Salk at Capital AudioFest

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oldmp3

Salk at Capital AudioFest
« on: 11 Jun 2010, 09:22 pm »
Some pictures from the Salk room at the Capital AudioFest in Rockville, MD.  I met Jim and Mary for the first time, and heard the new SoundScapes, an early prototype of which I heard at Dennis Murphy's home.  They sound even better than they look (the speakers that is...  :D)

SoundScapes, SongTowers, and AVA components


SoundScape and SongTower


SoundScape in a beautiful hand-rubbed finish, some reflections, the actual finish is flawless


Mary and Jim Salk


The Salk room with high ceilings, Jim at the controls


Capital Audiofest venue: Glenview Mansion, Rockville, MD



Mudslide

Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #1 on: 11 Jun 2010, 10:30 pm »
Ha haaaa...the Salks look GREAT in a mansion!   :D

Now, how do they sound in that barren room?  Hopefully those panels intercept a few of the reflections zinging around.

Phil A

Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #2 on: 12 Jun 2010, 12:51 am »
Ha haaaa...the Salks look GREAT in a mansion!   :D

Now, how do they sound in that barren room?  Hopefully those panels intercept a few of the reflections zinging around.

They sure do look great.  I plan to go there tomorrow

R Swerdlow

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Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #3 on: 12 Jun 2010, 02:41 am »
The sound in that enormous room was somewhat disappointing.  The floors were marble, and all the walls and ceiling were plaster.  It was very lively.

Jim found a large area rug which helped some, but there was still quite a lot of echo.

Every room in that place was quite different, so you never new what you were going to hear.

Nice pictures oldmp3, I'll post some more I took as soon as remember how to log on to Photoshop Online, but not tonight.

R Swerdlow

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Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #4 on: 12 Jun 2010, 10:57 am »
Here are a few more photos:
The reflective gloss finish:





Some AVA amplifiers, the FET valve Ultra+ 550 double die above, and Ultravalve below:





Some other speakers of interest, NOLA:
http://www.photoshop.com/accounts/7e53687d13c747d28ccec9a6980c7256/px-assets/15551f62e14541128b4bfec46aeadfcc

MBL
http://www.photoshop.com/accounts/7e53687d13c747d28ccec9a6980c7256/px-assets/c992cfcc49f94846a37474ae10c822b5

And one of visual (only) interest:
http://www.photoshop.com/accounts/7e53687d13c747d28ccec9a6980c7256/px-assets/035deb88387e446189f7ccc2baad543c

YG Acoustics sounded nice (Scan-Speak woofer was good, but not the ring radiator tweeter)
http://www.photoshop.com/accounts/7e53687d13c747d28ccec9a6980c7256/px-assets/0949446438df4c98acd9fea1cba121b9

Of interest were the Joseph Audio speakers (note all the SEAS drivers):
http://www.photoshop.com/accounts/7e53687d13c747d28ccec9a6980c7256/px-assets/ec4eaa7849e245fabd7389bfb0c55ead

http://www.photoshop.com/accounts/7e53687d13c747d28ccec9a6980c7256/px-assets/bf21ecb5a7ba4316aadd83931f755414

http://www.photoshop.com/accounts/7e53687d13c747d28ccec9a6980c7256/px-assets/9c6cda5ef0594564b3ce21e53b0bd4fa

They sounded good, but the small 2-way was $7,000  :o :o,
the larger 3-way was $28,000  :o :o :o,
and even the more modest MTM was $4,500  :o

It just goes to show the great value of Salk speakers
« Last Edit: 13 Jun 2010, 05:41 pm by R Swerdlow »

Big Red Machine

Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #5 on: 12 Jun 2010, 11:30 am »
Look like Jim's personal pair of ST's from his living room.

charmerci

Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #6 on: 12 Jun 2010, 01:06 pm »
The venue looks really nice but acoustically it doesn't seem to me to be very good.

Big Red Machine

Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #7 on: 12 Jun 2010, 01:19 pm »
The venue looks really nice but acoustically it doesn't seem to me to be very good.

It's a shame isn't it that beauty and performance do not often go hand in hand. 

And at least WE know the SS's look and sound great.

HAL

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Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #8 on: 12 Jun 2010, 02:38 pm »
That is the back of my head in the one picture! :)

Jim and Mary have a nice setup.  The room treatments were helping! 

