Ok, so after one week of use and familiarization I promised you all a review update of my HT3s and HTC pictured above.
Cabinets and wood work;
Appearance of the dye/color, style and overall finish is abloutely excellent. I did not have the HTC (center) hand rubbed as it sits up inside a cabinet above Shakespeare (see pictures at http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/viewtopic.php?t=27255 . The woodwork overall is excellent!
Sound in Stereo mode:
The good: Excellent!
The bad: You can tell that 80% of your Cds suck in quality. So now I have to buy better sounding CDs.!
In pure stereo the sound is excellent - with good recordings you can easily hear the different air and space between instruments, and the very detail sounds in each instrument and voice. The male and female voices are extremely accurate. I took some time with toeing in and distance against back/side wall etc. I ended up 20" from the back wall, and 35" from each side will. Toed in at a angle that hit each ear. The listening distance from the HT3s are 13'.
What really strikes me is the detail of the ribbon speaker. The mid an bass is also excellent, (in fact I now only use my Muse 18" sub you can see it in the picture to the hard right for 5.1 LFE effect the sub you see in the picture to the hard left is used for the surround speakers in movie mode). Listening to Aaron Nevel (sp?) his voice is reproduced with absolutely perfect timber etc. On jazz recordings the detail of cymbals is extraordinary, you can not only hear the smallest wave of sound as the sound travels from one side of the cymbal to the other, you can also hear the distance in air between the snare and the cymbal!
Movies 5:1 etc
The dynamics required for theater of a speaker is powerful. The HT3 and HTC absolutely stand up to it. In movie after movie the speaker handled the excessive drive required by pounding base with ease. The HTC blended seamlessly in sound and although cant handle the same amount of base at the HT3s (I'm considering adding a subwoofer to the HTC for theater only), it did really well. The HTC handles the detail (ribbon again I'm sure) of voice and other sounds as well as the HT3s.
The music in DVDs is astounding! Again the small details that I did not hear before are now there. Ruffling of leaves on trees, small things I did not notice before that now appears. No question, this is a major improvement.
When you spend this kind of money I have to believe you WANT them to sound and look good. And truthfully you will LOOK for only good things! After all YOU spent all that money sight and sound unheard, a blind leap of faith deep into the cravats of your wallet! And if it did NOT prove out to be a wise choice............................
In my opinion, I found some faults (cabinet mentioned above, also remember my speakers were the first or second that Jim did with the new "procedure") but the sound, fit and overall finish is a 9.0 out of 10. I would give them a 10 if it were not for the few cabinet items mentioned. The CD that Jim sends with the speakers has absolutely excellent material and reproduces the best of the HT3s ability.
They say the "road is paved with good intentions", in this case blind faith has paved and remapped the boundaries to what wonderful listening that is possible with these speakers.
Happy listening to those who have them, and to those waiting - Keep the faith
This is a review of Jim Salks HT'3a, the a standing for active, I believe. These speakers use the DEQX unit for an active crossover.
I am not a professional reviewer and when I read some of the adjectivesin magazines I can't really relate well to them. What I think of when I describe Jim's speakers is "clear" as in clear as a bell. I have right now in my home, Energy Veritas 2.4 (not the I), Paradigm S-4's, as well as others that have come and gone. The Salk's HT3a's spank them all. They just are really well balanced, smooth, and most of all clear when compared to the others. One thing about the bass. These speakers will play low but what is really exciting about the DEQX is that you can taylor them to your room either through their autoequalize feature or by making changes on the fly real time. So far, I have just used the autoequalize feature, but will probably fine tune it more in the future.
I don't really need to say much about the midrange other than to comment that the Excel driver used is probably the best for the price that can be found. The ribbon tweeter has great dispersion both latterally and vertically.
My set-up is an HT'1 for the center speaker, Ht3a's for right and left mains and Energy Veritas i's for the surrounds. I currently have three subs running, Energy 10.2, Velodgyne 1200 and HSU 1220. I have a Sherwood 965 preamp, and two B&K amps. One is a 7270 using six of the channels to do the necessary triamping of the 3a's and one channel biamping the center. The rest of the muscle is a B&K 7250 amp. I have a Dennon 2200 dvd player as well as an Escient DVDM 100 changer system and a Tunebase 200 changer system. Video is a Dish 6000.
