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Am I the only one who doesn't like Ascend Acoustic's Sierra-1's??? - Page 5

post #121 of 450
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grandarf View Post

*sigh* I don't disagree that direct comparisons aren't a good judge of how speakers sound.


If you did the comparisons with the Sierra next to the Totem's optimal placement, you'd probably end up with the Sierra sounding poorly next to the Totems. It's not that direct comparisons isn't a "good judge", it's that it might not necessarily work, in my example on top for example. It's just not as good as listening to each in an optimal setup.

Even if the 'battle field is equal' for both speakers, and they're set up like: "AB AB" and not "AB BA", due to the way they interact with the room they might benefit from different location in the room. So what you end up comparing are the two speakers in one spot, not how the two speakers sound when they're optimally placed in a room. What might seem like a flaw in one speaker might be fixed simply by moving the speaker around. So while it might seem that one speaker does something better, it could be the case in that setup, but when the speakers are setup optimally, it could show that in fact it was due to the setup. You just can't know. So again, it might give a really good indication, but not really something definitive.

Agreed... but most of us have an area in which our speakers must survive for good or bad. A speaker that doesn't sound good within that area and doesn't A/B well within that space isn't the speaker for you no matter how well it could sound given it's proper position. For example in my listening area I can only pull a speaker away from the back wall so far, 2 feet max, beyond that it's in a NO speaker zone according to the boss (wife)

dc
post #122 of 450
I have been reading with some interest these posts between Dennis Murphy and Grandarf debating whether one can predict how speakers sound by how they measure, or whether the room and the speakers interact to such a degree that their individual sounds cannot be isolated. I would like to toss my 2¢ onto the growing pile.

I fall into that group that Randybes describes as others (who) confirm Dennis's listening acumen. I first encountered Dennis Murphy as an amateur DIY speaker builder. Every year a gathering of us DIY speaker geeks occurs in the DC area. At my very first visit to one of these, I saw Dennis in action. After listening to my entry for no more than about 1.5 seconds he commented that it "lacked baffle step compensation". At that point, I was such a newbie that I had to google baffle step compensation before I knew what he was talking about. Just the same, Dennis was pefectly willing to patiently explain to me what this was about and how it was easy to fix. While I was listening to him and pretending to understand, I was stunned that he could hear such a thing so quickly. The answer is that he's heard it many times before and knows exactly what it sounds like. This type of performance was repeated several more times that day, each time with different types of common speaker flaws. Dennis is a human database of what most different woofers and tweeters sound like, as well as what the common crossover design flaws sound like.

Most of us speaker junkies listen to speakers and struggle to put into words what we hear. My point in telling this story (besides the fact that Dennis is a gentleman) is that Dennis excells at doing this. It helps that he has done it for quite a long time. And he doesn't rely only on words. He speaks with frequency response graphs. I have witnessed, more than once, how he can hear a flaw of a speaker, identify that flaw as a peak or dip on a graph, design a modified crossover or filter to flatten out the peak or dip, and end up with a better sounding speaker. To do this, you must be able to measure what speakers sound like, reliably and reproducably.

Grandarf, please don't take any of this personally. I haven't met you, although I'm sure if I ever do, I just might be as equally impressed .
post #123 of 450
For what it's worth -

I don't have that Norah Jones cd on me at the moment to test, but if I recall correctly it suffers pretty badly from the "loudness war"...which may explain why it sounds worse to you now.
post #124 of 450
TJHUB has a lot more patience than me. I would have sent them back already. If I am spending several hundred dollars to upgrade my speakers, they better bring an obvious improvement that is noticeable within the first day or two.

If I have to hem and haw for days to figure out if they're better than my existing set, it means they're bringing nothing more than a subtle improvement that isn't worth paying that amount of money for. A conclusion delayed beyond a couple of days would only be for the purpose of establishing that a new speaker which already impressed me in the first couple of days isn't fatiguing after long listens day after day, not for trying to convince myself that an initially unimpressive speakers sounds good.
post #125 of 450
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdmi4ever View Post

TJHUB has a lot more patience than me. I would have sent them back already. If I am spending several hundred dollars to upgrade my speakers, they better bring an obvious improvement that is noticeable within the first day or two.

If I have to hem and haw for days to figure out if they're better than my existing set, it means they're bringing nothing more than a subtle improvement that isn't worth paying that amount of money for. A conclusion delayed beyond a couple of days would only be for the purpose of establishing that a new speaker which already impressed me in the first couple of days isn't fatiguing after long listens day after day, not for trying to convince myself that an initially unimpressive speakers sounds good.

Don't think for 1 second this exact sentiment hasn't been on my mind from the beginning. What's bothering me so much is just what the heck is EVERYONE else hearing with these speakers??? I'm just not getting it. What's even more funny is that I tune a lot of setups and anyone that hears my setup is normally astounded.

With that said, I think most would also think the Sierra's sound extremely good too. They do. My issue is that things are missing from my favorite music. Tones and subtle nuances just aren't there or are so soft they might as well not be there. It's one of those things where if you don't know what you're missing...well, I know!

I'm trying to give these speakers (or my ears) every opportunity to work out. Maybe I'm hearing wrong, maybe I'm not. I've invested a lot of time picking these speakers, I paid the shipping costs, so I'll just give them some quality time. I haven't been inspired enough to even unbox the center channel speaker.

