[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
August 2006


ARC Reference CD7?

August 18, 2006


I always enjoy your reviews. I find them most helpful because you always give us a point of reference -- comparisons to your references, many of which I am familiar with. I noticed that you have the Audio Research Reference CD7 in your component group.  Will you be giving us a review of this one soon?

Bill Thompson

I do have an Audio Research Reference CD7, and we will be reviewing it at some point. I won't be writing the review, but I will likely provide a sidebar. Stay tuned....Marc Mickelson

Help with a "speaker quest"

August 16, 2006

To Philip Beaudette,

I enjoy reading the reviews from the SoundStage! Network and letters from readers like myself. I need help with regard to my speaker quest. I listen to 80% music and 20% movies.

The quest started about 18 years ago with KEF C-20 bookshelf speakers. They were my introduction to hi-fi and the audiophile bug. After deciding I wanted greater frequency extension, I purchased a subwoofer. I didn't like the bookshelf-speaker-and-subwoofer combo for music. I sold the KEFs and purchased Paradigm Monitor 7s and 9s, but they didn't do the trick. Flash forward many years. I have gone through PSB 2Bs and Stratus Minis, and now Athena ASF2.2s.

I currently own the Athenas. They are fantastic for movies, but they don't seem to quite do it for all my music-listening needs. Should I keep them for movies and buy another speaker like the PSB Image B15 or B25 for music or sell the Athena's and find another full-range speaker like the PSB Image T45 that you have recently reviewed? My primary interest is music, from classical, jazz, and blues, to rock, pop, and techno. What is your opinion of the Athena AS-F2.2 versus the PSB Image T45, and what do you suggest I do?

Scott Carr

First, let me say that I've never listened to the Athena AS-F2.2, so I can't compare it to the PSB Image T45. However, I think you've already made up your mind about what speakers you want. If you keep the Athenas and buy a PSB bookshelf speaker (Image B15 or B25) for music, you'll have a speaker you'll likely be satisfied with for music (I'm assuming you've been happy with the PSBs you've owned in the past). One thing bookshelf speakers won't do is produce really deep bass. Since you also indicated the importance of having a full-range loudspeaker for music, you might be happier with the T45s; they play deeper than bookshelf speakers. As usual, there is no substitute for bringing a handful of your favorite CDs to an audio shop and listening for yourself. You may end up discovering a different loudspeaker you really enjoy that you hadn't even considered before....Philip Beaudette

New from NSM

August 14, 2006

To Doug Schneider,

I read your review of the NSM Model 5 and wanted to inform you that NSM has come out with a new Model 5 and also a Model 5 SE (new tweeter plus cap and resistor changes). Because more speakers pass through your door than mine, do you know of minimonitors that perform close to or better than this company's? I'm not denigrating their products, just looking for other possibilities in the Internet world.

Dave Pavlik

I’ve liked many of NSM’s products in the past, and because of your e-mail I just checked out their site. The Model 5 sells for $395 and the new SE version sells for $495. In the world of high-end audio, that’s a pretty reasonable price. However, while reasonable, they have a lot of competitors, and I don’t think that any one manufacturer’s product is the only one to buy in this price range, or in almost any price range. There are always going to be competitors, and since no speaker is perfect no matter how much money you spend, you’re likely to find qualities in one speaker that aren’t exhibited in another. So, although I could rattle off a dozen or so brand names off the top of my that you should check out, I recommend that you simply start looking around the Internet at all the products that are offered today and research what best fits your needs….Doug Schneider

Cartridge selection

August 7, 2006

To Jason Thorpe,

Can you help me select a cartridge for the Pro-Ject Xpression II turntable? (I was interest firstly in the Rega P3, the Sota Moonbeam, and the Clearaudio Emotion.) Names like Grado, Clearaudio, Dynavector, Ortofon and a host of others have befuddled my search and decision. While my Denon surround receiver calls for an MM, people tell me I can use a high-output MC as well.

