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Salk WoW1 Bookshelf Speaker Review

Xulonn

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When I see that, I know they are taking the time to perfect each model.
Really? I know that Burchart speakers are quite good, but no loudspeaker is "perfect". Indeed, based on Amir's measurements and review of the Burchardt S400, I would say they are heading in a good direction, but still far from perfection.

Technically, perfection would be a speaker that is ±0.0db from 20Hz - 20kHz across a listening area. Unfortunately, acoustics in any space will not permit that, even if transducers could produce perfect output.) Perfection means no further improvement is possible, and "perfection" is not possible in the design of loudspeakers. Engineering and design staff can only balance variables with compromises that make a range of sonic "flavors" available. Even if 85% of random groups with verified good hearing who are selected for testing by Harman and others prefer a particular sonic profile, that does not mean that the likely range of "preferences" associated with the other 15% are based on "imperfections" and therefore invalid.

Quite frankly I subjectively see Burchardt speakers, in spite of their good performance, as unattractive, sharp-edged monkey coffins that will appeal only to those who like modern styles and interior decor - which is a lot of people. However, they will likely not appeal to those who prefer more organic or traditional decor. OTOH, I consider Salk speakers with their exquisite veneer finishes to be absolutely beautiful. If my budget were not so limited, I very well might have ordered a pair of Salk Song Towers and center speaker with a custom veneer.

It should be obvious from my comments that I love beautiful wood as much as I like excellent music from my audio system. Below is a picture of "Oasis", my 2011 award-winning African bubinga and quilted big-leaf quilted maple woodturning piece. That turning sits on my media stand between my Wharfedale D320s with their faux rosewood enclosures with their rounded edges and corners.)

Oasis3[16].JPG
 
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The port resonance is unfortunate. Otherwise this is another tiny speaker Amir didn't like. Surprise! Small speakers don't work for him in his big room.

These are insensitive. A real 80dB because of the 85dB woofer and then having BSC applied.

There's nothing wrong with the design except it's got limited output capability and that troublesome port resonance.

The tweeter here doesn't really struggle at 96dB either. It's a gentle rise of 2nd order at a completely inaudible level and frequency range. Struggling is when the 3rd, 4th and 5th shoot up dramatically. Lots of tweeters these days are actually designed to favour having high amounts of 2nd order but very low of the other orders.

If you plug the ports then the only EQ you'd want to apply is the one for your room mode. How is this a bad design? It would literally need zero EQ in a system with subwoofers and blocked ports. This is the only way you'd ever be happy with them in that huge room anyway.

I once again ask that Amir use small speakers in a small, 3*3 meter or so, room and at volumes they were designed for. You're constantly slamming small speakers for having relatively little bass and falling to bits at loud volumes...well what a surprise! They weren't designed for this. Stop using them in a way that they would never be purchased for.
 

richard12511

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The port resonance is unfortunate. Otherwise this is another tiny speaker Amir didn't like. Surprise! Small speakers don't work for him in his big room.

These are insensitive. A real 80dB because of the 85dB woofer and then having BSC applied.

There's nothing wrong with the design except it's got limited output capability and that troublesome port resonance.

The tweeter here doesn't really struggle at 96dB either. It's a gentle rise of 2nd order at a completely inaudible level and frequency range. Struggling is when the 3rd, 4th and 5th shoot up dramatically. Lots of tweeters these days are actually designed to favour having high amounts of 2nd order but very low of the other orders.

If you plug the ports then the only EQ you'd want to apply is the one for your room mode. How is this a bad design? It would literally need zero EQ in a system with subwoofers and blocked ports. This is the only way you'd ever be happy with them in that huge room anyway.

I once again ask that Amir use small speakers in a small, 3*3 meter or so, room and at volumes they were designed for. You're constantly slamming small speakers for having relatively little bass and falling to bits at loud volumes...well what a surprise! They weren't designed for this. Stop using them in a way that they would never be purchased for.
I agree that testing small speakers in a smaller room and closer would be much more valuable for potential buyers.
 

