Nakamichi 700ZXL

March 31, 2009

Editor,

I read your editorial on your saga about finding a Nakamichi 700ZXL cassette deck and its companion noise-reduction unit. I`m very sorry to hear there was irreparable damage to the unit. If your deck wasn't salvageable, would you be interested in selling the NR-100? I have a Nakamichi deck that could use a NR-100. You probably never got to the point of ascertaining whether the NR-100 did in fact work properly, giving Dolby C to the deck. Out of curiosity, does the NR-100 unit look decent? I know it has several patch cords coming off the plastic box that it's in.

Sorry again for your loss. Nakamichi made the best cassette decks in the world, and the 700ZXL was way up there. Losing a machine of that caliber is a major loss. The shipper should pay plenty!

Don LaMoure

After the shipping mishap with my Nakamichi 700ZXL, I sold the deck to one of the regulars on the Naktalk e-mail list. He had it fixed a second time and has added it to his collection. The NR-100 went with it. It was a rather plain-looking unit -- just a black box with patch cords coming from one end. As far as I know, the NR-100 worked, passing a signal without issue. The problems were with the 700ZXL itself....Marc Mickelson


First pair of "audiophile" speakers

March 30, 2009

To Garrett Hongo,

I live in Bermuda and I’m nearing the end of my search for my first pair of audiophile speakers. Unfortunately I’m a bit hamstrung in my quest in that I can’t audition anything. Transport costs and a 25% import duty mean I have just one shot at this!

I have narrowed my list to two front-runners: the AudioKinesis Dream Maker and Daedalus Audio Ulysses. I thought if I could identify a few people who have heard both that might help me make a better choice than by just flipping a coin. I saw from your Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2008 write-up that you have heard both speakers, and I wondered if you would spare a few minutes to share your impressions with me.

I have Atma-Sphere MA-1 Mk III amplifiers. I fell in love with them, and I'm trying to find speakers that match well with them, which is what led me to the Dream Maker and Ulysses. My new room is being built and will be 25' x 17' x 9'. I'm leaning to the Dream Makers, mostly because they were designed to work well with Atma-Sphere amplifiers. Two-channel performance is much more important to me than home theater, and it seems that both can be integrated together, so your views on stereo performance are very important to me. I'm planning on running a music server and have KCI Silkworm interconnects and Straley Reality speaker cables. I was thinking of a Dodd Audio preamp.

At this point, it’s a two-horse race. I know I can't really make a mistake with either of these speakers -- it might just be a matter of taste. Would you feel that way? If so, how would you describe the differences? Would one or the other integrate with the MA-1 Mk III's better?

Will Howell

I heard the AudioKinesis Dream Maker with Atma-Sphere OTL electronics -- the excellent Atma-Sphere S-30 Mk III stereo amplifier and MP-1 Mk III two-box preamplifier, plus Magnan cables, which are outstanding. The player was the Resolution Audio Opus 21. Atma-Sphere electronics are invariably transparent, liquid, clean, and very pure in sound. The Dream Maker was fabulous. In fact, I haven't not liked any of Duke LeJeune's speakers. The only issue is size (and number, if we're talking the Swarm subwoofer).

I heard the Daedalus Ulysses with two different sets of electronics -- the Clayton class-A solid-state amp, S-100, and preamp, and the Manley Neo-Classic 250 amps and Gill Audio Alana preamp along with the Gill Elise DAC. Cables I think were Lotus New Generation by Dynamic Design. They were very good too. With both sets of electronics, the sound was warmish, resolving, airy, and not quite romantic in the midrange but approaching that.

For me, with as much choral music I listen to, I might choose the Dream Maker, but only with Atma-Sphere electronics. In fact, my choice might run to Atma-Sphere first, then look at appropriate speakers. If I've more conventional electronics, I might go for the Daedalus Ulysses.

