B&w, Kefs or Ascends for HT ? Upgrading from Polks. - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 08:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Sold my Polks Monitors and Looking for an upgrade.

Been thinking about a few different options for a 3600 cubic foot room thats dedicated to watch movies and play video games. From what I have been reading having a matching front stage is the most important and bookshelfs are a bit more afforable then towers. They have less bass obviously but with a sub I should be OK and since its for movies and not music getting the words out is most important instead of full range speakers. Also a big issue I had with the polks was at low volumes they sounded flat, I needed to crank them up to atleast -20db to get a clear sound from them. The Kefs and B&w seem to have the clarity at lower volumes that I like.

Current reciever is pioneer sc 1522k. I want to start at 5.1 and then go to 7.2 once funds allow it. To start out I was thinking front stage first and then get rear sorrounds. Potentially save up enought and get book shelf L/R and move them to the back once I can afford towers. But do I really need to step up to a tower speaker if I am only watching movies?

Current ideas are:
5- b&w 685 ( i happend to find someone selling a single one) Not sure if the bookshelf will work on its side? or 4 685 and a htm 61 center.'
( auditioned the b&w liked the 685 over the 684 and the 683 are out of my current budget) I found the htm 61 center for 500 but no deals on the 685. pair.

5 q300 or 4 q300 and q600c center. Havent heard the q300, heard the q500 and liked them. I own a set of Kef 3005 and really like the sound. I found 2 a pair of q300s for 450 shipped and a q600c center for 400 shipped.

I am thinking I like more of the "briths sound" then a warm sound ( like the polks) as they dont have the clarity I want. I almost though klipsch might be a good choice and I can find some decent stuff on the used market but am on the fence with those.

Last option would be the ascends. I heard a set of cmt-340s but wasnt blown away. Granted the recording I used was not very good and later using that same recording on the b&w is didnt sound great. So that just let me know my choice in demo music was a poor one. Later listing to a CD on the 685's make them sing. The ascends someone is selling locally for $400, the L.R are not the SE model but the center is.

For a sub I am planning on going with a PSA xv-15

Movies will be played at medium to higher volumes.

For a room my size do a really need the towers or can I go with bookshelf and still get a loud clear sound.
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post #2 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 10:01 AM
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My 1st choice would be the KEF. biggrin.gif

You cannot put the B&W on it's side.

You can put the KEF on it's side since it uses a coincident driver (Uni-Q).
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post #3 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 10:12 AM
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I have a friend who has both the ascends and the BW 683...and we both agree that the ascends acoust cmt340s are better. Haven't heard the 685s...

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post #4 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 10:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

You cannot put the B&W on it's side.
Well, you CAN. Although not as amenable to being toppled as the coincidentally arrayed KEF, a 685 would probably work OK toppled.

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post #5 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elihawk View Post

I have a friend who has both the ascends and the BW 683...and we both agree that the ascends acoust cmt340s are better. Haven't heard the 685s...
Not that is intersteting. From what I remeber I really liked the 685 and the Ascends also sounded nice but didnt have the wow factor I was expecting.
Having compared the two what would you say charicarisically was beter about the ascends? (also the fact i can get all 3 for $400 is very appealing)


That is intersteting. From what I remeber I really liked the 685 and the Ascends also sounded nice but didnt have the wow factor I was expecting.
Having compared the two what would you say charicarisically was beter about the ascends?
(also the fact i can get all 3 for $400 is very appealing)
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post #6 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 10:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

My 1st choice would be the KEF. biggrin.gif

You cannot put the B&W on it's side.

You can put the KEF on it's side since it uses a coincident driver (Uni-Q).

Do you think the bookshelf q300's and a q600 would be enought for my size room?
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post #7 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 10:24 AM
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Are you DIY handy at all? With your size room, the SEOS DIY waveguide kits would most likely be the way to go.
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post #8 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 10:27 AM
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Can't say much about the others....but I will say I'm overjoyed with my Ascend 340SE's at LCR with CBM170SE's for surround.
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post #9 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 10:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sivadselim View Post

Well, you CAN. Although not as amenable to being toppled as the coincidentally arrayed KEF, a 685 would probably work OK toppled.

What do you mean "PROBABLY" and "OK"? eek.gif

Have you ever tried it? The B&W sounds like crap sitting on it's side when I tried it.
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post #10 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 10:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemonslush View Post

Do you think the bookshelf q300's and a q600 would be enought for my size room?

Yes, I do. With a great sub, of course. biggrin.gif
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post #11 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 11:04 AM
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OP, how far are you actually sitting from your speakers?
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post #12 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 11:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

The B&W sounds like crap sitting on it's side when I tried it.

Yeah? What does crap sound like? rolleyes.gif


Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

What do you mean "PROBABLY" and "OK"? eek.gif

Gee, what is it that is difficult to understand? I mean exactly what I said. It will probably work OK on its side. The tweeter is pretty close to the midwoofer. And there is nothing about the speaker's baffle that would make the tweeter operate much differently if the speaker were toppled.

