SMR logoPlatinum Audio Studio 2 Loudspeaker Review

An exercise in frustration for John R. Potis Jr., as he tries to get to grips with the Platinum Audio Studio 2 loudspeakers.  Will all his efforts be in vein or will he discover the magic these 'speakers hide within their cabinets?

Many thanks go to Mr. Paul Colangelo for his help and for providing the review sample.

PLatinum Audio Studio 2 Loudspeaker Specifications

Frequency response: (37Hz-20kHz, ±2dB)
Recommended power: (watts RMS/channel) 50-300
Sensitivity (@ 1 watt/1 meter) 89dB
Nominal impedance 7 ohms
Crossover 2.5-way
Crossover frequency 200Hz & 2.5kHz Acoustic filter slope dB/octave- 6/12/18
Port tuning (Hz) 40

Height (in/cm) 21½/55
Width (in/cm) 8/20
Depth (in/cm)13/33
Weight, each (lb/kg) 34/15½
Finish: Amari with black goatskin top and bottom panels. Finish may be subject to change.
MSRP $1,295/pr
Platinums PS-20 (shown) Stands: $329/pr
(All specifications as per manufacturer)

PLatinum Audio Studio 2 Loudspeakers

 

Top Five things you WONT hear said at your next cocktail party about your Platinum Audio Studio 2s:

5]  "Man! And I thought his wife was ugly!"
4]  "I hear those things were so expensive, only the dog is going to college!"
3]  "Why are they so big?  Whats he trying to compensate for?"
4]  "Is all that bass coming out of those speakers or did you eat the bean dip-again?"

(OK, maybe you will hear that one!)

And the number one thing you wont hear at your next cocktail party:

1]  "No, Dear, I dont want a pair of Platinum Audio Studio 2s, why do you ask?"

 

Introduction and first impressions:

Platinum Audio Studio 2     I suspect that Platinum Audio is best known for its "Listening Room" series of speakers, which is anchored by the "Solo", a rather diminutive speaker with a very large sound.  The Solo is probably best known for its over achieving metal woofer which has a radiating surface of about 4 inches that seems to defy the laws of physics by pumping out an unreal amount of bass.  While the reviews were always positive, I always felt that most of the reviewers slighted its performance somewhat by dwelling too much on the bass characteristics of the speaker and glossing over its other fine attributes.   Well, now that Ive reviewed a Platinum Audio product, I begin to understand how that can happen.

     Well, anyway, thats the Solo, and this review is not about the Solo!  The speaker under review is from the "Studio" series - the "Studio 2" to be exact.  The Studio Series is a less expensive series than the "Listening Room" series.   Several of the models look to share the same boxes of their more expensive brethren, but this is where the similarities end.  The Studio Series seems to strive to get the job done using more conventional techniques and more conventional drivers.

     I say "more conventional", I didnt say cheap.  The tweeter used in the Studio 2 is a one piece aluminum dome using a butyl rubber surround; two layer round OCC copper wire voice coil (99.9999% purity) and is ferrofluid cooled.

     The woofers are polypropylene cones utilizing butyl rubber surrounds with aluminum voice coil bobbins and two layer round OCC copper wire voice coils (99.9999% purity) in a ventilated die cast aluminum chassis (dont you just love audio "geek-speak"!)

     Platinum says that the enclosure is constructed of one-inch medium density fiberboard (most speakers in the class use ¾ inch) with a one-piece die cast aluminum back plate.  With the possible exception of the wood grained vinyl wrap (which I gotta tell you, still looked pretty good!), everything about this speaker looks as if it was designed for quality, not to be inexpensive.  The dual set of heavy duty (and I do mean heavy duty!) gold-plated binding posts look almost out of place on a product of this modest price.

     As a matter of fact, the Platinum Studio 2 has the honors of garnering the most "oohs and ahhs" of any speaker Ive had through here to date.  Setting atop Platinums own beautiful 24-inch sand/lead-shot filled stands they are indeed a very handsome speaker.   I highly recommend the stands by the way, they are extremely well built.  Once filled with sand they are quite heavy and inert and most importantly: the Studios bolt right to them.  Such a secure grasp of the speaker by the stand has its sonic advantages, but I was most grateful for the security of the speaker given the nature of my inquisitive two-year-old (nuf said?).

     Lastly, I was happy to see metal grills over the speaker drivers.  The grills are removable, but you wont want to, once you have showed them off to all of your friends, that is.  In the meantime, they offer the drivers real protection form curious fingers.  If you have children, or plan to, you can appreciate the peace of mind.

