$15K to spend - Salk, Von Schweikert, or Ascend? - AVS Forum
View Poll Results: Which speakers would you buy (with cost being a factor)?
Salk Sound (get the best, cost be damned!) 18 47.37%
Von Schweikert (conservative bet w/ an ultra smooth tweeter) 2 5.26%
Asend Acoustics (go with the RAAL on a budget and save some cash for a Anthem D2V!) 18 47.37%
Voters: 38. You may not vote on this poll

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post #1 of 82 Old 07-08-2012, 09:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi Guys,

I am looking for a 5 speaker surround sound package. I already have an excellent Rythmik subwoofer. My budget is around $15K though I'd prefer to spend much less and I have no problem going with much lower priced speakers if they sound good.

In the past I've owned Infinity, Genesis Tech, Wilson, Polk, Paradigm, Axiom, Golden Ear, Ascend, Von Schweikert, Aperion Audio, Definitive Tech, Monitor Audio, and my last pair of speakers, Revel F52s. I found the Axioms, Revels, Monitor Audios, and Paradigms to be bright. The other brands did not bother me.

For me the speakers must measure well (good off axis response, flat FR, low distortion, etc.) and not cause listener fatigue. I am VERY sensitive to bright speakers and brightness drives me nuts.

I've narrowed down the list to the following speakers:

1. Salk Audio Soundscape 8

These seem to be universally accepted as excellent speakers with great drivers and excellent build. They also have the much loved RAAL tweeter. Lastly, the matching center is a 3-way design which can be better than the typical MTM.

The negatives I see are the 2 month wait, they are very expensive, relatively inefficient, and I am concerned they could be bright with the Accuton and RAAL combo.

2. Von Schweikert VR-33s

I've owned the VR-4jrs before and I loved them. I think the VR-33s use the same or a very similar tweeter so this is a known quantity. They are very easy to drive, there are dozens of positive reviews, and they use expensive Scanspeak drivers. Lastly, they are in the middle of the budget saving me significant cash.

The negatives are the unknown matching center and typical MTM design. Without an AB comparison I also wonder if the tweeter is as refined as the RAAL?

3. Ascend Acoustics RAAL Towers

Why am I considering Ascend if I have a $15K budget? They use the same RAAL tweeter as the Salks, they are easier to drive, ready to ship, and cost THOUSANDS less. In addition the center is IMHO a steal considering it is a 3-way design, fairly robust, and has the RAAL tweeter. Plenty of good reviews on these as well.

The cons I see are the fact there is no matching surrounds (really Ascend??), they are not as full range as the others, and obviously they use less costly parts. I would imagine the crossover, cabinet, and midrange drivers are not in the same league as the others but I could be wrong. I'd assume the others weigh 2-3 times as much for a reason.

The questions is do they perform 90% as well as the others at 1/4 the cost?

4. Other options...

Others I am considering but have mostly ruled out are the Gallo Acoustics 3.5s (measure OK) and the Pioneer EX series (older, expensive design). The tweeters on both are unknown to me. I have no clue if they are considered bright sounding speakers.

I'd appreciate any feedback and/or suggestions you guys can provide. If you have listened to one of these or you have a link to any type of comparison of these brands please chime in! Since money IS a factor which of the three would you choose? I can't for the life of me decide!

-Brian

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post #2 of 82 Old 07-08-2012, 11:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bghead8che View Post

3. Ascend Acoustics RAAL Towers
Why am I considering Ascend if I have a $15K budget? They use the same RAAL tweeter as the Salks, they are easier to drive, ready to ship, and cost THOUSANDS less. In addition the center is IMHO a steal considering it is a 3-way design, fairly robust, and has the RAAL tweeter. Plenty of good reviews on these as well.
The cons I see are the fact there is no matching surrounds (really Ascend??), they are not as full range as the others, and obviously they use less costly parts. I would imagine the crossover, cabinet, and midrange drivers are not in the same league as the others but I could be wrong. I'd assume the others weigh 2-3 times as much for a reason.

http://www.ascendacoustics.com/pages/products/speakers/SRM1/srm1.html These should work perfectly as surrounds, or you can even do Sierra Towers all around w/ the Horizon center.

