I've narrowed my choices down to Ascend Sierra Towers or Focal 836w - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 68 Old 10-07-2013, 11:37 PM - Thread Starter
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I heard the Sierra towers courtesy Holt (and that was months ago) and I am going to listen to the 836w hopefully this week.

Now as much as I would love to listen to these things at reference levels, I have a 17 month old and my booming home theater days are def put on hold. So I would say now its 80% much 20%HT and my room consists of 8 ft ceilings, hardwood floors with a big shag rug and curtains in the rear of the room and the dimensions are 25 x 22 and its not a perfectly rectangular room with a 6 ft opening to the kitchen and well I supposed I can post pics to give you guys a better idea.

I am selling my B&W CM5's and I already sold my center.

I have just decided to go with towers because I straight suffer from upgraditis like most of you here. I will def be looking at a L/C/R/ set up and currently am running a denon 3313 pushed by a sunfire cinema 200x5 and a sunfire sds12 sub (which I will be upgrading later)

So as far as my ears are concerned, I feel they are sensitive to a hard high or at least to my ears anyways. I have a studio in my house with a BAT 250 pushing some westlake audio BBSM4's and even those are pushing it when cranked. I suppose everyone is going to say to go for the RAAL's then if my ears are sensitive but I have searched all over and I can't find any comparisons between the Focal 836w's and the Ascend Towers..


SOooooo I am just wondering if any of you have had the experience or does one beat out the other hand over fist?

Personally, neither one wins a beauty pageant in my opinion but I have the WAF on both!!!

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post #2 of 68 Old 10-07-2013, 11:47 PM - Thread Starter
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so needless to say, I dont have a lot of wall space to really separate whatever I do put there and these bookshelves do fine but I am looking for something to fill this bigger room that I now have.

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post #3 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 12:37 AM
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The Focal uses aluminum/magnesium dome tweeter and the Ascend Towers uses NrT tweeter. The soft dome tweeter will be easier on the ears always over any type of aluminum dome tweeters. So Ascend will be your better choice. Also the Focal is using MDF cabinets while the Ascend uses birch ply wood which will reduce resonance, which then ofcourse translates to dead cabinet, better accurate sound and will offer you more 3d type soundstaging.

If you are looking to spend $3,500 and the towers are not a must, I highly highly recommend the Vapor Audio's Cirrus blacks. They use the best crossovers,RAAL 70-20x tweeters. best cabinets with real birch ply wood (13+ layered) which reduces resonance by 20db and the best woofers. Very good for music and HT. Speakers are fast, natural sounding and organic, huge soundstage depth and great articulate bass while being detailed/refined as hell. And will fill your space no problem.

www.vaporsound.com
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post #4 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 02:22 AM
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You sound like a fortuneteller.

Anyway, the sierra T cabinets are made of bamboo not birch.
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post #5 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 03:05 AM
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In that case, the Vapor Stiff Breeze are much better value than the Ascends.
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post #6 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 05:09 AM
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Vapor stiff and breeze uses prefabricated partsexpress/dayton mdf curved cabinets with cust front baffle. Not birch as you mention in other post.
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post #7 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 06:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kingofthecrate View Post


So as far as my ears are concerned, I feel they are sensitive to a hard high or at least to my ears anyways.

Are you using Audyssey Dynamic EQ in your system?
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post #8 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 06:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAIM101 View Post

In that case, the Vapor Stiff Breeze are much better value than the Ascends.

So you actually believe that one speaker is better than another based solely on the cabinet material? That is crazy talk! The Sierra Towers have extensive bracing, and I can assure you that they are just as rigged as the Vaper Audio speakers.

The Sierra Towers with their RAAL tweeter will be more detailed, have better clarity, wider sound stage, and better imaging that the Focal's. The Sierra Towers are in every way a much better sounding speaker, compared to the Focal's.

As far as how the Sierra Towers compare to the Vapor Audio Cirrus, I am not sure as I have not heard the Cirrus, but judging by specs and user reviews, the Sierra Towers will extend lower, and should have more mid-bass kick. If it were me, I would definitely go with the Sierra Towers & a Horizon center channel. That would be an extremely hard setup to beat!
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post #9 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 06:45 AM
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I am reticent about making claims that one speaker is unequivocally better sounding than another speaker in the same price class.

