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Oh, great. Now I'm not going to get anything done at work tomorrow because I'll be checking this thread every ten minutes or so. You guys are ruining me! :D
 

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Awesome first review on the Salks. :clap::clap::clap:

I am curious about evaluating a speaker on how it handles sibilance. Sibilance is mostly due to the wrong microphone being used up front. If a song has sibilance issues (I'm looking at you, Al Stewart!), the blame should be firmly placed on the engineer. Too bad Al's engineer didn't use a more dynamic mic like the the current EV RE20.

I guess my point is that if the source material has sibilance and the speaker reduces it, what else in the music is the speaker altering from the original recording and how does that change the overall listening experience? I can see the thought that if you can hear the sibilance, perhaps the speaker is accentuating it. That would definitely be bad.

Anyway, just trying to understand the thought process on this issue of the review.

Although, my ears have too many hours at the Zoo bar in Lincoln to be considered accurate measurement instrumentssssss. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #104
Awesome first review on the Salks. :clap::clap::clap:

I am curious about evaluating a speaker on how it handles sibilance. Sibilance is mostly due to the wrong microphone being used up front. If a song has sibilance issues (I'm looking at you, Al Stewart!), the blame should be firmly placed on the engineer. Too bad Al's engineer didn't use a more dynamic mic like the the current EV RE20.

I guess my point is that if the source material has sibilance and the speaker reduces it, what else in the music is the speaker altering from the original recording and how does that change the overall listening experience? I can see the thought that if you can hear the sibilance, perhaps the speaker is accentuating it. That would definitely be bad.

Anyway, just trying to understand the thought process on this issue of the review.
Excellent questions. I felt that the smooth high end and low distortion of the SongTower SC did a pretty good job of not accentuating sibilance. I would not say that they cut it or controlled it, just did not make it worse. Joe is our "sibilance authority," with Leonard a close second, I am sure they will have something to say.


Although, my ears have too many hours at the Zoo bar in Lincoln to be considered accurate measurement instrumentssssss. :D
Earplugs. Even our beloved Zoo bar gets loud enough you need 'em. I catch a fair amount of live music in the Lincoln/Omaha area, and these are my choice. Yeah, they seem to make the music sound dull at first, but after a couple of songs of adjustment time for your ears, you will forget they are there. When the show is over - no ringing ears!
 

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Discussion Starter #105
The Initial Intro Post has been updated for probably the final time, with additional information about

  • The Speakers
  • The Room
  • Associated Equipment
  • Thoughts On Equalizing High-End Speakers
Also, a Summary Post has been updated with Joe's Fun Photos of
  • The Speaker Lineup
  • Speaker Storage
  • The Aftermath of the Removed Equipment Rack
  • The Stage Cutouts and Front Woofers
  • Other Room Views
 

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Salk review turned out as I expected it to - it's a very good product and I know a few people that have the model with the Raal tweeters and they have similar comments about it. I'm very interested in two of the upcoming reviews ... the Tannoy speakers and the Phase Techs. You don't hear a lot about these two brands - but Tannoy has been around for a while, and I do like concentric drivers :T! Phase Techs are nice as well, but seemed to disappear from public view for a while, it will be good hearing a review of one of their models again! :bigsmile:

So far so good! P.S. Nice pics as well!!!
 

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Salk speakers are not known for sibilance. If it is in the recording, then you will hear it. Have owned 6 pairs of salks with all tweeter types. Overall a review I expected given my own long term insights. Well written and thorough guys. And lots of hours of " work"!!
 

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Salk speakers are not known for sibilance. If it is in the recording, then you will hear it. Have owned 6 pairs of salks with all tweeter types. Overall a review I expected given my own long term insights. Well written and thorough guys. And lots of hours of " work"!!
True Pete - I have heard quite a few different Salk speakers, and this was the first I recall having difficulty with sibilance. Now, do note that the volume was at -4 at the time and when it was turned back to -10, it was better. To me, the Salk speaker is one that I never personally thought of as a speaker you crank up to loud volumes - it is one you want to sit, relax, look at that stunning finish :), and just listen to some soothing tunes. That is the picture in my head when we start talking Salk speakers. :)
 

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Salk speakers are not known for sibilance. If it is in the recording, then you will hear it.
A good point - also the speaker was not made for the extreme head-banging crowd,
or for those who want to continue to enjoy listening, to poor recordings.
 

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If you guys had some quasi-anechoic on/off-axis data for the speakers tested, that would resolve the concern over whether the speaker is adding or removing something from the music. In that sense, the speaker performed as it should have (ie; it contributed in some way to the response by removing or adding something to what should be a flat anechoic respons).

You may even be able to extract this information to some degree by evaluating the IR and gating the response. I'd imagine the best you could achieve is a reflection free response above 400hz or so, but that would at least tell you what's occurring in the speaker itself (not caused by the reflections that aren't able to easily be identified without in depth analysis).

