Q&A # 200 - October 11, 2000
Q I have purchased a pair of TITAN Sovereign T4 loudspeakers rated at 75w, which on the manufacturer’s recommendation are being powered by a Sony 930 AV Amplifier. Within each housing there are two, high frequency cones, each rated 4 ohms, and wired in series, total 8 ohms, and one, 4 ohms, mid frequency, 6" cone wired in series, to a 6", 4 ohms bass cone, again total 8 ohms. All cones are single wound, aluminum construction.
My problem is that the 6" bass cones, having failed on five separate occasions, I have requested a satisfactory repair only to be advised as follows:
The manufacturer intends to replace one 6" bass cone, for a 6", 8 ohms, double wound, aluminum cone. In order to match resistance he intends to restrict the mid range 6" cone, using a 4 ohms resistor.
He is only undertaking this work to one speaker cabinet. Is this a viable option? Does the second speaker cabinet need the same treatment to achieve a balance? Can I expect a difference in sound to my original purchase? Should I insist that all four 6" aluminum cones be replaced with double wound 8 ohms cones?
Unfortunately I feel completely baffled with scientific jargon and I do not understand the technicalities involved. What should have been a pleasurable purchase has become an on going nightmare.
A Yes, whatever changes the manufacturer makes to one of the speakers should also be made to the other. Even the slightest tonality change due to the modifications would throw the sound out of balance if it were only on one side.
Q I have a high resolution video camera (450 lines). Is there a "device" that will convert the composite video output from
analog to digital so I can use the signal in my computer?
A Yes, something like the Pinnacle DV-500, which is a digital video card to go in a PCI slot of your computer, will do the job superbly. There are also other cards, such as the Dazzle DV Creator, which convert analog video to digital video. They are not as sophisticated as the DV-500, but they are relatively inexpensive. The DV-500 will let you control a digital VCR from your computer for editing and uploading to a digital cassette tape.
Q My system is as follows: HK AVR85 5 channel receiver, Parasound HCA 1500 power amp for the mains, Sony DVP-S715 DVD-player (now being modified with new clock and and analog output), Project 6.9 turntable, Rotel RIAA, Infinity speakers, and PSB sub. I am thinking of adding a 2 channel preamp between the AVR85 and the HCA 1500, and then hook up the turntable and
analog output of the DVD into the preamp. I think this will give me the best from two worlds. I haven't tried this yet, but have understood that the Densen Beat-200 has a processor in/out, and your review made me consider this preamp. Another preamp is the Parasound PLD-1100, which I can get a good deal on. I can get the B-200 for $1200 with the RIAA mounted, and the PLD-1100 for $1000 including Kimber AC cord. No RIAA. I live in Norway, so prices on Scandinavian products are not so high. Which is the
best deal, and how do I hook it up? How is the RIAA on the Densen?
A I think you would be better off getting a tube preamplifier. Otherwise, the sound will not be so much different from what you already have. Especially since you listen to vinyl, you will appreciate a triode setup. In any case, you just pass the tube preamp, or whatever preamp you decide on, through the receiver, to your power amplifier. That way, you don't have to unplug your interconnects when switching between systems using the source control on your receiver. The analog out of your DVD player and turntable go to the inputs on the tube preamp, while the digital out from your DVD player goes to the digital input on your receiver.
Q I thoroughly enjoyed your review of the M&K S-1C and MX-700 system. I am currently rebuilding my house and planning whole-house music, LAN, switched video etc. In the family room (25' x 18' x 9' ceiling) I am planning a 65" in wall TV along the 25' wall (center of the screen 10' from the right corner), with all the electronics and the center channel also in wall. I would like to put the L/R speakers in the room, along with the sub(s) and surrounds. I want to have very high quality music, and good THX as well. I do not want to be chained to the sofa for music listening (vertical directionality is a concern). I am thinking about the M&K THX-150 system, but substituting the S-1Cs for the L/R, and two MX-700s for the sub. What do you think? Would the S-1Cs be compatible with the S-150 center channel (if not, could a third S-1C serve as the center, in wall?), as well as compatible with the SS-150 surrounds? I assume the S-1C would be excellent for movies, but is this a good assumption? Finally, should I just go with the 150THX (i.e., is the musical quality close to the S-1C, and is my vertically directional concern about the S-150s, which are advertised as very vertically directed, overblown)?
A It just so happens that I had the S-150s side by side with the S-1Cs. Slightly different speaker, but close enough that if you wanted to, you could mix them with terrific results, though that's not the route I'd take if you haven't invested in either yet, and can get around the placement constraints.
Before we get into it, since you're going to have your center channel placed behind the left and right, make sure that you get a receiver or processor that has more than just a center channel delay, but one that can actually delay the left and right speakers in relation to the center. If you're going to take the time to match the loudspeakers, might as well get the time-alignment thing right too.
