Never done one of these before but heres my attempt...
WALL OF TEXT WARNING
Due to the sell Vanns had on the Energy Veritas series, i picked up a pair of the V5.1 in Rosenut. I also bought a pair of Ascend Sierra-1's in Espresso. I was skeptical about the Veritas since posts here say they are reminiscent of the RC-10, which i found to be TOO laid back in the short time i had them.
So, for my testing, i used music mostly from the 50s and 60s since the recording quality wildly varies. Sources were CDs and various 24/96 FLAC files.
My equipment is as follows:
Strategically Treated Room
Yamaha RXV667 Receiver
Parasound HCA-1205A Amplifier
Adcom GFS-6 Speaker Selector
Panamax M5300-PM Power Conditioner
All speakers have been broken in, Pure Direct was used in this A-B comparison of all 4 pairs, 12ga used in all speaker hookups and sand filled B&W STAV24 stands.
Setting up the speakers, the Veritas by far, had the easiest sweet spot to find followed by the Sierras. The LSi7s was a bit tricky since the sweet spot was a bit narrow while the 685Bs werent too hard but not as easy as the 5.1 or the Sierras.
Onward to the listening...
Listening consisted of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, The Ronettes, The Chiffons, The Shirelles, The Animals, etc. (Ill go on forever)
Right off the bat with Sherry and Big Girls Don't Cry, the Veritas were airy, crisp, and amazingly, three dimensional, as if it surrounded me. I dont know if its the way it was recorded, (instruments on the left, main vocal and harmonies on the right) but this sounded incredible. Ive always known the music was recorded this way (as is alot of the music during the time period) but Ive never experienced the music like this so it was quite a shock to my ears. My RC-10s never sounded like this, even in the sweet spot. A big improvement IMO.
The Sierras on the other hand resolved a bit more detail and while it doesnt achieve the holographic sound soundstage the Veritas did, it was still excellent! I mean, i could move around the room and the sweet spot was still there. The 5.1s sweet spot wasnt as big as the Sierras. More over the vocals were actually a bit clearer, and it sounded well balanced overall. Doing a quick A-B with the Veritas, the 5.1s vocals were forward and the lower mids seemed... I dunno... Recessed? Maybe the forward character of the 5.1 is why it seemed so holographic. The mids and lower mids were pleasing on this pair of speakers. The highs werent as crisp as the 5.1s but still smooth with some sizzle, detailed and satisfying.
Firing up the LSi7s, they have a narrow (IMO) sweet spot and are laid back. I mean, after listening to these after the first two, it made me wonder why i kept these over the RC-10s. I quickly remembered why. The detail resolved (esp. in the highs) was on par with the Sierras but more laid back. Laid back to the point where it sounded like they were coming from BEHIND (?!?) the speaker. This sounded odd to me for the first time after listening to other speakers with a different character. Listening to more material, with some content the LSi7s sounded bloated in the mids/lower mids. Over time, it began to bother me with its ripe, warm sound on some content. I will say that drums sound GREAT on these. Yeah i said they sounded odd with the sound seemingly coming from behind the speaker, but were very satisfying on these.
Now, concerning speakers, i have a question: Can speakers get sick? Cause thats how i felt about the 685Bs. Its like the mids are congested, like a honky sound. The highs were satisfying, somewhere between the Sierras and LSi7 in terms of smoothness. This speaker produces a very polite warm sound, with the aforementioned mids. Now, i cant quite put my finger on it, but i feel somethings missing from this speaker. I wanna say dynamics cause at times, the sound is a bit flat. Detailed yes, but nothing really to get my juices flowing. Turning it up did nothing for me. It just produced a half satisfying, 'hmm' from me.
Now that was on material that was recorded very well. How about subpar recorded material?
Main example is Sunny Ozuna, a guy local to San Antonio (i mean, he lived in my old house where i grew up as a kid) who sang songs like Smile Now; Cry Later, Talk to Me, Put Me in Jail, etc. While these are great songs, the quality of the recordings arent so lucky.
Smile Now is a case in point. So, switch to the 5.1s, set the volume and get ready to enjoy some local oldies, right? WRONG. Song starts with a pleasant strum of a guitar, and then, 3 seconds in, Sunny says 'Smile...' and my ears say FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUU. Now back then, they didnt have de-essers and man, that one word made me wanna slap the 5.1s like the "How Can She Slap?!?!?" guy did to the host. (Hope i didnt offend anyone cause thats how i felt) The sibilance in the recording was clearly evident and the 5.1s didnt hide it. I said to myself, "The Sierras wont be as harsh since they arent forward." Or so i thought...
They were equally as harsh but not as painful since the 5.1s are a bit brighter, but still causing some pain in the ear. It became quickly apparent, these were not forgiving speakers. The LSi7s didnt hide the sibilance either but they werent harsh. It came across as a smooth hiss that sounded really ugly. 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.
More songs that really reenforced these opinions were The Marvellettes "Too Many Fish in The Sea", and Lesley Gore's "Judy's Turn to Cry". There are others but these stood out in my mind.
So, as it is, here are my opinions for now:
1: Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1 - Excellent dispersion, excellent sweet spot, well balanced sound, high resolution, handled transients beautifully, neutral. All around, these speakers are excellent!!! They sounded great with everything I threw at it unless the actual recording has some issues.
2: Energy Veritas v5.1 - Great dispersion, holographic sweet spot, airy and neutral but highs and vocals are a bit forward with highs being a bit bright. Mids/lower mids are a bit recessed/hollow vs the Sierras. These seem a bit content dependent but great overall.
3: Bowers & Wilkins 685B - Great dispersion, good sweet spot, a polite, warm detailed speaker, but lacks excitement with its dynamics. Mids sound congested, great bass response, better than the Sierras but not as tight
4: Polk Audio LSi7 - Great dispersion but sweet spot is a bit narrow (tweeter?), very laid back but can resolve alot of detail with its high resolution, very warm, but on some material the mids/lower mids can sound bloated or exaggerated.
Part 2 will be done with more contemporary music. Metal, Rap, Hip Hop, Trance, etc.
Any questions, feel free to ask...