Most comparisons are done by pure memory and the speakers were not in the same room, same system, same setup, or even same music.

And in the end, it's about personal preference.

So how can anyone know for sure what someone else's preference is?
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post #10 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 06:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

Are you using Audyssey Dynamic EQ in your system?
Yeah I am, i never noticed that bright of a tweeter with the CM5's that most tend to say it has. In fact there is nothing wrong with my cm5's. I just know there is a better option for me.

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post #11 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Well I am not looking for anyone to fit their preference to mine however I am sure there are guys out there that have my same sensitive hearing. Now I dont find the CM5's ear blistering at all so if that says anything between the two then I am looking for experiences with the two.


I am not against going with bookshelves again, my concern was being able to dynamically fill that room when mom and baby are out of the house and dad can rock out to some steve wilson smile.gif

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post #12 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 07:02 AM
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Yeah I am, i never noticed that bright of a tweeter with the CM5's that most tend to say it has. In fact there is nothing wrong with my cm5's. I just know there is a better option for me.

You mean upgrade fever? biggrin.gif

Got to spend that money? biggrin.gif

People will say all kinds of things. Internet hearsay is ubiquitous. eek.gif

Well, it is fun to spend money. I am no stranger. biggrin.gif

I've tried to find all kinds of excuses to buy, buy, buy. eek.gif

So are you going from good sounding B&W speakers that measure "poorly" to other speakers that are good sounding and measure superbly? biggrin.gif

If this is the case, I think the Focal 836w is good sounding but may not measure that superbly.

I have the 826v. They do sound very good to my ears. But their on-axis FR is like +/- 3 to 4 dB.

The Ascend, like other accurately measured speakers from Revel, KEF, Salk, Philharmonic, NHT, RBH, TAD, Pioneer, etc., will probably measure a lot better than the Focal 836w.
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post #13 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 07:14 AM - Thread Starter
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You mean upgrade fever? biggrin.gif

Got to spend that money? biggrin.gif

People will say all kinds of things. Internet hearsay is ubiquitous. eek.gif

Well, it is fun to spend money. I am no stranger. biggrin.gif

I've tried to find all kinds of excuses to buy, buy, buy. eek.gif

So are you going from good sounding B&W speakers that measure "poorly" to other speakers that are good sounding and measure superbly? biggrin.gif

If this is the case, I think the Focal 836w is good sounding but may not measure that superbly.

I have the 826v. They do sound very good to my ears. But their on-axis FR is like +/- 3 to 4 dB.

The Ascend, like other accurately measured speakers from Revel, KEF, Salk, Philharmonic, NHT, RBH, TAD, Pioneer, etc., will probably measure a lot better than the Focal 836w.


Well what happened was, when I bought the home I am in now, somebody (probably someone I knew since we had a lot of remodeling going on) broke into our garage while I was out of the country for work and stole a lot of things that were dear to me including a pair of infinity kappas that my father gave to me along with other things that held high sentimental value like my bryston 4B (now replaced with a BAT 250) and other music instruments like my 82 fender p bass and a jupiter 8 and Yamaha motif. So I have the room to upgrade and like you, have NO problem spending the money.


I checked out that vapor sounds but I dont even know anyone to even go check them out and we are talking a few thousand above my budget now. I tend to get buyers remorse when I go above 1500 on what I already had planned. Also no offense to the speaker builders but I feel the marketing for upgrade options just leaves me with the taste of dissatisfaction when I go to purchase your product in its standard option knowing I could have gotten the same speaker in a better configuration. If it sounds that much better of a speaker, then just sell it as built with the better components.


however, I wanted to stay within budget of 3500 but I would want a center channel (although I must admit, I haven't noticed much difference running 2.1 in my current set up)

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post #14 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 07:35 AM
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This was posted over at the Ascend forums...it's one members account of having heard & comparing both speakers...YMMV...good read nonetheless.

