The HT3’s are a 3-way floor standing speakers of medium height (about 44” tall with the supplied spikes) that are darn heavy (somewhere around 130lbs each). The drivers used are all well known and acknowledged as some of the better ones out there:
• Tweeter – G2 ribbon tweeter
• Mid-range – SEAS W18EX 8” mid-range
• Woofer – TC Sounds 989 10” woofer
Add to these a Dennis Murphy designed crossover with premium parts and you start to see why Jim has something very special here…
With a build quality that my limited vocabulary can’t do justice to; suffice it say that you won’t have any WAF issues with these speakers. In fact, the HT3’s just might be the nicest piece of furniture in many of the rooms they will call home! You can see pictures of various HT3’s here on AudioCircle or over at Jim’s website: www.salksound.com.
Enough on the looks, how do they sound?
In one word – “Engaging”
When I sit down and put a cd in, I no longer want to have my laptop next to me or worse, on my lap doing work or surfing the net . Instead, I want to sit in my chair, close my eyes, and sink into the music (I happen to be breaking this right now at the request of Chris – how can I not fulfill his request?) . From the first note to the last note of the session, the music demands my full attention and rewards me with a system that is capable of knocking you back in the chair with its impact and dynamics, while getting the decay on a bell just right, and still properly capturing the texture and sexiness of a female voice. But I am getting ahead of myself…you can hear about how all the pieces produce the final results with my comments below on some of my standard reference cd’s and tracks.
I would say that overall sound of the HT3’s is very well balanced top to bottom with great range (the measured bass response in my room via the TacT is pretty much flat at 30Hz and down 4.4 db’s at 22Hz – the midrange is pretty much flat - on the top end the measured response is excellent up to 20,000Hz where the TacT stops measuring). The midrange is incredibly clean, detailed, and fast, while being smooth and without an artificial or etched sound. These speakers allow you to have your cake and eat it to in terms of detail and musical enjoyment!
Because of these factors (plus the very good component matching) – see my equipment list below), I am able to get a more complete representation of the cd than I could in my previous systems. I would say it is equivalent of going from a very good DVD on very good jpg to an HD source on the same jpg. The extra detail adds to the realism of the moment and is a big part of seducing the listener and making them want to sit there and listen for hour after hour, cd after cd. The nuances and texture of the music are easily there and don’t require you to concentrate on the music to pick them up. Instead, it is all laid out in front of you. These are the first speakers I have had in a long time where listening to music wasn’t work, but something that was relaxing.
I have found that the soundstage varies from recording to recording and can be deep when the music was recorded in such a manner. More importantly, the speakers do disappear and don’t draw attention to themselves. If I didn’t know where they were located, it would be impossible to pinpoint where they are located.
To finish off the review, I thought it would be useful to describe what I heard on a few of my reference or test cuts. Some people are probably familiar with a few of them (especially the NY Audio Rave folks) and I think it adds a little context to the review. I used songs that I am extremely familiar with and that also test the system in different ways.
Natalie Merchant – Tigerliliy (female vocals, percussion, piano, acoustic guitar, soundstage)
Track 5 – Carnival
• The opening drums, bongos, and bass are very well defined in their individual spaces. There is good layering front to back.
• The dynamics are crisp and lightning fast. The bongos have a depth and realism to them that I don’t get from most systems.
Track 7 – The Letter
• The piano has the proper weight and body – notes are substantial and give the proper illusion of size that a piano should have.
• The emotion of Natalie’s voice is so right it is spooky. Her voice can be a sexy or husky at times and the HT3’s nail it!
The Bad Plus – These Are the Vistas (bass, piano, drums)
Track 2 – Keep the Bugs Off Your Glass and the Bears Off Your Ass
• Really shows off the dynamic range of the system.
• The finger work on the bass is tremendous and the notes go deep while staying fast and not blurring or mushing together.
• The cymbals are light and airy – they float away instead of dieing a quick death.
• Just like with Natalie, the piano is very full and organic – no toy piano here!
• In the middle of the track, things get busy and the speakers handled this very well. All instruments are still very detailed, musical, and defined. The music doesn’t become incoherent or scrambled.
Sam Cooke – Night Beat (male vocal, bass, cymbals)
Track 2 – Lost and Lookin’
• Sam’s voice has the right timbre and weight to it.
• This is a simple track that highlights Sam’s incredible voice and the bass and cymbals are very deep in the soundstage and are totally dominated by the vocal.
• I just dim the lights on this one and I can picture Sam in the studio singing…
Ben Harper – Fight For Your Mind (male vocals, slide and acoustic guitar, percussion, bass)
Track 5 – Gold to Me
• Cymbals have some great shimmer and decay.
• Bass line is tight and tuneful throughout the song.
• The bells and smaller percussion instruments are easy to identify and don’t get overpowered.
Track 13 – God Fearing Man
• Wicked guitar play is captured in all its glory!
• Ben’s voice is full of soul and the music really grabbed me.
• Percussion goes deep and lays a very solid foundation for his voice and guitar.
All of my listening is done in my dedicated room that is 25x18x7 and is treated with acoustical products from RealTraps and EigthNerve, as well as acoustic foam from Foam By Mail.
My associated equipment consists of the following:
• TacT RCS 2.2x preamp/dac/room correction w/ SupraSowrd LoRad power cord
• McCormack DNA-500 amp w/ VH Audio AirSine power cord
• Empirical Audio modified Sony S-7700 dvd player as a transport
• Running Springs Audio Haley on its own dedicated 20 amp line (TacT and Sony are plugged into it)
• Running Springs Audio Duke on its own dedicated 20 amp line (DNA-500 is plugged into it)
• Sistrum SP-101 platform under DNA-500
• Sistrum SP-1 platform under TacT and Sony
• Sistrum SP-004 platform under RSA Duke and Haley
• VH Audio cryo’d Pulsar with Silver NextGen connectors for digital ic
• VH Audio Balanced Pulsars with Furutech Rhodium connectors for analog ic’s
• TG Audio HSR speaker cable
• Argent Audio Pursang jumpers
I could go on and on, but I think you get the point – I REALLY like these speakers!!
The review wouldn't be complete if I didn't say what a pleasure it has been to interact with Jim Salk. He answers questions quickly and is willing to work with you to customize the speakers in terms of looks and internal parts. He will be totally honest with you and not try to sell you anything you don’t need or want.
Lastly, if you are in the market for a pair of speakers, I highly recommend you figure out a way to listen to a pair of HT3’s before buying anything else. They aren’t perfect (I am sure I will eventually find some flaws – other than the fact that they take a long time to be made) and everybody won't love them like I do, but man oh man, unless I spent $17K on the Vandy 5’s, I haven’t heard a speaker that I have liked more than the Veracity HT3’s.Associated gear Click to view my Virtual SystemSimilar products
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