SoundStage! Feedback: June 2000

June 22, 2000

To Neil Walker,

Let me start by informing you that I enjoyed your Paradigm Atom review. It was clear and, for the most part, understandable. In fact, I was impressed that you stood beside your viewpoint and didn't let the low-end cost of the speakers become just another affordable so-so speaker.

Honestly, I wasn't looking to read about the Paradigms nor was I really looking to read about anything, but I happened upon the website and thought, for grins, I'd check out the article. I've been interested in the audio field since high school (mid-'80s) but could never find any way into the business. After more than ten years and a steady career in the computer field, I've found my niche (I think). Even after all this time, I'm still what you'd call an audiophile-wanna-be and can barely understand the basics.

Nonetheless, I'm still trying to educate myself by staying current on new items and reading various materials containing detailed explanations. I plan to bookmark the SoundStage! website and look forward to more of your articles.


...Brett King

June 19, 2000

To Doug Schneider,

I am interested in the new Von Schweikert VR-5s, though I've yet to hear them. I remember you used to be a VS man (VR-3s?), but you appear to have moved on. This is a long introduction to a suggestion. When you all get around to reviewing the new 5s, would you be sure to have the reviewer comments on their "real" sensitivity. I have heard good things about Blue Circle/Von Schweikert combinations in the past. Ideally, let's have you review them in your system, and then I'll know for sure!

...Bob Neill

You are correct that I am a fan of some of Albert Von Schweikert's past designs. We heard the new Von Schweikert Audio speakers at CES 2000; however, we don't have any slated for review at this time -- perhaps this will change. As you likely know, we now test loudspeakers in the National Research Council of Canada's anechoic chamber. The facilities are world class and among the best used by any publication in the world. Your comments regarding the sensitivity are well taken because it is an important measurement to consider when matching a speaker with an amplifier. Should we get the new Von Schweikert Audio speakers in for review, we will do our best to get them measured....Doug Schneider

June 10, 2000

To Marc Mickelson,

I don't know if you remember me, but we have communicated in the past about the Timbre DAC. I bought one of the first TT1-2000s out there about two years ago, and I read that you recently upgraded your Timbre to the TT-1 2000 version.

My question is: Are there any different iterations of the Timbre DAC under the TT-1 designation? Although I'm not really interested in the 24/96, 24/192 formats yet, I am concerned about having such a substantial investment in the Timbre without any upsampling capability and the supposed benefits that one gets with upsampling conventional 16/44 CDs to 96 or 192kHz and the elimination of the brickwall filters that the upsampling approach allows.

Is it time to sell my Timbre in favor of the new generation of DACs such as the Perpetual Technologies P-3A? Have you heard this unit? Thanks for your time.

...Kerry Legeard

As you know, the Timbre DAC is about as good as CD sound gets. But your question is a good one nonetheless given that upsampling as well as 24/96, DVD-A and SACD are growing. I haven't heard the P-3A, but we hope to get one for review. I have heard the Bel Canto DAC1, which sounds very fine, and we will have a review of the upsampling Birdland Odéon-lite DAC sometime soon.

What should you do? If you are worried about complete obsolescence of your DAC, you might want to consider adding one of the new 24/96 DACs for DVDs and keeping your DAC too, especially if you like its sound. Also, some of the new upsampling DACs are cheap enough to have them around in addition to an existing unit. If you sell your DAC now, expect to get far less than you paid for it. I sold my TT-1 2000 a few months ago (for non-audio reasons) and got about one-third its retail price....Marc Mickelson

June 7, 2000

To Doug Schneider,

I was glad to see you using the Anthem MCA 5 amp with the Nakamichi AV-10. I have an AV-10 and was looking to upgrade amps. I'm a bit concerned about delivering AC power to both units at once. The Nak is UL listed at 1100W (about 9A). The MCA 5 is listed at 1800W (about 15A). Of course, this is more than a 15A circuit can bear, which is what I've got available (for receiver, amp, sub, source, and TV).

My question is: What kind of circuit are you running off of, and did you have any power problems? Did you use a power conditioner (or more than one)? I'm trying to get a feel for how much power these units draw in normal use.

Also, the Anthem amp is supposed to have a signal-sensing auto-on circuit. Did you use it, and how did it work.

Thanks for any info you can give me and for doing the great review.