http://forum.ascendacoustics.com/showthread.php?5090-Salk-Songtower-vs-Sierra-Tower/page2

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Well i have had the Nrt Sierra towers for about 4 months now and i still smile every time i turn them on. I thought about the RAAL and still think about it, but the NrT is an excellent tweeter and you really can't go wrong (Plus if i ever get upgradeitis i have something to buy haha). I have never heard the focals, but i can say i have heard the CM9's. Mind you it was in a speaker store and probably wasn't the greatest conditions, but i left unimpressed. I have a friend who worked in the speaker selling business for 20 years and he owns a pair of paradigm s8's (which i also liked, although the top end could be harsh). When he came over and listened to the Ascends he was blown away.

Some things i have noticed:
surprisingly deep bass from (2) 5 1/4" woofers. Would need a sub for true home theater, but in 2 channel it is definitely not needed. I scared the crap out of my son cranking the volume one day to test the bass.

When you turn the volume up it almost seems like they gain more presence rather than just get louder.

They have great detail even at low volumes

The finish is stunning. I got the satin espresso. (though in hindsight i wish i would have went for the natural)

Music has never sounded better even my girlfriend who couldn't believe i was spending this kind of money on speakers has even admitted they sound great.

Last, but not least it took about 7 weeks from purchase to getting my speakers and Dina gave me weekly updates on the status and even pictures as they were being built. You simply can't get better customer service!

If you liked what you heard while listening to them i would definitely go for it. Either way you will probably like both i have heard great things about focal and want to hear them for myself someday.
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post #16 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 08:49 AM
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Heh...I had a couple of fellows come over this weekend having recently auditioned the Klispch rf7s...I believe have dual 10's...sure they (my Asends) wouldn't dig as low BUT were very surprised on how well the Ascends handled the bass strictly in 2ch direct mode...one of them commented that my home needed better sound proofing because he could hear the bass from across the street upon arriving at my home.....lol.

Fwiw...I always use a sub for music and H/T...just a personal choice.

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post #17 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 09:02 AM - Thread Starter
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I have a sub even though I plan on upgrading to maybe another sunfire or perhaps go different route so my low and capability is there. If I went ascend I would go with the nrt in the towers and raal in the center. I feel that would be best for dialog but I'm having doubts of going raal in the towers for I felt they were a tad bright for my ears. So I'm sure the soft dome would satisfy me there. Not that I didn't like the raal, I just felt at higher levels it made my ears a but uncomfortable. Though I Dont normally listen loud alone. it seems the consensus on the tweeter with the vocals are going to be harsh. Only one way to find out. Go give them a listen and judge it. I found a great deal on a member selling them used here so it would save me money but with all the current findings in better enclosures with a higher grade density would that is helping me lean more towards the ascend

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post #18 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 09:51 AM
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we have the towers in nrt tweeter and the center in raal could not be any happier brings a smile to me every time I turn my system on.
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post #19 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAIM101 View Post

The Focal uses aluminum/magnesium dome tweeter and the Ascend Towers uses NrT tweeter. The soft dome tweeter will be easier on the ears always over any type of aluminum dome tweeters. So Ascend will be your better choice. Also the Focal is using MDF cabinets while the Ascend uses birch ply wood which will reduce resonance, which then ofcourse translates to dead cabinet, better accurate sound and will offer you more 3d type soundstaging.

If you are looking to spend $3,500 and the towers are not a must, I highly highly recommend the Vapor Audio's Cirrus blacks. They use the best crossovers,RAAL 70-20x tweeters. best cabinets with real birch ply wood (13+ layered) which reduces resonance by 20db and the best woofers. Very good for music and HT. Speakers are fast, natural sounding and organic, huge soundstage depth and great articulate bass while being detailed/refined as hell. And will fill your space no problem.

www.vaporsound.com

More nonsense. The tweeter material has little or nothing to do with being "easier" on the ears. It's all in the implementation. A poor design with a soft dome could easily be harsh, bright, etc. Not to say that is the case with the Ascends, just that the statement above is false.
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post #20 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 04:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RicardoJoa View Post

You sound like a fortuneteller.

