1 -- What is biwiring?
Biwiring feeds potential back-EMF (electromotive force) from a woofer's large magnet to the amplifier instead of allowing it to interact with the tweeter or tweeter/midrange circuit. Biwiring requires two pairs of speaker binding posts. Soliloquy speakers provide a gold-plated metal bridge that connects the two + and - terminals. Other speakers may feature miniature cable jumpers. In either case, such jumpers must remain installed if a biwirable speaker is hooked up with a single run of speaker cable only. When biwiring, the jumpers must be removed and a second pair of speaker cables added. Most amplifiers don't feature two pairs of binding posts. The two pairs of cables then need to be connected at the amplifier. This could be either through a spade/banana combination, stacked spades or by using special bi-wire cable that is constructed to terminate with single connectors at the amplifier end. A certain controversy surrounds the biwire subject. Some speaker companies don't believe in it. They offer their speaker models with single terminals only. Others, like Soliloquy, believe that biwiring allows for audible performance advantages. Usually, if speakers are outfitted with dual sets of terminals, it's safe to assume that biwire hook-up will sound better than single wire. If single-wire hookup for biwire speakers is necessary or more practical, we recommend connecting the cable to the terminals of the circuit that drives the midrange. This insures that the most important vocal range receives the signal "direct" and not through the jumper/bridge. :: back to questions
-- Does biwiring a biwire-ready speaker always provide better results?
That depends on the cable. A single run of superior cable could sound better than two runs of inferior cable - trust your ears and make sure that the cost of a biwire setup is in proper balance to the expenditure of your speakers and the remainder of the system. :: back to questions
3 -- What is bi-amping?
Dual pairs of speaker terminals not only allow for biwiring but also bi-amping. This requires dual preamp outputs or a Y-connector on a single preamp output. Two different bi-amp scenarios are possible. If you own two amplifiers of identical power output by the same maker, both scenarios can be explored. In the first, each amp drives one speaker. One channel each gets hooked up to the upper speaker terminals; the other channels drive the lower ones. This setup allocates discreet "monaural" power supplies for the left and right speaker. Preventing inter-channel crosstalk between the left and right speaker can increase image specificity, soundstage precision and depth. The second bi-amp scenario dedicates one amplifier as the "tweeter amp" while the other becomes the "woofer amp". If both amplifiers are identical, the first option is usually preferable. If both amplifiers differ in power output or even topology (like tube and solid state) only the second bi-amp scenario is possible. Traditionally, the more powerful amplifier drives the woofer circuit. If tube/solid-state is mixed, the solid state amplifier powers the woofer. However, this type of bi-amping requires level matching between both amplifiers to work properly. Otherwise, the mismatch in output power will offset the speaker's tonal balance and unduly exaggerate the bass. Because of the greater complexities involved, this type of bi-amping is only recommended for those who fully understand the implications and challenges involved. Close collaboration with a good dealer is advisable. :: back to questions
4 -- What is an active crossover?
An active crossover replaces a speaker's passive and internal frequency divider network and is inserted between the preamp and power amp/s. To remove a crossover from the amp/driver interface by placing it before the amp bestows significant advantages. However, the cost for a high-quality active crossover makes this type of setup advisable only for speakers in the upper price strata. All Soliloquy speakers have been priced so aggressively that the use of active crossovers would defeat our price/performance advantage. :: back to questions
5 -- How far out in the room do the speakers need to go?
While this is specific to each speaker model and room, some general guidelines apply. The first one is called acoustical coupling. Acoustical coupling refers to the amount of bass gain a close proximity placement to the rear wall provides for a speaker. Usually, small bookshelf speakers, especially if front-ported or sealed, can benefit from such placement to augment their relative bass shyness. Subwoofers as well tend to achieve the highest output levels and most even room loading with corner placement. The further a speaker is removed from the wall behind it, the less bass reinforcement is generated. Rear-ported speakers like Soliloquys achieve increased acoustical coupling and bass boost from the rear wall. They should be positioned away from the rear wall with a minimum distance of 4 x the port's diameter. The only exception in the Soliloquy line is the SAT5. It can be mounted directly onto the wall. The second general guideline of speaker placement refers to sonic reflections. [more details can be found in our "on speaker placement" section] Sonic reflections are minimized the further the speakers are removed from room boundaries. Increased distances from the wall behind the speakers enhance apparent soundstage depth. For this reason, in-wall speakers usually foreshorten depth perception into a relatively flat two-dimensional left/right spread. To obtain decent soundstage depth, a rear wall distance of 2-3' is necessary regardless of speaker brand or model. Greater distances further enhance the perception of "rows upon rows of violins". :: back to questions
6 -- Should I add
sand to the 5.0/SM-2A3 stands?
