Integrated roundup

December 31, 2009

To Doug Schneider,

First, I really enjoy your reviews. Your reviews allow the reader to better understand what the products have to offer. Thanks for the great reviews on the Classé Audio CAP-2100 and Simaudio Moon Evolution i-7.

I am considering several high-end integrated amps (Conrad-Johnson CA 200, Balanced Audio Technology VK-300xSE, Simaudio Moon Evolution i-7, Pass Labs INT-150, Classé Audio CAP-2100). My primary desire is for an amplifier that can drive my speakers well (Induction Dynamics ID-1), has good bass weight and control, along with a silky midrange and extended highs.

Each of the amps seems to have something special to offer. Given that the speakers are a four-way design with dual subwoofers, I think I need at least 150-200W to be able to deliver the sound I want. Is this correct? The ID-1 speaker’s sensitivity is rated at 89dB (2.83V at 1m). The impedance of the upper section is rated as 8 ohms and the sub section is 4 ohms. I am close to selecting the Simaudio i-7, but would like to hear the BAT VK-300xSE and the Classé 2100. Your input would be helpful.

P. Brantley

It’s always safer to have more power than you need than less. Doing so will prevent the amplifier from running out of steam and, quite possibly, clipping. I’ve never heard those BAT or Pass Labs models in my system, but I’ve obviously listened to the Simaudio and Classé designs for some time. Of the two, I like the sound of the i-7 better -- to date, it’s the very best integrated amplifier that I’ve had here. There’s also the benefit of the i-7 being more powerful. The i-7 is rated at 150Wpc into 8 ohms, while the CAP-2100 is said to deliver 100Wpc into the same load. That’s not an insignificant difference and the additional headroom that the i-7 has will probably serve you well. . . . Doug Schneider

Adding a Paradigm Reference Signature Sub 2

December 28, 2009


I am using two Paradigm Signature Sub 25s in my home theater, with one sub placed in each front corner of the room. I like the subs very much. I am interested in enhancing the physical/visceral impact of my home-theater system even further. I am thinking about placing a Paradigm Sub 2 towards the back of the room. I plan to use the Sub 2 as an end table placed between two sofas that are positioned at a 90-degree angle to each other (this is the only possible location for the Sub 2 in the room).

How do you think a Sub 2 would match up with the two Sub 25s? Do you think it would be difficult to integrate a Sub 2? I have used Paradigm’s Perfect Base Kit for the Sub 25s and would also use it with the Sub 2.

I enjoyed reading your review. Thank you for your advice.

Jon Turesky

Adding more subwoofers to an audio system is typically an easy exercise, in my experience. It is a well-known fact that having more subwoofers in a system will greatly ameliorate room modes associated with deep-bass reproduction. You’ll simply get smoother bass by adding that third subwoofer. Of course, you’ll also gain more output capability and even, potentially, lower distortion, because you’ll be asking less of each subwoofer to attain a desired listening level. So really there is no downside to your adding the third Paradigm subwoofer -- except for the added expense and the necessary real estate in your room. But since it seems you have those things worked out, I’d say go for it. You should have magnificent low-end capability, that’s for sure. . . . Jeff Fritz

Revel Salon2 questions

December 21, 2009

To Doug Schneider,

I just read your review on the Revel Ultima Salon2 and thoroughly enjoyed it. Seems like you really enjoyed them as well. Can't say I am surprised.

I am curious as to your opinion of whether or not the midrange results would be different (richer and more lush) if you used a more powerful amp and biwire speaker cables?

Thanks in advance for your "midrange" thoughts and wonderful review.

Rich Behrman

I certainly did enjoy the Salon2 -- quite simply, it's one of the very best loudspeakers I've ever heard. As for the midrange presentation, I doubt that a more powerful amp would make the midrange richer or more lush. If anything, a more powerful amp will simply allow them to play louder and, possibly, have a greater overall sense of authority and effortlessness. That's usually what having more power provides. I honestly can't tell you what biwiring will provide, as I rarely do it and I never tried it with these speakers. What I hope to do, however, is keep these speakers in my system for a little more time and experiment with things like cables and amps to see what kind of difference they make to their sound. . . . Doug Schneider

NAD C 565BEE as a DAC

December 16, 2009

To Doug Schneider,

I have been happily reading your articles for years and have come to respect your sonic point of view on things. The NAD C 565BEE review was quite something.