One thing I should mention. While the DEQX is a fantastic system using the digital input for two channel stereo, it can be used in a home theater setting by using the analog inputs from a preamp. The only problem is that it does give you quite a bit of latency that has to be compensated for in your distance to speakers set-up. You of course, also go through another stage of processing and is not quite as revealing as going through the digital input.
I was at the recent Rocky Moutain Audio Show and listened to speakers in the high 5 to low 6 figure range. I found nothing there that the Salks either didn't beat or at least hold their own.
Speakers: Salk Sound HT3’s with Sonic Caps, Sonic Cap Platinum- Teflon bypass caps, Alphacore Inductors, Acoustic Zen internal tri-wiring, 3 sets of Cardas standard posts, and Black Hole 5 dampening material. Finish is Macassar Ebony with Black Lacquer baffles and plinths.
Source: Sim Audio Eclipse Limited Edition- Balanced
Preamp: Blue Circle BC3000MKII- Balanced
Power Amp: Blue Circle BC26MKII- Balanced
PLC: Blue Circle Music Ring MR1200
Racks and Stands: Ultrasonic Audio- custom
Speaker Cables: Acoustic Zen Hologram II bi-wire on woofers and mids and Absolute on the ribbons
Interconnects: Acoustic Zen Silver Reference II XLR (CD-Pre), Matrix Ref II (Pre-Power)
Power Cables: Blue Circle BC62 on everything
Power: Dedicated circuits with 10 awg Romex and Cryo Pass & Seymour 5362A receptacles
Room treatments: 6- 13” tube traps, 6- R705 panels and a few R703 panels
Room Size: 24x14x8
Placement: The room is divided into 3rds. That places the speakers 8ft out into the room (measured front wall to speaker baffle). The speakers are a hair under 8ft apart and toed in 5.5”. With the rule of 3rds my ears are equal distance from the rear wall.
I listen to just about anything except for most country and all rap. In a typical day I can go from classical to female vocals to live Metalicca so it is important that my reference system have the latitude necessary to produce all music as it was intended to be heard…and at real world volumes.
Some of recordings used to evaluate the speakers are as follows:
* Herbie Hancock- Head Hunters: Tracks 1, 2
* Copland- Fanfare for the Common Man: Track #1
* Gladiator Soundtrack: Track #3
* Kodo- Ibuki: Entire CD
* James Taylor- October Road: Track #1
* Ben Harper- Fight Your Mind: Tracks 5, 13
* Buddy Guy- Blues Singer: Track #1
* Sonny Rollins- Saxophone Colossus: Entire CD
* Al di Meola- Flesh on Flesh: Tracks 1, 8
* Spyro Gyra- The Deep End: Tracks 3, 8,9,11
* Joe Satriani- Strange Beautiful Music: Track #1
* Bozzio Levin Stevens- Black Light Syndrome: Track #3
* Metalicca- S&M- Track #8
* Steely Dan- Show Biz Kids: Pick one!
* Diana Krall: Girl in the Other Room: Track #3
* Tierney Sutton- Dancing in the Dark: Track #1
* Ray Brown, John Clayton and Christian McBride- Super Bass 2: Tracks 4, 11
Overall these speakers just put a smile on my face which is the only thing that really matters. Some highlights:
Listening to Joe Satriani and SVR at concert levels with the lights off in a dark room is the way to live I tell ya! Track 1 of the Strange Beautiful Music CD is just insane for imaging and sound stage. If you have not heard this track on a reference system you have not heard anything.
Tierney Sutton’s voice just comes out of nowhere and honestly shocked me the first time I heard it on the Salk HT3. Her vocals just hang in mid air and will give you chills.
The acoustic bass on Super Bass 2 is the best reproduction of a floor standing bass I have ever heard. You not only hear the strings but you can also feel the body of the bass resonate. I have heard this recording many times before and it was never like this.
The Head Hunters CD is not a CD I would pop in to kick back and listen but it has some awesome material to test imaging. It is very easy to forget that you are listening to an audio system.
Copland, Gladiator and Kodo are perfect for evaluating DEEP bass capabilities and the HT3 is not disappoint
Overall Clarity, Articulation and Speed: A+. This is where is speaker excels beyond all others that I have heard. Details are everything and these speakers certain have attention to detail. The sound is extremely spacious, open and airy.
