SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A

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abd1

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SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« on: 8 Nov 2017, 11:43 pm »
I know Jim and crew just finished a couple of trade shows and are busy. I will be calling and speaking to him eventually but I thought I'd ask the community about these 3 speakers. I am looking to upgrade my current speakers (Totem Acoustic Hawks) to celebrate my 20th anniversary working for the same company. I'm in no major rush but would like to order something by the end of the year since I know it will likely take 3 months to receive them. My budget is $3-4k, possibly higher if something blows me away. I'll be using a Primaluna Dialogue One integrated and Eastern Electric Minimax Dac Plus., so I'd like something reasonably efficient. The PL does a pretty good job with my Totems, but I'd prefer to get something more efficient.

My listening space is about 12'x11', but opens up to about 1200 sq ft of living space on one side. Speakers are about 7' apart and about 9-10' from my mlp. I like the smaller footprint of the SCSTs, as will my wife. The Song3's are about as big a speaker as I'll get away with in this room. I posted some pics of my space to give you an idea. For music, I listen to all kinds of stuff, but I really like things with strings and percussion. When shopping for speakers that's what I focus on. So think jazz trios, piano, acoustic rock and indie rock (bon iver, horse feathers, daughter, etc.). For me, the most important traits in a speaker are (in order) imaging, soundstage, natural tonality, dynamics, detail.

I've been listening to some speakers locally when I can. So far I'm most impressed by the ProAc D20R, but they're $5k, so really pushing the budget. I've owned Songtowers before and loved them and I believe in the internet direct model and getting more for less so I couldn't help but think that for $3-4k I could get a speaker from Salk that's as good or better than the ProAcs. Plus, since this is a special purchase for me I'd love to be able to customize the finish a bit. Anyway, looking at the Salk lineup the speakers I'm most interested in are the Song3's, followed bt the SCST's and possibly the Song3-A's. I understand the differences between the TL 2-way design vs. 3-way reflex. Efficiency seems pretty close between these, so maybe a draw there. One big difference is that the Song3's use a larger driver for the bass, so I'm guessing more impact and dynamics, which is something I would like compared to the 5.25" driver in the Totems. The SCST's also use about a 5" driver, like the Totems, but they go low and there's 2 drivers for more efficiency. So maybe not quite as dynamic as the Song3's? The other thing I noticed is the SCST's use the magnesium cone that seems to be very popular with Salk speakers, and other high end models. The Song3's use a smaller titanium midrange driver. Is it as detailed as the Seas drivers? Not sure, but maybe that's where upgrading to the Song3-A's comes in. I wonder if the Song3's can be made with the Seas midrange? Maybe it doesn't match well with the RAAL tweeter in the Song3 and that's why there's the Song3-A model, for more detail? Maybe the Song-3A has too much detail for my taste? So, I'm a bit stuck on which model to choose. Any suggestions, opinions, input?








dB Cooper

Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #1 on: 9 Nov 2017, 05:30 am »
Welllllll......
It looks like there might be acoustic issues with the space that 'better' equipment might not help. The prevalence of hard surfaces (hardwood floor, glass windows) is one, and the radically different room loading of each channel (left is in a corner next to a wall with a large glass surface adjacent to the speakers, right is at the end of a wall with a very large open area on its right).

I wonder if the best way to go might not be a 2.1 type arrangement with the mains highpassed at ~150Hz so only the sub sees <150Hz... That would at least get the bass loading the same channel-to-channel since both would be originating from the same cab. I'd also get the left wall as dead as possible, which will be challenging  due to the large glass window surface.

Plenty of folks here know more than me so I'm interested to hear other people's suggestions.

