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#40782 - 2006-04-10 09:37 DSP3100 Review
Registered: 2005-09-02
Posts: 456
Simon Mirren Offline
Paranoid android
Simon Mirren Offline
Paranoid android

Registered: 2005-09-02
Posts: 456
Loc: Mons, Belgium
Application:
2 Channel Digital System with G91
Link to M website and product description (I don't know how to do that bit!)

Comparators:
Focal JM Labs Electra 1007Be
B&W 805S
B&W CDM1SE

Tested With:
Meridian G91(non dab) DVD Audio Player/Controller
Arcam Alpha 10P (2x100W) Power Amp
Meridian G55 (5x100W) Power Amp - Bridged
Van Den Hul DM102 Mk3 Interconnect
QED Silver Anniversary Speaker Cable

Intended Usage & Environment:
2 Channel Digital System with G91 and 42” Rear Proj Screen
Link to picture in photo thread (I don't know how to do that bit!)
Approx Room Size: 14`x12` - No Room Treatments

First Impressions:
What was good?
I was assured by the dealer that the demo pair were fully broken in and was very impressed with their speed, timing and attack. To me this is to deliver a really tight, detailed sound, working well within themselves, giving the impression you could crank them up without distortion / loss of quality.

A test disc I used was Marc Cohn`s self titled album and I was really impressed with how the DSP3100s delivered the piano in “Walking in Memphis” so realistically. They just seemed to present it in a much more involving fashion than I was used to.

Another good first impression was with the basic but very effective setup options and tone controls. Normally I would turn my nose up to these “artificial” shaping tools but they really made an effective difference and were surprisingly easy to apply. In the dem room I had them set to “Sub 1” on the position setting and tone controls as: Bass +4, Treble +2. This cured all the “boom” in the default settings and left me with a warm fuzzy feeling!

Were there any trade offs?
I suppose you could argue that outright depth of bass could have been a trade off with getting that really tight sound I love and in “free” mode they did go deeper but to my ears lost control - however this was purely down to the room - see lasting impressions.
They also didn`t envelope you in sound as some analogue counterparts do but this sounds largely false to me anyway and is what a 5.2 setup will address when funds permit.

How did it perform against the comparators?
Simply put - they shined. They extracted more detail and felt altogether more controlled than the competitors. I was disappointed with the Electra`s as they seemed to give a presentation that merged all the instruments into one. Some of this may have been to do with the room but I have allowed for a slight boom in my assessment given what I was faced with, with the DSP`s.

The B&W`s were a tougher call - but probably because I had been so used to them (for the last 5 years in fact). The 805`s were on par with detail but I just felt the DSP`s edged it on involvement - drawing you into the sound and forcing you to listen.

Overall what clinched the decision to purchase?
The ability to tailor the sound to the listening room, superb levels of detail and tightness. Looks and build quality were also first rate but should go without saying at this price point.

Lasting Impressions:
How has it performed in your home setup / environment.
Excellent. They became more and more revealing by the day. In my listening room I have them set to free with Bass -2 and Treble +1 and get outstanding results. I have managed to keep the tightness and get a little extra extension. I have found them somewhat similar in behaviour to Mr Meridian`s DSP8000s in that they extract more from discs than I thought was possible adding life into my old favourites.

With DVD`s and my freeview box connected via its analogue outs the results were even more impressive. Maybe some of the more techy guys can explain this but there has certainly been an even greater improvement in these areas. The extra separation / detail on hand made me really feel the investment had been worthwhile and made me realize what a “bottleneck” I had previously in my system.

My only reservation is their performance with high res audio discs. I don`t have many but those I tried are not played with the same sense of improvement. In fact, a couple are only just on par with my previous set up! I will put this down to poor disc quality however. Also, to be very slightly picky the base of the speaker is finished as the top - in an immaculate black lacquer - which although looks gorgeous, is rather unpractical when bolting them to their dedicated stands - the chances of doing this without scratching them are almost none!

To round up, I have never been that impressed with M`s lower range DSP speakers (DSP33s + 5000/5500s) as I feel they lacked the clarity I strive for. My music listening preferences are also for really tight and not necessary extended bass which is why I feel I have always preferred standmounts. I feel M has struck gold with these little beauties and they seem very well priced considering the rest of the M range…

Any upgrades purchased (eg. mains cables / conditioners etc)
N/A but bear in mind if you are using with a non M setup you will really need an MSR+ remote to get the best out of them - unless of course you want to keep them plugged into your PC..

