My comparisons: Energy Veritas v5.1, Polk LSi7's, B&W 685B's, and Ascend Sierra-1's - Page 2 - AVS Forum
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post #31 of 52 Old 01-14-2012, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by coN83 View Post

Thats where i got my Sierras, but i am DYING for the natural finish. (I have espresso) Well, cant complain since i got a good deal with 5 years remaining on warranty IIRC.

Anyone wanna trade finishes? lol

Heh...I have the piano gloss but I love the satin finish espresso...the gloss finishes...are dust magnets but they sure look purdy....

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post #32 of 52 Old 01-16-2012, 05:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, an addendum...

Another poster, TVMAN1991, posted his thoughts on the Bowers CM5 vs the Veritas v6.3. So, i became curious and started checking since i could get a discount on them. Turns out, my coworker owns them so i didnt have to buy them for a demo. He allowed me to use them for the course of 2 days. Now, i cant compare the CM5 to the LSi7 since he borrowed those and i dont wanna compare them to my notes and experience. Id rather do it in real time. (these 2 days were going to be used for the second part of my comparison so its gonna have to wait) Theyre already broken in and after some level matching, started listening...

Like the original test, this is done with music from the 50s/60s. My general assessment is these are warm speakers, as typical to English speakers ive listened to (B&W, Wharfedale, etc) but they are very, very detailed. Highs are crisp, with no harshness. Mids dont sound congested, but open. A VERY wide soundstage, great imaging, and these resolve alot of detail.

First comparison im doing is against the 685.

First thing i noticed, is the imaging. The 685 seems thin in comparison. It throws out an even wider soundstage which was already good on the 685B. Second thing are the mids. The 685s mids went from sick and nasally to just plain muddy, nose/throat full of mucus. This is a big difference here. Vocals as well. Lack of dynamics? None to be found here. On the low end, they pound like the 685s BUT they arent lazy like the 685s.

Now, these are similar characteristics here in the sound and how the B&Ws handle the highs but the mids are what ruin the 685 IMO. Listening to Skeeter Davis's The End of the World was a testament to this, especially when that steel lap guitar sings out. The CM5 opened this song up completely whereas the 685 sounds like a jumbled mess, like various frequencies are vying for attention.

It reminds me of when you have people who get Fruity Loops who know nothing about mixing, throw together a rap/hip-hop/house/trance song, and think it sounds good. Play it to someone who knows how to mix, or hell, anyone who knows how music is supposed to sound, watch the eyebrow lower in disgust and the eyes dart left to right at the mess. Thats what i felt between the two.

Want a good example of the Fruity Loops make-song-but-dont-know-mixing syndrome? Listen to Mos Def's Close Edge on good speakers. Its just like that. Whoever mixed it did a bad job since Defs vocals are competing with the bassline and it just sounds like a muddy mess. Just gross...

Now, vs the Veritas. Now, TVMAN commented about how holographic the CM5s are. Are they? Yes, but they dont have that airiness the Veritas has. I still really like the Veritas in this respect. The v5.1s still sound a bit recessed in the mids/lower mids vs the CM5 but they are detailed and a bit forward. TBH, i really like the Veritas sound. While i consider the v5.1 slightly bright, the CM5 have a nice bite to them with no harshness. Again, im using this word here: polite. The CM5 is polite vs the Veritas but vs the 685? Nope, since the dynamics make a big difference but the similar characteristics in the highs are evident.

Remember i also used subpar recorded sources as well? Im think im gonna use Sonny Ozunas 'Smile Now; Cry Later' as a reference sibilance test from now on. So i fire up the CM5s and from the get go, as per my previous experience, i expected to:

A - cringe and grit my teeth as soon as a Sssss hit like scraping a fork & knife on a plate
B - hear a very ugly hiss thats coming from a tweeter thats in a recliner relaxing, situated way back
C - have a guy come up and place a veil between me and a visual, telling me, "you can see it, but you gotta come up to the veil in order to have a clear look at it"

To my surprise, guess what happened... Remember this? "The 685Bs on the other hand, politely brushed off the sibilance, and while it was there, it was as-if it tried to disguise it because it wasnt really all that bothering or noticeable unless youre REALLY listening." That was pretty much my experience with the CM5.