I spoke to a dealer who sells the Daedalus Ulysses and said, contrary to what you might think, given the speaker's sensitivity and excellence with tube amps, that it really loves power -- solid-state monoblocks. This suggests to me that the Ulysses is extremely adaptable to both tube and big solid-state power. The Dream Makers, however, might be optimized by the Atma-Sphere M-1 Mk IIIs. And that may be your answer right there, since you do indeed possess those wonderful Atma-Sphere amps!...Garrett Hongo


The right interconnects?

March 27, 2009

Editor,

I see from your reviews that you've written about a lot cables. Can I ask your opinion on one question I ask myself? I'm using Shunyata Antares interconnects between my YBA CD1 player and Artemis Labs LA-1 preamp. An Audio Research VS110 is the amp, and this drives Verity Audio Rienzi speakers. I find the Antares to be so natural-sounding and noise free but, as you say in your review, a little light on the bottom. I'm trying to find a replacement for $3000, but I simply can't find anything. My plan B is to go with Siltech's SQ110 or SQ770i, which are fantastic wires but just don't come close to the Antares' natural blend.

Do you have any idea on where I should look to replace those Antares, or should I leave 'em in my system and work around them?

Thanks for all those very useful reviews!

Luc Robillard

Given that you like Shunyata Antares in every way but the bass, it seems smart to investigate the Shunyata Aeros-series interconnects, which are the company's latest offerings. The Aurora-IC I reviewed is quite a bit more than $3000, but Shunyata also has the Stratos-IC and Cirrus-IC in the same line, and these cost less. Siltech is probably a good choice in terms of a "natural" sound, but I've not heard the company's lastest cables, so I'm not sure where they fall sonically. Still, seeking out the latest Shunyata interconnects that are in your price range seems like the place to start....Marc Mickelson


Mono with stereo, stereo with mono?

March 26, 2009

Editor,

I noticed that a few of my albums are mono. Can I play them with a Dynavector XX2 stereo cartridge? Or can they only be played with a mono cartridge? Can I play stereo albums with a mono cartridge?

Michael Doukas

You can play mono LPs with your stereo cartridge. However, they will sound their best with a mono cartridge, which mimics the action of the mono cutting head. I am a huge fan of mono playback of mono LPs. The purity and directness are addicting. Playing stereo LPs with a mono cartridge would likely damage the LPs to some extent because of the mono cartridge's reduced vertical compliance....Marc Mickelson


Which CD player?

March 25, 2009

Editor,

I corresponded with you in April 2008 regarding my quest for a new CD player. I got a bit sidetracked, but I am now back in the hunt. The two players that I am most interested in are the Meridian G08.2 and the Naim CD5x. With the latter, I would also be considering an outboard power supply. My available cabinet space would force me to the High Cap. The recommendation of an outboard power supply on what is considered an upmarket unit (if you really want it to sound its best) is a little bit much.

In any event, the Meridian is an upsampling unit, while the Naim CD5x is not. I have not been unable to find a dealer that handles both units, and I was curious if you have ever had the opportunity to compare the two. Two other units that I have interest in are the updated Ayre CX-7eMP and the Simaudio Moon CD5.3.

I have a very old Meridian 207 that I am replacing. As most of us are, I am looking for strong, well-defined bass and smooth, clear highs -- i.e., a vinyl-like presentation.

Bill Thomas

It doesn't often happen that someone will write me about equipment that I simply haven't heard, but you've done it. Well, not completely. I am familiar with the Ayre CX-7e, which I've heard in my system. It's a very good CD player, especially when used balanced, and it costs less than its competition. Regarding the others from Naim, Meridian and Simaudio, I simply haven't heard them, so I can't give you any feedback. I wouldn't worry about whether your chosen player upsamples or not. If anything, the players and DACs I've liked most haven't upsampled, although I've heard some that do and sounded very good. Just let your ears lead you without concern for technology and you won't go wrong....Marc Mickelson


Cerwin-Vega speakers "forward-sounding"?

