SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter

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devine

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SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« on: 8 Feb 2009, 09:50 pm »
I've decided to buy a pair of STs but I can't decide between the standard dome tweeter and the upgraded ribbon tweeter for $700.

I've asked Jim and he felt that because I primarily listen to rock/hard rock he didn't think I would hear a difference (he didn't quite say it that way, I'm paraphrasing).

But, I currently have a pair of Magnepan 3.5Rs that I'm replacing because I've moved and the room is much too small for them.

I've read some different posts about the RTs but I haven't seen any direct comparison.

I would appreciate any feedback from people who have heard them side-by-side and can offer some pros/cons of the upgrade.  I know this is a personal decision, but is it worth the additional $700-750?

Thanks,
Dan
« Last Edit: 9 Feb 2009, 10:36 pm by devine »

carusoracer

Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #1 on: 8 Feb 2009, 10:00 pm »
Great first post and welcome to AC and the extended Salk family. Jim would be able to tell you the best, his comments are very subtle but he is a very good listener. In other words he gave you a pretty good answer.
If in your gut feelings you will always wonder what the sound was like with the ribbon then there is your answer. I have not heard the Song Tower versions side by side but I have heard the G2 ribbon in my HT3 and the LCY ribbon in the V3 and the Hiquphon in the Ellis 1801. It is a different presentation to my ears but I could live with either one but prefer the ribbon. It seems a little more natural IMHO only, especially coming from a Maggie.
Good luck! I had more trouble with the Veneer selection :lol:

MichiganMike

Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #2 on: 8 Feb 2009, 10:29 pm »
I listened to the SongTower QWT and the RT side by side in Jim Salk's home.  He was very gracious and helpful, but did not try to bias my decision.    My impression was Jim favored the ribbon tweeter, but he acknowledged this was a personal preference and some listeners preferred the dome tweeter. 

I opted for the SongTower QWT because I did not hear sufficient difference to justify the additional expense for the RT.  On the other hand, I was willing to spend more for a custom finish.  Both the QWT and the RT sounded very good to me.  The RT in its sweet spot provides additional definition and extension, but the dome tweeter offers exceptional off-axis response which was important to me in my listening room where friends outside the sweet spot often are enjoying the music.  In my opinion the blending of the Hiquphon dome tweeter and Seas drivers provides a wonderful synergy thanks to the collaboration of Jim Salk, Dennis Murphy (for his crossover magic), Paul Kittinger (for the transmission line cabinet design based on work of Martin King) and others involved in developing these speakers. 

Note that I am 55+ and my ability to hear high frequencies is declining, so those with golden ears may reach a different conclusion.  There are some trade-offs, but my speculation is that many listeners could be very happy with either version of the SongTowers.

DMurphy

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Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #3 on: 9 Feb 2009, 12:27 am »
Hi   If you really only listen to rock, I would save the $700.  There are 2 differences between the RT and 0W1 version.  If you listen to jazz or classical with lots of high energy percussion, such as cymbals and triangles, the ribbon does have a more extended feel--it's like someone had stretched out the sound of the 0W2, with less ssssssss and more air and delicacy.  But it's very dependant on program material.  Second, the ribbon has a little more fill in the crossover region.  That will be most noticeable on brass and massed string sound.  The 0W2 version, on the other hand, may have a little more impact on high energy material.   So--for rock--I think the 0W2 will do just fine.

MichiganMike

Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #4 on: 9 Feb 2009, 03:13 am »
DMurphy,
Thanks for sharing your insights on the differences between the RT and OW2 versions.  Very enlightening. 
Is there any difference between the performance of the OW2 tweeter and the OW4 tweeter upgrade in the QWT?  Is the crossover the same for these two tweeters?
Thanks.

ThorsHammer

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Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #5 on: 9 Feb 2009, 10:30 am »
I agree with Dennis. I have the ST with ribbons and they are tremendous with jazz, classical, strings, etc. Imho, this is where the extra $ show up...of course that is said without hearing the domes. The resolution of strings and brass instruments is really something. Rock and roll doesn't seem to have as much definition...but that is more the instruments and the way they are orchestrated than the speaker.

