So I got my SongTowers yesterday. Unfortunately the other box with my center and 2 surrounds won't make it here until today, but it gave me a reason to get excited for coming in to work. Also the plinths for the SongTowers must be in the other box as well so right now the cabinets are sitting on the floor. I imagine that raising the speakers a few inches will have minimal impact on their sound as well as getting them isolated from the floor. I also have only taken a couple of pictures because I don't have the plinths yet.
Regarding their build quality:
What everyone else has said I will emulate. The cabinets, veneers, finishing of these speakers is better than almost any commercial speaker I've seen. I worked in a HT store for about a year, so I have seen lots of speakers and brands. The Salk speakers are different though. You can tell they're handmade. There are little imperfections in a GOOD way. Meaning the corners aren't all identically square and this is only part of what gives them character. I can't see ANY veneer seams on these 2 ST's and was amazed. I looked and looked and just couldn't find one. Even the underside of the speaker looks nice where the base will be covering it up. The maple finish is beautiful and these are true 'furniture-grade' pieces. I had never seen handmade speakers before, but am impressed so far.
Regarding their sound:
I should start by telling you that I only have about 2 hours of listening on these. The first CD I put in was a band local to Indianapolis called Siochain. My wife and I were visiting family in Indy and picked up this local group's CD. To say the least I hated listening to it on the ST's. The music was very obviously not mixed well at all. The ST's revealed every flaw of the recording. In fact I would say that since I was listening so carefully this was almost unlistenable. Is this a bad feature of the ST's? Some might think so, but personally I wasn't expecting much of this CD. The violin did not sound like a violin, but I fault only the recording and not the speakers.
I then switched gears and realized that after having just moved I didn't know where any of my CDs are. I had to rely on some high quality MP3's for all the listening tests I did. I burned a disc with the Jurassic Park soundtrack, the Eagles Hell Freezes Over disc, and Genesis Platinum collection.
Starting off with Genesis I listened to tracks like Mama, No Son of Mine, and Invisible Touch. Even though this is a remastered collection things like the cheesy 80's keyboards really stuck out like a sore thumb here. The ST's detail is really good at revealing all that a recording has to offer. In terms of Phil Collins voice I'm not sure it has ever sounded better than on the ST's. The voices were real and highly-engaging. Phil sounded like he should have in my opinion.
Going to the Jurassic Park soundtrack I was really impressed with the width and depth of the soundstage here. I could place trumpets both horizontally and vertically in the stage. French horn in the ending credits track was one of the fullest sounding instruments I have ever heard on ANY speaker bar none. These ST's are SO GOOD through the midrange. I know everyone has said it before, but you really don't realize wht these speakers have to offer until you hear it for yourself. I said to my wife while listening to these tracks "the instruments sound like the real instrument!" She agreed as we'd both spent time in middle/high school in band. Nothing fatiguing going on here, but details were so evident and clear as a bell.
One more thing to note is that the timpani sounded so real here. To me one of the most difficult instruments to reproduce accurately are percussion instruments (cymbals, timpani, drums) and these just sounded fantastic. I was really loving the speakers at this point.
The last thing I auditioned was a track I've listened to probably 500 times, and on countless different speakers. Hotel California from the Eagles' Hell Freezes Over disc. This is a very well recorded piece. Let me just tell you that I was blown away. The size of the soundstage was HUGE. Don Henley was right in my living room. Voices were extremely accurate, drums had that 'kick' that many speakers lack in the midrange. Acoustic guitars sounded so sweet (especially multiples playing at the same time) and I could hear everything independently without even trying to isolate the different parts in my mind. It was all just 'right'. The other thing I really liked here was hearing multiple voices singing harmony together. The speakers sounded so full and rich during these parts that I was floored once again.
My overall impressions of these speakers are very good. I had never heard Hotel California sound better except perhaps on B&W's Nautilus 802's which retail at $8,000/pair so needless to say these speakers so far are VERY impressive. The funny thing is that the ST's actually did a couple of things better than the 802's. In terms of low frequency extension, width of soundstage, and overall balanced presentation I think the 802's win. In terms of depth of soundstage, imaging (ability to place the instruments), and top end I think the ST's win. I would have to A/B the two speakers to see which presented vocals better, but both are superb.
The last thing of the night that we listened to was Excess Baggage which was recorded via our DirecTV HD DVR. My wife and I both noticed that this very dialogue driven movie sounded excellent. My Ed Frias DIY designed bookshelves were great for years, but voices sounded right on these.
When others say that the ST's literally disappear into the room they aren't kidding. I will not disillusion you and say that the ST's have a "wall" of sound as some others have stated, but it is VERY wide. Close to as wide as I've heard in a speaker. For the price I've heard nothing close. If you are worried that these speakers will sound too neutral DON'T. That's the main concern I had when I started reading that the top end wasn't fatiguing was that the speakers might sound veiled in the top end. I always hated that about Dynaudio speakers. It sounded like someone put a sock over the tweeter. Some people really like that sound, and I'm happy they've found what they like, but it's not for me.
In terms of the SongTowers with my limited listening thus far I am EXTREMELY impressed. The top end is NOT laid back. It's detailed without being bright, and I'm not sure how Jim and Dennis did it, but it's one of the best tweeter sections I've heard from any speaker period.
Kudos to Jim and company. I will of course add more as time progresses and I have more listening time on the ST's. I know my thoughts are somewhat jumbled here, but it's what you get