ID speakers vs. non ID - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 115 Old 12-20-2015, 09:41 PM - Thread Starter
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ID speakers vs. non ID

Over the last couple of months I had asked about possible upgrade to my B&W 705s and was pointed to ID companies by AVS members. Anything from SVS to RBH to Chane was suggested. I am still quite unsure which way to go...

I would greatly appreciate if someone could help me in how towers from SVS, Chane, RBH compare to towers from companies like B&W, Paradigm, Tannoy and etc. I understand that ID companies offer great value and good quality speakers, but it seems that there is a limit in designs going up... For example SVS Prive, Chane A5RX-C or RBH R55Ti that seems all to be great choices what would they compare to in B&W or Paradigm lines? Any help would be appreciated!

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post #2 of 115 Old 12-20-2015, 09:49 PM
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Originally Posted by ld100 View Post
Over the last couple of month I had asked about possible upgrade to my B&W 705s and was pointed to ID companies by AVS members. Anything from SVS to RBH to Chane was suggested. I am still quite unsure which way to go...

I would greatly appreciate if someone could help me in how towers from SVS, Chane, RBH compare to towers from companies like B&W, Paradigm, Tannoy and etc. I understand that ID companies offer great value and good quality speakers, but it seems that there is a limit in designs going up... For example SVS Prive, Chane A5RX-C or RBH R55Ti that seems all to be great choices what would they compare to in B&W or Paradigm lines? Any help would be appreciated!
don't let anyone tell you.

speakers are the most critical and yet the most personal piece in the audio puzzle. find a way to listen to them.

based on your line up i can kind of guess the signature you like, but it's exactly because of that i shall not give recommendations - you're on the right shortlist anyhow if that's your preference.
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post #3 of 115 Old 12-20-2015, 10:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by pablolie View Post
don't let anyone tell you.

speakers are the most critical and yet the most personal piece in the audio puzzle. find a way to listen to them.

based on your line up i can kind of guess the signature you like, but it's exactly because of that i shall not give recommendations - you're on the right shortlist anyhow if that's your preference.
I can listen locally to Paradigm, B&W, Sonus Fiber, Martin Logan and few other brands. My dilemma is choosing to drop 2-3K on B&Ws of this world or get something like an SVS and be happy with it.

Going with B&Ws of this world I will never find out if going with ID would be as good for much less money... Getting a 3K speakers without researching more about ID companies seems wrong either. I am not trying to get a definitive suggestion on what to get. At the end I need to listen and like myself. What I am trying to do is find out what others think in general.

I can drop 2-3K if it is worth it. If getting a better speaker than ID requires considerably more than 2-3K I am very tempted to go with ID. Will a 3K Paradigm or B&W or Sonus Faber perform better than a 1K ID?
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post #4 of 115 Old 12-20-2015, 11:07 PM
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My last two speaker purchases were both from ID companies - the first one brand new and the second purchase was a pair of used speakers. I don't regret buying either time. One of the problems I have is where I live. I can't drive an hour or two and listen to anything that is available to most of you - so I have to weigh other's opinions on the speakers I'm interested in. After a while I tend to get the flavor of what those reviewers thought processes are which gives me an idea of whether their interests parallel mine. Not an easy process. I read this guy's thread and similar threads - for more than a year before deciding on buying the speakers I now own. When a pair of them came up for sale used - saving me money in the process - I jumped on them. I also got a custom center channel speaker in the bargain. I certainly got better than $3k in speakers IMO. Don't let the fact that you can't audition them steer you from what might be the speaker you keep for a lifetime. Mine aren't going anywhere!

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post #5 of 115 Old 12-20-2015, 11:18 PM
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With audio as with everything else, I tend to search for the pricepoint where diminishing returns start to snowball. In other words, whether it's shopping for speakers or a bike or a laptop, I try to find the equivalent of a Honda Civic or Accord. If it's an area that I'm not familiar with, I tend to start with the cheapest option possible, then move up from there as needed. (If your usage is primarily HT rather than music, you might be surprised at how little money it actually takes to achieve a satisfying result with ID speakers.)

