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Sapphire Audio Speakers (ST3 SB SBL SS)

post #1 of 42
Thread Starter 
Here is my experience with these.

After having looked up Sapphire and finding little information on them with the only comments being to die for, muddy, excelent, and even accussed of stealing a name from a well known line of speakers I decided to take a closer look at these speakers. I must confess I went to Tweeter-Showcase home entertainment to buy some Polk Rtis (I had spent some time sampling the towers and was very impressed with the Rti12). I regard Polks to be of better than average sound quality + excellent build quality and had singled out the Monitors among all brands available at local stores like BB and CC (though no Infinity Betas were avilable). I also had a set of R50s on hand that for the price paid were surprisingly good and were used as a baseline.

I sampled the speakers with a Sony DVD player and a Denon mid receiver also tried Sony mid receiver. I knew the Monitor sound pretty well so I fired up the Polk Rti4 first and the sound was definitely more open and clear, a night and day difference. Next up the SBSB Sapphire and I was not impressed at all, very muddy sound. I checked connections and all was fine so I noticed a similar size speaker next to it the SBBK and it sounded much better. Upon a closer inspection the former had a paper cone driver and the latter an aluminum one so I can see where the muddy description could come from. There was a lower sensitivity in the Sapphires compared to the Polks even though the specs claim otherwise. After adjusting volume I compared classical, pop and Jazz recordings and found the Rtis to be a tad bright at the top but they did have that initial more open quality to them. Then I listened to female vocals ( ie Sade) and was dissapointed that the Rtis had or were showing signs of sibilance, you know that sss or tss sound which I find to be a real turn off. The Sapphires did not have this problem and were actually a tad more detailed in their presentation compared to the Rtis on the material I had. At this point I went ahead and sampled the ST3 towers and decided to take em home along with the SBLB bookshelves. The ST3 have dual 8 inch aluminum woofers where as the ST2 and ST1 have paper cones, how that affects the low end I am not sure as there were no other Sapphires in the room but I can only guess that the bass will be less muddy and tighter.

My system consists of an Harman Kardon AVR630, Sony SACD player for CD/DVD playback. The R50s in the end I noticed that the soundstage was very small or compressed and very forward or close. The Monitors when tweeter axis is right at ear level had a much larger soundstage and were more detailed than the R50s so next time you sample speakers keep this in mind because placing the Monitor 40s on top of the R50s collapsed the soundstage significantly . Also, there is a small sweet spot on these as moving over a couple of feet of axis collapsed the center focus to either the right or left (The M70s towers also had this quality). The sound quality is better than average though still nowhere near that of Polks Rtis but at least these had no problems with female vocals. The ST3 when fired up were impressive to say the least. The imaging was the best I had heard yet pin point, could single out every instrument in my jazz recordings in 2 channel mode. The soundstage was very wide well past the speakers but they also placed the intruments in different places in depth, and had a wider sweet spot as well WOW! very cool. A VERY LONG TIME PASSED AS I PLAYED THRU ALL OF MY FAVORITE CDs. To summarize my experience, these speakers are crisp clean clear and very deatiled or revealing with voices being suspended in mid air makink you want to reach out and grab them. The ST3 towers have enough bass for music and do a decent job by themselves on movies like U571. SBLB are a six inch size bookshelve and also had the sensitivity being lower than specs at least when compared to Polk specs. This proved to be an issue when pairing them up with less capable receivers like entry level Pioneer I had on hand as they take more juice to get them going (noise during quiet passages is an issue) nontheless, they had all the good qualities of the towers. SACD thru these speakers is addictive as crack (at least thats how I imagine crack to be) I got so hooked I went on a shopping frenzy and in a way I am lucky since I do like Jazz. I went back and got the SS surrounds (Dipole configuration), direct comparison with SBLB is that they are less detailed but a bit more diffuse in charachter. Placing these on the sides really had the effect of drawing less attention to themselves - a good quality if they are to be 4ft or less from the listener. So exited was I that I decided to purchase a NC555ES SACD player (Tweeter had these at a price I could not refuse) and yes there was a difference especially from the higher midrange on up (xylophone triangles cymbals top hats) all had that decaing sound to them instead of a flat one. Detail in voices, breathing etc was easier to make out giving you the impression of being in close proximity or rather listening live etc. In short feed them better electronics and they sound better. At this point, I am seriously thinking about separates. I am stubborn though and I went back and took a quick look at the Lsi7 and was surprised that the soundstage felt a bit compressed and closer at least in comparison to the Sapphires. The LSi like the lower end Polks also had the best sound with tweeter axis on ear level. Comparing Sapphire to Focal, the soundstage quality was similar in nature however and I liked this quality better so I did not spend more time nor more money either on the LSi (others may do differently).

