[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
February 2004


Focus Audio rumor

February 25, 2004

To Doug Schneider,

I enjoyed your review of the Focus Audio FS-688s. I have not yet heard them yet in person, but they are one of three speakers I have yet to audition before I purchase new speakers this spring. Rumor has it that you were working on a review of the FS-788s. If so, any chance that it will be published soon?

Mark Bitter

The rumor that the FS-788s are here is true. I've had them for some time now, and we hope to run the review in April -- May at the latest....Doug Schneider

The right Revels for his new room

February 23, 2004


I have a question about room sizes. I just purchased a home with a 12.5' x 17' family room. I have the itch to buy Revel F-50s, which I love. They're not too bright, such as the B&Ws or the Thiels I've heard, and not overly warm like the Vandersteen 2-CE Signature or 3A Signature. Will this speaker be too large for my room? This room has hardwood floors. My probable dream system would be the Revel F-50s with center and surrounds, a Bryston 1.7 preamp/processor, Proceed or NAD amps, and a 50" or 60" rear-projection LCD monitor.

I would like a full-range speaker, and I tend to like a warmer speaker. The detail and dynamics of today's speakers are much better than those of my older KEFs, but some of these speakers are too forward-sounding (as noted above). The Revels sound neither too bright nor too warm.

If the F-50s seem too large in your view, there is a new smaller-scale Revel speaker, the F-32, with one less bass driver.

Jim Allen

Good question. I bought too much speaker for a listening room I used to have, and it led only to frustration.

I'm not at all familiar with the Revel F-50, but I suspect the Ultima Studio (which is not much physically larger than the F-50) would probably work in your room in a minimalist two-channel setup and perhaps for HT depending on your other furnishings and ceiling height. So the F-50 would probably work. Just the same, I would listen to the F-32, especially if you're going to use a subwoofer to augment the bass anyway. That speaker would probably be ideal for your mid-sized room....Marc Mickelson

Entry level and high end

February 19, 2004


I've been reading your site now for about three months. I love all the reviews. I read at least one archived speaker review every day.

Most of the reviews you conduct are on high-end products. I love to read these, as they give me a different perspective. But I would like to see some reviews of entry-level products. Here is where I have a different idea. Instead of comparing the entry-level product to another entry-level product, compare it to one of the high-end products you use as a reference in the other articles.

As far as entry level equipment, I mean anything that could be purchased at the chain electronic stores like Best Buy, Circuit City, or Crutchfield.

I know that there are other places to read reviews of such products, but having a real high-end review magazine write about entry-level gear would be very interesting. Most of the reviews of entry-level gear focus on features and give nary a thought to the sound quality of the product. The reason I enjoy the reviews contained in SoundStage! so much is the focus of the reviews themselves on sound quality.

Thanks for reading this, and I hope this idea strikes someone as plausible.

Greg Morris

At SoundStage!, we try to review products in every price range, but really inexpensive equipment is hard for us to procure because we don't have established contacts with the companies that produce it, and they aren't always interested in reviews of such products. However, we do have an entire SoundStage! Network site, www.goodsound.com, that covers affordable high-performance audio components -- with an emphasis on sound. Have a look over there; I'm sure you'll find many reviews of equipment that interests you....Marc Mickelson

Margules Audio multichannel preamp

February 18, 2004

To Jeff Fritz,

Do you have a link for the Margules Audio Daleth multichannel preamp?

Robert Willis

You can find Margules Audio on the Internet at www.margulesaudio.com. The Daleth is not yet available, but is due out soon. We have one promised for review in "Surrounded."...Jeff Fritz

NHT dummy speaker plot?

February 17, 2004


The measurements of amplifiers done for SoundStage! by BHK Labs include the response into the NHT dummy speaker load. I have noticed that Stereophile uses this too, and also the old Audio magazine, often both at 8 ohms and 4 ohms. It gives a useful indication of how the output impedance of the amplifier can affect the frequency response into a speaker load, but not into any particular speaker load. This raises some questions. What is the NHT dummy speaker load? What its impedance vs. frequency curve?

Pat Daley

In response to your question, Bascom King sent us this plot, which he just produced.