Hydro

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #2 on: 9 Nov 2017, 03:55 pm »
I own two sets of SS-10's, the HT-2TL and SCST's, heard the Song3A's and Song3Encors at RMAF. The SS-10's and HT-2TL's are truly great speakers and blow the SCST's away in every respect. I run my tube amp system on the HT-2TL's and they sound great, if they weren't so big I would recommend them. The Song3A's sound very much like the SS-10's but are more efficient. I didn't notice the lack of bass at all in the room at RMAF. One set of my SS-10 are in a dedicated listening room with sound treatment, the other in my living room which is pretty live. Two completely different environments and two completely different sounds, both engaging. At your price range it would be hard to find a better speaker than the Song3A's. You might have to augment the bass with a sub if you like to feel the kick, but the type of music you mentioned they should be fine.   

ckullmann1

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #3 on: 9 Nov 2017, 04:43 pm »
Following up on Hydro's comments -- you might want to consider the Veracity STs - sound just like the HT2-TL's, but with a much smaller footprint.

abd1

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #4 on: 9 Nov 2017, 04:48 pm »
Welllllll......
It looks like there might be acoustic issues with the space that 'better' equipment might not help. The prevalence of hard surfaces (hardwood floor, glass windows) is one, and the radically different room loading of each channel (left is in a corner next to a wall with a large glass surface adjacent to the speakers, right is at the end of a wall with a very large open area on its right).

I wonder if the best way to go might not be a 2.1 type arrangement with the mains highpassed at ~150Hz so only the sub sees <150Hz... That would at least get the bass loading the same channel-to-channel since both would be originating from the same cab. I'd also get the left wall as dead as possible, which will be challenging  due to the large glass window surface.

Plenty of folks here know more than me so I'm interested to hear other people's suggestions.

You're right the room isn't perfect, far from it, but it still sounds great. I know the room is a limitation and I've asked myself can I really get better sound in this space due to the limitations? I think the main thing I don't like about the sound is that the Totems tend to be a bit bright. They have good detail, fantastic imaging, play deep, but there's a lack of weight to the midrange and midbass, and the tweeter can get etchy at times. I noticed this when I initially demo'd them but they were a steal (bought them used) and they fit the space perfectly for my wife. so it was a good place to start with towers in the living room. Over time I may build some small absorbtion panels or diffusers to go behind the speakers and/or under the window but not sure if that would really help that much. I always tell myself the dog kennel works as some sort of diffuser  :roll:

One thing I do like to do on some weekends is arrange the speakers so they're pointed into the living room and then turn a chair around and listen that way. I actually have a 30' speaker cable already set up, just rolled up a bit next to the kennel and under my listening couch, so when I do it I just pick the speaker in the corner up and move it out and then turn the other speaker 90 degrees. Takes 5 minutes and completely transforms the listening space. Oh yeah, and my wife just ordered a bigger rug for the area if that helps any.

R Swerdlow

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #5 on: 9 Nov 2017, 05:03 pm »
Congratulations on working 20 years at the same company.  In recent years, that's quite an accomplishment.

Thanks for the photos and detailed description of your listening room.  You've clearly thought a lot about all this.

I will limit my comments to the SCST as I haven't heard the Song3 or 3A.  In short, I readily recommend them as an improvement over the Totem Hawks you now have.  They will likely produce more bass than the Hawks, and the transmission line cabinet should allow flexibility in placing the speakers in your room.  The larger woofer in the Song3 or 3A will probably produce more bass, at the expense of a larger cabinet.  The SCST's magnesium cone mid-woofers will also produce excellent sounding detail, as will the ribbon tweeter.  In the SCST that is a particularly good sounding combination.  They, IMHO, should make you happy considering your goals of speaker that produce good imaging, soundstage, natural tonality, dynamics, and detail.

You mentioned you had owned SongTowers before, and loved them.  Why do you no longer have them?  Did you replace them with the Hawks?  I'm curious about your impressions of these two speakers.

I owned SongTowers for over 9 years, and a year ago stepped up to a pair of Veracity ST speakers.  (See my comment about them below.)  I am also familiar with the SCST speakers, and although it was a number of years ago, I had once listened closely to the Totem Hawks.  I noticed your Primaluna amp can deliver about 35-45 wpc.  I have heard SongTowers driven by an AVA Ultravalve amp of 35 wpc, and it was enough to drive it adequately.  I expect the SCST to be similar in that regard.