I'm still researching speakers though as I'm getting more and more certain that the Sierra's are just not for me. This is VERY disappointing to me! Honestly, I just don't get it...
post #126 of 450
I disagree, the OP is doing exactly what a 30 day audition should provide, time to adjust and listen to speakers that may have a different sound than what one currently have and been used to. Even David from Ascend posted and says give more time and if he doesn't like them, no harm done, return them.

OOPs, TJHUB posted before I got mine in, I was referring to hdmi4ever's comments.
post #127 of 450
Let me really get into deep doo doo here. This has nothing to do with the Sierras per se. It's equally true of a host of other speakers, including the ones I'm associated with. Every owner's group sports a parade of gushing reviews, and deep down you know that they can't all be that good. Maybe none is that good. It's kind of like the bias in academic publications favoring positive outcomes for clinical trials. If your particular experience (research) turns out negative, you're much less likely to post (submit) results than if you end up, or think you end up with, a positive experience (outcome), particularly when there's something of a fraternity rah rah psychology at work. Personally, I think everyone should bring some healthy skepticism to all the owner group reviews. What we really need is some kind of technological breakthrough that allows you to appraise any particular Internet-direct loudspeaker on-line.
post #128 of 450
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Murphy View Post

Let me really get into deep doo doo here. This has nothing to do with the Sierras per se. It's equally true of a host of other speakers, including the ones I'm associated with. Every owner's group sports a parade of gushing reviews, and deep down you know that they can't all be that good. Maybe none is that good. It's kind of like the bias in academic publications favoring positive outcomes for clinical trials. If your particular experience (research) turns out negative, you're much less likely to post (submit) results than if you end up, or think you end up with, a positive experience (outcome), particularly when there's something of a fraternity rah rah psychology at work. Personally, I think everyone should bring some healthy skepticism to all the owner group reviews. What we really need is some kind of technological breakthrough that allows you to appraise any particular Internet-direct loudspeaker on-line.

+1
The amount of groupthink that occurs in online speaker reviews(both personal and professional) is a huge problem. Believe only half of what you see and nothing of what you hear...
post #129 of 450
Quote:
Originally Posted by TJHUB View Post

Honestly, I just don't get it...

I think there are others that are thinking the same thing for opposite reasons.

But I think it is quite simple. You have come accustomed to what the B&W's accentuate, and you expect those subtle nuances that it brings out. Whether or not it is right or wrong, it is what you expect....and since it is not there, you do not like it.

What is also interesting is that you don't feel the Sierras bring out good stuff that your B&W's don't.
post #130 of 450
Quote:
Originally Posted by TJHUB View Post

Don't think for 1 second this exact sentiment hasn't been on my mind from the beginning. What's bothering me so much is just what the heck is EVERYONE else hearing with these speakers??? I'm just not getting it. What's even more funny is that I tune a lot of setups and anyone that hears my setup is normally astounded.

With that said, I think most would also think the Sierra's sound extremely good too. They do. My issue is that things are missing from my favorite music. Tones and subtle nuances just aren't there or are so soft they might as well not be there. It's one of those things where if you don't know what you're missing...well, I know!

It is one thing for speakers to sound good. It is another thing for them to sound noticeably better than what you already have. It is not hard to find a speaker that sounds very good, but once you have a good one it can be hard to find another that sounds really better and doesn't cost megabucks.
post #131 of 450
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cschang View Post

I think there are others that are thinking the same thing for opposite reasons.

But I think it is quite simple. You have come accustomed to what the B&W's accentuate, and you expect those subtle nuances that it brings out. Whether or not it is right or wrong, it is what you expect....and since it is not there, you do not like it.

What is also interesting is that you don't feel the Sierras bring out good stuff that your B&W's don't.

It's not JUST that. I hear real pianos all of the time. I think my B&W's do a very respectable job reproducing what I hear with a real piano in the room. Is it exact? No, but it is a least believable for me. Same goes for cymbals. To me, my B&W's reproduce a beautifully accurate sound of cymbals. Can it be nasty? Sure. Ever heard someone beating on a cymbal in the same room as you're sitting? However I will honestly tell you that the Sierra's do not reproduce the delicate beauty of a drummer lightly rolling on the cymbals. There is a lot of this type of percussion in the music I listen to often (Fourplay, Jean-luc Ponty, Patricia Barber, etc...).

I think overall that my B&W's allow these types of sounds to come through the music clearly, accurately, and with a believable realism, all the while not coming across harsh or in your face.

I can't put it into words properly, but I also find the midrange of the Sierra's to be too much, especially when playing loudly. I really don't like my music all that loud, but whatever it is that I'm hearing gets a little worse at higher volumes (~85db+).

I am very curious as to how my B&W's will sound when I hook them back up in a few days after getting used to the Sierra's. I think that will tell me the most.

