I thought I would post some impressions after day 1. VicTorious1 stopped by and we did some A/B comparing for a few hours, so I did not have time to work with each speaker individually to find the best spot. For today's session, I had them set up without toe in. The back of the Phil lower cabinet was about 13 inches from the wall which made the back of the mid range about 24 inches and the front baffle about 37 inches out. Any more than that is not practical really in my room. The SVS were lined up with the fronts of the Phils. I also added the top diffuser pads to the Phil tweeter and covered about three teeth.
First off, my thoughts on the looks of the speakers, mostly the new SVS since many of you have seen the Phils. They are imposing for sure. Very solid, sturdy, dense. The metal rings around the drivers are a bit duller than the demo pair at RMAF, more gunmetal, by intention. I think it is an improvement. The finish is very nice. Now, that said, it is not as nice as on some I saw at RMAF, like the $8,000 Salk SS8s, but for 2K, pretty nice. The finish on the satin Phil 2s is more plain, but also nice. As far as any critiques of the looks, the only thing (besides not having a choice of wood grain finishes) that I wish was that SVS went with magnetic grills. With the grill off the looks would be improved without the 4 holes, kinda like the Kef R series. Also, since the front is so smooth, the grill kinda seems to stick on the front visually, rather then being a part of the speaker.
Here are my old Infinitys:
See how the grill nicely fits with edge. If you look back at some of the pics, you can see the Ultra front corners are angled, so a flush magnetic grill would look better. Just my tiny suggestion. I also kinda wish the Phil 2 upper cabinet sat a little bit lower and attached securely to the bottom cabinet to give it a cleaner look.
A far as how they sound, they do sound different, for sure. We listened to tracks from the Philharmonic demo CD, Diana Krall, Nora Jones, U2, Dire Straits, Marcus Miller, Beethoven, Pink Floyd etc.
One thing, neither is better than the other in every aspect, which I think speaks well for the new SVS, since the Phil 2 is known to be an excellent speaker. The noticeable good aspects of the SVS so far are the bass extension, which is excellent and powerful (keep in mind the rear port was probably 20 inches from the rear wall and the speakers were a good 3-4 feet from the side walls, so definitely not corner loaded). The bass is tight, not muddy, although the bass on the Phils might just be a touch cleaner, without quite as much extension. I really liked how the SVS sounded on bass guitar, very full, deep and impactful, and on male vocals. I watched some of the Laker-Thunder game (go Lakers!) last night while I was switching back and forth and found I was using the SVS more, maybe b/c of the male announcers. The loudness difference is not too much, to my ears, with maybe 1 or 2 clicks up on the volume knob needed when switching to the Phils. When I did switch to the Phils, I noticed the speakers seemed to disappear more than the SVS, and the soundstage broadened. Instruments like flutes, bells, etc. seemed to pop out of the air more and be a little clearer. Both sets had good dynamics and hit you hard when the track demanded it (think The Mans Too Strong from Brothers in Arms). Female vocals sounded good on both, but I need to listen to more of those. The difference between the two as far as the high notes and soundstage seemed more noticeable on some of the Phil demo tracks like the acoustic guitars and on Diana Krall (by law, I was forced to use her CD during this comparison. You can look it up if you don't believe me!) . Less so on rock stuff like Dire Straits, U2. Did not do too much classical so far.
On a side note, he brought by the Gallo Classic CL-3s he is trying out, but we did not hook them up this time. He brought a speaker in to show me the grill, and next to the Phils and the Ultras, it kinda looks like a toy due to its much smaller size and weight. It is easy to grab a boxed up CL3 to carry, but I would never try that with the other 2. I reserve judgement on the CL3s though, until I get a chance to hear them, since he said they play bigger than their size.
So, a successful and fun first day. More listening on Wednesday.