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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Greetings:


Earlier today, I was playing around on the Internet reading various articles on audio speakers. One of the articles mentioned a fellow named Jim Salk who supposedly makes some nice speakers and is an expert cabinet craftsman. I took the time to search for Salk and located his website ... not that it took much effort, mind you. In any event, Salk's speakers seemingly use only top-notch drivers, cross-overs, and in some cases ribbon-tweeters, but the cabinets are absolutely to die for. I mean the pictures on his website include some of the most beautiful bookshelf and floorstanders I have ever seen.


I am hoping that other forum members might be able to share some information on Salk. I'd be interested in hearing how good his speakers really are and what kind of cutomer service one can expect. If anyone has had personal experience, please share.


Thank You In Advance.............TK
 

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Speakers built by a cabinet maker, you say ?


I guess while your at it you could have your electrician handle your

plumbing problems while he's there too....


:D


Sorry, but a good speaker is more than just a combination of good

quality components. The technical knowledge and education required to

design a good speaker have absolutely nothing to do with cabinet making -

- it is physics......and I highly doubt that a physicist decided on a career

change to cabinet making....


I wasn't even that impresed with their appearance.


Now, if you want what are technically some of the best speakers in the

world wrapped in very beautiful wood cabinets, look at the Thiel line.

www.thielaudio.com


I've got some series 2's in Birseye maple and they're just gorgeous. I am

looking at getting a set of 3.6's now...hmmm...Morado or

Amberwood....hmmm...a difficult choice indeed.


If you want a similar sound, but can dispense with the gorgeous cabinet

try Vandersteens -- about 30% less than comparable Thiel products. All my

HT speakers are Vandys and they sound similar to the Thiels. Although I

give the outright edge to the Thiels, with cost factored in there is some

head scratching to do...


-Sporty
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
SportyBry:


You're entitled to your opinion, but you could express it without coming across as arrogant and high-minded. Obviously, you haven't taken any time to research the "cabinet maker's" experience and knowledge in the field before jumping to your hasty, uninformed conclusions.


BTW, I have in fact auditioned the Thiel's and left feeling they were vastly over-priced for the quality of the sound they produced. They did sound better when connected to high-end / high-priced components, but I don't need to spend tons of money to get what I want.



TK
 

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TK,


Agreed on the previous post by Sporty. When I first read his words, I thought perhaps he was having a bad day.


There are methods and ways to express one's opinion without sounding arrogant and obnoxious. The poster is entitled to his opinion of course and it is obvious Thiel's are a personal favorite of his. I've auditioned them and they do have nice wood work and sound very, very good. Of course, this comes at a price as most things in life do.


Jim's product line appears to be hand made and I am sure can be finished to any custom finish the buyer requests. Although I've never listened to his product line, I am sure they are fine sounding speakers. Hopefully, one day I shall have the opportunity to audition them.


Charles
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by SportyBry
Speakers built by a cabinet maker, you say ?


I guess while your at it you could have your electrician handle your

plumbing problems while he's there too....


:D


Sorry, but a good speaker is more than just a combination of good

quality components. The technical knowledge and education required to

design a good speaker have absolutely nothing to do with cabinet making -

- it is physics......and I highly doubt that a physicist decided on a career

change to cabinet making....


I wasn't even that impresed with their appearance.


Now, if you want what are technically some of the best speakers in the

world wrapped in very beautiful wood cabinets, look at the Thiel line.

www.thielaudio.com


I've got some series 2's in Birseye maple and they're just gorgeous. I am

looking at getting a set of 3.6's now...hmmm...Morado or

Amberwood....hmmm...a difficult choice indeed.


If you want a similar sound, but can dispense with the gorgeous cabinet

try Vandersteens -- about 30% less than comparable Thiel products. All my

HT speakers are Vandys and they sound similar to the Thiels. Although I

give the outright edge to the Thiels, with cost factored in there is some

head scratching to do...


-Sporty
Dr. Bose was telling me the same thing the other day, but he went on to say that Jim and Richard could not hold a candle to his PHD knowledge of Physics and they were just glorified cabinet makers with no real knowledge of speaker building (tongue firmly planted in cheek). :)
 

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Thiel and Vandersteen use first order crossovers and geometrically displaced drivers to achieve "time and phase alignment." Whether true phase alignment (0 degree, not 360 degree) is audible is still open for debate. Despite Thiel's claim, such a crossover design is hardly "complex."


There are certain advantages to such a design. There are also many disadvantages. To label them the best sounding speaker in the world would be perfectly fine, since that is always a subjective thing, and there is no accounting for taste. To label them "technically some of the best speakers in the world" is quite another thing, as now you have left the realm of subjectivity and bring objective performance into play. On those grounds, I'll just say that Thiel's perform good in some objective categories and not so good in others.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
theranman:


who specifically are you referring to?



