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First real speaker purchase: HSU, Ascend, Kef

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I have looked through this forum for a few years now for HTPC information and more recently AV information.

I am currently looking to buy my first REAL set of speakers (super excited!) and am kind of at a loss of which way to go.

The sq. footage of the room is about 400 - a combined kitchen and living area in a 2 bd apartment. 12ft ceilings. I intend to do more HT listening but enjoy listening to opera from time to time.

My current set up is a polk Audio CS10, a pair of Mackie MR5 studio monitors, Energy 10.3 sub, and Marantz 1402 receiver. The sub and receiver I am happy with - I am looking to replace the LCR.

Below is what I have been looking at - I am essentially just wondering what will give me the best bang for the buck.


My selections are as followed:

HSU- $599

HB-1 MK2
HC-1 MK2

Ascend Acoustics - $904

CMT-340 SE Mains
CMT-340 SE Center

Kef - $1300

XQ3 Mains
XQ3 Center

The Kef is on the top end of my budget (would really love to be under $1500 including cabling) and I heard them today and they are great! I don't really have the option to hear the HSU or Ascends.

I hope I have provided enough information - if there is anything that'll elicit better advice, please, let me know!
post #2 of 25
You won't be disappointed with the Ascends. I have the CBM-170s as my mains right now until I get the 340s, then I will move the 170s to the rear. Even the small ones have a big sound stage and awesome natural frequency response.
CEL4145 reminded me of this review today http://www.avsforum.com/t/1478626/ascend-acoustic-5-1-setup-review
I think this will help. Yeah I wouldn't replace your receiver at least till you need 4K with HDMI 2.0. I think those receivers will hit the market next year.
post #3 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chevypower View Post

You won't be disappointed with the Ascends. I have the CBM-170s as my mains right now until I get the 340s, then I will move the 170s to the rear. Even the small ones have a big sound stage and awesome natural frequency response.
CEL4145 reminded me of this review today http://www.avsforum.com/t/1478626/ascend-acoustic-5-1-setup-review
I think this will help. Yeah I wouldn't replace your receiver at least till you need 4K with HDMI 2.0. I think those receivers will hit the market next year.

Agreed. The Ascends are a great choice. Also, definitely wait on the receiver. smile.gif
post #4 of 25
+2 the Ascends, and waiting on a receiver.

Re the KEF's in your situation, I would probably recommend the Q series over the older XQ3's. The XQ series begged for a dedicated amp that seamlessly powered through 8 Ohm to 4 Ohm swings in order to sound their best, while the Q series play quite well with (and were designed to play with) the 8 Ohm centric amps in most AVR's like Denon, Onkyo, etc.. (I'm a KEF fan, but would easily, and equally, recommend both the Ascends and the KEFs.)
post #5 of 25
1+ KEF and Ascend.
Edited by losservatore - 9/22/13 at 9:18pm
post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by edwtenor View Post

I have looked through this forum for a few years now for HTPC information and more recently AV information.

I am currently looking to buy my first REAL set of speakers (super excited!) and am kind of at a loss of which way to go.

The sq. footage of the room is about 400 - a combined kitchen and living area in a 2 bd apartment. 12ft ceilings. I intend to do more HT listening but enjoy listening to opera from time to time.

My current set up is a polk Audio CS10, a pair of Mackie MR5 studio monitors, Energy 10.3 sub, and Marantz 1402 receiver. The sub and receiver I am happy with - I am looking to replace the LCR.

Below is what I have been looking at - I am essentially just wondering what will give me the best bang for the buck.


My selections are as followed:

HSU- $599

HB-1 MK2
HC-1 MK2

Ascend Acoustics - $904

CMT-340 SE Mains
CMT-340 SE Center

Kef - $1300

XQ3 Mains
XQ3 Center

The Kef is on the top end of my budget (would really love to be under $1500 including cabling) and I heard them today and they are great! I don't really have the option to hear the HSU or Ascends.

I hope I have provided enough information - if there is anything that'll elicit better advice, please, let me know!


Cant stress this enough. Dont get the Ascend CMT-340 center, just get 2 Ascend NrT's and go phantom center.
post #7 of 25
No matter what you buy, there is always the chance you may not be 100% satisfied.

It would be best if you can find those speakers to audition.

Another Hi-Fi speaker I recommend is the ultra accurate NHT Absolute Zero, which measures +/- 0.9 dB from 100Hz-10kHz on HTM. NHT also allows a 30-day free return if you don't like them. So free shipping both ways. You will not find any speaker out there at any price that measures more accurately.

NHT had them on sale a few weeks ago for $175 each. They may still give you the sales price if you talk to them in person, especially if you were to buy 3 Absolute Zero + 2 SuperZero ($55 each B-stock). That would be ($175 x 3) + ($55 x 2) = $635 shipped/30-day free trial.

However, I would recommend that you get a Rythmik LV12 sub for $589 shipped. The LV12 measures flat from 19Hz-300Hz (LFE-in/Sub-in from AVR), so you can set your crossover to 100Hz and be perfectly peachy.

$635 + $589 = $1224 shipped.