Anyway, I didn't even get to listen at all today. The Sierra's sound better to me lately as either they are changing or I am. There is a ton of what I consider good cymbal playing in my lastest CD purchase (Patricia Barber's "Cafe Blue"). I can't wait to hear it on something better than my office PC speakers. I really love her stuff. If you like laid-back, cool jazz music, you really need to pick up "Modern Cool" or even "Cafe Blue". The music is nothing short of incredible.
post #132 of 450
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hdmi4ever View Post

It is one thing for speakers to sound good. It is another thing for them to sound noticeably better than what you already have. It is not hard to find a speaker that sounds very good, but once you have a good one it can be hard to find another that sounds really better and doesn't cost megabucks.

I had that exact discussion with some coworkers the other day. I see this in a lot of threads too. People want something better than their current speakers only to find that to get what they're looking for, it costs $3,000-$5,000 or more.
post #133 of 450
Quote:
Originally Posted by TJHUB View Post

It's not JUST that. I hear real pianos all of the time. I think my B&W's do a very respectable job reproducing what I hear with a real piano in the room. Is it exact? No, but it is a least believable for me. Same goes for cymbals. To me, my B&W's reproduce a beautifully accurate sound of cymbals. Can it be nasty? Sure. Ever heard someone beating on a cymbal in the same room as you're sitting? However I will honestly tell you that the Sierra's do not reproduce the delicate beauty of a drummer lightly rolling on the cymbals. There is a lot of this type of percussion in the music I listen to often (Fourplay, Jean-luc Ponty, Patricia Barber, etc...).

I think overall that my B&W's allow these types of sounds to come through the music clearly, accurately, and with a believable realism, all the while not coming across harsh or in your face.

I can't put it into words properly, but I also find the midrange of the Sierra's to be too much, especially when playing loudly. I really don't like my music all that loud, but whatever it is that I'm hearing gets a little worse at higher volumes (~85db+).

I am very curious as to how my B&W's will sound when I hook them back up in a few days after getting used to the Sierra's. I think that will tell me the most.

Anyway, I didn't even get to listen at all today. The Sierra's sound better to me lately as either they are changing or I am. There is a ton of what I consider good cymbal playing in my lastest CD purchase (Patricia Barber's "Cafe Blue"). I can't wait to hear it on something better than my office PC speakers. I really love her stuff. If you like laid-back, cool jazz music, you really need to pick up "Modern Cool" or even "Cafe Blue". The music is nothing short of incredible.

Piano and cymbals....people say the same thing when it comes to the Sierras, that they are portrayed accurately.

Your comment about the midrange does not surprise me when compared to your B&W's.

I love the Patricia Barber stuff that I have. "Modern Cool" and "Cafe Blue" are both on my want list.
post #134 of 450
Quote:
Originally Posted by TJHUB View Post

My issue is that things are missing from my favorite music. Tones and subtle nuances just aren't there or are so soft they might as well not be there. It's one of those things where if you don't know what you're missing...well, I know!

Interesting.... I've never NOT heard something that's there regardless of the speaker I've listen to. It can be more difficult with some speakers as maybe their excessive bass mask more subtle tones, but to not hear it at all? like it dissappeared from the recording? now that I've never encountered
I've owned too many B&W speakers in the past to think they might give me something I'm missing

dc
post #135 of 450
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamCatcher View Post

Interesting.... I've never NOT heard something that's there regardless of the speaker I've listen to. It can be more difficult with some speakers as maybe their excessive bass mask more subtle tones, but to not hear it at all? like it dissappeared from the recording? now that I've never encountered
I've owned too many B&W speakers in the past to think they might give me something I'm missing

dc

I don't want to exaggerate the issue. Some tones are so quiet that they are *ALMOST* not there.
post #136 of 450
Quote:
Originally Posted by TJHUB View Post

There is a ton of what I consider good cymbal playing in my lastest CD purchase (Patricia Barber's "Cafe Blue"). I can't wait to hear it on something better than my office PC speakers. I really love her stuff. If you like laid-back, cool jazz music, you really need to pick up "Modern Cool" or even "Cafe Blue". The music is nothing short of incredible.

I have three of P.B's SACD's - Cafe Blue, Modern Cool, and Night Club. Definitely not 'commercial' Jazz like Norah or Diana, and IMO recorded much better.

I've heard these discs on Ascends (but not Sierra's) and on my new Energy Speakers (Reference Connissieur line) and there is no comparison for me at all. Though for different reasons as based on your description of cymbals and piano, I would say the Energy would fall below the B&W's sound that you're describing. However, it does sound more natural. Maybe because of the metallic vs. the soft dome tweeter of the Ascends, I don't know. The sound of the Energy speakers is more laid back though - not in your face. Still, cymbals are crisp, and piano is more lifelike, than the Ascends.

BTW - what's your favourite track on Cafe Blue? Mine right now is Ode to Billy Joe - the bass playing is incredible and I love how Patricia's voice blends in with it. The finger snapping sounds more like it's coming from in my room, and not from the speakers. Well, the whole song (and album) does for that matter.

If anyone reading this likes well recorded music (and I'm sure most of you do) I would highly reccommend these SACD's. I've also had a recommendation for Tuck and Patti so I'm currently trying to get that. Though not an SACD, it's supposed to be recorded very well as well.
post #137 of 450
Lets be clear KK. The Ascends you used to have were the "classics"....not even the SE's.

Thanks for the Tuck and Patti recommendation.
post #138 of 450
Quote:
Originally Posted by cschang View Post

Lets be clear KK. The Ascends you used to have were the "classics"....not even the SE's.

