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[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=38993&w=s[/img]

Power Sound Audio MTM-210 Speaker Review Discussion Thread




PSA MTM-210: $799.50 each


by Wayne Myers


Introduction

The Power Sound Audio MTM-210 is a recently introduced audiophile speaker from the Mineral Ridge, Ohio based speaker and subwoofer manufacturer. While the company's target market is primarily home theater enthusiasts, the MTM-210 caught my attention as an offering poised to cross into two-channel territory, and I was anxious to hear what co-founders Tom Vodhanel and Jim Farina had come up with. The two questions in my mind were:
  • Could the MTM-210 really be considered an audiophile speaker? and...
  • How well would it perform relative to other speakers in the under-$2000-per-pair price range?


 

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Wayne, thank you so much for all your hard work and time with evaluating the PSA MTM-210s. I have two questions if you don't mind? Which setup did you most prefer, the Front Wall Location or the Mid-Field Location?
Also I realize the importance of having the tweeters of a LCR trio of vertcally oriented 210s in the same plane, how detrimental would it be if the center's tweeter was 5" below the plane of the mains in a HT setting? Thanks again Wayne for all that you do, greatly appreciated. Looking forward to your reply.
Sincerely, Jeffrey
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Wayne, thank you so much for all your hard work and time with evaluating the PSA MTM-210s. I have two questions if you don't mind? Which setup did you most prefer, the Front Wall Location or the Mid-Field Location?
My personal preference is the Mid-Field Location, it gets you closer to the sound field and is more immersive. Nothing wrong with the performance at the Front Wall Location, though. If the MTM-210s are to be used for both home theater and 2-channel listening, I would leave them by the wall, the setup requirements are too exacting to be moving them back and forth, IMO. Plus zero image shift with change of the LP left or right.

Elsewhere, I make recommendations for speaker setup where the mid-field location is recommended as the best way - the only way with some speakers - to get a big, well-defined soundstage. With a controlled-directivity horn-loaded tweeter like the MTM-210s, the rules change quite a bit. They give a good soundstage close to the front wall where most speakers do horribly, so there is much more flexibility with them. But the mid-field soundstage is a bit funner. Toe-in/listening angle make a big difference mid-field, the 15 degree off axis LA worked best for me.

I would not bother with REW to EQ extensively, certainly not with any auto-EQ products. The lift below 300 Hz with a single shelf filter helped a little, but was not really needed. If you can do that easily, fine, otherwise don't bother.

Also I realize the importance of having the tweeters of a LCR trio of vertcally oriented 210s in the same plane, how detrimental would it be if the center's tweeter was 5" below the plane of the mains in a HT setting? Thanks again Wayne for all that you do, greatly appreciated. Looking forward to your reply.
Sincerely, Jeffrey
While the soundstage is much more focused on the tweeter-to-tweeter line, it does have some vertical spread, and should be able to accommodate a 5" or 6" offset without being noticeable. At 8" to 12" I believe it would start be noticeable and a bit distracting.
 

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Thanks for another great review, Wayne. I have long had a sort of prejudice against horn-loaded tweeters, particularly those using compression drivers. Definitely great for lots of output, and great for sci-fi blockbusters in a home theater (one of the most impressive things I ever heard at a trade show was the shotgun scene at the beginning of Ratatouille as played by a system of horns, played VERY loud. Totally effortless like nothing else in my experience). However, it has always been my apparently uninformed opinion that they are shouty and potentially annoying and fatiguing over time, and not well-suited to two-channel music. Lately I've been reading a lot to the contrary though, so I guess I'm going to have to break down and try it some time.

Perhaps you could contrast the broad, overall character of this speaker with something totally on the opposite end of the spectrum, such as your EM ESL or the best of the cones'n'domes (or AMTs) that you've heard. You are obviously enthusiastic about this speaker, but it seems clear that it does distinguish itself from traditional consumer designs in some fundamental ways, which I'm curious about.
 

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I had a chance to hear the Power Sound Audio MTM-210 pair yesterday. I heartily recommend them for either music or movies, and the wave guided compression tweeter sounded natural, no hint of horn sound, no cupped hand qualities at all.

A consideration for those using directivity designs, try Wayne Parham's method. Get rid of any side wall first reflection absorption panels, set the speakers far apart and try a sharp 45 degree angle toe-in. Bouncing the sound off the side walls greatly increases the soundstage width, putting more listeners in the "sweet spot". I've talked to Wayne, experienced one of his systems in person and have tried it myself, it really does work. I'll venture a guess that the single 10" driver PSA MT-110 would provide even greater image focus, as that has been my experience with TM vs. MTM configurations.

There is also some interesting horn vs. wave guide info in the pdf.