This kind of direct experimentation is easily done with internet-direct companies because they all have 30 day trial periods, and some even pay for your return shipping. That's not easily done with boutique audio shops, although Best Buy and Fry's of course will be much easier. With the boutique shops they usually will offer only store credit rather than a full refund, or pressure/guilt-trip you into buying something else from them...in the worst cases they might charge you a restocking fee which is similar to the cost of return shipping an ID speaker.

In terms of comparing ID speakers to retail speakers, I would tend to add roughly 50% to the price of the ID speaker when comparing to a retail speaker's regular price...so for example, an Ascend Sierra 1 that costs about $900 shipped might be compared against a $1300-1400 speaker like a Paradigm Studio 20.

However, there are cases in which a retail speaker is being deeply discounted due to the manufacturer phasing them out, or perhaps an open-box deal, that would nullify that math.
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post #6 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 07:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Knucklehead90 View Post
I read this guy's thread and similar threads - for more than a year before deciding on buying the speakers I now own. When a pair of them came up for sale used - saving me money in the process - I jumped on them. I also got a custom center channel speaker in the bargain. I certainly got better than $3k in speakers IMO. Don't let the fact that you can't audition them steer you from what might be the speaker you keep for a lifetime. Mine aren't going anywhere!
Your patience was rewarded. Nice speakers!
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post #7 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 10:15 AM
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Remember that mainstream speaker brands go on sale all the time. If you can be patient, the gap in price isn't that huge. It's different than for ID subwoofers. Also, speakers are a very personal choice. You have nothing to lose by auditioning the SVS speakers, and you could also try to hear some others like B&W's CM line at Best Buy.

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post #8 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 10:40 AM
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In my experience, ID brands are a mixed bag.

I have bought product from Elemental Designs, Philharmonic Audio, Empire, AV123, Salk, and Chase home theater.

3 of those are out of business, and one of the businesses is technically a different company (Chase/Chane - I'm sure Chase/Chane would provide support as well). Salk and Philharmic, of course, still going strong.

Can you get a great product from an ID company? Absolutely! But you may not get the long term stability or RD that goes with traditional brands. That's not to say good RD concepts are lacking, but smaller companies don't have millions to budget for RD.

One thing that I've found happens quite a bit is that the flavor of the month ID company comes to town, and it quickly gets divided into the cult disciples who have found a messiah to lead them out of the corrupt traditional audio companies grasp and those who question the companies products, measurements, or lead figure.

When an amp or speaker goes out after the company has folded where do you go from there?

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post #9 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 11:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by redfive View Post
In my experience, ID brands are a mixed bag.

I have bought product from Elemental Designs, Philharmonic Audio, Empire, AV123, Salk, and Chase home theater.

3 of those are out of business, and one of the businesses is technically a different company (Chase/Chane - I'm sure Chase/Chane would provide support as well). Salk and Philharmic, of course, still going strong.

Can you get a great product from an ID company? Absolutely! But you may not get the long term stability or RD that goes with traditional brands. That's not to say good RD concepts are lacking, but smaller companies don't have millions to budget for RD.

One thing that I've found happens quite a bit is that the flavor of the month ID company comes to town, and it quickly gets divided into the cult disciples who have found a messiah to lead them out of the corrupt traditional audio companies grasp and those who question the companies products, measurements, or lead figure.

When an amp or speaker goes out after the company has folded where do you go from there?
Good point!
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post #10 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
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There seems to be almost a cult following for Salk and Ascend... I am very tempted to find out how good they are, BUT they are over 2K shipped and with ribbon tweeters. Not we are talking about a nice B&W floorstanders territory...
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post #11 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 11:33 AM
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There seems to be almost a cult following for Salk and Ascend... I am very tempted to find out how good they are, BUT they are over 2K shipped and with ribbon tweeters. Not we are talking about a nice B&W floorstanders territory...
I just ordered a pair of B-Stock Sierra-2's, so I definitely continue to order from well-respected ID companies. I do make it a point, however, to now order only from ID companies who have a long track record of good products and customer service.

Salk has definitely earned it's sizable following. Mr. Salk is available and makes a great product. I've heard a few examples of their product line and have never failed to be impressed.

