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Thread: Salk Songtower vs. Sierra Tower

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Salk Songtower vs. Sierra Tower

    I've heard both the "Supercharged" Salk SongTowers with RAAL and the Sierra Towers with RAAL, thanks to local owners that were kind enough to open their houses to a fellow audio enthusiast. I haven't had the opportunity to listen to the standard version of the SongTowers, but I would have paid a little more to have the "better" supercharged version if I were to have bought them. I didn't listen to them on the same day, but I did take notes on both speakers. In fact, I had listened to numerous speakers on the same days that I had listened to both the Ascend and Salk towers.

    I've been in the process of looking for new speakers to replace my Definitive Tech BP-30s for more than 3 years. I'm not in a rush (as you would guess). As much as I want to find speakers that would be a leap ahead in sound quality, I've come to realize that I enjoy the hunt for new speakers, and so there is some satisfaction to searching without having made a purchase. Like many others on this forum I have listened to everything that I can to learn more about what is out there, and what I like. I've listened to B&W, PSB, Def Tech, Martin Logan, Energy, Anthony Gallo Acoustics, Paradigm, Klipsch, Golden Ear, Totem, Polk, Boston Acoustics, Revel, Focal, Dynaudio, Salk Sound, Ascend Acoustics and others that aren’t coming to mind. I’ve had the chance to listen to the Focal and Revels in my listening room (thanks to local dealers).

    As far as the Salk and Ascends, I would say that they were both in my top five with my preference going to the Ascends. When I listened to the Salk Songtowers I was most impressed with the RAAL tweeters. They didn’t have the sibilance/ringing that I have heard in so many other tweeters (including my Def Tech). I thought that the midrange was very good, but I didn’t care for the bass. They sounded as if the bass was plenty deep, but I felt that it was a little slower than the Ascends and Focal 836W speakers. I also felt that I could hear the resonance of the cabinet with bass heavy music (I was told that this is likely due to the transmission line design). In fact I had heard Focal 836Ws (and numerous other speakers) just before listening to the SongTowers and I felt that I liked the bass of Focal’s better. The Focal’s also had excellent midrange, but the tweeter did get a bit harsh when pushed (especially in my own listening area). So I left feeling that I wish I had the RAAL tweeter blended with the Focal woofers (something that I would never get). I then turned my attention to the Ascend Sierra Towers with RAAL with the hope that they would have midrange and bass that was comparable to or better than the Focal “W” cones.

    As I had hoped, the Ascends had the top end that I remembered and loved in the Salks. The midrange and bass also seemed to be very good. However, to be honest I noticed that I heard the sound of a woofer straining. I asked the owner if he had heard it and he didn’t think he did, but he stated that recently he noticed that when he pushed the Sierra Towers he would sometimes hear a sound as if one of the woofers was straining. Within 20 seconds of listening to Rusted Root’s Drum Ecstasy we located the blown woofer in his right speaker. I will be totally honest, I was disappointed that I was unable to hear the speaker at its best (because it seemed that it could be the best speaker for my tastes) and because I was a little concerned about its reliability (I’m one that listens at moderate to loud volumes).

    The owner recently stated that Dave sent him a replacement woofer and he would still like to have me over to listen to his Sierra Towers. As luck would have it, I will be going over to his house tomorrow during the day (because I have an extended holiday weekend) and this time I will be bringing my Def Tech BP30s with me to do a direct comparison. I’m very grateful to the owner of Sierra Towers for allowing me the chance to directly compare my speakers to his. The only other speakers that I have directly compared to my Def Tech are the Focal 836Ws and the Revel F32. I will post my thoughts if anyone is interested.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    134

    Default Re: Salk Songtower vs. Sierra Tower

    @mattcpt....yes, definitely post your review of the speakers after hearing them, I am curious to see what you thought of them, seeing as how you have listened to a number of other speakers, you have a good basis for comparison.

    Quote Originally Posted by mattcpt View Post
    I've heard both the "Supercharged" Salk SongTowers with RAAL and the Sierra Towers with RAAL, thanks to local owners that were kind enough to open their houses to a fellow audio enthusiast. I haven't had the opportunity to listen to the standard version of the SongTowers, but I would have paid a little more to have the "better" supercharged version if I were to have bought them. I didn't listen to them on the same day, but I did take notes on both speakers. In fact, I had listened to numerous speakers on the same days that I had listened to both the Ascend and Salk towers.

