Originally Posted by R Harkness
2. Are there any speakers out there that could reasonably be presumed to be competitive with the Salons (or out compete them) .e.g. designs which might fulfill much of what we know to make a speaker sound good, but which perhaps have gone more in to the "throw money at it state of the art" and have maybe used higher quality drivers, cabinets or whatever, where such designs surpass the Revel speakers?
Honestly, there's a few things that the salon's do sub-optimally, and I think even Toole may agree with this list.
First, they have a lot of woofers in them that require a lot of physical volume. The problem is that multiple well-placed subwoofers will create a better, more even bass response at the listening position than all those woofers locked into place by the requirements of stereo sound reproduction. Of course, there's nothing preventing you from using Salon2 speakers with multiple subwoofers. But if you aren't really utilizing the bass, then is that Salon2 really your preferred form factor?
In his book, Toole mentions that with the number of flat screen TVs and projection screens people are using, a better form factor would be a low-profile speaker that is designed specifically for on-wall placement. Put the salon2 directly on a wall, and you'll distort the frequency balance, and cause interference between the direct sound and the sound that reflects off the wall. Of course, small, cheap speakers designed for on-wall placement that fail to properly integrate with the wall are worse than floor-standing speakers, but Toole knew there was potential there that has mostly gone untapped.
Another advantage to properly designing a speaker for on-wall use is the elimination of the delayed front-wall reflection. Geddes goes through great lengths to absorb the front-wall reflection, even using his directional speakers that reduce the energy reflected there. Greater coherence is achievable without those reflections. Having personally switched from tower speakers to on-wall line array speakers, I understand that the front-wall reflection can add a sense of depth, and that some people would miss it (at least initially). However, in my experience, those reflections rob the listener of the chance to hear the depth that was actually captured by (or created for) the recording. Without those reflections, each recording is reproduced more authentically, and greater variation in recording/mixing styles and technologies becomes apparent.
Personally, I think my Radicals (Reflection And Diffraction Controlling Loudspeakers) come a lot closer to reaching the pinnacle of what a stereo speaker should be: Shallow profile, no delayed front-wall reflection, reduced floor and ceiling reflections (across a wide bandwidth), no comb filtering (prevalent with straight line arrays), wide horizontal dispersion (since lateral reflections improve the listening experience), paired with multiple well-placed subwoofers, and they only need one amp per channel (no active or DSP crossovers).
Having said that, I still wouldn't make statements that there's no further to push passive speaker design. We don't know what technologies are waiting around the corner. Someday I hope to hear a speaker that sounds better than mine (whether I design that speaker or not), and I have every reason to suspect that will in-fact happen. Technology progresses and makes the impossible possible.
I'm willing to provide auditions to anyone who's interested in the speaker, or anyone who suspects I'm exaggerating and wants to knock me down a peg. Few people are close enough for that to make sense, but I honestly feel that consumers should be looking for (demanding?) speakers with some of the attributes mine have, and producers should be evaluating similar speakers (whether at my house, or in their own labs).