The following is from the Audio Circle:
Well it certainly was a LONG day. Much longer than expected. (Who would have thought that anyone would want to entertain a stranger for that long)
It was a great day! Evan was a gracious host and unexpectedly his neighbor, Joe, was a great co-host. (Can you call it a neighbor when you can go couch to couch in 10 steps?)
Evan already gave the low down and pretty much the end result. I would like to back up a bit. There were 3 others besides myself so it may be inaccurate for me to pin any particular statements to any individual, so I'll generalize.
I think most were surprised by the M-80's. I heard comments like surprisingly good bottom, truly a full range speaker, and not nearly as bright as expected. I had already concluded the first two. However the M80's didn't sound quite as bright as in my room. I had been actually wondering yesterday if they were calming down a bit from when they first arrived at my house. Evan seems to have some good room treatments and made for a much better listening enviroment.
We later hooked up my Denon 2309. Unfortunately we didn't attempt any A/B'ing. I would like to put one thing to rest right here and now. The 2309 performed really well. I didn't notice any kind of drastic difference when using the 2309 with either speaker. I'm sure Evan's equipment is superior and without an A/B there is no way to make any further comments on comparisons. BUT The 2309 is rated for 8ohms. There has been many many comments in reference to Denon receivers handling 4ohm loads with no problems. Both the ST's and M80's are 4ohm rated. The 2309 was used for quite a few hours. At times I cranked it up to 0dB and I thought it sounded fine. I think the guys thought it performed well also. We were expecting that my brightness problem may have been the 2309. But I think we all agreed that the Denon did not possess any brightness issues.
Another thing is the difference in sensitivity rating with the M80 rated at 95dB in-room and the ST rated at 88dB. Now I'm not up on the specifics of these ratings and whether all things are equal but I will say that I expected the ST's to need more volume to keep up with the same loudness. We didn't measure my receiver settings with a meter. Maybe we should have. At one point earlier we used a meter to make sure we were listening at the same level but neglected to check if those levels were at the same point at the volume knob. (I believe this was when we were using Evan's amplification) I did NOT notice any great perceivable difference in these 2 speakers considering the difference in their ratings.
My speaker impressions: The M80's did not sound as bright as I thought they sounded in my room. The Sound Towers were clearly the winner in performance as well as looks. The M80's performed fairly well for their pricepoint, however, if you were to add in the extra cost for a real wood veneer finsh on the M80's (shown here in Cherry for $1790 with free shipping http://www.axiomaudio.com/customstud...prodCode=M80VS
) they are priced rather closely with the ST's and certainly NOT in the same league for the same price.
(Side-bar: I recently read in the Salk section of the AVS Forum where someone was complaining that the price increase on the ST's put them out of reach for him as well as being priced out of the competition. I'll just say NONSENSE!)
Oh yeah! My impressions: Even though the M80's were not as bright as in my room they were certainly much brighter than the ST's. And not sure if brighter is the right word. I hate to use the word "harsh" because I wouldn't say the M80 is harsh. But by comparison the ST's were way smoother all while revealing more detail and and airyness about the highs. It's seems an oxymoron to say the the ST's were crisper yet smoother. The word crisp would indicate to me bright BUT they were crisper and yet not nearly as bright sounding as the M80's.
Intial thoughts on the bottom end for the M80's wer surprising as stated. Yet as time went on and a sample of many random selections were used it became almost boomy compared to the tight, well defined bottom of the ST's. I'll agree that the M80's would probably do better as a HT speaker without a sub. It reached that low and punchy. Yet either speaker would do much better with a sub for HT use so the extra thump really it of no bonus. The ST just sounded better and tighter in the bottom.
The mids and probably where the ST's showed off. (Well I loved the smoothness of the highs so not sure I can say that) The vocals were much clearer and more pronounced. I'm a guitarist and lead electric guitar sounded more natural and less edgy.
I have a bad right ear from playing too loud in bands when I was a bit younger. My ear was just getting plain tired of listening to "most" selections on the M80's. The highs were getting to me a bit.
So overall the ST's are smoother in every area. I like the little extra bottom the M80's seem to have but the tightness of the bottom of the ST's made for a more pleasant experience.
If I ever make it back there I intend to have another shootout. You see, I brought a dozen bagels and when I got there Evan had also bought a dozen bagels and his were out on the table. I think Long Island bagels would beat out Staten Island bagels.