I don't have much input to provide because I haven't heard any of the above speakers, so I don't know how they compare. Auditions are always paramount to choosing speakers, especially with that kind of budget, but if that's not a possibility i'd personally choose the SS8s. They have some of the world's best drivers (according to many,) measure extraordinarily flat, and Salk makes some of the best quality cabinets around. I don't think you can lose with that formula. Buy the best speakers you can find and they will keep you happy for many years to come.

Also, the wait for a SoundScape that's not satin black is probably closer to 4 months than 2. If you can wait it out, I have no doubt it'll be worth it.
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post #3 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 06:31 AM
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Why are you not seeking out auditions in people's homes when considering spending $15k?
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post #4 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 07:57 AM
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have you done room measurements? you say you dont like bright speakers but many of the ones you have are pretty flat in measurement. You might want to measure your room and clean it up some...14k on speakers and 1k on the room is probably a better overall investment. I have RAAL based Philharmonic speakers...

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post #5 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 09:03 AM
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Comparing the SoundScape 8's to the Sierra Towers isn't really fair, but I understand where you're coming from. Have heard both I can say in my opinion there's a huge step up moving from the Sierra Tower's to the SoundScape 8's, but there should be considering the price difference. smile.gif A better comparison to the Sierra Tower's is the SongTower's, and both are awesome for the money, though the Sierra's are a bit "brighter" to my ears.

Are you able to score an audition of some of the "lower" Salk models to get an idea of what the RAAL sounds like at least? The SongTower's and HT2-TL's both utilize the RAAL now. I highly recommend auditioning before you purchase, but you really can't go wrong with Salk in my opinion. They also offer a 30-day trial period on standard veneers, so win win.

I"ve heard the Revel Salon2's, Kef 205/2's, Linkwitz Orions, Dynaudio C4 Mark II's and many other "world class" speakers and I'd chose the SoundScape's over all of them. They equal or best those speakers in performance to my ears, and they cost far less. Having the adjustable midrange backwave is a feature none of the other have either. Again - win win.

Happy hunting, and I hope you find a speaker system that will bring you many years of happiness. Enjoy!

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post #6 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 09:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bghead8che View Post

I would imagine the crossover, cabinet, and midrange drivers are not in the same league as the others but I could be wrong. I'd assume the others weigh 2-3 times as much for a reason.
The questions is do they perform 90% as well as the others at 1/4 the cost?
The main reasons the others weight more is because they are bigger, and the Sierra Tower is made of bamboo, which is more solid/stronger than MDF, but also lighter.

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post #7 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 11:08 AM
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For that kind of money I would be considering the Marten Django if you want something truly full-range, or if you want something that sacrifices a few dB on the low end for incredibly detail and clarity everywhere else, the Vivid B-1.

I have listened to the Salk speakers and I would go for one of my above mentioned choices over the Salk. However, I have not heard the other 2 speakers you've mentioned.
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post #8 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 11:19 AM
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For that kind of money I would be considering the Marten Django if you want something truly full-range, or if you want something that sacrifices a few dB on the low end for incredibly detail and clarity everywhere else, the Vivid B-1.
I have listened to the Salk speakers and I would go for one of my above mentioned choices over the Salk. However, I have not heard the other 2 speakers you've mentioned.

So those 2 speakers you recommended sound clearer with more details or what?

Or do they measure better on Soundstage NRC or Stereophile? They have great off-axis/ polar response measurements?
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post #9 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 11:26 AM
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To the OP I went with Ascend Towers for the the rears with Nrt tweeters, and RAAL for the fronts, including the center about less than half your budget, and I'm pretty happy. I would take of that money you save and add Rythmik subwoofer to the mix smile.gif

Just my dos centavos cool.gif


Good luck either way

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post #10 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 11:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bghead8che View Post

I already have an excellent Rythmik subwoofer. My budget is around $15K though I'd prefer to spend much less and I have no problem going with much lower priced speakers if they sound good.

