[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
July 2004


Revel M20 vs. Paradigm Signature S2

July 23, 2004

To Doug Schneider,

I believe you have reviewed the Revel Performa M20, and I was curious about your thoughts on it versus the Paradigm Reference Signature S2. I am planning on using one or the other for my HT system, but it is difficult because I can't listen to the S2s for another month and no one in my town sells Revel (that I know of). I have listened to Revel's top-of-the-line speakers and I was very impressed, and of course all Revels seem to get outstanding reviews. I would appreciate any advice you could give. My room is 20'x15'.

Steve Laubenberg

I reviewed the Revel Performa M20 in April of 2001 and the Signature S2 in June of this year. I was very impressed with the M20 when I reviewed it, feeling it was one of the best-built and best-sounding bookshelf speakers available at that time. However, times have changed, and three years have gone by. Today, I put the Signature S2 at the very top of the heap. I love the way it looks and, more importantly, am quite bowled over by the way it sounds. At about $2000 per pair the S2 can compete again any similar-sized and -configured design, regardless of price. It must be noted, though, that the Performa M20 is not available anymore and has been replaced by the M22. I have heard that model under show conditions, but have not reviewed it, so I can't tell you how it stacks up against the S2....Doug Schneider

Which Esoteric?

July 21, 2004


I have very much enjoyed reading your reviews over time, especially of Esoteric digital gear. I own a DV-50, which I have found to be a terrific value (and very much agree with your review of the piece). I have also decided to upgrade my CD player (used to be an MBL transport and the dCS Purcell/Elgar combo) after hearing the DV-50 -- the sound was too close in my opinion. Since I have liked the Esoteric gear, I had planned to purchase the P-70/D-70 combination, but I have read your review of the X-01 recently, and I am now a bit confused.

It wasn't clear to me whether you preferred the sound of the P-70/D-70 combination to the X-01 or the other way around. Since you are probably the only person who has heard all these units, would you recommend the X-01 to someone who already has a DV-50 or would you recommend the P-70/D-70?

H. Malik

You ask a very interesting question. I can't say for certain that the Esoteric P-70/D-70 duo sounds better playing CDs than the X-01 -- or that it does not. It's been too long since I heard the P-70/D-70. However, as I point out in my review of the X-01, the two seem very close in overall quality, so close that I can't give you an easy answer as to which sounds better. In your situation, I would purchase the X-01 (as long as you don't want to play DVDs) and not look back. You will have improved SACD playback over that of the very good DV-50 and CD playback that at least rivals that of the more costly P-70/D-70 combo....Marc Mickelson

In search of Tuphan

July 20, 2004

To Doug Schneider,

I am from Austria and I am looking for the CD Covered Treasures by Tupahn. You have written about this CD a few times.

I cannot get any music from Tupahn in Austria or Germany. Can you tell me where I can get this CD or as MP3 files?

Reinhard Steiner

What a coincidence! Just the other day I heard Tupahn playing again on Sparks Street in Ottawa. As always, he drew an enormous audience. Still, Ottawa is long, long way from Austria and that does not get you any closer to owning one of Tuphan's CDs. I think that you'll be glad to know, though, that you can reach Tupahn on the Internet at www.tupahn.net....Doug Schneider

How does PS Audio stack up?

July 19, 2004


I enjoyed reading David Millman's review of the Audiophile APS PurePower 1050 power conditioner. But since the 1050 belongs to that class of conditioners that regenerate, rather than merely filter, the AC power, I'd be very interested in reading a comparison of its performance to one of the PS Audio Power Plants. What are the differences, if any, between the two and how do they stack up against one another, in terms of both sonics and price effectiveness?

Michael Ross

Good questions. We'll see what we can do -- it's been a while since we reviewed anything from PS Audio....Marc Mickelson

StudioLAB Reference One versus Totem Arro

July 9, 2004

To Doug Schneider,

I was just reading your review of the StudioLAB Reference One speakers. I live in Toronto, and just listened to them at a local store. I also just listened to the Totem Arros. The Arros I liked a lot, but the StudioLABs I really liked. However, they were not at the same store and were played with different amps. Both are exactly the same price.

Do you have any personal opinion? I was thinking of combing either pair with Jolita tube amp and CD player, but want to go hear the tube sound first.

Richard Lindzon

I’ve obviously heard the StudioLAB Reference One speakers at length -- I reviewed them -- but I’ve only listened to the Arros at shows. Therefore, I can’t give you any more information than you already have. However, you’re the one who has to live with them, and you have to make the final decision anyway. Since you like the StudioLAB sound and you’re in Toronto, my suggestion would be to contact StudioLAB and see if you can bring the amp you want to use with the speakers down to their location. I’ve been to their location and it’s a combination factory in the back/retail store in the front, complete with listening rooms. That way you could hear a setup more indicative of what you’ll hear at home....Doug Schneider

Cayin TA-30 review?

July 5, 2004


I was wondering if you have heard or are planning on reviewing the Cayin TA-30 integrated amplifier by Sparks Audio. Its insides are absolutely amazingly done -- and the sound is as impressive, if not more so, than my Bryston B-60, which costs almost two and half times as much. The TA-30 seems to be an incredible giant killer. I wish magazines would focus more on value electronics and keep a better perspective on price and performance. While it is a diminishing return with an increasing cost to rise to each successive level of sound improvement, to be able to spend money wisely is what makes this hobby so much fun -- getting the best bang for the buck and creating a system that grooves for you.

Karl Keyes

We first encountered Cayin products in Montreal a few years ago. They're impressively made, especially for their prices. We reviewed the TA-30 on our sister site, GoodSound!, and here's a link to that review....Marc Mickelson

Stello versus Bel Canto?

July 2, 2004

To Doug Schneider,

I wondered how the Stello DA220 DAC compares to the Bel Canto DAC2 since it is competing in the same price range. Did the Stello DAC differ from one transport to the other, as you only mentioned the Theta transport?

Timothy Hammond

Unfortunately, even reviewers can only have so much equipment on hand. So no, I was not able to compare the DA220 to the DAC2 because I didn't have a DAC2 here. However, in the coming months you'll see a review of the Benchmark Media DAC1, which I do have in my system. Of course, it will go head to head with the DA220. Finally, I only used the DA220 with the Theta transport; however, I am interested in hearing the DA220 with April Music's companion transport, the Stello CDT200, and I've let the company know. We'll see what comes of the request....Doug Schneider


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