Spica TC-50 loudspeaker 1989 Review context

Sidebar 1: 1989 Review context

With small speakers, the first and most important consideration is what stands to use. Often treated as an afterthought, a good pair of stands is fundamental to getting optimum performance from even inexpensive loudspeakers. With my listening chairs placing my ears 36" from the ground, 24"-high stands were appropriate to use with both the Celestions and the Spicas (Spica actually makes a point of recommending Chicago Speaker Stands Hercules stands), but I used a $300 pair of Celestion SLSi models which were handy (footnote 1). These are single-pillar designs, with steel top and bottom plates. I filled the extruded-aluminum pillar of each with 25 lbs of lead shot, topped up with about another 10 lbs of dry sand. The shot provides mass but not much damping; the sand is much less dense but offers a considerable degree of damping. The result is an absolutely inert, stable speaker platform, particularly when the supplied floor spikes are used.

I continue to be amazed by the sneering attitude adopted by the likes of Julian Hirsch when it comes to spikes and Tiptoes. You'd think any reviewer concerned with his readers' best interests would be keen to promote a philosophy that a) demonstrably cleans up the sound of just about any speaker when that speaker or its stand has to sit on a carpeted floor, and b) costs so little. Nevertheless, without surprise I continue to read such statements as: "We have never found that 'spiking' offers any audible benefits and we didn't find any with these speakers." (footnote 2). Doesn't Julian remind you of the classic definition of a cynic—someone who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing?

The speakers were coupled to the stands with small blobs of EZ-Tak, a not-very-reactive damping compound, and each pair was carefully positioned for the best sound. In the case of the Spicas this was some 4' from the rear wall (which is faced with books and LPs) and 5.5' from the side walls (also faced with bookshelves). The Celestions benefited from a considerably closer rear-wall placement, ending up just inches away. Both pairs were toed-in to the listening seat. The amplification was hardly likely to be typical of the components with which either speaker is likely to be used, consisting of a pair of Mark Levinson No.20.5s driven by a Mark Levinson No.26 preamp and a No.25 phono preamp, but, hey, do you really want me to suffer while I'm gathering the material for these reviews? Have a heart!

Speaker cable was Madrigal CPC, interconnects for the main system were 1m lengths of AudioQuest LiveWire Lapis, and 15' lengths of Madrigal balanced HPC connected pre- and power amplifiers. Source components consisted of a 1975-vintage Revox A77 to play my own and others' 15ips master tapes, a Linn Sondek/Ekos/Troika setup sitting on a Sound Organisation table to play LPs, and the CAL Tempest SE two-box CD player.—John Atkinson

Footnote 1: Yes, I know these cost a significant fraction of the price of the TC-50. But as with my choice of amplification, I wanted to hear these cheapies at their best.—John Atkinson

Footnote 2: In a review of the Monitor Audio R452/MD loudspeaker, Stereo Review, October 1988, p.32.—John Atkinson