    I've been in the process of looking for new speakers to replace my Definitive Tech BP-30s for more than 3 years. I'm not in a rush (as you would guess). As much as I want to find speakers that would be a leap ahead in sound quality, I've come to realize that I enjoy the hunt for new speakers, and so there is some satisfaction to searching without having made a purchase. Like many others on this forum I have listened to everything that I can to learn more about what is out there, and what I like. I've listened to B&W, PSB, Def Tech, Martin Logan, Energy, Anthony Gallo Acoustics, Paradigm, Klipsch, Golden Ear, Totem, Polk, Boston Acoustics, Revel, Focal, Dynaudio, Salk Sound, Ascend Acoustics and others that aren’t coming to mind. I’ve had the chance to listen to the Focal and Revels in my listening room (thanks to local dealers).

    As far as the Salk and Ascends, I would say that they were both in my top five with my preference going to the Ascends. When I listened to the Salk Songtowers I was most impressed with the RAAL tweeters. They didn’t have the sibilance/ringing that I have heard in so many other tweeters (including my Def Tech). I thought that the midrange was very good, but I didn’t care for the bass. They sounded as if the bass was plenty deep, but I felt that it was a little slower than the Ascends and Focal 836W speakers. I also felt that I could hear the resonance of the cabinet with bass heavy music (I was told that this is likely due to the transmission line design). In fact I had heard Focal 836Ws (and numerous other speakers) just before listening to the SongTowers and I felt that I liked the bass of Focal’s better. The Focal’s also had excellent midrange, but the tweeter did get a bit harsh when pushed (especially in my own listening area). So I left feeling that I wish I had the RAAL tweeter blended with the Focal woofers (something that I would never get). I then turned my attention to the Ascend Sierra Towers with RAAL with the hope that they would have midrange and bass that was comparable to or better than the Focal “W” cones.

    As I had hoped, the Ascends had the top end that I remembered and loved in the Salks. The midrange and bass also seemed to be very good. However, to be honest I noticed that I heard the sound of a woofer straining. I asked the owner if he had heard it and he didn’t think he did, but he stated that recently he noticed that when he pushed the Sierra Towers he would sometimes hear a sound as if one of the woofers was straining. Within 20 seconds of listening to Rusted Root’s Drum Ecstasy we located the blown woofer in his right speaker. I will be totally honest, I was disappointed that I was unable to hear the speaker at its best (because it seemed that it could be the best speaker for my tastes) and because I was a little concerned about its reliability (I’m one that listens at moderate to loud volumes).

    The owner recently stated that Dave sent him a replacement woofer and he would still like to have me over to listen to his Sierra Towers. As luck would have it, I will be going over to his house tomorrow during the day (because I have an extended holiday weekend) and this time I will be bringing my Def Tech BP30s with me to do a direct comparison. I’m very grateful to the owner of Sierra Towers for allowing me the chance to directly compare my speakers to his. The only other speakers that I have directly compared to my Def Tech are the Focal 836Ws and the Revel F32. I will post my thoughts if anyone is interested.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Juliette, GA
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    403

    Default Why I Like This Community

    I haven't heard either, but it's refreshing to come to an online forum and see such polite, intelligent responses.

    Hat's off to Dave for setting the tone, both here and at other forums where he posts.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Salk Songtower vs. Sierra Tower

    Well, I was able to spend 4 hours listening to the Sierra Towers and my Def Tech BP-30s, and it only took 3 hours of round trip drive time (a long distance in my wife’s mind, but to me it was a short drive for the opportunity to directly compare my speakers with the Sierra Towers with RAAL). What also made this opportunity so beneficial for me was that the owner of the Sierra’s also has his speakers in the typical “Florida Room”. As on of my local audio dealers stated “the Florida Room is a speakers worst nightmare, it is just a large open space with high ceilings, multiple windows and often hard floors”. He would be right, both myself and the owner of the Sierra’s have high ceilings, hard floors (I have laminate over tile and he has marble) and multiple windows. My room is my worst “component”, but I have taken measures to improve the sound. I’ve added a large throw rug with thick pad and I’ve encouraged my wife to buy pillows, decorative blankets, etc… to absorb the sound (she was happy to oblige).