Am i saying the tweeter is not detailed? No, both the tweeters in the 685 and CM5 are VERY detailed, very smooth, lightly laid back. The difference here in my experience is that, along with the better handling of transients and dynamics, the increased clarity in the lows and mids, it blends better with the tweeter giving a very pleasant warm, "enjoy the music" kind of attitude. And indeed, it is pleasant but it can get down, dirty, and loud if needed im assuming, since i havent gotten to that part of my comparison. I use the "as-if" because im sure the CM5 isnt trying to hide it since its obviously there, it sounds bad, but its not a police informant running up to me saying "GUESS WHAT HAPPENED?!?!?!?", bringing it up to my attention, snitching it out.

As for a comparison, Klipsch horn loaded speakers IMO would be like Sam Kinison is the snitch. The v5.1s snitch would be guy running up and telling you "GUESS WHAT HAPPENED?!?!?" loudly, not shouting his lungs off whereas the Sierras is the same snitch but instead of running up, he calls me and says "GUESS WHAT HAPPENED?". From my experience, the LSi7s snitch would be a guy id have a conversation with, and during that conversation he'd said something shocking very casually and i just reply with an "Okay" followed by a "Wait, what?".

IMO, the snitch for the Bowers CM5 is like sitting in class during a lecture and a friend notices youre not paying total attention because youre enamored with the lecturers beauty, so he says "psst" for your attention then passes you a note that says "In case you missed it...".

Oh, speaking of the Sierras, that will be a separate write up later today because it got ugly. I will pair it along with my thoughts of all speakers vs the CM5.

This isnt over...
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post #33 of 52 Old 01-16-2012, 07:14 AM
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This just keeps getting better! Great job coN83. Looking forward to the official Part Deuce!
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post #34 of 52 Old 01-16-2012, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by deepstang View Post

This just keeps getting better! Great job coN83. Looking forward to the official Part Deuce!

+1

Thanks, coN83. And I really appreciated the analogy above. That kind of detail really helps me to understand your subjective experience

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post #35 of 52 Old 01-16-2012, 01:00 PM
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Trying to be objective on something as subjective as speakers is not an easy task. I like the analogy he used regarding the snitch...but the classroom one better resembled me...

Good stuff so far...keep it coming.

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post #36 of 52 Old 01-18-2012, 08:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, i forgot i was due yesterday for the Sierra vs CM5 comparison so here it is...

Did i mention this gets ugly?

Soooooooo, the CM5 provides a VERY pleasant listening experience. The dynamics are great, the tweeter aint a super big snitch on details, provides a very wide soundstage, and it images very well. A very mellow, very warm experience. Enjoy the music she tells me, then wines and dines me through the night.

Next morning (the 17th), i wake up, the champagnes flat, and i sit up feeling like somethings missing. Midlife crisis maybe? Im not too sure, but theres a gap in my experience. After all of the music on the CM5, then doing some A/B'ing, i realize, "Man, this is exhausting." I dunno why, but it is. Strange. So i took a break for the rest of the day and told her, "We need some time away from each other. Its NOT you, its me." Granted, it was a day, but it can feel like weeks.

Earlier today, i fire up the Sierras again, and the first thing she does is slap me. I felt it, and then i sat there wondering why the hell she did that. Then it slowly sunk it. Sitting there listening, it hit me. The excitement!! These speakers were providing it for me!! 'Be My Baby' by The Ronettes was engaging, (especially the drums) and after listening to the CM5, Ronnies voice is pure!! I can tell she was singing alone in a small booth, and it was startling to hear this detail on the Sierras. 'Little Bitty Pretty One' by Thurston Harris did this for me as well. The Chiffons 'He's So Fine' really sealed the deal with the excitement factor with its vocals, the piano, guitar and the snare. It all was so clear, and for some reason, i was actually fixated on the piano when it started playing while listening to Judy Craig belt out the lead vocals.

So i gotta throw some Smokey Robinson since i didnt use his music in the original shootout. Wow... 'Ooo Baby Baby', it was very pleasant to hear the natural reverb of the room they recorded in. Doing an A/B with the CM5 on this song, the CM5 created a very romantic, smooth sound with great dynamics but not the detail the Sierras provided. So next is Rosie and the Originals, (and no, its NOT 'Angel Baby'. I am not fond of that song, at ALL) and their song, 'Lonely Blue Nights'. On the Sierras, i can hear Rosie clearing her throat at times, and i think maybe a cough. The piano chords are very clear, pristine, which is surprising since this is an older recording. On the CM5s, again, very smooth and romantic. I can notice the throat clearing but its not very noticeable like the Sierras. Remember, i said the CM5 was not a cop at a crime scene, running up to the lead detective declaring loudy, "LOOK WHAT I FOUND!!!" and then handing over a small scrap of blank paper. The detective then inquires, "This is important becauuuuuuuuuuuuussse...?" and he answers, "It was at the scene sir. Just FYI."