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post #12 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by redfive View Post
In my experience, ID brands are a mixed bag.

I have bought product from Elemental Designs, Philharmonic Audio, Empire, AV123, Salk, and Chase home theater.

3 of those are out of business, and one of the businesses is technically a different company (Chase/Chane - I'm sure Chase/Chane would provide support as well). Salk and Philharmic, of course, still going strong.

Can you get a great product from an ID company? Absolutely! But you may not get the long term stability or RD that goes with traditional brands. That's not to say good RD concepts are lacking, but smaller companies don't have millions to budget for RD.

One thing that I've found happens quite a bit is that the flavor of the month ID company comes to town, and it quickly gets divided into the cult disciples who have found a messiah to lead them out of the corrupt traditional audio companies grasp and those who question the companies products, measurements, or lead figure.

When an amp or speaker goes out after the company has folded where do you go from there?
The longest running ID companies are Hsu and Ascend Acoustics. There is a very good reason why they are still around...they deliver value and service. Those that deliver real value will be around for a while.
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post #13 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 11:38 AM - Thread Starter
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The longest running ID companies are Hsu and Ascend Acoustics. There is a very good reason why they are still around...they deliver value and service. Those that deliver real value will be around for a while.
Curtis, I am assuming you do have Ascend speakers. What level of B&W line would you compare them to in terms of sound?
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post #14 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 11:41 AM
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There seems to be almost a cult following for Salk and Ascend... I am very tempted to find out how good they are, BUT they are over 2K shipped and with ribbon tweeters. Not we are talking about a nice B&W floorstanders territory...
Yeah well there was a cult following for the one and only ID I tried years ago (not the two listed). I could have bought a comparable priced monitor (they were towers) from a mainstream manufacturer and got three times the enjoyment out of them. They were average at best.

When I went to sell them, I was lucky if I got ten cents on the dollar. They became a give away at a yard sale.

All those claimed precious pennies saved at purchase will be sucked up when you go sell them later.

I'm glad the ID works for many. That's awesome but totally overplayed and hyped. They all have a cult following

I'll stick with mainstream where I can recoupe a decent amount of money on the resell market.

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post #15 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 11:46 AM
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There seems to be almost a cult following for Salk and Ascend... I am very tempted to find out how good they are, BUT they are over 2K shipped and with ribbon tweeters. Not we are talking about a nice B&W floorstanders territory...
It's not cult, its about quality and good sound. Plus you have two companies that are willing to provide you with measurements and other accurate information about their speakers which can help you make an informed decision. Trial periods too, unless you are ordering a special finish from Jim if I remember correctly. Plus you are dealing with the guys who designed the product, not some CSR at Best Buy/Magnolia

A lot of the following for these two also has to do with their use of RAAL ribbon tweeters, not that they don't sell plenty of "traditional" dome tweeter speakers. The RAAL is special, that's why you see quality ID companies like Ascend, Salk, Selah and Philharmonic using them. That's 4 great ID speaker companies, who have been at it a while.

Finally, it would be great is someone would actually provide some evidence that a non ID speaker company like B&W for example spends more on R&D. Then there is the question of who is getting the best bang for their R&D buck, not seeing much innovation from the non-ID speaker companies unless you count Atmos up-firing modules (that's a joke). This quote came up on your sub thread as well. You have the 4 IDs I mentioned above coming out with new products on a regular basis as do ID sub companies. If any innovation is being made to the speaker market, it seems to be from the ID companies, dido for subs. Please correct me if I am wrong.
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post #16 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by redfive View Post
In my experience, ID brands are a mixed bag.

I have bought product from Elemental Designs, Philharmonic Audio, Empire, AV123, Salk, and Chase home theater.

3 of those are out of business, and one of the businesses is technically a different company (Chase/Chane - I'm sure Chase/Chane would provide support as well). Salk and Philharmic, of course, still going strong.

Can you get a great product from an ID company? Absolutely! But you may not get the long term stability or RD that goes with traditional brands. That's not to say good RD concepts are lacking, but smaller companies don't have millions to budget for RD.

