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When real people look for a product, the rational thing to do is to decide a budget, then find the best product, for them, within that budget.
Last night I got to thinking about that statement and thought I'd share a few thoughts and experiences. The statement is correct in that many people approach system component selection in this manner. But at what cost?


When I was younger I once used this approach to purchase speakers. But a few months later I was not satisfied and traded them in (taking a bath in the process) on a better pair. I did this about four times over the next year and finally bit the bullet and bought the speakers I should have purchased in the first place. Thirty years later, I still enjoy listening to those speakers.


Unfortunately, losing money on every trade, they ended up costing me far more than they would have if I wasn't constrained by my "budget" in the first place.


I thought about this when someone visited my studio recently and fell in love with a particularly attractive a pair of speakers. Unfortunately, he couldn't afford them (they exceeded his budget). So he simply drove away on his $25,000 chromed-out Harley.


I guess it is a matter of priorities.


I'm reminded of that old saying, "The bitter taste of low quality remains long after the sweet taste of low price fades from memory."


The cost of settling for lesser speakers is being forced to listen to less-than-stellar sound reproduction for weeks, months or years. (Or spending more when you have to take a loss on the speakers you settled for, just to replace them with the ones you should have purchased in the first place.) That's a pretty high price to pay for saving a few dollars that won't be missed over the long haul.


But I know and appreciate that, for many people, budgets are budgets. About half of the people I deal with have a budget. Anything over that amount causes their comfort level to decline rapidly.


Long ago, I learned a valuable lesson about price vs. quality where audio was concerned. I am still tight with my money today. But I will never spend less than necessary to reach the quality level I am after. I bite the bullet and the pain is real. But it is surprising how quickly it subsides. And I never have to deal with the chronic pain of long-term dissatisfaction.


I price products in an effort to allow people to obtain quality they couldn't remotely consider at retail. (I don't think it is fair that only the well-healed have access to great sound.) But that's the best I can do. Budgets are something I simply have no control over.


- Jim
 

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I think your observations are good. The weakness is applicability. Who are you going to be able to convince to take this approach to purchasing a/v gear (which is essentially a luxury item)? Then how are you going to convince his wife? I mean, it took you at least four tries before you finally got the message. Wot? :)


IMO you're on to something by making your units beautiful. It takes them out of the realm of entertainment, which is essentially ephemeral, and into the realm of home furnishings which is durable and has a well-established aesthetic dimension.


I wonder how many of your customers are ultimately moved to a purchase decision by the visual v. the audial attributes of your speakers?
 

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Discussion Starter #23
Quote:
Originally posted by DMF
I think your observations are good. The weakness is applicability. Who are you going to be able to convince to take this approach to purchasing a/v gear (which is essentially a luxury item)? Then how are you going to convince his wife? I mean, it took you at least four tries before you finally got the message. Wot? :)


IMO you're on to something by making your units beautiful. It takes them out of the realm of entertainment, which is essentially ephemeral, and into the realm of home furnishings which is durable and has a well-established aesthetic dimension.


I wonder how many of your customers are ultimately moved to a purchase decision by the visual v. the audial attributes of your speakers?
I, for one, was not. I was drawn as I stated above to the quality of the drivers and studying the backgroud of the person behind the crossover. I spent a lot of time researching the Internet. I was not disappointed. The workmanship and the outward appearance was just a bonus. I don' think Jim should make them ugly so that people will be more drawn to the audio:)


It is a problem though when you are selling a speaker that is not cheap by typical standards. It is a competitive market place to be sure, especially if you are selling via the Internet. Then again, look at AV123 and the Rockets. I would bet that their $2000 speakers do not have the quality of drivers (and related costs) that are in Jim's speaker. I know that Dick Pierce is a very fine crossover guy but you can only do so much with the parts you are given to start with.


Just my thoughts-by the way, I took your above post about only 2k to be sarcastic or did I interpret incorrectly.


Randy
 

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DMF -


Your points are well taken. But I am certainly not complaining. I was merely passing along a few thoughts on how "budgets" can prevent people from getting what they really want when the difference in $'s is relatively insignificant in the long run. And I used my own learning experience as an example.


I am totally confident that as more and more people see, and more importantly hear, these speakers, they will recognize the benefits and the market will continue to grow.


Later today, as an example, I have to go to the airport to pick up a gentleman who is flying in from Little Rock, Arkansas to see and hear the Veracity HT3 in person. He has spent over a year researching his potential purchase and wants to spend some time listening and looking at woods and veneers. So I know there is a market for high-performance products with high visual appeal.


I introduced the Veracity series starting just over one year ago. At first, inquiries just trickled in - a few a week. Since that time, they have grown steadily and dramatically. It is now becoming harder to keep up with the correspondence. So there are obviously a significant number of people who are willing to forgo a brand name in order to gain the advantage of high-performance, quality and value.


