[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
October 2002


More E-Mag

October 29, 2002


I was trying to find the monthly (or so?) SoundStage! E-Magazine. The issue that is available now is very old, and in fact I think there have been some issues "issued" since this one, yes? Am I looking in the right place for the most recent edition? If not, please let me know where to find the most recent issue.

I remember when you first started SoundStage!, and I made some general comments to you, personally. You answered each one individually. You were then, and obviously still are, very personable, despite I am sure, having a very hectic schedule. Even though I am very unhappy with the demise of Listener, I am consoled that SoundStage! is doing well (and I click on the advertisements as often as I can), since it is hands down the best source of audio information in print or cyberspace.

SoundStage! has been the "go to" source for equipment reviews for me for years. In fact, I have a company in Norway, and when I travel there I usually download the magazine, and print a few of the reviews, and this provides my nightly reading material while I am away from my family. And the cost, for wonderful service, quality reviews, entertaining articles, and portability (which does not require me to carry bulky magazines)? Nothing! Very difficult to compete with that price!

The only way you will be able to beat that is when technology allows you to beam the equipment directly to my house for a review in my own listening room. Let's just say I think you have a secure future.

Rush A. Selden

We are in the midst of converting our E-Mag into a new downloadable publication, so the issue on the site now is old and will be the final one in the current form. You can, of course, read all of our reviews online, so you won't be missing anything. We're not sure when the new downloadable publication will appear -- early next year, we hope.

Thanks for your kind words. They mean a lot to us....Marc Mickelson

E-Mag, print status

October 28, 2002


Please accept my billion thanks for your idea of coming up with the e-version of your website. It is a boon for millions like me who live in developing eastern countries where there is a plethora of renowned A/V hardware and software but no guidance whatsoever. In this prospect, your E-Magazine was just what the doctor ordered. Numerous are the cautious buyers like me who benefit from this.

Now, two things:

(1) Please guide me as to how can I download the previous issues/versions of this E-Mag online. I am dying to read them all and go ahead with my A/V-gear buying spree!

(2) Do you guys have any plans to start publishing a hard-copy version of your superb website in India, where there is just one -- yes only one -- A/V magazine for in the whole country, leaving all the A/V community totally stranded? Please give it a generous thought.

I am eagerly looking forward to your kind reply.

Suraj Kumar

We are still unable to offer back issues of our E-Mag for download due to bandwidth and space limitations. That's all the bad news. The good news is that anything meant for or previously published in the E-Mag will be available online here at SoundStage!, the site that started it all. You can also see all of our related websites at www.soundstagenetwork.com. You'll find lots of content there that you can read online or print out.

As for a printed version of our website, we have toyed with that idea over time, but so far we've resisted taking the plunge. As time goes on, the Internet becomes a more important medium for publishing, and our interest in going to print diminishes....Marc Mickelson

Analysis Plus upgrade?

October 25, 2002


After reading your review of the Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval cables in SoundStage!, I am wondering if it would be worth replacing my Transparent Ultra interconnects and MIT MH750 CVT II speaker cables with Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval. My system is a TEAC P-30 transport, MSB Gold Link DAC, Classé CAP-151 integrated amp, and Thiel CS1.5 speakers.

Your advice would be very helpful to me since I can't listen to Analysis Plus cables in France.

Many thanks for the nice reviews in SoundStage!.

Jean-Pierre Sarrato

I've always been a proponent of using interconnects and speaker cables from the same company, and preferably from the same line, for the synergy they offer. I don't like recommending that people buy before they try, especially with cables, but given that the Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval cables worked very well for me with a wide array of equipment, tube and solid state, they may be a significant upgrade for you.

As for not being able to try them, contact The Cable Company for loaners from their Cable Library. Audio Advisor also sells the cables and offers a money-back guarantee....Marc Mickelson

Power conditioners

October 23, 2002


I read with interest your review on the Sound Application XE-12S power conditioner and your comparison with the Shunyata Hydra. I plan to use that as a benchmark to buy power-conditioning equipment. I have zeroed in on your two recommendations and a PS Audio P300 Power Plant. I plan to use a conditioner in India, where the voltage fluctuations are frequent and infamous. Which one would you suggest that offers both protection and pleasure? Your articles, and those of SoundStage!, are highly illuminating.