I used to own 5 SuperZero + NHT 10" sub in a 5.1 setup. For movies and music, they are one of the most accurate speakers I've ever heard. These NHT bookshelf speakers are very accurate, especially the Absolute Zero, but they really have ZERO bass. biggrin.gif But as long as you have a tight accurate sub (like the LV12) and set the XO to 100Hz, it will sound great.

But NHT allows 30-day free return shipping. So you are covered.

NHT also has the 10" sub for $599 shipped w/ 30-day trial if you want 100% risk free for both speakers + subs. I doubt the NHT sub will perform as well as the LV12, but it is 30-day risk free return.
Edited by AcuDefTechGuy - 9/23/13 at 6:46am
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by NAIM101 View Post

Cant stress this enough. Dont get the Ascend CMT-340 center, just get 2 Ascend NrT's and go phantom center.

-1

This is like recommending a 2 seater sports car for someone that has a family of four to drive around. The OP is looking for--and I can't stress this enough--a 5.1 multichannel audio setup.

Since you seem doggedly focused on using 2 speakers for multichannel audio, you might be happier helping in the AVS 2 Channel Audio where people are looking for 2 channel audio recommendations.
post #9 of 25
In that small room you would probably be happy with the Ascend 170s and could save a little money. Everything I've read about the Hsu speakers is that they are great, but they need proper placement and toe-in to sound their best.
post #10 of 25
I recently purchased the Ascend's 340's LCR and can say that you would not be disappointed with them. I am listening to them as I type this and the L&R companion the center which brings the stage in front of you. I do have the 170's to complete the 5.1 though. The harder you push them, the more they open up and present you with more awesomeness.
post #11 of 25
Just got my Ascend 340 center speaker. Wow! A perfect blend of power, clarity, and neutrality. Edwtenor, when are you getting yours?
post #12 of 25
thread cleanup
post #13 of 25
I'd go with the Ascend's as well. People I trust (Charlie) speak very highly of them.

You should also look at Monitor Audio RX-1, they're very good and in the same ballpark for price.
post #14 of 25
I'm in kind of the same boat, deciding on my first set of real speakers and was considering these companies as well, but was more settling on Hsu than the others. Is there a reason not to use them, other than possibly the directional aspect mentioned? Or is it just kind of a forum preference thing here? Granted the Ascends are twice the cost of the Hsu so I would hope they would be quite a bit better. I'm also looking for in-walls for the surrounds and Hsu has me covered there.

Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk 2
post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flatland2D View Post

I'm in kind of the same boat, deciding on my first set of real speakers and was considering these companies as well, but was more settling on Hsu than the others. Is there a reason not to use them, other than possibly the directional aspect mentioned? Or is it just kind of a forum preference thing here? Granted the Ascends are twice the cost of the Hsu so I would hope they would be quite a bit better. I'm also looking for in-walls for the surrounds and Hsu has me covered there.

The HSU HB-1s and the CBM-170 SEs are the more comparable speakers. The CMT-340 SEs have dual 6.5" drivers in an MTM design, and thus more expensive.
Edited by cel4145 - 9/25/13 at 7:19am
post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by losservatore View Post

Do you mean the CMT-340 SE?Fix it to delete this ....

LOL. Morning typos. Fixed smile.gif
post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 
Wow, thank you guys so much for the response!

It looks like I will follow my gut and go with the 340s.

I really liked the KEF in an audition but the idea of investing not only the money for those speakers but also an amplifier to drive them appropriately was a little daunting.

Any tips on finding good cable to hook these up once I get em? I feel like the cheap spool of wire I have wouldn't really be the best.
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by edwtenor View Post

Any tips on finding good cable to hook these up once I get em? I feel like the cheap spool of wire I have wouldn't really be the best.

What's the gauge of the speakerwire you currently have?
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by edwtenor View Post

Any tips on finding good cable to hook these up once I get em? I feel like the cheap spool of wire I have wouldn't really be the best.
So long as the gauge is adequate cheap is just as good as expensive. Check your gauge requirement with this:
http://www.bcae1.com/images/swfs/speakerwireselectorassistant.swf
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

So long as the gauge is adequate cheap is just as good as expensive. Check your gauge requirement with this:
http://www.bcae1.com/images/swfs/speakerwireselectorassistant.swf

love that site...even at my current 35' run with 16awg I'm well within the inaudible range.
post #21 of 25
I own the 340's for LCR and 170's for the surround in a 5.1 setup and you will not be disappointed! Can't recommend them enough.

Haven't heard the KEF's to compare tho.....
post #22 of 25
I have the Ascends 170 classics and SEs in 2 channel setups, both are fantastic speakers at their price point.
I also have the energy rc10s, I prefer both of the Ascends (the classics and the se's) over the energys...
post #23 of 25
How about Monoprice.com 12AWG oxygen-free copper?
post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chevypower View Post

How about Monoprice.com 12AWG oxygen-free copper?

Good stuff. smile.gif

I recently got some Knuknoceptz Karma SS speaker wire for some of my home audio speakers. Not because I think it's any better for audio. But because I've been using copper colored speaker wire for years, and I like the different color wink.gif That, and it's round (see the enlarged version), so it lays like a cable.



Not saying buy that instead. Just felt like sharing smile.gif
post #25 of 25
I have the Ascend 340s on order. Just know that they are backordered until the end of Oct.
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