    We started by listening to multiple passages on his towers in 2 channels “direct” without a subwoofer. He owns an Onkyo receiver, Oppo BDP-95, Emotiva XPA-2, Emotiva XPA-3 and two Rythmik F12SEs (a very impressive system, certainly better components than mine). The moment of truth came when we switched to my Def Tech speakers. The differences between the two speakers were immediate and substantial.

    My initial impression was that the Def Techs had a sense of “warmth” or a weight to the bass that the Sierra Towers didn’t have. As I continued to listen I realized that the bass of the Def Techs was actually muffled/muddied in comparison to the Sierra’s. I found the Sierra’s midrange to be very clear with excellent separation between the individual instruments. Vocals were natural and gave me the “you are there feeling”. When we switched to my Def Techs I realized that they lacked the separation between instruments that I was enjoying on the Sierra Towers. The initial “warmth” that I was hearing now seemed as though it may be a smearing of sounds mixed with an unnatural bass boost that was present in the Def Techs. I think it’s possible that placing 4 drivers in the same cabinet with two on each side (for bipolar sound) could have been causing some of the problems. In fairness to the Def Techs, they were made 17 years ago and were considerably less expensive.

    As far as the treble goes, my earlier impressions regarding the sound of the RAAL tweeters were confirmed. They were more detailed and coherent than the Def Tech metal dome tweeters without the harshness. In fact, on numerous songs I noticed that the owner of the Sierras and myself were wincing in response to the bright (and at times grating) treble that the Def Techs were playing. The same material played through the Sierra Towers sounded much smoother and at times “airy”. I must say that the owner of the Sierra Towers was very polite. I could tell that he was as offended by the harsh treble of the Def Techs as I was during certain passages, but he showed great restraint and was careful not to criticize the sound until I first confirmed how bad I thought that they sounded.

    So to summarize, I thought that the Sierra Towers had excellent imaging, detailed but smooth treble, clear and natural midrange and articulate bass. However, every speaker has tradeoffs/weaknesses and if you were to ask me what I would like to improve about the Sierra Towers, I would say that I wish they were a little more dynamic. They provided very good impact, but if I were to compare them to the Focal 836Ws, I would say that the Focal’s had more punch to the bass. I would expect that the Focals have more impact because they use 3 woofers that are 6 ˝ inches plus a dedicated 6 ˝ inch midrange. They also retail for $4,500 (although I could get the floor model I demoed for significantly less). Overall, I found the improvement between the Sierra Towers and my Def Techs to be greater than the Focals.

    We then listened to the Sierra’s with one Rythmik subwoofer playing and I immediately realized how important it is for a subwoofer to be present on 2 channel music. Neither the Sierra Towers or my Def Tech speakers were capable of playing the bass that was present in the music. I found sound of the Sierra’s with the Rythmik to be excellent, and I will no doubt be purchasing a subwoofer for my system. I’m not sure if I will by a Rythmik, REL or the soon to be released JL Audio “E series” but I know that I will be buying one. To end the 4 hour listening session we put in some concert DVDs and then Avatar in 3D with both Rythmiks on. All I can say is “WOW!” If I had his sound system I would be encouraging my wife to go shopping with my daughter so that I could put in some movies and music and then crank the volume without restraint.

    So it looks like I will be calling Dave F. to see if he can make me one of his custom center channels to fit in my cabinet, as I feel confident now that the Sierra Towers will be my new speakers in the near future. That is unless Dave is planning on releasing a new tower with larger drivers and/or more of them!!
    Last edited by mattcpt; 07-23-2013 at 08:23 PM.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Posts
    134

    Default Re: Salk Songtower vs. Sierra Tower

    @mattCPT
    Glad to hear you got a chance to listen to the Sierra's now that they are "healthy," and sorry to her about your Def Techs...I had a chance to hear the Def Tech SM-55s recently and while they are a good speaker and their tweeter is decently well-behaved, some things are very harsh and pretty much "sting", notably cymbals and hi hats. I have yet to hear any speaker that trumps the Towers in all categories. You are correct about the Sierra not being the most punchy speaker out there, but that is actually a benefit for me, as my living room is small and in an apartment building, where I know that my neighbors would be taking out the pitch forks if I were using speakers that were any more bass heavy, ha! Im sure one can get a better speaker, I just haven't found it yet...and I've been auditioned many brands...Polk, Thiel, Def Tech, Paradigm, PSB (not sure what everyone raves about?), Revel, Dynaudio, Totem, B&W, Martin Logan, Focal, and Spendor. Out of all of these speakers, the only ones I liked were the Thiel and Focal models. The Thiel's SCS4T I think the model was, was AMAZING at low levels, but once you turn it up even to semi-moderate levels, they become extremely harsh, like Jekyll and Hyde. The Focals seemed very well behaved in the treble and had a very good midrange. The Spendor's had no top end, but a good midrange. The worst speakers of the bunch were the PSBs they were so harsh I could not finish listening to the song I had on- they were that bad. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy your Towers! I assume you will be getting the RAAL variant, right?