From my own experience, I couldn't agree more with you about the advantages of buying speakers from an internet direct manufacturer, especially Salk.  Furthermore, Jim Salk's custom veneer finishes make my speakers better looking than any furniture I own.  I spent about $175 extra for a ropey curly cherry veneer.  (That cost less than FedEx shipping.)  If your wife is at all reluctant about new speakers, get her involved in the veneer choice.  Jim is very good at helping people to decide on those choices, so I urge you to speak with him about that.

Because you previously owned SongTowers, you are aware of their footprint and height.  At 8" wide they have a similar footprint as your Hawks, but they are about 10" taller.  Still that will be less of a visual change than the larger Song3 or 3A.

As far as sensitivity goes, there is no standard way that different speaker makers measure sensitivity.  The SCST, Song3, Song-3A, and Totem Hawk all are said to have 88 dB sensitivity.  I can believe all the Salk sensitivity measurements are done similarly, but I cannot say that Totem measures sensitivity the same way.  It has been my experience that the Salk measurements of sensitivity are on the conservative side.  When I have done direct comparisons of my STs to other speakers, the Salks were always more sensitive, sometimes surprisingly so, considering what their rated sensitivities were.  As a result, I feel safe in guessing that the SCSTs might be more sensitive than the Hawks.

Following up on Hydro's comments -- you might want to consider the Veracity STs - sound just like the HT2-TL's, but with a much smaller footprint.
I do agree with this opinion.  When I bought my Veracity STs, I did consider the SCSTs and eventually chose the VSTs over them because of their greater dynamic range and impact.  The do deliver most of the what the HT2-TL can do with a smaller footprint.  They are actually 1½" shorter than my STs.  The only problem is they are out of abd-1's price range.

abd1

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #6 on: 9 Nov 2017, 06:50 pm »
I own two sets of SS-10's, the HT-2TL and SCST's, heard the Song3A's and Song3Encors at RMAF. The SS-10's and HT-2TL's are truly great speakers and blow the SCST's away in every respect. I run my tube amp system on the HT-2TL's and they sound great, if they weren't so big I would recommend them. The Song3A's sound very much like the SS-10's but are more efficient. I didn't notice the lack of bass at all in the room at RMAF. One set of my SS-10 are in a dedicated listening room with sound treatment, the other in my living room which is pretty live. Two completely different environments and two completely different sounds, both engaging. At your price range it would be hard to find a better speaker than the Song3A's. You might have to augment the bass with a sub if you like to feel the kick, but the type of music you mentioned they should be fine.

This is good info. Sounds like you're living in Jim's warehouse -- you're very fortunate to own so many beautiful sets. I think the HT-2TL's and Veracity ST's push the budget a bit too far, especially since I think I'd be happy with the other models. Hearing you say that the Song3-A's sound like your SS-10's means a lot. I probably won't have a sub in this room but I have another room with a Rythmik LVX12 for when I want to really feel it!

abd1

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #7 on: 9 Nov 2017, 07:17 pm »

You mentioned you had owned SongTowers before, and loved them.  Why do you no longer have them?  Did you replace them with the Hawks?  I'm curious about your impressions of these two speakers.

I loved my SongTowers. I've always been into audio stuff since I was a teenager, but I consider them my gateway drug into this hobby/affliction. The only reason I sold them was because I was selling my house and blending families with my wife and I was just needing to eliminate as much as possible. I bought them used and was able to sell them for almost what I paid and I always said once we settled on a home for our family I would set out again to find something, but since I didn't know what that space would be I decided to sell them. Once we moved into this house I had a decent, not perfect, listening space, but wasn't quite ready to make a big purchase. One day we were out downtown Portland shopping around (basically means my wife was looking for shoes) and I went into a local stereo shop that sells new and used and they had just taken in a pair of Hawks. I had heard good things about them and we demo'd them. They are tiny for floorstanders and the cherry matched the cabinet in the room perfectly. They were only $1200, so I decided I couldn't pass them up when they checked off so many boxes. I figured they'd carry me over until I was ready for something more, which is now.

