[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
January 2007


Paradigm Signature S2 v.2s?

January 26, 2007

To Doug Schneider,

About a year ago, I purchased a pair of the Paradigm Reference Signature S2s that you had reviewed so highly, and I'm very happy with them. As I'm sure you are probably aware, Paradigm recently announced a v.2 for the Signature line, which will now be using a beryllium-dome tweeter and cobalt-infused woofer. I was just curious if you had heard the new version of the speaker. If so, do you plan to review it? And do you know if an upgrade will be available for the v.1s?

Greg Clarke

I have not heard the new version yet, so I don’t know how they’ll compare. However, from what I understand from Paradigm, we’ll be getting one or more of the new Signature models in for review. Will they significantly outperform the originals? Stay tuned.

However, I can tell you this right now: There’s no upgrade available for the v.1 Signatures. Although the cabinets look largely the same, Paradigm is using some new drivers and, undoubtedly, there are some changes in the crossover as well to accommodate the new drivers. I would have hoped for an upgrade too - I still own a pair of the original Signature S2s - but often upgrades aren’t practical, or cost-effective, so I’m not really surprised there isn’t one in this case….Doug Schneider

"I have $500 to spend on a pair of bookshelf speakers..."

January 19, 2007

To Doug Schneider,

I have $500 to spend on a pair of bookshelf speakers (space constraints). Would you recommend the Energy RC-10s for a two-channel setup mainly for music? I'm looking for a versatile speaker that can play many genres of music: jazz, classical, salsa, alternative, dance even. Would you put this speaker ahead of those from Paradigm, PSB, NHT, even Polk Audio (not from the LSi series as I can’t afford them yet).

Would NAD or Cambridge Audio be a good choice for an integrated amp, or would a stereo receiver be the smarter choice, like a Harman Kardon 3480 or NAD C720BEE? Hmmm, what about the Yamaha RX-V659?

My big problem is that there are only Definitive Technology and Klipsch dealers on this island; neither do demos, so I'm just doing research and reading up -- it's not a good idea to buy "blind." I greatly value you input.

Steve Morris

I certainly do like Energy’s Reference Connoisseur RC-10. It not only received a Reviewers’ Choice nod but our Budget Leader end-of-the-year award, too. But it’s not the only speaker out there for $500. I know Paradigm and PSB both make excellent affordable speakers priced at that amount or less, and although I don’t know NHT’s lineup well, I do know enough to realize that they might have something, too. Basically, your options are close to endless (there are plenty of other companies as well), so I can’t tell you if the RC-10 is right or wrong. One more consideration is your desire for deep bass -- dance music often demands that. Should you be considering a larger floorstanding speaker or perhaps a small speaker with a subwoofer?

In terms of an amplifier, what I feel is a more important selection criterion than just going by those brand names alone is how much power the amp can deliver. Ironically, small speakers are usually inefficient speakers and, therefore, they need the right amount of power. As well, it’s easier to damage a pair of speakers by using an underpowered amplifier -- from clipping -- than one that is more powerful and where you’re not close to taxing it to its limits. Ultimately, though, how much power will be needed will depend on the speaker model, your room size, and, finally, how loud you like to play your music.

Therefore, your research certainly doesn’t end here. There are no right/wrong answers for your questions. On the other hand, audio shopping can be quite fun….Doug Schneider

"Recording in an Anechoic Chamber"

January 15, 2007


I just read Doug Schneider's very interesting "Recording in an Anechoic Chamber" in the January 2007 SoundStage!

The concept of "cascading rooms" is certainly one deserving of much thought by those of us interested in lifelike reproduction and by those of us who make recordings as well. Eliminating the "extra" room makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

In practice, however, we risk throwing out the baby with the bath water. As an avid listener as well as a recordist, I've given this very subject lots of thought. Let's look at both rooms and see how to maximize the experience when we listen.

First, the recording locale. One approach to getting rid of one of the rooms, as outlined in the article, chooses to do away with the recording room so it won't get superimposed upon the listening room. As a music lover, I'd have to ask myself which room is better suited for hearing a given performance. My personal choice would be to keep the recording room. For one, I can't fit a symphony orchestra or a large jazz band or a full-tilt rock ensemble into my listening room. As a listener, I find that an important component of the sound of each of these is the space in which the performance occurs. Auditoriums, galleries and churches offer more potential for the larger musical ensembles, and my preference would be to hear them in these locations.

