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HiFi Review - Sound by Design

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Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2008
On the outset, I like to pen down my listening impressing of a very long audition that took place recently at Sound By Design. Mr Siddharth Trehan is one of us and a passionate music lover and can be reached out for any of your HiFi needs.

Sid, is such a welcoming and friendly person. He will get down to your level, listen to you and deliver a product that meets your needs. Just listen... no need to buy, I promise you that! He never said no to me on all the fuss I created and hence Im confident on what Im penning my listening impressions. A friend of mine accompanied me- Vinay. I thought I might as well share my impressions with the rest of you folks.

Musically, I could write a couple of pages on how exceptionally fantastic they are but, what I will say is that when I was auditioning speakers, it was with an ear and taste for Blues, Smooth Jazz and Rock. Therefore I was looking for a speaker with good reproduction of vocals, classical instruments particularly string, wind instruments and percussion. PMC proved to be unbelievable in these and many other areas. In this musical journey, I also discovered what the term literally meant- speakers disappear. Instruments sound true, crystal clear, magical compositions and sound breath-taking. Infact I often used to find myself applauding. PMC have allowed me to experience that feeling that one was hearing clearly for the first time and hearing more! Subtle details, the sound of fingers sliding off the strings as they pluck etc.

Whenever I listen to quality recordings of lets say vocal artists (Diana Krell) then I can honestly say that I felt privilegedwhy!!?? Because it felt as if I had the artist/artistes performing live right there in front of me and just for me. I really do love these speakers; they gave me immense pleasure, an experience that is priceless. I could go on and on! Infact reading this back makes me want to take another audition as it is haunting me.

PMC is one of the most advanced speaker technology, Ive ever seen!! I regret selling my PMC B/S. Listening to it again, the first thing I have noticed it exhibits an excellent coherence, no clutter or distortion and no coloration. It produced vocal with great energy. Tonality is not existent and is very well balanced, produces bass < 40hz with a great taut and speed. The music stays accurate and no fatiguing even at very high volume or after a long listening session. Actually this speaker doesn't know how to sing harsh. The highs are very polished. As polished as, sometime it may create an illusion of being high frequencies little rolled off. They need enough free space to breathe to create a wide sound-stage. But once there placed properly, death can be achieved. Many speakers I had checked out around this price point sounded boomy with the mid bass drivers flying all over the place and another frequency spectrum. We played some music at lower volumes & some at high volumes, the speakers played through the passages at various volume levels un-stressed. Infact we raised Ben Cantos volume level all the way to 100%; can you do that in any other amplifier? There was no missing of detailing at any given volume, no masking, no overlapping, which resulted in me glued to the sweet spot for 7 hours. I am sure that you would never regret getting an audition.

Few of the things that left me in shock & awe are listed below:-

1. Realism- The sounds emanating from the speaker was high resolution, organic, natural without any grain of harness.
2. Great driver integration.
3. Enclosure design- After a listen to the Joseph Audio, PMC, I knew I cannot live with a speaker which has the cabinet singing along with the drivers. Since there is no pressure on the cabinet, the bass is accurate, pitch perfect and extended without any cabinet boom. A perfect amalgamation of drivers.
4. Fast coherence between drivers which leads to articulate bass with no boominess.
5. S/N ratio is 0, very clean music.
6. Emotional connection with the music.
7. Can handle all genres of music.

Setup (as labeled in pic)
(A) Harbeth P3 ESR Special Edition (My darling)
(B) Bel Canto C5i
(C) Cary Audio 306 Professional Edition (top most black unit on rack)
(D) M2Tech Young mk-ii DSD Preamp + Cary 306Pro, on top of Bel canto C5i
(E) External HDD feedding MacBook Pro
(F) Creek Destiny 2 - 2ch x 120w
(G) Creek Evolution 2 - 2ch x 75w
(H) Towers - PMC Twenty.23

DAC (as labeled in pic)
(i) M2tech Hiface DAC - Rs 19500
(ii) M2Tech Evo Dac - Rs 45,000
(iii) M2Tech Hiface EVO Interface - Rs 45,000
(iv) M2tech Young (MK-ii Version) DSD DAC / Preamp
**Also Available but no in this picture: M2tech Hiface Two (SPDIF output interface)

a) Transparent Audio Cables - Music Wave Biwirable speaker cables
b) Music Link & Music Wave Interconnects

a) Dedicated Line from Meter
b) Dedicated Transformer & Power Filter

a) 23 x 11ft


The basic sound signature is very close to neutral, with a slight tendency toward warmth. Bass response is fairly tight weight with a visceral feel to it. Overall presentation flawless mid range reproduction which will blow everyones mind for sure. PMC sings beautifully! I heard some new music during this session, with artists whom Ive never heard of before but the music played was enjoyable. From the variety of music genres played, this was a true test of how a speaker sounds with everything thrown at them. They performed admirably well which shows that these are speakers are true all rounders.

