for a very thoughtful and detailed backup plan ("The
Backup Plan, Part Two: Staying Safe").
My own plan is somewhat different: I use my desktop computer, hardwired
to my Internet modem, to download or rip music files. The files remain
on my desktop hard drive, although sometimes still zipped (if that
compression scheme is used); I don't play music on the desktop
I back up
the hard drive periodically to an external USB hard drive, which is only
turned on for backups. Then I transfer the files via USB flash drive or
wireless network to my music server, a laptop computer. From there, I
copy the files to the USB drive used by my second music server. So there
are four copies of the music files, which I think are enough.
Unlike your process, however, I don't use offsite
storage. I suppose I could easily and cheaply get another drive or two,
make periodic backups to those drives, and store them in my bank box or
at a friend's place. Ideally, I'd have one backup drive at home and one
offsite, rotating them periodically. I'm not sure I'm disciplined enough
to do that, although I certainly appreciate the extra level of security
it would provide.
Regarding your comments on Seagate versus Western
Digital disks, your experience mirrors mine, although I've never had a
hard drive that didn't eventually fail.
Vade Forrester Contributor The SoundStage! Network
The "ultimate" stand-mounted speaker
August 19, 2010
Iím looking for the ultimate
stand-mounted speaker, a cost-no-object design. Youíve reviewed many
two-way speakers. I am considering the Magico Mini II, Wilson Audio
Duette, and YG Acoustics Anat Reference Main Module. I havenít listened
to any of them yet. Which one do you recommend?
Would it surprise you if I said none of them? Thatís
because Iím assuming that by saying "ultimate" and "cost-no-object," you
donít just want something with a high price tag, but high performance as
well. Not all of them qualify, which Iíll explain.
Of all those, Iíd say the Magico Mini II is the best,
although Iím not 100 percent sure Magico even makes it anymore. The
problem with it is the price. The last time I looked, they wanted
upwards of 30 grand for it. Is any two-way speaker worth that much? Iíd
have a hard time spending that amount given how many other great
two-ways are on the market. But, admittedly, I havenít reviewed that
speaker, so maybe Iím wrong. On the other hand, I asked Magicoís Alon
Wolf for a review sample a couple of years ago and he declined and
elected to send their brand-new V2 model instead, which, I must say, is
an excellent design.
I reviewed the Anat Reference Main Module and found a
lot to like about it -- except the price and the lack of bass. I donít
know how much it sells for today, but it was $27,000/pair when I
reviewed it and that, like the Mini II, is too much to spend when there
are other speakers that can better it.
I donít think Wilsonís Duette speaker is very good at all. When we
reviewed it, it sold for $12,000/pair without stands. I listened to the
single speaker we had here to measure in my listening room (in mono, of
course), and then compared it to six other stand-mounted speakers I had
on hand, ranging from $5000 (KEFís Reference 201/2) to $250 (Paradigmís
Atom Monitor v.5) per pair. They were all far, far better than the
Duette in many ways. I found the Duette to have severe midrange
colorations that make voices sound very unnatural, an upward-tilted
treble balance that makes it sound thin and light, and very little bass
despite using a woofer thatís at least 8" across. The resistor and cable
tweaks that the company supplies to accommodate near-wall and free-field
setup do very little to fix anything. I've heard the Duettes in other
setups and noticed the same thing. Our own S. Andrea Sundaram reviewed the
speaker and thought it sounded decent enough, but that was after Peter
McGrath came from the Wilson
factory and worked hard to set up a pair in the room to get them
sounding respectable. In general, really good loudspeakers don't need
all that work.
What should you buy? I can think of a few dozen options, but Iíll point
you to one speaker I already mentioned for a good starting point: KEFís
Reference 201/2. In my opinion, it has more technology and versatility
than all those speakers combined, and at a price thatís far lower. That
recommendation might surprise people who think that speakers with a
higher price automatically sound better, but when youíve reviewed
speakers as long as I have, you realize that price doesnít correlate
with performance. Read my review of the 201/2
if you want to learn more. . . . Doug Schneider
August 12, 2010
To Randall Smith,
researching over the Internet I was pleased to see an objective review
of the B&W 684s. If you
have the time to reply, I would appreciate it very much.