Thanks for the Tuck and Patti recommendation.

yep, for sure. But the classics are not exactly chopped liver (I still use them in another setup) and these speakers made Ascend.

If I can get the Tuck and Patti I'll let you know how it sounds. Lots of people have raved about them (you probably heard of them as I guess they were big down in the local clubs your way I believe) and I'm always looking for something new.
post #139 of 450
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kpt_Krunch View Post

yep, for sure. But the classics are not exactly chopped liver (I still use them in another setup) and these speakers made Ascend

Hey Kpt -- been a while

FYI, much, MUCH better tweeter in the SE models. SEAS vs. Audax? No contest, and Audax was never the same when Harman took over, sadly -- great company for many years. They are trying to make a comeback these days with another company purchasing some of the IP and toolings.

You should really give the Sierra a try one of these days
post #140 of 450
TJ,

Quote:
Originally Posted by TJHUB View Post

I don't want to exaggerate the issue. Some tones are so quiet that they are *ALMOST* not there.

As I and others have stated... There are specific areas in frequency response where a speaker will accentuate certain sounds compared to others. All of your statements with regard to your comparisons precisely coincide with the (by design) smile curve frequency response of your B&W's compared to the more neutral response of the Sierra-1. There are certain "tones" that you will hear more clearly with the B&W's because those tones are accentuated in comparisons to others. The highs and lower mids are indeed accentuated, while conversely, the midrange response of the Sierra-1 will sound like it is accentuated when compared to your B&W... This is what you are hearing; the frequency response will not change.

If you feel the mids of the Sierra-1 are exaggerated yet highs are suppressed, you really should just stick with your present speakers, I feel strongly - and I mean this most sincerely, that you are going to have a tough time finding a loudspeaker that you prefer more. The loudspeaker industry in general has been moving more towards neutrality in the past few years

Which sound you prefer as opposed to which sound is actually the more technically correct is a matter of various measurements and best kept out of this discussion. However, the way you hear and process sounds determines what is most accurate to you. You might try getting a good set of headphones to clear the palette, so to speak, and possibly develop a frame of reference.

However, I must say that you really should not question what others hear - the same way I would never question, for example, how you can prefer steak over seared Ahi What you hear, how you process sounds, is quite different from the next person. Many of the posters in this thread, much like myself, fully understand what it is that you are experiencing - we are not surprised by your thoughts. Guys like cschang, dream catcher, randybes, grandarf, xcjago; these guys are nearly always auditioning loudspeakers - I am not sure if a week goes by where cschang or xcjago are not critically listening to something new. Believe me when I say, they know what you are hearing, where your present tastes are and they might even be able to steer you in a direction towards a speaker better suited to your personal tastes. Do you not think any of us have heard the B&W's? I once designed a screening room centered around B&W's for a big shot Hollwood producer - years later we pulled out the B&Ws in favor of more neutral speakers, at the producer's request.

Much like how Mr. Murphy states he can sketch out a frequency response of a speaker after listening to it, I can sketch out a frequency response of a speaker that you would probably like equally well or even, perhaps, more than your B&W's...

You have mentioned several times that "you don't get it" and "what is it that everyone else is hearing"... No disrespect here, but you should really focus on what YOU can or can not hear compared to what others hear or do not hear. From previous posts, you have been using this same line of B&W's for 12 years now. The reviewers, customers, and enthusiasts who audition the Sierra-1 are most usually serious loudspeaker aficionado's, often auditioning many different loudspeakers at a time, often over a lengthy period of time. In other words, have quite a bit of experience with critical listening to many different loudspeakers. This experienced listening takes time to develop and can help serve as a buffer to help understand and evaluate what you are hearing. What other loudspeakers have you recently listened to? What were your thoughts on these? (you know where I am going with this)

I would like (as I am sure others would too) to hear what it is about your B&W's that you don't like that prompted you to begin the journey. Determining and recognizing just what that is (not a simple task at first) is really your first step towards reaching the audio nirvana that you seek.

Personally, and I have been doing critical listening for 25+ years having designed highly successful loudspeakers for both consumer and pro-use, I am no fan of the lower line B&W's. To my experienced ear, they are a bit too colored and a bit too shrill for me. Now, the higher end, more neutral B&W's, I am a fan of, 802's being an old favorite of mine (older model, w/o diamond tweeter).

Our products are in use every day by professional musicians and mastering engineers, they have been the speaker of choice for music departments of some fairly highly regarded universities I am indeed sorry for your disappointment but I truly think your disappointment will lessen as you have the opportunity to listen to more and more loudspeakers After exposure to more loudspeakers in your home, it is then that you just might appreciate what the Sierra-1 bring to the table, or not - it could simply be the case that your 602's are the best speaker for your tastes

Either way, don't put yourself in a position to force yourself to listen to speakers you don't like. Based on your more recent comments, these are not the right speakers for you and you should not waste those rare precious moments when we have the free time to listen to what WE want to (I have kids too ) Pack up the Sierra-1, put back your 602's and send me an email on Monday. I entered this industry so that I could express and share my love of music and I most certainly do not want someone (anyone), using our products who is not enjoying the music being reproduced by them
post #141 of 450
Quote:
Originally Posted by TJHUB View Post


I can't put it into words properly, but I also find the midrange of the Sierra's to be too much, especially when playing loudly. I really don't like my music all that loud, but whatever it is that I'm hearing gets a little worse at higher volumes (~85db+).

