Well, it's been a long road, but it's finally finished. Jeff Meier came by and calibrated the Audio today.
This is not a Nuance "My Quest..." story. (Not nearly that good.)
I first contacted Jeff on July 7, 2009 regarding my desire to engage his consulting services on upgrading my 10 year old A/V system. I felt an open appeal to opinion in on-line forums not an effective way for me to get to my final goal, and Jeff (from forums and replies of those who use his services) seemed to be a place to start. After a few initial communications, I felt enough rapport to lock into one source for my upgrade.
I liked the fact that he did not sell anything other than calibration services. And, his opinions were based on personal experience with a variety of A/V gear – from modest $2K or so installations to what he has described as a half-million on audio alone. That, and 200+ calibrations per year.
I was already settled on a Pioneer 141FD display (after 2 years of AVS immersion), and he concurred. After that, anything was open for the audio gear. Jeff provided me a library of resources of equipment for a variety of budgets and listening conditions. I still had to do the research and adjust (as it turned out, continually upward) my budget. (My decision, not Jeff’s encouragement.)
In the middle of Jeff’s speaker recommendations were a variety of Salk speakers. I had heard some listed below the Salks and perhaps one listed above, so I asked Jeff for more information. Jeff is really high on Salk speakers – for quality, for performance and for value. Jeff is big on value, even with his 5 figure recommendations. Today, he stated that Salk is his number one recommendation for most installations, with the HT3s being his favorite while still being extremely high on all the other models. So, Jeff put me in touch with Jim. For the first time in my life, I proceeded with purchasing speakers unheard. And for me, expensive speakers.
I probably don’t need to tell anyone here about the wonderful experience working with Jim (and his seemingly unlimited patience and desire to please). And the final product far exceeded my expectations. Or anything I had ever heard before. Thank you, Jim (from me AND Julie)!
So, time went on and I began to assemble equipment. Jeff calibrated the panel in December 2009 while Julie occupied herself outside. We watched regular HD TV that night, and she was amazed at the difference. Subtle, mind you, but significant over time. Certain familiar scenes – perhaps local news – had much more balance color and a certain naturalness that was difficult to articulate – other than it seemed “natural”. Movies had a more “film-like” quality, for lack of a better reference.
Over time, the rest of the equipment arrived, including the Pièce de résistance, the HT3s and HTC which arrived last month.
As good as they have sounded over the last month, they are absolutely incredible after calibration. Jeff spend about 3 hours working with the calibration. While most would consider $10K worth of microphones adequate, Jeff insists that the human ear still needs to enter the equation. So, we had a couple iterations of instruments and human ear before things seemed zeroed in to him. And I heard music as I have not before. The balance and openness were immediately there. The soundstage was good, but being a multi-purpose room, limited by what we are willing to do. The room is a bit “live”, but we are not finished with rugs, tapestries, etc. The nice thing about Jeff is he gives you alternatives to acoustical panels (although he uses them in his own dedicated theater).
I’m going to include a picture or two. I knocked my Nikon D1x from a tripod, so it’s getting serviced. The point and shoot is exactly that. The center housing equipment consists of two carts. We had commissioned Jim to design a media console to compliment the speakers. Just as we had finalized the design, the economy affected my bonus so we had to ask that he put that on hold for a year. So, please ignore the carts. And, on my computer screen, the speakers look like crap. When I get the Nikon back and can take a tripod picture without flash and attempt to capture their beauty, I will do so. In the mean time, this will have to do.
Salk HT3s and HTC, powered by a McIntosh MC303
Martin Logan Descent i Subwoofer
OPPO BDP-83 Blu-Ray
Comcast HD DVR
Also in the picture – Anthem MCA 20 for the rears
Klipsch KS-525-THX surrounds
Second Martin Logan Descent i Subwoofer
The music today has been wonderful. We can now begin viewing Blu Rays. The adjustments Jeff made on the center channel should make speech much more intelligible. (Who knew we focus on consonants’ clicks and pops in the 1K to 3K hertz range and the vowels are a bit lower?)
Good luck to you all of you on your individual projects. You are already far ahead of the game with Salk products.