[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
October 2006


Why no RC for Opera M12s?

October 26, 2006

To Vade Forrester,

I enjoyed your review of the new Opera Consonance M12 speakers. As you noted, they a throwback to the "Voice of the Theater." Since you seemed to really like them, I wondered why you didn't nominate them for a Reviewers' Choice nod. There can't be that many 97dB-sensitive speakers for under $6000 per pair.

David Vair

I considered nominating the M12s for Reviewers' Choice status, but I ultimately decided not to do so based on the minor problems I observed with soundstaging. Since I wrote the review, I've had a chance to use the speakers with Dual Connect cables, which have further improved the soundstaging (yeah, really, especially the depth). If I'd had those cables available for the review, I'd probably have considered the speakers a Reviewers' Choice. The cables also improved performance in many other areas, such as dynamics and tonality. Too bad the cables are a bit pricey, but that's life for an audiophile! It's also why being a reviewer is a negative-cash-flow operation....Vade Forrester

"Do audiophiles just plain not like the sound of B&W loudspeakers?"

October 19, 2006

To Philip Beaudette,

I have an old pair of Boston Acoustic 1000 speakers. They are driven by an old pair of Adcom 555 separates with a Denon CD player. I listen to music in a separate room from the television. I just like to listen to the music by itself. I'm not much of a jazz or rock fan. I listen to mostly classical played at low volume levels.

I'm looking to upgrade my loudspeakers. I've visited a store in Salt Lake City that sells mostly B&W loudspeakers and Rotel electronics. I like the sound of the B&W 600-series speakers, which are in my price range.

I read a lot of amplifier reviews. I have never read a review where B&W loudspeakers were used as the reference. Lots of other speaker brands are used as the reference, but never B&W. Ruark, Axiom Audio, Spendor, Rogers, Mordant-Short, just to name a few, but never, ever B&W. Do audiophiles just plain not like the sound of B&W loudspeakers? Should I look elsewhere for loudspeakers? I would appreciate any information that you would be willing to share with me.

Gary C. Kunz

First, never make a purchase simply because somebody else likes the sound. Second, continue what you have started and listen to more speakers. Make a point of finding another speaker you like as much or even more than the B&Ws. You will learn a great deal about sound and your own preferences in its reproduction. Plus, you're making a purchase you want to enjoy for many years, so it's worth your time to look (and listen) now. Don't forget that you heard the B&W 600s with Rotel electronics. Bring your own electronics to the store (or better yet, bring the speakers home for an audition in your own room) to hear how they sound. Your Adcom and Denon electronics will obviously have a strong impact on what you hear at home with any speaker.

Finally, I don't think B&W gets too many negative reviews in the press. Check out the review on Ultra Audio of the B&W 802D as well as reviews of the new 800 series in some the British magazines. They've been well received….Philip Beaudette

"...looking to buy a good-quality two-way speaker"

October 13, 2006

To Doug Schneider,

I just read your review of the Focus Audio FS-788. I am looking to buy a good-quality two-way speaker. I live in Taiwan and have two options: buy the FS-788s here, or order Merlin VSM-MMs from the US (it's more expensive).

Have you ever listened to the Merlins? From their specification, do you think the Merlin VSM-MMs and FS-788s share same sound quality, or is the Merlin much better? I now own Focus Audio FS-688s, a VAC Avatar Super integrated amp, and Electrocompaniet EMC1UP CD player.

Haim Schindler

It sounds like you have a very good system now, and those Focus Audio FS-688 speakers you currently own are really quite special. Any new two-way speaker you are looking for has big boots to fill in order to better those.

As for what you’re considering, I have heard both speakers, many times. My own personal preference is with Focus Audio FS-788, by far. They use the ScanSpeak Revelator tweeter (as does the ‘688), and to my ears it provides one of the sweetest-sounding and pristine top ends that you’ll hear anywhere. Furthermore, Focus Audio’s speakers come in beautiful high-gloss finishes that look spectacular. In fact, I’m looking at a pair of Focus Audio speakers in my own room right now and admiring their finish. I’m reviewing their Master 2.5 model, and that review will appear on our Network in the next couple of months.

So, now you know what I think. Let me know how your shopping goes….Doug Schneider

"...wire transfer $47,000 to my bank account!"

October 10, 2006

To Doug Schneider,

Life can be tortuous, very tortuous!

Six years ago I could afford a system like that from Aurum Acoustics (with some physical defensive maneuvers to protect me from my wife), but, as fate would have it, I can barely afford the optional Cardas power cords nowadays.

Reading your simple review, apparently written with much apparent haste, devoid of so much audiophile terminology -- but to the point -- reminded me how much I enjoyed my very modest high-end rig in better days. It also reminds me how much audiophilia nervosa distracts from the total enjoyment of the experience.

At one point I had over twelve 75-ohm digital interconnects to “alter” the sound of my Theta transport and DAC, eight pairs of interconnects (all different brands), and at least seven pairs of speaker cables. You are blessed to have found all-in-one high-end audio nirvana.

Forget about the system’s simple looks, for God’s sake, and wire transfer $47,000 to my bank account!

An impoverished (but loyal) reader,

Jaime Ballester

"Speaker upgraditis"

October 6, 2006


I purchased a Rotel RA-1062 integrated amp about a month ago and paired it with some Monitor Audio Silver RS1 bookshelf speakers. I should have done my homework a little better. What I thought would be a good combination turned out to be both dull and bright.

I returned the Rotel, spent a few hundred dollars more, and purchased a demo Classé CAP-101 integrated. My speakers sparkle again. Having this great amp in my possession, though, has given me symptoms of speaker upgraditis. Any recommendations as to some bookshelf speakers that would complement this superb amp? Oh yeah, I'd like to keep it at or under a thousand bucks if possible, new or used.

Steve Anders

This is the sort of question that you'll get 1000 answers to if you ask 1000 people. Because you're asking me, I would recommend the Energy RC-10s, which are only $550 per pair but look and perform like they cost much more.

If you would consider floorstanding speakers, Axiom has a few models that will cost you less than $1000....Marc Mickelson

ARC LS26 review?

October 5, 2006


Thanks for the great reviews your online publication puts out. SoundStage! is one of a very small number of publications (online and print) that I can actually trust for unbiased coverage of equipment.

The Audio Research Reference 3 preamp received a great review from you guys, but its price tag puts it out of range of readers like me. Is there a way you can get your hands on the new ARC LS26 preamp? This unit is supposed to be very close in performance to the Reference 3 but at a little over half the cost.

Oscar E. Bermudez

I'll see what I can do....Marc Mickelson

Which cables?

October 3, 2006



I am in a bit of a dilemma. I am using a Roksan Kandy CD player with a Copland 405 integrated tube amp, and I unfortunately jumping between my Tannoy Super Red Monitor 12x and PSB Stratus Silver i speakers. With all the cable companies and high prices, I don’t know were to start on the cable chase, as it's impossible to try them all. What would you recommend for me to try?

Graham Kelly

The interconnects and speaker cables I recommend most often are those from DH Labs. They are inexpensive and very good; they are often all that anyone wants. Give 'em a try....Marc Mickelson


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