Dinakar Sethuraman

Given your problem with voltage fluctuations, the PS Audio Power Plant would be ideal, and it works too -- I owned one before the Hydra. Depending on your system, you may be able to run everything, including your amp, from a P600, which I believe also has some surge protection, although you should check with PS Audio for sure. If you didn't have such power issues, I would recommend the Sound Application XE-12S, which is a terrific product that does incorporate surge protection but doesn't make up for power sags and such....Marc Mickelson

TARA Labs and Analysis Plus

October 21, 2002


I've enjoyed your numerous reviews of audio cables. I've been a TARA Labs fan (and user) for some years, and, in fact, I have just ordered the Air 1 speaker cables to complement Air 1 interconnects I'm presently using. I should get the Air 1s in a couple of weeks. I set my sights on Air 1 cabling in part after reading your May 2002 review of the Air 1s, which validated many of the attributes I've noticed to varying degrees with other TARA Labs cables.

How do the Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval cables compare to the TARA Labs Air 1s? Your current review piqued my curiosity.

Mark Bruce

The differences between the TARA Labs Air 1 cables and the Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval cables are not earth-shattering, but they are apparent. The TARA Labs cables have that sense of panoramic continuity that I noted in my review; the Air 1 cables are unique in this regard, at least from my experience. The Analysis Plus cables counter with vividness, clarity and palpability throughout all frequency ranges. While I don't think you would be disappointed with either, you have some fine cables in the Air 1s....Marc Mickelson

Trying at home

October 16, 2002


Hey, thanks for mentioning The Cable Company in your SoundStage! review of the Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Oval cables! Of course, in my opinion our Cable Library try-at-home service should be mentioned in all cable reviews.

Best regards,

Robert Stein
The Cable Company

Magnepan for me?

October 14, 2002

To John Potis,

I used to own a pair of Magnepan MG IIIa speakers and loved the realism they imparted to my recordings. However, I moved into a condo with an open-concept living space and they lost some of the the magic that they had in the old place no matter where I placed them (not to mention the spousal-appreciation factor). I reluctantly sold them and purchased a pair of Totem Mani-2s based on listening, their diminutive size, and the company's design philosophy. But they have never captured the realism that I experienced with my Maggies. Detail, soundstaging, dynamics, essentially the "you are there" feeling are diminished.

Now I know that the room is still a culprit, but there must be a way to get a system to work in there. I find that I don't listen to music nearly as much as I used to because, I guess, I know I won't enjoy it as much as I once had. I am about to trade in everything and get the Gallo system because, hey, what's the use of having $7000 worth of speakers and electronics if I'm only casually listening.

Then I read your review of the MGMC1s and thought that they might be my ticket back to audio enjoyment. I hoped that I could use a pair of MGMC1s (it sounds like they're very forgiving when it comes to placement) with an accompanying Velodyne SPL 800 subwoofer for two-channel audio, so I immediately called my Maggie dealer (Audio One in Toronto), only to be told that "they're not good for music." They don't even carry the MG12.

I drive the Totems with a Musical Fidelity A300 and use DH Labs T14 speaker cable -- double runs. My sources are a Pioneer Elite CD jukebox and and a Pioneer Elite DVD jukebox passing through a Link DAC III (I'm disabled so, unfortunately, jukeboxes are the only way to go for me) with assorted good cables.

If the Maggie/Velodyne combo is not the way to go, do you have any other suggestions? Do you think something can be added and/or replaced to my current setup to improve sound quality?

Greg Papp

Magnepan is having one heck of a time with dealers and the MGMC1, and I've heard many stories just like yours. The problem is that these speakers are giant-killers. They can and will steal sales from much more expensive speakers -- which is why dealers won't stock them. There's not enough profit in it for them.

My own experience with the MGMC1s is like this: I can't use a stereo pair of them because my room requires that they be spaced too widely apart, and this makes stereo center fill very difficult. But that said, the speakers sound superb. As a multichannel SACD system (with a center channel), they are flabbergasting. If you haven't seen it, have a look at last February's editorial by Marc Mickelson on Magnepan's CES demonstration. He was flabbergasted and remains so to this day.

I just got off the phone with Magnepan's Wendell Diller. Should you decide to give the MGMC1 a try, he says that Magnepan's factory-direct and guaranteed offer is good for people in any city in which the local dealer will not stock the speakers. And it's too bad you can't even hear the MG12. I'd love to hear a pair myself.

