I had the opportunity to listen to both the ST (dome tweeter) and HT2-TL this weekend, and are struggling at which pair to buy (redfive, I’m on the same boat with you
). Below are some of my takes on the speakers. I’m not an audio expert, so I do not have all the fancy words to express my feelings. I will just try to articulate how I feel as straightforward as I can. What I stated below is just my personal opinions, and they might be quite different from other’s experience given the subjective nature of audio audition. Please feel free to disagree if you feel otherwise.
I called Jim last Tues. and expressed my interests in auditioning the STs. Jim quickly hooked me up with a local Salk owner (Bigload on Audio Circle). I feel really fortunate to have a Salk owner living close by, and greatly appreciate the generosity and hospitality of Bigload and his wife for allowing us (me and my wife) in their beautiful house for a serious listening of his gears.
Bigload has a pair of STs in his living room for pure stereo audio, and a whole set of Veracity (HT2-TL fronts, HT1-TL surrounds, HT2C center) in his “mancave”. All are driven by AVA pre-amps and amps (“the marriage in audio heaven” ). His setup can be found here: http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=82850.0Auditioning of the Song Towers
We started our listening session downstairs in the living room with the STs, which are finished in dark curly cherry. The speakers look extremely elegant and are visually satisfying. They blend in very well with the surrounding furniture. I have been looking forward to the auditioning ever since I discovered the Salk speakers, and couldn’t wait to hear the magic sound coming out of the speakers in person. When the music starts, I was immediately enveloped in the beautiful music notes. I was surprised at how upfront the sound stage is. It feels like that I am on stage with the musicians. Sometimes it feels like there are surround and rear speakers. Pretty soon I found out that not all the music pieces have such an upfront image. Some other pieces create a feeling of “depth”, e.g., the instruments and the singer are positioned behind the speakers. I think the best word to describe the sound stage is “3D”, and the actual sound stage rendering depends on the source materials. At the mean time, I find that the width of the sound stage is just a little bit over the area defined by the two speakers. But again, it might depend on the source materials. A side note is the living room has a vaulted high ceiling without acoustic treatment. I’m not sure how this will affect the listening experience.
The middles and highs are every bit as good as I expected from reading the reviews here. One music piece that left me a deep impression is a guitar solo (I think it’s from the Salk demo disc, but I might be wrong). The artist is right in front of me and I can “see” the kiss between the guitar strings and guitar pick. I feel that the sound is extremely transparent, and I don’t know how much more transparent it can be, even though I read a lot of reviews stating that the ribbon tweeters are more transparent than the dome tweeter. We listened to a large variety of music, including classic, rock, pop, jazz, electrical, etc. There are female vocal, male vocal, and pure instruments. Most of the music are from Bigload’s personal CD collection. I also brought some lossless pieces with my iPod. The STs handled all genres with ease and eloquence. There is a Chinese violin piece I brought with me: the butterfly lovers, which has a pretty demanding middle-high end. It sounds pretty harsh on my current speakers, but warm and clean on the STs. I feel that the strongest aspects of the STs are the middle to the middle-high range, and the string instruments sound extremely well.
The bass goes pretty deep even though the size of the woofer is just 5’’. We listened to some pieces with strong bass presence, and for most part the bass is accurately reproduced and well integrated. The drum feels punchy and prompt; the bass in the string instruments feels “clean” (I know clean is usually used to describe highs, but I couldn’t find a better word to describe the smooth transition from the middle to the low in the string instruments). At the mean time, I have to admit that the ST is not perfect in the bass department. When I listened to the prelude of Eagle’s live performance on “Hotel California”, I feel that the bass can benefit from reaching a bit lower. Of course it is clearly stated in the spec that the 3dB point of the speakers is 42Hz, so a subwoofer is more appropriate to finish the job below the 42 Hz. I would say that the STs can meet 90% of the bass needs. For the remaining 10%, the STs might not be able to go deep enough to throw the bass right into your body. An analogy is when you stand right next to a huge diameter drum, you can feel that the drum beats are all over you and are affecting your heart beats. The STs might not have the “heart beat affection” capability, but I also doubt if there are any speaker in this price range can achieve such a feat. This of course can be easily compensated with a subwoofer.
Overall, both my wife and I are very happy with the STs. I almost made up my mind on the STs right there on the spot, until we go upstairs to listen to the HT2-TLs … (To be continued)
Part 2: Auditioning on the HT2-TLs can be found here:http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...1#post19026928