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Ascend Cbm 170 And Aci Emerald  

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Has anyone listend to both of these? Any thoughts on how they compare in a mostly music (2 ch. + sub) setup with a mid-range av receiver (Onkyo tx-ds595)? Thanks.

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 33
I've had both in a system with a 25-31PCi SVS. My main system is uses an HK 7200, but I A/B'd the speakers using an HK 3475 stereo receiver with no sub. I had the Ascends for about 4 months before trying the Emeralds. The Emeralds had about 70 hours on them when I compared the two.

They are both good speakers from really good companies with excellent customer service. Sound-wise the biggest differences for me are the Emeralds are more detailed in the upper frequencies (but still smooth and non-fatiguing), and image much better. The Ascends have a bigger soundstage width, are a little warmer and have a slightly more laid back presentation. I think the Emeralds have a very neutral presentation. I see some differing opinions on what forward, laid back means so to clarify my meaning, when I say forward, neutral, or laid back it has nothing to do with the frequency range or level of detail, just how the speaker presents the music (forward meaning closer to your face).

I don't think you can go wrong with either speaker, but for me the Emeralds were worth the price difference. The Ascends are a better value, IMO though. I almost kept the Ascends for a second system, but that got the axe (for now).
post #3 of 33
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your comments. Hmm, detailed and smooth upper frequencies. In the TNT-Audio review by Scott Faller (can be linked to at the ACI Emerald page), he describes the sound as... "the illusion of making music with less effort... music just seems to appear... relaxed and airy..." I'm sure some of this potential depends on the equipment behind the speakers and the listening environment.

I've listened to several "bookshelf" speakers over the past month - Paradigm Performance and Monitor series, NHT, Monitor Audio Silver series and Sonus Faber Concertino. The Concertino had a transparent, 3-D quality that seemed especially nice; and I've read the the ACI Sapphire has this quality or of transparency (it seems the speaker disappears into the soundstage rather than pushing the soundstage to life).

I guess this more subjective quality would make a difference to me.
post #4 of 33
I own Emeralds and will just mention two things. They are gorgeous to look at, and yes, they do sound much like a pair of Concertinos, only in my opinion, more open.
post #5 of 33
I have two pairs of Emeralds and have heard most of the speakers on your list. Emeralds are in an entirely different class than the Paradigm monitors as I feel they easily best the Paradigm Ref 20's (V2) that I owned previous. I also think the Emeralds best the Monitor Audio's as well as they are better (again IMO) than the Monitor Gold line.

The only speakers on your list that comptete with the Emeralds are the Sonus Faber's. I've heard the Concerto's and they are wonderful speakers, never heard the Concertino's but if they sound similar then you have a formidable competitor there, at a much higher price I think.

The Emerald is the surprise speaker in the ACI line for me. When I ordered them about 9 months ago I didn't expect much in the way of WOW factor, but I surely got it. These babies are GREAT speakers.
post #6 of 33
I was also into Sonus Faber, and was strongly considering the Concertino. I think the Concertino is a bit better with acoustical music, but it wasn't nearly as good with harder rock music, to the point of being bad. I think the Emerald is a much more well rounded speaker that sounds good with everything.

I just read the TNT review several days ago, and I agreed with alot of what Scott said about the Emeralds in his review. Actually, to the point of becoming really interested in the Odyssey Epiphony's he also reviewed. Has anyone heard these? I'm not looking to replace the Emeralds, but after reading his review I decided to resurrect my second system plans and ordered a pair of Epiphony's. Now I just need to figure out how to break the news to my wife, who thought I was recovering from my addiction...
post #7 of 33
The Odyssey Epiphonies have amazing bass for their size.

The presentation is very natural. Sound is neutral and crystal crisp. The soundstage is AMAZING! Pinpoint precise imaging! It throws a very convincing soundstage.

Scott Faller bought his review pair...and rightully so. Th Epiphonis is one of the best under $1000 speakers. No question.
post #8 of 33
SSBL, thanks for the info on the Epiphs. You don't hear about them on the forums much.

Mbooks, you said you were looking primarily for a music set up, would you be moving toward HT in the future? If so, I think one of the advantages to the Emerald is the option of having identical speakers all around, or at least up front. Not that I have that set up yet, but I think a single Emerald would be fairly easy to place.
post #9 of 33
Thread Starter 
Well. after eliminating the hyperlink, my attempt to post was still vaporized. This gives me an opportunity to be more brief.

The Epiphony looks like a nice speaker at an excellent price. I've also read some reviews that give the Vienna Hydn high marks.