ROOSKIE

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I once again ask that Amir use small speakers in a small, 3*3 meter or so, room and at volumes they were designed for. You're constantly slamming small speakers for having relatively little bass and falling to bits at loud volumes...well what a surprise! They weren't designed for this. Stop using them in a way that they would never be purchased for.
I do have to agree. It is not fair to accommodate the Revel Outdoor speaker ( in the next test) and not be willing to accommodate the small speaker niche and typical design goals. (He can still test for SPL and other factors just to be able to communicate the limits for those that may want to stretch the speaker a bit)
Might be wise as well to keep a small sub on hand to pair with these small units to subjective test with in the big room. IMHO that would give a fairer idea of what is possible. Almost anyone buying these can hide a sub in the room. (or not hide it if minimal system impact isn't the goal in buying small speakers for a larger room)

That said I still don't think this speaker is worth $1600 regardless of the cabinetry. If this is going to be basically hidden on a bookshelf does it really need this cabinetry? Or in near field? Why? Total waste in my mind. (despite my views - as he said they do sell, so hey that does have to factor for a biz)

Re-guarding the port - the designer could use a bottom vent and small "pedestal" ala Wharfedale and others. Or even better in such a small $1600 speaker put a passive radiator on top ala Definitive and others and totally eliminate the interference issues. Either way it works near a wall. Just way to easy to solve much of this port issue.
 
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ROOSKIE

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I would really love to see the SS 7M measured, as it’s basically the bigger brother to the BMR:
View attachment 75088

At ~$5000 I would love to see what improvements there are (and while @hardisj measured the BMR, Amir would have to too for good measure :) ).
YES! Send these bad boys in @jsalk !

I've comment twice on this already and been following the back and forth about who has the burden of proof.

Interesting debate but IMHO it totally misses the point.
This isn't a logic argument or a court case, this is a heart to heart man. The person who is responsible for "proving" something is the person who cares, and that better be you my book. (and I do NOT say this in a challenging or threatening tone, I just really want to see you slam dunk from the free-throw line. You speakers look AWESOME, completely AWESOME and your reputation as a person is high level. I want to see you rock this!)
 

Selah Audio

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That was more than 10 years ago... I've totally forgotten about Selah and Salk until this thread brought all those memories back. To me they don't even exist anymore.

This is what I'm lusting: 8351 and W371 stereo system
I looked back in my records
It's funny that you mention Selah, I think they are in the same boat as Salk. I was curious at the time with all the hype around those new speaker makers and bought one pair of one of their 3 way tower speakers. I always had issues with those speakers, I was never able to make them sound right... Eventually I gave up and replaced them with the SEAS Thor that completely outperformed them in every way. A DYI speaker using SEAS's high end drivers but properly designed by professionals who actually know how to design a speaker system (and speaker drivers). I think the key here is design vs build. I can build audio gear (not speaker cabinets so well), but designing is something very different.

I bet JBL is not starting from scratch with every new line, they are likely improvements of the previous one. And I'm not looking at Polk, especially if they haven't been investing in R&D.

My constructive feedback to both Salk, Selah and any other similar company would be:
  1. Understand what your customer needs are and focus on it. I for one want ultimate transparency in speakers but something I'd be happy to look at every day in my living room (pro gear is often not visually compatible in a domestic environment - tends to be ugly and/or plasticky)
  2. Based on that, establish a line of products that solve those needs starting with the most popular (I'll guess a bookshelf "monitor" speaker)
  3. Spend a year designing the best bookshelf speaker you can, define your requirements, learn everything there's to learn, iterate until you have a satisfactory result, focus on sound quality
  4. Shift to the second most popular type of speaker (another guess: a small near field desktop speaker)
  5. Keep what you have perfected - in Salk's case, cabinet craftsmanship and customization
  6. Establish a line of 3 or 5 products that you know are as good as or better then each segment's reference
  7. Use your direct to consumer model to provide value and an attainable price
  8. Send your master piece to Amir and let him validate your work :)
I'd be interested in buying one pair.
I looked back in all of my records and am not even sure what speakers you're talking about. Please respond to my message from yesterday.
 