    Quote Originally Posted by mattcpt View Post
    Well, I was able to spend 4 hours listening to the Sierra Towers and my Def Tech BP-30s, and it only took 3 hours of round trip drive time (a long distance in my wife’s mind, but to me it was a short drive for the opportunity to directly compare my speakers with the Sierra Towers with RAAL). What also made this opportunity so beneficial for me was that the owner of the Sierra’s also has his speakers in the typical “Florida Room”. As on of my local audio dealers stated “the Florida Room is a speakers worst nightmare, it is just a large open space with high ceilings, multiple windows and often hard floors”. He would be right, both myself and the owner of the Sierra’s have high ceilings, hard floors (I have laminate over tile and he has marble) and multiple windows. My room is my worst “component”, but I have taken measures to improve the sound. I’ve added a large throw rug with thick pad and I’ve encouraged my wife to buy pillows, decorative blankets, etc… to absorb the sound (she was happy to oblige).

    We started by listening to multiple passages on his towers in 2 channels “direct” without a subwoofer. He owns an Onkyo receiver, Oppo BDP-95, Emotiva XPA-2, Emotiva XPA-3 and two Rythmik F12SEs (a very impressive system, certainly better components than mine). The moment of truth came when we switched to my Def Tech speakers. The differences between the two speakers were immediate and substantial.

    My initial impression was that the Def Techs had a sense of “warmth” or a weight to the bass that the Sierra Towers didn’t have. As I continued to listen I realized that the bass of the Def Techs was actually muffled/muddied in comparison to the Sierra’s. We turned up the volume and I began to hear a sound that I had never heard in my speakers before, it was the sound of a blown woofer. It felt like déjŕ vu, only this time the speaker on the right with a blown woofer was my Def Tech and not the Sierra. I was very disappointed because I had intended on selling my speakers in working condition when I settled on a replacement speaker. But now I need to either locate a woofer for my 17 year old speaker, or I will end up giving them away for next to nothing (anyone interested in 17 year old Def Tech BP-30 speakers with one blown woofer? I’ll make you a great deal!). On the plus side, the sound of the woofer was tolerable enough with moderate listening levels for us to continue the comparison and still distinguish between the sonic differences of the speakers.

    I found the Sierra’s midrange to be very clear with excellent separation between the individual instruments. Vocals were natural and gave me the “you are there feeling”. When we switched to my Def Techs I realized that they lacked the separation between instruments that I was enjoying on the Sierra Towers. The initial “warmth” that I was hearing now seemed as though it may be a smearing of sounds mixed with an unnatural bass boost that was present in the Def Techs. I think it’s possible that placing 4 drivers in the same cabinet with two on each side (for bipolar sound) could have been causing some of the problems. In fairness to the Def Techs, they were made 17 years ago and were considerably less expensive.

    As far as the treble goes, my earlier impressions regarding the sound of the RAAL tweeters were confirmed. They were more detailed and coherent than the Def Tech metal dome tweeters without the harshness. In fact, on numerous songs I noticed that the owner of the Sierras and myself were wincing in response to the bright (and at times grating) treble that the Def Techs were playing. The same material played through the Sierra Towers sounded much smoother and at times “airy”. I must say that the owner of the Sierra Towers was very polite. I could tell that he was as offended by the harsh treble of the Def Techs as I was during certain passages, but he showed great restraint and was careful not to criticize the sound until I first confirmed how bad I thought that they sounded.

    So to summarize, I thought that the Sierra Towers had excellent imaging, detailed but smooth treble, clear and natural midrange and articulate bass. However, every speaker has tradeoffs/weaknesses and if you were to ask me what I would like to improve about the Sierra Towers, I would say that I wish they were a little more dynamic. They provided very good impact, but if I were to compare them to the Focal 836Ws, I would say that the Focal’s had more punch to the bass. I would expect that the Focals have more impact because they use 3 woofers that are 6 ˝ inches plus a dedicated 6 ˝ inch midrange. They also retail for $4,500 (although I could get the floor model I demoed for significantly less). Overall, I found the improvement between the Sierra Towers and my Def Techs to be greater than the Focals.