THIS is a good visual of my analogy of Klipsch and the snitch, cept yknow, its not Sam Kinison but it is in your face... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FpigqfcvlM&t=2m22s
PS - The 2:22 to 2:38 is the entire clip time of the visual. Im saying this cause the rest of the clip is NSFW.

After comparing alot of material, i am beginning to fully understand what kind of sound i like. Listening to The Animals song, 'The House of the Rising Sun', the drums are played very softly while the guitar plays with the organ chords in back play, almost menacingly. When Eric Burdon winds up his gritty voice, the Sierras REALLY put a grin on my face. The soundstage, the imaging, the blend of all the music, its all so neutral and oh so engaging when i turn it up. The CM5 paints a different picture. Eric Burdon sounds like hes behind in the soundstage but his grit is still very clear, the drums are almost... I dunno... I guess intimate would be the word to use. It was almost like a personal performance for me. But after all of this, its become very apparent to me...

I originally thought i liked the warm, smooth sound, hence my ownership of the LSi7s and the 685s. This one comparison between the CM5s and the Sierras are making me realize one thing...

Warm, romantic, polite and smooth are not for me. I wonder why the Veritas didnt make me realize this. I find the v5.1s to be a very engaging speaker, and while the Sierras beat them IMO in everything except the airiness and 3D sweetspot, i enjoy them more than the CM5s. Sure, theyre recessed in the mids and lower mids compared to the Sierras and CM5s, but i still like them alot since i find that holographic sweetspot combined with the instruments sounding like theyre in the room (the airiness and slight forward character makes this so) to get my juices flowing. They provide a different texture to the music i enjoy very much the RC-10s couldnt provide for me. If the RC-10 is Keith Stone, smooth but rough around the edges, the CM5 is a very dapper Pierce Brosnan.

The Sierras though, are a huge eye opener, especially with this particular comparison. The right amount of sizzle, huge sweetspot, and neutral, crazy detailed sound combine to give me a experience i truly enjoy. I cannot state this enough: Veritas airiness + Sierras details = Game Over. For me anyway...

I must try the NrT tweeter upgrade. Anyone unhappy with the NrT and wanna sell the kit?

Overall, this has been difficult since sound is so subjective. I went in liking one type of sound and now coming out doubting my original preferences. I didnt expect this to happen TBH.

At this point, if the CM5 were to call me, id let it go to voicemail just to see what she would say before deciding if i would call back. When we go out, she wears these elegant, long, beautiful dresses. Problem is, when i ask her to dress up, she proudly shows me her wardrobe and its full of elegant, long, beautiful dresses, asks me, "Which one?" while i respond with a disappointed "Oh...".

Is the CM5 a great speaker? Hell yes shes hot, and she told me really unappealing stories about her sister (the 685) that only drives the nail of my opinion of her further into the coffin. But her elegance just isnt my type. Now she deserves someone who will give her a rose and tell her some romantic poem as to why they cant be together. That guy isnt me. Id probably pick some dandelions off a neighbors lawn, hand them to her, and say, "Ill see you later" and about 1 minute after she closes her door, she gets a text from me saying "m c'ing sum1 else. sry. kthxbai"

So, until the official part 2, here are my opinions vs the CM5...

1 - Ascend Sierra-1 - These resolve more detail than the CM5s, have a soundstage that is equal if-not bigger, handle transients better, and are just plain engaging. Superb. People compare these to $2000 - 2500 (thats what ive seen, i dunno if its gone higher) pairs of speakers and its not hard to see (or hear) why.

2 - Energy Veritas v5.1 - Man, the CM5s tweeter makes the 5.1s tweeter seem a bit aggressive but again, theyre not bright. The v5.1s fall short of both the CM5 and the Sierras in the mids, soundstage, imaging, and detail but theyre still exciting to listen to. Why? It HAS to be that airiness. While it falls short of the aforementioned 2, keep in mind this is a $360 - 400 per pair. I think these are spectacular for the price.

3 - Polk Audio LSi7 - Not in my possession at the moment.

4 - Bowers & Wilkins 685B - Muddy. Need i say more?

All in all, this is quite a journey of discovery. I now truly understand why people buy speaker after speaker after speaker. They want to find that magic in the music. If i truly had the means, i would keep all of the speakers i audition minus the ones i truly dislike. But unfortunately, life intervenes.