I came back a few times to listen to the Soundscapes.  Heard the prototypes at Dennis' GTG awhile back.    I would rank them as one of the best sounding setups I heard.


newzooreview

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Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #9 on: 12 Jun 2010, 08:47 pm »
I just got back from the show and had the pleasure of meeting Jim and Mary for the first time and seeing Dennis again after I auditioned the prototype HT1-TLs at his place last year. He didn't know that I had bought them a week or so after hearing them at his house. And yes, I still love them!  :thumb:

This was the first audio show that I've been to, and the variability and challenges of room acoustics are horrific.  :o Jim told me that they priced out the installation of some drapes around the rear wall, but that was simply too expensive. The large green rug was a $100 acquisition with the help of the show organizer. Even after the treatments the room's high ceilings and plaster walls gave it a somewhat cavernous sound. The fantastic depth and width of the soundstage produced by the SongTowers and the SoundScapes was very evident and impressive: nothing that I heard at the show was comparable.

Jim was playing the SongTowers with an AVA Ultravalve amplifier, and during one of my visits to the room a fellow asked to confirm his assumption that it was the SoundScapes that were playing. He was somewhat surprised to know that it was the SongTowers. They were producing very good bass in the large room: I've seen a number of questions here about whether the SongTowers would suit a large room, and at the show that did not seem to be an issue at all.

The volume was also plenty loud. The AvaStar preamp was at 9 o'clock almost all of the time and 10 o'clock was definitely louder than I would want it for an extended period. The rest of the setup included a music server streaming by WiFi to a SqueezBox that was connected by Coax to the AVA Vision DAC. Jim was running this by iPhone Remote (or another iPhone app?). The Vision DAC also had a CD player connected to its second coax input. I think it was a Denon--likely a solid transport mechanism that served the need well. Everything was plugged into a power strip of the Radio Shack variety.

One thing I noticed was that the volume control on the AvaStar remote was a bit zippy: it tended to ramp up and down quickly and took a practiced touch to increment with any precision. I'm thinking of getting an AvaStar, so I'll have to ask AVA if they can make a remote with a lower velocity on the adjustment.

The sound with the UltraValve and the Songtowers was excellent. The room was definitely a limiting factor (as it was throughout the old mansion), but it was still evident that there was musical reproduction happening to a very high standard. Jim let me play a CD I had brought of Oscar Peterson's "We Get Requests". It sounded terrific, and Jim wanted a link to it:

http://www.firstimpressionmusic.com/product_p/limk2hd032.htm

They have a number of really nicely remastered and pressed discs. Pricey, but they seem to put a lot of care into improved mastering and pressing. I've liked everything I've purchased from them. Jazz At The Pawn Shop is another excellent disc of theirs.

I heard some pretty disappointing sound in a number of the rooms at the show, and the ones that had good things going on (the Fibonacci room was pleasant) were not as balanced and complete as the sound in the Salk room in my view: they all had fairly evident flaws.

One noteworthy flawed but interesting room was home to a couple of Dr. Seuss horn speakers that swooped down at me from left and right. They were playing Ella and Louis, Again, and the midrange clarity and detail was wonderful and lifelike: except for a very pronounced, hissing sibilance. Dennis commented on the same thing, but the fellow in the room when I was there who had a Motorola Bluetooth mobile phone headset embedded in his left ear didn't seem to hear anything wrong.  :scratch:

Jim and Dennis were playing the SoundScapes with the AVA FetValve Double Ultra+ 550. The speaker efficiency went down and the amplifier power went up leaving the volume knob at about 9 o'clock still. As happy as a person would be with the Songtowers, she would be happier still with the SoundScapes. As I said above, however, the room was a major factor in limiting a full and fair comparison.

I hope that the show is held again next year, but perhaps at a venue that better lends itself to the exhibitors being able to treat the rooms adequately. It would also be nice if a couple of the more aggressive exhibitors weren't there, but the majority were friendly and professional.

Also, I missed the opportunity to purchase some magic power cables this time at a show discount. The cables had engineered both the words "mega" and "power" into their name and the cable manufacturer was disappointed to hear that I liked the Salk room best because he hadn't been able to loan any cables to them since the AVA equipment was magic-proofed. (Frankly, I've heard some differences between power cables, but I haven't yet heard $500 worth of difference and I've been happy with my $12 Volex for a while now).
« Last Edit: 12 Jun 2010, 10:11 pm by newzooreview »

mix4fix

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Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #10 on: 13 Jun 2010, 02:51 am »
I was at Capital Audiofest; and I liked the Song Tower speakers.

