Some more observations after another few hours of listening today…
I am feeling pretty torn still about which set I like better. I feel pretty comfortable when I say that the Phil 2s are the “better” speaker if the criteria is pure accuracy and transparency. Probably, most reviewers for magazines would appreciate their clear sound and clean, enveloping high end. But, while that might mean that the SVS Ultras are therefore more “colored” and less pure, they present a very attractive sound. They are rich, deep and powerful.
Another way I thought of to describe it is that, when I just listen to the SVS Ultras, I don’t really notice any real failings. It is only when I switch to the Phils that I say ahhh..the soundstage opened up even more and the highs became clearer. When I listen to just the Phils, I do notice some lack of depth and oomph. That makes the choice difficult, kinda between the technically better set and the one that maybe agrees with me more. Also, in truth, the SVS seem to mesh better with rock music and the deep bass on jazz, which I like to listen to a lot. For classical, I would prefer the Phil 2s.
On Monday, Victor is going to bring by his PB1000 sub and it will be interesting to see how much difference that makes when added to the Phil 2s.
On a side note, I am still kinda regretting that I was not able to listen to the other 2 brands at the same time. It would have been interesting to hear the Ascend with the Raals, to see whether I preferred how that tweeter with the more conventional midrange compared to the Phil 2s with the ribbon-open back cabinet. Looking at the specs though, I probably would have been disappointed in the low end extension on the Ascend towers and would probably feel like they need a sub. Also, I would have loved to see how the higher quality dome tweeter and cone driver in the VR-22s compared to the SVS towers, especially whether they projected a more immersive sound similar to what I am hearing from the ribbons.
I had very similar feelings when I had SongTowers and KEF Rs running side by side. At the end the kind of music I like won the battle for the KEFs.
For a while I was considering running dual setup, Salks for mellow stuff and KEFs for the rest. Might an option for you:)