Salk Sound, Schiit Audio – RMAF 2019

The Salk Sound SS9.5 BeAT with Schiit Audio Bifrost 2 and Sol Turntable at RMAF 2019.

The Salk Sound and Schiit Audio exhibit at Rocky Mountain Audio Fest 2019 was filled to the brim with debut and “still debuting” audio kit.

From Salk Sound their newest flagship model, the SS9.5 BeAT ($9,595 pr USD) which is based in part on the popular Song3 BeAT ($4,495 pr USD) which was also showing at RMAF 2019.

The new SS9.5 BeAT, as the name suggests, uses a beryllium tweeter and AudioTechnology (AT) midrange, the same Satori model tweeter and AudioTechnology midrange used in the Song3 BeAT. Carried over from Salk’s SS8’s are the Satori 9.5” woofer, the use of an open-back mid-range, and the inclusion of two side-firing passive radiators per speaker.

Also on display from Salk Sound, used alternatively in the system, the SS6M Monitor ($3,595 pr USD) along with Salk Sound Streamplayer Gen II ($1,695 USD) which was in use throughout the audio show weekend.

From Schiit Audio, enough new audio gear to choke a team of horses. The single “not-new” product on display was the Mani Phono Preamplifier ($129 USD). A few products on display from Schiit qualify as “still-new”. They include the Freya S Solid-State Preamplifier ($599 USD), the Aegir Stereo Amplifier ($799 USD) of which two were running in a mono-block configuration.

Brand-spanking-new were Schiit Audio’s SOL Turntable (estimated $799 USD) and Bifrost 2 DAC ($699 USD).

The SOL is a cast-aluminum turntable, featuring an unconstrained unipivot, 11” carbon fiber arm, with on-the-fly VTA adjustment, and separate-motor-pod. The SOL is a Made-In-USA turntable.

The Bifrost 2 DAC is… well, it’s a DAC. What more do you want from me? Okay, the Bifrost 2 is a Multibit DAC that uses Gungnir-class AD5781 D/A converters, adds a remote control and balanced outputs, debuts Schiit’s new trademarked Unison USB input, as well as their  trademarked Autonomy platform for easy hardware and firmware upgrades in the field.

How’s it all sound? Well, not to blur things up too much, I heard the Salk Sound SS9.5’s on McGary tube amplifiers at Axpona 2019 and it was absolutely awesome. The Salk and McGary combination in multiple formations is a pairing that elevates both brands to new heights. I’ve written that the McGary/Salk combination is the right way to go.

However. And it’s a big however. Here we are with a completely solid-state system. Where Salk in the past with all solid-state systems I’ve heard — to be kind — hasn’t shone so brightly. In the case of Schiit Audio and Salk Sound, using the new Freya S preamplifier with Nexus engaged, and the Aegirs in mono-block formation, I’m thoroughly confused as to which way is the right way.

Not to say that there aren’t differences or that I can’t hear them. I’ve found both. The point is, the SS9.5’s sound really damn good on both. Schiit’s Aegir in mono-block configuration only crushes out 80-watts per channel, and the Salk’s are traditionally known to bloom with ample power. Here at RMAF 2019, everything I hear from the Schiit/Salk combination has me thinking the old cliche is true. There’s more than one way to skin the “audio-bliss-cat.”

by Eric Franklin Shook