Salk Speakers - Opinions & Advice?


This past weekend I went to Karma Fest in Livonia, Michigan, and saw so many beautiful speakers in the Salk Signature Sound, I didn't know where to start. Since I live quite close to the company, I'll head up there for a private audition. However, after going through the A'gon threads addressing Salk speakers, I still don't have a real idea as to what they sound like - how they make music.

So, for those of you who know (and hopefully own), Salk speakers, what is the "signature sound" of these beauties? I know what to pretty much expect from a Harbeth, Spendor, Thiel, etc. but what might I expect from Salk?

The impression I got from some threads is that Salks are on the detailed, transient (leading edge of the notes), and cool side of things, as opposed to, say, Harbeth, which are on the warm and full (body of the notes) side of things.

Thanks in advance, guys and gals.
tomryan
I think you just answered your own question, but if you are seeking some validation I would tend to agree with your accessment. I do feel his cabinets are unparalled in build quality. About the best I have ever seen. Especially considering the cost.
Suggest you read a bit here at AudioCircle. The folks frequenting this circle are full of info you are looking for.
Did some reading at AudioCircle. Seems I'll need that audition at Salk's headquarters, which should be quite enjoyable.
They are on the leaner side which I find grows tiresome after awhile.
How are the salk speakers compared to the Tyler Acoustics

Decade Line? Are the Tylers more full rather than lean

sounding?
at AAk fest i found the tylers lean and bright. i have not heard a tyler setup that i liked. plus the build quality leaves something to be desired. i have been impressed everytime i have been in a salk room. very involving speakers.
HT3s - Bold, accurate, dynamic. Amazing sound when playing well recorded material. More neutral than cool IMO.
Interesting about S7horton's comments on the Tylers at AKFest. I have not heard the new Decade line of Tylers so I can't comment on those... but as a current long-time Tyler owner of many of their older Linbrook and Taylo line speakers (and having also heard the Woodmeres at THE Show in Vegas before) I would not ever describe the old lines as "lean and bright" in any sense. I wonder if the Decades are really that different to the "old" Tyler family sound? Very interesting observation.

As for Salk, it has been a long time since I heard them, but I remember being quite impressed with their sound (although not enough to give up my Linbrook Signature System). Build quality was definitely the best I had (or have) seen. Jim is a master wood worker, to be sure.

---Dave
I listened to the big Decade at AKfest, powered by Jolida, and would not characterize the speaker as lean. I thought it had ample bass, if a bit wooly, but what I think it did have a glaring upper midrange, lower treble which made it a little difficult to listen to on material which contained a lot of energy in that region. An AK member was using Tyler Decade speakers lower in the product line which I thought more listenable. As I recall, they were powered by Grant.
Often a glare in the upper mid/lower treble area is a mismatch between amp and speaker crossover. Also, tube amps have to be carefully matched to speakers to avoid impedance and phase angle problems. And I say this as a 25 year owner of tubes amps.

I also heard the big Decade at AKfest and found them very detailed but with that slight glare James mentioned. The wooly bass was from the room as it was VERY small and had no treatment whatsoever. I got the impression from the owner of Tyler Speakers that he is in it for the love of audio - he just wanted to let people hear his big design. I also have to say that listening to the big Tylers caused me to really pay attention to the arrangement of the musical pieces being played, the time signature changes, the way the musicians were obviously listening to each other, etc. Hmm, guess you could say the music making ability of the speakers drew me in! It was a very relaxed room, small, low lighting, good music, really good speakers.

I thought the large and small Tylers were quite well made. However, they have a simpler finish than the Salks which are finished to fine furniture grade. I think the Salks would be conversations pieces in a room, the Tylers would be more relaxed and subtle. The Salk room was big, exciting, busy, bustling, and brightly lit. I had trouble paying attention to music (which sound real good through some drop dead gorgeous speakers) as there were so many people and so much going on.

The Salk room had such a wide array of beautifully finished speakers that I was onlyt able to admire the designs, woodworking, and finishing. I'd buy a pair just for that and reward Jim Salk for such design and beauty success.
Often a glare in the upper mid/lower treble area is a mismatch between amp and speaker crossover. Also, tube amps have to be carefully matched to speakers to avoid impedance and phase angle problems. And I say this as a 25 year owner of tubes amps.

I also heard the big Decade at AKfest and found them very detailed but with that slight glare James mentioned. The wooly bass was from the room as it was VERY small and had no treatment whatsoever. I got the impression from the owner of Tyler Speakers that he is in it for the love of audio - he just wanted to let people hear his big design. I also have to say that listening to the big Tylers caused me to really pay attention to the arrangement of the musical pieces being played, the time signature changes, the way the musicians were obviously listening to each other, etc. Hmm, guess you could say the music making ability of the speakers drew me in! It was a very relaxed room, small, low lighting, good music, really good speakers.

I thought the large and small Tylers were quite well made. However, they have a simpler finish than the Salks which are finished to fine furniture grade. I think the Salks would be conversations pieces in a room, the Tylers would be more relaxed and subtle. The Salk room was big, exciting, busy, bustling, and brightly lit. I had trouble paying attention to music (which sound real good through some drop dead gorgeous speakers) as there were so many people and so much going on.