Anyway, the sierra T cabinets are made of bamboo not birch.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NAIM101 View Post

In that case, the Vapor Stiff Breeze are much better value than the Ascends.

Naim101,

I am not sure of your logic in coming to your conclusion -- The layered bamboo we use is actually stiffer than birch ply. It is also considerably more expensive. With regard to wood materials, I know of no other material that is stiffer/stronger than bamboo. Besides being beautiful and a true "green" material, compared to MDF (which is similar in density), bamboo ply has 8 times greater compressive strength, and slightly greater than 10 times the bulk stiffness-to-weight ratio. The Sierra series cabinets are more comparable to the Vapor Cirrus cabinets, which use layered birch ply.

David Fabrikant

audio professional and soft spoken representative of www.AscendAcoustics.com

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post #21 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by beaveav View Post

More nonsense. The tweeter material has little or nothing to do with being "easier" on the ears. It's all in the implementation. A poor design with a soft dome could easily be harsh, bright, etc. Not to say that is the case with the Ascends, just that the statement above is false.

Hi Beaveav,

I know what you are saying... However, different materials do have different resonance modes and damping characteristics, and depending on one's hearing, poorly damped resonance modes at specific frequencies might not match well with them, especially someone suffering from Tinnitus, hearing loss or just sensitive hearing in general. But yes, nothing can save poor implementation and a poorly implemented soft dome can easily fatigue someone just as much as a poorly implemented aluminum dome...

David Fabrikant

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post #22 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 04:23 PM
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why can't the mods see threw this so called new member (troll) NAIM101. very, very little what you post is factual. you've been busted by so many here yet it goes on and on. GO VAPORSOUND...rolleyes.gif

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post #23 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 08:48 PM - Thread Starter
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Well I should probably head back over to HOLT's house since he has informed me today that he has recently added external amplification to his ascends and that might have had something to do with pushing them hard with the Denon 4312 that he had. I am possibly going to hear the 836w's on thursday but it already sounds like the source materials hand over fist are a better build with the ascends than the 836w's and If I know anything, I do know that enclosure plays a significant role in how these speakers end up sounding.


Dave I would love (and I should) come down to your shop as its about an hour and a half away but Holts house is 15 min from me lol!!!

I think if I were to get more serious about this, I would like to speak to you about coming down possibly.

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post #24 of 68 Old 10-08-2013, 09:07 PM
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Naim101,

I am not sure of your logic in coming to your conclusion -- The layered bamboo we use is actually stiffer than birch ply. It is also considerably more expensive. With regard to wood materials, I know of no other material that is stiffer/stronger than bamboo. Besides being beautiful and a true "green" material, compared to MDF (which is similar in density), bamboo ply has 8 times greater compressive strength, and slightly greater than 10 times the bulk stiffness-to-weight ratio. The Sierra series cabinets are more comparable to the Vapor Cirrus cabinets, which use layered birch ply.
Interesting stuff. Thanks. smile.gif

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post #25 of 68 Old 10-09-2013, 12:07 PM
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Dave I would love (and I should) come down to your shop as its about an hour and a half away but Holts house is 15 min from me lol!!!

You're more than welcome to come over for another audition, and if you decide to take a road trip to Ascend let me know. You've got an important decision to make so try to hear as many different speakers and brands as possible.


And yes, bringing over cold beer last time was an outstanding call on your part wink.gif.

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post #26 of 68 Old 10-10-2013, 01:21 AM
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Originally Posted by beaveav View Post

More nonsense. The tweeter material has little or nothing to do with being "easier" on the ears. It's all in the implementation. A poor design with a soft dome could easily be harsh, bright, etc. Not to say that is the case with the Ascends, just that the statement above is false.


