[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
August 2003


WATT/Puppy 7 vs. Canadian speakers

August 27, 2003


After reading your test of the Wilson Audio WATT/Puppy 7 and looking at "Chart 1 - Frequency Response and Sensitivity," I notice that the chart isn't especially flat. All subjectivity aside, isn't the goal of any loudspeaker to reproduce the original signal as accurately as possible? Hence, shouldn't this graph be as flat as possible?

I've just heard the WATT/Puppy 7 and while impressed at its ability to convey the subtleties of the recording (admittedly one I wasn't familiar with), I cannot for the life of me understand what all the fuss is about considering its stratospheric price of admission. Does its performance really justify the price? I agree with Jeff Van Dyne from Home Theater & Sound and GoodSound! when he told me, "There are some truly great speakers out there for very little money. You know what? I'm more impressed by a $100 speaker that gets me 80% of the way there than a $25,000 speaker that gets me 95% of the way. It takes more talent to make a cheap speaker sound good."

An objective and subjective performance comparison (regardless of price) with some of Canada's best speaker manufacturers such as the Audio Products International (API) group (Energy, Mirage, and athena Technologies) as well as Axiom Audio and Paradigm would be incredibly interesting. I'd love to see if the Canadian manufacturers that took part in the NRC's groundbreaking research are so far off the performance of the WATT/Puppy 7 (at a tenth or less of the price I might add).

I want to know, will the Wilson package sink its teeth into the Canadians, or is it just a Puppy?

Mark Slywka

You raise some interesting points regarding not only loudspeaker design but also price and especially Canadian loudspeaker manufacturers. First, your stated goal of loudspeaker design, "to reproduce the original signal as accurately as possible," is strict theory. As engineers from various speaker makers will tell you, the art of loudspeaker design is in the implementation. Ian Paisley of Mirage has told us a few times about a speaker he designed that measured flat to within .25dB but sounded awful. Therefore, while the only reliable way to measure speakers is with calibrated equipment in an anechoic chamber, this is not how such speakers are used by humans. We produce subjective reviews and objective measurements for this reason.

Of course, we have reviewed many speakers from Paradigm, Axiom and the API brands, and in just about every way they measure impeccably. How do they compare head to head with the Wilson Audio WATT/Puppy 7? I can't say -- I haven't been the one to conduct those reviews, although I should be reviewing one of the upcoming Paradigm Signature speakers. I can say that based on our reviews and measurements, Canada seems to be leading the world in terms of loudspeaker design....Marc Mickelson

Fixing old speakers or buying new ones?

August 26, 2003


I am considering reconing my damaged Celestion SL6S speakers at a cost of about $300. I found a pair of used KEF 103/3s in the paper that can be had for $400. I know the KEF name, but I have no firsthand experience with this model. Will they be as well rounded and airy as the SL6Ss? Can you make any other recommendations?

Dave Fox

These days you can buy some terrific speakers for $300-$400. Names to consider are Axiom, Paradigm, Energy, athena, and Mirage -- we've reviewed models from all of these makers. While you can get your speakers fixed (your model has a very good reputation), I think you can find a new speaker that you will like as much or more than your Celestions for the same cost as fixing them, and you'll get a full warranty too....Marc Mickelson

The effects of humidity

August 25, 2003


What are the risks to a stereo system from high humidity levels and what can one do to protect the system (other than remove the humidity via dehumidifiers or air conditioning)?

Ray Farris

Humidity can hasten the deterioration of audio equipment, making contacts and such oxidize more rapidly. Exactly how fast this happens, however, is anybody's guess. Your equipment may stop working for other reasons long before oxidation takes place.

I live in the Midwest US, where humid summers are the norm, and I use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity in my listening area to 50% or under. I have also treated my components with Music Sciences' O2 Blocker, which is designed to slow the aging process. I wrote about this product long ago and continue to use it....Marc Mickelson

Switching from floorstanders to minimonitors

August 19, 2003


I'm a longtime fan of SoundStage! and have relied on your site for audio-gear recommendations before (Belles 150 amp, Transcendent preamp, interconnects, power cords, you name it). I've also read enough of your reviews to know that we're on the same page, aurally speaking.

Here's my question. I've had floorstanding speakers for about six years (first-generation Alón IIs), and I'm mulling a change to smaller speakers with high sound quality. The Amphion argon2s you liked so much may be phasing out of the US market (that's show biz), and I may be able to get a pair for around $1000, new or slightly used, with the upscale veneer. I also may be able to snag a slightly used pair of Merlin TSMs (latest version) for $1700-$1800. I'm not able to audition either, so I acknowledge I'm taking a chance here, but (1) I've never heard anyone do anything but rave about the Merlins, and (2) based on past experience, I can't imagine that the argon2s could be shabby, based on your review. Thoughts or comments?


There's a bit of a misconception about Amphion in the US. They've never had a large presence, and until now never had a distributor. However, in the last year I understand that they have secured a distributor, Quartet Marketing Group, and they plan to make a big push for the brand in the US. In fact, for the August 15 review on our onhifi.com site, Wes Phillips reviews the Amphion Xenons, demo pair supplied by Quartet.