Kindly give me a few choices (middle of the road in terms of cost -- i.e., no more than $400).

Leonard Bloom

Good choice on the 'table. It's a honey of a deck, and for the price I don't think you can do much better. As far as cartridges go, your choices are legion, but there are a couple that stand out.

The lowest-priced cartridges that I can heartily recommend are the Clearaudio Wood Classic which retails for just over 200 smackers and the Ortofon MC15 which is only $50 more. Either of these would keep you happy for a long while, although I lean toward the former of the two as it's just a leetle bit more lively.

Slightly further up the scale, don't rule out an extra $100 over your budget for the Ortofon Rondo Red, which is the little brother of the Rondo Blue that I reviewed a little while back. I found that the Blue was a stunning match to the Pro-Ject Xperience 'table when I reviewed it back in April. As you go up in price in the Ortofon line, you get an additional healthy dose of refinement that's commensurate with the increase in cost. These guys have been making cartridges for a long time, and it sure shows.

The Linn Adikt is another high-output standout and it's also squarely within your price range.

There are more cartridges available out there than you can shake a stick at, but these are the ones with which I have personal experience. I can't imagine that you'd be unhappy with any of them....Jason Thorpe

"Show me the way, Doug!"

August 2, 2006

To Doug Schneider,

I’ve read that you’ve listened to and reviewed more speakers than just about anybody else on the planet. Here’s my dilemma: I need a pair of great-sounding, very accurate, neutral nearfield monitors for my control room I have just built. The dimensions are 11’x14’ with an 8’ ceiling. The room has been treated extensively with RealTraps and diffusers for tonal balance.

My problem is auditioning speakers. I live in a very rural part of Missouri where there is really no place to audition speakers. I went to Guitar Center, but they only have monitors like Event, M-Audio, Mackie, etc. I wasn’t impressed.

My main speakers in my rec room (doubles as a listening room) are B&W Matrix 3s. Now I need some nearfields for my control room. My budget is up to $3000.

I have a Perreaux PMF-3150 amp rated for 300Wpc in the control room. I know there are some great monitors out there that most of the pro-audio world has never heard of, but because I can’t audition them, I have to rely on reviews written on the Internet. Some speakers that have piqued my interest include:

System Audio SA-2K (used about $1400)
NHT A-20
nOhr 9.0 (using the revelator woofer and tweeter)
ProAc Tablette 2000 signature

Show me the way, Doug!

Torsten Kluge

I doubt that I’ve listened to more speakers than anyone on the planet, but I’ve listened to a lot, especially minimonitors.

If you want something "neutral," then that means you want something that measures relatively flat, both on- and off-axis. Now, in order to determine that, the speaker has to be measured -- this can't be discerned by ear. Not only that, it has to be measured accurately. For example, it’s nearly worthless to prop up a pair of speakers on your backyard fence in a noisy neighborhood and try to attain an accurate measurement from them. Some still try. What we do, though, is measure speakers at Canada’s NRC, which has a properly sized anechoic chamber allowing for ideal measurement conditions. We publish these online at www.speakermeasurements.com. From that, you will likely be able to strike a number of speakers off your list. For example, we have measured nOhr speakers, and they’re anything but flat. NHT, on the other hand, tends to make speakers that are far flatter.

In terms of my opinion, I, too, like neutral speakers. If I were in your shoes I’d check out speakers from ACI, Amphion, Ascend, Axiom, Energy, Paradigm, and PSB -- all of these companies make passive speakers that your amp should have no trouble driving, and they all have models that fall well into your price range.

Finally, since you have rather specialized "professional" needs, I would certainly check out one new line of speakers that have recently come to market -- Energy Pro. I wrote about their speakers on our SoundStage! A/V sister site in June. Their new active speakers, in particular, look very interesting, and you wouldn’t even have to use your amp!

I hope that I’ve given you ideas to help you in your search….Doug Schneider


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