January 2011 issue - Page 4

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I’m hoping you can help clear my head a bit. I’m looking for a new pair of 'speakers, floor standers or bookshelf (can’t even make that decision!). My room is 5m x 9m with the usual soft furnishings. The speakers would need to fit into a space about 2.5mtr apart firing down the room. Unfortunately they will be close to the side wall up to about 6” away from side and 12” from rear.

I’m looking to spend around £1000 but can go £1400ish. My kit (which I’m perfectly happy with – no plans to change) consists of Icon Audio Mk I Stereo 40, Meridian G07 CD, CA 640T and Project 5.1 rpm. Most of my listening is on the turntable and FM radio for back ground listening. Music is varied Rock, Blues, Classical, Prog, Acoustic and I want to get into Jazz (but that’s another letter!).

Having only got into valves about 8 months ago I’ve since clogged my head with so much ‘speaker research I shiver looking at any more and find my self beginning to hate speaker reviews! I know I should audition what I can but living in the frozen wastes of North East England my choices of suppliers is fairly limited. My plan is once I’ve got a shortlist of three or four to try to listen to them. But getting to the elusive three or four is proving to be very difficult. I’m basing my initial idea on something of at least 90dB sensitivity but the more I read the more I understand the ease of drive (cross over) is equally important?




The Mordaunt Short Mezzo 6 offers a svelte sound and is worth hearing.


At the moment I’m using Mezzo 2s, which I quite like. I borrowed some ATC 10s a while ago on the understanding they were a whole step up (at least) from what I was using but to be honest I wasn’t impressed. They certainly pushed the sound into the room (it was like David Bowie was sitting next to me) but I felt as if they were ‘restrained’ somehow. I guess they need more than 40Watts to really drive them.

My short list at present is something by Living  Voice (quite hard to find any info on these apart from their web site, and I imagine quite hard to track down a pair I can listen to) and PMC TB2i.

Also, my first thoughts before I started to get in too deep were Dali Ikons 6s. Oh yeah – almost forgot Icon Audio also do speakers which I guess would fit the bill – can you get a sense of the state of mind I’m in!

Can you recommend any more I should add to this list or give some guide lines (am I being too optimistic aiming for 90dB?).

hoping you can help,



Mordaunt Short Mezzo IIs (I presume you do not mean Goodmans Mezzo IIs from the 1960s!) have quite an easy going sound and are very civil. If that’s what you like – and why not – I would suggest you look further up their range, at the Mezzo 6 for example. ATC and PMC are altogether different by nature and may jar a little. Triangle have a new version of their fine Antal that would likely suit, and Epos are to introduce a new floorstander, the Epic 5, priced at £750, that they say will be accurate. I suspect that the presentation of your Mezzos will not be easily matched though. A Tannoy DC8 would certainly suit, but it is much more expensive. Modern floorstanders manage 90dB from one watt and it is a realistic target. NK



Try a Monitor Audio BX5 says David.


Another good modern floorstander with an open balance and fine, 90dB sensitivity is the Monitor Audio BX5 (£500). It's a little lower than your budget but the rest could be spent on your front end at a later date – or even, perish the thought, music! DP



In reference to your MF Audio’s passive preamp review in the Nov issue I use a tc electronic levelpilot preamp (see I just wonder if anybody has used one and what they think? I use it in lots of different systems and think its a great bit of kit, plus you can pick one up for about £50!

Ian Park.



Hi Ian. Their website say this is a Bourns potentiometer, which is slightly different, because it does not provide gain (i.e. will not make the music louder). The idea of a ‘passive pot’ (potentiometer) is an old one and it works nicely when there is enough spare gain in the system, lets say between  a CD player (2V output) and a power amplifier (1V input absolute maximum). Nearly all CD players (and all other silver disc players) produce 2V or more, and nearly all power amps need 1V for full output so here a passive pot like the Creek OBH-22 which I like to use, works fine. The OBH-22 adds some twiddly bits by having switched inputs and remote control of volume, plus a mute function. That’s all a lot of people need.


