bryston power amp. My dealer has a set of PSB Image T45s on sale, which I was loosely thinking would work nicely. My "guy," being a salesman, has me nearly convinced me that stopping short of the Bryston 4B SST would be cutting myself short. I'm becoming persuaded the more I research it.

So what do I do with speakers? His stock is limited at the moment. He has the Image T45s, the F12s, and one or two others in my price range, including Revel bookshelf speakers. When we finally negotiate price, the Revels will be about twice the price of the PSBs (on sale at $700 Canadian, which seems to be about market value, compared to his list price of $1699 on the Revels). What would you do? Are the Revels worth twice the price? I read a another review of them noting that they are basically the same as Infinity Beta 50s, but with better finishing.

I have a preference for Canadian stuff (I want to see the industry survive here) and it can be really difficult for me to test products. Dealers are limited here. I trust PSB; I like the rich sound, and I think my NAD receiver will last as a preamp for a while, until I upgrade again.

Advice? And, yes, I will put both speakers through long listening tests when I settle on an amp (which unfortunately has to be ordered for me).

Geoff Powell

There are a couple of things you mentioned in your e-mail that I would like to address. First, your e-mail is also timely because I have the PSB Image T45s in for review at the moment as well as the Bryston B100 SST integrated amplifier.

Regarding your choice of speakers, you really won't know what you want to get until you've heard both with the amp you select. I too have a soft spot for PSBs; they were my first pair of speakers. In my opinion, at their retail price, the T45s are a very good value. At $700 Canadian, they are an even better deal. That being said, the Revels F12s are also a great value, despite the fact they cost $1000 more. If your speaker budget is tight, your space is limited, and you like the PSB sound, I think you'll be very happy with the T45s. However, if you have a larger room or like greater bass weight (and don't mind their size) the Revels are a lot of fun. Both speakers sound great with all sorts of music, and I would happily own either.

What really struck me about your e-mail (and caused me to raise an eyebrow) was that your audio dealer insists you will somehow be missing something if you don't get the Bryston 4B SST. I think this is bad advice for a couple of reasons. First, both the PSB T45 and the Revel F12 are very sensitive (about 90dB anechoic) and have nominal impedance of 6 ohms. A 150Wpc amp (such as the Bryston 3B SST) will have no trouble driving either. Second, I had the good fortune of visiting the Bryston factory recently. During that visit, the people at Bryston informed me that their entire SST series is sonically identical, and that the differences are merely in power output (not sound). Even with 100Wpc, the B100 SST integrated I am reviewing has more power than I need for the PSB T45s. If you decide to buy the 3B SST, you can spend the $1000 you will be saving on the purchase of the Revels if you decide to go that route.

I advise you to read an article on GoodSound! called "Watts Up with Amplifier Power." You will see that doubling the number of watts doesn't provide as much of an increase in SPL as you might think. Have fun with your auditioning!...Philip Beaudette

Esoteric P-03 Universal

June 5, 2006


I just read your review of the Esoteric P-03/D-03  equipment and noticed that a P-03 Universal transport is available. It would be nice to be able to play DVD-As, but I was wondering if the added DVD circuitry would make the P-03 Universal less capable as a top-quality CD and SACD transport. Do you have an opinion, or would you reply with your best guess?

Gary Burke

I looked over the information on the P-03 Universal, and it appears that its DVD support comes via a completely separate circuit board, not a reworking of the P-03's base circuitry. This and the fact that Esoteric engineers pay great attention to sound quality will, I'm sure, make the P-03 Universal's audio performance identical to that of the P-03. SACDs have the same sector size, and use the same error correction and file system as DVDs, so Esoteric's VRDS-NEO mechanism can read both without modification....Marc Mickelson

"A Dissatisfied Mind"

June 2, 2006


Your editorial this month really hit home. I cannot say that I am done creating my system, but my current stage is one where I want to make sure that what I have sounds as good as it can. That is why I am considering GutWire cable raisers and Silent Running Audio platforms. I think that they will set my equipment "free."

Mike Doukas


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