Which Salons? 1 or 2? Personally, I think time and phase coherence are just marketing hype. Some of the best speakers in the world are time and phase incoherent. My advice is just listen and choose that way.
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Sure the best thing is to listen to both, but chances are you'll like the Vandersteens better in your home. The dealer will use the many controls in the back to adjust your speaker for your room. Also, because the Vandersteens have their own bass amp, it permits your amp to loaf just on the mids and highs, therefore providing better sound.
I have heard both the original Revel's powered by all Levinson and Proceed gear (helped set up), as well as the Vandersteens. For me, it would be a no brainer for the 5A. The Revels always sounded like what most people term a very "accurate" speaker, but they had no soul. The Vandersteens took you to the music event and let the emotion also come through. Two excellent choices, but entirely different sounds (the runner up for the guy buying the Revel's were large Thiels).
No it means it has no warmth, accurate is good for some but cold and sterile to many others. You can also have accurate with warmth its all in how somebody voices a speakers I suppose.
I think the Revels sounded forward or harsh in midrange so maybe we heard same thing but worded it differently its not offensive but its there all the same.
All in all I think its looking pretty obvious the 5A is the one to get!
"So... Here's a question.
How many of you guys have really enjoyed a speaker that sounded amazing to you but on paper had poor measurements? Freq response, etc."
During a demo, I unfortunately have to answer - a lot. Exaggerated bass, especially, can sound great on some recordings or in some rooms, even though the measurements look bad on paper.
I'm guessing from the responses that 5A owners like to use the bass section controls as a tone control, and that's the source of the "soul".
I would look at the devore silverbacks as they are more efficient and steady at 8 ohm for tubes or solid state. They happen to be musical and not forward with great build quality .I have listed to the vandersteen a number of times and they really need great power to get the best performance out of them and I find if you use tubes on the mids and the bass has solid state it never seems to get it completely right .
I owned the original Salons for three years. I have only heard the Vandy 5A's once at a dealer and cannot express an opinion. Comments like those of Mcreyn are common about the Salons. I likewise thought the Salons lacked life and soul the first few times I heard them. The Salons are a very low-distortion, transparent design that are revealing of upstream components. They were typically demo'd with Madrigal gear, usually Levinson 300 series amps, which use a lot of negative feedback to control the circuit - the lack of life and soul that many people complain of with that speaker/amp combination is in large part the feedback, which unfortunately comes through very clearly on the Salons (check past threads - many people have commented upon how uninvolving they found Salons to be with Madrigal gear). After ignoring Salons for two years as a result, I then heard them with a new Madrigal design and I for the first time liked what I heard - so much so, in fact, that I bought a pair. I ran my Salons mostly with VAC Renaissance 140 monoblocks, which are Class-A biased, zero-feedback, triode tube amps. I felt like Dr. Frankenstein the first time I heard the combo - "It's alive!", I wanted to shout. My closest hi-fi friend ran his Salons with, first, the CAT JL-1 Limited Edition monoblocks, which are amazing tube amps, and then the darTZeel. Rest assured that the Salons most definitely show life and soul when run with equipment that does the same.
Another issue is that in today's used market, people can buy the original Salons for $5k-$6k and are running them with less than great gear. The Salons they are very good speakers and require high-quality upstream componentry.
Raquel, the negative feedback argument is so yesterday. If that were true, digital sources would always sound lifeless, because every IC op-amp circuit has negative feedback. And digital recordings don't always sound lifeless.
If there really are the audible differences you describe, it's much more likely because the tube amp produces a non-flat frequency response when confronted with the load of the speaker.
With regard to amplifiers, global feedback is indeed an issue and I ask whether you have heard no global feedback amps like DarTZeel or Ayre (or no-feedback tube designs). Rowland went with a no global feedback design with his new 625 stereo amp and there's a reason for it.
Regarding my VAC monoblocks, top-flight tube amps, with stiff power supplies and high-quality output transformers, basically function like a solid-state amp into a speaker, unless the speaker features wild impedance swings. The Salons do not and in my particular case, they measured basically flat in-room from 40 Hz. to 16 khz.