 

Platinum Audio Studio 2Initial Listening Impressions:

     These speakers were responsible for a severe case of cognitive dissonance.  "Cognitive Dissonance" is where the senses tell you one thing while your brain tells you something quite different.  The reasons for this were two-fold.

     First, on initial listening, the brain just cant believe that all that sound and all that bass is coming from that small enclosure with those two tiny looking little woofers.  But it is.

     Second, also taunting my brain was the fact that while I was hearing a generous bass, lovely tonal balance and a generally clean midrange, I wasnt at first sure that these Studio IIs were living up to Platinums reputation.  They sounded very nice and extremely pleasant, but there was something amiss.  It was difficult to put my finger on it, but I wasnt completely happy.  I had expected more (stick with me here, my story has a happy ending).

     At first, while the bass was both generous and punchy, it was also slightly homogenized.  For example, on SuperTramps "Some Things Never Change", the bass was always visceral and tight, but it sounded the same from track to track.

     While not bad by ordinary standards, midrange detail was also lacking.  There was a slight "blur" over everything that I had a hard time believing couldnt be eliminated.  It wasnt terrible, but it was a flaw totally out of keeping with other virtues of the speaker.

     After much playing around with positioning within my room, I was this far from giving up when a thought occurred to me.  This was the first pair of speakers Ive ever had with a "DAppolito driver configuration".  That is, with the tweeter placed between two midrange drivers (aka: MTM-mid, tweeter, mid). I started to wonder if there was something about this configuration I was missing.

     I fired off a letter to fellow SMR reviewer, Alan L. Maier to seek his advice.  Alan has reviewed and owned several speakers with the DAppolito configuration and maybe he would have some words of wisdom.

Alan wrote-

"Unlike a typical system where we worry a bit about time alignment between the mid-bass and tweeter to our ears, now we are dealing with a definite time alignment requirement that the 2 mid-bass drivers be exactly the same distance from your ear&..if there is a distance difference, the result will be a blurring of midrange focus where it should be razor sharp."

Platinum Audio Studio 2     Ah-ha!  Sometimes the answer is so obvious it totally escapes me.  OK, well, maybe it happens more often than Id like to admit!  But I took Alans advise and started to play with the rake of the speakers.  Had my listening chair placed my ears above the axis of the tweeter, I would have tilted them back.  But in my case, my ears, while seated, were actually a hair lower than the tweeter.  In order to align the speaker so that the mid-bass drivers were exactly the same distance from my ears, I had to lean the speakers forward just a bit.  By the way, Platinums stands were a big help in all of this.  They have built in bubble level guides right between the double pillars!   What a great touch!  I should note too that the forward pitch of the speaker was neither enough to make the speakers in the least bit unattractive or unstable.

     BINGO!  Things snapped into focus.  The homogenous quality of the bass was now a thing of the past as was the blurring of midrange detail.  Additionally, the soundstage got taller and a touch wider too!

     After a final adjustment to toe-in (removing it for the most part), I now had imaging extending almost wall to wall and I was happy that I was finally obtaining what I had expected from the Studio 2s.  Yeah, it had taken quite a bit longer than expected, but these things were now cooking and I had learned something too!

 

Now for some REAL listening (and enjoying!)

     The Platinum Audio Studio 2 speakers still caused a little mind bending.  There is just so much more to these speakers than meets the eye.  Sitting here, I still cant get over how they coax so much out of those little boxes.  Bass is generous and physical.   They played louder with my 100-watt Classé CA100 than I could reasonably want in my larger listening room with no signs of compression or strain.  "Hotel California" from the Eagles "Hell Freezes Over" CD features a rather overdone kick drum which can intimidate small speakers and small "sub"woofers alike.  Its a good thing I was at my own home or I would have been looking around for a hidden sub-woofer rather than enjoying the music.  The Studios were doing an exemplary job of handling the bass on this track. Track 1: "Get Over It" was something to be heard.  I like the song loud.  The louder the better and the Platinums agreed whole-heatedly.  Again, bass was strong, detailed and full bodied.

Eagles 'Hell Freezes Over'     On the aforementioned Super Tramp disc, bass was almost too much for the room.  This because the mixing of the disc is so heavily biased toward the bass end of the spectrum.  I did say "almost", by the way! It was magnificent.  It would have been great performance had the speakers been twice the size with 10-inch woofers.  More important than quantity- quality was now excellent too.  Gone was the blurring I had heard before and every song had a different bass signature.