So, you could use the S-1Cs to match a S-150 center channel, and it would work quite well, although for the sake of 5.1 use, even though they're both excellent, if possible, I'd go with all three speakers as the same, one or the other, for the same reason that you wouldn't buy one model of a speaker for the left, and the other for the right. The frequency response, if set correctly on the S-1C's tonality settings, will be very similar to most of the M&K line, let alone the S-150s, and because of that you're pretty much guaranteed a decent match.
However, because they use different crossovers with different associated phase and dispersion characteristics, it will inhibit the ultimate potential of the LCR array in terms of coherence and depth. Keep in mind, the match between most M&K models is unusually terrific, but that I'm being very picky about this because you're asking.
Even if the vast majority of movie titles may not require the degree of revelation that better high quality 2 channel music recordings do, DVD-A is on the way, and it doesn't hurt to be prepared. So, if you can build an S-1C into the wall, make sure to fill the cavity with fiber fill and make the wall and everything in it very acoustically inert. If not, let me offer another option.
S-1Cs can work in a THX system in terms of frequency response accuracy, clean output, and integration with the THX crossover scheme, but are not THX certifiable due to an asymmetrical vertical response, which is caused by the asymmetrical driver array.
The S-1Cs are excellent for movies, though perhaps a bit richer than the S-150s, and not just quite as up-front. The S-150s have a slightly flatter frequency response overall, though I think that with the tonal contours set as I like them (mid set to high-efficiency, treble set to normal, or medium), the S-1Cs have a slightly smoother treble (and according to M&K, because of the transmission-line tweeter, a better response in the time domain as well). The treble is always clear, and in both cases as extended as I require.
As far as vertical directivity concerns, unless you sit very far away, if you're critical about the sound quality, you're as good as nailed to the chosen seating level. With THX vertical directivity, although it may help with more focused sonic images, you're not going to get an accurate treble response if you go past 5 or 6 degrees on the vertical axis, which is why M&K makes stands with an adjustable tilt to really zero everything in. With the S-1Cs, you can relax the vertical directivity with a flip of a switch, and give yourself a taller listening area if you so choose.
Also, though I had never met the dynamic limitations of the S-150 in my own listening, the S-150 does not use Ferro Fluid for the main tweeter (the center one, the top and bottom are mostly for limiting dispersion), and the S-1C does on both. Combined with the push-pull mid-bass arrangement, the S-1C might fare a little better in terms of extreme dynamics, though I wouldn't suggest exploring that limit without good medical insurance for your hearing.
But about that other option. There is another speaker made by M&K that I'm quite fond of, that is somewhat of a cross between the S-1C and the S-150. It has the Ferro Fluid and transmission line of the S-1C in the main tweeter, the selectable vertical dispersion of the S-1C, the physical dimensions and slightly more accurate tonal balance of the S-150, and is even available as a powered model (almost went for the powered model, but my duties as a reviewer took hold of my reality of limited funds, and I opted
for the passive models simply so I could afford to keep my amps to evaluate other speakers, and to have something of the same ilk to compare those passive speakers to). They're the MPS-2510s, MSRP $899 each (black lacquer). They are marketed under M&K's professional division. Check out http://www.mkprofessional.com/mps2510.html for a look. Now imagine them in dark cherry, yum....
I have seen the standard MPS-2510 at a consumer dealer location, so a regular dealer could probably order them for you. The S-150s I auditioned (never got around to writing up a review and just paid for them, sorry) were actually converted to 2510s simply by changing the foam, tweeter, and crossover section. If you want the option to use grilles, be sure to specify the consumer cabinet, as the professional model, it seems, doesn't have them. I don't know if you can audition those particular speakers at a consumer dealer's store, though if you like the S-150s and the S-1Cs, I can't see not being happy with the 2510s.
Any of the above mentioned speakers would work splendidly with the SS-150 surrounds. Keep in mind that they all want a plentiful supply of clean power, so if you get into any of the passive models, a good outboard amp is pretty much a must! Two MX-700s would be great, on my list of a dream team, but if your room is very large, consider the possibility of some of their larger models as
well. Experiment with placement before you lock yourself in. It would suck to find out your perfect spot on a lark after you couldn't use it because you'd devoted it to some built-in piece of furniture.
Q I have a chance to buy a pair of used Infinity Renaissance 90 speakers. Do you know of any links, magazine reviews, and do you have any comments? I want to pair them with a Bryston power amplifier.
A I had some sales lit which had reprints of quite a few glowing reviews, mostly from foreign (not US) publications, but don't recall the magazines, let alone the specific issues. I recall some reviewers in Spain, Japan, and Germany in particular being quite fond of both the 90s, and their little brothers, the 80s. I've had a pair of each, and found them both splendid speakers with a wide variety of music given decent recordings. Compared to the average consumer speaker, they are a little lean on the mid-bass, but I consider that a strong point, as many speakers emphasize mid-bass to compensate for lack of low bass, which the 90s excel at.
