I haven't heard the Ascends but I did have the Hsu bookshelf speakers and the STF-2. The HB-1 Mk2's are very good. Even though they have horns, they are not harsh at all - very smooth sound. I sold my STF-2 and now have a VTF-2 Mk 3 and am glad I traded up. I would recommend that you get the larger sub for the room you have - it is worth it. More impact, lower reach.
Even though I did wind up selling my HB-1's back in 2010, I visited the Hsu exhibit at the 2011 Newport audio show and they sure sounded good - even though they were among the lowest priced speakers at the entire show (and the other equipment was nothing fancy - just a regular receiver and interconnects), they compared favorably with just about everything over there and sounded better than many much higher priced speakers.