Line art Circle

As an aside, I have also adopted his "Flanking Subs" method. The MTM-210 pretty much requires sub augmentation, and flanking is a great way to minimize or eliminate floor bounce nulls.


Thank you for another thorough loudspeaker review, Mr. Myers!
 

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As an aside, I have also adopted his "Flanking Subs" method. The MTM-210 pretty much requires sub augmentation, and flanking is a great way to minimize or eliminate floor bounce nulls.


Thanks Dennis for your input, when you say subs flanking the mains, could this mean that the subs could be inside or outside the mains. Right now I have my 210s LCR in a near front wall configuration with dual XS30SEs flanking on the inside of each main speaker. I'm thinking of moving the mains closer together and closer than the 36" from front wall which means I would have to move the subs (flanking) to the outside of the mains, would this be OK. In other words when you say flanking could this mean outside or inside the plane of the mains?

Right now the mains are about 8' apart from each inside baffle of each other and from the mains plane the LP is about 10.5 ' away and the mains are toed in about 20 degrees. I don't think I can use the corner placement with 45 degree toe in method. Thanks for the time.
Cheers Jeff
 

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Jeffrey - I think going to the outside would be fine, that is how Mr. Parham does it. At the wavelengths we are talking about, you would have to separate your subs by quite some distance for it to matter. Of course, the higher the XO frequency, the greater the chance for sub localization.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Jeffrey, concerning your speaker location, I see no need to move them, they really allow a lot of flexibility. Are they pointed straight at the LP, with zero listening angle? Basically, the closer to the LP, the more off-axis listening angle they needed - 15 degrees was plenty, more might be OK. But farther from the LP, closer to the wall, a smaller LA is better, including zero LA (pointed straight at listener). There is some flexibility to all of this - these are the tendencies I noticed while working with the MTM-210s..

I like that you have them a few feet out from the wall but still close to it, better for home theater sound close to the wall and more spaciousness to the soundstage with that extra distance out from the wall, a good compromise.

Edit: Absolutely no harm in trying out Tesseract's suggestion if it works in your room, I can see its logic. My own room would not allow me to try it, either, no corners where a speaker can go.
 

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Jeffrey, concerning your speaker location, I see no need to move them, they really allow a lot of flexibility. Are they pointed straight at the LP, with zero listening angle? Basically, the closer to the LP, the more off-axis listening angle they needed - 15 degrees was plenty, more might be OK. But farther from the LP, closer to the wall, a smaller LA is better, including zero LA (pointed straight at listener). There is some flexibility to all of this - these are the tendencies I noticed while working with the MTM-210s..

I like that you have them a few feet out from the wall but still close to it, better for home theater sound close to the wall and more spaciousness to the soundstage with that extra distance out from the wall, a good compromise.

Edit: Absolutely no harm in trying out Tesseract's suggestion if it works in your room, I can see its logic. My own room would not allow me to try it, either, no corners where a speaker can go.
Thanks Wayne, yes the 210s are firing straight at the LP, considering I do most of my listening by my myself I want the money seat to be mine. I also have the advantage of no WAF as the misses doesn't care what I do in my space or how loud I do it.:T I remember reading some other reviews from you and you always liked bringing the speakers out into the room, so after your review I figured I would try to have it both ways, not way out into the room and not too far from front wall, like you said a good compromise.

I like the fact that you say no EQ for the 210, I hear that so much with other speaker owners that say this is harsh or mid bass is missing but that's OK I can fix it with EQ. I don't have much room treatments at all and have to agree with you that these speakers do take a lot of the room out of the equation but still maintain that great imaging and sound stage. I'm also very happy to know you approve of the subs flanking the mains, I didn't know if this was the right way of doing this and let my ears by the judge. No localization at all crossed over at 80 Hz, the integration between mains and subs is seamless.

This is my first go at HE speakers with a CD horn loaded tweeter, I was really expecting that beaming effect and harshness but with proper placement I haven't experienced any of this, quite the opposite. I also added the MT-110s as sides and what a difference a 10" driver can make, I thought it would be overkill but I was wrong. Tom V said it all, "you don't what you're missing until you have it"

After thought: I could try the corner loaded mains with a 45 degree LA, my only concern is that I have all my gear on two DIY salamader racks which would place the speakers dispersion pattern in the way. The more I think about it, why change a good thing that you know works for me. So basically my LCR 210s are setup pretty much as your front wall location suggests just with a little different distances. The stands I built allow me to have each speaker the exact same height (mains) and I make sure they are perfectly level. I picked that up from your evaluation right away when you said one speaker was a 1/4" tilted.:T

Thanks again Wayne and Dennis, I know I made the right choice but I had to have it verified from someone who is familiar with the 210s, and the measurements confirm all that I'm hearing and what you heard. I'm still procrastinating with REW, so my speakers have no EQ at all, not even Audyssey and I'm liking what I hear. Take care and will talk soon.:clap:
Best Regards, Jeffrey
 

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Hi Wayne,

First, thanks again for taking the time for such an in-depth review. As I have mentioned elsewhere you are on the way for being *the* benchmark for full range reviews.

