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Questions about SoundLab A2 speakers from a newbie (Read 577 times)
Doug in Virginia
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Questions about SoundLab A2 speakers from a newbie
Feb 2nd, 2017 at 11:41am
 
Hello, everyone! I am new to the forum, having just purchased my first pair of Sound Lab speakers: a pair of old A2 speakers. I’ve always been a Magnepan and MartinLogan guy, and had never heard a pair of Sound Labs ... until yesterday. A guy was selling a pair of A2’s on eBay and he lives only 10 miles from my house. I had heard good things about Sound Lab speakers and wanted to give them a go, so I figured what the heck and bought them sight unseen, sound unheard. The seller had assured me that they had no issues and would let me audition them in his house before finalizing the deal.

All I can say is “Wow. Where have these speakers been all my life?!” They sounded amazing! My Magnepans might have a smidge more mid- and hi-frequency resolution, but don’t sound as lively as these Sound Lab A2s. My various MartinLogans never sounded this good.

So these A2s might move into my primary system. Probably will, but I need to sort some things out first.

I come into this knowing next to nothing about Sound Lab speakers. I gather that they will have some of the same placement issues as my other planar speakers. I will experiment. Fortunately, I have a decent size listening room and these A2s aren’t too difficult to move around.

I do have some concerns and I’m hoping that you Sound Lab vets can give me some insight. First, the electronics (crossovers, connectors, tone controls, etc.) seem very old and possibly outdated. Is there any benefit to be gained by having the electronics rebuilt? The speakers sounded fantastic and I’ve got no issues with the performance. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” so maybe I should leave well enough alone. But I figured that you all know whether there are any benefits to be had, and if there are I want to do it before I move these into my main system. Should I have the electronics (especially the crossover) checked out and possibly rebuilt? Is there anyone in particular renowned for rebuilding or upgrading crossovers for Sound Lab speakers?
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Doug in Virginia
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Part 2: Questions about SL A2 speakers from a newb
Reply #1 - Feb 2nd, 2017 at 11:44am
 
[Long-winded newbie hit the 2,000 character limit.]

Also, the power cord looks like a 1980s era lamp cord. Is there any benefit to upgrading to a modern AC cable? Likewise, the speaker connectors are very old. Is there any benefit to upgrading to modern speaker connectors?

Can I vacuum the grill cloths? It may sound crazy, but this was actually recommended for my MartinLogans; to remove the dust that accumulates on the panels -- especially problematic due to the static electricity. Is it safe to vacuum a pair of Sound Lab A2’s or could that damage the panels? How close is the membrane to the grill cloth? Can the grill cloths be removed for vacuuming?

Lastly, the speakers have no feet and they seem a tad bit unsteady. I can easily get them to tip a few inches forward and backward, but the seller assures me that they won’t tip over. Still, I am concerned about how easily these can tilt. Did they originally come with some kind of foot to prevent them from tipping? Are there aftermarket feet that might help? If nothing else is available, I have an extra pair of feet from an old pair of Magnepans that I think I can adapt and attach to the bases of these A2s. But what is the ideal angle for A2 speakers? These are slightly back from 90 degrees vertical. Is 90 degrees vertical optimal for sonics, so long as I can attach feet that will guarantee that the speakers don’t tip over? Or is a slight backwards lean better for sonics? Of course, this probably depends on the room and placement, but I figured I’d ask anyway.

Thanks in advance for any insight you all can provide.
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Brian Walsh
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Re: Questions about SoundLab A2 speakers from a newbie
Reply #2 - Feb 3rd, 2017 at 7:51pm
 
There is no problem vacuuming the grille cloth. Another method you might like is to use a slightly damp sponge to wipe down the grille cloth.

I recommend getting the speakers stable, using tiptoes or cones if feasible. And if you feel there's a chance of them falling over there's no harm in installing whatever is necessary to prevent that such as brackets or bottom plates. As with any speaker, getting them firmly seated on solid flooring, not just sitting on top of carpet, can give nice improvements.

I'd leave the backplates alone. Indeed, if it's not broken don't fix it.

Enjoy!
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Brian Walsh
 
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-Mike
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Re: Questions about SoundLab A2 speakers from a newbie
Reply #3 - Feb 25th, 2017 at 12:48am
 
Welcome to the SLOG and Soundlab ownership.  As a panel fan most of my audiophile life, finding Soundlabs was a real treat!  I initially owned M1’s, but a few years ago, I upgraded to M1PX’s with the Hotrod upgrade and (the then) new consummate backplate (transformer). 

Speaking of which, if your A2’s are fairly old, at some point you may want to consider upgrading the backplates for better sonics and efficiency.  However, just because they appear to be old, and they’re working/sounding good, as you suggested and Brian recommended, “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”!   

BTW, Brian Walsh’s advice is always first rate.  He is a long time Soundlab owner and dealer. 

No worries with the cords.  However, some owners have found a benefit from changing or upgrading.  But not one of the more important tweaks.  In the past, Roger West has advised that the speaker’s power drain is about the same as an alarm clock.  He also has stated “that as long as the bias is below the point where the crackling noise begins”….(very important, that the bias adjustment instructions are properly followed)…”it doesn't harm the speakers to leave them biased up.”  In fact, Roger says that doing so, “repels negative ions and negatively charged dust.”

Regarding footers, Brian’s suggestions regarding stability/cones/tiptoes are good ones.  In the past, I’ve used the cones that I previously bought from Martin Logan when I owned their reQuests.  For ease of movement, I’m presently using Herbies Threaded Stud Glider found here: http://herbiesaudiolab.net/spkrfeet.htm.  If the “Giant” Stud Glider was available when I bought mine, I probably would have opted for them.  However, as you suggested, why not repurpose your Magnepan feet.

As you’ve owned Maggies and Martin Logan’s, placement should be fairly similar.  Around ~5-7’ from the wall behind them.  Side wall reflections are minimal, so they can be very close to the side walls if your room size warrants.  Have fun and enjoy!!
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