The Verity Audio Sarastro is designed to compete favorably with anything up to $ 30,000 and more. It is actually much closer to the $ 50,000 Lohengrin than the 15,000 Parsifal and , beleive it or not, a better value all things considered.
In my humble opinion, as good as the Parsifals are, the Sarastro are in a league all their own, bettering the Parsifals in most every parameter. Expect to see a few Parsifals for sale on Audiogon ( already started, from owners wishing to upgrade ). I beleive the best value in the Verity line are the Taminos. A tasted of the best for not a lot of money ( on the Verity scale that is! ).
I heard the Sarastro and enjoyed it. That said, for a speaker with moving coil drivers I'd much prefer the Rockport Merak/Sheritan Mk II, at $29,500.
While I am a big Parsifal fan, I never liked the Lohengrin. The ribbon tweeter did not seem to integrate correctly with the midrange. From what I have been told, the Sarastro is almost identical.
I agree with Jtinn. I heard the Sarastro at the CES and it seemed like the ribbon tweet sounded a little detached from the midrange and the balance was a little tilted up in the treble. It might have been the DCS front end (which I never found particularly musical), but the Sarastros simply didnt sound as coherent as my beloved Parsifals.
I auditioned the Lohengrin a couple of days back with Matisse tube equipment and a digital processor whose name now escapes me.
The setting was not ideal - the room was fairly small, etc.
The sound was certainly impressive, yet after an hour or so of listening, I couldn't help but feel that the upper frequencies were a little strident and on some recordings the sound was hard and glassy.
The distributor (I was in his studio) said the Sarastro is fairly close in sound and that the ribbon tweeter - like super tweeters - is something you (need to) get used to. Maybe, and as with all music demonstrations, the sound you get is the result of synergy (or lack of it) between the different constituent parts. I'm not sure that the Matisse equipment is in the same league as the speakers and the digital processor did clearly 'process' the sound.
I have auditioned the Parsifals twice, partnered first by McIntosh monoblocs (350 watts) + McIntosh tube preamp, and then, later, partnered by McIntosh integrated tube 75 watts per channel. In both cases the source was the outstanding McIntosh MCD/MDA 1000 CD transport and DAC.
The first demonstration showed the Parsifals on splendid form: fine integration of the different drivers, timing, liquid midrange - and, above all, sheer musicality that many other speakers in this range and above (Wilson/Watt 7; Vandersteen 5; Talon Firebird) simply can't match. Well, that is, of course, in my view!
The second demonstration showed the limitations of the partnering McIntosh integrated tube amp, which could not drive the speakers to an acceptable level, and which produced more distorted and wobbly sound than you could shake a stick at.
Of course I would like to listen to the Sarastros. In the meantime, I have no doubt that, partnered with the right amps and digital source, the Parsifal is a speaker which is hard to beat in small/medium sized rooms. It has detail, soundstage (especially depth), grunt, and outstanding midrange. It is definitely one of the most MUSICAL loudspeakers I have ever heard and it retails for around 50% of the Sarastro. It is also a finely designed and unobtrusive loudspeaker.
I listened to the Sarastros at the recent Montreal show and would have to agree with the impression that the ribbon tweeters did not appear to integrate well. They were also quite strident sounding and the whole setup which used a large solid state amp, Ayre I think, was not very musical. The Lohengrin was there only on static display.
By contrast, the Parsifal Encores were in two systems and sounded much better than I've heard them before. In one setup they were driven by Nagra solid state mono amps. In another room they were being used to demonstrate the Tenor 150 stereo hybrid amp which was driven by the EMM Labs DCC2. The latter setup was helped by being in the best proportioned large room at the show with the speakers about 15 feet apart. The Parsifals had no problem filling this room with glorious sound.
I'd go with the Parsifals over the Sarastros and spend the difference on fine ancillary equipment.
I'm with Brian. At this price I definitely suggest checking out the Rockports. Very much worth a trip to Rockport, Maine, in my opinion. Incidentally, it would be a great time of year to go too.
I had a few great opportunities to spend some time with both the Lohengrin and the Sarastro. The tweeter integration issue is just nonexistent. I think that both loudspeakers are fabulous and very musical. I finally bought the Sarastro three months ago and wouldn't hesitate to buy the Lohengrin if I could afford it.