You are accustomed to the recessed mids of your B&Ws. The Sierras are quite well balanced top to bottom. The B&W's accent on the highs and lows are more pronounced at higher volumes and hence the mids more recessed. The Sierras are maintaining their balanced sound at higher volumes.

I think some of your not liking some of your music is how revealing the Sierras are. The B&Ws color things that the Sierras don't. But that is why there are so many speakers as different people prefer different things.

I never understood why audiophiles didn't care for Norah Jones until I heard speakers that revealed how poor of a recording the Come Away With Me album is.
post #142 of 450
Another thought is you might pick up Chesky Records' test disc. The name of the disc escapes me but it has a narration that tells what you should able to hear on the various tracks.
post #143 of 450
Quote:
Originally Posted by TJHUB View Post

I had that exact discussion with some coworkers the other day. I see this in a lot of threads too. People want something better than their current speakers only to find that to get what they're looking for, it costs $3,000-$5,000 or more.

Keep your existing speakers and start investing in the room. For starters, get something like an acoustic blanket to temporarily cover that big entertainment center while you listen. Then get some bass traps for the corners, and acoustic panels for the walls (which if you pick the right colors and place them in a certain design can be done artistically to overcome the WAF). Each time you add something, it makes your existing speakers into better ones. Then after doing that, you're ready to look for another speaker.

By the time I'm done with my room, I'll have spent about $2000 on room treatments for my $500 speakers. But they'll sound better than spending $2500 on speakers and doing nothing about the room. Once I'm done with that, I may start looking for a better speaker, including the Sierras.
post #144 of 450
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ascend View Post

TJ,



As I and others have stated... There are specific areas in frequency response where a speaker will accentuate certain sounds compared to others. All of your statements with regard to your comparisons precisely coincide with the (by design) smile curve frequency response of your B&W's compared to the more neutral response of the Sierra-1. There are certain "tones" that you will hear more clearly with the B&W's because those tones are accentuated in comparisons to others. The highs and lower mids are indeed accentuated, while conversely, the midrange response of the Sierra-1 will sound like it is accentuated when compared to your B&W... This is what you are hearing; the frequency response will not change.

If you feel the mids of the Sierra-1 are exaggerated yet highs are suppressed, you really should just stick with your present speakers, I feel strongly - and I mean this most sincerely, that you are going to have a tough time finding a loudspeaker that you prefer more. The loudspeaker industry in general has been moving more towards neutrality in the past few years

Which sound you prefer as opposed to which sound is actually the more technically correct is a matter of various measurements and best kept out of this discussion. However, the way you hear and process sounds determines what is most accurate to you. You might try getting a good set of headphones to clear the palette, so to speak, and possibly develop a frame of reference.

However, I must say that you really should not question what others hear - the same way I would never question, for example, how you can prefer steak over seared Ahi What you hear, how you process sounds, is quite different from the next person. Many of the posters in this thread, much like myself, fully understand what it is that you are experiencing - we are not surprised by your thoughts. Guys like cschang, dream catcher, randybes, grandarf, xcjago; these guys are nearly always auditioning loudspeakers - I am not sure if a week goes by where cschang or xcjago are not critically listening to something new. Believe me when I say, they know what you are hearing, where your present tastes are and they might even be able to steer you in a direction towards a speaker better suited to your personal tastes. Do you not think any of us have heard the B&W's? I once designed a screening room centered around B&W's for a big shot Hollwood producer - years later we pulled out the B&Ws in favor of more neutral speakers, at the producer's request.

Much like how Mr. Murphy states he can sketch out a frequency response of a speaker after listening to it, I can sketch out a frequency response of a speaker that you would probably like equally well or even, perhaps, more than your B&W's...

You have mentioned several times that "you don't get it" and "what is it that everyone else is hearing"... No disrespect here, but you should really focus on what YOU can or can not hear compared to what others hear or do not hear. From previous posts, you have been using this same line of B&W's for 12 years now. The reviewers, customers, and enthusiasts who audition the Sierra-1 are most usually serious loudspeaker aficionado's, often auditioning many different loudspeakers at a time, often over a lengthy period of time. In other words, have quite a bit of experience with critical listening to many different loudspeakers. This experienced listening takes time to develop and can help serve as a buffer to help understand and evaluate what you are hearing. What other loudspeakers have you recently listened to? What were your thoughts on these? (you know where I am going with this)

I would like (as I am sure others would too) to hear what it is about your B&W's that you don't like that prompted you to begin the journey. Determining and recognizing just what that is (not a simple task at first) is really your first step towards reaching the audio nirvana that you seek.

Personally, and I have been doing critical listening for 25+ years having designed highly successful loudspeakers for both consumer and pro-use, I am no fan of the lower line B&W's. To my experienced ear, they are a bit too colored and a bit too shrill for me. Now, the higher end, more neutral B&W's, I am a fan of, 802's being an old favorite of mine (older model, w/o diamond tweeter).

