[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
February 2008

Cool at the Union

February 28, 2008


I'm a longtime reader of SoundStage! (I own a Warner Imaging amp and Merlin VSM SEs if that helps!) also from Madtown.I'm an ’89 Memorial grad myself. Shorewood Pool and Bagels Forever were my summers.You? If you had sisters who took any dance lessons, they studied under my dad at the Madison School of Ballet.

Anyway, thanks for the tip on Cool at the Union in your Music Hall MMF 5.1SE review. I’ll keep my eyes out for it. And I assume there’s some local flavor in the way of Rathskeller beer. Man, that town is fun in the summer, no?

Thanks for being out there on the Internet. I still read religiously, while my system hasn’t been tweaked in many, many years. A four-and-a-half--year-old and two-year old take up most of our time!

Peter Zana

Good to hear from a fellow Madisonian. I was a lifelong East Sider, but I lived on campus for a couple of years -- five blocks from State Street.

Cool at the Union is not easy to find, but tracking it down is worth the effort. I saw a copy on eBay a few months ago, but it's gone now. Lots of Madison references in the title cut -- the Memorial Union, the Library Mall, Cecil's Sandals, Free for All, and Ella's Deli. I'm not sure there's anything better in life than sitting on the Union Terrace on a warm summer afternoon. Cheap beer, sunshine, darting boats on Lake Mendota. Ah, the memories....Marc Mickelson

Paradigm or Usher?

February 25, 2008

To Doug Schneider,

I'm in the process of buying a new pair of loudspeakers. As my listening room is small, I'm looking at minimonitors.

I read your reviews of the Usher Audio Technology Be-718 and Paradigm Reference Signature S2 v.1 loudspeakers. As a new model of the Paradigm speaker is out (v.2) with a beryllium tweeter, I wonder which is the best between these two. My amplifier is an Italian Norma IPA-100R, 120Wpc into 8 ohms.

Giuseppe D'Agata

Your question is a good one that I actually get quite often. In other words, you're not the first to ask about this exact same thing.

I reviewed the Be-718, S2 v.1 and S1 v.2 but, unfortunately, not the S2 v.2. It's this comparison that everyone in the world seems to want to know because it's the Paradigm v.2 models, not the v.1s, that have the new beryllium-dome tweeter. I think the only way to solve this is to get in touch with Paradigm and see if I can get an S2 v.2 in for review. Stay tuned....Doug Schneider

Signature S1 v.2s and a sub?

February 22, 2008


I am extremely interested in your comment about a using a subwoofer with Paradigm Signature S1 v.2 speakers. I have heard the speakers and truly was amazed. I would love to pair them up with two JL Audio Fathom 113 subwoofers for my main system. I hope you can pull off your follow-up in the near future. Just an amazing speaker for the money. You should see them on their dedicate 31" stands. They really look great.

David Keys

There seem to be a lot of fans of JL Audio subs these days, particularly here on the SoundStage! Network. I know that editor Jeff Fritz and reviewer Randall Smith both own them.

In terms of my follow-up, though, I'm going to wait to see what Paradigm offers in the near future. To me, mating speakers to a sub from the same company makes the most sense. Furthermore, from what I've heard, Paradigm is right now working on a subwoofer that will complement the S1 v.2 visually and sonically....Doug Schneider

KEF or Paradigm?

February 19, 2008

To Doug Schneider

I am a non-audiophile looking for some good sound in a study. Because the speakers have to go into a bookshelf, I was told to eliminate rear-ported speakers. I wound up focusing on the Paradigm Signature S1 v.2 (sealed) and the comparably priced KEF XQ 10 (front-ported). One problem: There is no place near me that has both. So they each sound great when I listen to them separately, but I have no ability (both because they are not in the same place and because I lack the necessary skills and memory) to compare them.

Then I stumbled on the coincidence that you reviewed (and liked) the Signature S1 v.2 and KEF's big brother, the Reference 201/2, about a month ago. Have you ever considered the Signature S1 v.2 and the XQ10 together? If so, what are your thoughts?