Just some positive "criticism" for future testing.
 

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First off, thanks to Sonnie for putting this project together and to Wayne, Leonard and Joe for their time and dedication in reviewing the various models. We at Salk Sound were honored to have been able to participate and provide our Supercharged SongTowers for this evaluation.

For those interested, I thought a few comments regarding our design philosophies would shed some additional light that some may find useful.

As I've said many times in the past, speaker design is all about balancing trade-offs. There is no free lunch. Often, achieving performance in some area involves a trade-off somewhere else. For example, high efficiency generally comes at the expense of bass extension. Choose a larger driver that plays deep and it probably won't perform all that well in the midrange. You get the idea. It is simply the laws of physics at work.

In our opinion, the most important aspect of speaker performance is midrange accuracy and detail. All great speakers have one thing in common: they get the midrange right. This is where 80% of the information is in a recording and where all the dialogue is in home theater. If you don't get this right, you may have a "good" speaker, but you will never have a "great" speaker.

So when we consider a new design, we won't put our name on it unless we are satisfied that the midrange performance meets our expectations. Top end air and transparency, along with deep bass extension, are secondary considerations.

If we sold speakers at retail, perhaps our design goals would be different. In a quick evaluation in an audio showroom, consumers generally take note of top end air and bass extension. But they often pay relatively little attention to midrange performance. Unfortunately, only after they get their purchase home do they discover that the bass is boomy and the top end is fatiguing. Since we don't sell at retail, we don't need to play games to win a showroom shoot-out. We are free to concentrate on speakers that excel in the all-important midrange go from there.

As you move up in our product line, the top end becomes more detailed and transparent and the bottom end becomes more extended. But we try to insure that no matter which speaker a customer chooses, the midrange performance will be excellent.

For example, the Supercharged SongTowers use Seas Excel W15's, a 5" woofer with magnesium cones. Magnesium is lighter and stiffer than paper. So these drivers can start and stop faster than a typical paper, kevlar or poly coned driver. The result is more detail and accuracy in the midrange. These 5" drivers do an exceptional job but, of course, can only move so much air down low. Want more bass? Move up to our Veracity ST's with 6" W16's or our Veracity HT2-TL's with 7" W18's. These speakers will move more air down low for added bass weight and heft.

But the midrange performance in all three of these models will be equivalent.

The other thing I might point out is that manufacturers will often boost bass in the region somewhere between 50Hz to 200Hz. This provides the illusion of "better" bass performance. But the frequency is no longer flat and the speakers do not accurately reproduce the sound they are being fed. In this case, the speakers are adding content that is not in the original recording.

I once had a cusomter come to our shop with a pair of his current (from an un-named but well-respected brand) speakers to compare to the SongTowers. He loved everything about the SongTowers but thought his speakers played deeper bass. I didn't think this was the case, so we measured both speakers. Sure enough, the SongTowers actually played deeper. His speakers simply had a hump in the response around 100Hz that provided an illusion of enhanced bass performance.

That is not to say that a person cannot enjoy a speaker with a response that is modified to accentuate some frequencies. But that is not what we are interested in doing. Our goal is to produce speakers that are neutral and accurate and don't add any character of their own to the sound. We are building speakers, not musical insturments that modify the sound.

One final comment... Much has been written about our finishes. We do put a lot of extra effort (and time) into our finishes. It is only natural to think we may pay less attention to finish quality on our lower priced models. This is not the case. No matter what speaker a person chooses, it is an important purchase and one that they will likely live with for some time. So we do our best to insure that the speaker they receive serves as a source of pride for years to come.

Again, thanks for taking the time to evaluate our Supercharged SongTowers. Great job and much appreciated!

- Jim
 

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First off, thanks to Sonnie for putting this project together and to Wayne, Leonard and Joe for their time and dedication in reviewing the various models. We at Salk Sound were honored to have been able to participate and provide our Supercharged SongTowers for this evaluation.

For those interested, I thought a few comments regarding our design philosophies would shed some additional light that some may find useful.

As I've said many times in the past, speaker design is all about balancing trade-offs. There is no free lunch. Often, achieving performance in some area involves a trade-off somewhere else. For example, high efficiency generally comes at the expense of bass extension. Choose a larger driver that plays deep and it probably won't perform all that well in the midrange. You get the idea. It is simply the laws of physics at work.

In our opinion, the most important aspect of speaker performance is midrange accuracy and detail. All great speakers have one thing in common: they get the midrange right. This is where 80% of the information is in a recording and where all the dialogue is in home theater. If you don't get this right, you may have a "good" speaker, but you will never have a "great" speaker.

So when we consider a new design, we won't put our name on it unless we are satisfied that the midrange performance meets our expectations. Top end air and transparency, along with deep bass extension, are secondary considerations.