If you are looking to use with upgraded mains cables bear in mind they have a really annoying connection (see website) - something I have never seen before and I imagine rather difficult to get hold of but this is M and I guess there had to be something like this!!!

Lasting Rating
Sound quality
Stereo (9/10)
- For the money and competition I am really impressed.
Surround (if applicable) (x/10) N/A
Features (10/10) - First rate and very effective.
Build Quality (9/10) - Only due to impractical base & frustrating mains connection!
Overall (9/10) - Very highly recommended if your tastes match mine.

Dealer Service:
Name and location of dealer
Phase3 Hifi, Southampton
Quality of advice given
Excellent - very informative
Quality of listening room
Poor. It seemed a good size but the “boominess” was very apparent
Additional Comments
They were never pushy and just let me get on with listening - always on hand if needed. Note: I did not purchase from them in the end as the offer at the Bristol Show was too good not to take up - sorry Phase3 - I do feel bad though.

Dealer Rating:
Overall Dealer Experience (9/10)

Cheers

Simon


C15, MS600, G61R, HD621, DSP3100Vx4, DSP33x2, SW1600, Samsung UN65JS9500 4K LED TV, Sony X800 UHD Player, Wireworld Star*light video cabling, Isotek Vision, Isotek Elite/Prem mains cabling, Soundstyle XS105 rack
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#40783 - 2006-04-10 10:48 Re: DSP3100 Review
Registered: 2004-04-01
Posts: 541
DanielB Offline
Paranoid android
DanielB Offline
Paranoid android

Registered: 2004-04-01
Posts: 541
Loc: London, UK
That's a remarkably thorough breakdown of everything, Simon. Thank you. I'm really interested in the 3100s to the extent where I am considering employing five of them toward the end of the year in a TV based set up with the thought of one day moving four of them to the back as my surround channels in a dedicated room when I might be able install three DSP5200s up front. I'm certainly eager to see how the two compare actually.

Really encouraging review. How did you find retention of separation and detail at low volume levels?

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#40784 - 2006-04-10 11:17 Re: DSP3100 Review
Registered: 2004-04-23
Posts: 2,340
Cliff. Offline
Senior Shouting Officer
Cliff. Offline
Senior Shouting Officer

Registered: 2004-04-23
Posts: 2,340
Loc: South Wiltshire, UK
Good review! The 3100s also get a good write up in this months HiFi Choice.

Cliff


Main system - Sources (Kodi-HTPC, FireTV, Sat) into Trinnov Altitude32(+Roon), Amplitude8 amp & Vivid Audio (Giya G3, V1.5) speakers. Others: F80 + Raspberry Pi and other Pi systems.
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#40785 - 2006-04-10 12:05 Re: DSP3100 Review
Registered: 2000-05-30
Posts: 2,641
Frank Offline
Great Green Arkleseizure
Frank Offline
Great Green Arkleseizure

Registered: 2000-05-30
Posts: 2,641
Loc: Nashville, Tennessee, USA
"...lower range DSP speakers (DSP33s + 5000/5500s)..."

Now that my 5500s and 5000C fall within the lower range of Meridian speakers, an upgrade is justified!


Two-channel: Meridian G02, G08, 557, Director, Explorer, Prime
Multi-channel: Meridian G68ADV, HD621, DSP5500s, DSP5000C

Founder and Editor
Ultra High-End Audio and Home Theater Review
www.ultrahighendreview.com
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#40786 - 2006-04-10 12:09 Re: DSP3100 Review
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 434
Chris1971 Offline
Paranoid android
Chris1971 Offline
Paranoid android

Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 434
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Excellent review. Thanks Simon. The 3100s are definitely on my wanted list.


Current: 5xDSP5200 and SW5500 (all for sale), 120" Screen Research AT 2.35, JVC DLA-X7500, OPPO 203 and a PS4
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#40787 - 2006-04-10 20:40 Re: DSP3100 Review
Registered: 2005-09-02
Posts: 456
Simon Mirren Offline
Paranoid android
Simon Mirren Offline
Paranoid android

Registered: 2005-09-02
Posts: 456
Loc: Mons, Belgium
Daniel,

They're the best I've heard at low volumes - I really don't think you would be disappointed.

