Boston Acoustics E60 and Ascent CBM-170 SE, which can be listened to quietly? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 162 Old 01-25-2014, 09:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi,

 

I am new here; been reading this forum for a while. Thanks to all who contributed to this forum's wealth of information!

 

I am in process of selecting speakers for my bedroom. I have been listening to a 2.1 Cambridge Soundworks system for the past 10 years, and while it is good, I want to upgrade to more sophisticated bookshelf speakers. I have a simple, 100-watt per channel stereo Sony receiver. For source, I use a laptop with DFX sound enhancer software. I usually stream 320 Kbps encoded MP3s, and on occasion FLAC/ALAC. My price range is somewhat flexible, but I wouldn't want to go much above $500. I don't have a sub. My main priorities are clear and gentle (not in your face kind, usually associated with Klipsch) sound. I also want to be able to enjoy the music quietly at night, without waking up the house.

 

I read many reviews on the Ascend CBM-170 SE, and there seems to be universal agreement that they are outstanding speakers. I also read about Boston Acoustics E60, and although there are less reviewed, they are also universally praised. E60 are hard to come by, but there seems to be a retailer who still has some stock left, and a pair of E60 would cost me around $550. I could not find a direct comparison between the CBM-170 and the E60s, so I would like to ask if anyone has experience with both: Are these speakers comparable at all, and is one more suitable for listening to at low volumes?

 

Thanks!

-Stan

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post #2 of 162 Old 01-25-2014, 09:37 AM
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I have not listened to the CBM-170 > however as an owner of the E60, they will
fit your needs/requirements.

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post #3 of 162 Old 01-25-2014, 10:33 AM
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Though I haven't heard the Boston's you mention, I do have a pair of 170's as the mains in my HT setup(I have an apartment). My normal listening on my Yamaha RX-A700 is usually around -55dbs for both music and movies and they still great to me at those levels. They are what some would call neutral sounding, to me they are very accurate and will show the flaws in a recording, as well as not being 'forward' sounding or harsh and fatiguing. If you are going to listen in your bedroom, they will sound fine at the volumes you are going to listen at. Have you heard the Boston's you mentioned yet? If not I would recommend doing an audition with them to see how you like their sound.

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post #4 of 162 Old 01-25-2014, 10:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses. I haven't listened to either one. The E60 are sold online, and as far as I know, the Ascends are sold online only as well.

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post #5 of 162 Old 01-25-2014, 10:59 AM
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post #6 of 162 Old 01-26-2014, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkpoet25 View Post

Though I haven't heard the Boston's you mention, I do have a pair of 170's as the mains in my HT setup(I have an apartment). My normal listening on my Yamaha RX-A700 is usually around -55dbs for both music and movies and they still great to me at those levels. They are what some would call neutral sounding, to me they are very accurate and will show the flaws in a recording, as well as not being 'forward' sounding or harsh and fatiguing. If you are going to listen in your bedroom, they will sound fine at the volumes you are going to listen at.

I agree. The 170s are very neutral and very resolving. Not forward or harsh or fatiguing.

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post #7 of 162 Old 01-26-2014, 04:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you, guys.

 

Since I don't know much about speakers, I went to a couple of stores and listened to several speakers to learn more about my musical taste. I listened to B&W 685 and 686, Martin Logan Motion 4, 15 and 20, JBL 130, and some Klipsch RF models. I guess my taste goes more toward bright, open sound. I immediately excluded B&W. Compared to ML, they sounded too boxy and muffled for me. Klipsch had a very crisp sound, but after a while my teeth started to hurt. I found the JBL's sound more close to the Martin Logan's. ML 20 were best sounding to my ears, but are over by budget, plus at this time I am looking for bookshelves. As I said, the exercise was mostly for learning about what I like better. Considering that I can only buy the Boston Acoustics E60 online from a retailer who does not accept returns, perhaps I will not go for them. From what I have read about the CBM-170, they are perhaps a good choice for my taste. But from readin about the JBL, I found about their higher model, Studio 530.

 

Has anyone who listened to the JBL 530 also got a chance to compare then to the CBM-170?

 

Thanks,

Stan

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post #8 of 162 Old 01-26-2014, 04:38 PM
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The Boston E60 retailer does except returns - however, with a 15% restocking fee.
Both the Boston and JBL 530 (the Studio 5 is more high-end, compared to the 1)
are clean/clear and transparent - however, the Boston has higher resolution in the
mid-range and high-range. The JBL bass will go down deeper.

While the Boston is an all around better speaker - one can be real satisfied with the
JBL Studio 530. You should see the list of some of the speakers, where people have
chosen the JBL over them.

All I am going to say is, I have owned many, many speakers - and the JBL and Boston
are 2 of the better ones, that I have owned.

However with your options - your choice and call.