The vertical scale is in mV, but the numbers are correct for the magnitude of the impedance (red). The phase of the impedance is magenta. We'll add this plot to our "How We Test Amplifiers" page....Marc Mickelson

BPT review, please

February 16, 2004


I was wondering if there was any possibility of your reviewing the Balanced Power Technologies latest flagship product. Your experience with the Sound Application and Shunyata units would shed some light on how these various products compare to each other, and would be invaluable to readers. Getting these products for an audition can be difficult enough. Making any kind of comparison among them is even harder.

Joseph Pagan

I will see if I can arrange for a review of a BPT product....Marc Mickelson

WATT/Puppy 7s or WATCH Dog 2?

February 11, 2004


I enjoy reading your reviews, as they are very informative and pleasant to read. Based on all your experience reviewing specifically Wilson Audio speakers, I wanted your opinion on whether to upgrade from my Sophias to WATT/Puppy 7s or keep the Sophias and purchase a WATCH Dog 2 subwoofer. The price is about the same for either upgrade; however, it is still an expensive upgrade for me. I listen to music about a quarter to half of the time, and I watch movies approximately half to three-quarters of the time.

Russ Hughes

Normally I would encourage you to upgrade to WATT/Puppy 7s -- whose overall sound is a definite upgrade over that of the Sophia -- but given that you use your system more for movies than music, I suggest you purchase a WATCH Dog 2 and take full advantage of the LFE information on DVDs. Once properly set up, the WATCH Dog II will enhance your music listening as well....Marc Mickelson

Integrated amp for Soliloquy speakers

February 5, 2004


You have given me a lot of good music and equipment advice (most recently on the Shunyata Hydra Model 8 -- fantastic in my system so far!) over the past few months. I am currently using Soliloquy 6.2 speakers, and I am looking for an upgrade to my Unison Research Unico. I have always lusted after the Mark Levinson No.383, which I believe you reviewed a while ago. I am looking for electronics that convey energy, excitement and emotion (my current system is just a bit too laid-back). Based on your experience, will the No.383 provide this? If not, is there a similarly priced integrated (less than $4000 or so) that might meet these goals?

Steven Lefley

The No.383 is still my favorite integrated amp -- I have one here and use it often. It's a joy to use, and it's powerful enough to drive just about any speaker. Soliloquy speakers generally sound warmer and fuller than other brands like Thiel, and I used the No.383 when I reviewed the Soliloquy 6.3s so long ago, enjoying the two together. I have listened to the Unico integrated at length and prefer the No.383, although the difference in price is great and the Unico is perhaps the best under-$2000 integrated you can buy. The No.383 would be my first choice in your application even if you didn't mention it.

Others? Maybe the BAT integrated, which I've heard good things about. Conrad-Johnson has a Premier integrated coming out soon that may be worth considering. Even with these, the Levinson No.383 is hard to beat. You'll love using it....Marc Mickelson

Loudspeaker dispersion

February 2, 2004

To Alison Aulph,

I thoroughly enjoyed your December 2003 SoundStage! column on loudspeaker dispersion. I'm an old amateur speaker builder who crossed over to the "dark side" and became a dealer, and I believe that getting the radiation patterns right is crucial. I've often used the same example you did of a piano sounding natural from anywhere in the room (or even in the next room!), which is one of the things that differentiates reproduced from live sound.

There are loudspeakers that do an exceptional job of sounding pretty much the same from virtually anywhere in the room (or even in the next room), but they are rare. They include omnidirectionals (like MBL Radialstrahlers or Wolcott Omnispheres), polydirectionals (like the Shahinians), corner horns (like Klipschorns), wide-pattern dipoles (like Sound Labs), and a few carefully designed, radiation-pattern-conscious hybrids (like the Gradient Revolution).

I look forward to your future article on "Loudspeaker Dispersion Designing for Optimum Dispersion." If you would like to communicate on the subject, I'd be more than happy to. It's my favorite audio-related obscure tangent, though I don't claim to have a firm fix on what "optimum dispersion" would be. In addition, it's pretty hard to control the radiation pattern in the bass region so that it mates well with the patterns of conventional midrange and tweeter units. Techniques that have been used to control the radiation pattern in the bass include dipole panels (Magnepan, Sound Lab, Quad), dipole moving-coil-woofer systems (Carver Amazing, Gradient Revolution, Audio Artistry line, Gilmore), cardioids (MartinLogan Odyssey and Prodigy, Legacy Whisper), and corner-horn loading (Klipschorns and JBL Hartsfields).

Incidentally, the top engineers at JBL published a paper that addressed the issue of uniform directivity many years ago. Here's a link.

Duke LeJeune


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