The tonal balance top to bottom is very neutral, although the very top is perhaps a bit overly airy directly on-axis, which of course can be a very pleasant experience, making some recordings seem just that more naked. The high treble in that region is a little more directional that some conventional speakers, as the EMIT is a little wider than a standard dome. Dynamic presentation is pretty good up to fairly loud playback levels, although there are better speakers available if dynamics are your main concern. I could go into a lot of detail as to why they were a splendid example of intelligent loudspeaker engineering. If you'd like to know specific technical details, just ask. Let me just say that I consider them a classic, and along the lines of what Infinity was originally founded on, in the price range of under $6,000, one of the best that the company has put forth, ever. At $1,000 USD, even used, and
discontinued, I'd call it a steal. But save a bit for the Bryston so you can get one with plenty of juice. Those babies are absolute power hogs, and for some reason, drive more delicate amplifiers straight into the dirt.
Q I recently upgraded my main speakers to ProAc Response One SCs which I'm using with my Bag End Infrasub and, oh my, what a spine-tingling revelation! I'm currently purchasing old MoFi titles while I can, and am enjoying other titles from Chesky, Reference Recordings, etc. My question concerns the future formats such as SACD and DVD-Audio. I've adopted the position of watchful waiting since this is in transition and have elected to place my current emphasis on mature technologies such as speakers and amplification. I would like to add either a SimAudio I-5 integrated amp or a Cary CAD-300 SEI to my system; however, I would like to know how they will sound with the new formats. Will SACD and DVD-Audio require "improved" bandwidth, frequency response, slew rate, etc. with respect to preamps and amps, or is this a non-issue?
A The frequency response will be a non-issue because the improvement with SACD and DVD-A will be in the audible range, not so much in the > 20 kHz frequencies. Most of the energy from musical recordings appears between about 60 Hz and 6 kHz, an area you would think regular CDs might do just fine. Yet, SACD and DVD-A are noticeably better. The reasons are complex, but basically, 16 bits and 44.1 kHz sampling was just barely adequate. As to slew rate, this is hard to say until I get my hands on a few players. Theoretically, a very fast amplifier might make a difference, but practically, it probably will not. My guess is that SACD and DVD-A will sound better than before, regardless of whatever else is in your system.
Q I am starting to make plans for some home theater upgrades. After surfing the web for information on which way to go, boy am I confused. With all the talk about HDTV, 6 & 7 channel audio formats, progressive scan, composite out, component out, S-Video, interlaced, etc., etc., I don't even know where to start. Add to that the fact some people say certain TVs won't work properly with certain DVD players. (Supposedly Toshiba Theater Wide RPTVs need Toshiba Progressive Scan DVD players) and on and on... PLEASE HELP!!!!!
Seriously though, at this point in time is it maybe smarter to just wait until format and compatibility issues get solved? I fear spending a bunch of money now, only to find out later that if I had waited a year or two, I could have done it much better and cheaper. Am I ignorant or confused? Or both?
By the way, I'm happy with the movie sound and not so happy with the music sound of my system. My DVD player's video cuts out from time to time (I'm told this is normal for A-110s). And my television seems to be getting tired.
Sherwood Newcastle R945 MKII
Panasonic A-110 DVD (not very happy with this unit)
Klipsch Speakers (4 KG 3.5, 1 C5 center, SW 12) all about 7 years old
Mitsubishi 35" direct view, also about 7 years old
Marantz RC2000 MKII
Sony S-VHS VCR
Sony Hi-8 VCR
Monster Cable throughout - M550i interconnects, Video 3 S-VHS connects,
very ordinary in wall speaker cable to the mains and rears, Transparent
Wave to the center channel
A You are not ignorant, or confused, just cautious, and properly so. There is a lot of change going on out there, and products are expensvive. Toshiba has some of their own names for component video, but they are still component video, so the outputs should work with any TV that has component video inputs. As long as your receiver has a set of 5.1 analog inputs, you should be fine with SACD and DVD-A coming down the pipe. New players that can play SACD and DVD-A are about to be released, in the $1,000 range, so I would wait for one of those. It is difficult to say what is going to happen with THX Surround EX (discrete 6.1). If it looks like it is taking hold, probably all receivers will have it within two years.
Q I was keen on buying the Klipsch reference speakers. I would be spending 80%music and 20% HT. However, I have
read various comments about the speakers. Some argue that
1. Klipsch has good marketing but lousy products
2. Horn loaded speakers are not good for music or even HT
What are your comments regarding
1. Horn loaded speakers
2. Klipsch reference speakers for 80:20 (Music : HT)
A If the horn is not properly designed, it can sound like a megaphone, but Klipsch has been making horn loaded speakers for decades and does a good job of it. The advantage of horns is that they are very sensitive, so you can drive them with small amplifiers. With the advent of sound in movie theaters, they were using big horn speakers and amplifiers with only 2 or 3 watts of power. The sound filled the auditorium. Horns are really useful with single ended triode amplifiers, because they are usually very low power. Horns are also useful with receivers, because receiver amplifiers are not very powerful.
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