Since you already have the Rythmik sub, how about the sealed, acoustic suspension version of these from Selah Audio to mate with it , which have the same drivers as the Salk Soundscape 8s at less than half the price, and use the savings to get another Rythmic sub (or 3) to match the one you already have?
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post #11 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 11:36 AM
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Or do they measure better on Soundstage NRC or Stereophile?

Do either of these exist for any of the Salk's?
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post #12 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 11:39 AM
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Brian,

What is the primary use of your system? Do you use it mostly for home theater or multi-channel music? What type of music do you listen to? This information would be helpful.

Mike
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post #13 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 65 Electra Glide View Post

Do either of these exist for any of the Salk's?
I don't think so. Audioholics reviewed one of the Salk speakers, but not the Soundscape.
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post #14 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 12:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 65 Electra Glide View Post

Do either of these exist for any of the Salk's?

Only a handful of speakers in the world have NRC measurements unfortunately.
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Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

I don't think so. Audioholics reviewed one of the Salk speakers, but not the Soundscape.

2 actually, and they posted third party in-room measurements of both. ADTG, it's officially your job to convince AH to review a pair of Philharmonics. "You can do it!"

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post #15 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 12:24 PM
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...Infinity, Paradigm, Golden Ear, Ascend, Von Schweikert, Aperion Audio, Definitive Tech, Monitor Audio, and Revel F52s....are simply too bright for me...

Wow. If these are too "bright" for you, I don't know what speakers would work.

You better audition first before you buy.

Since you've already owned Ascend & Von Schweikert, I wouldn't buy them again if you thought they were too bright the 1st time! eek.gif

I don't think Philharmonic / Salk is "bright", but if you think Revel and Paradigm, and those other speakers are bright, then I believe you will also find the Salk "bright".

See if you can audition some KEF Reference speakers or Pioneer EX speakers. They measure superbly. But no guarantee you will not find them bright. biggrin.gif

Maybe you need to treat your room.
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post #16 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 01:13 PM
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I suggest that you check out the Gallo Acoustics Classic CL-3 speakers. They are precise, musical and highly listenable; certainly not "bright" at all.

I recently bought a pair and they are amazingly good. One very cool feature is the lack of any crossover network; another is the semi-cylindrical tweeter which has almost 180 degrees of radial dispersion (yes, 180). This makes every seat in the house a good seat, unlike 90% of the speakers out there. They also are only 31 inches tall and put out more bass and more power than the speakers they replaced, which were twice as large! The laws of physics seem to be violated here; the bass goes down lower (to 32 Hz) than it did with my larger speakers. This is apparently due to a patented application of transmission-line design used here.

I am a big Vandersteen fan and have had their 3A speakers at two of my homes for 25 years, but sold one of those homes and my primary place now has no room for 16-inch-wide speakers. These Gallo CL-3 speakers are the only thing I have found for under $4000 that is narrow enough for my needs (under 9 inches wide) and have the kind of musical purity and listenable sound that my Vandersteens give me.

The amazing thing is that they are only $1595 per pair right now direct from Gallo, and with a 60-day refund and shipping paid both ways; a true risk-free free trial.

There is an extensive article on the speakers and their unique design in the current issue (July/August) of The Absolute Sound magazine, but even the effusive praise they get in the article doesn't really tell the whole story. For some reason, they were listed at $2395 in the article, but they are indeed $1595 right now from Gallo. That may be an introductory price to get the ball rolling; I do not know about that. I DO think they would be a bargain at twice their price.

Everyone who looks at these speakers thinks they are too small to put out the kind of bass and power they claim...until they hear them perform. That changes real quick when they play the Stravinsky Rite of Spring or the live-volume aircraft engines in The Red Baron. ( I spent a few years in the pits at the drag strips, so I DO know what I am talking about re. the live sound of open-exhaust engines...lol).