Frank (and all other "lower range" M owners) - no offence meant, this is purely a very personal preference and I have never actually prefered any comparatively priced floorstander when put against a standmount - and to be fair I have never heard the 5500s in an adequately sized room...., but if you want to use this as justification be my guest...!

Simon


C15, MS600, G61R, HD621, DSP3100Vx4, DSP33x2, SW1600, Samsung UN65JS9500 4K LED TV, Sony X800 UHD Player, Wireworld Star*light video cabling, Isotek Vision, Isotek Elite/Prem mains cabling, Soundstyle XS105 rack
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#40788 - 2006-04-12 11:55 Re: DSP3100 Review
Registered: 2004-04-15
Posts: 12,164
VirusKiller Offline
Don't Panic
VirusKiller Offline
Don't Panic

Registered: 2004-04-15
Posts: 12,164
Loc: nr. Milton Keynes, UK
If you don't mind my asking, what was the offer at the Bristol show and was it direct from M or via a dealer?


Roon Developer and ex-moderator of this Forum
I am #25 in the HH1 photo of fame.
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#40789 - 2006-04-12 14:40 Re: DSP3100 Review
Registered: 2005-09-02
Posts: 456
Simon Mirren Offline
Paranoid android
Simon Mirren Offline
Paranoid android

Registered: 2005-09-02
Posts: 456
Loc: Mons, Belgium
VirusKiller,

Audio T sponsor the event and were doing some quite outstanding show offers. They were 10% off your 1st item over 99.99, 12.5% off the 2nd & 15% off the 3rd!

I was there late on Sunday and made them a last minute offer of 2500 for speakers and stands which they took! I had to pick them up from my nearest store 2 weeks later but not a bad deal I'd say....

The experience has convinced me to only buy new from the show as they offer pretty much the same deals year on year which other dealers just can't match.

Simon


C15, MS600, G61R, HD621, DSP3100Vx4, DSP33x2, SW1600, Samsung UN65JS9500 4K LED TV, Sony X800 UHD Player, Wireworld Star*light video cabling, Isotek Vision, Isotek Elite/Prem mains cabling, Soundstyle XS105 rack
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#40790 - 2006-04-12 15:29 Re: DSP3100 Review
Registered: 2004-04-15
Posts: 12,164
VirusKiller Offline
Don't Panic
VirusKiller Offline
Don't Panic

Registered: 2004-04-15
Posts: 12,164
Loc: nr. Milton Keynes, UK
Thanks Simon. Nice one.


Roon Developer and ex-moderator of this Forum
I am #25 in the HH1 photo of fame.
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#40791 - 2006-04-14 11:26 Re: DSP3100 Review
Registered: 2004-04-01
Posts: 541
DanielB Offline
Paranoid android
DanielB Offline
Paranoid android

Registered: 2004-04-01
Posts: 541
Loc: London, UK
I made a 2hr drive over to Gloucester HiFi to pick up the 500 (3xx model) transport they were selling yesterday and was met by the gracious hospitality of Phil who was happy to let me try the 5200s and the 3100s. I started with the former and quickly became very fond of them.

My musical tastes are rather eclectic so I had taken an array of different music I was familiar with to the shop with me. A blast of "Highway 61 Revisited' went well, nothing seemed muddled as it does on my current Kef/Rotel combination. Every musical element was crisp, no signs of harshness. There's certainly a rather direct feel with the speakers I felt – which is either a good or bad thing pending what one's looking for in a speaker. They just seem to represent the source recording honestly. If it's a bad source it's not really going to add anything to mask faults in the recording on questionable mixing. The score for Revenge of the Sith was one such example, it's a rather flat recording with little sense of separation between the instruments. Bass was tight on the 5200s as well, never overbearing… and they do look gorgeous I have to say.

After spending a good while with the 5200s sifting through the collection of five or six CDs I brought with me Phil was good enough to then hook up the 3100s for comparison (I should add, for the demos of both speakers Phil had actually hooked up the 500 transport I was buying directly to them). They were plonked onto Target speaker stands which suited them really well I thought. I want to say they were the MR70 stands, pretty sure that was the model number. Either way the black 3100s looked lovely sitting on them.