TK
 

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SportyBry -


I came across this thread while searching for another. Your comments left a few misconceptions and I thought a comment or two was in order.


First, I am not a cabinet-maker turned speaker builder. I have spent almost 35 years working in high-end audio. I have worked in recording studios around the country and mastered projects on speaker systems costing up to $65,000 per pair. The speakers you mention are fine, but hardly the basis for my comparisons.


Many name manufacturers use "mid-fi" drivers in beautiful cabinets. They look great, but the sound is only OK. The reason is simple: The retailer needs 40 - 50 points, salespeople need commissions, plants mean overhead, marketing costs, etc., etc., etc. The bottom line is that speakers sold in retail cannot invest more than 10 -15% of the retail price in parts. (Our equation obviously looks very different).


The drivers I chose on my Veracity design are among the finest available world-wide. I worked with these drivers previously and imagined they would be a combination made in heaven (I was right).


SportBry, you may not like my cabinets, but you will not find cabinets any better braced or constructed.


The crossovers used in the Veracity (and other speakers I build) are built with Alpha-core inductors, Mills resistors and Sonicap caps. There are among the top crossover components currently available.


So that leaves only one additional component to consider - the most important - the crossover design. The Veracity design was developed hand-in-hand with Dennis Murphy, one of the finest crossover artists available today. Dennis is a classically-trained musician with a phenomenal ear and even better reputation. His designs are near legendary. In fact, when bored, he often re-works crossovers for famous-name speakers, who didn't quite get their crossovers right.


As far as "time and phase alignment," etc. mentioned above, this is pure marketing. While there may be some benefit, it can certainly be handled in a good crossover.


So, let summarize:


We use the world's finest drivers (better than many great speaker companies can afford and still hit their price targets).


We use time-tested cabinet design features to produce extremely well-damped and inert enclosures.


We use some of the finest crossover components available.


Dennis Murphy crossovers designs optimize all of the above.


As for finish, keep in mind that the speakers we build are your speakers. So why would we limit your choices? Like the finish on Santana's PRS guitar? Go for it. Like maccasar ebony, waterfall bubinga, burled redwood, etc.? Go for it. They are your speakers, so build them to your specifications (we'll help with some suggestions, if you prefer - and perhaps even if you don't ask).


Now...

The only thing we do not have is a well-known name such as the ones you mention. So here's the important question: Considering you can't hear it, what is that name worth to you?


If spending twice as much (at least) on a name provides you with the level of comfort you need to feel secure, by all means, buy their products. After all, it is important to be completely happy with the systems you choose to live with.


On the other hand, we can turn that same money into twice the speaker system. So it comes down to a very simple question: What do you want to spend your speaker investment on?


- Jim
 

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Sounds like someone with a true passion for his work and the willingness to make it truly "your" speaker.


I'd love to hear a pair. Where are they available for audition?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
bpape:


i don't know about an audition, but check out " www.salksound.com ". it will be worth your time.


regards............tk
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Randybes
Dr. Bose was telling me the same thing the other day, but he went on to say that Jim and Richard could not hold a candle to his PHD knowledge of Physics and they were just glorified cabinet makers with no real knowledge of speaker building (tongue firmly planted in cheek). :)
Really ? I'm sorry, but technically speaking Bose has never and likely will

never produce a speaker than can come even remotely close to the

performance offered by either of the speakers I mentioned. The technical

engineering in both the Vandys and Thiel's is a stratosphere above the

Bose line. Have you ever seen the impulse response of a Bose ? :rolleyes:


You can listen and like them; you can listen and NOT like them. HOWEVER,

Thiels and Vandersteens are 2 of the most accurate speakers available in

the world at ANY price. The Thiels also happen to be beautiful.


Quote:
Originally posted by Bigus
Thiel and Vandersteen use first order crossovers and geometrically displaced drivers to achieve "time and phase alignment." Whether true phase alignment (0 degree, not 360 degree) is audible is still open for debate. Despite Thiel's claim, such a crossover design is hardly "complex."
uh-huh....first of all the jury is NOT out. Research conducted at the

University of Waterloo indicated that a trained ear can detect a phase

anomality of as little as 15 degrees. The jury is only out if you listen to

what those that cannot build a phase coherent speaker SAY....but then you are just being a victim of their marketing speak...