Dynamics: Instantaneous volume range is very life like and true to the recording. With a good amp these speakers will pelt out some serious sound that you can feel. See your favorite band live in the privacy of your home.
Sound Stage and Imaging: Deep and wide. The size is very realistic. Height is also very good. I have to stand up on something to get over 6ft high to hear any difference in the treble. Playing around with speaker positioning I landed on 5.5” of toe in. The image really locked in and the soundstage depth was way back past the speaker baffles. To my surprise the sweet spot is much larger then what I am used to.
Driver Integration: Treble in proportion to midrange is seamless. Bass in proportion to midrange is also flawless.
Treble Quality: It’s a ribbon…one I have heard before. I loved it then and love it now!
Midrange: There has been some discussion about the Seas Excel W18 being used as a midrange crossing over to the G2 ribbon. People have voiced concerns about the cone breakup, etc. The midrange is absolute magic on this speaker. If those with concerns could hear this speaker their concerns would quickly be a distant memory.
Bass quality: Tight, articulate, deep and impactful. The bass easily fills my room and is excellent at all volumes.
Emotional involvement: All of the above qualities add up to the emotion that can be created by a well put together system. The music just flows. Depending on what you are listening to you can be at the end of your seat with goose bumps or fall asleep in your chair and wake up at 2am because the music relaxed you so much.
I am the proud owner of a pair of Salk Veracity HT3s. Let me cut to chase and then fill in the details. These are the best speakers I’ve ever owned, and I have owned quite a few of excellent speakers. They may be the best speakers I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard many more than I’ve owned. Perhaps some exotic, huge (and hugely expensive) speakers might sound “better” on certain program material in a very large room. But, in the environment of a fairly normal-to-large listening room like mine, considering the fantastic sound of the speakers, their striking appearance, modest cost and manageable size, I don’t know of any speaker that is remotely competitive.
The hardest part about owning these speakers is that you have to wait for Jim Salk to build them by hand. These speakers are custom-built to your specs so, obviously, they are not sitting on a dealer’s shelf, waiting for you to purchase them. I ordered my pair in March 2005, and then worked with Jim to locate the perfect veneer (Jim found the veneers in separate auctions on Ebay). Since I ordered the upgraded caps in the crossover, we also had to wait a few weeks for Jim’s supplier to ship them. Jim is very attentive and straightforward about all this, so you know where things stand at all times. The speakers arrived in June 2005 (they were really well packed), and I have spent many hours since then listening to them reproduce music.
Jim is a pleasure to work with. He is an honest and honorable man, as well as a master speaker-builder. This is clearly a labor of love for him, and given the low price he charges in relation to the high quality components and the long hours of work Jim and his assistant must have put into these speakers, it’s hard to believe there is much, if any profit, in them.
My pair is finished in a beautiful block-mottled makore, with a striking Mexican cocobolo baffle and plinth. They look stunning, to say the least. The speakers easily passed the very demanding WAF test with flying colors (my W likes these speakers both cosmetically and musically). They are absolutely gorgeous.
In addition to upgraded caps, I ordered the speakers with the active crossover option. The speakers have switches on the rear panel to allow for bypassing of the passive crossovers if used with an active crossover, such as the DEQX unit. This also requires six channels of amplification with associated cabling. I haven’t yet gone the active route, but I wanted the option to do so in the future and so the speakers are “future-proof.”
Now, on to the most important part: how do they speakers sound? In a word, fantastic. I listen to about 70% jazz and 30% classical. They are clean and clear, incredibly true to life in reproducing the textures and timbres of instruments. Imaging is stunning. The HT3’s are detailed but not strident or edgy, have a fabulous, rich midrange, and are precise without being fatiguing. The bass is wonderful. I have removed my ACI Titan II subwoofer from the system because there is no need for it anymore. The HT3’s certainly play deep enough for any musical program. I am a piano freak and these speakers reproduce the sound of a well-recorded grand piano better than any speaker I’ve ever heard. They capture both the rumble/purr of the bass register and the bell-like treble of a Steinway D. Orchestral recordings are spacious and dynamic (the Bruckner 8th – Lopez-Cobos on Telarc – sounds great right now. The Brucknerian brass is awesome!).