Now for the negative things. The fit and finish is not as good as it should be given their MSRP and intended customers who shop at Tweeter. Vinyl is thin instead of real wood veneer. Only good thing here is the top glass on the towers which is a great match to that of the Outlaw subwoofers. The black front or face of the speaker is easily stained making it hard to clean due to the textured surface. On the bookshelves, the sensitivity is lower than specs making them harder to drive at louder volumes with entry level gear. I also felt the towers were a tad thin or felt that way though this could be a power issue, a quality of the receiver or simply the fact that the bass was fast and tighter than what I am accustomed to (I did notice some of the loower end B&W towers to have this quality as well but they did not go as low). At any rate, upping the bass a couple of notches on my HK took care of the problem. Last but not least they simply dont get too much attention though they deserve it especially with current prices making price/performance ratio extremely good. I am tempted to pick up a second pair of ST3s for SACD.
post #2 of 42
Maybe I should have given them a shot, I didn't know about the cone material differences between their little sibblings and them. I listened to the ST-2 at tweeter against the Polk Rti10s a couple days ago and was very dissapointed in the ST-2's showing. I found their midrange to be very unnatural and just overal didn't like their sound. Maybe the ST-3's would have sounded better, and being on sale would have been less money than the Rti10s.

Anyway, since I've listened to B&W 60x series, Boston VR-2s, and some Klipsch RF-35s and I think the B&W and Klipschs, IMO, bested the Polks.

Enjoy your purchase though, and thanks I think maybe I'll give the ST-3s a shot even though I didn't enjoy their brethren.
post #3 of 42
I actually have a post out right now about the sapphires as well. So you could tell a large difference with the st3 or over 1? I have a set of st1's on hold right now but think I am going to go with the St3's instead.

Good post
post #4 of 42
Go with the ST3's. You won't be disappointed for the price. Saphire is a Tweeter only brand at this time. The former CEO of Infinity started the company.
post #5 of 42
Quote:


Saphire is a Tweeter only brand at this time.

And has been since their introduction 3 years ago...and will likely continue to be.
post #6 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by tweeterex View Post

And has been since their introduction 3 years ago...and will likely continue to be.

False...

http://www.sapphireaudio.com/dealers.html
post #7 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamWarrior View Post

Maybe I should have given them a shot, I didn't know about the cone material differences between their little sibblings and them. I listened to the ST-2 at tweeter against the Polk Rti10s a couple days ago and was very dissapointed in the ST-2's showing. I found their midrange to be very unnatural and just overal didn't like their sound. Maybe the ST-3's would have sounded better, and being on sale would have been less money than the Rti10s.

Anyway, since I've listened to B&W 60x series, Boston VR-2s, and some Klipsch RF-35s and I think the B&W and Klipschs, IMO, bested the Polks.

Enjoy your purchase though, and thanks I think maybe I'll give the ST-3s a shot even though I didn't enjoy their brethren.


Dont agree on the Klipsch there. Every Klipsch speaker I have listened to in every room /store etc when turned up playing Jazz or classical sounds, well to be quite blunt like crap and no matter what others say they tend to cause fatigue more than other brands. The 60x I also briefly sampled and was not impressed (not enough bass) but the 70x were very very good especially wwhen run thru Rotel gear. The Polk RTi12 are great while the Rti10 to me sounded as if the mids were recessed at least when compared to the Rti12, while the Rti8 were a tad bright and lacking bass. So I guess we disagree on two Klipsch and Rti10 but the thing is these two speakers are at opposite ends one definitely more mellow or laid back than the other. It stands to reason There might be some differences in the Sapphire line as well but all the towers are the same configuration on the top section so you may not notice a big difference except with the midbass and lower. I never claimed the speakers were better than product X etc. I simply am trying to give a description of how they compare to others tested.
post #8 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by btstarke View Post

I actually have a post out right now about the sapphires as well. So you could tell a large difference with the st3 or over 1? I have a set of st1's on hold right now but think I am going to go with the St3's instead.