I was also a bit sceptic at the beginning. But now, I spent enough time with the Sarastro to confirm that it is an amazingly coherent loudspeaker. Some are misinterpreting what's going on. Verity has made this ribbon tweeter airy and open. It is no comparison with any kind of normal dome tweeter (soft or metallic and even beryllium). It is so much better. But I do understand that it can be confusing. Poorly integrated tweeters are usually noticeable because they sound separated from the system. They often have crossover points located at rather low frequencies. Low enough to allow perceivable differences in speed and tonal balance between the tweeter and the midrange. I remember hearing the old Celestion 3000. It was suffering from an improper integration. The Meadowlark and the Newform also have this problem. On the other hand, the Aerial 20 and the Verity's stand far away from this typical integration problem. One has to be careful. We are so used to associate a ribbon tweeter with an integration problem that we tend to use the same argument every time. And in my opinion the Sarastro and the Lohengrin tweeters integrate perfectly well. More often than not, a high quality equipment, possess the defaults of its qualities. In other words, it is extremely difficult for ultra high end loudspeakers to exhibit their normal performance in show conditions. And this is logical. More you increase the performance potentiality of a product more critical the whole setup becomes. The potential exists and can only be reached with special care. Such a product needs special attention. Amongst crucial aspects that I discovered, I found that the break in time is extremely important. Better is the product, longer it takes to break it in. Unfortunately, Manufacturers often neglect this aspect and often bring new products to shows. When brand new, it does sound harsh for a while, but don't be fooled by this improper tweeter integration issue. If you are patient enough, if you dedicate yourself to optimize everything then you get something fabulous. The highs sound sweet and delicate and give a seamless feeling of unlimited extension. The tonal balance and homogeneity are just perfect. I heard the Sarastro at the Montreal show. The first day I listened to it, the sound was ok but not impressive. I went back the last day and the Sarastro was doing things I never heard from any other loudspeakers before. Only three days for such an improvement. Imagine having it for more than a year? Even Soundstage Magazine pointed that out. I tell you, even though I love the Parsifal, the Sarastro is another league.
Over the years, I discovered that high performance products are extremely revealing for what's going on at the up front equipments. Moreover, even when fully broken in, it usually takes them awhile to settle after being moved. With high performance products, any evaluation under show condition should be done very cautiously. Too often we (including myself, I have to admit) are misjudging such a piece of equipment at first taste. I found the Sarastro and the Lohengrin to be really revealing of what's going on before them. Such highly dynamic loudspeakers won't be forgiving equipment or setup limitations. And believe me, these speakers are extremely transparent and are only revealing what's going on before. As far as the Sarastro is concerned, playing with my setup made all the difference.
As I said, I had the chance to spend sometime with both the Lohengrin and the Sarastro, getting excellent support from the people at Verity, and decided to acquired the Sarastro. In my own opinion, both are extraordinary products. The Lohengrin is offering the best bass performance I have ever heard. Its top to bottom coherence is flawless and so dynamic ! The Sarastro is also one of its kind being very coherent and highly dynamic too. I really love it. For a product of that size, it offers a phenomenal and precise bass performance. In both cases, the ribbon tweeter is really natural. If you have the chance, try to listen to Keith Jarret, "Live at the Blue Note" playing "Autumn Leaves" and pay attention to the percussions. I have heard the most natural and alive reproduction of cymbals I have ever heard. So much better than my old BW 800.
I now own the Sarastro Loudspeakers. I will post more detailed info later. But for now, with hundresd of hours on these ladies:
Re tweeter integration/harshness. As I ABed some front end components I heard some harshness with certain components, and with certain recordings. This is a complete non-issue now with Sim Audio Moon Andromeda front end. If you hear harshness (other than a very loud piccolo playing it's high C note), check your front end as it is, imo, likely your cd player or your DAC....it is NOT these speakers.
And re: Integration problems.....NOT. Not with Chesky discs, not with Jazz, not with Opus3 discs, not with old Mercury Living Presence ("Howard Hanson the Composer and His Orchestra"), not with simple material, and given that I am now enjoying orchestral work where I didn't before because it was not integrated and was smeared, not a problem here either: I now enjoy musical integration as well as great soundstaging fore-aft and laterally -- also in choral works which before were intolerable.
Timbre -- great. Guitars sounds like guitars. Bowed double bases sound bowed even amidst competing bassoons. The timbre of Johhny Frigos violin is different when he is instrument face on the mike vs lateral....like it is supposed to be. Want to be able to distinguish clearly the different timbre and location of the oboe vs the base clarinet in an orchestra? The Sarastro will do it for you with the right upstream stuff. Snares sound like snares, field drums like field drums, and cymbals......I won't tell you because you will immediately drain your bank account to buy these. I dare say one could distinguish a Steinway from a Baldwin on a well-miked recording.
And all the rest: dynamics--fantastic. Base extension...they are rated to 25 Hz but I get substantial base down to 22Hz.....prepare to get blown away by any recording of a classical piece called "The Vikings".