A proper first order crossover is also, in practice, the most complex

crossover there is to properly design. It is not a first order electrical slope,

but rather a first order electro-mechanical slope, meaning a crossover must

be integrated with the drivers response curve and smooth out any

frequency, phase, and impeadance irregularities. It is not uncommon to

find 75 elements in the crossovers of higher model Thiel speakers...this is

in STARK contrast to the..ahem...2 element crossovers I've seen in

OTHER "name brand" speakers that have been mentioned in this forum...

Quote:
To label them "technically some of the best speakers in the world" is quite another thing, as now you have left the realm of subjectivity and bring objective performance into play. On those grounds, I'll just say that Thiel's perform good in some objective categories and not so good in others.
Ahhh...and not so well in WHICH other areas ?


The fact is, if I feed my speakers a SQUARE WAVE I expect them to produce

it-- not some all screwed up waveform, that doesn't even REMOTELY

resemble what went in....


Most speakers can't even get THAT right......the Thiels and Vandy's do...


Quote:
Originally posted by Tom Klemans

You're entitled to your opinion, but you could express it without coming across as arrogant and high-minded. Obviously, you haven't taken any time to research the "cabinet maker's" experience and knowledge in the field before jumping to your hasty, uninformed conclusions.
Sorry if my earlier post came out as arrogant. It wasn't meant to be...


Actually Tom, I was speaking from a position of experience: About 10 years

ago I bought out a cabinet making company. Subsequently I bought out

one of our customers -a small loudspeaker company being run by a

University of Waterloo Physics researcher, and drew on the natural

synergies and my business ability to make money. As someone who also

holds a degree in Chemical-physics, I was able to understand

TECHNICALLY all too well at least a portion of what it takes to make a good

speaker....and it ISN"T simple...




Jim:


No disrespect was intended towards your products. Certainly, interested consumers should take the time to audition and make a decision.


However, in reading your response I will make a few brief points:


"The speakers you mention are fine, but hardly the basis for my

comparisons". Well Jim, the fact is the Thiel CS7 and Vandersteen Model 5b

are widely regarded as 2 of the best loudspeakers available in the world at

ANY price. There are many speakers out there in the silly money region -

$50,000+ that can't even remotely hold a candle to them. I mean, it's great

to look at a wall of 30 vertically aligned EMIT tweeters, but how does it sound? Um..."no comment"...


-Thiel and Vandersteen hardly use "mid-fi" drivers, and you should be scolded for trying to elude that they do:


Both Thiel and Vandersteen utilize drivers designed by a company in

Denmark called "Scan-Speak". Through their corporate umbrella they are

related through co-ownership to a company called Vidbaek Hojtaeller

Fabrik-- which owns and produces the VIFA line of drivers. They also own a

Norwegian manufacturing company called SEAS. Scan-speak is widely

acknowledged to be the most advanced driver design/manufacturing shop

in the world. Have you ever toured Vifa's facilities ? I have. One word:

WOW. They are widely known to also have by far the most advanced driver

production facility and quality control systems in the world. If you ever get

the offer to tour their facilities, TAKE IT -- they don't offer it to many...


The difference between a Thiel or Vandersteen that are building TENS OF

THOUSANDS OF PAIRS OF SPEAKERS A YEAR and a smaller builder are the

economies of scale that result. A builder in this market can build the SAME

product that a smaller "craftsman" makes for a fraction of the cost. This

leaves room for all the other margins you mention, so your argument

relating to costs and putting more money into the drivers in your speakers

IS pointless. "marketing hype", I believe someone here called it....


In reading your comments about YOUR speakers, and how they are

designed, I can begin to form some opinions and make some observations:


-cross over design is NOT the most important factor. The design of the

ENTIRE speaker IS. This involves interactions between the drivers and

cabinets, as well as between the drivers themselves. A properly designed

crossover is designed IN CONJUNCTION WITH the rest of the speaker, NOT

as a separate item.


This, plus the fact that you talk about selecting the drivers for use in your

speakers YOURSELF and that "Dennis Murphy" designed the crossover (in

at least one of your models) gives me a picture of quite a fragmented

design process...which normally results in a product that performs

accordingly.


-the mention of him having a "well trained ear" also sends shivers up my

spine, as an audio afficondo. The worlds BEST speakers have been

designed PURELY in laboratories for quite some time. LISTENING to the

speakers is what the engineers do AFTER 5PM. You can get very good time-

domain measurement system from Audio Precision or Sclumberger for

under $15,000USD these days, so the price is even within range of small

manufacturers. There is plenty of research out there on correlating

measurements to ACTUAL listening evaluations. A top notch audio engineer

(read: physicist), although far from cheap, can understand and utilize this

correlation to design a speaker that performs well.