...Dan Wesnor

A good question. For the entire review period I used a standard 15-amp wall outlet, and for power protection I used a Brick Wall Series-Mode surge suppressor. It is also rated for 15 amps. I encountered no problems whatsoever. How is that possible? Your specifications seem correct, but specs only tell part of the story. For a detailed answer, I turned this to Chris Johnson, president of Sonic Frontiers/Anthem, who said: "You would only run into a problem if you attempted to run both amps close to their full rated power, simultaneously. This happens usually only possible under test conditions, with sine/square wave test tones, not with music power. The only other condition that would cause a problem would be if both amps were class-A configured (which neither are). Class-A amps essentially idle at full power."

For my own use, 15 amps were sufficient. As for the auto-on feature, I used it almost all the time and it worked splendidly. It's very convenient. As for the upgrade to using the MCA 5 instead of the Nakamichi's internal power amplifiers, the review speaks for itself, but it's worth reiterating that I personally feel it to be a very worthwhile upgrade....Doug Schneider

June 6, 2000


At our home-audio specialty shop, we just received an advertisement regarding your December '99 review of the  Polk Audio RMDS-1 system. We challenge the statement in the review that it is a terrific value. Our customers feel that it is overpriced, not pleasing to the eye and cannot significantly outperform systems costing one-third as much. Side by side comparisons with the Klipsch Quintet system resulted in no RMDS-1 sales and many many Klipsch sales. This was without the customer knowing the cost of either system. My question is this: As compared to what is the Polk system a terrific value? We would like to know so we can stay as far away as possible!

...Dennis Smathers

In my review of the Polk RMDS-1, I was rather critical of several things about the system. I spoke of the colored midrange, which was not a problem on movies. I spoke of the level-matching problem between the sub and the speakers. As far as looks, that's not something to debate (although I like the looks of the Polk system better). In the end I liked it because it did movies as well as the more expensive system I was using. I liked it because it was small and idiot-proof. As for the sound, I liked it as much for what it didn't do as what it did. The treble was smooth and not harsh. On anything but two-channel music, the midrange was remarkably clean and neutral. The bass was solid.

In the end, the only way for me to respond fully would be to review the Klipsch system. Until then, as a good-sounding system which is easy to set up, use and live with, I stand by my review....John Potis

June 2, 2000


Just a request: While your reporters are in Frankfurt, could you report on, or take pictures of, the new Audio Physic Avanti speaker. Apparently this speaker, completely redesigned since the SoundStage! review, is premiering at the Frankfurt show. I'm dying to get a look at it.

Many thanks, gentlemen.

...Rich Harkness

We've posted information on and a picture of the Avanti 3 in our show coverage....Marc Mickelson

June 2, 2000


Whoever goes to Germany to cover High End 2000 should stop by Heidelberg, which is 40 miles from Frankfurt. Check out the gin mill by the town fountain where they drink beer from glass boots. The town is undisturbed from the ravages of WWII and is spectacular. Also visit the castle of the Emperor.

...Alan Norberg

June 1, 2000


The only complaint -- really -- I ever have about SS! reviews is the reviewing context. To be specific, the Blue Circle BC21 is dying to be reviewed with its stable-mate, the BC22 amp -- and to be compared with other "entry-level" preamps, specifically the basic Bryston, whose model number escapes me (Not with a $3000 Audio Note; $3000 is Blue Circle BC 3 territory). This is the context in which we want to get a sense of what the BC 21 is, of what it can do. I understand that reviewers can't always have the ideal context. But in this case, surely both items could have been borrowed, adding enormously to the review's value.

We want to know how the BC21 compares with its direct competition and in the context for which it was designed. That's why we read reviews. So please, somebody do a follow-up on the 21/22 combo. (Who, unless he already owned them, would ever pair a BC21 up with Cary SLM-100 monoblocks?) Please, somebody else compare Blue Circle and Bryston preamp/amp combinations in this price range. And while we're at it, will whoever it was that reviewed the BC3000 some time back without referring to either the BC3 or BC3.1 revisit that subject to give us a hint of whether the upgrade from the 3.1 to the 3000 is worth the dollars that apparently the BC 3 to 3.1 is? Whoever did the 3.1 upgrade fortunately had a BC3 on hand, and I thank him for that. Context, context, context.

Finally, I wonder whether what was missing in the midrange of the BC21 would reappear with interconnects that had no silver in 'em. Maybe reviewers could have several different kinds of cable around. I have found that silver virtually wrecks my Blue Circle-based system's midrange.

Sorry to be such a fuss budget, but you have the stage, along with precious few others, and I'd just love to see you take full advantage of it.

...Bob Neill