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November 2012 Issue
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DEPTH DIFFICULTY 

Can you recommend a sub woofer specifically for hi-fi rather than home cinema. I have a pair of Monitor Audio Gold GX50 speakers and I love them dearly, but I sometimes feel just a little more bass could enhance their ability to convey the richness and warmth of instruments such as cello, double bass, bassoon, tuba, pipe organ, etc. The Gold GXW15 is too expensive for me. I have a budget of approx. £800 and I don’t want to impede the GX50’s accuracy, stereo imaging and stunning treble

Yours sincerely,

Russell Gibson.

 

 

The REL T9 subwoofer has line inputs (low level) and loudspeaker inputs (high level). It is adjustable for level and crossover frequency. 

 

Hi Russell. The subwoofers that come to mind are REL, as they have a history of making subs that meet hi-fi levels of performance. Tuned carefully and positioned correctly, RELs will give great subsonics, free of the one-note boom of cheap AV subwoofers. The T9 meets your budget and is flexible in application. 

Bear in mind that if a subwoofer and loudspeaker overlap you get a bass peak and a boomy sound, so when tuning the crossover frequency, set it as low as possible first and then increase slowly until boominess sets in, then tune back down a little for a cohesive sound without boom. 

Room position is critical too. A corner will excite all modes and give strongest bass, but boomy bass in most rooms, depending upon their dimensions. Moving a subwoofer along a wall will reduce boom from the width mode, but not alter length or height. Moving into the room will alter two modes, reducing boom even more, but to do this you must move the unit out in the room, say beside a settee, or under a coffee table. You cannot tune the height mode without a crane.  

Experimenting with position like this by moving the subwoofer away from walls improves bass quality, at the expense of apparent level, but just increase subwoofer volume to compensate. 

I have done a lot of subwoofer tuning, using a measuring microphone and spectrum analyser and find you can get great results, but tuning is quite a critical process and none too easy to get right by ear alone. Have fun! NK

 

 

 

You should have compared the XTZ 99.26 with the earlier 99.25, says Paul Williams.

 

DOUBLE TROUBLE

I had been looking forward to reading the XTZ 99.26 and PMC Twenty.21 reviews that appeared in your September edition as I am looking for a small(ish) stand mount loudspeaker, have heard the PMC model (and rejected it - see below) and in view of your enthusiasm for the original XTZ 99.26 was hoping that this could be the answer for me, and best of all at a very reasonable price. I am afraid that, unfortunately, I was disappointed with your reviews of both models.

As far as the PMC review is concerned, your reviewer does not mention the obvious flaw (to me at least) of a very obvious sheen such that it was frequently impossible to tell whether one was listening to electric or acoustic instruments, let alone differentiate between, say an oboe or a clarinet (in the opening to Mahler 1). I suppose if you choose to listen exclusively to pop or rock this might go unnoticed and it is certainly not clear whether your reviewer ever attempted to listen to anything other than this genre; if so, it is not mentioned in his review. 

Yes, I agree that this ‘speaker has many strengths but an inability (to my ears at least) to correctly reproduce acoustic instruments is surely such a fundamental issue that it cannot possibly be recommendable to anyone who wishes to listen to any classical or other non-electronic music. 

I should add that I initially heard the PMC through a Naim system at the dealer and then through a Cyrus system and the presentation remained the same through both, so I do not believe that this is an issue with the electronics. Unfortunately, as I was in the course of moving house, I could not listen to it through my own Resolution Audio Opus 21/Prima Luna 3/5 but the Cyrus set up is one I have spent many hours listening to and I know it well. I actually had the opportunity to purchase the PMC new at 50% of the list price but to me its defects were such that it was a completely unacceptable choice at any price, despite its strengths with rock/pop as highlighted by your review.

Turning to the XTZ, the original model was well liked both by yourselves and others, indeed it features in your “World Standards” as being “exceptional value for money”. Other reviews have found that the updated model improves on its predecessor. I have looked in vain in your review for any attempt to compare the updated model with the original, to say how it builds (or otherwise) on its previous strengths. Surely this should be a pre-requisite for any review of an updated model, particularly one which you have previously lauded. I am left uncertain whether this model is going to be worthy of audition, given the flaws described in bass response and the fact that it is compared – in some regards unfavourably - with the comparably priced Spendor S3/5R2. Scarcely “exceptional value for money any more in that case, is it? 

Whilst I appreciate the desire to assess the tuning options available with the XTZ, are many of your listeners really going to be listening primarily to poorly recorded or compressed music, and is this one of the most significant issues to deal with in the review given that this tuning option was available also on the original model? Given the space constraints which inevitably arise, could we not have had a more thorough review of what the ‘speaker sounds like with all types of music and, of course, how it compares with the original in that regard?

As a general point I would be interested to have your views as to whether you believe that one can sensibly try to evaluate any loudspeaker listening primarily to electronic music. Surely, if we are talking about accurate reproduction of the original sound, it is essential to listen to well engineered acoustic music to determine whether what is heard is properly representative of the original performance. If “hi-fi” doesn’t do this, then, to me at least, it can’t be described as such, however much one may enjoy the presentation offered. I suppose that I am particularly disappointed in these reviews because you can, and often do, do this well and I am always particularly interested to read the views of Rafael Todes.