If we sold speakers at retail, perhaps our design goals would be different. In a quick evaluation in an audio showroom, consumers generally take note of top end air and bass extension. But they often pay relatively little attention to midrange performance. Unfortunately, only after they get their purchase home do they discover that the bass is boomy and the top end is fatiguing. Since we don't sell at retail, we don't need to play games to win a showroom shoot-out. We are free to concentrate on speakers that excel in the all-important midrange go from there.

As you move up in our product line, the top end becomes more detailed and transparent and the bottom end becomes more extended. But we try to insure that no matter which speaker a customer chooses, the midrange performance will be excellent.

For example, the Supercharged SongTowers use Seas Excel W15's, a 5" woofer with magnesium cones. Magnesium is lighter and stiffer than paper. So these drivers can start and stop faster than a typical paper, kevlar or poly coned driver. The result is more detail and accuracy in the midrange. These 5" drivers do an exceptional job but, of course, can only move so much air down low. Want more bass? Move up to our Veracity ST's with 6" W16's or our Veracity HT2-TL's with 7" W18's. These speakers will move more air down low for added bass weight and heft.

But the midrange performance in all three of these models will be equivalent.

The other thing I might point out is that manufacturers will often boost bass in the region somewhere between 50Hz to 200Hz. This provides the illusion of "better" bass performance. But the frequency is no longer flat and the speakers do not accurately reproduce the sound they are being fed. In this case, the speakers are adding content that is not in the original recording.

I once had a cusomter come to our shop with a pair of his current (from an un-named but well-respected brand) speakers to compare to the SongTowers. He loved everything about the SongTowers but thought his speakers played deeper bass. I didn't think this was the case, so we measured both speakers. Sure enough, the SongTowers actually played deeper. His speakers simply had a hump in the response around 100Hz that provided an illusion of enhanced bass performance.

That is not to say that a person cannot enjoy a speaker with a response that is modified to accentuate some frequencies. But that is not what we are interested in doing. Our goal is to produce speakers that are neutral and accurate and don't add any character of their own to the sound. We are building speakers, not musical insturments that modify the sound.

One final comment... Much has been written about our finishes. We do put a lot of extra effort (and time) into our finishes. It is only natural to think we may pay less attention to finish quality on our lower priced models. This is not the case. No matter what speaker a person chooses, it is an important purchase and one that they will likely live with for some time. So we do our best to insure that the speaker they receive serves as a source of pride for years to come.

Again, thanks for taking the time to evaluate our Supercharged SongTowers. Great job and much appreciated!

- Jim
Thank you for submitting your speakers to this evaluation. I trust these guys insight and have enjoyed reading about your STs. Welcome to the forum.
 

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If you guys had some quasi-anechoic on/off-axis data for the speakers tested, that would resolve the concern over whether the speaker is adding or removing something from the music. In that sense, the speaker performed as it should have (ie; it contributed in some way to the response by removing or adding something to what should be a flat anechoic respons).

You may even be able to extract this information to some degree by evaluating the IR and gating the response. I'd imagine the best you could achieve is a reflection free response above 400hz or so, but that would at least tell you what's occurring in the speaker itself (not caused by the reflections that aren't able to easily be identified without in depth analysis).

Just some positive "criticism" for future testing.
I don't know what you mean by "quasi-anechoic on/off- axix data" nor how that would tell us anything about whether a speaker is adding or removing something from the music. There are many assumptions implicit in that kind of determination and an infinite number of variables in collecting and interpreting such response. I don't see where there is much to be gained beyond the measurements that we already have published, on both the speakers and the room.

I appreciate constructive criticism, but I really do not understand why you think we could gain anything like this.
 

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Again, thanks for taking the time to evaluate our Supercharged SongTowers. Great job and much appreciated!
- Jim
Jim,
The pleasure was ours! It is a joy to get to spend time with so many fine products and we appreciate manufacturers who are willing to allow us to evaluate their products for our members and guests.

I hope that we succeed in giving our readers some insight into each that is meaningful. It gets to be much more difficult with speakers at this level. We are beyond the point where individual perception and preference dominate much of what we hear and readers should take our experiences and how we report them in that context. These are, after all, just our individual experience, and others may take something comepletely different away from listening under the same conditions.
 

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What? No classical music among the test tracks? For me this invalidates are subjective results.
Then you don't have to read the reviews. You are welcome to audition the speakers for yourself and report your findings with whatever music you choose. It just so happens that most of what the group of reviewers listen to is not classical. We all have some in our collections but it does not represent the bulk of our preference. We report our experiences with music that we are familiar with and listen to. Certainly there are much better reference recordings than many of our test tracks. We try to select music that reveals something about the speaker and is fun for us to listen to.

You are welcome to suggest some tracks for the next round of evaluations, if there is one. We will consider it.
 
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