-In general terms, using someone's background of working in a recording

studio as good preparation for this type of "job" can also be misleading:

Indeed one of the MAJOR problems in the audio world today is that sound

engineers, and those involved in the 'mastering' process, just can't even

understand the need for a set of STANDARDS to be used in their "studios".

This may very well be a function of their being more from the "arts" side of

the equation, as opposed to those with a technical background.


Not only does EVERY studio out there use different electronics & speakers

to listen on, but there is no standard for placement or listening position.

THIS is becoming a VERY real problem with 5.1 and other multi-channel

sound formats. Ever watch a DVD and think "man- this multi-channel mix

SUCKS". Well, how can you expect complex multi-channel mixing to sound

good on your system if the studio didn't even listen to the recording on a

system that -for starters- has the flippin speakers in the correct location !


Certainly something to think about....



-Sporty
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by SportyBry
Sorry if my earlier post came out as arrogant. It wasn't meant to be...
And yet you apparently didn't take any of the previous comments about your post to heart, as this last one was just as arrogant, argumentative, and condescending. You took my well intentioned and neutral comments as an assault on your personal preferences. You even completely missed someone's obvious joke and chastised them for mentioning Bose? C'mon man, loosen up. But perhaps that type of dialog is the only thing you will response to... so be it.

Quote:
You can listen and like them; you can listen and NOT like them. HOWEVER, Thiels and Vandersteens are 2 of the most accurate speakers available in the world at ANY price.
Define accurate. Under what conditions? For what performance metrics?

Quote:
uh-huh....first of all the jury is NOT out. Research conducted at the University of Waterloo indicated that a trained ear can detect a phase anomality of as little as 15 degrees.
Using test tones. Whether you can hear the transient impact of group delay present in non-first order phase coherent crossover designs during real music is something for which I've yet to see any conclusive results. If you know of some, I'd be very interested... please point the way. Still, absolute phase accuracy is but one part of the "whole speaker design" which you chastised Jim Salk about.

Quote:
The jury is only out if you listen to what those that cannot build a phase coherent speaker SAY....but then you are just being a victim of their marketing speak...
Yes, that is absolutely why I made the comments I did previously. I have never actually heard Vandersteen or Thiel speakers, but I've read a lot of ads for other companies. What else would I base my comments on? :rolleyes:

Quote:
It is not a first order electrical slope, but rather a first order electro-mechanical slope, meaning a crossover must be integrated with the drivers response curve and smooth out any frequency, phase, and impeadance irregularities.
Which is different from properly designed higher order crossovers how...?

Quote:
It is not uncommon to find 75 elements in the crossovers of higher model Thiel speakers...this is in STARK contrast to the..ahem...2 element crossovers I've seen in OTHER "name brand" speakers that have been mentioned in this forum...
You can design a first order crossover with a single element, or in some cases none at all. That Thiel chose to go full out with zobels, traps, notch filtering, baffle-step compensation, etc. is not proof that first order crossovers are inherently "difficult" to design, but rather proof that Thiel is serious about making a good crossover. There seems to be a disconnect in what you are trying to prove and the "evidence" you are using to prove it. Good crossovers should always consider the above aspects, regardless of slope. Poor ones do not, regardless of slope. I fail to see the correlation between slope and complexity.

Quote:
Ahhh...and not so well in WHICH other areas ?
Limited output, higher intermodulation distortion, significantly higher doppler distortion, significantly higher harmonic distortion, huge lobing error...


It seems that you were stressing the fact that a speaker must be designed as a system. This system design is by nature full of compromises. One attribute can be enhanced at the detriment of others. Be assured that Vandersteen's and Thiel's (and Dynaudio's, and others...) pursuit of phase and time accuracy have their associated costs. To make the claim that they are "technically" the best in the world, as you did, is putting the emphasis on only one attribute. Perhaps to some people, under some conditions, that attribute is the dominant one. Perhaps to some others it is not. Thus, your claim about these designs being "technically" superior is vacuous as it can only be maintained on subjective grounds.


I personally like the ideal of always maintaining absolute phase accuracy. I'm not sure that I always like the idea of sacrificing other important performance characteristics in the pursuit.

Quote:
The fact is, if I feed my speakers a SQUARE WAVE I expect them to produce it-- not some all screwed up waveform, that doesn't even REMOTELY

resemble what went in....
And how much real music is composed of square waves? And (this is important here...) in how large of a spacial volume is that square wave reproduced faithfully? And at what level before various non-linear distortions become more disturbing than any phase distortion could possibly be? Once again, speaker design is a compromise. You have taken one characteristic, deified it, and proclaim all speakers that emphasize that one characteristic to be technically superior. Well, that is your subjective opinion. People can also hear harmonic distortion, you know. And doppler distortion. And comb filtering...