I (and many others) are looking for good cost-effective DACs to use with things like the Logitech Squeezebox. Perhaps I didn’t quite fully understand what this NAD can do, but I came away thinking that it can function as a standalone reference-level DAC via its optical input. I know that’s not quite how you presented it, but is that a fair statement? If I’m looking at spending a grand on a half-decent DAC like a Stello, why not one just as good, or better, that can spin a CD too? I guess, in other words, did you compare it to other high-end DACs via its optical inputs?

Thanks again Doug and I look forward to hearing from you.

Murray Hutchins

Funny you should bring this up. When I reviewed the C 565BEE I wanted to concentrate on its performance as a CD player. However, since then I have been experimenting with it as a DAC, since NAD claims that it can support up to 24-bit/192kHz through the TosLink input on the rear panel. I plan to report on that in an article in February. . . . Doug Schneider

Audience ClairAudient LSA8+8 loudspeakers

December 11, 2009

To Vade Forrester,

I saw your review of these speakers online. I live in San Antonio (as I hear you do) and am intrigued by the smaller LSA4+4. I currently have Avalon Arcus speakers, with a Spectron Musician III amplifier, ARC Reference 3 preamp, and an Ayre CX-7e source. Anything to add/suggest/recommend for my consideration of the LSA4+4 compared with the Arcus? Or could you recommend something else?



Thanks for checking out our reviews. I've not heard the LSA4+4 speakers, or the Avalon Arcus, so I can't compare them. I've loved the Avalons I've heard -- the Indras, the Eidolons, and the Isis. I could easily recommend any of those, although they are pricey.

I don't know if you're open to using a subwoofer, but I'd think the ClairAudient 4+4s would definitely require one; I just don't think eight 3" drivers would produce satisfying bass. There were times I wished for a subwoofer to use with the 8+8s. I'm currently reviewing some JL Audio f110 subs which might work with the 4+4s; they seem pretty fast. They're still breaking in, so it's too early to tell much more. . . . Vade Forrester

Esoteric A-100 and speaker choice

December 9, 2009

To Uday Reddy,

I enjoyed your review of the Esoteric A-100 amplifier. What is the efficiency of your loudspeakers? I'm considering this amplifier and am looking at what to mate it with in terms of speakers. 45W isn't a lot of power, but I suspect this amp can drive a lot of speakers. Your help is most welcome.

Chris Chamberlin

My Wilson Audio Sophias are the first-generation model and are rated at 89dB (8 ohms). They're fairly sensitive and have no problem being driven by lower-powered amps. In fact, Wilson Audio's recommended minimum amplifier power for the first-generation Sophias is 15W. Although the A-100 was at a significant disadvantage, power-wise, compared to my Jeff Rowland Concentra, it was able to drive my loudspeakers effortlessly to the sound-pressure levels I required with superb sound quality. Unless the speakers you're considering are really inefficient, you should have no problem pairing them with the A-100. . . . Uday Reddy

From Nirvana to Siltech

December 1, 2009

To Doug Schneider,

Greetings from Finland!

You've seemed to like the Nirvana cables in the past. How do you feel about them now? I’m upgrading from the S-L range and wondering if the S-X cables are still up to the task compared to today’s cables. I like the basic sound of the S-L cables a lot, but would like a little bit more harmonics and precision. In your opinion, would the S-X line fill the bill? Or maybe something else, like the Siltech Classic line?

I am grateful for any help.

Yours truly,


I have used Nirvana’s S-L cables for over a decade and, like you, enjoy their sound. In fact, these cables, along with some from Nordost, are the ones I’ve used more than any others with all the equipment I’ve reviewed over the years. They’re excellent.

I did try the Nirvana S-X interconnects many years back, so my memory of them is vague right now. From what I recall, though, you won’t see a huge improvement -- they were just a little better than the S-L. However, it’s funny you should ask about Siltech. I recently installed their Classic Anniversary cables in my system. I haven’t evaluated them for as long as I’d like yet, but my initial impressions are very positive. More than likely, you’ll see an article on them in the coming months. . . . Doug Schneider