Absolutely. Without sand, the hollow columns ring like bells but making them solid would increase both manufacturing and shipping costs. Allowing you to "retro-fill" the stands circumvents these costs. :: back to questions
7 -- Can I use the SM-2A3s with solid state amplifiers
or high-power tube amps?
Yes, but we don't recommend it. The SM-2A3 has been "voiced" in concert with micro power tube amps. Its frequency response curve is an acoustical inverse of traditional micro power SETs. When powered by such an amplifier, the result is a composite flat frequency response. However, amplifiers with linear frequency response [all solid state and most high-power tube] will improperly interface with the SM-2A3 response to create a bright, forward treble and an elevated midbass. Also, as a series-type crossover, the SM-2A3 tweeter doesn't benefit from the overdrive protection of the other Soliloquy models and is thus most suitable for micro- and low-power tube amplification. :: back to questions
8 -- Which Soliloquy models will most benefit from the S-10
All single-woofer models - SAT5, Model 5.0, SM-2A3 and 6.2. :: back to questions
9 -- How should the S-10 be connected?
The Soliloquy S-10 subwoofer allows for hi- and low-level connection. Because it is self-amplified, the best hook-up is low-level, either from the preamp or surround sound processor. If you're running CD-direct, connect the S-10 from your amplifier outputs, in parallel to your main speakers via speaker cables to the hi-level inputs. We recommend against signal filtering via looping in/out through the low-level in/outputs. It puts two crossovers in series, that of the S-10s and the speakers. All Soliloquy speakers are sufficiently bass-extended and dynamic to not require filtering. This includes the SAT5 that has its own built-in low-pass filter. The continuously variable low pass filter on the S-10 should be set to approximately match the low-frequency extension of the main speaker. Good starting values are 80Hz/SAT5, 55Hz/5.0/SM-2A3, 40Hz/6.2. Fine-tune by ear. You're looking for the most even response so that no single note in a descending bass scale is louder or quieter than any other. If you're feeding the S-10 from a processor with built-in bass management, set the crossover bypass switch on the rear panel to ON. This takes the S-10 crossover out of the circuit. :: back to questions
10 -- I have a small room but want full range sound - which model should
The Soliloquy Model 6.2 goes as low as the dual-woofer Model 5.3 but is more suitable for smaller rooms in which the added weight and warmth of the 5.3 could overpower the room. :: back to questions
11 -- My room
has bass problems - which model should I get?
Unquestionably the 5.0 and S-10 combination. Let's get some preconceptions out of the way. Mass-market sat/sub combinations often suffer from miniature "main" speakers that force the subwoofer to be active at much higher frequencies than it should. It no longer remains omni-directional and creates an obvious mismatch. If you've been exposed to such systems, you may have written off the concept in general. Big mistake. A well-designed three-piece speaker system has many advantages over so-called full-range speakers. a: The main speakers can be situated where they image best, which most the time is not the same spot where their bass integrates best with the room. b: Smaller main speakers tend to image better, to sonically and visually disappear as apparent sound sources. c: A seperate subwoofer allows user-adjustable lowpass and volume settings to adjust the relative bass balance to the room, rather than being forced to live with an imbalance imposed by the room's physical dimensions or where the main speakers have to be sited. d: Because bass reproduction requires the most current from an amplifier, delegating this responsibility to an active subwoofer frees up the main amp and makes it sound better. Or, you can purchase a less powerful, more refined amplifier to begin with which probably also saves you money. A properly engineered sat/sub system for serious music applications (rather than near-field use such as in a computer setup) uses main speakers that extend to at least 55-60Hz. This limits the subwoofer's frequency coverage to the bottom 1.5 octaves. Our brain cannot determine directionality at those frequencies. Consequently, a seamless blending, into one single apparent sound source, occurs between the subwoofer and satellites. Read Wes Phillips' review on OnHifi.com to find out how well the 5.0/S-10 combination performs. :: back to questions
12 -- What amplifiers
do you recommend with your speakers?
