GOODSOUND!GoodSound! "Ask Me" Archives June 8, 2004


Monitors vs. loudspeakers?

June 8, 2004

I've read that "monitors" are very accurate, but I'm not sure what separates them from regular speakers. Can you shed some light on the differences, if any?


"Monitor" is a term generally used for speakers that are utilized in recording studios to monitor the recording process. Sometimes they don't differ at all from "regular" speakers. However, in the purest sense, a monitor is designed for nearfield listening because it is generally placed very near to the recording engineer. In fact, many times a monitor is designed to be placed right on the mixing console, so it's typically a small bookshelf-style speaker. The more general use of the term "monitor" is for it to mean "accurate," whether it is used in professional audio or not.

Tweeter types

June 7, 2004

I read that soft-dome tweeters are more "musical," while the metal ones sound harder. Is there any truth to this, and should I buy my speakers with soft-dome tweeters? What will I be happy with?

Darryl Evans

You'll be most happy with speakers that sound good to your ears, whether they have soft- or metal-dome tweeters. As with many components, there's often a lot of audiophile "mythology" about what sounds best, and resulting blanket statements like the one you're wrestling with. At GoodSound! we've found good-sounding speakers that have soft-dome tweeters (the Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 with a silk-dome-type tweeter) as well as hard-dome tweeters (Energy, Axiom, and Paradigm all have metal-dome tweeters). We've found that there is no right or wrong, and that implementation of the material, not the material itself, is what's most important.

Cost of a digital cable?

June 3, 2004

I need to buy a coaxial digital cable for my new DAC and transport. How much should I spend on it?

David Weber

Not much, although there is certainly merit to buying a "good" one. By good I mean one that is well made, properly terminated, and is a true 75-ohm cable end to end. Word is that Radio Shack has a good one, but we've never tried it. The one we really like, though, comes from DH Labs, part of the Silver Sonic series of cables, and is called the D-75. Terminated lengths start at $65.

Subwoofer for under $300?

June 2, 2004

I am setting up my system and have everything except a subwoofer. I overspent on the receiver and speakers, so I can only afford $200-$300 for a subwoofer. I have a fairly small room, 12' x 15', so power is not that important to me. I mainly want it for music purposes to go with my Axiom M3ti main speakers (great speakers, but they could use a little oomph from a sub).

I realize it is difficult to find something quality in this price range, but could you suggest something that might come close?

Craig McCoy

You're right -- it's is a little difficult finding a good sub for under $300. Still, there are likely options. Because you have Axiom speakers, have you considered one of their subs? Their lowest-priced model, the EP125 costs $380 -- higher than your budget, but the company does have their factory outlet, which features slightly blemished models at lower-than-full-retail prices. As you probably know, the company offers an attractive 30-day money-back guarantee. Worth a look. Alternatively, there's Hsu Research. I've always been impressed with the products from this company, and the STF-1 sells online for $299. We haven't heard this product, though, so we can't tell you if it's worth the money. Finally, there's one more alternative. My experience has shown that I'm happier when I buy something that's really what I need, even if it means saving for a while longer. If those two subs don't fit your needs, perhaps you could wait a little longer until your budget can accommodate, say, $500. At that price point there's obviously a lot more to choose from.

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