Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review

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Kwebb

Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« on: 27 Dec 2020, 05:06 am »
It has been a while since I have posted, not because I have not been audiophiling, but because I have been working too hard, too much, for too long, and haven’t had time to post.  I recently fixed this situation by retiring from full-time work and now pick and choose the projects that I get involved in wisely.

I started this audiophile hobby in 1969 when for Christmas, my parents gave me a Sound Design record player with speakers that had both a woofer and a tweeter (wow!!) I was all in from that day on, and I no longer cared about my huge Lionel train collection!

A few years later, in the ’70s, after saving my money, I bought a 35-watt Marantz stereo amplifier and a pair of Design Acoustic D 6 speakers. This system was great for the college dorm room, and it could throwdown loud, hard rock music. However, I also found out that the Marantz amp was powerful enough to blow the Design Acoustic speaker midrange drivers into oblivion.



It wasn’t till the mid-’80s that high-quality CD’s became the new standard! In 1985 I bought my first CD player and fed its output through an analog preamp to a 100 watt per channel analog stereo amplifier into a pair of Magnipan MG-1 speakers. This system was surprisingly good in its day and had the mystique of a flat panel speaker.



Since those days, I have has several other speakers and components but nothing spectacular, innovative, or remarkable to share with you.

In 2009 I discovered Salk Sound speakers and bought a pair of HT2’s. I was blown away by the sound quality and resolution of them.  I moved from the HT-2’s to the HR-3’s, then the SS8. And a few other pairs of bookshelf speaks along the way with several subwoofers sprinkled in. My last pair of Salk Sound SS8’s are pictured below:



Recently replaced my SS8’s with a new pair of Alta Audio FRM-2’s. To say the least, I was not overly impressed with the FRM-2’s.

After considering all options, I decided to buy a pair of Salk Sound Song3 Encores with the beryllium tweeters, Eton midrange drives, and the Satori 9.5” subwoofer in a rear-ported design. For simplicity purposes, I chose the black satin finish.  The image below is of my current system. You can see me in the reflection of the flat panel TV of me taking the picture posted here.



My two-channel system is comprised of the following component configuration:
•   Tube DAC – Primaluna EVO 100:
   Tube arrangement: QTY 4, Select Grade Golden Lion 12AU7 P (ECC82), and QTY 2 Phillips 5R4GYS (Holland).
•   Tube Preamp – Primaluna EVO 400:
   Tube arrangement: QTY 6 Tube, Select Grade Golden Lion 12AU7 P (ECC82), and QTY 2 Phillips 5R4GYS (Holland).
•   Power Amplifiers – One pair, AVA DVA SET 600 Mono-blocks, 600 watts per channel.
•   Component power cords – Anti-cables
•   Component Interconnects – Anti-cables
•   Speaker Wires – Anti-cables Bi-Wire
•   Speakers  – Salk Sound Song3 Encores, Bi-wired

Here is my assessment of this new system sound quality compared to Salk Sound SS8’s, and most recently, the Alta-Audio FRM-2’s.
Note: Everyone hears things differently and uniquely. The way I hear sound is not the same way that you hear the same sound. So, my impressions may not be the same as your impression when listening to the same component playing from the same source material.
To me, a speaker is judged to be a winner or loser primarily by the performance of the mid to high spatial frequencies. These middle to high frequencies are where spatial images are created if the frequencies are coherent enough to manifest spatial images (think of an acoustic hologram). Low frequencies are not as challenging to integrate coherently.

I configured my current system purposefully to take advantage of highly efficient speakers. The Alta Audio FRM-2's have 4-ohms impedance with 87.5dB sensitivity, the SS8's have 4-ohms impedance with 86dB sensitivity, and the Song3 Encores have 8-ohms impedance but with 88dB sensitivity. As you can see the Song3 Encores sensitivity is better and impedance is lower. I was anticipating that when the Song3 Encores were each driven by an AVA DVA SET 600-watt solid-state mono-block amp that they may reveal hidden details within music soundtracks and that is exactly what I am experiencing.

The combination of the pure tube analog DAC and Preamp with the AVA DVA SET 600-watt solid-state mono-block was a home run and a grand-slam home run when adding the Song3 Encores.