Harbeth P3 ESR Special Edition
These speakers need no introduction. They were connected with Marantz CD6004 and PM6004. They are not everyones cup of tea. It will present modern music with a touch of nostalgia. There is no speaker I have heard that is sweeter than these. They dont go very low but it is The End in mid-range, even more than my magical vintage B&W DM4 which Im putting up for sale as I intend to purchase them.

Joseph Audio
JA Pulsar speakers (these were the show stoppers) + Creek Destiny 2 and Bel Canto C5i integrated amplifier accompanied Cary 306 SACD player.
Their website says The Joseph Audio Pulsar establishes a new benchmark in Mini Monitor performance. It truly conveys the scale of a much larger speaker combined with the speed, precise imaging and resolution. This B/S has a balanced sound with sweet highs and a soundstage to die for. This US boy packs a punch that of a sledge hammer!!

The other astonishing insight that these speakers allowed me to experience was their real Magical ability to form a huge soundstage that defied belief, which is what clinched it for me. The soundstage is almost tangible, where you can reach out and touch as well as place the artists and instruments, especially the vocals, which I would describe as wonderfully breath-taking!

Till now I have heard and read reviewers make the use of many adjective in describing their listening experience. What if I told you there was None! All this jargon was not at all there Belcantos has no tone, texture, bloom, decay, zilch. There was nothing in between Music and the You!
The basic sound signature is very close to neutral, with a slight tendency toward warmth. Bass response is fairly tight, with reasonable weight.

M2tech DAC
If I were starting out to build my digital system now, and if I had a budget under Rs.25k, I would definitely pick up an M2tech DAC up and use it with a PC or laptop as the source. The pace of delivery is much snappier than the other DACs I've listened to in this general price range.

Also, I think I'd be providing a far better source signal to an amplifier than an entry-level CD Player, or DAC available in India at this range would be providing. For this to happen, the speakers need to disappear and literally leave the performers in the room. For me that is the greatest cause of annoyance. I just cant live with colored or unnatural presentation.

The M2tech DAC is a very portable device and can be used with a laptop directly, without external power. If used with a headphone and laptop, one could have a high-quality listening experience without the need for a single power outlet. With a pair of active speakers, the rest of this setup would be a very nice office system, or a great option for a frequent traveler, or for a student in a hostel.

One important thing to note is that the M2tech DAC is being made available in India at a price very close to the price in the US, and that too with warranty. That makes this DAC very good value for money, considering the kind of mark-ups that most DAC's in this price range are available in India at.

My thanks Sid for providing this personalized audition. I enjoyed this very much! I hope you folks enjoyed reading this as much.

Asus Xonar STX + Bottlehead Foreplay III + Sansui AU-317 + Magnepan= Nirvana
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Active Member
Aug 12, 2009
heliumflight, what a keen listening, wonderful dedication. I wish you this ever grow in you.


Sep 23, 2007
Everything you desire in this world, is not meant to be purchased.

If you can afford it then too ?

I mean for long long back I desired for single malts , now when they are affordable ( when someone get it from abroad) I get them . I do not buy Desi Daroo when I crave for SM. Of course many brands are unaffordable , so they are in my wishlist.

Normal consumer behaviour is customer buys the best option in his budget.

Now if someone desires something , it is in his budget - and then buy something else - especially for a passion item like audio - MUST get himself checked from psychiatrist .


Active Member
Aug 15, 2012
I had no clue what was in store as I tagged along with Heliumflight over to Sid's den - Soundbydesign.
In one of his dedicated listening rooms were the PMCs chained to the Belcanto class D amp fed via an M2Tech DAC. Only what happened post that is something that has left me bewildered. Helium has already expressed it and I can only nod with utter amazement.
I have been listening to large drivers and always assumed - larger surface area meant more communication with bigger sound stage.
The PMC's simply crushed that old thought. They are very agile and clever at disappearing act, create a spacious stage distinctly placing the artists
and their instruments.

Joseph Audio - 1st thought - were are the sub woofers? Based on the SEAS drivers these deliver impressive sound with large scale dynamics. Although a quickie session with these (as we had spent a lot of time with PMCs) they were stunning.

IMHO - These are apt speakers for our small sized non dedicated urban living spaces.

Appreciate Sid's effort in bringing them to India.
BTW - a wonderful host. I thoroughly enjoyed the extended session. A Sunday evening well spent.