Signet SL280 loudspeaker Review Context

Sidebar 1: Review Context

This is the first equipment review I have done in Stereophile's updated dedicated listening room. First, however, a word or two about what this room is and is not. It is not the location where all of Stereophile's listening tests are done. Practically all of our reviewers do their listening in their own homes. When I arrived in Santa Fe, only Dick Olsher used the Stereophile listening room. Robert Harley had also used it temporarily last year when he was waiting for his new home, with its dedicated listening room, to be completed. Since it appeared that I would be faced with the same arrangement for at least several months, I set to work on a project to make the room suitable for sharing with minimum inconvenience. I'll have more to say about the updates in a future article (experimentation is planned with various absorptive and diffusive materials over the coming months, and the results might be helpful to others—although this is not as yet certain, by any means).

As presently constituted, the listening room measures about 15' by 20' by 9'. The ceiling is of a classical Santa Fe vigas style—heavy shaved wooden log beams supporting the main wood (pine) ceiling planks. The beams reduce the height of portions of the ceiling to 8', and provide better dispersion than an ordinary, flat structure. The speakers are placed on the short wall. A large, multi-paned window on the wall behind them is scheduled to be covered with heavy draw-drapes, though it is at present au naturel.

The wall behind the listening position (just under 4' behind, at present) is covered with 64 square feet of 4" thick Distech acoustic foam. Nine medium-sized decorative fiberglass panels (formerly Monster Cable Imagers) have been hung in strategic locations about the room—eliminating the need for the heavy fiberglass damping behind the loudspeakers which was used in DO's recent Apogee Stage review. Four 16" Tube Traps have also been added to the room since that review, in the corners behind the loudspeakers. Two of the room walls (the outside walls) are of plastered adobe; the inside walls are light plaster over wallboard.

A fireplace opening one corner behind the loudspeakers has been filled with several sheets of Sonex absorptive foam, and the Tube Trap in that corner placed directly in front of it. The room's nearly wall-to-wall carpet is a medium-weight closed-pile Berber with an artificial jute pad on a suspended wood floor.

The room, as presently constituted, "sounds" surprisingly good. It is of average liveness (it was deader before the alterations). I do not doubt that the room was a least partly responsible for my favorable impressions of the Signet loudspeakers. But that's only fair. Would you want us reporting on how they sound in a bad room?

The Signets were auditioned in this room with a variety of associated equipment. Program sources included the Koetsu Rosewood Pro IV cartridge in a Graham tonearm mounted on the Aura turntable, and several CD players, including the California Audio Laboratories Aria Mk.III and the NAD 5000, but primary CD playback was via the latter's digital output into the Esoteric D-2 processor (coaxial connectors—the link chosen in this case being a garden variety, 75 ohm video interconnect).

The preamplifier was, in all cases, the Consonance from the Jeff Rowland Design Group. Power amps included the Rowland Model 1, Classé DR-8, and Kinergetics KBA 75. Interconnects were Kimber KCAG (tonearm to preamp), AudioQuest Lapis (CD player to preamp), and Cardas Hexlink from the preamp to the power amp. Loudspeaker cable was AudioQuest Clear. The amplifiers were placed between the loudspeakers, which called for a long (25') interconnect and relatively short (7') loudspeaker cable. Since bi-wire terminals are provided on the Signets, all evaluations were carried out in the bi-wire mode.—Thomas J. Norton

Signet division of Audio-Technica US, Inc.
1221 Commerce Drive
Stow, OH 44224
(330) 686-2600

volvic's picture

How all these old reviews show how many great companies have come and gone. Why does this seem to only exist in hi-fi? I remember Signet, Hovland, Sonaudax, Tandberg etc., many more I cannot even remember. Great products that I loved and wanted but where the manufacturer no longer exists, sadly. All these great turntable manufacturers today makes one one wonder how many will be around 20 years from now.