I was going for the maximum clarity, definition and separation I could find in the $3000 price range so the ST RTs and a Song Center were the best fit for me. If you are combining them for music and home theater you may want to add a sub for HT...but for music I don't feel you need one.

devine

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Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #6 on: 9 Feb 2009, 02:18 pm »
Thanks for the thoughtful feedback everyone.  I'm 90% sure I'm going to go with dome tweeters and will likely place my order today.

I'm also undecided about getting a Song Center.  In my HT past experience I found that too much sound is directed to the center and away from the left and right.  It seems like a waste to underutilize the STs when watching movies.  In fact, when I was using the Maggie 3.5s I didn't have a center and I didn't miss it.

For those of you using a center, do you feel that there is a good distribution across all the front speakers or do your (better sounding) left & right channels get underutilized?

DMurphy

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Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #7 on: 9 Feb 2009, 02:33 pm »
DMurphy,
Thanks for sharing your insights on the differences between the RT and OW2 versions.  Very enlightening. 
Is there any difference between the performance of the OW2 tweeter and the OW4 tweeter upgrade in the QWT?  Is the crossover the same for these two tweeters?
Thanks.


Hi  The crossovers are identical.  I can't hear any difference between the two tweets, although I think the 0W4 really does have a more time-consuming topical treatment on the dome.  Frankly, I think it's more a matter of aesthetics.  I kind of like the platinum look of the 0W4. 
« Last Edit: 10 Feb 2009, 05:27 pm by DMurphy »

Charles Calkins

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Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #8 on: 9 Feb 2009, 03:54 pm »
At the RMAF I asked Jim Salk the same question about Ribbon Vs. Dome. He said that depending on the music being played some people could hear a slight difference while others couldn't. Kind of a toss up. The Songtowers at the RMAF had Ribbon tweeters. They were driven by AVA gear and sounded GREAT!!!


                                                       Cheers
                                                       Charlie

fishinbob

Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #9 on: 9 Feb 2009, 05:28 pm »


For those of you using a center, do you feel that there is a good distribution across all the front speakers or do your (better sounding) left & right channels get underutilized?

I have the Songcenter with the RTs and am very happy with the sound for HT purposes. Though it is placed some 20 inches lower, I've tilted it upwards somewhat so that at my seating positions it isn't heard as such. It's nearly... dare I use the word, seamless. The clarity of the dialogue is there, without having to adjust the volume up and down to compensate for the loud effects we get in so many films, and that is a big plus for me. A phantom center may work for you but once your seated off axis, the dialogue may follow you and appear to come from either the right or left channel instead of the screen.

As for being underutilized that would be my center. We see maybe one Blu/DVD movie per day average and no TV, SACD or any of that yet. The mains get plenty of exercise though... providing that two channel bliss :thumb:.
« Last Edit: 10 Feb 2009, 01:58 am by fishinbob »

martyo

Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #10 on: 9 Feb 2009, 05:48 pm »
Hey fishin,

I really like the DVD (in 2 channel) of AKUS live you were listening to.  :thumb:

devine

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Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #11 on: 9 Feb 2009, 10:21 pm »
I've decided to wait on the SongCenter and just go with a pair of the SongTower QWTs for now.

I came across this post which has a response from Jim about the 60 degree off-axis response of the STs:
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=52983.0

Due to the size of my room and the furniture placement a phantom center should be fine.

Thanks again for the helpful responses!

KevinK

Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #12 on: 10 Feb 2009, 12:30 am »
I've decided to wait on the SongCenter and just go with a pair of the SongTower QWTs for now.

I came across this post which has a response from Jim about the 60 degree off-axis response of the STs:
http://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=52983.0

Due to the size of my room and the furniture placement a phantom center should be fine.

Thanks again for the helpful responses!

I ran my QWT's both with a lesser quality center and also phantom center for quite a while before opting for SongCenter.  The lesser quality center could not hold its own against the clarity and imaging of QWT's and we were often dissappointed with dialogue quality in particular.
The soundstage and imaging with the QWT's is amazing and phantom center was quite acceptable. 
Of course, the SongCenter really brought dialogue alive even more.  It really completes the package.