PS - To me, most digital sounds pretty lifeless.
I think, Raquel, you've been reading too much VAC marketing hype. To read the web sites from VAC, Atmasphere, etc you would think solid state amps have no bass definition, high distortion, that you can't hear acoustic decay or detail, and that it is impossible to create a great amp with feedback in the circuit design. That is all such silliness. I especially like the discussions about higher-order distortion that are at least 80db below the fundamental in solid state amps. I don't care what the tube amp hucksters say.
As for digital recordings all being lifeless, then you must be enamored with less bass, less highs, more noise and higher distortion. I don't see how you argue it any other way. The fact that analog sources and tube amps sound different is that they are *designed* to sound different. Look at the VAC web site - they "voice" their amps.
No, Irvrobinson, I don't need manufacturer ad copy to educate me about hi-fi equipment. With all due respect, you do seem to have bought what Japanese receiver manufacturers were saying back in '76 about the benefits of transistors and what Phillips and Sony have been saying about PCM digital since the early 80's.
I'll concede that digital measures better than analog by traditional measures, but I don't believe that they've figured out the right things to measure. I'll put a top-flight analog rig up against a top-flight digital rig any time.
As for my VAC amps being "voiced" to sound "different", I challenge you to find to a silicon output device that is more linear than a DHT 300B - you won't. And do you really want to put a $5,000 transistor amp up against a $28k triode tube amp? And Levinson?! Sound quality aside, why anyone would own a Madrigal amp after Harmon fired everyone in the Connecticut facility and what's become of the brand since is beyond me - the South American importer for Madrigal dropped the line after they started shipping him 336's with one channel having the 335 module and the other 334. I'm not reflexively anti-Madrigal and used to run a 37/360s, but come on.
You are not bothered by global feedback, even-order distortions, digititus, etc. - perfect sound forever. It suffices to say that we have vastly different understandings of what's important in a high-resolution two-channel system.
My reference to the Revel's being an "accurate" speaker refers to the type of sound it has, very flat and lifeless when I have heard it. You ask then can an inaccurate speaker sound good? That depends, how are you measuring?
Take the Revel and the Vandy 5A, both have a measured frequency response of about +-2 dbs from the 30-20,000 hz range when tested by quasi-anechoic means, and are by all means "accurate" speakers. Sit down and listen to them and you will hear two very different sounding speakers. Even variations of a couple of db's can significantly change how a speaker sound. Now add into that driver construction (different materials create their own sounds and resonances), phase response, and dispersion characteristics, and you can have two speakers that appear nearly identical on paper, but are far different in practice.
Measurements give us an idea of what a product sounds like, but we don't understand all the parameters that make up what we hear. The measurements are a good starting point. Speak with any audio designer (speakers included) and they will tell you subjective listening and voicing is a key factor in their designing of the product.
If you believe that measurements tell you everything, you should immediately run out and buy the cheapest CD/DVD player you can get, a cheap 100 watt receiver, and find the flattest measuring speakers that you can. It will save you a fortune and under that standard you will have a great system. For the rest of us, we found out a long time ago that one amplifier that puts out only .01% distortion can sound entirely different than another.
No, Raquel, I'm not thinking like back in the '70s... I'm thinking that the tube amp community needs to get off of the bogus negative feedback, high-order distortion, you-can't measure-it / you-don't-know-what-to-measure bs. Paraphrasing Einstein in this context is just silly; this is audio, not dark matter or the cosmological constant we're talking about. It just might be that the DHT 300B is indeed the best amp around, but I don't know since I haven't heard it. (And I probably won't, since I'm not interested in spending $28K on an amp.) I'm just questioning the arguments for why they must be better. I've heard some medium-nice tube amps (VTL, ARC) in one of my systems and, frankly, I never heard a difference (I was running Krells then), other than I could hear more hiss during idling from the Legacy Focus speakers I was using at the time. It's not that I think tube amps are so bad, I think the good ones are just as good for some speakers, I just can't hear the "it's alive" effect, and, frankly, I don't think it exists.
