[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
November 2006


In praise of Silverline

November 24, 2006

To Doug Schneider,

Nice review of the PSB Platinum M2. I see you that compare it favorably to the Paradigm Reference Signature S2 and Focus FS68SE.These are all fine Canadian speakers that, along with Totem speakers and a few other lesser-known designs, make me proud to be a Canadian.

You consider these speakers to be the cream of the crop; however, right under your nose is, I think, a company that may make even better minimonitors, namely Silverline and the SR17 Mk III and slightly larger SR17.5. These speakers both use top-of-the-line Dynaudio drivers built to designer Alan Yun’s specifications. Another staff member reviewed the original version SR17 back in 1998; however, these speakers have been significantly upgraded since then and use the more recent and highly regarded Esotec-based drivers from Dynaudio. I would love to see a review of one of these updated SR17 models. Although they can be used on a small amp, even some SETs, they really come alive with 150 to 200 watts and obviate the need for a subwoofer in most applications. These small wonders are still in the affordability range for most audiophiles and are truly remarkable.

Bill McCallum

In praise of the Energy RC-10s

November 20, 2006

To S. Andrea Sundaram,

While in the process of looking for a fairly inexpensive speaker for bedroom use last month, I came across your excellent review of the Energy RC-10s of earlier this year. At the time I had tried the very inexpensive Energy C-series speakers (C-50s) and had decided to return them as they weren't acceptable (to my ears). I splurged and traded up to the RC-10s. After a few days' break-in period, I evaluated them and compared them to an older pair of Advent Maestros I have been using for the past 17 years in my living room (the latter are a 20-year-old three-way floorstanding design).

Although my equipment (14-year-old Philips Bitstream CD player and 70Wpc Yamaha receiver of the same vintage) is certainly not in the same league that you employed in your tests, I was able to determine that the RC-10s are very accurate, solid-sounding little speakers. They seem eminently suited for chamber music or small-ensemble-jazz recordings. With larger orchestral recordings, the Advents appeared to throw a noticeably wider soundstage; however, I'm not surprised by this conclusion, as the Maestros were always outstanding in this respect for their price ($800-$900 CDN). They were noted for being a very high-dispersion speaker -- if not as accurate as modern designs. The RC-10s' overall sound appeared to be more precise (lower distortion, perhaps?) with a more solid and well-defined upper bass, though the Advents played lower at the extreme (lower end of piano for example), and had a bit more air in the upper end. Oddly enough, the Advents also seemed to sound better with older, less-well-preserved or -restored pop and jazz recordings, especially at low or medium sound pressure levels.

Needless to say I did not return the RC-10s, and I am now enjoying some great chamber music as I drop off to sleep. Interestingly, I still marginally prefer the Advents for day-to-day listening in my living room, so I have to give some credit to the designers. Their relatively inexpensive design still sounds credible and very musical when compared to under-$1000 offerings by good modern manufacturers such as Energy.

As my Advents are sadly getting closer to their inevitable demise, I'll definitely be considering some of Energy's RC-series products (along with PSB and/or Totem products) to serve as their replacements at some future date. Thanks for steering me in the right direction with your review.

Don Jeffery

Energy RC-70 or...?

November 17, 2006

To Philip Beaudette,

I am writing from Turkey. Can you say that the Energy RC-70 is a good high-end speaker? I am asking this because I was considering the Klipsch RF-63, Energy RC-70 and Jamo D 450. I don't know if you have experience with the Klipsch or Jamo speakers, but could you please let me know your thoughts on them? I really want to make the best choice. I will be using the Energy RC-70, RC-10 and RC-LCR with a Yamaha RX-V1700 receiver.

What can you say about these speakers?

