B&W CM9 or Ascend Tower RAAL? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 03-30-2013, 04:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Both around $3K, Ascends maybe slightly less depending on finish and shipping.
I am now thinking about these two towers.
Has anyone listened to both? If so can you offer any comparisons? Thanks!
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post #2 of 23 Old 03-30-2013, 06:25 AM
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Heard the CM9's many times and think they are a wonderful speaker.It's extremely hard to beat the CM9's at anything anywhere near their price points. All the speakers I have heard have not come close. They are a remarkable sounding speaker with great presence and grace. I can't see many people not loving them for a lifetime.

I never heard the Ascends.
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post #3 of 23 Old 03-30-2013, 07:14 AM
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They are very comparable. I've always thought the CM towers were a sweet spot in the B&W line up.

If you were looking at a HT (5.1 or 7.1) setup I think the Ascend might have an advantage - IMO the Horizon Center beats the CM Centre 2 (buy a long shot).

For a stereo set up it likely would come down to personal preference re the sound as they're both excellent towers.

FWIW, the B&W CM series show up a lot on audiogon so buying used is also a viable option.
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post #4 of 23 Old 03-30-2013, 07:52 AM
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Very subjective and this is solely my opinion.

I demoed the B&W CM9s extensively last year with music and HT (C2 center) and ended up doing a blind purchase of the Sierra Towers/Horizon with RAAL of which I have no regrets after 1 year.

I liked the CM9s for music as it did everything technically right and I felt the sound was rich and/or full which I like (demoed with just a higher end Denon AVR in a Magnolia room). For some reason, I did not like the CM9s and center speaker for movies. Spent about 30 minutes watching movie clips and then the Magnolia sales guy did a movie soundtrack tape demo without video on. I was very focused on dialogue clarity and detail and did not find what I was looking for. Of course there are many factors involved here when conducting a demo outside of your own room and not just the CM9s/Center.

Almost all of my use with the Ascend Sierras/Horizon is for movies. I'm not your typical movies person on the forum. I don't listen at reference level even though I admit to cranking it up from time to time (i.e. Skyfall was great at higher volumes). I really like the Horizon Center with RAAL for movies. Dialogue is crystal clear, very detailed and there is wide dispersion. At higher volumes, dialogue/music sounds bigger and not louder. I was coming from a Def. Tech monitor system and I no longer have to increase the volume to hear dialogue and then turn down the volume during action scenes. The mid-range driver and RAAL ribbon provide very clear and detailed sound of which I was not getting from my prior system. At this time, I'm only using a Denon 4311 to drive the Sierras.

Recommendation is to see if you can demo both speakers. If you live close to a Magnolia, the B&W is easy to listen to. For Sierras you will need to arrange an in home demo unless you live close to Ascend's California location. You can go on the Ascend Community forum and ask to find out if someone with the Sierras is located close to you. If you live in the NJ/NY/Eastern Penn. area let me know and we can connect.
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post #5 of 23 Old 03-30-2013, 08:02 AM
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I have a B&W N804 for almost 10 years now and want to try other speakers. Came the Paradigm Studio 100 ver. 5, I really didn't like it. The bass and vocal are very good but it's a bit bright for me at higher frequencies. Its like something is poking your eardrums with little pins. I traded it for a CM9 and couldn't be happier. B&W have their own sound signature that is very smooth and soothing. By the way, I still have the N804s.

After a year of owning the CM9, I want to upgrade or try different speakers again. I check out the Magnepan planar speakers and spoke to the owner of the only Magnepan dealer here. I showed him my set up and his reaction was the sound is really good. The vocals/midrange are detailed and changing it to Magnepan will not make it better. He just told me he can make the room acoustics better. That shows that B&W speakers are one of the best out there.

I haven't heard any of the Ascend speakers but just want you to know you can't go wrong with the B&W.
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post #6 of 23 Old 03-30-2013, 08:06 AM
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Rob,

Can I check your speakers out, I'm also from Central Jersey. We can compare CM9 and your Ascend if you want.
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post #7 of 23 Old 03-30-2013, 08:10 AM
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I see the OP is from Philly. My bad.

ProfD, I live in central Jersey, about a 90 minutes or slightly less car ride from Philly. I know its a long ride, however, I'm available if you want to listen to the Ascend Sierras with RAAL. You can PM me.
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post #8 of 23 Old 03-30-2013, 08:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vailvon View Post

Rob,

Can I check your speakers out, I'm also from Central Jersey. We can compare CM9 and your Ascend if you want.

Vailvon, definitely. I'm typically good on the weekends. Week nights are tough for me. I work downtown and get home later in the evenings. PM me and we'll get together on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, if that works for you. I'd also be interested in coming to your place and listening to the CM9s. Regards, Robert
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post #9 of 23 Old 03-30-2013, 09:02 AM
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I have not listened to Ascends; but IMO you cant go wrong with B&W CM9s. I have a CM9 HT and its just phenomenal. I shopped around for almost 6 months before I purchased the CM9s. You will need a sub with CM9 for sure; either in pair or HT theater setup. These speakers are super musical and movies is piece of cake. I also have def tech 8040 HT for movies only.

