[SoundStage!]Archived Letters
March 2005


Focus Audio alternatives?

March 23, 2005

To Doug Schneider,

Can you provide a short list of speakers that closely match the sound of the Focus Audio FS-688? I am in the market for new minimonitors, but I am not able to spend $2500.

Craig Jenest

Don't feel bad -- most people don't have $2500 to spend on speakers. Besides, today the FS-688s are closer to $3000! If you have your heart set on them, though -- and I don't blame you if you do, they're outstanding -- you might want to shop around on the used market. Alternatively, if you're looking for high performance and a scrumptious real-wood veneer with heavy lacquer like the FS-688 has, the only speaker less expensive that I can recommend is Paradigm's Signature S2, which is also quite amazing and costs $1900-$2200 depending on finish....Doug Schneider

Speaker impedance and amplifier power

March 16, 2005

To Doug Schneider,

I read your review of the PSB Image 2B bookshelf speakers. I am considering these speakers, and I want to match them with either a Rotel RA-01 or a JoLida JD-1701 integrated amplifier. These amplifiers are rated at 8 ohms, but I noticed the PSB is at a nominal 6 ohms. Knowing there is an "ohm difference" between the speaker and the amp, can they be matched together?

Gianluca DeCapua

When you say that the Rotel and JoLida amps are rated at "8 ohms," that's simply in reference to their output power into that load. Almost all manufacturers stated the rated output into 8-ohm loads -- consider it an "industry standard." However, that says nothing about the amp's ability to drive lower or higher impedances, which all amplifiers will handle to varying degrees. The question in this case is how the amps you mention will handle the PSB Image 2B loudspeakers, which are said to have a 6-ohm nominal impedance. This is a scenario where measurements can certainly help.

If you look at the measurements we published, you can see the impedance plot as it relates to frequency in Chart 4. For the most part impedance hovers around 8 ohms or above, dipping to about 5 ohms at 40Hz and 200Hz. As with almost every speaker, the impedance is never constant across the frequency band. PSB rates the 2B as 6 ohms, likely because it dips to 5 ohms, but I could see many considering it simply an 8-ohm speaker, which is essentially "normal." Whatever the case, for the most part, it's a fairly easy speaker to drive, and I can't imagine any well-designed amplifier will have trouble with it. As well, the anechoic sensitivity is 87.5dB, meaning with only about one watt from your amplifier the SPL (sound-pressure level) will be about 87.5 decibels, and with two watts you can achieve just over 90 decibels (assuming the speaker to be an 8-ohm load). The Rotel RA-01, then, which the company says can deliver 40Wpc into 8 ohms, should be more than sufficient to drive the 2Bs in a modest-sized room....Doug Schneider

Onix review and measurements?

March 15, 2005

To Doug Schneider,

You guys do such an excellent job. Have you ever done, or will you ever do, a review and measurements on Onix Rocket-series speakers?

Paul Connor

We've reviewed some of the Rocket products on Home Theater & Sound and GoodSound!, which are sister sites to this one. However, we only publish measurements on SoundStage!, and at the moment we don't have those speakers in for review. If we do schedule them, though, you can be sure we'll attempt to have them measured....Doug Schneider

PiTracer noise?

March 11, 2005


Thank you for your review of the 47 Lab PiTracer. Please allow me a question. In a very quiet room, can one hear the noise generated by the spindle motor and/or the motor of the moving head unit?

Todd Parker

I could hear the motor of the PiTracer when I was within a few feet of the unit (not the movement of the head unit), and more so than with most well-made CD players. However, I never found this bothersome, or even noticeable, while I listened. I did point out some functional issues in my review of the PiTracer, but noise wasn't one of them....Marc Mickelson

$1000 system?

March 9, 2005


I am Vietnamese and live in Ho Chi Minh City. I am a reader of SoundStage! Today, I am writing to you to ask your advice for buying an audio system. My budget is around $1000, and I would like to buy a system for listening to the music that could be upgraded later to home theater.

I would appreciate it if you could give me your recommendation for this.

