[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
August 2004


Connecting the P-70 and D-70

August 26, 2004


My question refers to your review of the Esoteric P-70 and D-70. Could you please describe which cables I need and how to connect them? From P-70 to D-70, straight into a Krell FPB-600C amp.

Rickard Laufer

There are two issues when using the Esoteric P-70 and D-70: connecting the two units to each other, and connecting the D-70 DAC to your amplifier. To hear the combo at its best, you'll want to use the pair's AES-3 digital connectivity, which means two AES/EBU cables from DAC to transport unit and then a BNC-terminated coaxial cable for word-sync connection. In terms of connecting the DAC to your amp, balanced analog output sounds best, so you'll need a pair of balanced interconnects, which you'll run from the balanced analog outputs of the D-70 to the inputs of your amplifier. The D-70 controls volume in the digital domain....Marc Mickelson

Stello in Canada?

August 24, 2004

To Doug Schneider,

I have a Sony SCD-1 that I am somewhat bored with. I'd like to hear a bit more "air" and PRAT. To this end, I am looking for an outboard DAC and wonder if you think the Stello DA220 would fit the bill. I'm interested in this because of your review and the modest price.

I should add that I've tried a few outboard DACs, including such highly touted units as the Audio Aero, but I did not think there was enough improvement over the Sony's DACs to justify an expenditure.

Do you know if Stello equipment is sold in Canada? I've also e-mailed Jay Bertrand, the US distributor, about this.

Ken Lee Choi

If you're bored with your current player, then looking around for something new isn't such a bad thing. After all, part of the fun of high-end audio is the abundance of new, different, and interesting products. Whether the Stello DA220 DAC will be right for you, though, is only a question that you'll be able to answer. As you mention, the price is right -- and that's one of the reasons I praised the DA220 so highly in my review. Right now, though, I know of no Canadian sellers of the product; however, if you can find a retailer in the US I'm sure they'd have no trouble getting a unit into Canada....Doug Schneider

"Siltech is...special"

August 18, 2004


While I was using Nordost Red Dawn cables, a friend from Peak Audio brought over two Siltech Generation 3 interconnects. I forget the models, but they were $700 and $1700 CDN. He put one on the CD player and it was a transformation. We listened for awhile, and he smiled. He then put the second between amp and preamp. Bass seemed to extend forever, and the sheer ease and timbral fullness made me say that the sound was almost tube-like. At this point I would have bought them and forgotten about cables. Please note that Nordost Red Dawn speaker cables remained in the system while the Siltech interconnects were used.

Several people tried the Siltech cables locally and had the same observations. They were all about the music -- you could forget about the equipment. My friend did mention that the Siltech cables worked very well with single-ended gear. Eventually I went to Acoustic Zen Satori and Matrix Reference, and Ixos Ixotica to get similar sound.

Having heard Siltech's earlier efforts, I am not surprised at your experience with the Signature G6 cables. Siltech is, in my opinion, special, just as some triode tubes are.

Lloyd Smith

Thanks, thanks, thanks

August 16, 2004

To Doug Schneider,

You da man! Yoouuu DA MAN!

I came across your review of Focus Audio's Signature FS-688. After a patient reading of the review -- twice -- I wanted to give the speakers an audition. Thank you for your expertise in reviewing these speakers. I listened to them, looked at them, and knew I would buy them. Thanks again for your knowledge and help. Thanks for your time and effort in writing the review.

I had listened to several speakers in the $2000-4000 range and liked these the most. I bought them at a superb dealer in New Jersey, Sonic Spirits. Phil, the owner, gave me outstanding customer care.

Thanks very much for your help, Doug.

Ron Henry

Magnepan stand

August 13, 2004

To Wes Phillips,

Great review of the Magnepan MMG W and MMG C.  Just curious, do you know where to get the stand used in the picture for the center-channel speaker? I called Magnepan, but they don't offer it.

Shane Taylor

I don't think I've ever gotten more comments on a review than I have on the Maggies -- and you wouldn't believe how many of them were about that stand!

I don't know where Magnepan got it, but they probably acquired it so long ago that the stands aren't being made anymore. No one I've spoken to at the company can remember when or where they picked it up, and I've browsed quite a few websites looking for one.