Although the HT3’s sound magnificent on great records, I am really happy that lesser recordings (of which I have many) are very listenable. I listen to a lot of jazz from the 50’s to 70’s and almost all of it sounds very good. Blue Note recordings from the 50’s and 60’s (Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley, Wayne Shorter) sounds especially superb. I am a Keith Jarrett junkie, and his trio recordings sound better on the HT3’s than any speaker I’ve ever heard. In fact, as I told Jim, the HT3’s arrived during the same week in which I saw Keith and his trio live at Carnegie Hall. I am not exaggerating when I say that the trio sounded better on the HT3’s than live at Carnegie Hall.
Associated equipment: Digital front end: Onkyo SP1000 SACD player/CD transport; Benchmark DAC-1. Analog front end: VPI Aries turntable/VPI JMW 10.5 tonearm/Grado Reference cartridge. TacT 2.2x room correction system; Mark Levinson 380S pre-amp; Spectron Musician II amplifier. Various overpriced cables and power cords. (A note on the TacT. As good as the HT3’s are, they can and do benefit from the wonders worked on room anomalies by the TacT.)
Summing up my thoughts: this is a fantastic sounding speaker that is beautifully made and can easily fit in a normal living room. It makes wonderful music. Bravo, Jim Salk.
The HT3’s are a 3-way floor standing speakers of medium height (about 44” tall with the supplied spikes) that are darn heavy (somewhere around 130lbs each). The drivers used are all well known and acknowledged as some of the better ones out there:
• Tweeter – G2 ribbon tweeter
• Mid-range – SEAS W18EX 8” mid-range
• Woofer – TC Sounds 989 10” woofer
Add to these a Dennis Murphy designed crossover with premium parts and you start to see why Jim has something very special here…
With a build quality that my limited vocabulary can’t do justice to; suffice it say that you won’t have any WAF issues with these speakers. In fact, the HT3’s just might be the nicest piece of furniture in many of the rooms they will call home! You can see pictures of various HT3’s here on AudioCircle or over at Jim’s website: www.salksound.com.
Enough on the looks, how do they sound?
In one word – “Engaging”
When I sit down and put a cd in, I no longer want to have my laptop next to me or worse, on my lap doing work or surfing the net . Instead, I want to sit in my chair, close my eyes, and sink into the music (I happen to be breaking this right now at the request of Chris – how can I not fulfill his request?) . From the first note to the last note of the session, the music demands my full attention and rewards me with a system that is capable of knocking you back in the chair with its impact and dynamics, while getting the decay on a bell just right, and still properly capturing the texture and sexiness of a female voice. But I am getting ahead of myself…you can hear about how all the pieces produce the final results with my comments below on some of my standard reference cd’s and tracks.
I would say that overall sound of the HT3’s is very well balanced top to bottom with great range (the measured bass response in my room via the TacT is pretty much flat at 30Hz and down 4.4 db’s at 22Hz – the midrange is pretty much flat - on the top end the measured response is excellent up to 20,000Hz where the TacT stops measuring). The midrange is incredibly clean, detailed, and fast, while being smooth and without an artificial or etched sound. These speakers allow you to have your cake and eat it to in terms of detail and musical enjoyment!
Because of these factors (plus the very good component matching) – see my equipment list below), I am able to get a more complete representation of the cd than I could in my previous systems. I would say it is equivalent of going from a very good DVD on very good jpg to an HD source on the same jpg. The extra detail adds to the realism of the moment and is a big part of seducing the listener and making them want to sit there and listen for hour after hour, cd after cd. The nuances and texture of the music are easily there and don’t require you to concentrate on the music to pick them up. Instead, it is all laid out in front of you. These are the first speakers I have had in a long time where listening to music wasn’t work, but something that was relaxing.
I have found that the soundstage varies from recording to recording and can be deep when the music was recorded in such a manner. More importantly, the speakers do disappear and don’t draw attention to themselves. If I didn’t know where they were located, it would be impossible to pinpoint where they are located.
To finish off the review, I thought it would be useful to describe what I heard on a few of my reference or test cuts. Some people are probably familiar with a few of them (especially the NY Audio Rave folks) and I think it adds a little context to the review. I used songs that I am extremely familiar with and that also test the system in different ways.