Thai Minh

In your price range, you will find many good products to read about on our www.goodsound.com site. Off the top of my head, I would recommend an NAD integrated amp (or receiver if you can stretch your budget), Axiom M3ti speakers, and an inexpensive Sony DVD/CD/SACD player, with DH Labs Silver Sonic cables. All of that should cost you around $1000 USD....Marc Mickelson

Driving Maggies

March 7, 2005


I just bought Magnepan MG1.6/QR speakers, and now the rest of my system is looking a bit anemic. I have an older Pass Aleph 3 amp, which runs in pure class A at 30Wpc, matched with a Creek passive preamp. I can tell that with some CDs (I have a Sony SACD player) there isn't enough volume and I have a sense that the soundstage is compressed. I'm wondering if adding a regular preamp would solve the problem, or do I need to consider a new amp and preamp for the system? Do you know anything about the Odyssey preamp? If I decide to buy a new amp I was considering it.

Guy Russell

The issue could be two different things. First, your amp may not have adequate power for the Magnepan speakers, which are insensitive. Second, your SACD player may not have enough output to drive your passive preamp, and the speakers now show this to be true. I would start with the amp -- it's the most likely culprit. Borrow a more powerful amp -- say, 100Wpc at a minimum -- from a dealer or friend and see if that solves your problem. If it doesn't, try the same with an active preamp.

Odyssey electronics would be a good choice for use with your Maggies, as they are also high-quality products sold at very reasonable prices and the amps should have more than enough power to drive your speakers....Marc Mickelson

French toast and power cords

March 2, 2005


Thanks for the great review of Cardas Golden Reference interconnects and speaker cables. I lived in Madison, WI from 1988-2001 and thoroughly enjoyed your reference to Monty's Blueplate Diner. I've also eaten there a number of times and agree that there is not a bad item on the menu. In fact, the French toast is the best I've ever had, and the Meatloaf of the Gods is also tough to beat. And then there are the pies!

I have a pair of the Cardas Golden Reference interconnects and really enjoy them. But I do have a question about the power cords that you used for your review, if you don't mind. You wrote that all power cords were from Shunyata Research. I have an Audio Aero Capitole II CD player, and I am looking for a power cord for it. I currently have one Cardas Golden Reference power cord and one Harmonix Studio Master. My plan is to keep the Harmonix and replace the Cardas. Both the dealer from whom I purchased the CD player and the dealer from whom I just ordered my amp sell Shunyata and therefore speak highly of the cords, but I've also read some good things about other cords, including the Harmonix and Electraglide. Also, if I do go with Shunyata, I'm trying to decide between the Python and the Anaconda. I realize the Anaconda is about twice the price, but I didn't know if it is significantly better. I've read many positive things about the Anaconda, but not that many about the Python.

Thanks again for your reviews. I live in Platteville, WI now and have limited access to dealers, so your reviews are a valued source of information.

Bob Gates

I use Shunyata power cords because I like them more than any other power cords. I've tried many others, and I keep coming back to those from Shunyata because they seem to bring out the best in the products I own and review. I bought my first Hydra a few years ago, and I now own a Model-8, which is even better. Caelin Gabriel, the design mind behind Shunyata, knows his stuff.

Regarding a power cord for your Audio Aero Capitole II CD player, I first have to ask if you use the player directly into your amp or through a preamp. If it's the former, you will want to use one of Shunyata Research's Alpha cords; if the latter, a Vx will be the right choice. The Vx cords are for strict digital gear, while the Alpha cords are for everything else. If you can afford an Anaconda, whether Alpha or Vx, you will get the most from your player with it, but I've used older Python power cords and they sound very good as well. Let your budget help you decide.

I don't live in Madison any longer, but when I visit family there I make sure to eat at Monty's at least once. I had forgotten about the French toast, probably because I almost always order the pancakes, which are the best I've had anywhere. And yes, the pies are amazing!...Marc Mickelson


[SoundStage!]All Contents
Copyright SoundStage!
All Rights Reserved