Sound is so subjective, and my opinion is but one. Everyone hears things differently, i now understand that. So, find that one pair that creates that magic for you. You may have a path of self discovery like i did.

...

...

...

Why am i making this seem like this is my last post on the subject? Its cause my Sierras are going away but coming back in the Natural finish. I found someone who would like to trade my Espressos for the Natural. So yes, this means the official part 2 with the various types of music is on hiatus until then.

So for now, the v5.1 will be taking the Sierras place for now.
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post #37 of 52 Old 01-18-2012, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by coN83 View Post

Earlier today, i fire up the Sierras again, and the first thing she does is slap me.

When I fire up my Sierras, she doesn't slap me. She asks me what I want and how I want it....and then serves it up.

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post #38 of 52 Old 01-18-2012, 11:43 AM
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So, round 2 will include a sighted bias...in favour the Sierra too. I like your analogies...it gives people a better understanding of what you're hearing.

Looking forward to reading your thoughts in the upcoming round...

Old Indian proverb: We don't inherit the earth from our ancestors, but we borrow it from our children!

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post #39 of 52 Old 01-18-2012, 12:51 PM
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Thank again, coN83. Ethnographic qualitative research, which recognizes the participant bias, favors this sort of rich, thick description.
Given you are trying to evaluate an aesthetic experience, this is very good stuff

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post #40 of 52 Old 01-18-2012, 01:00 PM
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How do the Ascends fare on film and television material? Thanks.
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post #41 of 52 Old 01-18-2012, 06:07 PM
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coN83, that was a VERY DETAILED comparison of those speakers. Just perfect. Nice job. I wish i could be that thorough when describing what i hear with speakers. Does it make sense that i hate doing essays? Haha.

This is why it's so much better doing auditions in your home and on your time. You really get to hear how a speaker sounds in your environment on your equipment. No salesman breathing down your neck and nobody watching you.

I wish i could audition the 4 speakers that im interested in at my house over the course of about 2 weeks. But obviously thats not possible.

home theater addict
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post #42 of 52 Old 01-18-2012, 07:28 PM
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Great way of describing the speakers haha! Now I also have the question how do the ascends fare in HT usage? Music is a must for me but I'd also want that HT performance

No subwoofer I've heard has been able to produce the bass I've experienced in the Corps!

Must..stop...buying...every bluray release...
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post #43 of 52 Old 01-18-2012, 08:43 PM
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Great review! I've enjoyed following this thread.

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post #44 of 52 Old 01-18-2012, 11:25 PM
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Great way of describing the speakers haha! Now I also have the question how do the ascends fare in HT usage? Music is a must for me but I'd also want that HT performance

They are excellent for HT as well.

Come on up to Manhattan Beach and I will give you a demo.

Ascend is in San Clemente. You could also call them to set up a demo.

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post #45 of 52 Old 01-19-2012, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by cschang View Post

They are excellent for HT as well.

Come on up to Manhattan Beach and I will give you a demo.

Ascend is in San Clemente. You could also call them to set up a demo.

I'll have to take you up on that offer! I'll send a pm when I'm free. Stuck at pendleton for awhile

No subwoofer I've heard has been able to produce the bass I've experienced in the Corps!

Must..stop...buying...every bluray release...
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post #46 of 52 Old 01-30-2012, 07:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by hoyalawya View Post

I have demoed B&W 685 and Ascend Sierra 1 at home and agree with your review in general. I ordered my Sierra 1 with NrT upgrade from Ascend (did not demo non-NrT Sierra) and my assessment is that the Sierra 1 provided more details than the 685. They put a on my face everytime a cymbal is hit in the recordings.

I thought the NrT upgrade has been applied to all Sierra 1s sold from about two years ago till now.

I don't even see it as an option on the order page. I'm under the impression all Sierra 1 from mid 2010 forward are using the NrT tweeter.
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post #47 of 52 Old 01-30-2012, 07:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Solid-State View Post

I thought the NrT upgrade has been applied to all Sierra 1s sold from about two years ago till now.

I don't even see it as an option on the order page. I'm under the impression all Sierra 1 from mid 2010 forward are using the NrT tweeter.

My understanding on the NrT as being offered only standard on the Towers any upgrade concerning the Sierra 1 was only optional...you'd have to ask Ascend directly on the availability because of limited stock? My Sierra 1's arrived with the NrT installed... as per my request.

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post #48 of 52 Old 01-30-2012, 08:37 AM
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The standard Sierra-1 does NOT have the NrT tweeter & crossover. It is an option. Not sure of the additional cost over the standard version if ordered that way, but when I ordered the NrT kit for my original Sierra-1's it was about $180 per speaker. For me, the cost was well worth it.

