Silverline audio speakers are phenomenal bargains... in the used market you cant touch the performance/price. As to the previous "reviewer", I'm sure the speakers were not purchased direct from Silverline, and obviously you were ripped off by the seller, since they were not factory sealed at all..
Trust in the brand, its a heck of a good product
I have the 2005 version of the Silverline Panatella III that was purchased new old stock. These speakers were factory sealed new in boxes. Once open it was to my surprise that one speaker grill was absent and the other speakers tweeter was non functioning. I tried to get remedy with the Silverline Audio factory and was given a sorry we cant help you the speakers are not available any longer. What a crock of shame. I will never buy from Silverline they do not support their product.
I usually just review a product, and not mention anyone elses comments, but this time I will need to. I've had these speakers for about three months now and have really enjoyed them. They are a little colored, which I do not think is a bad thing. I've had totally neutral speakers before, like vienna, wilson's, and I've found them a little dry and uninvolving. Not necessarily fatigueing, but a little emotionless. I've always had a soft spot for tower speakers that have dome midranges.
So, after the usual trials and tribulations of buying speakers that just do not work for me, or my listening room. I think I am really happy. It was difficult to get rid of my ATC towers(50's), but they had to be played at such a high level to sound good.... Unfortunately, with my penchant too be really critical of speakers, I only buy used. That is because there is a greater chance of recouping my investment when the inevitable happens, I become totally depressed from the dissappointment. I bought a set of dali's mentors that were new, and I was able to get just a little over 25% of the cost back out of them after 6 months of total shrilling ear fatigue(great fast bass, though).
Back to the review. After making a great deal on Audiogon(1200) for these speakers, I couldn't lose. Just imagine what 1200 would get you in a stereo shop these days. A nice set of 6 inch monitors maybe, or some lower level klipsh towers at best buy. In fact the build quality is truly astounding even at their original list price. The speakers that were tempting me before I took the plunge on these were the same price as a loaded Audi sedan.
The driver layout was my first selling point, the second was the efficiency rating of the speakers. That is because I swap between three amplifiers and two preamps. My preamps are audio research sp-8mk2 and reference one, my amps are a custom made 16 watt set tube amp, My trusty old audio research d79, and a krell fpb 600. These pieces can be intermixed easily, and will always provide truly excellent results. I just needed a speaker that could work well with the three(not have three sets of speakers hooked up). And, hopefully have a Dome midrange. Enter the Sonata.
Also, let me list my sources and interconnects. Lately, I have been mostly using a computer based music server with a wireless link to a dac to the preamp of choice, or even directly to the power amp. But a tube preamp, like the reference one, can even out the different recording levels, which can be annoying to have a 30 decibel jump between recordings. I use two different Dac's for the system. First is a Esoteric dac that is used for the cd transport (esoteric also). This Dac wouldn't handle the 24/96 signal from the wireless reciever, so I bought a Music Hall 25.3 dac for the music server. This Dac is truly surprisingly good, a true bargain in the not-so-bargain oriented industry. Also, I use a ps audio gcph phono preamp for my music hall 7.1 turntable. Unless I'm using my sp-8 preamp which has a superb phono section. For connections, I primarily use synergistic research, mit, audioquest. I really tend to hoard gear, I should be on that show about hoarding. My basement storage area has a better lineup than most higher end shops. I run two different rooms, my main living room, and a smaller office set-up. So, I am constantly moving gear back and fourth between the two (the Krell is on a custom stand with casters- a must have).
Now, when I recieved these, I had no help, a big mistake! They are a very awkward 175 pound speaker. They were placed according to everyones recommendations, at least 2 feet from the walls. I hooked up the sp-8 and the set amp first. Very rewarding. These were the first speakers that really worked well with the small powered amplifiers. I could now see what everyone was raving about. I ran it this way for about a week, going between vinyl and the digital sources. No big orchestras or hard rock. The sp-8 just doesn't like the busy stuff. But the nuances with the smaller groups will make you tear up. I moved them around a bit, and felt I got things pretty good after a while(I have a strange room). It was like a warm comforter and a fire when it is blizzarding outside. Just relaxing and inviting. Something about a Steinway and that dome midrange, a match made in heaven.