Sibilance can be caused by bad design but also can be caused by the metal tweeter itself. Soft dome tweeters are much better with sibilance because of much lower mass than metal dome tweeters.
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post #27 of 68 Old 10-10-2013, 01:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Ascend View Post


Naim101,

I am not sure of your logic in coming to your conclusion -- The layered bamboo we use is actually stiffer than birch ply. It is also considerably more expensive. With regard to wood materials, I know of no other material that is stiffer/stronger than bamboo. Besides being beautiful and a true "green" material, compared to MDF (which is similar in density), bamboo ply has 8 times greater compressive strength, and slightly greater than 10 times the bulk stiffness-to-weight ratio. The Sierra series cabinets are more comparable to the Vapor Cirrus cabinets, which use layered birch ply.


My apologieze. Can you tell us when the Ascend 2's are coming out and for what price?
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post #28 of 68 Old 10-10-2013, 01:28 AM
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Originally Posted by kingofthecrate View Post

I heard the Sierra towers courtesy Holt (and that was months ago) and I am going to listen to the 836w hopefully this week.

Now as much as I would love to listen to these things at reference levels, I have a 17 month old and my booming home theater days are def put on hold. So I would say now its 80% much 20%HT and my room consists of 8 ft ceilings, hardwood floors with a big shag rug and curtains in the rear of the room and the dimensions are 25 x 22 and its not a perfectly rectangular room with a 6 ft opening to the kitchen and well I supposed I can post pics to give you guys a better idea.

I am selling my B&W CM5's and I already sold my center.

I have just decided to go with towers because I straight suffer from upgraditis like most of you here. I will def be looking at a L/C/R/ set up and currently am running a denon 3313 pushed by a sunfire cinema 200x5 and a sunfire sds12 sub (which I will be upgrading later)

So as far as my ears are concerned, I feel they are sensitive to a hard high or at least to my ears anyways. I have a studio in my house with a BAT 250 pushing some westlake audio BBSM4's and even those are pushing it when cranked. I suppose everyone is going to say to go for the RAAL's then if my ears are sensitive but I have searched all over and I can't find any comparisons between the Focal 836w's and the Ascend Towers..


SOooooo I am just wondering if any of you have had the experience or does one beat out the other hand over fist?

Personally, neither one wins a beauty pageant in my opinion but I have the WAF on both!!!




Definately add KEF-LS50 to your list. Heard these today and the hype was all true. Excellent speakers. Mid-range was superb and the soundstage was awesome. Big big sweet spot and bass was killer. Highly recommend them for 2 channel stereo set-up.

http://www.independentaudiovideo.com/store/item_view.asp?estore_itemid=1010769
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post #29 of 68 Old 10-10-2013, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by NAIM101 View Post

Definately add KEF-LS50 to your list. Heard these today and the hype was all true. Excellent speakers. Mid-range was superb and the soundstage was awesome. Big big sweet spot and bass was killer. Highly recommend them for 2 channel stereo set-up.

As long as the buyer is okay with NO SPEAKER GRILLES since the excellent LS50 has no grille.

Some of us need those protective grilles. biggrin.gif
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post #30 of 68 Old 10-10-2013, 11:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by AcuDefTechGuy View Post

As long as the buyer is okay with NO SPEAKER GRILLES since the excellent LS50 has no grille.

Some of us need those protective grilles. biggrin.gif

Well of you didn't notice from my photos, I have them gated off from the destructor that is Cruzilla (my 18 month old) who already felt the need to push the button (tweeter) on my center channel so yeah, grills are a good deterrent. Although I admit I am curious to hear these and am excited about the Ascend 2's that are projected to be out within a few months.


so I have decided to pass on towers and stick with bookshelves. Now based off my guestimations of my living room area square footage to be a little over 700 feet. I know thats a lot of room to fill so I am considering some sub options..

I have spent time reading about some of the internet direct companies.. I have 2k to spend on sub (or subs) and based off my set up, thats where the subs would have to live.

I also have a friend who can get me wholesale on sunfire (I own a sds -12 in there now and although it works, it worked better in my smaller living room before I bought this house)


so 2k is my sub budget... thoughts fellas? I am a fan of HSU, Rhytmik, PSA, Sunfire,

3 things in life my father said to me

1. Deny till death
2. If you dont sleep with her, someone else will
3. If it dont fit, force it
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