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post #9 of 162 Old 01-26-2014, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you, zieglj01.

 

You are correct -- the vendor does indeed take returns with 15% restocking fee.

 

Would you say that the E60 are "airy"? What I really liked about the Martin Logan, and the JBL 130 to a degree, was how they create a very wide perception of the sound. I am perhaps not using the correct terminology, but I hope you understand what I mean.
 

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post #10 of 162 Old 01-26-2014, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stgatev View Post

Thank you, zieglj01.

You are correct -- the vendor does indeed take returns with 15% restocking fee.

Would you say that the E60 are "airy"? What I really liked about the Martin Logan, and the JBL 130 to a degree, was how they create a very wide perception of the sound. I am perhaps not using the correct terminology, but I hope you understand what I mean.

The E60, will be airy (with good resolution) and have a somewhat holographic sound character >
with good detail, definition and depth. They throw a big spacious sound stage.

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post #11 of 162 Old 01-26-2014, 08:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01 View Post


The E60, will be airy (with good resolution) and have a somewhat holographic sound character >
with good detail, definition and depth. They throw a big spacious sound stage.


Thanks again, zieglj01!

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post #12 of 162 Old 01-28-2014, 10:12 AM
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I'd like to also cast a vote for the E60's. I played them at close range on my work desk for years and it was awesome. Now they sit on a table behind me, filling the room with awesome sound. I usually leave the classic radio on, and it's a beautiful experience all the time. The detail is what I love about them. I've heard a lot of other speakers, and they don't come close. cool.gif
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post #13 of 162 Old 01-28-2014, 05:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks all! A pair of E60 is on its way!
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Congrats man! Let us know how you like them, theirs not a lot of thoughts out there about the E60's. I'm curious if you will fall in love with them like I did cool.gif
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post #15 of 162 Old 01-28-2014, 05:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stgatev View Post

Thanks all! A pair of E60 is on its way!

Enjoy!

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Speakers > MB Quart VS05, Boston VS260, Snell K7
Subwoofer > Mordaunt Short Aviano 7
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post #16 of 162 Old 01-28-2014, 06:51 PM
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Don't expect much bass out of those E60s. A sub is a must with them. Without a sub, they will loose composure very quickly. You mentioned that you will listen at low volumes but I would still strongly suggest a sub. Crossed over to a sub at 80Hz, they can take some power. Good speaker for the price.
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post #17 of 162 Old 01-28-2014, 07:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stgatev View Post

Thanks all! A pair of E60 is on its way!

Congrats! I'll surely stay tuned to your thoughts smile.gif

btw, I went by my local best buy today and listened to the def tech sm45's. I enjoyed them and thought they were quite good. The only other bookshelf I've listened to is the Monitor Audio bx-1. Honestly I preferred the Bx-1 over the def tech. The BX-1 sounded cleaner and more accurate. The SM45 sounded bright to me, almost too bright. I'm starting to realize that I may prefer a more neutral speaker.

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post #18 of 162 Old 01-28-2014, 09:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks! I am awaiting the E60s impatiently. Meanwhile, I would like to consider the other components of my system, and have a few questions:

 

- My current receiver is Sony STR-DH100. This is the bottom of the line, price-wise, receiver, but is nonetheless rated at 100 watts per channel. It is rather heavy, so I guess Sony didn't skimp on the power supply. In this forum, HK 3490 is referred to as "musically good" receiver. I also saw Denon AVR-1613 being recommended. I wonder, would the HK or the Denon make a significant difference compared to my current receiver? What would be the advantages and drawbacks of choosing a strictly stereo receiver vs AVR, assuming that I might add a subwoofer, but not other speakers. I am open to other recommendations as well. I have no issue with used/refurbished/older models.

 

- As a source, I currently use my laptop's 3.5mm stereo jack. I recently installed DFX Audio Enhancer and it brought new life to my modest setup. I got so used to it that without it, the music now sounds dull and lifeless. On the other hand, though, this forces me to use the internal sound card, which is perhaps not the best option. I could install a better, external sound card, but will lose the DFX. Can you recommend another good way to listen from a computer?

 

Thanks,

-Stan

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post #19 of 162 Old 01-28-2014, 11:45 PM
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I would aim to replace that old Sony receiver - the current Sony receivers are better.