If you don't want to try the Maggies and you just want some inexpensive speakers to have in your room, check out Axiom speakers. They are every bit as good as we say they are....John Potis


October 10, 2002


Is it possible to get 80% of the performance of "ultra" audio systems at, say, 5%-10% of the price? I own a pair of Tannoy minimonitors and an NAD receiver, and I have excellent tonality and soundstaging with decent dynamics and "punch." I can't imagine that spending $15,000 on a system would give me ten times the system I own now.

Murray Johnson

This is a very good comment as it addresses the diminishing returns of high-end-audio gear. Obtaining, say, the first 70% of ultimate sound quality is possible on a reasonable budget. This is one of the reasons we feel so strongly about our GoodSound! site. It's that last 30% or so that costs the big bucks, with the last 10% costing more still. Thus, as you get closer to the best possible reproduction, the prices generally rise greatly -- with some exceptions, of course. So you are correct: One-tenth the price can get you much more than one-tenth the sound quality....Marc Mickelson

Revel M20 or...?

October 9, 2002

To Doug Schneider,

I read your April 2001 review of Revel Performa M20 with great enthusiasm. I am interested in buying a pair of monitor speakers. I have a room that is about 16' by 21' with a sloped ceiling to 11'. Would you call this a medium-sized room? Do you think the M20 would be fine in this size of room? Would you suggest speakers other than the M20?

Best regards,

Haibo Zhou

There are certainly rooms much smaller than yours, as well, obviously, as ones much larger. But given those dimensions, I would personally say that it is medium-sized, and I certainly cannot think of a reason the M20s would not be suitable there. In terms of other speakers I can suggest, the possibilities are almost endless, but if you are a fan of bookshelf-sized speakers, then I'd definitely have the Amphion argon2 on the list.

Demo music

October 8, 2002


I am relatively new to this industry, and I have a hard time picking the right kind of music to demo for my customers when I am doing a presentation on a set of speakers. I was wondering if you had any suggestions of songs that would be good demo music.

Thank you,

Mauro Mazzuca

We have published an entire list of "Reference Discs."  The descriptions should give you an idea of the type of music on each disc as well as why each writer considers the disc worthy reference/demonstration material....Marc Mickelson

Meadowlark speakers?

October 7, 2002


I have upgraded my electronics over the past year (Audio Refinement Complete integrated and Anthem CD-1 CD player), and I am considering new speakers. My listening/living area won't allow floorstanding speakers, so I have been researching monitors. Given SoundStage!'s fondness for kilobuck monitors and All Things Meadowlark, I am surprised that there hasn't been more discussion of the Vireos. Can you offer any comment on how they stack up against the many similarly priced speakers praised on SoundStage?.

Rick Ditmars

We've talked with Pat McGinty at Meadowlark a few times about reviewing his products, but he's always back ordered and unable to free up a pair for review. Therefore, we haven't reviewed a Meadowlark speaker in years. I will follow up with Pat and see if perhaps your letter will prompt him to provide us with a pair of Vireos or other Meadowlark speakers for review....Marc Mickelson

CEDIA coverage

October 4, 2002


That's IT for CEDIA coverage?!? Seriously? That's all? All those brands showed up and didn't bring anything you haven't seen before? Or do you only show off gear from advertisers?

John Ashman

I count a handful of advertisers whose products are covered: Paradigm/Anthem, API, JPS Labs, Nordost, Bel Canto, Thiel. We posted 70 photos altogether, and we chased down every significant product we could find during our time at the show. Perhaps you can direct me to where there's more or better online coverage, especially done in nearly real time....Marc Mickelson

i2digital.com cable

October 3, 2002


Thanks again for your recommendation of the i2digital.com X-60 digital cable. I ordered one, and I am very happy with the improvement in my system. I can't imagine more airy and delicate detail from top to bottom. I now no longer lust for the Transparent Reference -- and the X-60 was only $210 delivered! It's quite something and worthy of a review.

Best regards,

Kent Layden

The i2digital X-60 is the newest digital cable from Chris Sommovigo, designer of the well-known Illuminati D-60. We will be reporting on it sometime in the future....Marc Mickelson

Ascend Acoustics

October 2, 2002


Along with many others, I would love to see Ascend Acoustics speakers reviewed on your site. Some feel they can compete with the little Axioms, so a comparison would be very useful for the thousands of people looking for good speakers on a budget.

Mark Dwight


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