Most dealers dont have CM9 set up properly in showrooms; I brought them home and set them up with Marantz AV7701 and MM7055 and with tweaking and it was just phenomenal. I invited the guy who sold me the set (good friend; works in BB Magnolia) and he was just blown away. B&W has their own smooth signature sound. I almost bought Martin Logan Theos HT setup.

Also CM9 looks neat/cool as hell in piano black or white (I have black).
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post #10 of 23 Old 03-30-2013, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phalen302 View Post

I have not listened to Ascends; but IMO you cant go wrong with B&W CM9s. I have a CM9 HT and its just phenomenal. I shopped around for almost 6 months before I purchased the CM9s. You will need a sub with CM9 for sure; either in pair or HT theater setup. These speakers are super musical and movies is piece of cake. I also have def tech 8040 HT for movies only.

Most dealers dont have CM9 set up properly in showrooms; I brought them home and set them up with Marantz AV7701 and MM7055 and with tweaking and it was just phenomenal. I invited the guy who sold me the set (good friend; works in BB Magnolia) and he was just blown away. B&W has their own smooth signature sound. I almost bought Martin Logan Theos HT setup.

Also CM9 looks neat/cool as hell in piano black or white (I have black).

Have been fascinated with the Martin Logan electrostats for a long time, however, always afraid to pull the trigger due to the same old issues (sweet spot, real estate for placement, driver requirements). Spent at least 10 hours over a 1 year period demoing both EM ESLs and Theos. How are you liking your Theos setup? Do you have your Theos setup in a different room than your CM9s?
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post #11 of 23 Old 03-30-2013, 02:04 PM
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OP, when auditioning new speakers for my HT, I in home auditioned the B&W 683 and CM9, PSB T6 and Imagine, Gallos and EMP Tek. After a few months of auditioning I went with the Philharmonic 2, which has a RAAL tweeter. If you are thinking of going with the CM9 (which I liked when I auditioned), I'd also consider the Ascend Tower, Salk SongTower or Philharmonic 2 (or Slim if/when available) all with RAAL tweeter. I prefer the Phil 2 to the CM9, and based on reviews of those who've heard the Phills, Ascends and Salks, they are similarly good.
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post #12 of 23 Old 03-30-2013, 08:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdg4vfx View Post

They are very comparable. I've always thought the CM towers were a sweet spot in the B&W line up.

If you were looking at a HT (5.1 or 7.1) setup I think the Ascend might have an advantage - IMO the Horizon Center beats the CM Centre 2 (buy a long shot).

For a stereo set up it likely would come down to personal preference re the sound as they're both excellent towers.

FWIW, the B&W CM series show up a lot on audiogon so buying used is also a viable option.

Problem with buying the CM series or any B&W used is that since the resale price is so high you are better off buying new considering the discounts that can be had.
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post #13 of 23 Old 03-30-2013, 08:40 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phalen302 View Post

I have not listened to Ascends; but IMO you cant go wrong with B&W CM9s. I have a CM9 HT and its just phenomenal. I shopped around for almost 6 months before I purchased the CM9s. You will need a sub with CM9 for sure; either in pair or HT theater setup. These speakers are super musical and movies is piece of cake. I also have def tech 8040 HT for movies only.

Most dealers dont have CM9 set up properly in showrooms; I brought them home and set them up with Marantz AV7701 and MM7055 and with tweaking and it was just phenomenal. I invited the guy who sold me the set (good friend; works in BB Magnolia) and he was just blown away. B&W has their own smooth signature sound. I almost bought Martin Logan Theos HT setup.

Also CM9 looks neat/cool as hell in piano black or white (I have black).


Couldn't have said it any better, CM9's are phenomenal speakers!
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post #14 of 23 Old 03-31-2013, 10:19 AM
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Purely subjective, personal preference. Basically questions like these are asking, "Which speakers would you personally buy?", not "Which speakers sound better?"

I think you would be happy with either.
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post #15 of 23 Old 03-31-2013, 01:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

Purely subjective, personal preference. Basically questions like these are asking, "Which speakers would you personally buy?", not "Which speakers sound better?"

I think you would be happy with either.

The OP didn't ask which speaker sounds better. He's just asking opinions to those people who heard both speakers.
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post #16 of 23 Old 03-31-2013, 04:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the responses!

And thanks, Rob from NJ, for the generous offer to DEMO your Ascends. Unfortunately, since my wife and I have a small child in the house it is hard to justify time away from the family like that right now. But I do really appreciate your offer.
Quote:
Originally Posted by vailvon View Post

The OP didn't ask which speaker sounds better. He's just asking opinions to those people who heard both speakers.

Yes that's right. I am just trying to understand what other people who may have heard both sets of speakers think. I am of course fully aware that peoples ears are different, etc. But it is still useful to me to hear others opinions. (In particular since it is hard for me to travel around to hear speakers because of family.)