I was very pleased at the 3100s retention to detail, openness and separation. They're little gems! I wasn't quite expecting them to be as good as my ears thought them to be, so again beginning with "Highway 61 Revisited' they offered up a number of pleasant surprises. What was lacking in comparison seemed to be the typical differences one hears when going from floorstanders to stand mounts, and some obviously have a preference in deliberately going one route over the other. What was interesting was that the 3100s revealed tiny little imperfections in vocal performances which I have to wonder if the 5200s greater sense of – for want of a better word - grunt was not masking slightly within the confines of the small demo room. I could hear trembling tones in Bob Dylan's voice which was apparent immediately on the smaller speakers, where as on the 52s he sounded a little smoother. I don't consider either delivery to have been a bad thing, simply different with the room size playing a large part. I was thrilled how both sets of speakers performed at low and high volume levels as well.

A good test disc for me was the score for Batman Begins. It's an interesting one having been a collaboration between two rather different composers (James Newton Howard & Hans Zimmer) It's not actually that good a score – although it does improve upon each listen when you break down the many the many elements going on rhythmically – and I say that as a film music fan who has never favoured the Zimmer/Media Ventures sound all that much. I digress however, bottom line as far as this post is concerned is that it's a good CD and the opening track is an ideal test for bass response and separation as gradually new elements are introduced into the cue, electronic and orchestral. Both speakers performed beautifully here. Obviously the 5200s really drove home those opening bars, but the 3100s remained just as tight and detailed elsewhere. Later on the album, track 10 – Molossus (which underscores the police pursuit of the batmobile in the movie) – is another highly driven cue from the score, a real test of stereo imaging, bass and separation. Again, neither pair of speakers let me down.

I'm very interested in the 3100s. I'm hoping to move at the end of the year, so whether I find a place with a decent enough room will likely dictate whether I immediately go for three 5200s up front and a pair of 3100s at the back, or go for five 3100s. I certainly wouldn't be sad if I had to go for 3100s all round. When I'm settled into a new place I'll certainly be looking to demo then in my new home to see if they perform as well where they'd be living, but for now I have to remain excited at the prospect of potentially coming to own then in however many months time.

Again, big thanks to Gloucester HiFi for the demo.

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#40792 - 2006-04-14 16:23 Re: DSP3100 Review
Registered: 2005-09-02
Posts: 456
Simon Mirren Offline
Paranoid android
Simon Mirren Offline
Paranoid android

Registered: 2005-09-02
Posts: 456
Loc: Mons, Belgium
Very similar to what I found with the 3100s. It would be very interesting to compare the 3100's with a decent sub or 2 to the 5200s. You may find you then get the best of both worlds with a touch of finer detail and even better bass extension and control. Mr Kotches would be in a great position to comment here if he was able to get hold of a set of DSP3100s for review using his DD12s in a direct comparison with his current set up....?

Of course, a 5.2/7.2 setup with all 3100s would save you a pretty penny here against all 5200s.

As people have compared 5200s with subs to the 7000s I would be even more interested to know how 3100s with 2x DD12s or SW1600s compared to the 7000s.... Maybe I'm being a little optimistic here but the higher frequency amplification, electronics and drivers do not appear to be all that different so it's really a test of a sub vs. integrated bass drivers isn't it...?

DSP8000's maybe a different story however...


C15, MS600, G61R, HD621, DSP3100Vx4, DSP33x2, SW1600, Samsung UN65JS9500 4K LED TV, Sony X800 UHD Player, Wireworld Star*light video cabling, Isotek Vision, Isotek Elite/Prem mains cabling, Soundstyle XS105 rack
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#40793 - 2006-04-14 16:59 Re: DSP3100 Review
Registered: 2004-04-15
Posts: 12,164
VirusKiller Offline
Don't Panic
VirusKiller Offline
Don't Panic

Registered: 2004-04-15
Posts: 12,164
Loc: nr. Milton Keynes, UK
Quote:
Originally posted by Daniel Brecher:
What was interesting was that the 3100s revealed tiny little imperfections in vocal performances which I have to wonder if the 5200s greater sense of – for want of a better word - grunt was not masking slightly within the confines of the small demo room.
Great observation Daniel. Goes to show once again that not all speakers (no matter how great their potential) suit all rooms.


Roon Developer and ex-moderator of this Forum
I am #25 in the HH1 photo of fame.
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