Originally Posted by Djemil
if it was you and movies were your focus Ascend or ARX?
I have both the Ascend 170se and the Arx A1b. Both are nice speakers.
I intend to write up a little comparison review of them at some point (I promised some people in PMs that I would do it a couple weeks ago now, but my life has been crazy lately, and I just do not have time to sit down and do it).
But for what it is worth I can give you a few quick comparisons.
The sound is "dead". This is hard to describe. I do not mean "dead" in a bad way necessarily. Music sounds like it is a recording, not as if a live instrument is playing in your room. Compared to the 170se, I think you can pick out the different instruments from each other a smidge easier. The A1b has better bass than the 170se, but I think the mids are a little recessed. Despite that, I think dialog is a little more clear in the A1b than the 170se - I am not completely certain why, but I think it is due to that more black or dead sound. It is not the most efficient speaker though, and if you intend to play it loud, you will need a decent amp. The A1b is skinner than the boxy 170se, it may be easier to place as a surround.
The sound is more alive. It is like you hear more reverberations, as if you would in real life. But with this, I think it makes it a slightly harder to understand lyrics/dialog. This speaker is pretty efficient, it can get loud on a smaller amp, this can be important in action movies when there is spikes in dynamics and power needs. The bass is definitely there, but just not as much as the A1b. But this is for HT use, so a sub will be necessary. With a sub, and crossing the speakers over at 80hz, the bass advantage the A1b has over the 170se becomes much less relevant. This speaker is also probably a bit more neutral than the A1b.
Both are good choices. The differences I noticed are not big or drastic differences, but they are there (imo). Personally, in a 2.0 configuration (without a sub), I like the A1b better than the 170se. But with a sub, I am not so sure. I also have Ascend Sierra-1, and I like that better than both of these, with or without a sub - but they are $800 a pair. (going even further, I like the Philharmonitor speaker, which are $850 a pair, more than the sierra-1s)
I have not heard the A5 yet. But I imagine that dedicated midrange helps a lot (over the 2-way A1b).
Lastly, do not skimp out on a sub. The sub will likely have one of the biggest impacts on the movie experiance. For instance, I would rather than 5 A1bs (or 5 170se) @ $700-800, and spend $1250 on a Rythmik FV15HP sub, than 2 A5, 1 A2c, and 2 A1bs @ 1300 and a $700 sub. Both are about $2000, but I think the first would be better for strictly HT. Others may disagree. Just something to keep in mind.