     A very pleasant surprise was what the Studio 2s did on classical.  Often speakers can sound potent in the bass on Pop and Rock, but can sound anemic and hollow on the deeper bass often found in classical music.  Not the Studio 2s.  Two of my torture discs were at hand for the Platinums review - the sound tracks to "Casper" and "Jurassic Park".  To be honest, I still cant believe they handled these discs with the authority they did.  They actually sounded a bit more natural on classical than they did on pop!

     Enough about Bass!  Im falling into the aforementioned reviewers trap!  How was the rest of the speakers performance?  Well, I have to say that midrange performance was excellent for its class, but ultimately, Im sure that this is why Platinum has its two more expensive series of speakers.  While very clean at all times and very detailed, it did lack the inner detail of some of the more expensive monitors Ive heard.  For instance, Leonard Cohens voice on "Joan of Arc", the duet from Jennifer Warnes CD "Famous Blue Raincoat" was clean and lush, but it lacked some of the "rasp" that Ive heard on some speakers-albeit more expensive ones.  I should add here that only in direct comparisons with more expensive speakers do the Studio IIs suffer in anyway throughout the midrange.  As a matter of fact, on occasion, vocals were reproduced so well and with such a presence, it was almost spooky.  Jennifer Warnes voice in particular was reproduced with exemplary poise.  She was almost in my room.

Platinum Audio Studio 2     Joe Jacksons "Body And Soul" was another joy on the Studio 2s.  His voice was reproduced as well as I recall ever hearing it and the brass sections backing him up sounded lively and well in tow.  At no time did I ever suffer the glare of some other speakers nor was there any over-active upper-midrange "splash" on percussion.  Images were portrayed wall to wall with spectacular specificity.  This leads me to my only other complaint about the speakers.

     While images floated like a holograph across the stage, the speakers did suffer from a slight lack of "air".   This lack of air contributed to the lack of the sense of space that defined the soundstage.  You know, when there is no music, but you can still "hear" the soundstage?  Well, its missing on the Studio 2s.  Its as if the orchestra is set up on darkened soundstage, only to be illuminated, section by section, as each participates in the performance.  Again, this is anything but a fatal flaw, but imaging/sound-staging freak that I am, I could have hoped for better.

     That completes my list of picked nits and thems some tiny nits I picked!!

     Moving on to the upper midrange/treble, there aint much left to comment on.  It was quite natural, well behaved and just "forward" enough to keep the presentation exciting.   While not all that "sweet" (read: dark) it was a touch kind to bright recordings.  The opening guitars from Hell Freezes Overs "Take It Easy" can sound awfully bright and grating on a lot of speakers.  While the Studios maintained the essential qualities of these guitars, they did manage to tame some of that harshness.  Treble was always lively and energetic while avoiding the pitfalls of being over-energized.

 

Home Theatre Implications:

     Platinum doesnt make a whole lot about home theatre on their web site, but the Platinums are fully suitable for your home theater and they tell me that all the drivers are magnetically shielded.   The Smaller Studio 1 should make a terrific surround speaker (if you dont have enough room or budget for a pair of Studio 2s) with either a pair of Studio 2 or Studio 3s for front right and left.  Platinum even modifies the Studio 2 for use as a center channel speaker.  According to Platinum:

"The Studio 2 center channel is modified by horizontally setting the speaker on its side using two end plates and 4 rubber feet on the side of the enclosure.  Lastly we cover the grille with black grille cloth to conceal the drivers."

I think with their energetic and lively presentation, the Studios would make a great home theatre choice.

 

Conclusion:

     Well, the Platinum Studio 2s started off to be an exercise in frustration, but ended up one of pure rapture.   I hope my tale can both ensure you a good demo at the dealer as well as expedite the set-up process at home.

     My minor caveats aside, these really are wonderful and completely satisfying speakers.  Talk about 10-lbs. of performance in a 5-lb. sack!  The Studio II can rock with the largest speakers in its class all day long and then sweet talk you at night over a glass of wine with your favorite classical selection.  The Studio 2s are a very "rhythmic" speaker.  With their generous and punchy bass, they have a very fast and fleet-footed sound.  They are the absolute antitheses of what some people think of when they think of the sterile and bland "audiophile-approved" speakers.  With stunning decorator friendly looks thrown in, you owe it to yourself to get an audition before your next cocktail party!

 

Good luck and listening,

© 1998.

 

More information about Platinum Audio loudspeakers can be found within the Official Platinum Audio Web Site.

Text © John R. Potis Jr.; HTML © SMR Home Theatre and Images © Telarc, John R. Potis & SMR Home Theatre cannot be reproduced without permission.  The images on this page are digitally watermarked: Digimarc http://www.digimarc.com/

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Last updated 03 December, 1998

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