Originally Posted by ozar
I've been playing around with the Ascend Acoustics speakers for 3 weeks now and do like them very much. However, I didn't get the huge boost in performance that I was expecting, especially considering that these speakers were just under 3 times as expensive (costs + shipping) as was the Polk setup described above (costs + shipping). Still, I'm keeping these and will put the Polks in another room as originally planned.
It depends on what you're listening for and also what you're listening to. In addition, these two speaker series share some of the same strengths, such as making details in the recordings stand out. It's not that they sound the same, because they certainly do not, but where they differ mostly concerns accuracy, and there is no universal rule that says that more accurate reproduction always clearly sounds better. Now, if the Polks were SO inaccurate that they grotesquely distorted the audio, then yes, the improvement would slap you in the face, but in my opinion the Polk Monitor series is pretty solid and sounds pretty good, despite the lack of respect it seems to get.
Since you've decided to keep them, give the Ascends and yourself more time to get better acquainted. Play some well-recorded material and compare it to what real voices and instruments sound like. Admittedly, you have to be pretty picky--even nitpicky--to immediately notice an improvement from a good enough speaker to what some picky people would consider a much better one. People also differ on what they consider a "huge" boost in performance--huge to some is subtle to others.
By the way, did you buy your Polk Monitors on clearance? Their asking price was a lot higher before the line was discontinued, making them a great value these days.
Originally Posted by ozar
Sometimes, I don't notice improvements in performance as easily as I notice degradation in performance, so some day when I get some spare time, I might hook the Polks back up to this system and see if the performance drop is more noticeable to me.
I hazard to guess that it will be more noticeable because if you're like many of us here, then you will have become a more critical listener over time (I know I have!).
Eventually, it can even dominate the severe diminishing returns inherent in this field.
I mean, the Polk Monitors, despite being a budget-conscious line of speakers, are still pretty decent. I liked them when I first heard them (I don't usually go for bright-sounding speakers, but to my ear these are pleasingly tinkly), and I still like and recommend them today whenever they're a good fit. For perspective, you had mentioned HSU Research speakers earlier, so let's see how they fared against the Monitor 30 in a blind test conducted by critical listeners:http://www.audioholics.com/reviews/s...arch-hb-1.html
Personally, I think they were a bit hard on the HB-1 (its midrange doesn't sound all that muddy to me) and easy on the Monitor 30 (has more cabinet resonance than the HB-1 and compresses more at loud volumes), but then again I've never listened to them practically side-by-side like this. The point here is that your old speakers aren't too shabby, and won't necessarily fall apart even when compared to more expensive speakers--HTIB speakers they are not. They're not as accurate and transparent as your new Ascends are, though, and it will be interesting to find out whether the improvements (the latter are cleaner, tighter, non-fatiguing, and more articulate as well) will become more apparent to you over time.