Bruce Bennett

Whoever told you to avoid a rear-mounted port for a speaker situated in a bookshelf is probably right. If the speaker is placed too close to the wall or there are other obstructions, this arrangement will likely cause problems. Going with a sealed or front-ported design is best for that application.

Obviously, I think that the S1 v.2 is an outstanding choice, and I continue to be amazed at just how good these little gems from Paradigm are. On the other hand, I have seen those KEF XQ10s at shows, and I certainly took note of them. Furthermore, given my impressions of the 201/2 and how impressed I am with how far KEF has taken the Uni-Q driver technology, I can't blame you for seriously considering the XQ10s. However, I've never critically evaluated that speaker or any others in that line, so I can't offer any concrete suggestions as to which way you should go.

Therefore, let me suggest that you take another listen to each of them with familiar music and re-evaluate how much you like them. Obviously, it's best to do it at the same place so you can compare them back to back. However, that's not always practical or even possible. But, if you listen to each and find that you enjoy both just as much, then I can't imagine you'd be unhappy with either speaker. One thing I've learned in audio after all this time is that although it's important to compare one product to another, it can be a never-ending saga, given how many products are on the market and how many new ones keep coming out. Therefore, it's sometimes best to do all that you can to make a good decision and then, after you do, you simply enjoy listening to whatever you buy and don't look back....Doug Schneider

Which integrated?

February 12, 2008

To Vade Forrester,

You reviewed the Opera Consonance Cyber-10 Signature and wrote a sidebar on the Raysonic SP-100. Could you tell me how you think they compare to each other? Just inferring from what you wrote about both, I gather that you feel the Raysonic is the superior integrated amp. Am I correct? I am actually looking at the Cyber-10 Signature, and the 11Wpc it gives are plenty for my speakers, so power isn't a concern.

Brian Young

In stock form, I did indeed prefer the Raysonic integrated. It was wonderfully smooth and rich, while, in my system, the Cyber-10 Signature sounded very slightly etched. After I reviewed the Cyber-10 Signature, the UK distributor for Opera Consonance products contacted me and confirmed that my description was accurate; however, he said he found that replacing the Electro-Harmonix 2A3 tubes with Full Music tubes (distributed in the US by Sophia under their brand name) made a big improvement. I've tried both tubes in 2A3 SET amps and suspect he's right. But that would elevate the price of the Cyber-10 Signature considerably, unless you work out an arrangement with your dealer....Vade Forrester

Amp for Usher speakers

February 8, 2008

To Doug Schneider,

I enjoyed reading your review of Usher Audio Technology Be-718 speakers. I got them recently and I have to say that they really need a sufficiently powerful amplifier. I have Bel Canto DAC3 and e.One M300 mono amplifiers -- power output: 150W into 8 ohms. I am not sure that I have enough power. Do you think that this is sufficient, or I would be better off with Bel Canto REF1000 mono amplifiers -- power output: 500W into 8 ohms.

Ljubisa Spasic

The Be-718s are not that sensitive, but they're not the least sensitive speakers I've reviewed. I would think that 150Wpc would be sufficient; the 150Wpc Simaudio Moon Evolution i-7 was more than sufficient for me. However, amplifier-output ratings do vary some when it comes to driving speakers in the real world, rather than test devices in a laboratory. Therefore, perhaps there's something there. Also, required output will vary depending on room size and desired  listening levels. If you have a large room and you like to play music pretty loud, you'll need more power.

My thinking, then, is that if you feel your M300 amplifiers aren't up to the task and they're crapping out (i.e., distorting or you simply can't go louder), then you might need a more powerful amplifier. Given the ratings of the REF1000s, I can't see why you'd need any more power than they provide....Doug Schneider

Praise for Joe Cassady & the West End Sound

February 4, 2008

To David Cantor,

I'm an old guy, 59, and thanks so much for reviewing this album. Your review is dead on. I've been following Cassady's music for a while and have bought this new album. I'd like to add that it's one of the most mysterious albums I've heard since Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home. It's not the same, but it sends the same identical shiver up my spine -- very, very rare now, except when listening to Bach or Mozart.

Rich Reitz


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