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!
Engineer, Inventor, Product Developer