For main speakers I still have my 22 year old Genesis Physics Corp. model 1+. I think they would still compare favorably with some of the lower priced paradigm speakers. At the time (1981) I was leaning toward the Bose 301 model, but the Genesis 1+ had better musical definition, and much better high frequencies. Genesis went out of business in the late '80s. For more information about the Genesis and EPI/Epicure lines visit humanspeakers(dot)com (this should get by the URL blocker). Humanspeakers also sells replacement parts for these speakers and a line of hand-built speakers that reflect the qualities of the of the old Genesis and EPI/Epicure speakers.

My living room is about 14' x 14', and I have about 7' along the front wall for my av setup. I have a 37" plasma on the wall, with the bottom edge 26" from the floor. So my av components (and center spkr) need to fit a space 26" high and 5 - 6' wide, to be flanked by bookshelf speakers on stands so they can be pulled out for better sound, but otherwise left closer to the wall.

The Genesis spkrs are 22"h x 12"w x 10". They are too large for my planned setup - not much wiggle room for better placement. They also look to big. The 1+ can sometimes sound harsh in the higher frequencies ("listening fatigue") - treble turned down -6 to -7 dB helps and also helps the midrange. They have good imaging, but in my situation the sound-stage is quite flat, 2-dimensional.

So, I'm looking for small speakers, with clean high frequency extension, that can bring a deeper sound-stage to a small room. The Ascend 170 vs. the Emerald may not be a fair comparison?? (the prices aren't comparable either)

Is the the Onkyo 595 adequate for the Emerald? How much sound quality would be sacrificed as compared to better components?

I am inclined toward 3 identical speakers across the front for a more musical balance. The larger, dedicated centers probably provide greater dynamic impact from special affects, but would they be better with musicals or movies with good soundtracks?

post #10 of 33
Originally posted by mbooks
The Ascend 170 vs. the Emerald may not be a fair comparison?? (the prices aren't comparable either)
Maybe....maybe not. The Ascends definitely lose out on the bass extension, but from 70hz on up they are flat and clean. Matched with a good sub, they are hard to beat. They image very well. Without a sub, you are probably better off with something else.

I have heard the Concertinos at my local hifi shop. Very musical, I was quite impressed.
post #11 of 33
Onkyo 595, hmmm, how much does it weigh? The problem with the low end Onkyos is the power supply... this problem can be somewhat indicated by its weight.. if its in the 20lb range, you will want to upgrade it.
post #12 of 33
Thread Starter 
Onkyo 595: 25 lbs., power consumption 4.7 amps, rated at 75 watts per channel at 8 ohms.
post #13 of 33
Does anyone else have any more input on this topic? These are the two speakers I am leaning toward. The ACI is a lot more than I want to spend, but I wonder if it's worth it or not. The smaller size of the Emeralds is a real plus for me because of the tiny room I want to put them in. Are they worth the extra cash however? :confused:
post #14 of 33
Since the Ascends are less than half the price of the Emeralds, give them a try and see if they suffice. If not, return them and try the Emeralds.

Where are you located? Maybe you can get lucky and find a local owners of each speaker and get an audition.
post #15 of 33
I was really set on the Ascends until I went to Good Guys and listened to the Energy C-3. I believe I have read a few comments that the C-3 is not quite as good, but similar to the Ascend. (all subjective of course)

I was not impressed with the C-3 at all. This has me concerned over the Ascends and wondering if I should try the Emeralds.

One option I am currently considering is buying them both and sending back the loser. I have a hard time doing this though, it seems like a huge hassle but its probably the smartest thing I could do. What if I like both so much I cant part with either? Then I am really screwed! :D
post #16 of 33
I too, have taken the plunge with the Ascend's. They have very large footsteps to follow, as they are going up against a pair of Polk Audio SDA2B's. This is not a fair comparison, and will test the value of the Ascends to the absolute fullest.
post #17 of 33

mxbum, who has heard the Emeralds and the Ascends side by side, and cschang, who owns the Ascend CBM-170s and CMT-340s and is currently demoing a pair of ACI Sapphires, may be more suited to engage in the Emeralds and Ascends debate.

I do, however, own the CBM-170s and had compared them to the Energy C-3s during my trial period and can weigh in on that matter. The Energy Connoisseur C-3s are IMO very good speakers in their price range and possess qualities of speakers much more expensive.

While I can see where some reviewers see similarities between the Ascends' and the Energy's sound, particularly the very accurate, uncolored presentation of sound, the Ascends are, IMO, definitely superior in a lot of ways. I found vocals, in particular to be clearer and better articulated on the Ascends. Moreover, the highs had a smoother character in my opinion, most likely from the silk dome tweeter in the Ascends, which I much prefer over the metal tweeter implementations that I have heard to date. The Energy's will trump the Ascends in the bass department, given the larger cabinet.

Given that, while your impressions of the C-3s were unfavorable I don't think that should preclude you from trying the Ascends, as the smaller bookshelf form factor and fabric dome tweeter implementation of the Ascends will probably (this is entirely conjecture on my part since I haven't heard ACIs) liken it more to the Emeralds than to the Energys. IMO, the Ascends are a superior speaker than the C-3s.