As for which speaker is better for you, that's going to have to come down to personal preference and your budget, although you shouldn't fall into the trap of thinking more expensive is necessarily better. I have a pair of Merlin TSM-SEs here, and although they are good speakers, I do like the argon2 speakers quite a bit more. They outperform the Merlins in a number of areas -- bass extension, output capability, and midrange clarity -- despite the fact that the TSM-SE had an original retail price that was quite a bit higher. The latest version you refer to, the TSM-M, I have never heard, so I don't have any experience with it to comment.

The argon2 is quite a special speaker, and that's why it received the Reviewers' Choice nod as well as the 2002 Best Product Debut award. I hope this helps....Doug Schneider


August 18, 2003


What's with the editor of SoundStage! Marc Mickelson and all his self-praising and self-glorifying? Are we all suppose to be so stupid that we cannot recognize the style of "his" writing and the style of the so called "fans" that keep writing to tell him to "Keep up the good work," "Great review," " loved your review," etc.? Let's get real. GAG ME!

Why is it that "fans" write in asking about a company that it just so happens he has a review coming up? Why when you do any research on some of the names that he prints incoming letters, they are the owners of companies that pay to advertise with SoundStage! or fellow reviewers?

His passive-aggressive attack of other stereo and audio sites is obvious.

His "pontification" and overuse of verbiage to show off his arrogance is annoying. He printed a whole front-page review slamming other sites and then a mysterious letter from a "fan" naming a site! I guess we're not a little insecure are we? All Mr. Mickelson does is print letters that glorify himself, the advertisers paying them, and a few kiss-ups to "the boss." Which it seems at least letters to the boss are real and he takes the time to write a true reply. Mr. Mickelson needs to take a few moments to stop stroking himself and apply a few ethics and morals, that is if he can find them.

Stop the bashing. I thought this was supposed to be a fun and enjoyable hobby and passion. Not a forum for self-edification.

Ryan Winters

Your assertions make no sense. On the one hand, you accuse me of making up our letters, and then on the other you say they are from our advertisers. Which is it?

The truth of the matter is that we don't have to make up e-mail because we get lots of it and can't publish everything we get.

By the way, "edification" means education or enlightenment, so is "self-edification" a bad thing?...Marc Mickelson

Where can I buy the Esoteric DV-50?

August 12, 2003


Where can I buy this player? I've done searches and have not come up with anything. Given that it's a TEAC product, I thought it would be readily available.

Steve Rowan

The last I heard, TEAC USA was sold out of its first batch of Esoteric DV-50s, but more were coming. Contact Galen Carol Audio for information on availability. Galen will be happy to sell you a DV-50 if he has one in stock....Marc Mickelson

Exactly what he's been looking for

August 7, 2003


[Regarding the review of the GMX HT-A777 LCD Monitor/TV], this is exactly what I have been looking for for DVD-A! The review is great.

Cao Jiang

"Don't Read On"

August 6, 2003


I enjoyed your editorial on audio garbage seen in audio publications, in print and most frequently on the audiophile websites. Case in point: Audio Asylum could launch a forum named "What's with Stereophile this month?" and undoubtedly jam their server on a daily basis.

As you noted, the rumor mill seems to grind this chaff out 24/7. While realignment or shutdown of any player in audio and other news or activity affecting the industry is of more than passing interest to many of us, the constant outpouring of partial fact and baseless or fabricated invective is of no value to anyone, save those grinding axes.

Keep up the good work!

Gene Towne

i-3 or i-5?

August 4, 2003

Hi Doug,

I read your review of the Simaudio i-3 integrated amp. Do you think the i-3 is a big drop off from the Simaudio i-5? In other words, are you missing a lot if you get the i -3?

Also, the Parasound P3/A23 preamp/power-amp combo is the same price as the i-3. It did receive a very good review from The Abso!ute Sound. Would you go with the i-3 or the Parasound combo? I have Celestion SL6Si speakers now, but plan to get Revel M20s. I would appreciate your professional opinion.


As I said in the i-3 review, there are some people who will tell you that one well-designed solid-state amplifier will be indistinguishable from another, while some will go so far as to tell you wildly different things about very similar designs. I like to think of myself somewhere between -- trying to offer more perspective on the differences by putting them into context.

First off, I have no experience with the Parasound combo, so that would preclude any type of recommendation one way or the other. The only thing I can tell you is to don't be swayed either way because one choice involves "separates" while the other is an "integrated" approach. There's a lot more to buying electronics than simply counting the number of boxes, and for one reason or another either could be "better" for you.

Is the i-3 a "big" drop off from the i-5? Most certainly not. The i-3 is actually more powerful than i-5, which could be important for your speakers, but the i-5, I'm told, has a more refined circuit and, supposedly, a more refined sound that goes along with it. I actually reviewed the i-5 some time ago, but any meaningful comparison are impossible with such an amount of time in between reviews since the differences between each unit will be slight -- and that's really the key. There is no "big" drop by going to the i-3, unless, of course, you mean the price....Doug Schneider


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