P.S- Since you are willing to spend that much money on speakers, and you are finding some rather high-quality ones too bright, I wonder what sort of amplifier you have driving them. If it is ANY Home Theater receiver with the possible exception of the Cambridge 650R...bingo! That is where your "brightness" is mainly coming from.

I drive my speakers with an Audio Research preamp and a Bryston power amplifier, which cost around $11,000 total. In general, if your speakers are a lot more expensive than the electronics driving them , the speakers are probably not going to be giving you half of the performance they are capable of, and will almost always sound "bright" because of the quality of the amplifiers driving them.

I bought the Polk RTA-12 Studio Monitors for $1200 in 1980 (over $4000 in today's money), and they sounded very good in the store. They sounded like crap when I got them home. It didn't take very long before I got my first lesson in the need for a high-quality amplifier. My little Harmon-Kardon A500 amp wasn't all that good ( a tube amplifier with undersized output transformers...).. Spending a bit more money for a fairly good integrated amplifier made those speakers sound like they were supposed to. It's called "Learning By Experience"...lol.
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post #17 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 01:15 PM
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Since you've already owned Ascend & Von Schweikert, I wouldn't buy them again if you thought they were too bright the 1st time! eek.gif
I don't think Philharmonic / Salk is "bright", but if you think Revel and Paradigm, and those other speakers are bright, then I believe you will also find the Salk "bright".

I find Paradimg bright, but not Salk or Revel. He definitely needs to audition first.

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post #18 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

I find Paradimg bright, but not Salk or Revel. He definitely needs to audition first.


Me too, not klipsch bright but enough to bother me. It's been some time I've heard any of the newer paradigms thou.

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post #19 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 08:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Twylight View Post

have you done room measurements? you say you dont like bright speakers but many of the ones you have are pretty flat in measurement. You might want to measure your room and clean it up some...14k on speakers and 1k on the room is probably a better overall investment. I have RAAL based Philharmonic speakers...

My room is 15 X 21 and will be treated with acoustic panels. I plan on buying either a processor/receiver with Audyssey or ACR to help with room response beyond what I can control with placement, equipment, and room treatments.

What are your thoughts on the RAAL? Do you find yourself shying away from several recordings? Any listener fatigue?

Thanks for the input!

-Brian

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post #20 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

Comparing the SoundScape 8's to the Sierra Towers isn't really fair, but I understand where you're coming from. Have heard both I can say in my opinion there's a huge step up moving from the Sierra Tower's to the SoundScape 8's, but there should be considering the price difference. smile.gif A better comparison to the Sierra Tower's is the SongTower's, and both are awesome for the money, though the Sierra's are a bit "brighter" to my ears.
Are you able to score an audition of some of the "lower" Salk models to get an idea of what the RAAL sounds like at least? The SongTower's and HT2-TL's both utilize the RAAL now. I highly recommend auditioning before you purchase, but you really can't go wrong with Salk in my opinion. They also offer a 30-day trial period on standard veneers, so win win.
I"ve heard the Revel Salon2's, Kef 205/2's, Linkwitz Orions, Dynaudio C4 Mark II's and many other "world class" speakers and I'd chose the SoundScape's over all of them. They equal or best those speakers in performance to my ears, and they cost far less. Having the adjustable midrange backwave is a feature none of the other have either. Again - win win.
Happy hunting, and I hope you find a speaker system that will bring you many years of happiness. Enjoy!

That's interesting that you found the sound to be slightly brighter considering they both use the same tweeter. No suprising I suppose considering cabinet and crossover differences.

I live in Southern Utah so anyone that lives in Utah, or south of me in Las Vegas PM me smile.gif I love to audition Salk, Von S., or Ascend.

-Brian

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post #21 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 08:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 65 Electra Glide View Post

Since you already have the Rythmik sub, how about the sealed, acoustic suspension version of these from Selah Audio to mate with it , which have the same drivers as the Salk Soundscape 8s at less than half the price, and use the savings to get another Rythmic sub (or 3) to match the one you already have?