Good post

Did not sample the ST1 but I do have a set of ST2 that I just recently got at an incredible price and am planning to eventually use them for rears. I could do an AB on them I suppose. As for your purchase it depends what you are after. I wanted a set of full range towers for 2 channel listening and wanted to make sure they had enough bass. If you are interested in music, and have a more than capable receiver/amp I would recommend the upgrade but a good quality sub with a moderate receiver could also make them sound great.
post #9 of 42
Thread Starter 
I recently took a trip out west and picked up the new Sapphire subwoofer PS3B 10 inch sub (got it for less than posted on web). It looks like they decided to go with a thicker vinyl this time so quality of fit and finish is much much better. The rear shows no signs of poor quality spring clips etc. They were kind enough to hook one of them up and there were no signs of port noise or boomy-ness but I need too hook it up to my system. I dont expect it to compete with larger subs and shake the house but its definitely a step up from lower end Velodyne and Polk Audio models they had there. Perfect for someone like me who has large towers as fronts and does not like the idea of gigantic bass shaking my nice stereo components especially my SACD player. Will try out next couple of days.
post #10 of 42
I stand corrected, sorry, there are 2 other dealers , one in Jersey w/4 stores and one in California w/9 stores.

When I worked for Tweeter, we were told that Tweeter had a significant finacial investment in Saphire, owning a percentage of that company. Some of the older Tweeter personel have landed there.
I am curious as to which OEM plant builds their speakes. One of the ID company guys would surely know.
post #11 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by apodaca View Post

Dont agree on the Klipsch there. Every Klipsch speaker I have listened to in every room /store etc when turned up playing Jazz or classical sounds, well to be quite blunt like crap and no matter what others say they tend to cause fatigue more than other brands. The 60x I also briefly sampled and was not impressed (not enough bass) but the 70x were very very good especially wwhen run thru Rotel gear. The Polk RTi12 are great while the Rti10 to me sounded as if the mids were recessed at least when compared to the Rti12, while the Rti8 were a tad bright and lacking bass. So I guess we disagree on two Klipsch and Rti10 but the thing is these two speakers are at opposite ends one definitely more mellow or laid back than the other. It stands to reason There might be some differences in the Sapphire line as well but all the towers are the same configuration on the top section so you may not notice a big difference except with the midbass and lower. I never claimed the speakers were better than product X etc. I simply am trying to give a description of how they compare to others tested.

I didn't sample any Jazz or classical sounds, so I'm not sure how its showing was in that areana. However, I did like the Polk, but I wanted a little more in my face which is why I prefered the Klipsch and the bright B&W 60x series to the Polk. Admittedly the Polk was a bit more natural sounding but I just wanted more punch than they had.

Again, good luck with your speakers! I'm glad you liked them. I still haven't found my ideal pair and will keep auditioning .
post #12 of 42
Bringing this thread up from a month or so of sitting down in the cob-webs.

In the past, I've owned a pair of Polk RTi8 speakers. I loved the cherry finish on the real wood veneer and felt like the speakers looked more expensive than they actually were. I thought I would spend a little time listening to them again to see if there would be a fit for them again in my house - for 2 channel listening.

In the lineup for listening were the Polk RTi8, RTi10, Sapphire ST1 and ST2. Here are my observations:

RTi8: I realized that the sound was one of the reasons why I sold them. A bit too bright. Music didn't sound too good on them - or, at least good enough for my ears to appreciate.

RTi10: I've heard that these speakers can miss out a bit when it comes to the mid-range capabilities. However, they were good sounding speakers. The didn't exhibit some of the brightness (or, rather not as bad) when copared to the RTi8.

ST2: To me, they sounded a bit un-natural. Some of the highs and mids were ephasized at different times. Seemed like they might be hard to spend longer listening sessions with.

ST1: Just like the Goldilocks and the three bears story, these were "just right". To my ears, the music didn't experience excessive highs or sound un-natural in any way. While they were the least costly of the bunch, I was impressed by the sound - and even more surprised by the price.

Unfortunately, the ST3s were not available, so I didn't have a chance to hear them.
post #13 of 42
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wje View Post

Bringing this thread up from a month or so of sitting down in the cob-webs.

In the past, I've owned a pair of Polk RTi8 speakers. I loved the cherry finish on the real wood veneer and felt like the speakers looked more expensive than they actually were. I thought I would spend a little time listening to them again to see if there would be a fit for them again in my house - for 2 channel listening.

In the lineup for listening were the Polk RTi8, RTi10, Sapphire ST1 and ST2. Here are my observations:

RTi8: I realized that the sound was one of the reasons why I sold them. A bit too bright. Music didn't sound too good on them - or, at least good enough for my ears to appreciate.

RTi10: I've heard that these speakers can miss out a bit when it comes to the mid-range capabilities. However, they were good sounding speakers. The didn't exhibit some of the brightness (or, rather not as bad) when copared to the RTi8.

ST2: To me, they sounded a bit un-natural. Some of the highs and mids were ephasized at different times. Seemed like they might be hard to spend longer listening sessions with.