Ersen Enver

I've never listened to the Klipsch and Jamo speakers you mention, so I cannot compare them to the Energy RC-70s. As for whether the RC-70 is "a good high-end speaker," the answer is "Yes!" This is why it was named a Reviewers' Choice. The RC-70 is exceptional for the price. Considering its impressive build quality and the extraordinary amount of engineering/research that went into developing not only the RC-70 but the entire Reference Connoisseur line, you can rest assured you are purchasing a well-though-out, well-executed design. I really liked this speaker. You won't know if you'll like it unless you try it out first. If you're planning on buying a surround-sound system, perhaps you can convince your audio dealer to let you do an in-home audition. Only then will you know if the speakers' sound works well with your electronics and your listening preferences....Philip Beaudette

Made in China

November 13, 2006

To Doug Schneider,

I have a question and I figured it would be best to ask a pro like you. I am looking for a new pair of bookshelf speakers, and I was wondering if you would please give me your opinion. I have the opportunity to purchase a pair of Energy Connoisseur C-3s new in the box, but they are made in China. When Energy started to produce in China, did the build and sound quality suffer or are the speakers still the same quality as when they were made in Canada? Also, two other pairs I am considering are the Energy C-200s and JBL Northridge E50s. I am a previous owner of C-3s and they were a beautiful speaker, but due to finances I sold my whole system for my kids’ Christmas gifts one year when I was laid off and I have missed my C-3s since. I am a little skeptical because Energy is now producing overseas, but if you say that the same Energy quality is there, then I will take your word for it.

Could you please tell me which is a better speaker? And if none of these are worth considering now, could you please give me your recommendations in the price range of around $500?

Chuck Collard

Energy isn’t the only speaker company producing speakers in China; many companies are producing their products over there. In fact, if I had to guess, I’d say it’s more than half. Regardless, the key here is the build and sound quality. Did it change? From what I understand, it’s still the same. The only thing that changed was the price. When Energy started producing the speakers over there, the retail prices plummeted. Furthermore, I’ve visit the API factory many times (parent company of Energy, although recently API was sold to Klipsch), and when they turned their manufacturing over to China, they started using their former assembly lines for testing. The manufactured products were unpackaged in the Canadian facility and quality control was done there to ensure the products were up to spec. That impressed me because, well, outsourcing manufacturing anywhere can result in problems.

As for the C-200s and E50s, I’m not familiar enough with those speakers to give you any recommendations. However, if you want a general understanding of speakers in and around the $500 price range, make sure to also check out models from Paradigm, Axiom, and PSB….Doug Schneider

From a ProAc Response 4 owner

November 7, 2006


I own a pair of ProAc Response Fours, which I bought in 1997 and have been using ever since. Having recently read your review of your Response Fours, I was wondering if you were still using them and if not what you had switched to.

I stilll haven't heard anything that I like better, but, of course, I don't have the chance to listen to everything and wondered if you had found a speaker that you fell in love with the way you had the Fours.

Joshua Lerner

I sold my Response Fours years ago, not because I no longer liked them but because I was moving into a house with a smaller listening room. I have found speakers in the interim I like more, including various Wilson Audio WATT/Puppy models and the MAXX 2s. I still admire ProAc speakers, however. I wrote about the currently available Response D38s and speculated that if they had been around when I bought my Fours, I might have bought them instead. It has been a while since I've heard the Response Fours, but I'm sure they are still very good speakers, even as speaker technology has continued to creep forward....Marc Mickelson

A different kind of "critical listening"

November 3, 2006


I have found an old Tandberg 3001 tuner that sounds very nice with my Magnum Dynalab antenna, Spectral electronics and Wilson WATT/Puppy 7s. Last night, after finishing my share of the household chores, I was listening to my local jazz station, featuring the Tomasz Stanko Quartet's Soul of Things on ECM Records. Stanko's combination of rhythms and riffs are very soothing but never boring, and I was enjoying the experience very much, as it had been a hectic day and a slow commute home.

As expected from my nice system, I could imagine the four musicians in the darkened end of my listening room: Marcin Wasilewski on piano, Slawomir Kurkiewicz on double-bass, Michel Miskiewics on drums, and Stanko's terrific horn.

Then, at far stage left, in the kitchen, I could hear other sounds: My wife Patricia was talking quietly on the phone to her girlfriend while putting dishes in the cupboards. Murmur, murmur, murmur, clink, clink, murmur. At first I was annoyed, but then I realized two things. First, jazz is usually in a club, so background noise is part of the experience, and, second, I thought how nice it is to be living with Patricia, and just hearing some sounds of her life going on nearby.

John Etridge


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