You know I seriously looked at these early in my search. While I don't doubt they are great speakers I do have a few concerns; namely, I could not find any pro reviews, no 3rd party measurements, and they website looks unprofessional. While websites have nothing to do with speakers I'm in internet marketing and the fact that their site and products are so poorly represented concerns me. Lastly, shelling out $10-$15K on a company I have never heard of makes me nervous. wink.gif

That being said they do use the same drivers AND they are cheaper than the Salks by a decent amount. Oddly enough the user reviews I did find seem to indicate the speakers are subdued on the top end more so than other speakers using the RAAL tweeter.

Any insight on why I (or anyone else) should consider them over the Salks?

They are not off my list yet.

Thanks for the feedback!

-Brian

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post #22 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 09:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Electra,

I'm a firm believer in concept that speakers that sound great and measure well should sound great wither your are listening to music or watching a movie. That being said I would say 50/50 with a wide range of material.

-Brian

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post #23 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 09:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 65 Electra Glide View Post

Since you already have the Rythmik sub, how about the sealed, acoustic suspension version of these from Selah Audio to mate with it , which have the same drivers as the Salk Soundscape 8s at less than half the price, and use the savings to get another Rythmic sub (or 3) to match the one you already have?

They do not have the same driver to neither of the soundscape line. The raal on the tempesta is the 70-10D.
A custom version tempesta cost slightly less then the soundscape M7 cost. Unless someone wants those prefabricated PE cabinets, is where saving occurs.
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post #24 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 09:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

Wow. If these are too "bright" for you, I don't know what speakers would work.
You better audition first before you buy.
Since you've already owned Ascend & Von Schweikert, I wouldn't buy them again if you thought they were too bright the 1st time! eek.gif
I don't think Philharmonic / Salk is "bright", but if you think Revel and Paradigm, and those other speakers are bright, then I believe you will also find the Salk "bright".
See if you can audition some KEF Reference speakers or Pioneer EX speakers. They measure superbly. But no guarantee you will not find them bright. biggrin.gif
Maybe you need to treat your room.

AcuDef,

I cleared up my inital post. I definately am very senstive to brightness but not that sensitive. Many of the speakers I had in the past sounded great. I would say the ones that bothered me the most were the Axioms (ear-bleeding bright, over-rated speakers), Wilsons, Def. T 8080STs, and Revels F52s. Other than the Axioms I loved the speakers aside from my brightness sensitivity.

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post #25 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 09:09 PM - Thread Starter
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I find Paradimg bright, but not Salk or Revel. He definitely needs to audition first.

I found Paradigm 100s to be bright with a mid-bass hump that made male vocals overly "weighty" IMHO. Most people would not consider Revels bright. I don't either. I just have atypical brightness sensitivity. I have not hear the Salons series.. only the metal dome tweeter in the Performas which unfortunately is a no-go for me.

-Brian

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post #26 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 09:12 PM
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My room is 15 X 21 and will be treated with acoustic panels. I plan on buying either a processor/receiver with Audyssey or ACR to help with room response beyond what I can control with placement, equipment, and room treatments.
What are your thoughts on the RAAL? Do you find yourself shying away from several recordings? Any listener fatigue?
Thanks for the input!
-Brian
If i have that kind of budget i will talk to JIm at Salk.
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post #27 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 09:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by RicardoJoa View Post

They do not have the same driver to neither of the soundscape line. The raal on the tempesta is the 70-10D.
A custom version tempesta cost slightly less then the soundscape M7 cost. Unless someone wants those prefabricated PE cabinets, is where saving occurs.

They both uses RAAL and an Accuton midrange so that would make them somewhat similiar sounding I would think. I assume they use a different RAAL tweeter and Accuton midrange?

