Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Antwerp, Belgium
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It's been a while since I've visited this forum and I believe it's time for a long overdue update here :-)
Last year in september I did a brief listening test in a store to some Kef LS50 speakers which for its size impressed me but I didn't want to make a decision yet so some time later I visited a nearby audio store which only worked with appointments and had some really, really high-end audio gear. The owner was very friendly and took his time to listen to what my needs were and made some suggestions that fitted my budget.
He demoed the Goldenear Triton's Three's to me which I really liked at first. Wherever I positioned myself in the room (and even in the room next to it), I noticed that the sound didn't sound totally different or much weaker then when sitting straight in front of them, which I really loved. I immediately knew that whatever speaker I was gonna pick; it would have ribbon tweeters, to me it just sounds more natural and therefore better to me. He left me in the demo room and told me I could put on any vinyl I wanted to and play with the volume as much as I wanted to. There was a lot of jazz and easy listening music in the lp box. I appreciate that music too but after a while I asked him to bring me some rock and electronic music records which is more my music of choice. Now I could hear and feel the bass of those speakers as well, which was quite impressive for just two tower speakers and no subwoofer. An hour later I left with the thought that I possibly found my new set of speakers. In the end I didn't buy those, although I still think they are really good speakers, I came to the conclusion that I didn't want to have integrated subwoofers in my front speakers. Sure they sounded pretty balanced; with 'regular' 2 or 3 way speakers you can always add a more powerfull subwoofer if you feel the need for more bass compared to the Goldenear's you need to upgrade the complete tower speaker in order to do that.
Unfortunately only a few weeks later I had a massive ear infection which ripped my ear drum within hours. It was very painful, although I had many ear infections and numerous tubes placed in my ear drums since my childhood; this was the most painfull experience with my ears I had to date. Ever since I suffer from tinnitus to a point which I really got depressed, couldn't shift my focus from it, couldn't catch any sleep.. It wasn't a very joyful period in my life and it seemed that throwing that kind of money towards speakers was a big waste since I could only focus on the buzzing noize in my head. Even today I still experience tinnitus 24/7. I'm still seeing ent specialists and later this month I'm having a MRI scan and visiting a clinical which gives trt training. Although I'm not giving up on medical science yet to cure me, since a couple of months I've learned to deal and live with it better to a point where I decided to go ahead and buy the speakers I was looking for. After all I always loved to listen to music and it has always been a big joy in my life.
Throughout all these months I did have a lot of contact through e-mail with Dave Fabrikant from Ascend Acoustics. He truelly is a nice, open person who listens to you and doesn't want to force you into making any decisions or making a purchase. The more questions I asked him, the more he answered me with his expert advice and asked me questions back to make sure we were 100% on the same page. I've checked my email and I've counted 40+mails between us, just to show he had a lot of patience with me and is really very supportive towards new, potential customers.
After all of our conversations and all of the positive feedback I read online about Ascend speakers I decided to take the leap of faith. In my case it really was a leap of faith and a big gamble since I had no opportunity to listen to the speakers first. Dave assured me all of the trail conditions were the same for US residents as well as for foreign customers. However, living in Europe, the shipping cost to return them and not being sure I would be able to recuperate the import taxes once I sended the speakers back; meant I would lose a lot of money if I wasn't happy with the speakers.
I did have to make a bit of a compromise though, in 6 months time the Euro-coin lost a massive 35% in value towards the US dollar which meant that my same budget(4000€) was now worth 'only' 4400$ instead of almost 6000$ half a year earlier! This translated into Sierra's 2 for fronts and Cb-170's as surrounds instead of Sierra RAAL towers as fronts and Sierra 2's as surrounds.
Since the speakers arrived I did have some issues with my electronics, first my SVS sub broke down twice in a couple of weeks time. SVS Europe was however extremely supportive and provided me with replacement parts within a week. Just like Ascend, I'm very pleased with their high standards of customer support. So if customer support is important for you I can highly recommend both companies to you! I'm happy to report that since then the subs works fine again. I didn't miss the subwoofer a lot when listening to music since the Sierra's provide more bass then I expected but some music really asks for a bigger bass impact and I'm very satisfied with the soundstage since the sub is part of it again.
Even when the sub was out of the picture I must say: wow, these speakers are great. No wait, let me rephrase: WOOOOOW, THESE SPEAKERS ARE GREAT!!!!! I remember the first day after setting them up and I really had the time to listen to them. They impressed me so much that I found myself in tears more then once. Of course my tinnitus made me a bit more emotional then normal since it was the first time since long that I could enjoy music; that I could hear anything else then the irritating buzzing noise and that made me extremely happy and gratefull again. The sound is just so detailed, every recording, every movie I played just translates into pure audio bliss. Every instrument is extremely clear, vocals are so crisp, it's very hard to not be blown away by them.
I will write a more detailed review with pictures of my setup on the Ascend Acoustics forum soon and I'll put a link here towards it for the people interested in that. All I can say from my experience is that these speakers are excellent, I haven't had any regrets since having them for 2 months now. Even with my tinnitus, I can enjoy listening to them for hours on end without having ear fatigue or more ear buzzing/sizzling sounds afterwards.
Also a big, big thanks to everyone who posted in this thread and helped me in my search. I'm very gratefull for your input and life in general; even though it can be hard for whatever reason, focus on your goals, enjoy good things in life [like music and Ascend speakers :-)] and most importantly: have fun!
By the way sorry if I misspelled any words, I'm not used to expressing myself in English ;-)
Fronts: Ascend Acoustics Sierra's 2 with TP-stands
Center: Ascend Acoustics Horizon RAAL Ribbon
Surrounds: Ascend Acoustics CB170's
Subwoofer: SVS SB-12 NSD
A/V Receiver: Denon AVR-X2000
TV: RIP Panasonic TH42-PZ85EA Plasma, looking for a 4k led tv replacement