With a smaller ensemble, say a folk soloist singing and playing guitar, perhaps the anechoic surroundings would be more suitable, but, here again, I'd probably go for a more spacious venue, simply because I find it "supports" the music and sound in a way I find more pleasing. Aside from issues of acoustic "support," unless we're talking about a soloist, there isn't enough room in my listening space. And if the soloist is playing a grand piano, that, too, in my view, requires larger volumes of air around the instrument.

I would wholeheartedly agree with the folks at Axiom if a typical recording studio was the site of the performance. I've been to and worked in many and have yet to hear an acoustic I'd prefer over a good performance space.

Now to the listening room. Deadening the listening room will certainly "eliminate" it from the sonic picture and in many ways make it much easier to hear the room that is contained in the recording. Here the problem is that in practice, a dead room sounds "dead" and feels constricting and uncomfortable for most listeners. I've found it better to deaden the early reflections in the room (with tight control of bass reverberation time as well) and leave the later reflections intact. This results in still being better able to hear the room in the recording without undue influence from the listening room, yet does not leave the listener uncomfortable, which I think we'd all agree is an important prerequisite for a good listening experience.

Part of what makes some of the great recordings great is the sound of the space in which they were recorded. To this end, for my own (new) label, all recordings will be done in locales selected for their acoustics -- never in a studio. The first release, Work of Art's Lift, was recorded in an old 18th-century church deep in the woods of upstate New York. When played back in a room where early reflections (and bass modes) have been attended to, the sound of the church is clearly audible, supporting the players and their instruments. (Those who wish to hear samples can visit the website at www.soundkeeperrecordings.com)

All that said, great article! Thank you.

Barry Diament

B60 SST or B100 SST?

January 5, 2007

To Philip Beaudette,

You did a marvelous review of the Bryston B100 SST integrated amplifier some time ago, and I was wondering if you had any opinions about the Bryston B60 SST. I am not knowledgeable about technical matters, but I'm an old man of 83 who just loves classical music. I had decided on the Bryston B100 SST in place of my NAD C370 integrated amp as a step up. It seems that the Bryston did a more credible job of throwing a wider soundstage, and from all I could get out of your review it would no doubt be an excellent amp for vocals, and I love in opera. Maybe you never did consider reviewing the B60 SST, but you might have an opinion. I suspect that it must be as good as the B100 SST except it is 60 watts instead of 100, but my Orsa speakers have a sensitivity of 88dB and I use an SVS SB12 Plus subwoofer, which ought to help out in the bass section anyway.

Do you have any comments? I like your reviews and trust your judgment.

Nolan Fremin

I suspect the B60 SST shares many sonic characteristics with the B100 SST, and although I've not listened to it, you should. The B100 SST was easily the best audio product I heard in 2006 and my only complaint with it is the fact I don't own one. I cannot overstate this: The B100 SST changed my perception of what is possible in sound reproduction. You said you like vocals. So do I, and with the B100 SST they were nothing short of glorious. In fact, B100 SST is pretty hard to fault across the frequency spectrum, provided you like hearing exactly what is on your CD and vinyl collection.

As for the B60 SST, its 60Wpc may very well be enough for your speakers. The only way I suspect the B60 SST may struggle is if you have a very big room or like to listen at extremely high levels. Our measurements of the B100 SST show that it actually puts out 140Wpc into 8 ohms and almost 200 into 4; the B60 SST is probably likewise conservatively rated. As a second consideration, you could take the money you save buying the B60 SST instead of the B100 SST and invest the savings in the onboard DAC (a $1000 option). Unless you own a very good CD player, at least consider this option. For what I consider a bargain price, the onboard DAC is a revelation in its own right....Philip Beaudette

Avalon review?

January 2, 2007


I enjoy reading your publication each month and respect the enthusiasm you show in your reviews. As a former Avalon speaker owner, I was wondering if you might consider reviewing the newest Avalon speaker, the Isis, a full-range floorstanding model. I haven't seen any Avalon reviews on your site, so if the stars align, this could be a good start!

Peter Kuntz

I've hoped to hear the Isis at a show -- it doesn't look like it will be CES, however -- so, yes, we'd certainly write about it if Avalon would provide a pair. We toured the Avalon factory a few years ago and were intrigued by what was saw and heard....Marc Mickelson


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