REVIEW: Salk Sound Veracity HT3
I am the proud owner of a pair of Salk Veracity HT3s. Let me cut to chase and then fill in the details. These are the best speakers I’ve ever owned, and I have owned quite a few of excellent speakers. They may be the best speakers I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard many more than I’ve owned. Perhaps some exotic, huge (and hugely expensive) speakers might sound “better” on certain program material in a very large room. But, in the environment of a fairly normal-to-large listening room like mine, considering the fantastic sound of the speakers, their striking appearance, modest cost and manageable size, I don’t know of any speaker that is remotely competitive.
The hardest part about owning these speakers is that you have to wait for Jim Salk to build them by hand. These speakers are custom-built to your specs so, obviously, they are not sitting on a dealer’s shelf, waiting for you to purchase them. I ordered my pair in March 2005, and then worked with Jim to locate the perfect veneer (Jim found the veneers in separate auctions on Ebay). Since I ordered the upgraded caps in the crossover, we also had to wait a few weeks for Jim’s supplier to ship them. Jim is very attentive and straightforward about all this, so you know where things stand at all times. The speakers arrived in June 2005 (they were really well packed), and I have spent many hours since then listening to them reproduce music.
Jim is a pleasure to work with. He is an honest and honorable man, as well as a master speaker-builder. This is clearly a labor of love for him, and given the low price he charges in relation to the high quality components and the long hours of work Jim and his assistant must have put into these speakers, it’s hard to believe there is much, if any profit, in them.
My pair is finished in a beautiful block-mottled makore, with a striking Mexican cocobolo baffle and plinth. They look stunning, to say the least. The speakers easily passed the very demanding WAF test with flying colors (my W likes these speakers both cosmetically and musically). They are absolutely gorgeous.
In addition to upgraded caps, I ordered the speakers with the active crossover option. The speakers have switches on the rear panel to allow for bypassing of the passive crossovers if used with an active crossover, such as the DEQX unit. This also requires six channels of amplification with associated cabling. I haven’t yet gone the active route, but I wanted the option to do so in the future and so the speakers are “future-proof.”
Now, on to the most important part: how do they speakers sound? In a word, fantastic. I listen to about 70% jazz and 30% classical. They are clean and clear, incredibly true to life in reproducing the textures and timbres of instruments. Imaging is stunning. The HT3’s are detailed but not strident or edgy, have a fabulous, rich midrange, and are precise without being fatiguing. The bass is wonderful. I have removed my ACI Titan II subwoofer from the system because there is no need for it anymore. The HT3’s certainly play deep enough for any musical program. I am a piano freak and these speakers reproduce the sound of a well-recorded grand piano better than any speaker I’ve ever heard. They capture both the rumble/purr of the bass register and the bell-like treble of a Steinway D. Orchestral recordings are spacious and dynamic (the Bruckner 8th – Lopez-Cobos on Telarc – sounds great right now. The Brucknerian brass is awesome!).
Although the HT3’s sound magnificent on great records, I am really happy that lesser recordings (of which I have many) are very listenable. I listen to a lot of jazz from the 50’s to 70’s and almost all of it sounds very good. Blue Note recordings from the 50’s and 60’s (Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, Hank Mobley, Wayne Shorter) sound especially superb. I am a Keith Jarrett junkie, and his trio recordings sound better on the HT3’s than any speaker I’ve ever heard. In fact, as I told Jim, the HT3’s arrived during the same week in which I saw Keith and his trio live at Carnegie Hall. I am not exaggerating when I say that the trio sounded better on the HT3’s than live at Carnegie Hall.
Other speakers I've owned and had in this room for a lengthy period: Thiel 3.6, Legacy Signature III, Legacy Focus, Waveform Mach Solo, VMPS RM40, Silverline La Folia. I also auditioned the acclaimed Linkwoitz Orion in someone’s home six months ago, and the HT3s sound far better (the Orions may not have been optimally set up, though).
Associated equipment: Digital front end: Onkyo SP1000 SACD player/CD transport; Benchmark DAC-1. Analog front end: VPI Aries turntable/VPI JMW 10.5 tonearm/Grado Reference cartridge. TacT 2.2x room correction system; Mark Levinson 380S pre-amp; Spectron Musician II amplifier. Various overpriced cables and power cords. (A note on the TacT. As good as the HT3’s are, they can and do benefit from the wonders worked on room anomalies by the TacT.)
Summing up my thoughts: this is a fantastic sounding speaker that is beautifully made and can easily fit in a normal living room. It makes wonderful music. Bravo, Jim Salk.