From the Synchrony One to the Salon2

To Doug Schneider,

I was reading your wonderful review of the Revel Ultima Salon2s and noticed that you had the PSB Synchrony One listed with your associated equipment. I am a current owner of the PSBs and was interested in the Revels. I really love the Synchrony Ones, but am finally able to afford to upgrade. Do you think that I would like the sound of the Salons after owning the PSBs.

Thank you,
Mark Powers

PSB's Synchrony One has been one of the very best values in high-end audio for quite some time. The speaker currently retails for $5000 and not only performs extraordinarily well for the price, it can also better speakers costing much more. Credit for its quality goes to PSB’s founder Paul Barton, one of the top designers in the world. I’m not surprised that you like them.

But that doesn’t mean that the Synchrony One can’t be bettered. Revel’s Ultima Salon2 is, to my ears, better in a number of areas, which you’d expect, given that it’s more than four times the Synchrony One’s price. (The last time I looked, the Salon2’s retail price was $21,998 per pair.) Like the One, the Salon2 is a leader at its price point. I believe it hasn’t been equaled in overall sound quality to well-known competitors anywhere near its price -- this includes models from Avalon (Transcendent), Wilson Audio Specialties (Duette, Sophia Series 3, and Sasha), and YG Acoustics (Carmel, Anat Reference Main Module, and Kipod). This doesn't mean that everyone will share this opinion, but that's been my experience.

The speaker that I reviewed that came close to rivalling it is Vivid Audio’s B1, which is a very good loudspeaker priced at $15,000 per pair (and the one I’d consider if your budget can’t stretch to what the Salon2 costs). From the midrange on up the two speakers were peers. When it came to mid and low bass, though, the Salon2 was decidedly superior, which is what you’d expect, given that there’s still a big enough difference in price between them.

In my opinion, the Salon2 is your best choice, particularly since you already like the Synchrony One. The speakers from Revel and PSB are cut from the same cloth and designed using the same guiding principles that stemmed from Dr. Floyd Toole's NRC research in the '80s. Where the Salon2 steps ahead of the One is mostly in bass -- it can stretch down to 20Hz, whereas the Synchrony One falls off an octave above that. I also found that the Salon2’s beryllium-dome tweeter is smoother and sweeter than the One’s more typical aluminum dome. Throughout the midband the differences aren’t so apparent, but there are some. I hope this information helps and I wouldn't mind hearing from you when you ultimately decide. . . . Doug Schneider