The reasoning for keeping it as an option rather than as standard, is that it may not be for everyone, and it takes the speaker to another price level that would keep many customers from owning them.
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post #49 of 52 Old 01-30-2012, 11:32 AM
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Yes, you will have to call them to get the NrT upgrade installed from their facility. The cost was $150 per speaker extra. I also ordered the Sierra-1 port tuning kit to play around with.
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post #50 of 52 Old 01-30-2012, 11:43 AM
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I generally listen to ACI Jaguar 2000s or Sapphires but the Sierras look intriguing. The Lsi7's are on close-out @ $400 a pair, not a bad price. At that price I might pull the trigger on the Polks just to mess around with them.
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post #51 of 52 Old 01-30-2012, 05:10 PM
 
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Thanks for the response guys!

I thought the NrT was standard on the Sierra 1 now. It's interesting Dave doesn't seem to post pricing on the site nor does the checkout have NrT option.

Do you guys know if the STC is finished yet?

Doing a complete upgrade and replacing EVERYTHING.

DHC-80.3 Pre or the Emotiva XMC-1 if it materializes and works well.
ATI AT2007 amp
STC center channel
Sierra Raal Tower or Philharmonic 2
Mirage OMD-5 for surrounds
Bill Fitzmaurice Tuba HT possibly x 2

The hard part seems to be able to find the pre pro in BC Canada and the EVEN HARDER PART

Choosing between the Sierra Tower and the Phil 2!

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post #52 of 52 Old 04-09-2012, 07:03 PM - Thread Starter
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"Where have you been?"

Its 4' in the morning, you try to come in as quietly as possible, but as you hang up your coat and slip off your shoes, the lights come on, and your busted.

This is probably what youre wondering about me. Well, it started with a trade on my Espresso Sierras for Natural ones. The trader gave me a speaker option to listen to: the NHT Classic Three. AND, they were on sale. After i noticed he received my Sierras, i emailed him to check if they were ok in the mail, and i never got a response. So i waited and i didnt get a response, so im assuming they were safe.

In this long time span, i met other women. LOTS of other women; some flashy, some loud, some next door types, American, English, Canadian, etc. So, being a dude, i compiled a list for my blackbook... It is as follows...

Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1
Polk Audio LSi-7
Energy Veritas v-5.1
Bowers & Wilkins 685B
Martin Logan Electromotion ESL8
Klipsch Reference RB-61
Bowers & Wilkins CM5
NHT Classic Three
Klipsch Heritage Heresy II

I could talk about my dates with these women for HOURS. Literally hours. Do yall realize how many walls of text that would be?

But as it is, lemme start with which ones i am keeping; the Sierras, and the LSi7s.

Yall know why i like the Sierras but the LSi7s, something happened... I wanna say they fully broke in but, WOW. So i wanted to listen to some Pantera and Lamb of God, yknow, something busy. So i turned them up and noticed something different...

Airy, holographic highs. Not crisp like the V5.1, but open, smooth AND with a super dense soundstage. It threw me in a serious loop, begging the question "how the hell did this happen, and why didnt i notice it?" Apparently, the LSi's need a longer break-in period that i had thought.

So, i needed confirmation and proceeded to throw on some oldies, using the same ones in my OP since i was familiar with the material. Yep, the airiness is there but now with a DEEP soundstage. Im also starting to notice ALOT of texture in the instruments. And really, REALLY, dynamic. Only word i can manage to describe the sound character is dark. Man, can anyone confirm (or estimate) how long the LSi's need to be broken in? Im still using the same Parasound amp, so please tell me im not crazy. LSi owners or people who have experienced them, please chime in.

Turning these up, i am extremely happy they keep their cohesiveness with no breakup what-so-ever. The Veritas got shrill at high volumes and that recessed midrange becomes more apparent. Now they are crisp (due to the tweeter type) but that turns harsh at higher volumes. The LSi's are just as airy, but not as crisp but still very detailed. Dispersion leaves a little something to be desired but hey, i can live with it especially with what its outputting.

So as it is, i will be selling the Veritas v5.1. If youre interested in them, toss me a PM. I will give details of my experiences of the other speakers in the coming days, and why i didnt pick them.

But, i will say ahead of time, the Klipsch RB-61 sounded some AWESOME for HT and the Heresy for a live gig sound.

I need some RS PAINT IT BLACK!!!
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