Since I've owned them I've become more impressed with the Hawks then I thought I would. I have sometimes thought of just keeping them since they fit the space so well and they sound very good, but I think its time to treat myself so that's what I'm doing. Comparing them to the SongTowers I would say the Hawks dig deeper and have more detail. I think they also image a bit better. Keep in mind though I never listened to these side by side or even in the same room and over a year passed between listening to the ST's and then owning the Hawks. And, my electronics were different, so hard to compare. The big thing I liked about the SongTowers more was the tonality. They had a much more natural sound, and while the Hawks dig deeper in the bass the ST's had more impact. I've always found the Hawks a touch bright and etchy. They use a metal dome tweeter, which does have a lot of detail, but I find a touch harsh on certain material. I think they're both great. For $1200 the Hawks are amazing. For $3k, not as much due to the competition at that price point. However, for someone looking for a small tower for a small/medium room, who doesn't want a sub I would absolutely recommend them. Actually, I want to keep them and put them in the bedroom or wife's office if I can. We'll see...

I owned SongTowers for over 9 years, and a year ago stepped up to a pair of Veracity ST speakers.  (See my comment about them below.)  I am also familiar with the SCST speakers, and although it was a number of years ago, I had once listened closely to the Totem Hawks.  I noticed your Primaluna amp can deliver about 35-45 wpc.  I have heard SongTowers driven by an AVA Ultravalve amp of 35 wpc, and it was enough to drive it adequately.  I expect the SCST to be similar in that regard.

As far as sensitivity goes, there is no standard way that different speaker makers measure sensitivity.  The SCST, Song3, Song-3A, and Totem Hawk all are said to have 88 dB sensitivity.  I can believe all the Salk sensitivity measurements are done similarly, but I cannot say that Totem measures sensitivity the same way.  It has been my experience that the Salk measurements of sensitivity are on the conservative side.  When I have done direct comparisons of my STs to other spea

I think the Hawks are less efficient than posted. For a small driver to go as deep as they do I think they're overstating. I've also seen reviews where people recommend a lot of power and I had a Peachtree Nova 220 with them originally and they sounded great with that as well. I think my pair is an older pair. I guess they've been around awhile and the drivers have been updated over the years. Anyway, I remember somewhere reading they were more like 85db efficient which seems more realistic. Still, for my music and listening the PL does pretty good with them so anything more efficient will be a bonus.

From my own experience, I couldn't agree more with you about the advantages of buying speakers from an internet direct manufacturer, especially Salk.  Furthermore, Jim Salk's custom veneer finishes make my speakers better looking than any furniture I own.  I spent about $175 extra for a ropey curly cherry veneer.  (That cost less than FedEx shipping.)  If your wife is at all reluctant about new speakers, get her involved in the veneer choice.  Jim is very good at helping people to decide on those choices, so I urge you to speak with him about that.

I've already had my wife help with the veneer selection  :wink: When I listened to the ProAcs and thought about the price and what the Salk speakers offer I couldn't help but think they truly are competing with speakers nearly double their cost at retail. I worked at an electronics store in the 90's. I know retail marks up audio stuff 40-60%, so I know the manufacturing cost is a fraction of the final cost. It's hard to pay full retail knowing this, which is why I generally always buy used or closeout stuff. Salk is a rare exception for me but I feel like I'm already getting a huge discount plus I get to customize the product to my taste. That's real value to me.