You own a pair? I'm curious how these sound sans the Dennis Murphy crossover magician. biggrin.gif

-Brian

Brian R. Smith
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post #28 of 82 Old 07-09-2012, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Bghead8che View Post

They both uses RAAL and an Accuton midrange so that would make them somewhat similiar sounding I would think. I assume they use a different RAAL tweeter and Accuton midrange?
You own a pair? I'm curious how these sound sans the Dennis Murphy crossover magician. biggrin.gif
-Brian

Im in the market of a three way .
Yes, both uses Raal and acutton , but they are differeent models, they are really not the same. I have not hear either, but i guess they could sound similar?? But one thing to keep in mind is that they are really two diffeent spakers so we cant just assume they would sound similar.
I have talk to Jim via email, and he is very thorought and clear with his response, plus with his customisable speakers, thats why i suggest you could have a talk with him.
I have the standard Song towers from Jim, and all i can say they sound fantastic. With the Soundscapes, they could only get better.
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post #29 of 82 Old 07-10-2012, 04:41 AM
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Originally Posted by Bghead8che View Post

4.
Other options...
Others I am considering but have mostly ruled out are the Gallo Acoustics 3.5s (measure OK) and the Pioneer EX series (older, expensive design). The tweeters on both are unknown to me. I have no clue if they are considered bright sounding speakers.
I'd appreciate any feedback and/or suggestions you guys can provide. If you have listened to one of these or you have a link to any type of comparison of these brands please chime in! Since money IS a factor which of the three would you choose? I can't for the life of me decide!
-Brian

Don't rule out the Gallos. The CDT is one of the best tweeters in the business. The RAAL is king for spectral decay performance but the Gallo is no slouch and has it's own advantages. The RAAL has very good horizontal dispersion but can't match the 180 degrees of the CDT. In addition, the CDT has much better power handling. You will not be able to overdrive it. I've run high power sine waves into it and it didn't break a sweat. As to brightness, the CDT is most definitely not. I would not have bought the Ref 3.1s (the predecessor to the 3.5) if it was. Besides speakers usually sound bright because of poor driver integration, are driven with an insufficiently poweful amp or room interaction (e.g. highly reflective surfaces).

Cheers
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post #30 of 82 Old 07-10-2012, 05:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Bghead8che View Post

That's interesting that you found the sound to be slightly brighter considering they both use the same tweeter. No suprising I suppose considering cabinet and crossover differences.
I live in Southern Utah so anyone that lives in Utah, or south of me in Las Vegas PM me smile.gif I love to audition Salk, Von S., or Ascend.
-Brian

I think it was actually the upper midrange that I was hearing, probably near the crossover region. Others noticed it too, while another thought the Ascend was more laid back. To each their own, right? smile.gif
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Originally Posted by Bghead8che View Post

You know I seriously looked at these early in my search. While I don't doubt they are great speakers I do have a few concerns; namely, I could not find any pro reviews, no 3rd party measurements, and they website looks unprofessional. While websites have nothing to do with speakers I'm in internet marketing and the fact that their site and products are so poorly represented concerns me. Lastly, shelling out $10-$15K on a company I have never heard of makes me nervous. wink.gif
That being said they do use the same drivers AND they are cheaper than the Salks by a decent amount. Oddly enough the user reviews I did find seem to indicate the speakers are subdued on the top end more so than other speakers using the RAAL tweeter.
Any insight on why I (or anyone else) should consider them over the Salks?
They are not off my list yet.
Thanks for the feedback!
-Brian

I wouldn't buy anything from that company, but it's based on the owner and his behavior on the forums more than anything else. His products are hit or miss too IMO; some sound pretty good, some not so much. They aren't in the same league as Salk, though. Just my $0.02

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bghead8che View Post

They both uses RAAL and an Accuton midrange so that would make them somewhat similiar sounding I would think. I assume they use a different RAAL tweeter and Accuton midrange?
You own a pair? I'm curious how these sound sans the Dennis Murphy crossover magician. biggrin.gif
-Brian

It's all about the crossover, as without a good crossover you just have drivers behaving how the so please. Dennis is the king IMO, right up there with the guys at Revel and Kef (maybe better).

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