[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
April 2008
 

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April 28, 2008

Editor,

I cannot for the life of me figure out any way to search your sites. Am I just completely missing it?

Michael Gerity

It's not obvious by any means -- we need to improve that. Use the Search feature on the SoundStage! Network site. This searches reviews only right now....Marc Mickelson


Axiom M22s and a sub?

April 25, 2008

To Doug Schneider,

I currently own a pair of Axiom M3 v2s. I am powering them with an Onkyo A-9555 integrated amp. I also have a Dayton Audio (Parts Express) 10” sub (the original Dayton sub, not the newer one). The M3s are connected to the speaker A terminals on the Onkyo, while the sub’s high-level inputs are connected to the speaker B terminals. The amp is then set to run speakers A+B. This allows the Axioms to run full range. I have the sub's crossover set pretty low -- around 50-60Hz. This combination of the M3s and the Dayton sub provides a remarkably full sound in my fairly large listening area. With well-recorded CDs, the sound is full and very authoritative.

Here is my question. I’ve got the upgrade bug, but I’m also on a budget. Axiom’s upgrade policy will allow me to trade in the M3s for credit toward a pair of M22s, which I can then purchase for $200. John Potis, in his 2001 SoundStage! review, praised the M22s and said they were more refined speakers than the M3s. Some, though, describe the M22s as being a little thin-sounding compared to the M3s. The M3s obviously have a slight bass hump that gives the perception of greater bass and a punchy sound.

How do the M22s sound with a sub? With a sub, would the sound be as full and authoritative as the M3s (with sub) and possibly compare to a good full-range floorstanding speaker?

If so, I figured I could get the M22s now and purchase a nicer sub in the future. I look forward to any feedback you can provide and also your experience (if any) with the M22s and a sub. I’m strictly a two-channel guy, BTW.

Rob Huntrods

I have not reviewed the M22, but I have enough experience with it to comment confidently. With regard to it being a more "refined" speaker, I'd instead say it's a more neutral speaker. Based on measurements -- see www.speakermeasurements.com -- the M22 is a more linear speaker with better-controlled dispersion and lower distortion. This balance, though, could be what makes the speaker sound "thinner" because the M3 is definitely voiced differently, with that hump you mention in the bass. In side-by-side comparisons, the M3 can sound warmer.

However, as you've found, adding a sub can change things immensely, and in terms of integrating a sub with the M22, it would probably take the same effort as with the M3. But now I'll make my most important comments, and you'll have to do with them what you decide.

The way you have your system set up, you're controlling the upper-end crossover frequency of the sub, but not the speakers. You're basically running your speakers full range and then hoping that their bottom end blends nicely with what you're doing with the top end of the sub. Depending on the speaker, that might work.

But there are typically better ways to do that, and that is to optimize the crossover of the speakers with the subwoofer. This can take a lot of work. In fact, if you want an exhaustive example of the depths with which one can go, I recommend you read Jeff Fritz's article on integrating a JL Audio sub with his Rockport Technologies speakers - it's in "The World's Best Audio System" section of Ultra Audio. His equipment is much more expensive than yours, but the principles are all the same.

In the end, what I'm saying is that you can likely get the M3s sounding remarkably good - perhaps much better than your M3s provide in terms of neutrality -- and with some careful tweaking you might be able to gain that touch of warmth, but it might take some work….Doug Schneider


Reterminate?

April 21, 2008

Editor,

I have a Cary CAD-300 SEI integrated amp and a Cary CDP-1 CD player. As you may know, the amp only has RCA inputs but the CD player has RCA and XLR outputs. At present I am using Nordost Frey RCA interconnects. I have been offered Nordost Tyr interconnects but with XLR connectors. If I buy the Tyr, am I able to reterminate one end to RCA, so I would be using the XLR to the CD player and the RCA to the amp?

Is this OK to do or am I thinking rubbish? If so should I reterminate both ends to RCA? Please give me your advice.