Consider the HTM61, below. It's a 3-way speaker. That's a midrange on the right and a woofer (crossed @ 350Hz) on the left. Hard to tell from the photos, but the 685's tweeter may actually be closer to the midwoofer than the tweeter is to the midrange driver on the HTM61.

That said, if a vertical 685 was definitely out of the question and unless he could get a single 685 for significantly less than an HTM61, I don't really see any reason for the OP not to use the HTM61 for the center if B&W were his choice. As far as center-specific, horizontal speakers go, it is not a bad design.



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post #13 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 11:52 AM
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You thought Polk Monitors were warm?! Oh man. Unless you mean they lack any sort of a midrange warm. ....Which brings me to my next point..I hate one word descriptive terms for speakers. smile.gif

I'm not sure KEF, B&W and Ascend are something/the only the companies you should be looking at. Any audio shops near you?

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post #14 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 12:06 PM - Thread Starter
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OP, how far are you actually sitting from your speakers?

The couch layout isn't fully decided upon yet. I think 13' about.
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post #15 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 12:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ousooner2 View Post

You thought Polk Monitors were warm?! Oh man. Unless you mean they lack any sort of a midrange warm. ....Which brings me to my next point..I hate one word descriptive terms for speakers. smile.gif

I'm not sure KEF, B&W and Ascend are something/the only the companies you should be looking at. Any audio shops near you?

I have best buy and a Paul's tv. There's one other place but they are never open. I live in Massachuttes 30 minutes outside of Boston. I havent heard many other brands of speakers so I am going off of suggestions from others as I dont know if purching them and then returning them after an in home demo is feasable.
Also those three are the most I have read about on here, I figured if others were noted they might also be worth reviewing. I am however not stuck on the idea of anyone thing inpaticual. Speakers are subjective im some cases and what works for me might not work for you but out of the brands I have read about and had the oppertunity to hear I figured getting some additional imput would help with my decision making.

Asside from DIY speakers, is there something I should try to hear that would be in a similar price range to the above meantion speakers?
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post #16 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 12:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sivadselim View Post

Yeah? What does crap sound like? rolleyes.gif
Gee, what is it that is difficult to understand? I mean exactly what I said. It will probably work OK on its side. The tweeter is pretty close to the midwoofer. And there is nothing about the speaker's baffle that would make the tweeter operate much differently if the speaker were toppled.

Consider the HTM61, below. It's a 3-way speaker. That's a midrange on the right and a woofer (crossed @ 350Hz) on the left. Hard to tell from the photos, but the 685's tweeter may actually be closer to the midwoofer than the tweeter is to the midrange driver on the HTM61.

That said, if a vertical 685 was definitely out of the question and unless he could get a single 685 for significantly less than an HTM61, I don't really see any reason for the OP not to use the HTM61 for the center if B&W were his choice. As far as center-specific, horizontal speakers go, it is not a bad design.

I am speaking from actual experience.

Have you ever ACTUALLY listened to a vertical designed non-coincident driver speaker play when set on it's side? Just try it and see what I mean.

Bottom line is, if it has coincident drivers, it will still sound GOOD on it's side.

If it does not have coincident drivers and designed for vertical image placement, the image will sound very awkward when you place the speaker on its side.

But then again, perhaps you have tried it, and it sounded okay to you. So perhaps we have different experiences.

But I would never do it again after my first try.
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post #17 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 12:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

Bottom line is, if it has coincident drivers, it will still sound GOOD on it's side.
The way this can be absolutely true is if the speaker has the same height and width
Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

If it does not have coincident drivers and designed for vertical image placement, the image will sound very awkward when you place the speaker on its side.
As a single speaker or stereo pair?

A single speaker doesn't "image" like a stereo pair.

If you are talking about a stereo pair, it may not sound awkward at all...it really depends on the design/implementation. Granted, it may not be as great, but it also may not be bad.

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post #18 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemonslush View Post

The couch layout isn't fully decided upon yet. I think 13' about.

My family room is 18' x 20' x 12' and open to 3 sides. Even my little ATC SCM7 bookshelf speakers can fill the room just fine with my subs.
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post #19 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 12:39 PM
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The way this can be absolutely true is if the speaker has the same height and width
As a single speaker or stereo pair?

A single speaker doesn't "image" like a stereo pair.

If you are talking about a stereo pair, it may not sound awkward at all...it really depends on the design/implementation. Granted, it may not be as great, but it also may not be bad.

I've tried both - as a single center and as a stereo pair.

But guys, nobody wants "okay" and "not bad" from their nice speaker that they spent a few thousands on. That's my point. Everyone wants great sound. wink.gif

Why spend all that money for that compromise ? Just do it right w/o that kind of compromise.
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post #20 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 12:46 PM
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There is some CHT-10 speakers for sale in the AVS classifieds for $1200. I don't know your budget, but those would be a good choice in your room.
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post #21 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

I've tried both - as a single center and as a stereo pair.

But guys, nobody wants "okay" and "not bad" from their nice speaker that they spent a few thousands on. That's my point. Everyone wants great sound. wink.gif

Why spend all that money for that compromise ? Just do it right w/o that kind of compromise.
I'm not saying I want "okay" and "not bad", I was just adding more detail to your post.