Phil A

Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #11 on: 13 Jun 2010, 12:39 pm »
Yes, they were beautiful to see in person too

DMurphy

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Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #12 on: 13 Jun 2010, 11:51 pm »
Well, we just broke camp and Jim and Mary rode off into the sunset (literally).   That "room" worked out better than I expected.  Once we learned what kind of program material would work, I think we got some really impressive sounds out of the SoundScapes.  There were literally  oohs and aaahs, and I think Jim lined up enough SongTower sales to make the trip a freebie for them.  And special hats off to Frank for his Ultravalve 70.  35 pc tube watts filled that cavern with sound.    And also  thanks to Jim and Mary for the lobster dinner, even if that's not quite what we ordered.   When a waiter smiles a lot and doesn't say anything, maybe he doesn't speak English.  Great lobster, though.   

newzooreview

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Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #13 on: 14 Jun 2010, 12:01 am »
Well, we just broke camp and Jim and Mary rode off into the sunset (literally).   That "room" worked out better than I expected.  Once we learned what kind of program material would work, I think we got some really impressive sounds out of the SoundScapes.  There were literally  oohs and aaahs, and I think Jim lined up enough SongTower sales to make the trip a freebie for them.  And special hats off to Frank for his Ultravalve 70.  35 pc tube watts filled that cavern with sound.    And also  thanks to Jim and Mary for the lobster dinner, even if that's not quite what we ordered.   When a waiter smiles a lot and doesn't say anything, maybe he doesn't speak English.  Great lobster, though.

Cool. I thought I saw a couple of very purposeful visitors to the room. I'm glad that it all might have worked out for Jim.

What material did you settle on to make the most out of the cavern?

Nuance

Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #14 on: 14 Jun 2010, 12:09 am »
Looking at the picture of the SongTower's next to the SoundScape, I notice the tweeter is higher on the SS's.  Is that an intentional design; requiring the midrange driver to be at ear level instead of the tweeter?  Also, concerning the SongTower's, the listeners ear level should be at the tweeter height, no?  I just want to be sure.

Forgive me if this question was already asked and answered previously.

fsimms

Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #15 on: 14 Jun 2010, 02:06 am »
Newzooreview, thanks for the link.  I was able to download some pretty fine samples from that site.  Some of their stuff seems a bit pricey though.  $160 for the Jazz at a Pawnshop double high def CD!

Bob

jsalk

Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #16 on: 14 Jun 2010, 03:07 am »
Somewhere in rural Pennsylvania...

Just a quick note to thank everyone who took the time to visit us at Capital Audiofest.  We had a great time and met some great people.  It was especially nice to meet area owners in person.  After you communicate via emails or phone calls for a while, you start to get the feeling you know someone.  Meeting them in person at an event like this is really enjoyable.

Thanks to Dennis for all his help and his wonderful hospitality.  Dennis prepared a great meal for us Thursday evening.  Thanks to Richard and Bonnie Swerdlow for the great Thai meal on Friday evening.  Saturday, Dennis and I ordered pike mouse in lobster sauce at a great small French restaurant.  We were served lobster instead.  I don't know how that happened, but when we explained to the waiter that lobster was not what we ordered, he smiled as if to say, "good, isn't it!"  And, of course, it was.

Thanks, too, to John Fallows of our staff who flew out on the spur of the moment and helped us get packed for the return trip.  He just couldn't pass up the swap meet on Sunday morning and we're hauling the spoils back with us.

As for the venue, the room was indeed a major challenge.  Thanks to Gary Gill, organizer of the event, for lining up a large rug that covered most of the floor.  It helped quite a bit, but it could only do so much.  By Sunday, we had figured out which musical selections excited room modes and avoided those cuts as much as possible.  Too bad no one heard how good the SoundScapes could be in a decent room.  But I think most people who heard them at least got a good hint of what they might offer.

The room, although large, was much better suited to the SongTowers since they did not produce the deep bass that really excited room modes.  So we tended to play them more often.

All and all, even though it was a last-minute decision to attend the show, I am glad we did.  We had a great time with great friends, old and new.  And that made the trip all worthwhile.

Thanks again to everyone who made us feel right at home in DC.

- Jim

DMurphy

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Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #17 on: 14 Jun 2010, 05:30 pm »
Looking at the picture of the SongTower's next to the SoundScape, I notice the tweeter is higher on the SS's.  Is that an intentional design; requiring the midrange driver to be at ear level instead of the tweeter?  Also, concerning the SongTower's, the listeners ear level should be at the tweeter height, no?  I just want to be sure.

Forgive me if this question was already asked and answered previously.

To answer the easy question first, yes--you should listen to the ST's on the tweeter axis.  The two woofs will start to cancel each other in the upper midrange if you don't.  Ideally, the tweeter probably should be a little higher, but there's only so much you can do in an MTM without making the cabinet too tall for the width--both from an aesthetic and stability standpoint. 