One question at a time (for me) for clarity.

First---the "narrow notch" at 200hz in this graph http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=39169&w=s

Could that be some type of "floor bounce" cancellation from the ground? I don't have all of our CLIO data-sets on this PC but I don't recall anything like this and it would seem unusual to see a notch like this from a 10" woof.

Tom V.
Power Sound Audio
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi Wayne,

First, thanks again for taking the time for such an in-depth review. As I have mentioned elsewhere you are on the way for being *the* benchmark for full range reviews.

One question at a time (for me) for clarity.

First---the "narrow notch" at 200hz in this graph http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=39169&w=s

Could that be some type of "floor bounce" cancellation from the ground? I don't have all of our CLIO data-sets on this PC but I don't recall anything like this and it would seem unusual to see a notch like this from a 10" woof.

Tom V.
Power Sound Audio
Great question, Tom. Obviously, I have real-world issues to deal with every time I take a measurement, not having access to an anechoic chamber or 100 ft high tower or the like. Reflections can make a mess of a frequency response plot, and I use the impulse response view to make sure all disruptive reflections are cleaned up in getting to a meaningful measurement plot.

Let me dig into my data and get back to you. I may take a few more measurements to see if there is a logical explanation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Great question, Tom. Obviously, I have real-world issues to deal with every time I take a measurement, not having access to an anechoic chamber or 100 ft high tower or the like. Reflections can make a mess of a frequency response graph, and I use the impulse response view to make sure all disruptive reflections are cleaned up in getting to a meaningful measurement graph.

Let me dig into my data and get back to you. I may take a few more measurements to see if there is a logical explanation.
Tom,

You are correct, that notch at 200 Hz is from floor bounce. Of course I am well aware of the phenomenon and the problems it can cause in taking measurements, and thought I had eliminated it from the measurements. I went through an interesting exercise figuring out how I missed it, and would like to share it with the community so we can all learn from the experience.

Impulse response graphs are fascinating and contain a wealth of information, and I find myself staring at them more and more these days. But they do not always give up their secrets easily, and sometimes the information we want the most is so subtle it is almost impossible to spot with the naked eye. In this case, the details we are talking about can easily be buried in noise.

I turned to modeling of the reflection phenomenon so we could see a clean and idealized version of what is going on. It is quite fascinating.

Several simulated measurements are shown, the ones we are discussing are numbered 2 through 6 in the legends of the graphs.

Frequency Response Simulations.


Impulse Response %FS, normal view and zoomed in.


Impulse Response DBFS - Simulation 3, damped reflection.


Impulse Response DBFS - Simulations 4 and 5, the reflection is covered by another anomaly.


Impulse Response DBFS - Simulation 6, simple minimum-phase filter at 200 Hz.


Simulation 2 is for a situation with a 1.7 mS delay for the reflected signal. That sounds shorter than we would look for with a 200 Hz dip in the frequency response, but there is a reason for using that number. The 1.7 millisecond delayed reflection causes of the first cancellation and dip at 300 Hertz (in the simulation, the reflected signal is attenuated by 10 dB, so cancellations are not complete, and the "rounded" comb filtering results).

f1 = 1 / ( 2 x d )

f1 = 1 / ( 2 x 0.0017 ) = 300 Hz

The above formula gives the first attenuated frequency due to a reflection/cancellation. "Comb effect" filtering results, with additional cancellations at

f1 x 3
f1 x 5
f1 x 7
f1 x 9
etc

The %FS impulse response for Simulation 2 shows a clear, sharp spike at 1.7 milliseconds from that reflection, very much like I saw.

Simulation 3 shows what happened when I damped out that reflection with blankets on the ground. The frequency of the dip appears to have moved from 300 Hz to 200 Hz. This is important to note, as it had me looking for indications of the delayed signal at the wrong time on the impulse response. The %FS impulse response graph shows that the spike is completely gone. The zoomed-in version of that graph shows us the result of filtering on that impulse, which is effectively what happened. The high frequency energy was absorbed and dissipated, but there was still quite a bit of lower frequency energy left, and it was spread out over time. The peak value of the resulting impulse is less than one percent of the original peak, so it is very difficult to see in that view. It showed up very clearly in the DBFS impulse response graph, why did I not see it there? Because it was buried in noise.