Now, after a while, I get the bug. Time to start trying dome different things out. I started with the reference one. A little tighter bass, a little bigger soundstage. More detail and attack. Time to bring in some different amps. I brought in the d79. Things changed fast. there was bass, there was speed. The timbre changed, and i thought it was just as good as the set amp, but a little bigger, and they breathed a little more. Now for the big guns.
I hooked up the Krell. They were not the same speakers. This is where I have to disagree with some of the previous reviews. The Krell seemed to create a different speaker. The 600 is notoriously dark with some speakers, but with the sonata's, a match made in heaven. The soundstage, forget that, it's like swimming in music! Not really a wall of sound that beats down on you, but it envelopes, floats, engulfs you in the experience. The high current amplifier matched with a super efficient tower was not what I expected. What is truly amazing is how the sound level carries through the whole house. If you walk a few rooms away to talk on the phone, unfortunately, the level doesn't really change, even at lower listening levels.
Subwoofer? I had my Rel strata hooked up for the smaller amps, but not necessary with the Krell. In fact, turning it on and off, I couldn't even tell it was there. Atounding bass, I'm not kidding. Hard Rock, no problem. Alex Van Halen kick drum on "Hot for Teacher", Mind blowing. And the big orchestra's just sang. My God, the bass! It was all there! Not just adequate, but WOW!
In comes the WAF(ATC's will never pass this teat, Don't even try!), "They are almost in the middle of the room!" Now the intereting part. With the high current amp, placement was addressable. I was able to move them to within a foot of the wall, and there was no loss, period. Like I said, they weren't the same speakers. And, yes Solid state does work well with them. I might have to buy another pair for my office to replace the speakers in there.
With the money I saved, I didn't feel bad about buying the Audi RS4 I mentioned earlier!
What other people raved about the Sonata (Mk I) is correct ----- if you have the right room for it. If you cannot have about 4ft from the backwall and the side wall, don't waste money on this - you aren't going to get 1/2 good sound.
Also, I found it very surprising that even it's technically an Avalon rip-off in cabintry - which may mean high WAF - many female spouses *hate* them. I simply cannot explain why. They all said it's short and fat. (?????)
Sonic wise this is an marvel at this price. Although the high is a bit colored, and bass is lacking substantially (an quality sub is an must), the mid range sound is simply magical. Don't try to feed this with any Chinese made crap, however. My buddy was so elated to play with my Sonata that he drove his Ming Da SET all the way - and had an disasterous listening session. Good speakers like this will make cheap components sound extra bad, period.
I had been waiting for an deal on this for almost 2 years, but shortly after I got them, I am forced to sell because of my wife's complains, and I just don't have room for them to sparkle.
My quest is finally over! I've been searching, and after 2 years in search of the perfect speaker found out that there is no such thing. However, I was fortunate to audition the Sonata IIIs. I was amazed by the detail and micro dynamics these speakers reproduced. I heard things happening on stage that other speakers cannot reproduce, for instance, a wooden chair creaking as a guitarist shifts his weight while he plays, as well as instruments being played in the back ground. I feel that what these speakers do best is reproduce stringed instruments. Guitars sound so natural. On the other hand the bass is very full and not overly tight. There is no need for subwoofers for these truly full-range speakers. Great speakers for JAZZ and NEW AGE music But not to good for heavy rock and ROLL, Light ROCK sounds very good These speakers do not like corners and they need a lot of air around them to give them their tonal balance. I always felt Dynaudio made very good tweeters and these Esotec tweeters are no exception. They are very detailed and clean. I auditioned many speakers in the same price range as the Sonata IIIs ($7,200) but the Sonata IIIs just blew the competition away. To get the same quality of the Sonata IIIs you would have to be looking at speakers in the $20,000 range and the higher in price the bigger the speaker and, again, these speakers with their 12 by 12 footprint is quite small for the large sound quality it reproduces.My listening area is 12 by 25 and they fill the room with no problem on the other hand a bigger speaker would of caused to much sound pressure to work in my room.I am very happy with them and they are not fully broken in yet so it must get even better! Give them a listen you won't be disappointed.