March 24, 2008

To Vade Forrester,

That was a very well written and informative review of the Cerwin-Vega CLS-215 speakers! Are the CLS-215s forward sounding in any way? In your opinion, how powerful should the amp used with these speakers be?

Barry Borza

It's been awhile since I heard the Cerwin-Vega CSL215s, but I don't think they sounded particularly forward. Due to their high sensitivity, they don't require a hugely powerful amp. I used a 30Wpc amp that gave me all the volume I wanted in a large room. I'd think a 50-100Wpc amp would be fine unless you want to play your music at wall-bending levels....Vade Forrester


Which speaker?

March 23, 2009

Editor,

I hope you can take a a few minutes for me. I read your review of the Paradigm Signature 8 speakers from 2004. I live in a small town, and we have no high-end stereo shops near me in which to compare products. I used to own a Marantz solid-state quad amp. I am a baby-boomer -- the '60s and '70s ruled in cars, music, and love. I presently have 130W mono tube amps custom made by Peter Mcalister in Ontario. I have Paradigm Studio 60 speakers, but I want more. I am looking at Paradigm Signature 8 v.2s or Magnepan MG20.1s. Bass is important to me. I am a two-channel guy. Peter Mcalister is going to make me a tube DAC in the near future. For me, tubes rule.

I could use some good advice because I cannot test drive whatever speakers I end up with. So I hope you can help me out.

John Wilcox

You are considering two very good but very different speakers. Obviously, you know and like the Paradigm sound, and the Signature S8 v.2s are going to maximize that. You'll get greater bass depth and more refined treble -- among other things, I'm sure -- than with your Studio 60s. The MG20.1s are one of the great speakers on the market and an especially astute buy when you consider their price versus that of top-of-the-line offerings from other makers. The Magnepan ribbon tweeter is truly special, and the MG20.1s' speed and ability to render large-scale music realistically are just as special. But all of this comes at a price. You need a very large room for them because they are so physically large, and while they are a rather stable 4-ohm load, they do require ample power -- at least 100Wpc in my opinion. Tube amps are fine as long as they have triple-digit power output and can deliver it into 4 ohms without fast-rising distortion.

If I could pick between the Paradigm and Magnepan speakers without regard to cost, I'd choose the Magnepans, but that's assuming that everything is absolutely right for them. If not, the Signature S8 v.2s are the better option, and they cost thousands less too....Marc Mickelson


Speakers too big, room too small?

March 20, 2009

Editor,

I am using a Copland 405 integrated amp, a Copland 823 CD player and Tannoy SRM 12 monitors. Very enjoyable stuff! I am getting the feeling that the speakers may be a little too large for my room, which is 17' long by 11' wide by 7.5' high.

Do you believe that the speakers may be too large for the room? But if I were to change, what size speaker could breathe better in the room    without being too small? I was thinking of something the size of a Totem Mani 2. but the Tannoys drive very easily, so my Copland integrated seems quite powerful, but it may not be with the Totems.

Graham Kelly

Your room isn't exactly small, but your vintage Tannoy speakers are rather large, especially for speakers billed as "monitors." In your room, you could certainly get away with smaller floorstanding speakers like Paradigm Signature S6es or Merlin VSM-MXe's, although a pair of minimonitors, perhaps with a subwoofer to augment the bass, seems more logical. Totem speakers are known for their bass power, but they aren't particularly sensitive in general, so if your Tannoy speakers don't need a lot of power, you'll hear a big difference in terms of output capabilities with a pair of Totems. That doesn't mean you shouldn't consider them; it's just that you might need more amplifier power for them....Marc Mickelson


Desperately seeking a CD player

March 17, 2009

Editor,

It’s been about a year and a half since I last e-mailed you. Your reviews of the Audio Research Reference gear and Hydra V-Ray helped me decide on my system. Thank you!

If you recall, I have an Audio Research Reference 3 preamp and Reference 110 amplifier running Sonus Faber Guarneri Memento speakers. I also have a Hydra V-Ray with an Anaconda Helix power cord and a fully decked-out Linn LP12 turntable.