Harman Kardon 3490 refurbish receiver here - and has a subwoofer pre-out
http://www.harmanaudio.com/search_browse/product_detail.asp?urlMaterialNumber=HK%203490-Z&status=

If money is tight - Denon receiver with subwoofer pre-out here
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/DENDRA397/DENON-DRA-397-AM/FM-Multi-Source/Zone-Stereo-Receiver/1.html

The refurb Denon 1613, or E300, or Yamaha 475 surround receivers are also a
good option - they are more flexible and give you bass management.
http://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/category/AVReceiver/Home-Audio/Home-Theater-Receivers/1.html

However, for 2.1 and mainly music - a stereo receiver with a sub pre-out is fine,
you can adjust the crossover, phase and volume/gain on the subwoofer

Someone else will need to help you with your computer/pc music set-up

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post #20 of 162 Old 01-29-2014, 03:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the recommendations. I have a follow-up question: If the sub I eventually buy has speaker inputs and outputs and cross-over control, would this be a substutute for a AVR with a sub pre-out, or the AVR provides more control and a higher quality base?

 

Thanks,

-Stan

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post #21 of 162 Old 01-29-2014, 03:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stgatev View Post

Thanks for the recommendations. I have a follow-up question: If the sub I eventually buy has speaker inputs and outputs and cross-over control, would this be a substutute for a AVR with a sub pre-out, or the AVR provides more control and a higher quality base?

You still need your AVR, or stereo receiver - this will make the Boston happy

The Receiver sends the signal to the subwoofer amp - and will take some
stress off both speakers and receiver, for better performance.

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post #22 of 162 Old 01-29-2014, 09:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, zieglj01.

 

I thought that the subwoofer, even when connected via the speaker input, does not actually draw from the amp, and uses the input to set its volume and isolate the lower frequencies? Please excuse my ignorance...

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post #23 of 162 Old 01-30-2014, 12:36 AM - Thread Starter
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UPDATE: I re-posted my receiver question on the Receivers, Amps and Processors forum, as it seemed more appropriate.

 

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1515087/old-sony-str-da90esg-or-new-denon-avr-e300-for-2-1-music

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post #24 of 162 Old 01-31-2014, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
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I hope I did not offend anyone with my questions. I had to do a bit of thinking and decide for myself whether I would go with an older system, and having to deal with any issues related to its age, or go for perhaps a less glorified, but more modern system. I had to make an analogy with my cars. In the past, I would buy older Saab's and fix them. Saab's, when they run, run like dream. But used Saab's are cheap for a reason. Maintaining them takes a lot of time, a good chunk of money, and makes everyone else unhappy because just when we need a car it is being taken apart for another repair. Now I drive a Toyota, and while it never drives like the Saab, it is there when I need it. So I decided to take the Toyota path with the stereo, and just try to live with the fact that I am just an average person having an ok system. I will try to spend more time listening to music then toying with the system. Put in perspective, not many people in the world can get even close to that.

 

I gave Denon a call and ordered a refurbished 2113CI. If anyone cares, I will report on my impressions and how it compares to the Sony it will replace.

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post #25 of 162 Old 01-31-2014, 06:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stgatev View Post

I gave Denon a call and ordered a refurbished 2113CI. If anyone cares, I will report on my impressions and how it compares to the Sony it will replace.

That should be a nice upgrade over your Sony. smile.gif

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post #26 of 162 Old 01-31-2014, 06:41 PM
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Quote:
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I gave Denon a call and ordered a refurbished 2113CI. If anyone cares, I will report on my impressions and how it compares to the Sony it will replace.

Good show - enjoy it

Nothing wrong with asking questions.

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post #27 of 162 Old 02-01-2014, 08:55 PM - Thread Starter
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The E60 speakers arrived today!

 

My initial impressions are that they are very high quality, solidly built speakers. Mine are dark walnut finish. I might have preferred the cherry as it would have matched the surface of the chest on which they sit, but the dark walnut is beautiful, and the dark metal frame is more discrete than the light aluminum which is matched with the cherry panels. The dark walnut also blends better with the rest of the black equipment on the chest.

 

The speakers are heavy. I was expecting them to be heavy, but I also thought they would be bigger. They are smaller than what I was bracing myself for, and very dense. I love the metal grills. I don't know if they are removable, and as it is, I don't care, as I plan to keep them. Much better choice IMO then cloth. The bottom is a bit rounded, so they look a bit like they might rock in the left to right plane, but that is only a perception. Put on the flat surface, they stay put. I put the little silicon pads provided with them to minimize any vibrations.

 

I put them side by side to my current Kenwood LS-VH7 speakers. I bought the Kenwwod speakers used, and paid 16 bucks for the pair. So I was a bit apprehensive -- will the $500 (30 times more than what I paid for the Kenwood) speakers sound 30 times better? All I can say it is they do sound much better. I am currently breaking them with "Yo-Yo Ma Plays Enni Morricone" (Spotify URI spotify:album:1ZReq7RYxh0d0IqLONfBHk). I can feel that they are opening up with each hour. I did an A to B test with the Kenwood speakers by connecting them together to the A and B terminals, respectively. Since the Kenwood are 6 ohm and the Boston are 8, the Kenwood plays a bit louder than the Boston at the same position of the volume knob, but the E60 are so much more articulated, especially in the higher end. Very clear sound, without the hollow, boomy augmentation from the Kenwood cabinets. Mids are great, highs are very nice, too, and the bass is there, too.

