I’ve never owned an Ascend Acoustics speaker (but have always wanted to try them out). Just one look at their website gives me detailed specification information as well as measurements in graph form. Their website tells me a whole lot more than the vast majority of other brands I’ve researched. Normally, you can only get that kind of information via third-party test reports. This puts this company ahead in my book. That doesn’t mean I would prefer the sound. But it does mean that this is a company that isn’t hiding anything and is proud to show people what their products are capable of. I wish more companies would be as forthright.
As far as R&D, I suspect JBL would be at the top of the list as far as money spent (part of the Harmon Group). They are the largest speaker manufacturer in the world. But as cschang indicated, money spent vs amount of R&D may be two different things.
Music area: Magnepan 3.6, McIntosh MC2205 amp & C48 preamp, SVS SB13-Ultra, Oppo BDP 95, dbx 3BX, and assorted equipment.
Movie area: EMP Tek E5Bi (were rebadged to R5Bi), RBH/EMP Tek R55Ti, PSA S3000i, Denon X2000, Oppo BDP 83.