new to the forum, new ML Preface(s) owner!

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Dec 21, 2009
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Fresno CA
Hi all!

I'm new to the forum and happy owner of 3 new ML Preface tower speakers (that's right, 3! LOL). I know it's unusual, but read on...

Let me start by saying that I've been admiring these speakers for awhile now. I first auditioned them at the local Magnolia-Bestbuy store over a year ago when I was looking for a good receiver to upgrade my old one. I basically sampled all the speakers in the showroom, and this stood out from the rest. At that time, each Preface retailed for $750, which was way beyond my budget and not a priority. I was just amazed with the clarity, detail, and natural-kind of sound vs. the other ones that were sampled.

So anyway, last Saturday, my wife was buying something from a nearby store, so I went ahead and checked out Bestbuy while waiting for her... see if there were any worthwhile deals for Xmas. Found my way back to the Magnolia showroom and eventually to the ML Preface demo speakers which were still there. Something caught my eye, turns out the price has dropped to $499 each, WOW, it was on sale! So I asked the salesman if I could audition them again and called my wife on the phone to come over. We both auditioned a couple of other speakers too. The MLs still sounded much better & clearer than the rest under $1K speakers. Cut the long story short, my wife liked them and she finally gave me the nod after the salesman mentioned a set of the speakers will quality for 36 months 0% APR. He said he was down to his last 3. I then asked him if he was willing to give me a discount on the 3rd one (I already had this idea of trying out a center tower speaker before). He said sure, he'd give me a $50 discount and also that I had 30 days to return any of the speakers if it didn't work out.

Here is my setup:

Onkyo TX-SR806 THX-Ultra2 receiver
ML Preface - Left/Right (replaced PolkAudio RT800s)
ML Preface - Center (replaced PolkAudio CSi5)
KEF Q80 floorspeakers - Surrounds
Velodyne DPS-12 Subwoofer

I hooked them up just this weekend and they sounded pretty good right out of the box (after I got them calibrated with the reciever's Audyssey setup). I know they need to be broken-in for at least 100 hours and I can't wait till they start sounding even better. Our living room space is a fairly large because it is an openfloor-type with an adjoining dining & kitchen area. The 52" Samsung LCD is on a corner so, it somehow allows the front configuration this way:

Left speaker --- LCD TV --- Center ---- Right (speakers are evenly spaced)

Our 3-person couch is close to 15 feet from the TV/speakers so I thought with the slightly angled TV, hopefully the center channel doesn't get localized too much given the listening/viewing distance and wide soundstage of the Preface (at least in theory). After setting up, I sampled all the concerts stored in my Uverse DVR and DVD collection, ranging from Hall&Oates (live at the Troubador), George Michael, Simply Red, Police, David Foster, etc. THEY ALL sounded way much better to my ears compared to the previous Polk L-C-R setup. Also, I closed my eyes and told my wife the same if we could both localize the center speaker on the right side of the TV, we both concluded we couldn't, then again concerts tend to be stereo-sh... so just to make sure, we watched a couple of HD movies from the DVR, and still, we couldn't localize the center channel. Last night, we saw a new BluRay from the mail titled "Not Forgotten" (in full length) which kinda sucked, but we still came to the same conclusion with the center speaker's positioning.

Overall, I'm really happy, the front L-C-R speaker setup now has a seamless soundstage, with the audio transitions flawlessly from Left, to center, to right, vice-versa. The ML Preface speakers are great value, especially at $499 a piece and 36-month no interest BB financing. I highly recommend these speakers to anyone looking for a high quality setup w/ budget in mind! :rocker:
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So now that the short review is out of the way, I have a couple of questions:

1.) Do I really need to upgrade with an external amp to drive the ML Preface speakers? The 806 is THX certified down to 4ohms (Ultra2), and it does seem to handle the MLs without any hickups, but I want to get the best possible SQ. I was thinking of getting this at a later time: just to drive the L-C-R MLs. The thing is, we don't really listen anything close to reference levels, my wife has very sensitive ears so we usually listen anywhere from -25db to -20db (Onkyo volume levels). Would having external amps make any difference at low listening levels?

2.) 3 big floorstanders up front arranged in this way looks a little unconventional (LOL)... should I just return the 3rd one and get the ML Encore TF Center Channel speaker? It's black though so it might not match well with the dark cherry preface. Also, big possible downside is I want a perfect/seamless front soundstage, and even though Encore is probably timbre-matched with the Preface, I'm not sure the sound quality with be exactly the same.
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welcome! ive got a set of prefaces in a 2 channel setup. i too love the detail and clarity of these over all the other box speakers ive had or listened too. i have found a huge requirement with these in 2 channel is toe in and height. mine really opened up when i got them off the floor a bit. also i found better bass response once i got them on stone.

be sure share your experiences as you tweek away! ....and take some photos and post your system!

i need to get new pics up, the couch and chairs are no longer near the speakers, and ive got the speakers on a set of plinths but you get the idea i suppose...
my system:
Jim, very nice setup with your room acoustics and layout. I might do the same with my old Polks, a 10" Athena powered sub, and an older Technics DTS/Dolby-Digital receiver, since there is a spare bedroom with nothing in it, mostly thinking of converting it to a listening/gaming room with a PC hooked up. As for our living room HT setup (where the Preface speakers are), we mainly use it for movies and cableTV (Uverse).

Also, I will post pics soon, so you guys have a clear picture of how the L-C-R and TV are setup.
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im not familiar with your polks, but the preface is a great speaker for music, rock n roll esspecially, and i say you should move the prefaces to the music room and put the polks back in the theater. in most theaters the center is the work house and a lesser L/R will do the job. hell if your going to setup a second room for music you would be doing the Preface's a disservice leaving them in a movie setup. i bet you could hear them crying in the theater as the music plays from another room in the house, im sure of it. they are sensitive ya know, 92db...:ROFL:

take this with a grain of salt but i would return the third Preface, get a matching center speaker to the polks and take the difference and buy an amp for the prefaces in the music room. but thats just me!

Well, I wouldn't really be able to do that for a couple of reasons... first, the wife only approved the purchase of the MLs because she would regularly complain about the clarity of the dialogue when watching DVDs/Bluerays, even though the Polk CSi5 got pretty good reviews when I bought it over a year ago. Second, the "music" room is just going to be a place where I can setup my PC gaming rig and also listen to music when I'm in the mood for it... so usage will be low.

Have you auditioned the ML Source? I tried them back to back with the Preface, and I just don't know, the Preface sounded a little clearer. Maybe the Source speakers in the demo-room just weren't broken in yet. Is the Source vastly superior to the Preface after both have been broken in and setup properly?
Have a quick question to the experts here... would the Preface match with ML Source towers? My next plan is to purchase a pair of Source electrostatics and use them as fronts, moving 2 of the Preface towers to surround duty, while retaining the 3rd one as center. I just don't know of the electrostatics will timbre match with the Preface ATF drivers.
Great choise of speakers! Three similar speakers up front is the way to go, actually it's the only way go unless you are forced to compromise. Special center speakers are a good marketing trick and great busines for manufactures but far from optimal otherwise. Most are even desinged to have higher directionality horisontally which is absurd if used in a home theatre with various listening locations. Then again YMMV...
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Thanks! I love the speakers and have now probably 40 hours of break-in listening. But electrostatics are sexy and I want em just for looks alone! LOL