I would like to upgrade my CD player (I sold my Linn Ikemi last year). I don’t need SACD playback. Two-channel Red Book CDs are for me.

Which would you recommend? A new Bryston BCD-1, a used ARC Reference CD7 with updated power supply, or a new ARC CD5? I’ve read one review in a British magazine of the new CD5. It was very positive.

Have you done your CD5 review yet, or can you give me an idea how good it is compared with the CD3 Mk 2 and the CD7? The CD5 doesn’t have tubes, which is nice from the standpoint of long-term cost of ownership. The Bryston sounds like it would be great for me as well, and it would save me quite a bit of money over the CD5. If the CD5 is as good as I’m hoping, then I could justify the added expense. What do you think?

Gary Thompson

Given your use of Audio Research Reference electronics, an Audio Research CD player seems like the best choice. I am not the person reviewing the CD5, so I can't give you any feedback on it. However, I owned a Reference CD7, and it would work very well with your amp and preamp -- all connected balanced, of course. You'll have essentially the same sonic signature from the CD player to your amp, and such synergy is hard to achieve -- but very worthwhile when it's present.

The CD5 will probably match very well sonically with your preamp and amp too, as would the new Reference CD8, which I will be writing about soon. On the lower-cost side, I really liked the Ayre CX-7e. It's fully balanced as well, so it's worth an audition, especially if you want to save some money. All Ayre digital gear now employs the company's new Minimum Phase digital filter....Marc Mickelson


"Keep on swingin'!"

March 16, 2009

To Joseph Taylor,

On behalf of my dad, Donald Bailey, Sr., I want to express gratitude for your wonderful words and mention of his album in your online review. I read the review to him, and I must tell you he is on the moon about all the wonderful reviews and excitement surrounding the release of his album. To me, Dad is like Yoda -- full of wisdom and a quiet power, definitely one of the smartest and kindest persons on the planet. I am glad that he is finally getting the longtime recognition he deserves, and I want to express our gratitude for the role you play in getting the word out there about his album. Thank you so much again, and in the words of Dad, "Keep on swingin'!"

Joy Bailey on behalf of Donald Bailey, Sr,


Interconnects for pro monitors?

March 12, 2009

Editor,

I decided to write you because I usually read your reviews, and I need your help buying interconnects. Im an audio enthusiast and recently I bought a pair of Genelec 8050A powered professional monitors, and I want to buy balanced interconnects to use with them. I have two one-meter sets of Harmonic Technology Pro-Silway Mk III and use them attached to each other, because I need a minimum 1.5-meter length. Now I want to buy 1.5- or two-meter interconnects so I don't have to join the two cables together. Although I like the Pro-Silways, I think that there are some better options.

Unfortunately powered monitors like Genelec, Adam or ATC are not so popular in the high-end world. I want to still use Acoustic Zen interconnects with my CD player and buy new ones for the connection from preamp to powered monitors.

Pablo Hoffman

Because you're using professional monitors as your speakers, it makes sense to investigate two cable lines that are used by many musicians and in many studios. The first is Shunyata Research, whose products are in use at Skywalker Sound, Astoria Studio, Sony Music Studios and many other recording facilities. The second is Analysis Plus, which has infiltrated the musician market very well. You can find out more about these companies' ties to the pro world on their websites. Shunyata Research has a long list of testimonials, and Analysis Plus has posted videos from musicians. I've used and reviewed interconnects and speaker cables from both companies, and I have nothing but praise for them....Marc Mickelson


Computer, FireWire, and an Esoteric DAC?

March 11, 2009

Editor,

I read your review of the Esoteric D-03 DAC. At the moment I am thinking of buying an Esoteric D-05 to use with a computer for playback of high-resolution tracks (96-192kHz). I have a MacBook Pro. Is it possible to use the digital FireWire input of D-05 to play back PCM data (24 bits/192kHz) from the computer, or is i.Link only Esoteric specified?

