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Product Review - Platinum Audio Studio-3 Floor Standing and Studio-1 Center Channel Speakers - July, 1997

By James D. Moretti

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Platinum Studio Series Speakers; Studio-3; Floorstanding; Two and one half-way design; One 5" polypropylene woofer; One 5" polypropylene woofer-mid-range; One 1" aluminum dome tweeter; Crossover frequencies 200 Hz and 2.5 kHz; Vented box design; Two 1 1/4" flared ports on rear; Bowed perforated steel grille; Frequency response 35 Hz - 20 kHz 2 dB; Sensitivity 89 dB/w/m; Nominal impedance 7 Ohms; Bi-wirable; Size 39.5"H x 9.5"W x 13"D; Weight 75 pounds each; Wood grain vinyl finish (AMARI) with black goatskin top and bottom panels; $1,695/pair; Studio-1 Center Channel; Bookshelf; Two-way design; One 5" polypropylene woofer-mid-range; One 1" aluminum dome tweeter; Crossover frequency 2.5 kHz; Vented box design; Two 1 1/4" flared ports on rear; Bowed perforated steel grille; Frequency response 50 Hz - 20 kHz 2 dB; Sensitivity 86 dB/w/m; Nominal impedance 8 Ohms; Bi-wirable; Size 8.5"H x 13"W x 13"D; Weight 23 pounds; "True Grit Black" finish; $525; Platinum Audio Ltd., 10 Commerce Park North, Unit 12, Bedford, New Hampshire 03110-6905; Phone 603-647-7586; Fax 603-647-7290; Web http://www.platinumaudio.com/.

First, our congratulations to Platinum Audio for receiving the award for Best New Company, 1997, from the Hi-Fi '97 Show in San Francisco a few weeks ago.

When I first saw the Studio-3s, I thought they had a wood veneer. It looks like the Jarrah finish on some of the other speakers in the lab. When JJ told me it was not real wood, I had to look very close to be able to see that it was not. I put a Jarrah wood speaker next to it, and from 3 feet away, they looked identical. I don't know what AMARI is, but it sure is a cool finish. No splitting over time, no need to wax it. Just a damp cloth now and then. The top fooled me too. I thought it was vinyl. Looks like the material on the dash of my sports car. But no, it's goatskin. (Maybe the dash in my car is goatskin!) So, after the frequency response tests were made, I took them home, along with the Studio-1 Center Channel Speaker (which just has a black painted finish . . . drats!) My wife REALLY liked the look of these speakers. I have a little girl now, who is just beginning to walk. I let her touch the front of the Studios all she wanted. The grille is made of aluminum mesh, and it is real sturdy. The engineer who designed this must have young kids too. I think she is going to be an electrical engineer though, because she quickly got bored with the grille, and went back to pushing the buttons on the receiver (we keep the volume control down kind of low, just so we don't get any window shattering surprises).

On the rear of the speakers, between the two ports and the binding posts, is a 5" x 5" panel of sixteen aluminum vanes, about 1/4" deep. They look like heat sinks, and they serve a dual purpose. One is to dampen cabinet vibrations, and the other is to dissipate heat from the crossover network. There are some commercial vibration absorbers that can be attached to speakers, but the ones on the Platinums are built right into the enclosure. At least one other speaker manufacturer is also doing this in their new designs, so it will be interesting to see if this approach takes off.

Platinum Audio sent a set of four Studio-3s along with the center channel speaker, just right for a home theater with full range in the rear (AC-3 and DTS). They are floor standing speakers, but slim line (narrow and deep). They fit sooooo nicely into the spaces next to my couch. Although they are bi-wirable with high quality gold finish metal speaker binding posts, I am not a fan of bi-wiring, so I just pushed in the bananas as is, including the center channel speaker which fit nicely on top of my less-than-bigscreen TV, and fired up the system. All four of the Studio-3s were situated toed in at about 200.

Well, if I was not completely keen on digital surround sound before, I sure am now! I am still in the Dark Ages with just a laserdisc player (my daughter's Spring clothes ate up the budget for the DVD player), but I have a few AC-3 LDs lying around. There is NOTHING like full range sound all the way around the room. Whether or not you end up getting some of the Platinum Audios is your business, but you definitely have to move towards full range speakers in the rear for AC-3 and/or DTS. A HUGE difference! I have heard good AC-3 before in my home theater, but my DTS decoder is new, and JJ let me borrow his library of DTS CDs. Wow! The Studio-3s put the choir and jazz group right in my lap, or rather, me right in theirs. These speakers are REALLY natural in tonality. My wife nodded her head in approval too. Looks like a full set of these things are in the que along with the DVD player (anybody out there know how often we have to buy new shoes for a daughter who is growing like a dandelion?) There has been a discussion on the newsgroups about the unnatural effect that full surround music has. In other words, the listener is right in the middle of the music, rather than sitting in front of it. I guess that all depends on the way you are used to listening to music. Since I play bass in a jazz group most nights of the week, I am very conditioned to sitting right in the middle of the musicians who are playing. So, I LOVE the complete surround effect. Of course, you need good speakers to get the best result, and the Studio-3s are better than good . . . and the Studio Series is their least expensive line!