True, there have been a few customers who were initially drawn to investigate based on the looks of the speakers. But almost every customer I have had so far has been what I would describe as an experienced audiophile. They were perhaps drawn by the visual appeal, but they were sold on the performance.


And the nice thing is, they had little trouble generating the WAF required to close the sale. It's a win-win situation all around.


- Jim
 

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I feel compelled to chime in here. I was talking for several weeks with Jim Salk via e-mail. I felt he was very knowledgable and timely and courteous with his replies. I called Randybes and he was kind enough to allow me to come to his home and audition the Salks. I decieded I wanted a larger speaker and went with a different custom builder. Let me say, however, that the Salks were beautiful and the sound was sensational. The highs were especially wonderful with a holographic image. I think had Jim had the new Veracity with the larger drivers and the center channel(which he didn't have then) I would have bought from Salk Sound. Thanks Randy for you hospitality. My 0.02

NETHOMAS (Gene Thomas Mexico,Mo.)
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Randybes
I took your above post about only 2k to be sarcastic or did I interpret incorrectly.
What? Not at all! I was and am dead serious. I had figured his stuff was in the $10K range. They certainly *look* it. But at $2K I can now think about actually owning some.


Where the heck did you get sarcasm out of what I wrote? :confused:
 

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Gene -


Glad to hear things went well for you. I often wondered what you ended up doing. Nice to hear from you again!


- Jim
 

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Harry -


For custom projects, I like to start with the basics and gain an understanding of what the client wants to accomplish and what their expectations are. I try and outline all the options available and explain the ramifications of each. So when we finally agree on a design, I am quite confident I will be building a speaker that will be a perfect fit.


Then it just comes down to how well I do my job.


So I am more than willing to allow a client to return them, undamaged, within 30 days for a refund if the speakers fail to meet expectations.


The reason that I need to spend that time pre-qualifying up-front, is that if I take them back, it may be a long time before someone else wants that same combination of woods/veneers.


I have offered anyone willing to go through the qualification process the option to return the finished speakers if they are not satisfied. None have ever come back.


So if that's what it takes to make someone feel more confident, I have no hesitations about offering a money-back guarantee on the speakers and would be more than glad to do so.


In the end, I am not at all interested in having my speakers in a home where they are not appreciated. I put a great deal of time, effort and energy into every pair I build. After all of that, I only want them in the hands of individuals who appreciate them and are thrilled to have them. If that is not the case, I would just as soon have them back so that I can locate a more appropriate home for them.


I hope that addresses your question.


- Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Quote:
Originally posted by DMF
What? Not at all! I was and am dead serious. I had figured his stuff was in the $10K range. They certainly *look* it. But at $2K I can now think about actually owning some.


Where the heck did you get sarcasm out of what I wrote? :confused:
Jim's speakers are not well known so I thought it might have been sarcasm because 2k is not cheap. Please no offense meant as I wasn't sure so I thought I would see if it was or wasn't. Again, I am sorry for my misunderstanding your remarks and thanks for setting me straight.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
Quote:
Originally posted by nethomas
I feel compelled to chime in here. I was talking for several weeks with Jim Salk via e-mail. I felt he was very knowledgable and timely and courteous with his replies. I called Randybes and he was kind enough to allow me to come to his home and audition the Salks. I decieded I wanted a larger speaker and went with a different custom builder. Let me say, however, that the Salks were beautiful and the sound was sensational. The highs were especially wonderful with a holographic image. I think had Jim had the new Veracity with the larger drivers and the center channel(which he didn't have then) I would have bought from Salk Sound. Thanks Randy for you hospitality. My 0.02

NETHOMAS (Gene Thomas Mexico,Mo.)
Gene,


You are welcome in my home anytime. By the way, I hope to hear your set-up at some point when I get your way!


Randy
 

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Thanks Jim! I feel very strongly that you really have to be able to evaluate audio gear at home. It sounds like your prequalifying is very effective. But I think there may still be times when someone will get your speakers home and for whatever reason they just aren't right for them. Sounds like you have that covered. I'm comfortable about sending people your way if they're looking for your type of product.
 

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For anyone who might be interested, Alan Sull just posted a review of the Veracity HT3's at audioreview.com.

Veracity HT3 review


He also posted a review of the Veracity QW's as well.

Veracity QW review


Alan spent about 4 -5 hours in two separate listening sessions with the HT3's and about 1 hour with the QW's.


For those of you who don't know him, Alan's idea of a vacation is traveling to evaluate high-end speakers. He flew in from Little Rock, AK last week to spend some time with the HT3's here in Michigan.