ST1: Just like the Goldilocks and the three bears story, these were "just right". To my ears, the music didn't experience excessive highs or sound un-natural in any way. While they were the least costly of the bunch, I was impressed by the sound - and even more surprised by the price.

Unfortunately, the ST3s were not available, so I didn't have a chance to hear them.

These speakers are good enough to convey differences in any equipment hooked up to it and any flaws in the recording of CDs which tend to be bright (my sony ES player has filtering which helps). SACDs sound extremely cool though. I would not say they are unatural but rather neutral and open and not forgiving nor laid back. The better stuff you feed them the better the sound. So, the reviews of good speakers in general depends a lot on what you are running them with, what you are listening to, and to some extent the room you are in. Its good to sample them in your home with your gear - only you can decide whats 'the one for me'. I have come to discover that getting the 'ideal set up' takes some time to match components well and get a good balance between electronics and speakers.
post #14 of 42
I have the ST1s and four of the SBS in a 6.1 configuration. I enjoy them, but Tweeter isn't stocking the center channel anymore. I'd really like to pick up the center channel to round out my set up. Anyone know where I can get one?
post #15 of 42
Thread Starter 
Only place to do that is in the used marketplace.
post #16 of 42
I've tried ebay and this website's market without luck. Any specific suggestions on where I should look?
post #17 of 42
I was lucky enough to get a new pair of Sapphire Audio ST3's from eBay. They sounded better than the NHT 2.9s or Monitor Audio Silvers. They are amazingly clear. It was designed by the original designers and founders of Infinity and Cambridge Soundworks. Clarity is better than the Newton P1000s. No boomy sound. Great for acoustic sounds and the no unecessary bass.

I am using it for my fronts in 7.1 channel setup. I like the sound so much that I listen to all my music in Stereo mode now.

I love it ....
post #18 of 42
How long ago did you get your Sapphire's off ebay? I still can't find the center channel anywhere.
post #19 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by apodaca View Post

I recently took a trip out west and picked up the new Sapphire subwoofer PS3B 10 inch sub (got it for less than posted on web). It looks like they decided to go with a thicker vinyl this time so quality of fit and finish is much much better. The rear shows no signs of poor quality spring clips etc. They were kind enough to hook one of them up and there were no signs of port noise or boomy-ness but I need too hook it up to my system. I dont expect it to compete with larger subs and shake the house but its definitely a step up from lower end Velodyne and Polk Audio models they had there. Perfect for someone like me who has large towers as fronts and does not like the idea of gigantic bass shaking my nice stereo components especially my SACD player. Will try out next couple of days.

Out of curiosity are you happy with the PS3B sub? I have a similar setup to you (large tower fronts) and, apparently, similar tastes in the amount of bass. I guess I am just curious if that sub really added to your experience.

Thanks,
Cavalcanti
post #20 of 42
I just picked up the sapphire PS3b sub at tweeter. Looks like they are having a clearance sale on these things. I got it for $199. I got it to replace the low end polk 10 inch sub that just blew up (got it as a freebie from polk when they were running a promotion) . I had to return one sapphire sub as it had a bad 60 cycle hum but the second one works well. My first impression is that it's a definite step up from the polk 10 inch.

The salesman at tweeter was trying to convince me that sapphire is more than just a house brand. I don't buy it. I think they are out of business. the sapphireaudio web site domain name expired and is shut down.

Brian
post #21 of 42
Thread Starter 
For those interested in a center channel I will be listing one a few months old on ebay soon else send me a PM.
post #22 of 42
My local Tweeter store is doing some remodeling so they're currently have a clearance sale, so all the other stores in the area are shipping all their old stock there. Picked up a pair of Artison Sketch Tower speakers there for under $300, and a pair of Mirage OmniSat Micro's for $100 a pair. The Artison's sound great, but was getting a lot of distortion out of the OmniSat's in the rear, took off the grills and noticed that on one, both the driver and tweeters were damaged, the other just the tweeter was damaged. So I went back to return/exchange the OmniSat's, they apoligized but said that even though they didn't know they were damaged, I could only exchange them for something else. And since those were the last pair (although I did see one more, but again the tweeter was slightly damaged) I started looking at what else they had. I saw a Sapphire PS3B sub there that had been marked down to $160, got home and Googled it and came up with this link to this forum (which I've visited before). From reading this thread, it looks like Sapphire is no longer around. Although I would like a little more bass, I'm not really able to have a lot of bass as I live/own a multi-family house. I guess I would rather have a better set of rear-surround speakers than my current whopping 15W ones, but if I could get a good deal on a decent sub, I'll take it. Only other thing that interested me was a Denon AVR2805 receiver @ $300 I think (to replace my Onkyo SR601) which upconverts to component, as well as auto speaker setup, as well as a bit more power.