Paul Goodwin

I was never a fan of XLR-to-RCA adapters until I tried some from Purist Audio when I reviewed a set of cables last year. They worked extremely well -- I couldn't detect their presence. Instead of reterminating the interconnects, therefore, you could simply buy a pair of these adapters for one end and use the cable XLR to RCA. I don't see an issue with that, and I'm sure the adapters would cost less than reterminating the cable.

I believe Cardas makes these too, and while I'm sure they're good, I have no reservation about recommending the ones from Purist Audio because I've used them and not heard what they can do....Marc Mickelson


Ayre or Simaudio?

April 16, 2008

To Doug Schneider,

I have recently corresponded via e-mail with Marc Mickelson about the review of the Ayre Acoustics CX-7e CD player. After reading your review of the Simaudio Moon CD-1, a few more questions have come up.

Currently, I am looking to replace a very old Meridian 207 player. It still works, but it is time to upgrade. I have a decent analog front-end with Thorens TD125 Mk II and Linn LP12 turntables along with McIntosh solid-state electronics and speakers. They have some age on them as well, but have recently been brought into spec by McIntosh.

I started looking around a little over a year ago and was impressed with the Simaudio Moon CD5.3 and the Ayre Acoustics CX-7e. On a trip to Toronto a couple of weeks ago, I also saw the new Bryston BCD-1. As with most purchases, budgetary considerations and overall "bang for the buck" are factors. The prices on the Moon CD5.3 and CX-7e have increased since I first looked at them. I believe they currently retail for $3800 and $3400 respectively.

After reading your review of the Moon CD-1, it seems like an option worth considering for a lot less money. I am looking for smooth, detailed highs and midrange and tight, well-defined bass. The previously mentioned system is equalized, using a noise generator and a real-time analyzer to remove most of the negative effects of the room itself.

I will be able to compare the Moon CD5.3 and CD-1 at a store in town (Pittsburgh, PA), but I don't think I will be able to listen to them in my system. With your comments on the CD-1 in comparison to the SuperNova, what should I be looking for when comparing the CD-1 to the CD5.3?

Bill Thomas

When it comes to comparing components, I listen for the same sorts of things regardless of cost. In other words, I’d use the same criteria for the CD-1 versus the SuperNova as I would for the CD-1 to the CD5.3 or the CD5.3 to the SuperNova. Quite simply, I first listen for the differences, and when I determine that, I factor in cost and ask myself, “Is it worth it?”

Even though you can’t take the units at home, you can do a fine comparison in the store. My suggestion would be to do this: Take two sets of identical CDs to the store where you want to audition these components. Burn them using something like Exact Audio Copy if you need to. Hook up the CD-1 and CD-5.3 to the same integrated amp or preamplifier -- use the same cables, but use different inputs, obviously.

Likely, with both units coming from the same Simaudio design team, output levels will probably be the same, but, if not, level match them. This is important because it’s been shown in tests that listeners will often perceive a louder component as a better one. So, you must create a level playing field. Components like the Simaudio Moon Evolution i-7 integrated and P-7 preamplifier allow you to trim the level of each input so you can make them the same. I’ve created this exact setup to do comparisons a number of times. In fact, if the store's owner balks at you when you ask him to do this, show him what I’ve written here.

Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to roll and you can just flick back and forth between inputs and see which one sounds better to you. Once you determine that and have a good handle on what the differences might be (take a variety of music in there), then factor in the price and determine which one you’re the most comfortable buying….Doug Schneider


Thiel CS3.7 review?

April 10, 2008

Editor,

I am an avid reader of SoundStage! and enjoy your reviews specifically very much. I actually was very much influenced by your review of Thiel's CS2.4 loudspeaker in making that purchase. Unfortunately, I had paired up the Thiels with Musical Fidelity's A5 integrated and CD player, which, while highly resolving and a powerful combination, erred by being somewhat forward, aggressive and a bit bright. I have since subbed out my Musical Fidelity gear with Audio Research's LS26 preamp, Reference 110 power amp and the Reference CD7 CD player (again, largely owing to your reviews of ARC's Reference line, which prompted me to audition that equipment) and have achieved greatly enhanced musicality, tonal realism, balance from top to bottom, midrange bloom, and a wide and deep soundstage, without giving up dynamic control or the heightened transparency and resolution that Thiel speakers are known for.