The Salk room had such a wide array of beautifully finished speakers that I was only able to admire the designs, woodworking, and finishing. I'd buy a pair just for that and reward Jim Salk for such design and beauty success.
My company is based in Troy, MI and on a business trip a while back I visited Jim Salk at his home to hear his speakers. Even without proper placement and room treatments I was very impressed. I didn't find them cool in their presentation. They are neutral and have very good low end extension. Also, the designs are well executed as is build quality. A couple of the speakers can be considered works of art and the paint work is automotive quality. I never saw Ferrari Red look so good.

Price wise they are a great value IMO.
I too attended AK Fest '10 and the comments about the Tyler's by Tomryan are exactly the impressions I walked away with. This was my second year in a row of attendance and the Decade's sounded pretty much as they did last year. IMHO, Tyler should have had one of his smaller models at the show due to the size of the room.

The Salk's are a handsome looking speaker, but not my cup of tea. I had a pair of Songtowers for about a year and they sat idle for most of their stay with me because the top end was not satisfying. The HT3's have been auditioned twice in two different highend systems and I couldn't get use to the upper midrange/lower treble hotness. Listener fatigue for me, but YMMV Salk's newest speaker seems to have promise if he can get the lower frequencies to balance with the rest of the drivers.

As others have stated, if you can audition them WITH YOUR OWN MUSIC and your cdp and preamp, then you will be able to make an ~85% informed opinion.

The speaker that totally and unexpectedly surprised me at this year's AK Fest was the mini Dali Menuet speaker. They plan on making a floorstanding version of this design, which is now on my short list.

Good luck with your equipment journey.

D.
The A.K.Fest is a wonderfull place to see what is happening in Audio, it is like most audio shows not a great place to hear what is happening in Audio. The rooms were difficult esp from a bass standpoint. Tyler speakers were brand new and did not have any break in time also he has redesigned his Decade line with different drivers and crossovers from his older series...Salk speakers do have some of the best looking cabinets around but with the source equipment at the show not the sound quality to compare with the looks...
Dominion78 - The Songtowers are what I am interested in. What exactly about the treble performance didn't you like? Was it lean, bright, recessed, dull?

Also, what did you think of the Fritz and Grant Fidelity designs (if you did hear them)?
Hello, I was at AK Fest over the weekend also. My impression of the D1's matches those of others already listed. I intended to ask Ty how many hours they had on them and never did. If they were not broken in it could explain the forward upper mids/low treble. The bass was another issue. Those speakers had plate amps on them specifically dedicated to the bass and they could have been turned down at any time. The plate amps are not standard for them, but I verified they were on the demo pair and turned on while in the room. I don't know why he had the bass turned up the way he did with them, but the problem could have been easily rectified.
As for the Grant Fidelity and the Fritz Carbon 7's, I thought them both to be well made and sound very good. The speakers in that price range that grabbed my attention were the Dynaudio Excite X 12's which to my ears had a superior tweeter to either of the above. The Dyn's also drew me in to the music a little better. On top of that, they are also less expensive. My opinions are based on limited auditioning under show conditions so take them for what they are worth. I thought the little Dali's were also very good but would take the x12's over them. I put a great deal of emphasis on tweeter performance and the Dynaudio models have had the best tweeters in their respective price classes. The Dynaudio C1's have had the best tweeter at the show regardless of price the last two years running IMO.
I was also in the Salk room probably a half dozen times, but never got to hear the Songtowers. I thought the HT2 TL's sounded very, very good and was not put off by any brightness from them. They are also more expensive than the other speakers you mentioned.
I remember now the big Tylers did have amps on the woofers as Ty was turning them up and down to show what the speakers could do. I think he finally left the amps set a bit too high - too much bass.

I, too, was taken by the little white Dyn x12s. Very musical and enjoyable; I stayed a while to just listen. I went next door to the big Confidences but actually enjoyed the x12s more. Found them more musically "happy", if you know what I mean.
I guess it is difficult to judge speakers at shows due to room size and other factors,however, both Salk and Tylers
have had excellent reviews by customers who own them.So you really need to hear them in a setting that is closest to yours,although that is always the difficult part because
you would have to incur cost shipping speakers back if you don't like them.
I was a bit disppointed by D1's sound. However, I attribute it more to the (mediocre?) Jolida amp and cd player. To my ear, my system sounds better (Tyler Linbrook SS, BAT vk-200, vk30, Arcam CD23). My room (about 25x30) is about 4 times as big as the hotel room.

For Salk, it sound pretty good on Jazz and Rock, which were played everytime I dropped in the room.
However, it did not sound as good as I expected on classical music. Again, I would say my system wins hands down. It may also have to do with the AVA gears, which I don't think are as good as mine.
Maybe I am so stuck with the sound of my systems.

One speaker I thought to be very good for the price point was Tom Evans model one ($9K). And there was one other speaker powered by BAT vk55, vk32se, and vkd5. I can't remember the name but it is one of those curve shaped speakers ($15K?). I am not sure whether the BAT gears made them sound so good, but I couldn't stay long enough in that room.

One utter disappointment was the McIntosh room. All combined at $45K, I did not care to stay for more than a couple of mins.
Well, just my opinion.
Interesting about the Tom Evans speakers as they did nothing for me. Missing all the upper end. I found the full range Jordan driver an odd combination with what looked like a Hi-Vi bass driver. Way over priced in my opinion. My comment about the build quality of the tylers stems a lot from the sloppy fit of the drivers in the recess. Everytime I have seen them the fit was gapped and then painted to try to hide it. Not something I would expect on a speaker of that caliber.