Shahinian Diapason loudspeaker system Letters

The following letters were published in July & November 1993 (Vol.16 Nos.7 & 11):

A bizarre review?

Editor: I must respond to Stereophile's bizarre review of the Shahinian Diapason loudspeaker system (May '93, p.102). I could elaborate on how angry I am after reading the Stereophile review of this remarkable product. I could explain in detail just how little regard I have for your publication. Instead, let me urge any music lover to seek out this speaker, this man, and hear for themselves why Dick Shahinian is one of a handful of living American treasures. Truly, the music lives in him and in his speakers.—Scott Trusty, New York, NY

A negative review

Editor: After reading the very negative review of Shahinian's Diapason in May, I felt it necessary to write and tell of my completely different experience with this loudspeaker. No, I'm not going to disparage JA's and JGH's reviewing ability à la EAD, but simply state that my opinion of the Diapason System is 180° from yours in every area mentioned.—Bob Gash, Lee's Summit, MO

An overlooked review

Editor: In the review of the Shahinian Diapason/Double Eagle loudspeaker system (Vol.16 No.5, p.102), there is, in the second paragraph, the following statement: "...and only his first speaker system has been reviewed by a US publication." This is accompanied by a footnote citing a StereOpus review of the Obelisks. I am well aware of the fact that there are far too many "underground" audio magazines out there for any one person—even an Icon—to be aware of, let alone conversant with. The $ensible Sound, however, has been around for about 15 years, and I reviewed the Shahinian ARC system in its issue #43 (Summer 1991).—Jerald D. Burt, Moreland Hills, OH

My apologies to Mr. Burt for overlooking his review of the Shahinian ARC. Both Gordon and I were puzzled and disappointed by the sound of the Shahinian Diapason/Double Eagle in our respective listening rooms. Our experience of the speaker at hi-fi shows had led us to expect more, though I must be honest and say that the sound Dick Shahinian was obtaining at the most recent shows was more peaky in the treble than it had been before. Had he changed the Diapason's tweeter or its balance? He isn't saying.

However, I suspect that part of the disparity between our review findings and those of the three readers above concerns the music we listen to. Mr. Shahinian is devoted to large-scale, classical orchestral music of the Romantic school and, as JGH pointed out in the review, the tonal balance of the Diapason and its imaging abilities have been deliberately altered from a strictly neutral standpoint to enhance the illusion of reality with recordings of this kind. But the price paid is that other forms of music are reproduced less well. I, for example, play a lot of chamber music and solo piano recordings, and on these kinds of music the Diapason sounds distinctly colored. And on nonclassical music, the Diapason's heavy bass means that it is not nearly as fleet of foot as it needs to be to cope with four-in-the-bar kick drum and percussive bass-guitar lines.

Richard Shahinian now has the review samples back and is checking to see if they are out of specification, but the moral of this review is that, as Gordon has said all along, it's how the component sounds in your room and system with your music that counts. In this, reviewers are no different from anyone else.—John Atkinson

Night of the long knives?

Editor: The Diapason Club of New Zealand wish to state quite categorically that we find no problems with the Shahinian Diapason loudspeaker not previously found in my 44 years of listening to classical orchestral music which interfere with a musical experience.

What's happened? Have you suddenly gone deaf? Sorry, JGH. Since your review last May (Vol.16 No.5, p.160), your credibility as a reviewer is somewhat tarnished. I prefer to make no comment on the part John Atkinson took in the review, only to say: Would you stand only 12" away from the Mona Lisa? Of course not. To appreciate the art, one needs to stand at the appropriate distance.—H. Miles, New Zealand

As we have said many times, the time to judge a component's true worth is when you listen to it under familiar circumstances with familiar ancillary equipment and recordings. Although JGH had been very favorably impressed with the sound of Shahinian loudspeakers at shows—witness the above quote—he was disappointed in their overall quality when he set the Diapasons up in his home. As for my contribution to the review, I am satisfied that the measurements I took of the review samples nicely correlated both with JGH's listening impressions and with my own.—John Atkinson

Shahinian Acoustics Ltd.
37 G&H, Cedarhurst Avenue
Medford, NY 11763
(516) 736-0033