The explanation for this is shown over the next two simulations. Simulation 4 shows a small variation in frequency response, and the effect it has on the impulse response. It is invisible on the %FS graph, but shows up very well on the zoomed-in version of that graph and is loud and clear on the DBFS version of the impulse response graph.

Simulation 5 is the one that we learn the most from here. Its lesson is how easily the indication of one kind of frequency response disturbance can be buried by the indications of something else. The frequency response graph is very similar to what I measured for the MTM-210. The %FS impulse response is very clean until you zoom in. The truth is that very takes very little measurement noise for that kind of blip to be totally covered up and impossible to see with the naked eye. The DBFS impulse response also shows how easily one indicator can be mixed in with and hidden by another. A little bit of noise and the indications of the reflection we tried to damp out are obliterated and impossible to see.

The final Simulation 6 shows the effect on the impulse response graphs of a simple minimum phase filter at 200 Hertz, just for the record, quite different from the delayed reflection's effect.

The big lesson here is that the indicators for sharp reflections are easy to see on the %FS graphs, but softened reflection are harder to spot and easily lost in the noise, yet can cause serious anomalies in the frequency response.

I have already changed the captions for the first two frequency response graphs in the MTM-210 Review indicating that the 200 Hz dips are from reflections. If I am able to get measurements retaken, I will change those also. The weather might not allow that at this time however.

Tom, thank you for your patience. If there is ever any part of a review that is not completely accurate, I will happily make corrections where needed. I am glad that you pushed back on this one. It actually ended up being a fascinating learning experience figuring out just what happened.

Let me know if you have more questions.
 

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Wayne, you are a fascinating person, diligent,articulate and you take your work more seriously than anyone I have ever encountered. I just wanted to express my extreme gratitude for all that you do, thank you again my friend. I wish more people would get involved in this thread, with this wealth of information concerning the PSA speakers and the free shipping both ways the MTM 210s are a must audition especially after your painstaking review and concise graphs. :clap: Kudos to you Wayne and PSA for making affordable made in the USA audio products.
I'm a proud owner of both the speakers and subs and thanks to you I'm convinced I made the right choice.:T
Graciously yours, Jeffrey Nordi
 

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Fantastic breakdown Wayne. Thank you very much for the easy to follow graphs. I've already linked this thread in multiple chat sessions!

Tom V.
Power Sound Audio
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for another great review, Wayne. I have long had a sort of prejudice against horn-loaded tweeters, particularly those using compression drivers. Definitely great for lots of output, and great for sci-fi blockbusters in a home theater (one of the most impressive things I ever heard at a trade show was the shotgun scene at the beginning of Ratatouille as played by a system of horns, played VERY loud. Totally effortless like nothing else in my experience). However, it has always been my apparently uninformed opinion that they are shouty and potentially annoying and fatiguing over time, and not well-suited to two-channel music. Lately I've been reading a lot to the contrary though, so I guess I'm going to have to break down and try it some time.

Perhaps you could contrast the broad, overall character of this speaker with something totally on the opposite end of the spectrum, such as your EM ESL or the best of the cones'n'domes (or AMTs) that you've heard. You are obviously enthusiastic about this speaker, but it seems clear that it does distinguish itself from traditional consumer designs in some fundamental ways, which I'm curious about.
Brian,

I understand your hesitation about horn-loaded tweeters. It seems to be hard to hide all signs of them being at work sonically.

My experience in doing direct a/b testing between Martin Logan electrostatics and the MTM-210 is that they sound surprisingly similar. The voicings are slightly different, the MTM-210 being flatter and more extended, while the ESL signature has a very slight rolloff partly due to my off-axis listening position, but other than that they're both very open and natural and completely at ease in their delivery. The sound stage for the MTM-210 is slightly dryer, due to the monopole controlled directivity. Dipole electrostatics get more going on in the room behind them, and the soundstage is a little more lively and spacious, but I would say neither is better or worse than the other, just slightly different. Again, the horn sound effect is completely absent with the MTM-210. I was glad to have Dennis, Tesseract, over recently to hear the MTM-210, and he agreed, as he has commented above, that they do not sound like horns at all.

Both MTM-210 and the ESL are exquisitely clean in their delivery. As I noted there were only a few occasions where the MTM-210 did not quite keep up with the cleanness level of the electrostatics, and that would never have even been noticed except with direct a-b testing where I was looking for that specifically in very dense tracks. Under normal circumstances there was never a time when I felt the MTM-210 were anything less than marvelously clean and that is a big factor in how much I liked them.
 

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Hmm, well my audition list continues to grow. A year or two ago, I never thought I would consider electrostats or anything horn-loaded, and now I think I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn't give them both a good audition. I'll be blaming you, Wayne :hissyfit: :T
 
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