Quote:
Most speakers can't even get THAT right......the Thiels and Vandy's do...
Yet they don't get everything right, which was my point all along. For some people they are #1. For others, their compromises are serious. It is all a personal preference, and again... there is no accounting for taste.


My personal opinion? You know a lot less about speaker design than you allude to.
 

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Sporty -


I have no desire to respond to the "few brief points" you make. But I do (again) need to straighten out the misconceptions your post seems to have left.


1) I made no negative comments regarding either of your beloved speaker manufacturers (or any other for that matter). And why would I? First, its not my style. And second, they are both top of the line manufacturers (although their products may be a bit over-priced).


2) I am intimately familiar with the driver manufacturers you mention and stand by my statement.


In the industry, "hi-fi" drivers are defined as the best product the manufacturer can produce. They are like the "concept cars" you see at auto shows and are designed to allow manufacturers to "show their stuff." While they are used in a few top end designs, they are generally too expensive for use in retail products


"Mid-fi" drivers are the mainstay of the driver business. They are designed to offer good performance at a specific price point. These are the drivers that are used in most products bound for retail sales.


For example, Scan Speak generally manufactures the company's top tier products, while Vifa generally manufactures their "mid-fi" offerings. This is not to say that Vifa produces bad product. Not at all. But to say Vifa drivers are built to the same quality and material standards as Scan Speak drivers would certainly be misleading.


A simple look at the pricing structure tells the whole story. Scan Speak drivers generally cost more than Vifa drivers.


In my book, when a manufacturer uses Vifa drivers, they are using "mid-fi drivers." They may not be producing bad speakers, but they are definitely not using the best drivers available - plain and simple.


Note: I did not indicate which, if any, of your beloved manufacturers uses Vifa drivers, so no editorial comment should have been percieved.


3) In the Seas line, Excel drivers are considered the best (some consider them the best in the world right now). If you feel that a small builder cannot provide top-of-the-line drivers in a speaker for less money, then show me a retail manufacturer who offers the W18 in a speaker at anywhere near the price of DIY designs using this world-class driver.


If economy of scale makes such a difference, who is befitting? The savings are certainly not being passed on to the consumer.


4) Your statement that "cross over design is NOT the most important factor. The design of the ENTIRE speaker IS," is true genius.


Of course a great speaker must be designed in totality. Talk about stating the obvious!


But great drivers don't, in and of themselves, result in a great speaker. Great cabinets don't either. Nor do perfectly tuned ports or premium crossover components. Even if all of them are done as an integrated project, success is not guaranteed.


Only with a well designed crossover will the entire speaker come together. Without a great crossover, you have nothing but a bad sounding pile of expensive hardware. And there are a great many brand-name speakers out there that dramatically prove the point.


The crossover is the most important component in a speaker. Period.


5) Dennis Murphy and I worked together on this project from the very beginning to the very end. Why you would intimate that any other arrangement would even be workable is beyond me.


6) Why you would intimate that proper test equipment was not used in the development of crossovers is, again, beyond me. Of course it was! But engineers who live and die only with test measurements rarely develop great speakers. Measurement and test equipment are tools. When placed in the right hands (like those of Dennis Murphy), magic results.


One final comment): You have made numerous statements that indicate, quite convincingly, that you are not familiar with the quality of the people and/or the sophistication of the tools, programs and designs involved in independent speaker building today. Your strong statements highlight this obvious lack of familiarity and, in the process, tend to discredit your comments.


Do yourself a favor. Before you let loose another barrage, take the time to research the topic at hand. Once you gain an understanding of the current state of independent speaker building, your comments will be seen in a more positive light.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Sporty:


Your people skills need some SERIOUS work. As noted above by Bigus, the tone of your latest post was even more disturbing than that of your earlier post. I am not in any way connected to Jim Salk, but I find it incredible that you would have the gull to take issue with the quality of his product when you seemingly never heard of the man or his speakers prior to this thread being established. That, my friend, is an undeniable display of arrogance and high-mindedness.


I am not an audio expert by any stretch of the imagination and, therefore, unable to add anything to the "technical flavor" this thread has taken on. However, I do have one question which I urge you to answer. Specifically, if you are truly an expert and successful business person who supposedly has connections throughout the speaker manufacturing industry, why would you settle for Thiel and Vandersteen speakers? To be more to the point, I would expect a well-connected expert to pick and choose from among the best components the world has to offer then assemble the perfect speaker using the finest cabinetry available. Please clarify what strikes me as an obvious contradiction.


TK
 
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