In my new home-theater room, my screen is mounted a tad low because of a slightly low ceiling, and I have found that a Paradigm Reference Seismic 12 Subwoofer puts the center-channel at the precise height needed to place it a fraction of an inch below the projected image. Sometimes things just work out right....Wes Phillips

Studio 40 v.3 or S2?

August 11, 2003

To Doug Schneider,

I just finished reading your review of Paradigm's Signature S2 speakers. I have a pair of Paradigm Studio 40 v.3s. I am currently using an older NAD 7175PE receiver. I will soon replace the NAD with either Rotel separates or a Musical Fidelity integrated amp. How would you compare the Studio 40 v.3 to the S2? This may be a hard comparison to make because you didn't address the Studio 40 v.3s, but I thought I would ask. My speakers are a little less than a year old. The store from which I purchased them gives an extremely attractive trade-in on speakers they sell if they are less than a year old at trade-in.

Bill Bretz

The Signature S2 is most similar to the Studio 20 in terms of size and driver configuration, and it's the S4 that is similar to the Studio 40 v.3. In my review I compared the S2 to the Studio 20 v.3. Unfortunately, I don't have enough direct experience with the Studio 40 v.3 to give you a definitive answer. However, I can give you some general information that may help you make a decision.

Appearance-wise, all of the speakers in the Signature series are a substantial improvement over those in the Studio series. The Signature models have glossy finishes and real-wood veneers, along with those curved cabinet shapes that really look sharp. Sonically, I found similarity between the S2 and Studio 20 v.3, but I found that in every area the S2 was better -- from the lows to the highs. Based on the fact that the Studio 40 v.3 has a larger cabinet and two woofers, I suspect that it can go deeper in the bass than the S2; however, the S2 bettered the Studio 20 v.3 in the mids and highs. Because the Studio 20 and 40 v.3 use the same kind of cabinet construction, drivers, and crossover components, I can only speculate that the S2 can better the Studio 40 v.3 in those areas as well. It would likely come down to how important deeper bass is to you (the Studio 40 v.3 has that, I suspect, over the S2) over the other aspects of performance (which the S2 likely has over the Studio 40 v.3)....Doug Schneider

Vocal imaging on Fidelio Audio CD

August 9, 2004


I recently acquired the highly regarded CD by Doreen Smith, In the Still of the Night: A Tribute to Julie London. I was very disappointed with several of the tracks with regard to the imaging of the vocals. I have painstakingly assembled my listening room -- first reflections are eliminated, my speakers are precisely positioned, and I have numerous other reference recordings that establish the accuracy of my setup. So, all that said, Ms. Smith's vocal presentation appears to slant to the middle left in the soundstage in most of the tracks. Additionally, the track times are mislabeled on the liner notes.

I guess my question is, Am I hearing what was intended? I hope so, as I certainly do not wish to adjust the balance and insult the engineers! Incidentally, in all the reviews that I have read of this recording, there is no reference to the positioning of the vocals.

Kelly Williamson

After receiving your message, I listened to the CD again, both on my reference system and with a portable player and headphones. I can say that when I purely concentrate on the vocals, on some songs they do seem to be very slightly to the left of center. However, on "Route 66," they seem very slightly to the right. In either case, it's not a huge shift -- I've heard similar things happening on other CDs. To what is it attributable? I can't say for sure, but perhaps Doreen Smith, the vocalist, was shifting her position from track to track. Fidelio Audio is a purist recording label, and therefore I would expect such movement to be conveyed in the recording....Marc Mickelson

I can't say that I noticed the position shift per se when I reviewed the disc, but I've heard such a phenomenon on other discs. One guess, and that's all it is, would be that the songs where Ms. Smith appears in one place were recorded at one session, and when she moves, on other tracks, those are from a second session. Or, as Marc noted, and I would tend to agree, she may have shifted position around the mike during the recording as she sang. I've always rather liked when that happens, as it lets me know that the recording is as accurate as possible. Fidelio Audio's Rene LaFlamme is a stickler for accuracy....John Crossett

MAXX 2 and value

August 5, 2004


Please stop saying $50,000 speakers are good value. You sound like a crazy person. Even a $50,000 Mercedes is not good value.

Please remove head from rear for a moment and try to comprehend the following statistic. The United States is the wealthiest nation history has ever known, and the average hourly national wage is $17.18. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks a year, that's $35,734.40 per annum.