    We then listened to the Sierra’s with one Rythmik subwoofer playing and I immediately realized how important it is for a subwoofer to be present on 2 channel music. Neither the Sierra Towers or my Def Tech speakers were capable of playing the bass that was present in the music. I found sound of the Sierra’s with the Rythmik to be excellent, and I will no doubt be purchasing a subwoofer for my system. I’m not sure if I will by a Rythmik, REL or the soon to be released JL Audio “E series” but I know that I will be buying one. To end the 4 hour listening session we put in some concert DVDs and then Avatar in 3D with both Rythmiks on. All I can say is “WOW!” If I had his sound system I would be encouraging my wife to go shopping with my daughter so that I could put in some movies and music and then crank the volume without restraint.

    So it looks like I will be calling Dave F. to see if he can make me one of his custom center channels to fit in my cabinet, as I feel confident now that the Sierra Towers will be my new speakers in the near future. That is unless Dave is planning on releasing a new tower with larger drivers and/or more of them!!

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Salk Songtower vs. Sierra Tower

    Yes, I will go with the RAAL for sure because I had a chance to hear it (very important for me) and I found it to be my favorite for treble reproduction (although I also really liked the Anthony Gallo tweeters, but found fault with the dynamics (Strada) or found them to be exceptionally warm with too much bass (CL-4)). The local Sierra Tower owner, who's house I drove to yesterday, is Cane1992 (a member of this forum). Although, he states that he doesn't spend as much time on the forum now that he has purchased his speaker system. I'm sure I will be the same, as I will be spending more time thinking about the next component that I want to upgrade.

    I'm a little jealous of Cane1992, not just because of the great sound system that he has put together, but because he fell upon Ascend many years ago when he purchased a pair of the Ascend CBM-170, Paradigm monitors and Axiom monitors for an in-house speaker shoot out. He obviously kept the Ascends. His explanation was that "they didn't look as nice, but they sounded so much better". When he decided to upgrade he just purchased the Sierra Towers without having done a lot of comparison. He did however state that he had the Towers with the dome tweeters while he was waiting for his RAAL Towers to be made (he stated that the difference between the dome and RAAL were not substantial, but that he liked the added sense of air and articulation of acoustic music that the RAAL provided).

    I'm the type of person that needs to listen to as much as I can to see what is out there and what I feel matches my tastes (I'm very aware that people have different preferences for sound not to mention different capabilities of their hearing). I wouldn't do it differently because I wouldn't have enjoyed the Sierra's as much if I hadn't listened to so many other speakers to get an appreciation for what they do so right. I would be left with that "what if" feeling.

    Having said that, there are speakers that I didn't have a chance to listen to that I would have liked to if it wasn’t too much work. Some examples are VMPS, Anthony Gallo Reference 3.5, Geddy Lee and Emerald Physics. Will that bother me? No, because even if the Geddy Lee, Emerald Physics, or Gallo Ref 3.5s sound better than the Sierra Towers, my wife wouldn't be happy to have them in our house (truth be told, I wouldn't like to look at them in our house either, I would just like to listen out of curiosity). The VMPS may be a great speaker, but I would need to drive approximately 8 hours round trip just to listen to them. I haven't heard the Thiels, but I have heard from others that they become harsh when pushed, and I'm trying to get away from the harshness of my Def Tech, so I don't have any interest in them.

    I know what you mean about being disappointed with the performance of the PSB speakers. I felt the same as you; I didn’t understand what all the good reviews were about. There were a few other speakers that fell notably short of my expectations; Golden Ear – bright top end, no mid range magic and bass that lacked the articulation of the Ascends or Focals, KEF R900 – bright on the top end and over emphasized bass on the bottom (the dealer agreed and actually stated “I usually keep them hooked up to an equalizer to smooth out the sound, but I didn’t for you because you stated you wanted to use them for 2 channel listening”, and the Anthony Gallo CL-4 – great tweeter with smooth treble, but the sound was overly “warm” with cabinet resonance that was greater than most any other speaker that I heard. It was the opposite of the clean articulate (almost electrostatic) sound of the Strada’s).