Most floorstanding slim line speakers using one or two small drivers usually benefit from a good subwoofer. The Studio-3s do alright down to about 40 Hz or so, but I like my bass deep (flat to 20 Hz). Both of the 5" drivers respond up to 200 Hz. The upper driver rolls off at about 250 Hz, while the lower driver responds up to 2.5 kHz. (That's why it is a 2 1/2-way speaker.) Fortunately, I have a little thing called a servo-feedback sub with an 18" driver and lots of amplifier power. I listened with the sub off for awhile, just to get the audio "flavor" of the Studios, but after an hour or so, on went the sub. Now we are talking! Yes, oh yes, that put the icing on the cake. Five inch drivers are OK for woof, woof, bark, bark, but not for T-Rex. That's no criticism of Platinum Audio. Personally, I like floor standers with small drivers, because they are easier to keep under control, and there is usually no "chestiness" to the vocals. Deep bass belongs in a different enclosure as far as I'm concerned.

The Studio-1 Center Channel Speaker is somewhat different than others I have seen. Instead of the often used double driver woofer setup, with a tweeter in the middle, the Platinum has a single woofer and tweeter, as if it were a regular bookshelf speaker laying on its side. From the model number, that is probably exactly what this is. The binding posts and sound damping plates were horizontal instead of vertical as on the Studio-3s. The result was a completely natural sound, as long as I was sitting down. Standing up though, I could hear dramatic shifts in the tonality. All this means is that you have to sit for the best sound. OK, I'll sit, and ask all my friends to sit when I demo these speakers to them. Of course, home theater is really a sitting down situation unless you have sciatica.

Frequency Response (Room Response), Studio-3, left channel only; 1 meter, on-axis, grille cloth on, volume set to 80 dB at 1 kHz :

20 Hz - 59.9 dB
25 Hz - 65.6 dB
31.5 Hz - 64.0 dB
40 Hz - 76.2 dB
50 Hz - 71.3 dB
63 Hz - 81.4 dB
80 Hz - 76.8 dB
100 Hz - 86.3 dB
125 Hz - 75.3 dB
160 Hz - 77.7 dB
200 Hz - 82.6 dB
500 Hz - 78.5 dB
800 Hz - 82.0 dB
1 kHz - 79.5 dB
2.5 kHz - 76.0 dB
5 kHz - 76.1 dB
8 kHz - 81.1 dB
10 kHz - 86.5 dB
12.5 kHz - 84.0 dB
15 kHz - 85.0 dB
18 kHz - 88.1 dB

Frequency Response (Room Response), Studio-3; left channel only; 13 feet, on-axis, grille on, volume set to 80 dB at 1 kHz :

20 Hz - 58.5 dB
25 Hz - 63.0 dB
31.5 Hz - 77.4 dB
40 Hz - 73.0 dB
50 Hz - 70.8 dB
63 Hz - 83.4 dB
80 Hz - 88.3 dB
100 Hz - 76.4 dB
125 Hz - 77.5 dB
160 Hz - 76.9 dB
200 Hz - 92.6 dB
500 Hz - 80.3 dB
800 Hz - 73.7 dB
1 kHz - 80.3 dB
2.5 kHz - 76.5 dB
5 kHz - 80.4 dB
8 kHz - 83.4 dB
10 kHz - 86.7 dB
12.5 kHz - 78.1 dB
15 kHz - 81.4 dB
18 kHz - 83.1 dB

The usable response extends to about 30 Hz - 40 Hz, depending on where the microphone is. The bump at 200 Hz is a room effect. The fellows in the lab say they could hear a bit of harmonic distortion with sine wave tests. Big deal (IMHO). How often do you listen to sine waves? Everything sounded fine to me with music, and that's what counts. I have good ears too. The Platinum Audio Studio-3s and Studio-1 Center Channel Speaker are definitely on the list for audition, if audtions are in your plans. Probably the whole Platinum Audio series is nice, if I am as excellent at generalizing as I think I am.

J.D. Moretti


Copyright 1997 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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