Thanks again! smile.gif
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post #17 of 23 Old 03-31-2013, 06:37 PM
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ProfD: I am in Northern NJ and have Ascend Towers and Horizon with RAAL, if interested and ever do a trip up north, you can drop by my house for an audition. Just like Rob, I purchased Ascend setup without auditioning them and extremely happy with the setup though I have to admit I heard friend's Sierra-1 non-NRTs at least dozen times including once in my own house before purchasing Towers and Horizon. I was biased for B&W sound up until I purchased Ascend setup because I have owned B&W Matrix 803 Series II for over 10 years and like others have suggested B&W makes awesome speakers but I personally prefer Ascend for music and HT at least at their price point.
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post #18 of 23 Old 03-31-2013, 07:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vailvon View Post

The OP didn't ask which speaker sounds better. He's just asking opinions to those people who heard both speakers.

It doesn't matter if someone has heard both speakers at 2 completely different rooms and setups. It's still just an opinion based purely on personal preference. Nothing more.

Some people will say the Ascend sounds better and some people will say the B&W sounds better.

...Unless he just wants to take a survey, in which case I will vote for the B&W. biggrin.gif
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post #19 of 23 Old 03-31-2013, 07:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avsnoob10 View Post

ProfD: I am in Northern NJ and have Ascend Towers and Horizon with RAAL, if interested and ever do a trip up north, you can drop by my house for an audition. Just like Rob, I purchased Ascend setup without auditioning them and extremely happy with the setup though I have to admit I heard friend's Sierra-1 non-NRTs at least dozen times including once in my own house before purchasing Towers and Horizon. I was biased for B&W sound up until I purchased Ascend setup because I have owned B&W Matrix 803 Series II for over 10 years and like others have suggested B&W makes awesome speakers but I personally prefer Ascend for music and HT at least at their price point.

How does the Sierra one compare to your Raal towers?

After hearing the Raal ....they get my vote 1000%. Now there is allot more than upper end to consider in a speaker... That is one componet...but for a person that has a female singer voice fetish (I like those upper notes) Upper end is important to me. I heard a few Silk domes that were very good also... They all seemed to have some slight cusping though at the upper end. You did have to struggle to hear it though... If I just sat back and listened it never bothered me.

I have the Phil 2's with Raal and really love them.
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post #20 of 23 Old 04-01-2013, 05:53 AM
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I have spent many hours with the CM9's and the Ascends, and in my opinion the Ascend's with the RAAL tweeter stomp on the CM9's for both movies and music. I just could not make myself like those CM9's, especially for movies. There are a lot of B&W groupies but don't be fooled, there are much better speakers out there, at a much lower price.
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post #21 of 23 Old 04-01-2013, 06:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martycool007 View Post

I have spent many hours with the CM9's and the Ascends, and in my opinion the Ascend's with the RAAL tweeter stomp on the CM9's for both movies and music. I just could not make myself like those CM9's, especially for movies. There are a lot of B&W groupies but don't be fooled, there are much better speakers out there, at a much lower price.

Can't they say the same about the Ascend groupies, Salk groupies, Revel groupies, KEF groupies, Focal, Dynaudio, TAD, Paradigm, PSB, and all the other groupies? biggrin.gif

Some may have heard both the B&W & Ascend, and they may say the B&W "stomps" the Ascend.

That's my point. One group will say "Don't listen to the other groupies, just listen to us". eek.gif

At the end of the day, the buyer has to hear for himself and make the decision.

Don't be influenced by one group.

If you say the Ascend has better measurements than the B&W and most speakers out there, I can't argue with that. biggrin.gif

But if you just say the Ascend sounds better, it's just (like you say) only an opinion. biggrin.gif
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post #22 of 23 Old 04-01-2013, 06:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Martycool007 View Post

I have spent many hours with the CM9's and the Ascends, and in my opinion the Ascend's with the RAAL tweeter stomp on the CM9's for both movies and music. I just could not make myself like those CM9's, especially for movies. There are a lot of B&W groupies but don't be fooled, there are much better speakers out there, at a much lower price.

Since I am the OP, let me say that I am more interested in statements talking about WHY the "Ascend's with the RAAL tweeter stomp on the CM9" or the reverse. Do they have better base response? Better highs because of the RAAL? One is more neutral than the other? Or something else?

AcuDefTechGuy correctly pointed out that we can find hardcore fans on both sides claiming that one speaker stomps the other. Or that they are closely matched... wink.gif

Personally, I'm most interested if possible in hearing about WHY somebody thinks that their preferred speaker stomps the other one, rather than just a statement of the opinion. Thanks!
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post #23 of 23 Old 04-01-2013, 08:21 AM
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Prof: You should also consider KEF R and Q series towers for your $3k comparison. Q series is significantly less than $3k price point and some R series can be negotiated down to $3k range from an authorized dealer. I have listened to R700 at ElectronicExpo, thought they were pretty good. I am sure you can find good number of places in Phila to try KEF and B&W.
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