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amirm

amirm

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I once again ask that Amir use small speakers in a small, 3*3 meter or so, room and at volumes they were designed for. You're constantly slamming small speakers for having relatively little bass and falling to bits at loud volumes...well what a surprise! They weren't designed for this. Stop using them in a way that they would never be purchased for.
I test every speaker in the same location and setup so there is one less variable. Testing one speaker in small room and another in larger one but with unified scoring will be confusing as heck to people.

I make comments on loudness ability and show measurements so that should give heads up to people.

Also, there are small speakers that don't have problems in the same location.
 

EchoChamber

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Really? I know that Burchart speakers are quite good, but no loudspeaker is "perfect". Indeed, based on Amir's measurements and review of the Burchardt S400, I would say they are heading in a good direction, but still far from perfection.
In this context, to perfect means to work toward the goal of having a perfect product within the specified requirements, a goal that's never attainable because nothing is perfect, but if a team specifies the perfect achievement, i.e., their North Star, they have a greater chance to get close to it.

Technically, perfection would be a speaker that is ±0.0db from 20Hz - 20kHz across a listening area. Unfortunately, acoustics in any space will not permit that, even if transducers could produce perfect output.) Perfection means no further improvement is possible, and "perfection" is not possible in the design of loudspeakers. Engineering and design staff can only balance variables with compromises that make a range of sonic "flavors" available. Even if 85% of random groups with verified good hearing who are selected for testing by Harman and others prefer a particular sonic profile, that does not mean that the likely range of "preferences" associated with the other 15% are based on "imperfections" and therefore invalid.
I think we can aspire towards perfection. We might get there sometime, or very close to it... But we must first define what we want. I think you just did. :)

Quite frankly I subjectively see Burchardt speakers, in spite of their good performance, as unattractive, sharp-edged monkey coffins that will appeal only to those who like modern styles and interior decor - which is a lot of people. However, they will likely not appeal to those who prefer more organic or traditional decor. OTOH, I consider Salk speakers with their exquisite veneer finishes to be absolutely beautiful. If my budget were not so limited, I very well might have ordered a pair of Salk Song Towers and center speaker with a custom veneer.
That's fine, I think this is a matter of taste and I am not judging or arguing interior design preferences, just sound quality. I'm certainly not here to tell anyone how to decorate their living room or what furniture to buy. I used Buchardt just as an example to show how a promising new company develops their product line. I don't own my S400 anymore, they were not perfect either... But my guess is that their new A500 active bookshelf will be excellent and surpass the S400.
 

beefkabob

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If a company has one bad product, it doesn't mean all their products are bad. A bad product is one that does not perform well in consideration of price. If all we have is one bad data point, it is reasonable to assume that the other speakers from that manufacturer will be equally badly performing, until proven otherwise. It's just inductive logic. Salk went from nobody having a clue how they actually perform to us having one bad data point. Schitt had some bad data points, so they turned their performance around and earned some great data points. Good for them. Salk can do the same. Or they can just sell with fancy furniture, fandom, and the circle of confusion.

And would people please stop saying how they hear multiple speakers from Salk that sounded great? Your psychoacoustics-influenced opinion is less than worthless. Give yourself a double blind experiment, level matched, or leave us alone. Or tell us even your wife can tell from the kitchen that the speakers are amazeballs. Hell, the only reasona to read Amirm's opinions are that he's a trained listener, he listens to speakers in the same room, and he has some interesting musical choices.

I'm totally kidding. His subjective opinions are about as worthless as everybody else's. Still, some great and interesting musical choices.
 

richard12511

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If a company has one bad product, it doesn't mean all their products are bad. A bad product is one that does not perform well in consideration of price. If all we have is one bad data point, it is reasonable to assume that the other speakers from that manufacturer will be equally badly performing, until proven otherwise. It's just inductive logic. Salk went from nobody having a clue how they actually perform to us having one bad data point. Schitt had some bad data points, so they turned their performance around and earned some great data points. Good for them. Salk can do the same. Or they can just sell with fancy furniture, fandom, and the circle of confusion.