But to allay your own concerns, I would order the Emeralds and the Ascends, and compare them yourself to see which one you like better. While in this price range, out the shipping fee seems like a high price to pay, I think that knowing that you made the right choice and not worrying about, "what ifs..." is worth that price.

Side note: remember that you were listening to the Energys at Good Guys, which I have never seen setup a decent venue for auditioning so that is also something to consider about your impressions of the Energys.

As always, enjoy your auditioning!

post #18 of 33

What was it about the C-3's you did not like? What speakers have you heard that you do like?


That is an older Polk, correct? Looking forward to your comments on the CBM-170.
post #19 of 33

I currently have Emeralds, and owned the Ascends. They are both great speakers. I think cschang's advice is right on, start with the least expensive speakers and work your way up (if need be).

Both companies are excellent to work with. I sold my Ascends, and David helped me with the warranty transfer, fantastic customer service. I bought a pair of on-wall (descant) speakers from ACI and returned those with no trouble at all. Both these companies are top notch, I can't say enough good about them.
post #20 of 33
Thank you everyone for your replies! :)

cschang: I couldn't quite pin point what was bothering me about the Energys. I am not very good at describing this kind of stuff. :(

I also heard the Monitor Audio B2s and was also not impressed with them. I found the highs to be lacking.

This may sound funny, but the best speakers I have ever heard were car audio speakers. They were MB Quart QSDs. MB Quarts are more known for their highs. They were very "crisp" and very clear. I was impressed with both their highs and mid range. They had very little lows to speak of. People have described them to be "flat, accurate, and crisp."

I believe this is what I am looking for, but I am not certain. I have not had the opportunity to listen to any high end "warm" sounding speakers. I am curious if the Energys are considered to be more "warm" :confused:

This is going to be my first shot at "real" speakers. I will be upgrading from Klipsch Promedia computer speakers, which I happen to like quite a bit to be honest.

Anyway, I hope this helps you a little with where I am coming from. Thank you all for your responses so far! :)
post #21 of 33
Perfektrtw- Sounds like you're going to like the Klipsch sound or maybe Axiom if "crisp highs" are your forte.
post #22 of 33
Perfektrtw, for your preference of transparent highs, you want want to go up another notch to try out the Aurum Cantus Leisure 2 SE at www.kellsieavdesign.com
post #23 of 33

MB QUART also manufactor home-audio speaker's. It may be worth your time to check out to see if there are any dealers near you who carry them.


You are spot-on. I recently conducted a shoot out between Polk's newest, yet still recluse LSi-15 against their old SDA-2B. After months of testing and switching back and fowarth, the SDA remained victor. I am very excited to compare these highly praised bookshelves to the SDA's. I will be certain to post the results.
post #24 of 33
Originally posted by lei
Perfektrtw, for your preference of transparent highs, you want want to go up another notch to try out the Aurum Cantus Leisure 2 SE at www.kellsieavdesign.com
The starter of this thread mbooks is seeking transparent highs. Perfektrtw is the one who enjoys MBQuatz car audio products.

Doesn't MBQuartz have a home audio line now?

Edit- Oops I guess I could have read the previous post.
post #25 of 33

I'm with Tex on this one. You may want to check out Axioms (M22) and Klipsch. I think they may suit your tastes better.
post #26 of 33
MB Quart does have a home audio line as well and if you like their car audio sound, perhaps that sonic signature will be maintained on their home audio speakers.



Sounds like you are looking for speakers with a lot of treble energy, and klipsch and axiom would definitely fit that bill. Klipsch in particular, should be very easy to demo at a good number of stores in your area.

post #27 of 33
Wow, thanks everyone, I did not even realize MB Quartz made bookshelf speakers. :D

Hmmm, now I have to think a little more...
post #28 of 33
Well after looking at them more closely, unfortunately both the Axiom M22s and MB Quartz are just too big for my room. I guess I will have to keep looking. :\\
post #29 of 33

What size constraints are you working with? How small do you need the speakers to be?

post #30 of 33
Victor, thanks for the response. I am really dealing with a small room. I believe it is 11x10. This is going in my bedroom. My goal for these speakers is to replace my computer speakers. I plan on hooking them up to my receiver and then to my computer sound card. (Which I am not exactly sure how to make that work yet :D )

I don't really have an exact size they need to be, but the depth on some of these speakers is really proving to be the problem. They are most likely going to be jammed up against the wall so I am also concerned on how speakers with a back port are going to like that. Hopefully it won't do too much because it seems as though most speakers I am looking at are all rear ported. The front ported speakers start becoming too large.

I realize this is not exactly an ideal location, but it's really pretty much all I have to work with.
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