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Impressions: DIY BS60 Speakers

July 28, 2003

My quest for high efficiency bookshelf continues and recently I am privileged to be able to audition vintage_dog's bookshelf Fostex, which will be referred to as BS60 from here on.

The pair I have for audition is an unfinished version, with Fostex FE167 drivers that were unbroken in. I do not have the specifications of this speaker as I write this review.

One of my main requirements is audible higher sensitivity compared to my current 89dB Infinity Kappa 200. I do not have an SPL meter in my possesion when I auditioned the BS60, but I am certain that it is louder than the Kappa.

I setup the speakers in the same position as the Kappa with hope that the BS60 will do well, and it did well. The imaging is very good, as well as the soundstaging. Though the soundstage is not as wide and as tall than the Coincident Triumph Signature, it is at least equal to what I can achieve with the Kappa.

My reference jazz track is "Mica's Dream" from the Isao Szuki vinyl which the BS60 convincingly reproduced. The precise imaging allowed me to identify which cymbal, or snare drum is being hit by the drummer, just like the Kappa. The attack and decay is very good too, and the music was reproduced lively, as it should be.

After playing Charlene's "I've Never Been To Me", "It's Not Easy Coming Down" and Nancy Wilson's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", the BS60 without a doubt, is best on such materials. The BS60 repoduced these tracks as if you're watching them live. The detail of reproduction is excellent - the breathing, the licking - you can hear them all. I was hoping the BS60 will do justice to male vocals as well, and I was not disappointed. While playing Jim Croce's "Time In A Bottle" the reproduction was live-like I'd tought Mr. Croce was right there in front of me, seated, playing the guitar and singing. In comparison with another single driver that I've heard and reviewed, the BS60 did not sound woody, or anything artificial, to my ears.

I was delighted at the way the music from the albums "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood," "Passion Grace and Fire," and "Piano Solos" were reproduced. The instruments sounded real.

Bob Marley fans like me will be happy to find out that the BS60 do justice to the music. The bass lines are clear and articulated well, with the corresponding lively beat. Thumbs up!

I might be hoping too much out of the BS60 in the low bass department, and I might be critized for doing so. But hey, there are other bookshelf speakers such as the JBL Ti2K and LX2002 that do provide excellent bass, and the Ti2K even rivals floorstanders. I just can't wait to find out...

As I play "A Little Respect" I immediately noticed that there's something missing - and that is one complete electronically synthesized beat from the album, which obviously is beyond the frequency response of the driver. This led me to try the dance track "Club 69 Future Mix" from the album "Until The Day" and similar to the prior observation, these music just don't cut it for the BS60.

As far as bass is concerned, there were some tracks which were reproduced convincingly well such as A-ha's "The Sun Always Shine On T.V." Eagle's "Hotel California" and Swing Out Sister's "Surrender."

The other albums which the BS60 had difficulty in the bass department were Warrant's "Cherry Pie" and Midnight Oil's "Diesel And Dust." The tracks from the Warrant album sounded so lean, and Midnight Oil's "Beds Are Burning" clearly lacked the punch and slam compared to the Kappa.

I still hope that the bass performance improves as the drivers break in. But then again, I must be hoping too much.

PROS:

  • high sensitivity
  • live-like vocals
  • speed and dynamics
  • detail reproduction
  • pin-point imaging
  • good soundstaging

CONS:

  • bass performance (if you consider that this is a bookshelf, this may not really be a negative)

Setup:

Oracle Delphi MK II turntable + SME Series III tonearm + Clearaudio Aurum Alpha cartridge -> SME stock RCA interconnect -> Musical Fidelity X-LP standard -> Silver Audio Silver Bullet 4 interconnect -> DIY 2A3 -> Analysis Plus Oval 12 speaker cable -> BS60

Software:

String Band featuring Isao Suzuki
Funky Green Dogs "Until The Day"
John McLaughin, Al De Meola, Paco De Lucia "Passion Grace and Fire"
Santa Esmeralda "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood"
Swing Out Sisters "It's Better To Travel"
Erasure "The Innocents"
Charlene "I've Never Been To Me"
Warrant "Cherry Pie"
Midnight Oil "Diesel and Dust"
Nancy Wilson "Can't Take My Eyes Off You"
Jim Croce "Time In A Bottle"
Bob Marley And The Wailers "Confrontation"
George Winston "Piano Solo"
A-ha "Hunting High And Low"
Eagles "Hotel California"

Note 1: My speaker placement method is inspired by the Audio Physic method