Our products are in use every day by professional musicians and mastering engineers, they have been the speaker of choice for music departments of some fairly highly regarded universities I am indeed sorry for your disappointment but I truly think your disappointment will lessen as you have the opportunity to listen to more and more loudspeakers After exposure to more loudspeakers in your home, it is then that you just might appreciate what the Sierra-1 bring to the table, or not - it could simply be the case that your 602's are the best speaker for your tastes

Either way, don't put yourself in a position to force yourself to listen to speakers you don't like. Based on your more recent comments, these are not the right speakers for you and you should not waste those rare precious moments when we have the free time to listen to what WE want to (I have kids too ) Pack up the Sierra-1, put back your 602's and send me an email on Monday. I entered this industry so that I could express and share my love of music and I most certainly do not want someone (anyone), using our products who is not enjoying the music being reproduced by them

Dave,

I am truly sorry you have to waste your time like this one me.

However, my disappointment in the performance of the Sierra's is less than in myself. I'm having trouble understanding just how I got to like the "smile" sounding speakers. I can assure you that my initial purchase of B&W speakers was NOT for the right reasons. The second setup of B&W's was really only pitted against Monitor Audio (silver line) and Paradigm Studios. There's just not a lot of brands in my area and you can now remove the MA's as well...

This is early in the morning and I'm flustered a bit writing this to you, so forgive the simplistic and possibly incoherent post.

Why did I start looking for new speakers? Well this is something I've been thinking about a lot lately.

About a month ago I decided I was tiring of the B&W's. Too bright sounding and too genre specific. I felt as though if I wasn't listening to jazz or the like, the B&W's certainly didn't shine. My main issue with them is that when certain types of music are played, they get..."busy" sounding in the upper midrange. It's like distortions from the bottom end of the tweeter. Since the cross-over point is 4kHz, I'm assuming the problem is actually some sort of breakup from the midbass driver? Nonetheless, I posted around that time that I was feeling like the midbass was a little weak and the distortion was bothering me. The ultimate solution at that time was to reduce the toe-in which seemed to make one of my favorite bands sound much more acceptable (Nine Inch Nails).

I also get bitten by the upgrade bug. Just about a month ago I also upgraded my Sony DA4ES receiver and 999ES DVD player to an Emotiva MMC-1/IPS-1 with an Oppo 980 universal player. This didn't change the sound all too much at all for me.

I've known for a long time that B&W's are thought by most to be shrill, very bright, and forward sounding. This I can certainly understand because I hear this as well. This is one of the things that drew me to Ascend. The idea of having truely neutral sounding speakers was what I wanted. The Sierra's seemed to fit the bill perfectly. I can't tell you how many reviews, posts, and get togethers pushed me towards the Sierra's even though I was certain they'd be too small for my rather large room which was initially my only reservation. My room is also rather revealing. Tapping a pen on the glass of my coffee table is very audible...

Here's the room (18' wide x 24' long with an 8' x 9' foyer and 15' high cathedral ceilings and an 8' opening to my dining room):







And a sexy shot:



I've read thousands of posts on audio forums over the last month and I continue to do so. I feel like I've gotten to know most of the guys on this forum just because I've read more than a year's worth of posts. I think I've read at least 2,500 of Curtis' posts alone regarding the Sierra's alone... (I'll let you wonder what that's led me to think ). Who has said they don't like the Sierra's? Um... me. That's pretty much it.

I'm thinking I've made a mistake. Not in trying the Sierra's, but posting my initial feelings for them. Maybe it's too early for me. Maybe I need to retrain my ears to really hear what music is supposed to sound like. That's the way I truly want to hear music, as it was meant to be. Not the colored version I've apparently grown like. What's really bugging me is I think I know how these instruments are supposed to sound... I'm NOT talking preference either...

Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to answer a couple of posts on this thread and then you won't see for while. You won't get an email just yet Dave, so hang on. A friend in coming over Monday evening to hear the Sierra's, so that needs to happen. When the time is right, I'll bring this thread back from the dead...

Thanks again for the post Dave.
post #145 of 450
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kpt_Krunch View Post

I have three of P.B's SACD's - Cafe Blue, Modern Cool, and Night Club. Definitely not 'commercial' Jazz like Norah or Diana, and IMO recorded much better.

I've heard these discs on Ascends (but not Sierra's) and on my new Energy Speakers (Reference Connissieur line) and there is no comparison for me at all. Though for different reasons as based on your description of cymbals and piano, I would say the Energy would fall below the B&W's sound that you're describing. However, it does sound more natural. Maybe because of the metallic vs. the soft dome tweeter of the Ascends, I don't know. The sound of the Energy speakers is more laid back though - not in your face. Still, cymbals are crisp, and piano is more lifelike, than the Ascends.

BTW - what's your favourite track on Cafe Blue? Mine right now is Ode to Billy Joe - the bass playing is incredible and I love how Patricia's voice blends in with it. The finger snapping sounds more like it's coming from in my room, and not from the speakers. Well, the whole song (and album) does for that matter.

If anyone reading this likes well recorded music (and I'm sure most of you do) I would highly reccommend these SACD's. I've also had a recommendation for Tuck and Patti so I'm currently trying to get that. Though not an SACD, it's supposed to be recorded very well as well.