Blimey, I feel better for getting that off my chest. As I said some paragraphs ago, I am on the lookout for some stand mount speakers. I very much like the presentation offered by ribbon tweeters and I am sorely tempted by the Monitor Audio PL100s which I have heard and much enjoyed although they are at the upper end of my budget. If you have any other suggestions (if you are still reading at this point) I would be very pleased to hear from you.

Paul Williams 

Knoydart 

Scotland

 

 

Accolade Audio Model 1 – Paul Rigby thought it sounded bright, Noel Keywood thought it sounded warm.

 

Hi Paul. A proper side-by-side comparison would require us to keep all review product, or somehow obtain the outgoing model – and this isn’t practicable. We do often reference back to earlier measured performances, which are all on file.

It is the absolute behaviour of the new model in the marketplace that is important, judged against current rivals. A new model is usually an improvement on an old one. 

The adjustments available on the 99.26 are an important feature I feel. There are those who like an accurate sound, which brings a sense of  neutrality, and those who like a loudspeaker that is a little more ‘spectacular’, shall I say. Truly accurate loudspeakers, good with classical music, like the Quad ESL-63, are not great for Rock, although I used a pair for Rock for many years. But then I like a neutral sound, but understand that many listeners don’t appreciate it at all!  Adjustment gives a way of appealing to both camps. I’m surprised it isn’t more common. 

I take your point about classical music. Ironically though, we have had complaints about Rafael not using Rock music, showing how difficult this issue is. As a classically trained violinist Rafael has an amazing ear and is far and away the most astute listener I have ever met, meaning his reviews are second to none.  But this great ability comes with constraints too; he isn’t fluent with Rock. Conversely, those reviewers that use Rock, which appeals to most readers, commonly don’t much appreciate Classical music. 

However, I don’t want to justify this as I feel it isn’t too difficult to use both. We will have to buy Paul Rigby an old violin and ask Rafael to give him some lessons. And Rafael is due to get an electric guitar for Christmas! 

Loudspeaker reviewing is a  difficult business, even though sound quality differences are quite obvious. What people hear and what they like can differ greatly. So whilst Paul Rigby heard the treble peak of the Accolade Audio Model 1 (August 2012 issue, p39) I heard the overall fall in treble energy; he thought they were ‘bright” I thought they were “warm”. Measurement is vital to explain such differences, and this is why we measure using Clio (Audiomatica of Italy), an industry standard system. We also have a 24ft square acoustically treated in-house listening room and loudspeakers  are auditioned before they are sent for review. This ensures at least two, sometimes three people listen, so opinions can be cross checked and our reviews are not just one unguided opinion, as so many are. NK

 

 

The PMC Twenty.21 is better for Rock than Classical, thinks Paul Williams. 

 

And XTZ say ...

Comparison between the reviewed speaker ((99.26) and others can help a lot, although we think it can lead to some kind of confusion comparing very different concepts, for example a 2-way bookshelf speaker with a huge 3-way floor stander, or, as in this case, a full-grown 2-way speaker against a quite particular speaker as the Spendor. 

We think, one very important point to know about any speaker is for example what it was built for. We call it 99-series, as these speakers shall reach 99% of what the best high-end speakers can do, even if at a price that is a fraction of those.

Our technicians put an enormous amount of working hours in the development of the MkII version of our 99.26/99.25 model, which had been reviewed with success in Hi-Fi World some time ago. The goal we set to our technicians was to get it better at every point, thus frequency response, distortion, imaging, further optimised phase response, well, in short terms, everything that is important for a real high-end speaker.

Our technicians did hundreds of measurements (and listening tests) to improve the speaker, which actually they managed to do. It got different, steeper crossovers for both, tweeter and woofer, slightly different crossover point and also some tricky solution to handle this special ribbon tweeter at its best. Even if the final crossover was more expensive to produce, the listening tests we (and others) did, convinced us to go for this highly optimised MKII version.

For this reason, it would have been very interesting to see this version reviewed by the same author of the 99.25 review, as we are always interested in getting a feedback of what we’re doing, to see whether our efforts get confirmed or less.

We’d like to thank Hi-Fi World again for giving us the possibility of this review, and especially for their highly professional approach, accompanying every review with extensive measurements, which we know is very labour-intensive, but can give a very good insight!

Olle Eliasson (CEO), in the name of everyone at XTZ!

 

 

Rafael Todes of the Allegri string quartet – not a Rocker. 



 
Comments (1)
Leak TROUGHLINE
1Friday, 12 April 2013 14:24
john oates
EFG of LONDON carried out all the safety issues mentioned in Stephen Condliffes letter. I'm using the original decoder and am happy with it, but they do offer a more modern affair if required. At times depending on the broadcast the Troughline out strips other sources.

Thanks John. I found EFG at 9 The Vale, Acton, London, W3 7SH, UK Tel 020 8743 2727. They are new to me, but have been going a long time it appears. And Leak were originally based in that area. NK

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