The Song3 Encore beryllium tweeter, combined with the Eaton midrange driver, presents the best integrated and coherent mid to high-end spatial frequency performance that I have ever experienced, by far. These Song3 Encores reveal hidden material and new instruments in recordings that I could not hear before in any of my other systems. This in part, is due to the resolution capabilities of the Eaton midrange drivers. The resolution and clarity of this combination of midrange driver and tweeter is nothing short of superb, sublime, and fully divine. The beryllium tweeters are more coherent than the RAAL tweeters as well, in my opinion.

The Song3 Encore speakers significantly outperformed the Alta Audio FRM-2 speakers on a side by side, head to head, comparison by a very large margin, As do the SS8's. The Song3 Encore speakers cost less than ½ the cost of the FRM-2’s, Beware of highly-priced speakers from big-name companies with big advertisement budgets. I learned my lesson.



I am very appreciative and grateful to have been able to own and listen to so many great components over the years (speaker, preamps, amp, source components, tubes, cables, etc.) My hats off to this industry and the pioneers and entrepreneurs who have devoted their lives to creating these wonderful products for so many of us to enjoy so immensely.

My deepest gratitude and thanks go to Jim Salk and his entire staff and consultants for designing and manufacturing the Salk Sound Song3 Encore speakers. These are the best speakers I have very heard. You are the reason this hobby so enjoyable and pleasurable.

Thank you, my hats off to you!

Kyle Webb
Engineer, Inventor, Product Developer

 
« Last Edit: 28 Dec 2020, 03:40 am by Kwebb »

Ice10

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Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #1 on: 27 Dec 2020, 03:55 pm »
Great review! I always envisioned that Salk, most likely something in the Song 3 series, would grace my living room so I read this with great interest. I hope you enjoy every second with them.

Kinger

Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #2 on: 27 Dec 2020, 06:28 pm »
Very nice write up.  Curious, were the SS8's located in the same space as your new Encores?  If so, could you potentially offer a sound comparison between the two?

**Edit** - Sorry, didn't see where you said this..............Here is my assessment of this new system sound quality compared to Salk Sound SS8’s, and most recently, the Alta-Audio FRM-2’s

So I guess my only question now is are the current speakers in the same room/location as the SS8's were?

Kwebb

Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #3 on: 27 Dec 2020, 06:59 pm »
Kinger,

The SS8's have a little more bass presence than the Encores. The Alta-Audio's had more than enough bass, but it didn't synergize well with the RAAL tweeter.

I forgot to add some important information to the review (which I will edit the review with this information) regarding the efficiency of the Song3 Encores and the results that this advantage produces.

Kyle


Kwebb

Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #4 on: 27 Dec 2020, 08:31 pm »
Kinger,

Yes, my SS8's and the Alta Audio FRM-2' speakers were located in the same place as the current Song3 Encores.

Sorry, I forgot to answer that question earlier.

Kyle

Dsaldivar

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Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #5 on: 27 Dec 2020, 09:47 pm »
Wow! What a nice way to share a passion for music and components.
Dan

Rocket

Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #6 on: 27 Dec 2020, 11:52 pm »
Hey Greg,

Thank you for the thoughtful review of the Song 3 Encore speakers. It was quite an interesting read as I've always wanted a pair of SS8's as I like their design and the accuton is my favourite midrange driver.  I've had HT2's and currently have a pair of HT3's and my backup speakers are Song 3's. 

In my experience retail speakers just can't compete with Jim's designs.

Cheers Rod

Kinger

Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #7 on: 28 Dec 2020, 12:33 am »
Kinger,

The SS8's have a little more bass presence than the Encores. The Alta-Audio's had more than enough bass, but it didn't synergize well with the RAAL tweeter.

I forgot to add some important information to the review (which I will edit the review with this information) regarding the efficiency of the Song3 Encores and the results that this advantage produces.

Kyle

That's interesting that you say the SS8's only offer a little more bass presence.  I would have thought the dual 8" drivers with two 12" passives would have been much more substantial than a single 9.5" in the Encore.  How large is your listening space if I may ask?

Kwebb

Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #8 on: 28 Dec 2020, 12:44 am »
Rod,

My room is 9' high by 16' by 16.5'. It's a big room.

the magic happens with 600-watt amps and 9.5" Satori, highly efficient, bass woofer drivers.

Kyle

Kinger

Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #9 on: 28 Dec 2020, 01:02 am »
Thanks Kyle.  I've had to move my setup down to the unfinished basement of my home so now instead of my ST's being in a 15' x 20' space that opens to a kitchen, I'm now in a 19' by probably 40' space and obviously there is some pretty big bass suckout happening.  Hence my thinking it may be time to upgrade here in the not too distant future.