We completely agree on the Harmon International comments. The last time I bought a new Levinson component the CT facility was still open, and I doubt I'd be a customer again.
Mcreyn, give me a break. +/- 2db is almost certainly audible, -80db of distortion almost certainly isn't. Speaker vendors have their own unproven theories, like phase and time coherence. To quote Richard V, "they just sound better". Well, of course they do. :) But then why do speakers that don't have phase and time coherence sound good too? Or am I imagining that too? (Like Wilson, for example.)
Not to belabor the point, but an ARC amp likely would not sound so different, as ARC uses copious amounts of global feedback in its amp circuits and pentodes for output tubes (ARC = great preamps and boring amps). The VAC Renaissance amps have a feedback dial that allows the user to select up to seven decibels of global feedback - it's amazing to hear the amp go from pristine clarity and openness (0 decibels) to ... Bryston (7 db.). I not joking - I owned a 4B ST for years and know what the thing sounds like.
Being perfectly honest, I never fully fell in love with my Salons - not to initiate another joust, but I rarely warm to speakers that use high-order crossovers. There are advantages and disadvantages to both high-order and first-order designs, but I can't get past the phase shift with a speaker that uses a fourth-order crossover. The Salons are very accomplished for what they are and I could probably live with them again if I had to, but they weren't my ideal speaker.
Well, Raquel, I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree, because I'm not in the market for a $28K amp, and if that's what it takes to beat a solid state amp I'm going to have to be denied.
Analog... tubes... feedback is bad... high-order crossovers are bad... you fit a pattern. I've heard systems like that. Not yours, obviously, but systems like that. Can't say that I was impressed by the difference. Not that I ever heard one sound bad, just that I didn't see god the way I was supposed to. I guess I just can't drink the koolade.
Fair enough - I respect reluctance to drink the koolade, so to speak. There's so much of it in high-end audio and it's lamentable.
One doesn't need gobs of money to obtain a no-feedback amp. The VAC Renaissance 140/140 Mk. III monoblocks cost $28k at retail (the Signatures were $36k), but can now be had for $7.5k on the used market. The 65 watt 70/70 Mk. III retailed for $14k (Signature was $18k), but can now be had for less than $4k used. As for reasonably priced solid-state alternatives, some of the Sim amps don't use feedback.
Let me be clear - I'm not saying that all amps that use feedback are crap. I mentioned my old Bryston 4B ST - it's a lot of amp for the money and can bring a lot of enjoyment if used properly, but it sounds two-dimensional and moribund compared to a good amp that does not use feedback. If I was putting together a second system and was confident that I was getting an amp that was well taken care of, I might consider a ML 334, irrespective of Harmon's problems (I have a friend who can pretty much fix anything if he can get a schematic), as it is again a lot of amp for the money. But does this amp, or for the sake of argument, the 33H that regenerates power and costs a lot more money, compare to my no-feedback darTZeel (solid-state) or VAC (tube)? If a more realistic protrayal of unamplified acoustic instruments (i.e., classical, much jazz) is the goal, no, I don't believe so.
I'm not as doctrinaire as you may think (I'm not running a 2A3 amp on a single-driver speaker fed by an Edison cylinder). Simply put, assuming a good room, decent A/C supply, knowledgeable set-up, and equipment of equal parts quality and construction, I believe that a no-global-feedback amp, tube or solid-state, of roughly 100-150 watts/channel on a 92+ db. efficient speaker featuring a simple 1st order crossover and fed by a quality analog source or full DSD recording is going to reproduce unamplified acoustic instruments in a more realistic fashion than an amp with a ton of output devices, tube or solid-state, using global feedback driving an 86 db. efficient speaker with a 4th order crossover that's fed by a typical PCM source - not to be obnoxious, but that's experience, not extremism.
All the best.