While the upgrade in the electronics has made a world of difference, I can't help but think the CS2.4s now are potentially the weak link in the chain. So it is with this in mind that I am writing to find out if you have any plans to review Thiel's CS3.7. Given your experience with the '2.4s and the '7.2s, I suspect that the folks at Thiel would want you to be one of the first reviewers of their new speaker line. Given that it has been nine months since they started shipping the new product, it seems somewhat strange that a review of the '3.7s has not yet surfaced in one of the main audiophile-review channels.

I know there is a ton of politics when it comes to a marquee name with a new and much-awaited product, but I would be interested in any thoughts you may have on this. Also, what other speakers would you mate with ARC Reference source and amplification?

Cyril Malak

Yes, it is odd that there have been no reviews of the CS3.7 yet, because it is a highly anticipated product. I will write Thiel and inquire. Regarding other speakers to consider, a pair of Wilson Audio Sophia 2s or WATT/Puppy 8s would sound great with your ARC electronics, as would a pair of ProAc Response D38s or D80s. Audio Research has shown with Wilson and ProAc in the past, and the results were memorable. I use Wilson MAXX 2s here with your amp and preamp, and the sound is rich, spacious, and authoritative....Marc Mickelson


KAB Technics review?

April 8, 2008

Editor,

I see you got your hands on some KAB products to review. Are you guys thinking of jumping into the fray and reviewing a KAB Technics '1200 turntable? KAB does some pretty unique stuff for the '1200 -- custom silicon damper trough and an outboard PSU as well. I’m sure it would get a lot of interest if you guys reviewed one of their tricked out packages.

I’m running a somewhat-modded '1200. I used a stock Mk 5 unit, ripped the 'arm off and got the Origin Live armplate. I have a modded RB300 'arm (wiring and counterweight stub) and I love it!

David Dowdell

I may ask about a 'table down the line, but as far as I know, Kevin Barrett of KAB has a hard time modding enough 'tables to sell. Such a turntable would have to covered by the right writer -- someone with great interest in the 'table and mods. Perhaps it's a subject for our "D-I-Why & How" column....Marc Mickelson


"Pricing and Perspective"

April 3, 2008

To John Crossett,

I'm still shaking my head in agreement with your "Pricing and Perspective" article from this past February. I am a new manufacturer of Double Mouth BLHs, and my experience with the existing dealer base has not only been eye-opening but head-scratching as well. Our "value off the charts" philosophy and mission are not welcome at all. Not even the least bit. "Why should I sell your large speakers when I can make more money selling this pair I can fit under my arm?" and words to that effect are what I hear. "See those speakers over there?" "They are $16,000, and when I sell a pair, I make $8000." You could have knocked me over with a feather when I heard that, and it was a brand of speaker that I truly like and have had a lot of respect for, because of the company's "real-world" pricing/value equation.

This paradigm shift that is taking place in my thought process is no small enlightenment. I would only offer that, from what I can gather so far in my limited experience, is that not all the blame can be placed on the manufacturers. After all, they want to sell as many units as they can to get the word out. So far, it's been my experience that the dealers need to take a second look at the money they think they need to make to get ahead. Far be it for me to tell a man what he feels he's worth, but I can tell you that a major force behind this industry losing its value and keeping new people from getting in rests partly on end-marketing design and practices.

In my humble opinion, it is the majority of the current dealer base that has lost some touch with the industry it serves and has its time wasted by folks who come to listen to new products but, due to inflated prices, run to the Internet to purchase.

I hope to see more articles like this in the future, and maybe then, and only then, will things start to improve.

Jeff Carder

 

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