Adam Szablowski

Unfortunately, it's not possible to stream digital data from a computer to the Esoteric D-05 -- or any Esoteric DAC -- via i.LINK/FireWire. The unit's audio data protocol for the i.LINK input is not compatible with the computer data protocol. However, Esoteric will soon have an upgrade kit available for the D-05 that will allow input of PC-based PCM data at 24 bits/96kHz wired and 14 bits/48kHz wireless. Then that data can be unconverted with the D-05's DACs to 32 bits/176 or 192kHz....Marc Mickelson


Size matters

March 10, 2009

Editor,

I like the equipment reviews at SoundStage!, except for one glaring problem. Not all of us have 30", 16:9 monitors. Some of us have old 17" monitors, whose native resolution is 832 x 624.

When you specify tables at 900 or more pixels wide, that means I have to
put the resolution way down, which means only 256 colors, which means very small print.

There must be other acceptable ways for you to get your reviews across. Please accommodate those of us who can't afford the latest, greatest computer hardware. We may just be saving our elusive spondulicks for better audio equipment.

Alan Agardi

If you use Internet Explorer, try increasing your text size (View > Text Size) if you haven't already. That may solve your problem or at least make the text on your screen more readable....Marc Mickelson


MAXX 3s and ARC?

March 9, 2009

Editor,

First, I love your articles.

I upgraded my Wilson Audio MAXX 2s to 3s last November. Now I am considering a change in electronics. Today I use a BAT VK51SE preamp and VK150SE amps, but I feel they're a little dark and less transparent than some other options. I have listened to the Nagra PLL and VPAs, and this weekend I will try the Ayre KX-R and MX-Rs.

My Wilson dealer isn't a Audio Research dealer, but I know you like Wilson speakers and Audio Research's current Reference lineup. So my questions, if you don't mind. In your opinion, is the synergy between ARC and Wilson so good that I should seriously consider ARC equipment? I'm not sure if you have the MAXX 3s in your home yet, but do you think a Reference 110 amp is sufficient for them? One reason I am considering a single Reference 110 versus a pair of Reference 210s is the heat output (I live in Texas). Is my SME 20/2 turntable with SME tonearm or my Esoteric DV-50S really my weak link? I listen to vinyl 90% of the time.

Sorry for all the questions, but I appreciate your thoughts.

John Frech

In regard to Wilson-Audio Research synergy, it's definitely there, and it's definitely worth your time to seek out an audition of ARC Reference electronics. It sounds like you're considering a change of amp and preamp, but once you hear the Reference electronics, you may end up considering a CD player as well -- so well do these products work together and with Wilson Audio speakers, which Audio Research uses at its factory. I have the MAXX 3s now, and, yes, the Reference 110 can drive them very well. The extreme coherence and wide bandwidth of the MAXX 3s give the amp a broad canvas on which to paint the music, and the speakers are sensitive enough that you don't need massive amounts of power to make them come alive.

In regard to your sources, you should probably try your Esoteric DV-50S with whatever preamp and amp you buy before getting rid of it. You might be pleasantly surprised. However, Esoteric has bettered the DV-50S since its introduction, so you can definitely do better, even for only a moderate increase in price. In terms of analog, I am not familiar with your SME turntable, but I know that some SME owners are moving to the TW-Acustic Raven AC, which is the 'table I own. It's great -- I can't imagine life without it, to be completely honest. If you have the inclination to mount more than one tonearm, the Raven AC can accommodate them. I have Graham and Tri-Planar 'arms mounted, and love the convenience of not having to switch headshells or armwands when I want to play a mono LP, for instance....Marc Mickelson


The 47th Problem

March 7, 2009

To David J. Cantor,

I just read the review of The 47th Problem -- many thanks! I'm very thankful to have somebody who appreciates what we're doing and has the ability and platform to express it. And I also want to thank you for comparing my vocals to Allen Ginsberg's, rather than just saying that I can't sing, as so many of those less artful critics do. He is the model in many ways.

Joe Cassady


Dreamline comparison?

