What I love most about my Salk HT1’s is the ability to capture the excitement of a performance. This is illustrated best by the LP trilogy “The Other Side of Midnight” by Linda Rhonstadt and Nelson Riddle. When Linda projects her voice out, it can knock you out of your chair. It is with some nervousness that I put on the “What’s New” LP from that trilogy on my new SoundScape 10’s. I have the “Lush Life” CD from that same set and play it on other speakers when I get the chance, but usually find the other speakers failing. It was with great relief I heard Linda really belt it out on the SS 10’s. Her voice was fleshed out more than I have ever heard. The background music was extremely real and three dimensional. The instruments were spread out behind her. The soundstage was very wide and deep. Glorious! With great excitement, I hurriedly dashed off a glowing email to AliG. Whether it is as dynamic as the HT1’s, I don’t care! It is certainly as close as I can tell.
After playing the LP “A New Album” by Mel Torme, I have said that the Salk SongTowers had a soundstage similar to being at a live concert. I said that the HT1’s give the impression that Mel was right there in front of you in the room. The SS10’s were similar to the HT1’s in that Mel was right there in front of you in your room, but the room was sitting on the stage! The walls surrounding the speakers vanish and the stage appears.
The bass starts at 18 Hz and starts pulling strong at 22 Hz. The bass has no fat, “thwapp” or fuzz. The bass is just like the midrange. It is just there with all the reality recorded.
The HT1’s, with my SVS sub and TACT crossover, isn’t nearly as clear or clean in the bass as the SS10’s were. I was surprised at how well my SVS sub held up in comparison. I guess it helps to have more power and sit on the sub. I will never use my sub with the SS10’s for music, but think they may work well with movies.
I listened to the SS10’s, without a sub, to the blu-ray movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. My inexpensive Panasonic digital 100 watt receiver shook the room. Still that was not really enough power. My McCormack 225 has enough power. Since my 225 has soft limiting, I don’t have any real concerns. I plan to keep the 225 but if I was to buy a new amp for my SS10’s then I would lean toward 400 watts to make sure that I had enough headroom. The SS12’s are more efficient so I think 200 watts would be more than sufficient.
The SS10’s have plate that is attached with magnets that can be taken off the back of the midrange chamber to project sounds back of the speaker on the room walls to add ambiance. Vandersteen and Von Schweikert sometimes do something similar with a separate midrange driver behind the speaker. The SS10’s worked much better at Jim Salk’s large home theater room than it has so far in my condo with the removable back off.
Because the SS10’s are so near my hard sheetrock back wall, I needed a good amount of dampening material in the midrange tunnel. Dampening material reduces the loudness of the ambiance and improves the tone of the ambiance wave. I didn’t have any poly fill, so I used small kitchen hand towels. This helped, but it will take me longer to figure how to optimize the ambiance best for my room. Luckily, I can use the back plate with the midrange chamber. With the back on, I have a conventional speaker that I know how to optimize.
Since am 64, I was not planning to make any comments about the tweeter but the RAAL is so clear, smooth and transparent that I can’t help myself. It is a wonderful addition to the Salk lineup.
Some people have said that they get listener fatigue listening to most speakers with Accuton midranges. I can and do listen all day to the SS10’s and I just want to listen more.
The SS10’s are extremely well built. The finish is a fine satin piano finish. The Top is very solid and has the feel of very high quality.
As you know, I have had a love affair with my HT1’s. Even though the SS10’s sound better in every way I have had resistance in falling in love with these speakers. The heart is slow to change. Luckily, the reverence that I give my HT1’s is finally moving to the SS10’s. I will miss my HT1’s. They have given me several years of wonderful excitement and great memories. If I kept them also, I know I would never want to use them now that I have my SS10’s. It is time for Jim to find them a good home.
PS. I made notes from day one so that I could cut and paste a review from my notes. I sure am glad I did it that way. As the SoundScapes have seeped into my soul over the last week, I have become dumb struck. I haven’t done all that I was planning to do for this review but words are useless in describing the SS10’s. I could probably quit listening to the speakers and recover, but what good would that serve. Maybe if I quit listening to LP’s and just listened to CD’s…….
EDIT: I added a part II and part III later in the thread after recovering.