I currently have the
second-generation 602 (bookshelf, 1" tweeter, 6.5" mid/bass driver). I
love these speakers . . . the imaging and midrange, to my ears, are spot
on. You noted in the review: "This allows the 684ís midrange driver to
combine with the woofer to produce the low bass; the 684 is thus capable
of being played louder and with less distortion in the bass than a
comparable two-driver loudspeaker."
I love the imaging of my current
602 speakers. Do you think I would get equal imaging with the 684s, and
an even more pure midrange?
My goal is to further expand the
soundstage with the 684s (augmenting it with a Hsu subwoofer). But, I
also would really like to keep the solid imaging intact that I get with
the 602s and get a more pure midrange than I currently get (since the
602 has a combined mid/bass driver).
I have no doubt that the 684s will
be a nice step up from your beloved 602s. Bookshelf speakers are known
for their ability to image well and it sounds like your B&W bookshelf
speakers provide that quality for you. The 684s should be able to image
as well, plus, with the extra driver, the speaker will sound bigger and
provide more of a bottom-end foundation. Since you are pairing the
speaker with a sub this may not be a big deal to you.
As far as the midrange goes, it
appears that both speakers use the same 6.5" Kevlar cone, but the 684's
midrange driver is assisted with the lower frequencies by a third
driver. This means that the midrange driver of the 684 doesnít have to
work quite as hard because it shares the load in the bass. Because of
this, my guess is that the 684s may have a purer midrange. However, I
have to admit that I have never heard the 602s! My advice would be to
audition a pair, if you can, and let your ears make the final decision.
. . . Randall Smith
Powering the Polks
August 6, 2010
To Doug Schneider,
Beautiful review written by
you of Polk's LSi9
loudspeakers. Please suggest with your
wisdom a matching amplifier as I play at loud volume levels.
You haven't told me how much money you'd like to spend
or if you want a power amplifier or integrated amplifier. I'll go with
the assumption you want something priced in line with the speakers,
which retail for about $1000 per pair, and I'll present two options.
If you like to play music really loud, then you need
to make sure you have ample headroom so the amplifier doesn't run out of
steam and clip, which sends nasty driver-damaging distortion to your
speakers. In my opinion, you need something that delivers at least
150Wpc. I think that Anthem's Integrated 225 integrated amplifier would
work great. The Integrated 225 is rated to deliver 225W into 8 ohms and
costs about $1500. If you want only a power amplifier, NAD's C 275BEE
stereo amplifier is another option. The C 275BEE retails for $1200 and
is rated to deliver 150W into 4 or 8 ohms continuously, and is claimed
to deliver dynamic-power peaks of 250W and 410W into 8- and 4-ohm loads,
respectively. . . . Doug Schneider
August 4, 2010
To Doug Schneider:
I have a question: How can you
say that the Revel Salon2 is the best speaker out there when you haven't
even reviewed something from Wilson Audio Specialties? Sorry, sir, until
you have you cannot make that claim. What a joke.
an answer! First, I never said that the Salon2 is the best thing out
there. I simply said that it's the best passive loudspeaker I've heard
in my room. However, in the 15 years I've been reviewing, I've heard a
lot of speakers, whether it's in my listening room, at shows, in factory
listening rooms, or in other listening rooms. I've heard all the Wilson
Audio WATT/Puppy models from the 6 to the 8, and even the new Sasha.
I've also heard the MAXX Series 2 and MAXX Series 3 as well as the Duette.
I've even heard the original Alexandria
X-2 right beside the newer Series 2 version in David Wilson's own
listening room. The model I'm least familiar with is the Sophia. I heard
the original and Series 2 versions, but I haven't heard the Series 3
that's just been released. Enough experience with the Wilson line for
said, I've heard some of Wilson's
speakers sound quite good. Some. However, in my opinion, none of them
delivers close to what I consider state-of-the-art sound, and Iíve long
believed that theyíre priced too high for the performance offered. None
of their models has come close to
rivalling the transparency, neutrality and refinement that I hear from
the Revel Salon2, some of the reasons I rate that speaker so high. None -- and
that's no joke. . . . Doug Schneider