The footprint of the SCST's is primarily why I'm considering them vs the Song3's, but I think the Song3's will fit so that's probably where I'm leaning. Still not sure though.

konoyaro

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #8 on: 9 Nov 2017, 08:02 pm »
I'm in no major rush but would like to order something by the end of the year since I know it will likely take 3 months to receive them.
If you're on a particular schedule you might want to ask Jim about current lead times since they seem to be well beyond 3 months these days.
The "downside" of success I suppose...  :wink:

Big Red Machine

Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #9 on: 9 Nov 2017, 11:41 pm »
The supercharged are a great speaker if you shell out the coin. Far superior in many areas than the drivers of the 3's. If you want 3's I suggest 3A's. They are the absolute sweet spot between the drivers used and performance gained. The Encores do not float my boat as they seem a little out of balance in the bass area and I personally do not like that midrange. My opinion. The 3A is very well balanced and with several shows under the belt using Schiit electronics they have demonstrated their ability to fill a room with a full sound and minimal watts and expense.

You pay for the drivers with Salk - and get better performance moving up the chain. No magic in the crossovers or cabinets. You had the stupid good ST's so these will be all those and with a better tweeter and tighter bass.

I love the 3A's and if I had room for a pair I would buy them just to covet them.

abd1

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #10 on: 9 Nov 2017, 11:46 pm »
Very interesting development. On a whim I checked Craigslist for Salk and someone who lives 5 miles from me is selling a pair of SCST's with sonicaps in a brownish red finish. I'm headed there to check them out. Destiny?

DMurphy

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #11 on: 10 Nov 2017, 01:47 am »

As far as sensitivity goes, there is no standard way that different speaker makers measure sensitivity.  The SCST, Song3, Song-3A, and Totem Hawk all are said to have 88 dB sensitivity.  I can believe all the Salk sensitivity measurements are done similarly, but I cannot say that Totem measures sensitivity the same way.  It has been my experience that the Salk measurements of sensitivity are on the conservative side.  When I have done direct comparisons of my STs to other speakers, the Salks were always more sensitive, sometimes surprisingly so, considering what their rated sensitivities were.  As a result, I feel safe in guessing that the SCSTs might be more sensitive than the Hawks.


The ScanSpeak 5.5" Revelator woofer used in the Hawks has a rated sensitivity of 85.5 dB.  I think it's actually a tad higher, but there is no way you can get a sensitivity of 88 dB using that woofer.  And if the woofer were that sensitive, there's no way it could make it down to 32 Hz.   

Hydro

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #12 on: 10 Nov 2017, 02:59 am »
I noticed you are using a El-34 based integrated. The best my SCST's ever sounded was on a Van Alstine EL34 Dynaco rebuild. They are very efficient and the 35 watt was plenty of power. The tubes warmed up the lower midrange, which seems a little thin compared to the HT-2's. I now use one SCST as my center channel in my AV set up. Works great there. I would be interested in how well your amp drives them in triode mode with only 16 watts.

abd1

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #13 on: 10 Nov 2017, 03:47 am »
Very interesting development. On a whim I checked Craigslist for Salk and someone who lives 5 miles from me is selling a pair of SCST's with sonicaps in a brownish red finish. I'm headed there to check them out. Destiny?

So I checked out the SCST's. It was so nice to hear Salks again! This was my first time hearing the RAAL tweeter. So sweet and airy. Last week I was able to listen to some brand new Focal Kanta speakers. These reminded me a lot of the Kanta's with less bass. They just had such a smooth, refined sound. The only thing lacking was the bass. It was tight and defined, but lacked the weight I want, probably due to the smaller drivers. The owner also said his room wasn't great for bass, and I agree. It was a large open living room/kitchen/dining area. I think I'm going to call Jim tomorrow and talk about some options. I think if the Song3's get better bass, which I'm thinking they should with the larger driver, then I'm headed that way.