I've only just recently (about a week or so ago) heard Patricia Barber's stuff. I was talking to my B&W dealer (the owner who is just a great guy) about music and I brought her name up. He said that without a doubt, I should give her stuff a try. He agree'd "Modern Cool" would be a good place to start, and it was.

As for "Cafe Blue" I don't have a favorite track as of yet because I just got it Thursday at work. Alone with no audio stuff in my neck of the woods, I couldn't find any of Patricia's CD's in local stores either. It's just a sad area of the country to live in. I'm off to give it a run through right now...
post #146 of 450
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarpon View Post

You are accustomed to the recessed mids of your B&Ws. The Sierras are quite well balanced top to bottom. The B&W's accent on the highs and lows are more pronounced at higher volumes and hence the mids more recessed. The Sierras are maintaining their balanced sound at higher volumes.

I think some of your not liking some of your music is how revealing the Sierras are. The B&Ws color things that the Sierras don't. But that is why there are so many speakers as different people prefer different things.

I never understood why audiophiles didn't care for Norah Jones until I heard speakers that revealed how poor of a recording the Come Away With Me album is.

I've never really used Norah's stuff for critical listening. She's just a female voice that I'm very familiar with. And yes, the Sierra's have ruined her "Come Away With Me" album for me. Not all the songs, but a few. It's obviously a very poor recording. NOTHING else I've heard on the Sierra's sounds as bad as this album. Too bad for Norah really...
post #147 of 450
Thread Starter 
Well that's it for me guys. Later...
post #148 of 450
Just a note. There's a few things which make up 'speaker performance'. But there's two opposing school of thoughts which really contradict each other. Musical vs Accurate. A lot of people think that speakers should make the sound pleasant. That is, do something to the music to enhance it. It can be some unevenness to the frequency response of a speaker. Or a particular curve, for example, a bump in the bass... Lowered treble... Other times, it can even be adding something to the music which shouldn't be there... Distortion, artifacts... Here, there's really no criteria to what sounds good. It's basically subjective, as say adding some bass might be loved by some, but hated by others...

Others, instead, strive to reproduce music as accurately, or with as much fidelity as possible: As truth to the source as possible. In contrast to trying to 'making the music sound better'.



vs



The 1st is JMLabs Utopias, as you can see, very straight from bass -> mids -> treble, and the 2nd is Totem Rainmakers, you can see bump in bass and in the treble.

If you were to compare these 2 speakers, you'd probably find the bass of the Utopias lacking. They'd seem to have much less bass, and the bass of the Rainmakers would sound more impressive. But in fact, Rainmakers exaggerate bass... For the treble, cymbals, again, you might find that the Rainmakers sound a lot more metallic, and in contrast, the Utopias would seem not present, like they're not even there maybe... As for the mids, you might find that the Utopias actually seem to have very forward mids, even annoyingly so, because with the Utopias they would seem a lot more forward than the Rainmakers... Even the details, when listing to acoustic guitar you might a lot more of the harmonics on the Rainmakers (because of tipped up treble), so you might say that the Utopias are much less detailed...

And if you're used to the sound of the Rainmakers, I really wouldn't be surprised if you'd find the sound of the Utopias, boring, uninspiring, just plain non impressive for 7000$ and really would be totally unimpressed when compared to your 1000$ Totem Rainmakers.

But in fact, you'd simply be used to the coloration of the Totems. The lack of 'detail' I mentioned earlier, for guitar harmonics, wouldn't be real details... It would simply be the result of tipped up treble. The Rainmaker treble isn't better quality or more detailed than the Utopias, it's simply exaggerated, and so you hear MORE of it. You could use an equalizer with the Utopias and add treble so that they're as much of it as on the Rainmakers, but that wouldn't make it better, that would only unbalance the sound. That's not better.

The bass is the same thing. While it might seem that the Rainmaker has better bass because you hear more of it, it's not better, there's just TOO MUCH of it!

For the mids, again, why would Utopias seem to have maybe too much of them when compared to Rainmakers? Again, maybe because the Rainmakers present less mids than the Utopias and so the Utopias seem to have too much of it...


REAL detail, real sound quality, doesn't come from exaggerating certain frequencies. If you could hear beyond the frequency response of the Rainmakers, then you'd notice that the bass of the Utopias, although there's less, is actually more accurate, realistic, than the Totems. The cymbals & highs would be the same. Yes you hear more, sometimes things which are harder to hear with Utopias, but it's artificial, you're hearing more because Rainmakers exaggerates them, not because it's better. Again, seeing beyond the colorization, you'd see that the Utopia's treble is actually again better than the Rainmaker, and actually allows you to hear more real details. And the mids... Again, you'd realize that everything is much better balanced on the Utopias, and you'd probably again see that's it's of better quality...


That's the kind of improvement you should notice with the Sierra vs the B&W 602s. The B&W might always seem for example to have a more realistic 'metallic' sound to them, but hey, how should it sound? Like the B&Ws or like the Sierra? What about the voices... You said some voices sound lush on B&Ws, but not so much on Sierras... How should they sound? Do they sound lush on the recordings or not? Are the B&Ws changing their sound to make it sound lush? Or are the Sierras really unable to reproduce the voices?