And would people please stop saying how they hear multiple speakers from Salk that sounded great? Your psychoacoustics-influenced opinion is less than worthless. Give yourself a double blind experiment, level matched, or leave us alone. Or tell us even your wife can tell from the kitchen that the speakers are amazeballs. Hell, the only reasona to read Amirm's opinions are that he's a trained listener, he listens to speakers in the same room, and he has some interesting musical choices.

I'm totally kidding. His subjective opinions are about as worthless as everybody else's. Still, some great and interesting musical choices.
90% of the overall panther rating(and recommendation) is based on his subjective opinion. How is that worthless?
 

beefkabob

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90% of the overall panther rating(and recommendation) is based on his subjective opinion. How is that worthless?
The panthers? They're usually on point. Sometimes I think he's a bit harsh. I think these deserve headless because they underperform ao badly for the price, but I have seen others where he just does armless and seem overpriced too. But I don't care about the panthers. I care about performance.
 

richard12511

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The panthers? They're usually on point. Sometimes I think he's a bit harsh. I think these deserve headless because they underperform ao badly for the price, but I have seen others where he just does armless and seem overpriced too. But I don't care about the panthers. I care about performance.
The panthers definitely matter in the context of the review. I agree that a headless panther is appropriate for this example.
 

Dennis Murphy

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I would really love to see the SS 7M measured, as it’s basically the bigger brother to the BMR:
View attachment 75088

At ~$5000 I would love to see what improvements there are (and while @hardisj measured the BMR, Amir would have to too for good measure :) ).
That's another old, odd duck in the Salk line that is rarely ordered. I certainly didn't have it in mind when I designed the BMR, and its horizontal dispersion won't be nearly as wide as the BMR's. The BEATs tower is a much more current design that's more representative of what Jim is actually selling these days.
 

Bachemar

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That's another old, odd duck in the Salk line that is rarely ordered. I certainly didn't have it in mind when I designed the BMR, and its horizontal dispersion won't be nearly as wide as the BMR's. The BEATs tower is a much more current design that's more representative of what Jim is actually selling these days.
Considering this statement, as well as Jim’s concern for maintaining these designs in the event that they meet some customers needs. It might be a good idea for Jim to move these designs into an “old and odd duck” :p section of his website, so customers can easily see the current offerings, without losing access to designs for those situations where they make sense
 

Dennis Murphy

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Considering this statement, as well as Jim’s concern for maintaining these designs in the event that they meet some customers needs. It might be a good idea for Jim to move these designs into an “old and odd duck” :p section of his website, so customers can easily see the current offerings, without losing access to designs for those situations where they make sense
That actually makes some sense to me, although I think the "Odd Duck" category should be reserved for the crossover designer.
 

Dennis Murphy

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And just in case it was missed before. I do currently have an order in for a pair of BeATs and I live about 20 minutes from Amir. I will get my pair tested as soon as they arrive.[/QUOT
Right, although I didn't realize you were so close to Amir. Did Jim give you any ETA on the speaks?
 
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I test every speaker in the same location and setup so there is one less variable. Testing one speaker in small room and another in larger one but with unified scoring will be confusing as heck to people.

I make comments on loudness ability and show measurements so that should give heads up to people.

Also, there are small speakers that don't have problems in the same location.
I don't remember one passive speaker with a 4" driver and small cabinet that you've reviewed favourably. Nevertheless some will be able to play louder and lower than others. This seems to be the massively overriding factor with small speakers and your subjective impressions. If it can't go loud enough or low enough to fill your space, regardless of how well designed it is, you don't like it. This is not fair to small speakers that were never intended to do so. If a speaker struggles to fill your space you absolutely have to try it in a smaller room.

It's like I could give you a tiny pair of Bluetooth speakers that were designed for being listened to 30cm away at low volumes. When used that way they sound fantastic, but you'd put them in your big room and go well they can't go loud and low enough so they are bad speakers.

As much as I dislike florid prose, and the usual subjective hifi reviews, at least the magazines get it right in this regard. Usually placing small speakers in small rooms and going from there.

I thought the unified scoring was systematic and ignored your subjective impressions. No one is asking you to measure the small speakers somewhere else just start off listening to them there. It's not hard.
 
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