 

I demoed them to my boys with Alan Parson's "Mammagamma" (spotify:track:2H2riBoltlfKrU7i495hvf) from his "Eye in the Sky" album, and to my wife with Jack Johnson. Mammagamma sounded really nice, with very articulated, punchy beat, and enveloping sound. Jack Johnson's voice was soft and mellow, rich.

 

There is a song which I consider challenging for most cheap audio setups I have listened to: a piano solo "Comptine d'un autre été, l'après-midi" (spotify:track:2AkcjsKlRbIBYGAgpQVFii) from the soundtrack to the film "Amelie from Monmartre" (btw, a wonderful film; if you haven't seen it, I envy you for what you are about to experience). This song is all mids, and most speakers or headsets I have listened to fail to play them correctly when played moderately loud. When I played it too loud through my Sony STR-DH100, I got weird scratching noises, something was definitely not right. I will blame it on the receiver. I am expecting a delivery on a Denon 2113CI, and will repeat the test once it is here.

 

Another album that has become my favorite of late is Cirque du Soleil's "Varekai" (spotify:album:6biRYjJbVZEYigG9R75Lz8). It has a very good mix of vocals and percussion. The E60 rendered it very well, sounding very articulate yet gentle.

 

Just for fun, I played Alan Parson's "Chomolungma" (spotify:track:37veAUXK18sLzKipleNWAB) from his "A Valid Path" album. This song is so full with bass, you can build a house on top of it. It is a long song; if you try to check it out and are impatient, go to position 3:00 and pump up that woofer! The E60 held up well, but boy, I am ready to spend $500 on a sub just to hear that song at full volume!

 

As I am writing this, I can feel the speakers opening up more. I can share my impressions in the next week(s), if anyone is interested.

 

BTW, I am only half joking about the $500 sub. I am short listing HSU STF-2 and VTF-2, and Outlaw LFM-1 EX and LFM-1 Plus. I see SVS is highly regarded, and I would have put them on my short list of they had a metal grill. I would hate to kick and damage an expensive piece of equipment, so I will probably go with down-firing sub.

 

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post #28 of 162 Old 02-01-2014, 09:44 PM
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Quote:
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The E60 speakers arrived today!


Well, it looks like you really do like the E60 - yes, the grills are removable.
The speakers are level when placed on the stands, or desk >>> they are
stable, and weigh 16 lbs each.

The Boston was voiced to play with the grills on

The Boston can take up to 250 watts >> that Sony can not drive them properly
at real loud volumes. It would be a small miracle, if that old Sony even could hit
a clean 100 watts. The Denon will have a better amp section.

However, Sony has improved their newer models

When doing serious listening away from the cabinet/desk - I would bring them
speakers to the front edge of the cabinet/desk.

A sub will pick up the lower octaves > Boston is -3 db at 65 hz and -6 db at 53 hz

As you found out, your Kenwood is not real competitive with the Boston
http://www.hifishock.org/galleries/LOUDSPEAKERS/Kenwood/LS-VH7---1.jpg

http://img5.blogs.yahoo.co.jp/ybi/1/98/84/t_sasaki_oyajini/folder/336907/img_336907_11039743_0?1268348840

http://www.hifishock.org/galleries/LOUDSPEAKERS/Kenwood/LS-VH7---2.jpg

Continue to enjoy - and do check back in

__________________________________________
Who and Where - is the Way, the Truth and the Life?

Speakers > MB Quart VS05, Boston VS260, Snell K7
Subwoofer > Mordaunt Short Aviano 7
Receiver > Tascam PAR-200, Pioneer VSX-30
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post #29 of 162 Old 02-01-2014, 11:44 PM
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They don't put metal grills on SVS subs anymore? I know my SB12-NSD came with the strongest metal grill ever. By the way, that song "Chomolungma" is so awesome. biggrin.gif
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post #30 of 162 Old 02-01-2014, 11:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaiforce View Post

I know my SB12-NSD came with the strongest metal grill ever.

Oh, I didn't realize that. I saw photos of SB-1000 and to me it appeared that the screen is cloth.

 

I am glad you liked Chomolungma. I enjoy the whole album -- it has some references to earlier works of Alan Parsons, but is new (well, it is 2004, to me it is sorta new :) and different from his previous albums. Did you recognize John Cleese's voice at the end:

 

...How much longer is this going on?
I mean it's rolling on and on and on, sonny!
And now here's a good simple question:
What year did Cardinal Richelieu die?
1642--that sort of interchange we should be having,
Not these strange... rambling expirations of your own conscious...
Now come along, Sonny.

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