Big Red Machine

Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #14 on: 10 Nov 2017, 09:44 am »
Good call. The Kanta, at $10k, is not a very good speaker. It tries to be a scaled down Sopra but does not pull it off imo. It sports a very cool look driven by the manufacturing process they use. But for the money it is way overpriced compared to anything from Salk that will sound better than a Kanta.

abd1

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #15 on: 10 Nov 2017, 04:02 pm »
Good call. The Kanta, at $10k, is not a very good speaker. It tries to be a scaled down Sopra but does not pull it off imo. It sports a very cool look driven by the manufacturing process they use. But for the money it is way overpriced compared to anything from Salk that will sound better than a Kanta.

I have minimal experience listening to $10k speakers so hearing the Kantas was a treat for me even though I'd likely never buy them. I could see where they're using a combo of parts from other lines, other than the cabinets, which I could see being a love/hate thing for many people. I was impressed with how they filled the large room I was in and how smooth and detailed the tweeter was. That being said my impression of the SCST's is that they had the same smoothness and detail and sounded very similar to the $10k speakers, just on a smaller scale in the bass. I wouldn't be surprised if you had these speakers side by side in the same room with the same electronics that you wouldn't think the Focals cost almost 3X as much as the SCST's.

JLM

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #16 on: 10 Nov 2017, 04:22 pm »
Late to the party, but it allows me to steer it back onto topic...

Jim and his wife are great people and they're not too far from me, but I'm not a big Salk fan as:
1.) The drivers in the lower priced speakers don't blend to my (and others) ear (perhaps due to using design by committee);
2.) I'm a long time TL fan (Fried), but can't imagine how 2 drivers at different points along the line can work correctly;
3.) I'm not a MTM fan either because I don't want to be locked in height wise to avoid phase issues (as I've heard before);
4.) His Fried tribute speaker would have made Bud roll over in his grave (some design aspects were downright anti-Fried);
5.) His finishes would put my solid cherry furniture to shame.   :oops:

You guys need to spell out abbreviations!  Along with nested drop-downs on the Salk site it took me half an hour to figure out that SCST stood for SuperChargedSongTower. 

I'd vote the SCST off the island (MTM using small misplaced woofers in a TL cabinet for in-room use) and speak with Jim regarding Song 3 vs. 3A, either of which should integrate drivers better and therefore image better.  And as you say, one larger dedicated woofer should be able to fill your overall space better.  And the quality of drivers in the Song 3/3A would be hard to beat (impressive content value).

Paret

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #17 on: 10 Nov 2017, 04:35 pm »
 :De
I own two sets of SS-10's, the HT-2TL and SCST's, heard the Song3A's and Song3Encors at RMAF. The SS-10's and HT-2TL's are truly great speakers and blow the SCST's away in every respect. I run my tube amp system on the HT-2TL's and they sound great, if they weren't so big I would recommend them. The Song3A's sound very much like the SS-10's but are more efficient. I didn't notice the lack of bass at all in the room at RMAF. One set of my SS-10 are in a dedicated listening room with sound treatment, the other in my living room which is pretty live. Two completely different environments and two completely different sounds, both engaging. At your price range it would be hard to find a better speaker than the Song3A's. You might have to augment the bass with a sub if you like to feel the kick, but the type of music you mentioned they should be fine.

I can testify to Hydro’s setups since I’ve been there more than once.  Systems are great and he is an even greater gentleman.

As far as Salk’s I own a pair of Songtowers and ordered a pair of Sog3A that are now about 65% complete.

I don’t think there is a better value for the money out there. 

All the best,

Luis D. Paret
Keller, TX

rshorb.in.pa

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #18 on: 11 Nov 2017, 03:06 pm »
I would have to agree with what others are saying about the Song 3-A's there the best bang for your buck out there. Mine are about 3 months old and I can't list a single fault with them.

Roninaudio

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Re: SCST vs Song3 vs Song3-A
« Reply #19 on: 11 Nov 2017, 04:09 pm »
For a guy who is shopping speakers and was hoping to pop for ST RTs, you guys are really starting to threaten my budget.  The first inkling I heard of these (3-A) was how dang good they sounded at RMAF....