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SA-10 Set Up & Listening:
I set the SA-10s up on my 24” Atacama, sand-filled speaker stands. The SA-10s feature upward-facing binding posts near the top of the speaker, which is a bit unusual. It turns out this is a rather clever design choice, as the CQ500 is a somewhat heavy speaker cable and the binding posts prevent the speakers from being dragged down off stands and help suspend cables off the floor for less clutter. Set up, the speakers are attractive and blend nicely with my wood floors. Their retro look even charmed my wife.
From the first few notes of music, it's clear the SA-10s are nicely balanced, with an emphasis on a prominent, lush midrange. The clear sonic resemblance to the aforementioned LS3/5a did not surprise me. The original Rogers BBC monitor is a highly prized collectible speaker through out Asia. It sold 50,000 pairs world wide, and I myself have owned two pairs. Trends may have used the LS3/5a as a template but they also had the benefit of the three decades of known speaker design refinements. The SA-10 offers a bit more resolution and a more even balance than a vintage BBC style monitor. The SA-10 also goes a wee bit lower in bass, spec wise, and is easier to drive.
On a 1974 live recording of the classic band Chicago from Louisville, Kentucky, when the band was near it’s peak, the music is vibrant, and spreads across a wider soundstage than I had anticipated. Imagined detail is also quite pleasing. On such powerhouse numbers as “Beginnings” and “Saturday In The Park”, the horns have nice body and the individual parts in the trademark harmony vocals are easy to follow.
One of my favorite albums from last year was Pink Martini’s 1969, cut with a well-known Japanese vocalist Saori Yuki. The album is lush, and features classic early to mid 60’s style arrangements. Through SA-10s it is irresistible. Again, imaging is very good, midrange textures are very nice, and tonality is natural, which had me searching out a lot of acoustic jazz and classic singer songwriter recordings.
Of course, nothing is perfect, and neither are the SA-10s. They certainly won’t fill up more than a medium size room. Low bass was missing in action, and the scale of the music was certainly smaller than when played through my Harbeth’s which are about two and half times the size of the SA-10’s. All of this is to be expected with a speaker this small, but regardless of these obvious shortcomings, they are highly enjoyable to listen to in the correct environment, which are small rooms, and in desktop set ups, which I am in the process now of setting up.