The MF Audio is altogether different. It uses an audio step-up transformer and these things are more complex and more expensive than a potentiometer. The advantage is that it provides +6dB of gain (x2), as well as attenuation, just enough to put between many external phono stages, tuners (etc) and a power amplifier. It also breaks ground loops, providing complete isolation of source from power amplifier. There’s much praise for the MF Audio; it’s a great product. NK



We have been experiencing the new Icon Audio MB845s for just over a week. This is an amplifier that does everything. It can make you tingle with Wagnerian delight, or cause tears to roll down your cheeks from nostalgia driven Simon and Garfunkel. Its magic hits everything right between the eyes and expresses the miracles that sound can imbue, inflict, and bestow upon the emotions. The hooligan that was the first MB845 has been sent to Eton, ran away and joined the S.B.S., and has come back transformed beyond our wildest imaginings.




Icon Audio MB845 MkII once belonged to the SBS!


Thank you Noel for putting a picture of it in H.F.W. and suggesting that a reader should get it. The feeling it gives me is like skippering an ocean-going yacht in a Force Eight, close hauled, crashing from wave to wave, hitting the crest of one and down into the trough, the bows hitting the bottom like a shotgun blast: the whole boat shudders and the sails regain the wind and we’re off again, the salt-stained magnificence of it all and the serene calm that follows as the dawn comes up.

I know if that Keywood fella says something is good it is, no question, and this amp turns the page on all others. Owning the Icon audio MB845 Mark 2 is another thing you’ve got to do before you die!

thanks again

James Gould (toned down by Cath Gould!)

Well, thanks for that James. It is a bit special isn’t it? I’m glad it hits you the way it hit me. Not many amplifiers sound like the MB845 MkII and David Shaw has done a great job. He’s got the sort of dedication and determination it takes to get a valve amp right – and what a result. NK



I am desperately trying to get my hi-fi system to deliver a full and tighter bass. At present it seems full but can seem a bit boomy at times.

My system consists of a Marantz 63 KI CD player, custom built turntable with Rega RB250 arm and Denon DL304 cartridge, a Separo p88i tube amp. (fantastic piece of kit and don't know why it hasn't been tested by a magazine before) and your very own KLS9 loudspeakers.


The amp has no phono stage so I'm running the turntable through my Audio Analogue Puccini se on board MC stage. Mains cable (Russ Andrews Classics) interconnects (Russ Andrews Crystal) loudspeaker cable is Russ Andrews 8vs. By the way, before I had the Separo amp I was running everything through the Audio Analogue Puccini and the boomy bass was present then.

My room size is 5m x 5m with 2.4m ceiling height and all kit is spiked on to a concrete floor. Have I heard somewhere before that adding a sub can tune the speakers?

I'm sorry to throw all this info at you and hope you can help.

With best regards





A square room resonates strongly, giving boomy bass. This is a Cara wave tracing analysis that illustrates Matt's problem. High pressure points lie at the walls.




Hi Matt. The main problem is a square room that will boom strongly at 35Hz. Look at the first mode of your room as depicted by Cara; there are high pressure zones at the loudspeaker end and listener end. There isn’t so much you can do about this, other than move house! KLS9 is a large loudspeaker with powerful bass so it will provoke your room’s main resonant mode by putting a lot of energy into it.


A quick and dirty solution is to put a foam bung in the port; some even use an old sock. This will lower bass output and lessen the boom. Keep the loudspeakers as far away from walls as possible too.


Another aid is absorptive settees with deep internal foam cushions. I have a three seater, two seater and armchair stuffed into one room to damp down bass and they do it very effectively.


Alternatively, you can try corner absorbers from somewhere like Studiospares ( where they have foam corner cubes for £12.90, as well as more expensive bass traps. Stacks of cubes in two corners may work; in my experience you need sheer volume to absorb bass energy and this may well add up to almost £100 or so (6 cubes) as a treatment. I have not tried it, I must say, and can only speculate that it should help.


I rather doubt you’ll cure the problem altogether, but you may well be able to lessen its subjective impact. I do hope this helps. NK


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