I’ve had my SS8’s for a bit over a week now, and figured I’d post some of my general impressions thus far. First thing I’ve decided (which I already ‘knew’) is that I need a new amp. Don’t get me wrong, my Luxman 505u (140 wpc into 4 ohms) sounds great at lower levels, but if I really try to crank it up, things start to deteriorate. It’s not bad, just not as coherent as at lower volumes. I didn’t experience this with my HT1-TL’s or the Songbirds, but I never tried to play them really ‘loud’. The SS8’s seem to be able to take as much power as you can throw at them. While bass is there down to ‘subwoofer’ levels, my sense is I’m missing out on all that’s available, due to the limited power reserves I have with the Lux. I just don’t have the amp to tap all the resources of the speakers. Anyway, enough of that.
Speakers are about 2 feet out from the wall (as far out as I can get them in my room), and spaced about 7 ½ feet apart. My listening position is 12’ away. I don’t have any room treatments at this point (we are renting) and will wait until we buy a house later this year before I invest in some.
My system is composed of the aforementioned Luxman, a Bel Canto DAC 2.5, an Apple TV, Emotiva ERC-2, and a Rega RP1. Most of my listening has been via streamed music from my iMac. Interconnects are Nordost Blue Heaven, vintage Kimber PBJ’s (circa 1995!) and speaker cables are custom made by BRM.
Most of my critical listening is done with the amp’s volume control around 9 o’clock. I’ve also done most of my listening with the ‘transparent’ tweeter/mid back grilles on vs. the ‘solid’ ones. With the transparent grilles I also seem to prefer the tweeter/mid only slightly stuffed with damping material. When listening with the solid grilles, the sound is much more of a traditional speaker, while the ‘transparent’ grille gives a sense of an open baffle speaker. I don’t think imaging suffers too much with the transparent grille, but the sound is more focused with the solid grille in place. I think if I had more room to move the speakers into the room the sound would be even better.
So far, I’d have to say these are phenomenal speakers. They are a true full range speaker, exactly what I’ve been looking for. Midrange and treble are both fantastic. The best way I can characterize the treble is smooth, uncolored, and unfatiguing, just what I expected with the RAAL. I think it’s ‘just right’, not recessed or forward in any way. What is in the source material is what you get. Same for the mids; which are expansive and detailed. Bass is never overbearing, though as I mentioned above I think I’m missing some due to the limitations of my amp. On most music it’s almost as if I’m in a HT setting with surround speakers as the sound is so enveloping. On some tracks I even ‘hear’ music behind me!
I’ve heard so much more detail in music that’s very familiar to me than I’ve ever heard before, with any speaker, and with this amp and DAC combo I’ve had the Salks mentioned above, Harbeth SHL-5’s, and Vivid 1.5’s. . These speakers outperform them all, and by a huge margin.
So, I will be selling my Lux and looking for a more powerful amp (maybe one of Frank’s Synergy 450’s?) and probably a tube pre to throw in the mix.
At this point I can honestly say the SS8’s are the best audio purchase I’ve ever made, and the best speaker I’ve ever owned.