Female vocals ....sweet, full, round and so musical.
And one "pro" reviewer wrote something about "boomy" base. I am no pro reviewer, but if he comes to my room he will with humility have to retract his comments and probably move to a new listening room or invest in some sound treatments or perhaps reevaluate his choice of preamp or speaker placement. These are low and tight even with Daniel Lanois' production and mixing of a hugely boom-risky wall of sound on "Wrecking Ball". Low. Tight.
I am a happy camper.
I also bought the Sarastro!
One of the finest speakers I have heard at any price point. My previous speaker was the Kharma 3.2.
I definetely encourage someone to have a listen if he wants to move at that price point.
I am maybe a little bit late here but something very important to point out with Sarastro is to use them with bi-wired (2 speaker cable runs are even much better).
If they are connected this way, you will have the most natural, musical and coherent speakers with correct timing, an outstanding resolution, great soundstage with depth, width, great focus and solidity, bandwidth, low level detail, dynamics, transients, accurate tone & timbre, etc.
I fully agree that they are not as coherent, with differences in timing and between the 2 modules and sometimes tending to be hyper-detaile,. when connected mono-wired and with their own jumpers,
I have not a technical explanation, since am just an audiophile but this is what I have experienced. I was tired of moving them around my room, trying to find a good spot/placement (tilt, toe-in, distance between tweeters, to walls, etc) with a better integration of tweter and between the 2 modules and was just about to sell them until I bi-wired them with Dream Stealth Speaker Cables instead of mono-wired with same cables. A connoisseur friend, distributor of Audio Research, Kimber and ProAc in Mexico gave me the hint. He mentioned that this sometimes happens with many speakers that were truly designed for bi-wire as ProAc.
Hope this helps with current owner's of Sarastro.
I also agree with comments about Saratro I is better than Sarastro II. I had the chance to audition them side by side and believe that the tweeter on Sarastro I is more natural and extended with less glare. I also believe that the crossover (different form I to II) makes a better job when bi-wired.
Rata3 spot on, I also agree that the Sarastro biwired sounds much better, as you say more coherent with better transparency and musicality. ;)
"I also agree with comments about Saratro I is better than Sarastro II. I had the chance to audition them side by side and believe that the tweeter on Sarastro I is more natural and extended with less glare. I also believe that the crossover (different form I to II) makes a better job when bi-wired."
Thanks Rata3 I though I was the only crazy thinking of that! ;)
Check out this thread: http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?cspkr&1265099107&openflup&8&4
Sarastro is maybe the most amazing speaker I have ever heard!
Rata3 how long do you have yours for? What are you using for front end and amps?
I have upgraded through the Verity line and with each new speaker the sound has been better. The Sarastros has a wider range than the Parsifals. The instruments have more 3D space around them and more depth. The sound stage is higher and wider. The Sarastros bass is deeper 11" than the Parsifals 8" when firing to the rear but the Parsifals bass is faster especially when the woofer is firing forward.
When I listened to these at the dealer I felt there was something missing and could not put my finger on it. Then when I got them home and set them up similar to the store I found they were not sounding as I wanted them to here either. So after a few hours of setup I had them where I thought they sound good but there was still something missing. I called the store and found out they had got them not to long ago and they did not have more than 100 or so hours. I set them to face each other and let them run for 48 hours. Putting them back in place they were sounding better. I returned them and ordered my pair as I felt confident I was going to like them with what I was hearing. I let mine warm up for a few days and still felt something was missing. After a few weeks with them and a few 100 hours they started to relax and become one speaker with few issues between the drivers. I have moved them around some but have not found their final location yet. Sarastros are harder to place than Parsifals but are sounding much better.
As they break-in more the better they are sounding. I will be getting help shortly with their final location from my dealer after I feel they have settled in.
Verity speakers need time to break-in and a while to place. If you listen at a show take the fact that they are not broken in into account. I think all speaker need break-in time to sound their best. Really all equipment does.
The only music I am not happy with is the new Classic Records 45 of Peter Gabriels So, so far. The highs bother my ears so bad I cringe. The regular LP version is better and at low volumes the 45 version it is fine but I do not listen at low volumes. Reminds me of 80's music, very hot in the upper range.
Hevac1 do you biwire your Sarastros?
I believe than even if the biwiring conditions are not the best (different cables. lengths etc) it is still as a lot better than using them with a single wire and the included jumpers!
IMHO this speaker is transformed from a good speaker to a World Class when biwiring it!
Not yet with the biwire. I will borrow a pair to try. I did notice a differance when I connected to the jumper location at the top of the bass module instead of the bottom connection. I will let you know.