Please don't insult North America by proclaiming speakers costing more than a year and a half's salary are good value. Crack really does fry the brain. Just say no. Remember the eggs in the frying pan?

Mark Slywka

At no point in my review did I say that the Wilson Audio MAXX 2s are a "good value." I wrote:

"Yes, a pair of MAXX 2s is wildly expensive, but...that they are obviously cut from the same sonic cloth as the far more expensive X-2 Alexandria at least suggests that they may be a bargain of sorts."

The average hourly wage has nothing to do with loudspeakers like the MAXX 2, which are obviously not made for someone who can't afford them. This is the same for all kinds of luxury goods. No one person sets the threshold at which any product is considered too expensive. The market does that....Marc Mickelson

Power problems

August 4, 2004

To Doug Schneider,

After a Google for "power conditioner," I read your review of the ExactPower EP15A and got a sneaking suspicion about my own setup.

Please allow me to describe the problem I am having. Since moving from an apartment to a house a little over a year ago, my modest home-theater system has not been the same. When I power on my subwoofer (MB Quart), I get an annoying 60Hz hum even without being plugged into a source. Since moving, my Kenwood VR309 receiver shuts down if I turn up the volume on a digital source (digital coax or optical). This past weekend the receiver would shut down from any source if the volume is turned up too high for too long.

Until reading your article I decided the Kenwood was on its last legs (at only four years old), but before I open the wallet and invest in a replacement unit, I would like to be sure about a few things first.

Is it possible that I am getting fluctuations in my AC that are causing the Kenwood to enter a protective mode and shut down? The unit isn't particularly warm when it shuts off, and I can power it back on immediately (if I don't turn down the volume it shuts down again). Other minor electrical problems in the house (light sockets that kill bulbs in days) lead me to believe that perhaps the power to the Kenwood is suspect. Any quick diagnostic tips to verify this hunch? Perhaps testing the receiver by plugging into a UPS that isn't plugged into the wall?

All my components (TV, DVD, cable, receiver, Xbox, infrared transponder) are distributed between two power strips that plug into the same wall socket.

Any tips would be appreciated.

Rex Staples

The fact that there's a correlation between moving into a new place and component problems points to a possible power issue. After all, if your system was working fine before and not now, what else would be the culprit? Before you try any expensive devices -- like conditioners or UPS units -- try your equipment on a reliable power source -- such as at friend's house. As well, you might want to try simply calling your local electric company and telling them about the problems. A friend of mine did that a few years ago and the electric company sent a technician to test the power in the house. Sure enough, they found out that the power delivered to his house had some problems and they were able to fix it, although I don't know exact what the problem was or how they fixed it. To me, doing this is key because the power to your devices should at least be reasonable, even straight from the wall socket. Even though my building's power is not ideal, it's not bad enough to the point where components won't work correctly....Doug Schneider

MAXX 2 or WATCH Dog 2?

August 3, 2004


I have Wilson Audio WATT/Puppy 6 speakers and have listened to the WATT/Puppy 7s. Besides their bass, which is a little too soft/warm/polite, I like them, but sometimes I would like to play music louder and have more bass output and impact than the WATT/Puppy 6 can provide without strain. I've heard the suggestion of getting a subwoofer, but then I'm approaching the price of the MAXX 2. Besides, I can't place a WATCH Dog 2, for example, and I have always liked two smaller subs better than one large one. I haven't heard the WATCH Dog 2, though, so I can't make such a statement about it in particular.

Would it make sense to save a bit longer for the MAXX 2 or pursue a WATCH Dog 2? I'd like to hear both setups in person, but it's hard to find places where I can make the comparison.

Matthias Menz

Your question is one I purposely ignored addressing in my MAXX 2 review for the sake of brevity (I still had a lot to say about the speakers), but it is a good one. In my opinion, the MAXX 2 is superior in every way to the WATT/Puppy 7, something I say only after some consideration given how much I admire the smaller Wilson Audio speaker. Adding the WATCH Dog 2 to the WATT/Puppy 7s will certainly increase and lower the system's bass output, but I would still choose the MAXX 2, whose bass has stunning dynamics -- greater than that of the WATT/Puppy 7 and WATCH Dog 2 by my recollection -- and is more detailed as well. And this does not speak to the overall greater resolution of the MAXX 2, much of which comes from its enormous dynamic range. If I were in your shoes, I would purchase MAXX 2s and not look back....Marc Mickelson


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