Come on, ADTG, your very own room is a compromise with how you have the speakers crammed in there. smile.gif As well as the large TV on the same plane as the speakers...or in front of them.

People make compromises for all sorts of reasons.

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post #22 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
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If it does not have coincident drivers and designed for vertical image placement, the image will sound very awkward when you place the speaker on its side.

I said "OK", not ideal. A toppled MT can work OK and I would not hesitate to consider it if it matched my L/R speakers and seemed to me to be a better option than a "matched", but flawed, horizontal MTM design. But, as I said, the HTM61 is not an MTM and would probably be my choice as the center for a pair of 685s if I couldn't use (or procure) a 3rd 685, vertically, as the center.

Of course, as a KEF owner of the same set of speakers for ~9 years, now, I would probably never consider B&Ws. wink.gif

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post #23 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 02:50 PM
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I would recommend either the KEF (Q300 x5, $470 a pair at A4L) or the Ascend 340's. With a good sub either of those sound excellent for HT.

(I would check in the Ascend Owners thread re the 340 vs 340 SE ... I think I recall reading that the SE upgrade was very desirable on the 340's and 170s.)

IMO ... the B&W speakers I've heard are good, but I've always felt they were over priced.
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(I would check in the Ascend Owners thread re the 340 vs 340 SE ... I think I recall reading that the SE upgrade was very desirable on the 340's and 170s.)
Give Ascend a call and see if the upgrade to SE's is still available. If so, it could be a very economical route.

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post #25 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 03:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdg4vfx View Post

I would recommend either the KEF (Q300 x5, $470 a pair at A4L) or the Ascend 340's. With a good sub either of those sound excellent for HT.

(I would check in the Ascend Owners thread re the 340 vs 340 SE ... I think I recall reading that the SE upgrade was very desirable on the 340's and 170s.)

IMO ... the B&W speakers I've heard are good, but I've always felt they were over priced.

Yea the more I think about it the more I feel the B&w are overpriced. I am leaning more and more towards the KEfs. The q600c for 400 and 2 q300 would be a decent start and after I save up more I could go with another set of q300's or get some q700's. But I would like to get my new sub before I get matching rear sorrounds. I have a few different speakers I can use to fill the gap until then.

I did call Ascends and they said the SE upgrade was rather substancial. They did say if I got the old 340's and then got another pair of 340se to match the 340se center that would be a good 5 channel system and the old 340's will sound better than the new 170s.

I am goingi to hunt around and see if any other local shops sell Kef's besides pauls (they only stock q500 and q200c) . Otherwise I may just order a new pair from amazon to test them out and return them. Then get a pair open box online someplace else for 200 less.

I assume the Kefs will be a brighter speaker than the ascends. Also I like the look of the Kefs but the idea of having 2 6.5 woofers is also nice.
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post #26 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 04:26 PM
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IMHO, what makes the Ascend cmt340s a great speaker, at that price range, is really two things:
1. Very balanced! Does low, mid and high all very well!
2. Sounds good at low volume, yet is capable of getting loud!
I have always felt that B$W are good speakers, just not the best buy for the price! Like you, I think there are abit overpriced!

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post #27 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
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It would be great if I could hear the Ascends again and the fact they can play real loud is a plus. Do you think not buying the ascends stands and going with regular sanus stands would be OK?
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post #28 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 05:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elihawk View Post

IMHO, what makes the Ascend cmt340s a great speaker, at that price range, is really two things:
1. Very balanced! Does low, mid and high all very well!
2. Sounds good at low volume, yet is capable of getting loud!
I have always felt that B$W are good speakers, just not the best buy for the price! Like you, I think there are abit overpriced!

I agree 100%. The only B&W speakers I ever liked were the 800 series, but when factoring in the price, I felt they were overpriced for what you get.

The Ascensds are a great choice in this price range, I would probably take them over the Kef 300's.
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post #29 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sivadselim View Post

I said "OK", not ideal. A toppled MT can work OK and I would not hesitate to consider it if it matched my L/R speakers and seemed to me to be a better option than a "matched", but flawed, horizontal MTM design. But, as I said, the HTM61 is not an MTM and would probably be my choice as the center for a pair of 685s if I couldn't use (or procure) a 3rd 685, vertically, as the center.

Of course, as a KEF owner of the same set of speakers for ~9 years, now, I would probably never consider B&Ws. wink.gif

Well, I did say KEF would be my 1st choice. cool.gif

I actually have never even used a horizontal center speaker in my life. biggrin.gif

I have friends who use them, and the center speakers sounded pretty good.
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post #30 of 35 Old 05-06-2013, 07:18 PM
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I was in your position a few months ago having just sold off my Polk Monitors and looking for a serious upgrade. My short list consisted of the KEFs, Ascends, PSB B6s and Monitor Audio BX-2s. I wound up purchasing a pair of Totem Mites and the matching center. For the price the Totems just smoked everything I put them up against. If you have a dealer nearby, they're certainly worth checking out. Can't find a single thing wrong with these speakers. If I were going strictly HT, the PSBs also performed very well for movies when I demoed them.
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