MiamiAngler

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Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #10 on: 29 Dec 2020, 02:55 am »
Kwebb
I enjoyed reading your write up, I started a few years later in my audio quest.   I also had a pair of the MG1’s that looked just like yours and I enjoyed them through the 70’ s to 90’s. I purchased a pair of SALK Song 3 BEAT’s in 2019 and have been very happy with the results.

dB Cooper

Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #11 on: 29 Dec 2020, 03:37 am »
I also found out that the Marantz amp was powerful enough to blow the Design Acoustic speaker midrange drivers into oblivion.

Or perhaps not: I have been told by designers I respect (and seen in print) that as many speakers are blown from underpowered amps clipping than from being blown out by too much power.

Kwebb

Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #12 on: 9 Jan 2021, 03:37 am »
dB Cooper,

You are probably correct about the clipping as the root cause of the blown speakers!

Kyle

bwcarpe

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Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #13 on: 12 Jan 2021, 01:02 am »
I couldn't agree more.  I bought a pair of the Song3 Encores after hearing them 2 years in a row at RMAF.  They're amazing speakers!

Kinger

Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #14 on: 12 Jan 2021, 11:45 am »
Is your primary source of music movie scores Kyle or are there other genres you enjoy as well?

Kwebb

Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #15 on: 13 Jan 2021, 04:47 am »
Kinger,

I enjoy any form of music that sounds good. Recently I find myself listening to mellow folk music and piano music such as David Lanz more often than not. I enjoy creating playlists that synergize and compliment different musician's tracks. Amazon HD music streaming is very clean and a great source for discovering new artists and new material. I have a battery-powered laptop computer that I used as my streamer. All my music is ripped from CD to lossless FLAC format and fed into my analog tube DAC. I have all genres of music. If I hear something I like, I get the CD, rip it and listen to it. I watch movies and listen from a TosLink audio input to my DAC. The sound quality coming out of my Samsung TV is quite good. My wife enjoys the movie sound quality and sound imaging but at lower sound levels than I do.

Hope this explains what I like and what I do. This is a great hobby that lasts a lifetime and gets better over time.

All the best

Kyle
« Last Edit: 15 Jan 2021, 03:15 am by Kwebb »

uncola

Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #16 on: 13 Jan 2021, 09:42 am »
Wow I didn’t realize how radical the appearance of the Eton midrange was! 

Kinger

Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #17 on: 13 Jan 2021, 03:56 pm »
Kinger,

I enjoy any form of music that sounds good. Recently I find myself listening to mellow folk music and piano music such as David Lanz more often than no. I enjoy creating playlists that synergize compliment different musician's tracks. Amazon HD music streaming is very clean and a great source for discovering new artists and new material. I have a battery-powered laptop computer that I used as my streamer. All my music is ripped from CD to lossless FLAC format and fed into my analog tube DAC. I have all genres of music. If I hear something I like I get the CD, rip it and listen to it. I watch movies and listen from a TosLink audio input to my DAC. The sound quality coming out of my Samsung TV is really quite good. My wife enjoys the movie sound quality and sound imaging but at lower sound levels than I do.

Hope this explains what like and what I do. This is a great hobby that lasts a lifetime and just gets better over time.

All the best

Kyle

Thanks Kyle.  Much appreciated!

abd1

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Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #18 on: 15 Jan 2021, 04:49 pm »
Great post and review. I love seeing the photos of some of the products from your audiophile journey. Looks like you're a fan of Primaluna and Anti-Cables. I think they also great products especially considering their price to performance ratio. Enjoy.

bwcarpe

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Re: Salk Sound Song3 Encore Speaker Review
« Reply #19 on: 16 Jan 2021, 02:18 pm »
10 Songs to Show Off Your Song3 Encores (Song Title / Album):  Only The Lonely / Best of Chris Isaak (Remastered) : The Facts About Jimmy / A Few Small Repairs (20th Anniversary Edition) : This Love Is Over / God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise : Mercy Street / So (2012 Remastered) : Familiar / Citizen of Glass : If I Could / Burning In The Sun : Heart Is A Drum / Morning Phase : I Can't Make You Love Me / Luck of the Draw : Little Person / Weltentraum : My One And Only Love / Remember Love

Should be able to find all of these on Tidal.  They are all well recorded and engineered and sound fabulous on my Salk's.

Cheers!