First off, thanks again to Craig for hosting the event and for Nuance and friends for their "heroic" efforts as well. Nuance, your report was certainly well written and insightful. I thought you did an excellent job!
I see Dennis Murphy already beat me to it, but I have a few comments that may shed some additional light on this design.
About a year ago, Dennis approached me about bringing a design he had been working on (which would later be named the SongTower QWT's) to market. At the time, I had very little interest in a speaker in this price range. But he persisted and I finally agreed to build a test pair.
Having worked with Dennis on a number of highly successful projects over the years, I expected the SongTowers to be good. But for a speaker in this price category, they clearly exceeded my expectations. As soon as I fired them up, I knew instantly that this was a speaker that deserved a wide audience.
Speaker design is the art of balancing trade-offs. No speaker is perfect. When we analyze a potential new offering, there are several critical areas that we are unwilling to compromise.
First and foremost, midrange detail and accuracy are a must. We simply will not offer a speaker that falls short in this area. Get the midrange right, and you have the basis for a great speaker.
After all, 80% of what you hear is in the midrange. And where home theater is concerned, all the dialog is in the midrange. In this case, midrange accuracy and detail results in a high degree of intelligibility.
To that, add phase accuracy in the crossover region and you have a speaker with precise imaging as well. Now the magic begins!
This was the most detailed speaker of the bunch with a midrange that took second to none in the clarity department. Every detail was reproduced but clearer than any of the other speakers so far. Separation of instruments was a cinch...I really did love how every detail was present without having to strain or really focus to hear it.
Nuance, based on those comments and your scoring in the first four categories, I know you heard what I am referring to.
As for your comments on bass extension, here are a few thoughts:
It would have been very easy to provide the SongTowers with greater bass extension. Simply substituting larger midwoofers would have done the trick. But the "trade-off" would have resulted in less midrange detail. And, in our opinion, that is not a trade-off worth considering.
First, in a home theater setting, there is almost always a subwoofer involved. (That is the reason the "Song Series" also includes the SongSub.) So with the SongTowers usable bass extending to below 40Hz, there is simply no need to compromise its excellent midrange performance to gain additional bass extension.
Second, the subtle nature of bass from a TL cabinet is something most people do not fully appreciate the first time they hear it. It certainly doesn't call attention to itself. Only after living with it for a while do you gain an appreciation for it.
Richard Swerdlow, one of the first SongTower owners, has spent a few months with his pair and posted this comment earlier today on audiocircle:
Listening to my SongTowers has challenged some of the ideas that I had believed were true about speakers' bass response in general. It seems that what may have been true for sealed or reflex designs is not always the same for TLs. It does get difficult to describe.
Another poster on Audioholics said this about TL speakers in general:
"In a good TL speaker, the bass enhancement is uniform and more extended than for reflex designs. The TLS enclosures do not advertise their bass. It appears effortless and full, with no boom, when called upon by the program material. People who have good TLS speakers, seldom part with them and if they do they regret it.
...a TLS is a highly specialized organ pipe. Like an organ, the port output couples to the room, exhibiting the acoustic phenomenon of encircling. It couples to the room much more uniformly than other designs. Therefore TLS speakers are much less likely to set off room resonances..."
For those who have not listened to properly designed TLs, these may seem like more words praising yet another speaker. Those who have heard the SongTowers (and I assume other well designed TL speakers) are nodding their heads in smiling agreement.
Which brings up one huge advantage a TL design has over a more conventional ported design -- it is much more flexible in terms of room placement. Many people are simply not able to supply the "breathing room" necessary for good performance from a typical ported design. A TL design, on the other hand, can be placed very close to the rear wall without becoming overly boomy and negatively exciting room modes.
You also commented...
I started to feel that this speaker was this engaging because it may have a slight forwardness to the midrange. Whatever it was, I didn't mind it at all but came to the conclusion that it may not be for everyone (some may get fatigued by it).
Actually, the SongTowers are voiced ruler-flat as evidenced by this frequency response graph:
Since we custom-build speakers for our clients, we develop close working relationships with them. To date, we have had no SongTower owners mention anything about listener fatigue. But should this situation should ever arise, it is not a problem. The simple addition of a 1-ohm resistor is all that is required to roll off the top end by about 1 db, completely eliminating any possibility of fatigue.
Of course, the response would no longer be flat and you would lose a little top end detail. But if fatigue were ever an issue, there is a simple solution.
Well, I've been going on long enough. Time to call it a day so I can get up and build more speakers in the morning.
Again, thanks to all who participated in this endeavor. We were happy to be part of it!