    I find it interesting that both you (parimento1) and I ended up with a top three that included the Ascends and the Focals. I found the Focals to sound great at low to moderate levels, but at moderate to loud levels the sharpness of the treble became a deal breaker for me. As I made reference to before, my reasonably priced dream speakers would be Focal 836Ws with the RAAL tweeters or Sierra Towers with RAAL and larger drivers or more of them. If Dave is working on such a thing, I would buy Ascend monitors with subwoofer to hold me over until the new towers are ready. If he has no plan for such a speaker I will buy the Sierra Towers with a subwoofer and feel comfortable knowing that I had found the best “compromise” for my tastes. Don’t get me wrong, I had a big smile on my face when listening to the Sierra Towers with RAAL, especially with the Rythmik subwoofer running at the same time. It was the best all around sound that I had heard, and most importantly to me is that it was while listening in an environment that is most similar to my own. I would have thought that the Focal speakers would edge out the Sierra’s until I heard them in my own environment. The dealer had low ceilings, carpeting and sound treatments on the walls, all of which made a significant difference to the sound. I noticed some sharpness in the show room, but in my house the Focals sounded much less warm.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Salk Songtower vs. Sierra Tower

    mattcpt i have been looking at the focal 836v and the sierra tower not made up my mind yet on the raals.could you tell me some more comparisons between the two,iam still on the fence on which to choose.thanks steve.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    243

    Default Re: Salk Songtower vs. Sierra Tower

    Quote Originally Posted by mattcpt View Post
    Yes, I will go with the RAAL for sure because I had a chance to hear it (very important for me) and I found it to be my favorite for treble reproduction (although I also really liked the Anthony Gallo tweeters, but found fault with the dynamics (Strada) or found them to be exceptionally warm with too much bass (CL-4)). The local Sierra Tower owner, who's house I drove to yesterday, is Cane1992 (a member of this forum). Although, he states that he doesn't spend as much time on the forum now that he has purchased his speaker system. I'm sure I will be the same, as I will be spending more time thinking about the next component that I want to upgrade.

    I'm a little jealous of Cane1992, not just because of the great sound system that he has put together, but because he fell upon Ascend many years ago when he purchased a pair of the Ascend CBM-170, Paradigm monitors and Axiom monitors for an in-house speaker shoot out. He obviously kept the Ascends. His explanation was that "they didn't look as nice, but they sounded so much better". When he decided to upgrade he just purchased the Sierra Towers without having done a lot of comparison. He did however state that he had the Towers with the dome tweeters while he was waiting for his RAAL Towers to be made (he stated that the difference between the dome and RAAL were not substantial, but that he liked the added sense of air and articulation of acoustic music that the RAAL provided).

    I'm the type of person that needs to listen to as much as I can to see what is out there and what I feel matches my tastes (I'm very aware that people have different preferences for sound not to mention different capabilities of their hearing). I wouldn't do it differently because I wouldn't have enjoyed the Sierra's as much if I hadn't listened to so many other speakers to get an appreciation for what they do so right. I would be left with that "what if" feeling.

    Having said that, there are speakers that I didn't have a chance to listen to that I would have liked to if it wasn’t too much work. Some examples are VMPS, Anthony Gallo Reference 3.5, Geddy Lee and Emerald Physics. Will that bother me? No, because even if the Geddy Lee, Emerald Physics, or Gallo Ref 3.5s sound better than the Sierra Towers, my wife wouldn't be happy to have them in our house (truth be told, I wouldn't like to look at them in our house either, I would just like to listen out of curiosity). The VMPS may be a great speaker, but I would need to drive approximately 8 hours round trip just to listen to them. I haven't heard the Thiels, but I have heard from others that they become harsh when pushed, and I'm trying to get away from the harshness of my Def Tech, so I don't have any interest in them.

    I know what you mean about being disappointed with the performance of the PSB speakers. I felt the same as you; I didn’t understand what all the good reviews were about. There were a few other speakers that fell notably short of my expectations; Golden Ear – bright top end, no mid range magic and bass that lacked the articulation of the Ascends or Focals, KEF R900 – bright on the top end and over emphasized bass on the bottom (the dealer agreed and actually stated “I usually keep them hooked up to an equalizer to smooth out the sound, but I didn’t for you because you stated you wanted to use them for 2 channel listening”, and the Anthony Gallo CL-4 – great tweeter with smooth treble, but the sound was overly “warm” with cabinet resonance that was greater than most any other speaker that I heard. It was the opposite of the clean articulate (almost electrostatic) sound of the Strada’s).