Nuance

Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #13 on: 10 Feb 2009, 02:56 am »
I am late to the party, but I listen to mostly rock and I have the SongTower Ribbons.  I've heard both, and the ribbons are superior.  I am a bit of an anal guy when it comes to this hobby, so if you're like me or have very good hearing/familiarity with music or playing instruments, get the ribbons.  The domes are spectacular, but the ribbons are even better.  You'll get that last 10% transparency and things will just sound more "right."  However, the ribbons are a trade-off as you'll lose some dispersion, and I don't know how the ribbons measure off-axis, but I assume they aren't as good as the domes.

Just my $0.02.  Whichever you go with, enjoy!

Gord_Toronto

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Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #14 on: 10 Feb 2009, 04:28 am »
I am late to the party, but I listen to mostly rock and I have the SongTower Ribbons.  I've heard both, and the ribbons are superior.  I am a bit of an anal guy when it comes to this hobby, so if you're like me or have very good hearing/familiarity with music or playing instruments, get the ribbons.  The domes are spectacular, but the ribbons are even better.  You'll get that last 10% transparency and things will just sound more "right."  However, the ribbons are a trade-off as you'll lose some dispersion, and I don't know how the ribbons measure off-axis, but I assume they aren't as good as the domes.

Just my $0.02.  Whichever you go with, enjoy!

Yeah, now I'm kind of torn.  I ordered my ST-RT's a couple of weeks ago.  I decided on the RT's for the superior sound quality, but it also a very large room and I know I'll have a lot of off axis listening for the open concept rooms.  I'm wondering how large or how small the sweet spot is with the Ribbons :scratch: :scratch:

fishinbob

Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #15 on: 10 Feb 2009, 05:38 am »
Yeah, now I'm kind of torn.  I ordered my ST-RT's a couple of weeks ago.  I decided on the RT's for the superior sound quality, but it also a very large room and I know I'll have a lot of off axis listening for the open concept rooms.  I'm wondering how large or how small the sweet spot is with the Ribbons :scratch: :scratch:

I wouldn't worry too much about the off axis response of the ribbons. I notice it somewhat vertically, but not horizontally. Like if I stand up from a relatively close position I can detect a drop in db but sitting off axis doesn't have as much of an effect, if any.

Bob
« Last Edit: 10 Feb 2009, 03:13 pm by fishinbob »

audiocrazy

Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #16 on: 10 Feb 2009, 04:06 pm »
Hi
This is my 1st post and I don't mean to intrude the post.
I'm still deciding whether to go with ST or the V3 and I've emailed Jim but have not heard back from him yet.
Let says if I go with ST RTs with standard veneer and was wondering how long it takes to get the speaker after ordering.
Sorry did not mean to hijack the thread. If the need be i can start a separate thread.
AM
« Last Edit: 31 Mar 2009, 04:11 am by audiocrazy »

DMurphy

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Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #17 on: 10 Feb 2009, 04:13 pm »
[[/quote]

I wouldn't worry too much about the off axis response of the ribbons. I notice it somewhat vertically, but not horizontally. Like if I stand up from a relatively close position I can detect a drop in db but sitting off axis doesn't have as much of an effect, if any.

Bob
[/quote]

You're going to hear that vertical difference with either the dome or the ribbon.  It's due to cancellation effects from the two woofers as their relative distance and flight times change when you stand up.  That's just a feature of MTM's.  It's not a big problem with the Song Towers becuase the woofers aren't all that far apart, and the crossover point is fairly low.  But you will hear it if you are fairly close (which exaggerates the the difference in the two woofer's flight time to the ear).

WerTicus

Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #18 on: 10 Feb 2009, 04:25 pm »
This must be the easiest choice ever, ribbons or nothing :P

jsalk

Re: SongTowers: Ribbon Tweeter vs. Dome Tweeter
« Reply #19 on: 10 Feb 2009, 05:58 pm »
AM -

I've emailed Jim but have not heard back from him yet.

I don't think I ever got your email.  Try again jimsalk@att.net.  That ought to get through.

Quote
Let says if I go with ST RTs with standard veneer and was wondering how long it takes to get the speaker after ordering.

In standard veneers, we are currently running about 30 - 45 days.

- Jim