Alan evaluates speakers without getting into the technical aspects. He is only concerned with sound quality. He has about 3 CD's he's complied with a wide variety of cuts to evaluate all aspects of speaker performance. His listening skills are quite impressive.


He has evaluated almost every major high-end speaker design currently available. What impressed me the most while he visited was that he could cite strengths and weaknesses of every design I asked about and many I didn't even know existed. He is literally a walking repository of speaker performance information.


- Jim
 

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Jim,

I first became acquainted with your speakers via the Madisound forum.

Strangely enough, I signed on here last week to do a search to see if

anyone had posted about them in the past and right there was Randy's review!


Now to my point, I'm upgrading my system and am considering 2 options,

HT3s for the L\\C\\R and HT1s for the rears or HT1s all the way around.

The system will be used for 2 channel, multi-channel and HT.

In my mind I'm thinking that the first option will be better for the music

side but will I be "wasting" the advantage of the HT3's woofer if I incorporate subs into the mix.

If this is better taken offline than I'll contact you via your website.

I just thought that others might be interested.

BTW, I read Alan's review yesterday. Wow.


Thanks.


Doug
 

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Doug -


HT1's all the way around would certainly make a spectacular home theater system, no doubt about it. You would, of course, want to run them full-range with a sub. If the sub(s) is/are well integrated, I doubt that you would find this system lacking in ANY regard. At resonable volume levels, I wouldn't hesititate to put this sytem up against any in the world.


But there are two distinct advantages to using the HT3's. First, a 2-way is a 2-way. No matter how good it is (Alan also reviewed the Veracity QW's, which is also a 2-way), the bass will never be as extended as with a multi-way design.


Many people have commented that the QW is the best 2-way they had ever heard. Compared to the HT1's, the bass is quite extended. But when you play them side-by-side with the HT3's, you notice that the HT3's bass is much more extended and effortless (the distortion levels are quite a bit lower, regardless of how hard you are driving them).


Second, since the W18 does not have to do any bass duty, distortion is lower in the midrange. So they can be driven to quite high levels with no strain whatsoever.


Don't get me wrong, the HT1's and QW's are marvelous. But if you are looking for the best in full-range music, they simply cannot complete with the HT3's.


As for "wasting" the woofer when used with subs, you really have to keep in mind that the 10" TC is used as a woofer in the HT3's. The F3 is about 29Hz.


I have been asked before if you still need a sub for HT with the HT3's. The case could be made that you could do without a sub, but I think that in most high-end home theater set-ups, you would want a sub to go at least to the mid to low 20's or even lower.


I think there is a big difference between what I would call a musical sub and those designed to reproduce earthquakes. The latter requires moving a lot of air. Usually larger subs that have that ability are not as fast and don't make great "musical" subs. I have yet to hear a sub that does both without somewhat compromising one or the other.


The subs in the HT3 are used to extend bass response over woofers used in typical multi-way designs. But I don't think they replace subs that play deeper for home theater use.


So if your aim is to design a HT/music system that is absolutely world-class in every respect, the HT3's would be a better choice.


Since the center channel is basically used to carry voices, you might even consider using HT3's for the left and right and an HT1 for the center channel. As along as the tweeters are as close to the same height as possible in your set-up, this should work almost as well.


All that said, I am quite confident you would be happy with either approach.


- Jim
 

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For those following this thread:


The Veracity HT3's were entered in the Iowa speaker competition this past week-end in Des Moines and won first place in the "unlimited" class (high-end speakers). This was the first "public" showing of this new model.


- Jim
 

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Brian -


There were about 21 speakers total in the day long event. Most of them were high-end 2-ways with drivers like Scan Speak Revelators and Seas Excel drivers with a various assortment of high end tweeters. There were also a number of 3-ways as well.


The most ambitious speakers, which came in second place, were the Nao's by John K. These are a dipole design with MTM mains featuring a pair of Seas Excel W18's and a Seas Millenium tweeter. They were augmented by a pair of 12" TC Sounds subs. The entire design used an active crossover and 6 channels of amplification. They were quite nice, but not quite as refined as the Veracity HT3's.


- Jim
 

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Just to let you guys know that I've ordered a set of HT speakers from Jim. The HTS home theater serie, fronts and center. I'm definitly looking forward trying them with the rest of my system and I'll post a short review :)
 

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Real world easy blind testing method:


1) a receiver with both pre-outs and a high-pass filter.


2) an a/b speaker switch box


3) 2 easy-to-carry amps..ie..something like audiosource or anything that'll put out at least a solid 100 wpc.


4) spl meter


5) blindfold


6) an assistant



spend a few hours trying to level match as best you can the two sets of speakers to within .1 db, put on the blindfold, and have your buddy switch back and forth between the two. Should only take a few hours max to determine which you'd prefer.


Ran
 
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