    I find it interesting that both you (parimento1) and I ended up with a top three that included the Ascends and the Focals. I found the Focals to sound great at low to moderate levels, but at moderate to loud levels the sharpness of the treble became a deal breaker for me. As I made reference to before, my reasonably priced dream speakers would be Focal 836Ws with the RAAL tweeters or Sierra Towers with RAAL and larger drivers or more of them. If Dave is working on such a thing, I would buy Ascend monitors with subwoofer to hold me over until the new towers are ready. If he has no plan for such a speaker I will buy the Sierra Towers with a subwoofer and feel comfortable knowing that I had found the best “compromise” for my tastes. Don’t get me wrong, I had a big smile on my face when listening to the Sierra Towers with RAAL, especially with the Rythmik subwoofer running at the same time. It was the best all around sound that I had heard, and most importantly to me is that it was while listening in an environment that is most similar to my own. I would have thought that the Focal speakers would edge out the Sierra’s until I heard them in my own environment. The dealer had low ceilings, carpeting and sound treatments on the walls, all of which made a significant difference to the sound. I noticed some sharpness in the show room, but in my house the Focals sounded much less warm.
    Those focal look so nice, but i have seen the lower 700 series toss around as being garbage speaker. i would think the 700 is much cheaper. Three 6.5 woofer should have more surface area then two 5.25 woofer. The money would be spend on a pair of subs.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    26

    Default Re: Salk Songtower vs. Sierra Tower

    Hi Swallan,
    I've heard the Focal 826V and the 836W series. I haven't heard the 836Vs, so I can only give you my opinion between what I heard, and it will be hard for me to say definitively how much of the differences I heard were due to the upgraded "W" series woofer (technology taken from Focal's high end Utopia line), or the fact that the 836W has an added woofer.

    What I can say is that compared to the 826V the 836W had improved clarity in the midrange (vocals and instruments sounded very natural and unstrained even at louder levels). I could also hear very good separation of instruments and an improved soundstage. The bass on the 836W was obviously better with the added woofer and improved drivers, but it would still have benefited from the addition of a good subwoofer.

    One thing about the 836W that I loved was the speed/articulation of the “W” woofers. I found that they had a fast, clean, energetic sound that made me want to turn up the volume. I’ve noticed that some speakers completely fall apart when you turn them up, others hold together better but sound like they are straining and make you feel as if you should turn the volume down (especially on songs with a lot going on, such as orchestras, or with bass heavy music), but the 836W never sounded like the woofers were straining, they just rewarded me with clean, dynamic sound (with the exception of the tweeter, that had a sharpness/brightness to it).

    In comparison, I found the 826V to be much more average in sound. It was still a solid sounding speaker, but it didn’t have the same level of articulation or effortlessness to its sound reproduction. If I were to choose between the 836V and the Sierra Tower with RAAL it would be an easy choice because I didn’t find that the Focal V series was as enjoyable as the W series and I have already concluded that for my tastes I would go with the Sierra Tower over the more expensive Focal 836W.

    If you love the Focal sound and plan on using a subwoofer then I would recommend giving the 826W a listen over the 836V since it should have much of the positive attributes of the 836W with a little less bass. I was actually considering this option until I heard the 836W in my listening environment and realized that the treble, though better than many metal dome tweeters, was just a little to sharp/harsh for my tastes. Now that I have heard the RAAL in both the Song Towers and Sierra Towers, I don’t have any desire to own the Focals (at least not with the current tweeter). When listening to songs like “Time to say goodbye” – Andre Bocelli, “Just another day” – Jon Secada (just two examples) I noticed that the Sierra Towers with RAAL did an excellent job of reproducing the vocals with almost no hint of harshness, where in contrast the Focal 836W had a noticeable increase in the amount of harshness/brightness that I was hearing. I’m very sensitive to bright speakers (especially with the type of listening environment that I have), so for me I would choose the smoothness of the RAAL over the Focal tweeters.

    I’ve never listened to the 700 series, but being that they are below the 800V series that I wasn’t overly impressed with, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were an average to below average speaker.

  10. #20
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Salk Songtower vs. Sierra Tower

    thanks mattcpt for the great response you gave me you have pretty much made my choice a lot easier.sometime down the line wii be looking at the sierra.

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