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Beautiful Expensive Spekaers

We are not usually swayed by companies that manufacturer and sell very expensive loudspekers. We believe that somewhere along the line good enough is good enough. Every once and a while we come across a speaker company that makes such visually stunning speakers that get great reviews that we just have to point them out. The Salk Signature Sound speaker line is one of these speakers. Make from the highest quality drivers and exotic woods these hand-crafted built to order speakers are nothing short of stunning. Given our experience with speaker photography these likely look even better in person.

The V Series V3 shown at left comes in at a relatively inexpensive starting price of $3495 depending on the finish wood. Salk claims these would normally retail for $7500 a pair. I guess, who knows. It seems you can only order these direct from Salk and you likely get personal service but then again you should.

Custom Cabinets
This is from the Salk website: "The first is what we refer to as our "standard" cabinet.
This cabinet will offer a limited selection of standard veneers (samples
available soon). This will allow us to offer this cabinet model at a starting
price of $3495.

In addition to lower cost, another advantage of our
standard V3 cabinets (when they become available) is shorter delivery times,
measured in days rather than months.

Custom cabinets (such as those shown here) are, as the
name implies, fully customizable. You can design your own cabinet with
virtually any veneer/wood combination you desire. Or match your favorite
automotive finish if you prefer. See our custom finish
for details. Since labor costs will be much higher, these models
will have a base starting price of $4495." See them here

Not that I have the money to drop on these but if I did... I might.

Is bi-amping worth it?

Many a speaker owner asks this question. I have speakers that are capable of bi-amping but will I gain any benefit out of it? According to Rod Elliott of ESP the answer is a resounding yes!

Basically Bi-amping is a technique which uses one amplifier for the low frequencies, and another for mid and high frequencies. The choice of crossover frequency is not too critical, provided that the amplifier powers are properly balanced to achieve the maximum benefit, and the drivers used are operating well within their frequency and power limits.

Here are the main benefits of bi-amping he lists
  • Effectively (up to) twice the 'real' power of the amplifiers themselves
  • Reduced intermodulation distortion
  • Elimination of the low frequency passive crossover, its inherent losses, potentially poor linearity and crossover point inaccuracy
  • Reduction of the difficulty of the load presented to the power amplifier
  • No padding is required to align the driver sensitivities, so we are not simply wasting power
  • The damping factor is greatly improved for both the low and midrange loudspeakers
  • Complete freedom from any interaction between the loudspeaker driver (and its environment) and the crossover network
  • Cost savings, since complex passive crossover networks are not needed
  • Bi-wiring is included free!
  • The flexibility to choose amplifiers which are at their best within a defined frequency range
  • Ability to match amplifier power to the exact requirements of the drivers for maximum overall efficiency
Here is the down side of bi-amping
  • Two power amplifiers are required for each channel of a stereo system
  • An electronic crossover is needed
Now the advantages are certainly very nice but consider that on the down side you need to almost double your electronics cost plus an electronic crossover.

Here is a nice graphic explaining how bi-amping works.

Figure 1

Note that bi-amping should not be confused with bi-wiring which looks like this and does not deliver the same benefits as bi-amping.
Figure 5

Should you bi-amp your system?
Well it comes down to what it always comes down to, if you have the money and your spouse will let you then why not.

Otherwise get yourself a really nice Receiver or Pre-amp and Amp and of course a Great set of speakers and you'll do just fine.

To read the entire well written but VERY technical article click here.

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Best Home Theater Speakers

CNet recently released it's best Home Theater speaker report. It is a curious list since it can only be a list of the 10 best home theater speakers that the reviewer listened to. Of course you say, what else can he do? True enough. To the reviewers credit 4 of the systems were from Aperion and Fluance, both online only brands. There were also systmes form Energy, 3 systems from KEF and 1 from Mirage, Cerwin-Vega and Boston Acoustics. Of these companies Aperion makes excellent speakers that are a bit pricey but sound great. Definitive is a mass market brand whose plasticy finish I don't particularly care for. Fluance is a true bargain brand but you should consider the quality of the drivers, density and structural integrity of the cabinets. The Mirage MX 5.1 is another mass market brand that is likely overpriced at $999. The Energy and Boston Acoustics are likely the best value in the bunch.

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B&W Zeppelin Mini iPod Dock

BWMini.jpgB&W is known for building incredible speakers that are usually very expensive. There B&W Zeppelin iPod dock is one of those at $600. Unusual shape, large size but incredible sound that's expected out of a $600 unit. Now they've released the Zeppelin mini at $400 which is still over $!00 more than the Bose. (which does not sound as good in any case).  This puppy apparently rocks according to the reviews. Oh-so pretty, Nice audio experience overall are some of the remarks. CNet gave it 3.5/4 stars. Not bad. There are for sure ipod docks that are just as good for far less money. Consider the new dock from Boston Acoustics Duo-I Plus iPhone/iPod Dock for only $249 or this Sony Clock radio dock.

Dual Subwoofer Out

Onkyo announced its newest home theater receivers. In line with the latest craze they all offer HDMI 1.3a and 3D video throughput. This is more of a ho-hum to us here at TSG since we don't think 3d will really take off in the home. Notable about one of the receivers is the Onkyo TX-SR608 which has every surround and HD audio codec available and the ability to handle two subwoofers. The dual subwoofer output can be very useful. We highly recommend those that can fit two subwoofers in their home theater to do so. It helps eliminate standing waves and in general improves the sound overall. At $599 this receiver should be a hit when it ships in April of 2010.

Need Good Bookshelf Speakers?

Polk Audio TSi200Many of us want a honkin' pair of dual 8" woofer towers but alias, we don't have the room. Truth told we don't have a wife that will let us buy them either. ;) Given that the best bet might be a pair of high quality bookshelf speakers with our without a subwoofer. For pure music listening most good sized bookshelf's will work just fine but for home theater use you'll want to add a good sub.

The Polk TSi200's might fit the bill. These speakers boast 2-5.25" woofers  and a 1" fabric/polymer composite dome tweeter with a Neodymium magnet to deliver high efficiency, detailed high frequency response, and powerful bass. They are available in either black or cherry wood grain finish, and come with a 5 year warranty. Personally for music I'd recommend these for use in a home theater situation. I you want bookshelf's to only listen to music then go with a 6.5" woofer for truer bass reproduction.  You can get these Polk Audio TSi200 Bookshelf Speakers (Pair, Black) at Amazon for around $299 a pair.

Also see this video. Though no high quality you can get a sense of what these look like in the wild

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