We get asked this a lot and we always refer the questioner back to our dealers. Remember that specialty audio dealers own every piece of gear on their floor. Before they commit to certain lines, they do extensive comparison shopping to make sure their diverse products are compatible with each other to offer the best sound at each given price point. In fact, the extent to which shopkeepers go to pick and choose their lines goes far beyond what most consumers could or would want to duplicate when they shop for their own components. Retailers attend yearly trade shows where every manufacturer from around the globe displays their wares. They talk shop with other retailers to compare notes. They have manufacturer's reps leave demo product in the store to see how it interfaces with what they already carry before they commit. In short, they've done their homework. As manufacturers, we don't have the same time for this indepth compatibility testing, nor do we even have access to such a wide variety of products. Truly, your retailer is the best source of knowledge, experience and advice in this regard. Communicate your specific needs, listening bias and expectations as concisely as possible and then simply trust his or her recommendation. Between this advice and your own ears, you will make the right choices. :: back to questions
13 -- I want to enjoy both home theater and music but only
want one system. Who has the space and funds for two seperate systems anyway?
Soliloquy speakers excel at both music and home theater and were specifically designed that way. They're shielded and have high power handling to cope with the demands of modern movie sound tracks. All models share the same tweeter. The 5.25" and 6.5" woofers share the same surround, spider, cone and frame material. Thus timbre matching is a built-in characteristic of the entire Soliloquy line. Models can be freely mixed and matched to accomodate budget, space and decor requirements. The model C-3 is essentially a shrunk model 5.3 in a smaller box. It makes for an excellent main speaker that can be used in a front left/right configuration if you want to install all front speakers into a floor-to-ceiling entertainment cabinet. Many modern processors feature a feed-through input that allows you to use a regular two-channel preamplifier for music listening while the processor takes over the surround sound channels in movie mode. This allows you to build one single system for both music and movies and enjoy either presentation to the fullest. :: back to questions
14 -- I know Soliloquy speakers work well
with low-powered tube amps - can you be more specific?
Speaker compatibility with tube amps is a function of load impedance, sensitivity, room size and listening levels. A narrow phase angle impedance that is contained within a small window [say 8-ohm nominal, no lower than 6 and no higher than 10] is best. Impedances higher than 8-ohm are useful for micro-power SETs and OTLs. Sensitivities of 90dB or higher work with most low-power SETs, but if the impedance curve (as it is with all Soliloquy models) remains truly benign, even 88dB might do. Obviously, large rooms and/or high playback levels require more power than smaller rooms and medium playback levels. The amount of preamp gain and source voltage can offset some amplifier power and help make an apparently underpowered amplifier work. For use with micro-power SETs based on 2A3 or PX-25 type output tubes, Soliloquy's single-woofer designs [SM-2A3, 5.0 and 6.2] work best. 300B types offering >10wpc are excellent, too. For the dual-woofer Soliloquy models 5.3 and 6.3, you want more current for good bass control. You'll need between 10-15w. Amplifiers using the high-current KR Electric VV32B and 52BX, or AVVT equivalents, are ideal, as are paralleled SETs using EL34 or KT88/KT90 tubes. Consider models by Art Audio, Audiopax, Cary Audio, Viva Audio Devices, Wavelength and Welborne Labs. At 92dB, the Soliloquy Model 6.5 has the highest sensitivity of the line. 10-15wpc work well. However, to get best bass performance from the paralleled triple 6.5" woofers, some current is essential. Paralleled single-ended triode or single-ended pentode amps will work, as will certain high-current single-tube designs. All Soliloquy models work excellent with push/pull tube amplifiers that usually offer at least 25wpc.
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Last Update: May 25, 2005
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