Any thoughts, specifcally on the Sapphire PS3, but also if you have any opinions on the Denon or rear-surround speakers.

tia,
Brian
post #23 of 42
Hi

I am planning to sell my Sapphire Audio ST3 MKIIs as I am moving. If anyone wants to buy, I would like to sell it here rather than on eBay. It is like new. Still have the factory boxes. Never removed the wrappers on the Piano Gloss Top. So it is perfect.

Let me know.... Write to my eMail.

My eMail is julianjsmiles at yahoo

Thanks
post #24 of 42
My two cents, plus tax: I recently picked up one of the PS3B subs to replace my Polk Audio PSW202. I happened to fry the Polk (don't ask), but I was quite unfond of it anyway, so truth be told I was kind of happy to see it go.

At any rate, I *love* the Sapphire; it puts out extraordinarily tight and smooth bass below ~100hz -- not a trace of boom, thump or rumble down there. I don't know the fs of the driver or the slope of the crossover (I try to purchase by ear instead of stats), but the only time the unit sounds a bit overdriven to me is with the crossover set at or above ~125hz. That was just a test run though - in my scenario it doesn't make a difference since my MTM fronts are plenty capable down to 80 or so.

The Polk had been a real disappointment to me; it seemed to have no middle ground between inaudible and thumpy, and it had an extremely directional character to it. In contrast, this Sapphire blends perfectly with my mains (14 year-old Zalytron custom "Aria" model - 2 Focal 5-1/4" Kevlar mid-bass drivers surrounding an Accuton inverted-dome ceramic tweeter); a couple of friends have even remarked what incredible bass my mains had for "bookshelf speakers" (the Sapphire is out of sight behind the TV; the Zalytrons are actually 65lbs a piece, but their placement on narrow, 3' mahogany stands makes them shrink a bit in appearance).

So I guess my verdict is "excellent"; if I listened blind to this sub, I'd have guessed it had a price tag around $599. For $199, I couldn't be happier. Two thumbs up from me.
post #25 of 42
Update:

I have to add a caveat to my glowing review here - an annoyance with this sub has become evident... the auto on/standby/off feature is quite slow to recognize the start of a signal, and it requires an inordinately strong signal to turn on.

I like to listen to music at low volumes late at night (live in a multi-unit condo), and a big reason I wanted the sub was to have a decent bottom end during low-level listending. This sub is definitely capable of providing that in spades, but I have to crank the volume pretty severely to trigger the "on" state, and then it shuts itself off pretty quickly after the volume is turned down to where I want it.

If any circuitry experts know the workings of this sort of level detection & have a potential hack for making it more sensitive, I have a deep dish Chicago pizza with an 8-pack of Guinness for you. (Okay, maybe a 7-pack; it's hard to leave Guinnesses sitting around untouched for long...)

If you string together a p, a c, an s, and a 68, and then add a Comcast, a period, and a net, you will have the means to contact me.
post #26 of 42
Thread Starter 
Do you have a Y adapter ?If you run a single sub cable the signal is not as strong because the inputs (L/R) get added together . Try putting a Y cable/splitter with one end going to the cable and the other two to the L/R input. I have this sub myself and I believe it is a great deal at current prices.
post #27 of 42
I just ordered the subwoofer. Got to be better than my current sub (nil.)
post #28 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmel View Post

I just picked up the sapphire PS3b sub at tweeter. Looks like they are having a clearance sale on these things. I got it for $199. I got it to replace the low end polk 10 inch sub that just blew up (got it as a freebie from polk when they were running a promotion) . I had to return one sapphire sub as it had a bad 60 cycle hum but the second one works well. My first impression is that it's a definite step up from the polk 10 inch.

The salesman at tweeter was trying to convince me that sapphire is more than just a house brand. I don't buy it. I think they are out of business. the sapphireaudio web site domain name expired and is shut down.

Brian

Nothing wrong with Sapphire; they held their own in their price point.

The subwoofer is pretty good; I wanted one (but it wouldn't take the place of my Rava.
post #29 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark0 View Post

I just ordered the subwoofer. Got to be better than my current sub (nil.)

Great; I'd love to hear your thoughts once you have it up & working.

BTW, it seems that Sapphire Audio's website has been taken over by a domain squatter .
post #30 of 42
Considering I haven't had a sub in years, it's obviously a must for home theater. For $200, how can you go wrong. Sounds great.
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