And ideally, the tweeter should be a little lower on the SoundScape.  Again, aesthetics come into play.  But the SS's are much less sensitive to listening axis than an MTM.  Nothing horrible will happen if your ears happen to end up at the bottom of the tweeter or a little lower.  A little dip will start to develop at the crossover point, but I think it would only be audible on pink or white noise. 

floresjc

Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #18 on: 14 Jun 2010, 05:36 pm »
Jim or Swerd -

Was the Thai meal courtesy of Thai Basil in Chantilly? I know its a fair ways from Swerd's house, but it is well known across the country for having great Thai food (it was also featured on Food Network).

ricmon

Re: Salk at Capital AudioFest
« Reply #19 on: 14 Jun 2010, 07:09 pm »
I just got back from the show and had the pleasure of meeting Jim and Mary for the first time and seeing Dennis again after I auditioned the prototype HT1-TLs at his place last year. He didn't know that I had bought them a week or so after hearing them at his house. And yes, I still love them!  :thumb:

This was the first audio show that I've been to, and the variability and challenges of room acoustics are horrific.  :o Jim told me that they priced out the installation of some drapes around the rear wall, but that was simply too expensive. The large green rug was a $100 acquisition with the help of the show organizer. Even after the treatments the room's high ceilings and plaster walls gave it a somewhat cavernous sound. The fantastic depth and width of the soundstage produced by the SongTowers and the SoundScapes was very evident and impressive: nothing that I heard at the show was comparable.

Jim was playing the SongTowers with an AVA Ultravalve amplifier, and during one of my visits to the room a fellow asked to confirm his assumption that it was the SoundScapes that were playing. He was somewhat surprised to know that it was the SongTowers. They were producing very good bass in the large room: I've seen a number of questions here about whether the SongTowers would suit a large room, and at the show that did not seem to be an issue at all.

The volume was also plenty loud. The AvaStar preamp was at 9 o'clock almost all of the time and 10 o'clock was definitely louder than I would want it for an extended period. The rest of the setup included a music server streaming by WiFi to a SqueezBox that was connected by Coax to the AVA Vision DAC. Jim was running this by iPhone Remote (or another iPhone app?). The Vision DAC also had a CD player connected to its second coax input. I think it was a Denon--likely a solid transport mechanism that served the need well. Everything was plugged into a power strip of the Radio Shack variety.

One thing I noticed was that the volume control on the AvaStar remote was a bit zippy: it tended to ramp up and down quickly and took a practiced touch to increment with any precision. I'm thinking of getting an AvaStar, so I'll have to ask AVA if they can make a remote with a lower velocity on the adjustment.

The sound with the UltraValve and the Songtowers was excellent. The room was definitely a limiting factor (as it was throughout the old mansion), but it was still evident that there was musical reproduction happening to a very high standard. Jim let me play a CD I had brought of Oscar Peterson's "We Get Requests". It sounded terrific, and Jim wanted a link to it:

http://www.firstimpressionmusic.com/product_p/limk2hd032.htm

They have a number of really nicely remastered and pressed discs. Pricey, but they seem to put a lot of care into improved mastering and pressing. I've liked everything I've purchased from them. Jazz At The Pawn Shop is another excellent disc of theirs.

I heard some pretty disappointing sound in a number of the rooms at the show, and the ones that had good things going on (the Fibonacci room was pleasant) were not as balanced and complete as the sound in the Salk room in my view: they all had fairly evident flaws.

One noteworthy flawed but interesting room was home to a couple of Dr. Seuss horn speakers that swooped down at me from left and right. They were playing Ella and Louis, Again, and the midrange clarity and detail was wonderful and lifelike: except for a very pronounced, hissing sibilance. Dennis commented on the same thing, but the fellow in the room when I was there who had a Motorola Bluetooth mobile phone headset embedded in his left ear didn't seem to hear anything wrong.  :scratch:

Jim and Dennis were playing the SoundScapes with the AVA FetValve Double Ultra+ 550. The speaker efficiency went down and the amplifier power went up leaving the volume knob at about 9 o'clock still. As happy as a person would be with the Songtowers, she would be happier still with the SoundScapes. As I said above, however, the room was a major factor in limiting a full and fair comparison.

I hope that the show is held again next year, but perhaps at a venue that better lends itself to the exhibitors being able to treat the rooms adequately. It would also be nice if a couple of the more aggressive exhibitors weren't there, but the majority were friendly and professional.

Also, I missed the opportunity to purchase some magic power cables this time at a show discount. The cables had engineered both the words "mega" and "power" into their name and the cable manufacturer was disappointed to hear that I liked the Salk room best because he hadn't been able to loan any cables to them since the AVA equipment was magic-proofed. (Frankly, I've heard some differences between power cables, but I haven't yet heard $500 worth of difference and I've been happy with my $12 Volex for a while now).

My impression like other was that the sound was disappointing.  But what gets me is that other rooms with similar challenges had better sound.  I must admit that the Salk speakers just didn't rise to the level I had anticipated.  what I'm getting at is that even thought others vendors complained about the bright rooms (Grape Vine Audion for one and btw had one of the BEST sounding rooms at the show) you could still gauge the potential of the speaker leaving you with the impression there was more to gain from them.  The Salks just didn't have that effect on me.