Quote:


(Sierra)Their is a distinct clarity in the midrange. I'm having a hard time calling it good or bad as a lot of vocals are sounding different to me. Some better, some different, and some not good. For example I thought Blue October and Coldplay sounded really good; better than the B&W's. However, I'm torn if I think Sade's voice is better or worse; maybe Sade's is just different. Chris Isaac however wasn't so good. He was sort of hollow and unpleasant.

See that's what you seem to be trying to vocalize. The Sierras ARE, well according to many, more detailed, a more refined speaker than the B&W 602. BUT, the B&W somewhat have their own sound, and make the music sound different, in many case in a way which you seem to enjoy.

There's many things which a speaker can do to sound 'better', even if in truth it's less faithful to the recording. Even distortion, adding distortion can even sound somewhat pleasant in some cases. Sometimes speakers can add noises which can be perceived as added details and again sound better, you hear things you don't hear with other speakers, ah! So this one must be better I didn't hear that on other speakers! Or this one the bass is a lot more powerful, it has better bass... Nope! It might simply have exaggerated bass! This one makes her voice sound lush... Well it's not lush so it shouldn't sound lush!!


So... As said, not everyone likes the same thing. If you really like the sound of B&Ws, then you should find speakers which sound similar to B&Ws. Maybe audition the Totem Rainmakers, see what you think, maybe then you'll find what you were looking for. But in truth, you have to be careful to differentiate speaker colorization to really speaker quality/performance. If you like a certain balance of bass/mids/treble, or a way a speaker make voices/instruments sound, that's somewhat different than speaker performance/quality.

what you could do: Go to different shops, bring the same disks, and listen to them on their most expensive systems. You might realize that they sound closer to the Sierras than the B&Ws, and that these super expensive systems also don't have the qualities you're looking at in the B&Ws. And might even lack the same things as the Sierras or have the same flaws...


Anyhow, it's hard to explain, and I know it's hard to understand or conceive, but what you think sounds better on B&Ws, might actually something the B&Ws are doing wrong when compared to the Sierras. lol I know it sounds like it might be ******** But it's true. If you have an equalizer, bump the highs/lows of Sierras, see if it sounds better or worst to you.

It's not too late to go out and audition many speakers. Hear many other speakers. Get a different frame of reference than your B&Ws. Now you somewhat think that the way the music should sound is the way it sounds though the B&Ws. Hearing many different speakers, and better quality speakers should change that perception.

Is the Sierra the be all end all of speakers? The reference? The way it should exactly sound like? No... There's no perfection in speakers. But according to many they do something right.

Read some reviews, then listen to Sierras/B&Ws... See if you can hear what they talk about..

http://www.soundstageav.com/onhifi/20070901.htm

Ex:

Quote:


With the Ascend Acoustics, something did: From the very beginning, I could tell that the Sierra-1 had outstanding clarity, and was conveying much more low-level detail than any other under-$1000 two-way I’d ever heard -- qualities that became even more apparent when I sat down to do some critical listening. In fact, the Sierra-1’s ability to let me hear into recordings was right up there with Paradigm’s Signature S2 and PSB’s Platinum M2, two of the best two-way monitors on the market, and each of which sells for about two grand per pair. (I own a pair of Signature S2s.)

Some may think that all this detail I was hearing was simply a result of a tipped-up treble, something that’s done in some speaker designs to give the perception of heightened detail -- sort of like punching up the color and contrast on a video display to make the picture seem more alive. In fact, it was the opposite. The Sierra-1 sounded well balanced from top to bottom of the audioband, even if it didn’t seem quite as unfalteringly neutral as the CBM-170 had in my room -- surprising, as the Sierra-1 costs more than twice as much. But the Sierra-1 was relatively neutral -- it seemed to reach to below 50Hz quite comfortably and solidly in my room, and above that there were no obscene deviations in its response other than a bit of emphasis in the lower mids, perhaps to give this small speaker a dash of "presence" in the absence of extreme low bass.

Others:
http://www.enjoythemusic.com/magazin...c_sierra_1.htm
http://affordableaudio.org/Sierra1.pdf

Seeing through the FR, or seeing the difference in FR anomalies and identifying real detail can be somewhat hard for 'new' listeners, but it's something which gets easier with time and experience... And I feel somewhat poorly by saying that, because it makes it sound like there's 'class of listeners' which fits into the audiophile crap I don't really like... And that some people can't hear 'right' or don't hear correctly... And that can somewhat alienate someone who doesn't know what I'm talking about in this post about 'real detail', FR anomalies, artificial detail, etc... But I just don't see another way of saying it... And it's all subjective anyhow, maybe you just don't dig the sound of the Sierras which would be perfectly fine too... I just hope this post might have helped in seeing things from another perspective...
post #149 of 450
Thanks for posting those frequency response graphs comparing those two speakers. If more of us could both listen to more speakers AND see these graphs, comparing them would be a lot easier. Compared to the Rainmakers, one could say that the Utopias seem to do nothing wrong. That might seem like faint praise, but it is what neutral and uncolored is all about.
post #150 of 450
Quote:
Originally Posted by TJHUB View Post

Here's the room (18' wide x 24' long with an 8' x 9' foyer and 15' high cathedral ceilings and an 8' opening to my dining room):

Your problem is the room. Those huge reflective ceilings are begging for some panels. As is that wall area behind the couch.
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