March 6, 2009

Editor,

I noticed in your review of the Shunyata Aurora-IC and Aurora-SP that you mentioned the cables you were comparing the Shunyatas to included the Crystal Cable Dreamline, yet I did not notice, unless I missed it, a mention of that comparison. As an owner of both Crystal Cable Dreamline and Ultra cables, I would be interested in your thoughts about that comparison.

Dave Smith

You are very observant, and you ask a very good question. I did have the Crystal Cable Dreamline cables for use, but, for the review, I chose to compare directly the Shunyata Aurora-IC and Aurora-SP to the AudioQuest William E. Low Signature interconnects and speaker cables instead because we named the AudioQuest cables a Reviewers' Choice and I knew the Shunyata cables were headed in that direction. Overall, I think the Shunyata (and AudioQuest) cables have less of an obvious sonic personality than the Crystal Cable Dreamline cables, and that is very appealing in my system. As I pointed out in my review of the Dreamline cables, I actually prefer Crystal Cable Ultra for this same reason....Marc Mickelson


Analog advice

March 4, 2009

Editor,

You have provided some good advice to me in the past. I have purchased an Audio Research Reference 3 preamp, AudioQuest Sky interconnects, AudioQuest Everest speaker cables, and Shunyata power cords, and I have never regretted it.

I'm thinking about wading into the analog pool, but I'm faced with a dizzying array of choices. I just finished reading your review of the TW-Acustic Raven AC turntable. Your system tastes (along with Jonathan Valin's of TAS) seem to mirror my own, so I appreciate your feedback. My present system: Mark Levinson transport and DAC, ARC Reference 3 preamp, Mark Levinson No.33H amps, Sonus Faber Cremona speakers, PS Audio Power Plant Premier power conditioner.

What system would you recommend for an analog newbie? I don't intend to spend $40,000 on a Walker Black Diamond 'table, but a higher-end offering from VPI or TW-Acustic could work. I plan on using an ARC PH7 phono stage to accompany the Reference 3. I'd like the ability to mount more than one 'arm (down the road) so I can utilize cartridges with different personalities as needed. I'm handy, but not interested in a combination that needs constant maintenance and tweaking (I have five kids, so my free time is precious). And, from the components listed above, my system is on the warm, romantic, musical side. Your thoughts on 'table, 'arm and cartridge packages, please.

I like the business philosophy of Thomas Woschnick, but I'm concerned about making such a large purchase when there is limited dealer support (a single importer in NYC). As a reviewer, you probably receive "red carpet" treatment, but have you experienced any negative issues with product or support from High Water Sound?

In your opinion, is the cost/benefit worth it by moving up from the Raven One to the Raven AC to the Raven AC-3? Where do feel diminishing returns set in?

Again, I appreciate your taking the time to provide insight.

Fritz Nelson

You ask a number of good questions. Let me see if I can answer them all.

Regarding turntables in the price range you are considering, the TW-Acustic Raven AC and VPI HR-X would be at the very top of my list, as both represent serious attempts at achieving state-of-the-art sound without costing really big bucks. I chose the Raven AC for a reason you mention: mounting a second tonearm, which is very easy with it. I don't  think that the rather large HR-X plinth can be drilled for a second tonearm; however, the Raven AC was made for mounting more than one 'arm. All you have to do is buy a second arm tower and armboard and you're set. I have two 'arms on my 'table and love the convenience of having stereo and mono cartridges ready to go when I want to listen.

Regarding the point of "diminishing returns" with TW-Acustic 'tables, my sense is that it's at the point where you have a Raven AC with one motor. I understand the theory behind having three motors with the Raven AC -- greater torque and speed stability -- but, from my experience, one motor brings the heavy platter to speed in a few seconds, so there is plenty of torque, and the speed is dead stable. Getting the Raven AC instead of the Raven One would be a worthwhile upgrade in my opinion, and I've had no issues using the 'table with a mere single motor.

As for "maintenance and tweaking," the Raven AC is about as simple to use as any turntable. I haven't had to adjust it since I bought it. I've added a few accessories -- an HRS Nimbus and spacer under the motor, an HRS Analog disk clamp, a Boston Audio mat -- but none of these was mandatory. I've also found Jeff Catalano, the US distributor of TW-Acustic products, to be very responsive to any questions I have. That's also his reputation with consumers: a dealer who takes care of his customers. He knows analog especially well and has a huge, wide-ranging LP collection as testament to his expertise.

Regarding a cartridge and tonearm, both Thomas Woschnick and I like the Dynavector XV-1s, but I am also intrigued by the Lyra Titan i and Ortofon Windfeld. The Graham B-44 Phantom (now replaced by the Phantom II) and Tri-Planar Mk VII UII tonearms work very well with the 'table, and I can recommend both firsthand, as I have both mounted on my Raven AC. The Graham 'arm is easier to set up, and its removable armwands make mounting cartridges easier as well. However, the image stability of the Tri-Planar 'arm is a sonic knockout with the Raven AC....Marc Mickelson


Power cord for Aurum Acoustics CDP

March 3, 2009

Editor,

Do you have any experience using the Aurum Acoustics CDP with an Elrod power cord? What is the best power cord you have heard with the CDP?

A happy CDP owner,

Marq Doyon

Derrick Moss of Aurum Acoustics is a great believer in a power cord's ability to bring out the best in the CDP. Unfortunately, I haven't used my CDP with an Elrod power cord, but I have tried a number of others, a couple of which I liked a great deal. My first choice is a Shunyata Research Anaconda Helix Alpha -- the model without the compound inside -- closely followed by the Shunyata Python Helix Alpha. Shunyata Vx cords often work best with CD players and transports, but I suspect the CDP's preamp functionality means that the Alpha cords work best here. For less money, the Essential Sound Products Essence Reference is very good as well.

Shunyata Research has replaced the cords I mention above with new CX Series power cords, which are roughly the same price as the ones they replace. I haven't used them yet, but I should be getting a few....Marc Mickelson


"Do you think that the Usher Be-718s would work...?"

March 2, 2009

To Doug Schneider,

I've been shopping around for a pair of minimonitors that produce deep bass and came across your review of the Usher Audio Technology Be-718s on SoundStage! In your conclusion, you mentioned, "The only caveats are that you'll need a sufficiently powerful amplifier and that you'll have to give the Be-718 room to breath, given its generous bass."

My living room is 12' x 14' with a sloped ceiling going from 8' to 12'. I have an all-Linn two-channel audio system that consists of the Linn Akurate 4200 power amplifier rated at 4 x 200W, which I would like to use to biamplify the Be-718s. Due to my setup, I calculate that the speakers would be about two feet from the side walls and a foot and a half from the front wall. They would be about six or seven feet apart with a slight toe-in.

Do you think that the Usher Be-718s would work well with my setup?

Antonio Giacco

The way any loudspeaker interacts with the room has a bigger effect on sound quality than almost anything else. Therefore, nothing I can say can give you any certainty as to whether this speaker will be the ideal match in your room. However, I can further explain my comments in the room and relate that to what you've said in your letter, which should provide some help.

The reason that I said that you'll need a sufficiently powerful amplifier for this speaker is because of the low sensitivity. In NRC's anechoic chamber, we measured 83.0dB at 1 meter (2.83v input). That's not the lowest we've measured, but it's lower than average, which is about 87.0dB. Therefore, the speakers will need more power than most to get up to an appreciable SPL. Remember, any 3dB increase in SPL requires a doubling of amplifier power. Another factor is the size of the room. The bigger the room, usually, the more amplifier power you'll need. In my opinion, 12 'x 14', even with a sloped ceiling, isn't that large.

In my opinion, a 200Wpc amplifier should be more than enough power for these speakers in your situation. But will they deliver the kind of sound you're looking for? Only you will be able to decide that....Doug Schneider