One thing that I've found happens quite a bit is that the flavor of the month ID company comes to town, and it quickly gets divided into the cult disciples who have found a messiah to lead them out of the corrupt traditional audio companies grasp and those who question the companies products, measurements, or lead figure.

When an amp or speaker goes out after the company has folded where do you go from there?
No doubt Mark Schifter, Chad Kuypers, and the numbskulls at eD gave the entire ID speaker and subwoofer business a black eye. Still, there are some reputable ID companies that continue to offer great value and customer service. Seaton, JTR, PSA, Reaction Audio, Hsu, SVS, Ascend/Rythmic, Salk, and many others provide great products at amazing prices, and they back up their products with excellent customer service.

In addition, it should be mentioned that the AVS Store, (the store affiliated with this forum), offers products at very reasonable prices, and their sales people are very knowledgeable and friendly. They offer a lot of AV products that are traditionally considered B&M or CI at close to ID prices: http://avscience.com/brands/

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post #17 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Zorba922 View Post
With the boutique shops they usually will offer only store credit rather than a full refund, or pressure/guilt-trip you into buying something else from them...in the worst cases they might charge you a restocking fee which is similar to the cost of return shipping an ID speaker.
Wildly inaccurate.
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post #18 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 12:04 PM
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Yeah well there was a cult following for the one and only ID I tried years ago (not the two listed). I could have bought a comparable priced monitor (they were towers) from a mainstream manufacturer and got three times the enjoyment out of them. They were average at best.

When I went to sell them, I was lucky if I got ten cents on the dollar. They became a give away at a yard sale.

All those claimed precious pennies saved at purchase will be sucked up when you go sell them later.

I'm glad the ID works for many. That's awesome but totally overplayed and hyped. They all have a cult following

I'll stick with mainstream where I can recoupe a decent amount of money on the resell market.

Rick
Rick - that resell value works the same way when buying a mainstream made speaker. If you purchase a quality speaker from a reputable company (like B&W, GoldenEar, Selah, Ascend, Salk, etc.), take good care of it, then it should have a decent resale value. As for the average sound, I believe that's why you see so many of us recommend buying a speaker from a company or dealer/retailer that provides you with a in-home trial listening period. We can read the hype and awesome reviews for a speaker, ID or not, but it may not sound awesome to everyone. Speakers without a doubt are a personal choice, thus the frequent advice to listen to them on your home turf - showrooms don't count
Steve

P.S. I believe your cult comment isn't limited to ID companies, do you follow the GoldenEar, Def Tech, PSB, Monitor Audio, B&W threads as just a few of many examples?

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Wildly inaccurate.
This is why you can't believe everything you read on the internet - including speaker reviews
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ID speakers vs. non ID

What's great is we all can make our own decisions. I have set of ID Speakers and also a mainstream set-up and i like each a lot. Most ID company here have very loyal followers and that's to be commended. And mainstream has richer history of R&D that ID companies can't replicate due to finances. We win regardless which we choose!! Good luck


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post #21 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 03:20 PM
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Curtis, I am assuming you do have Ascend speakers. What level of B&W line would you compare them to in terms of sound?
I have not compared directly head to head in a long time, but I once took a pair of the older Ascend CMT-340's...before the SE series, to a local shop to compare to the older B&W CDM 7NT speakers. The B&W was larger and had more bass output for sure, but everything else, the Ascend was at least competitive if not better. The sales rep was not pleased with us, but the shop owner invited me back any time I wanted to compare.
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post #22 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 03:35 PM
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What's great is we all can make our own decisions. I have set of ID Speakers and also a mainstream set-up and i like each a lot. Most ID company here have very loyal followers and that's to be commended. And mainstream has richer history of R&D that ID companies can't replicate due to finances. We win regardless which we choose!! Good luck


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With all due respect what do you base this on? Look at all the new designs being offered by IDs for speakers and subwoofers. What are the mainstream big spending speaker companies doing in that regard? I would bet the one thing they do is outspend their ID competitors on advertising, but I will contend based on what we are seeing for new products that the real innovators are the ID companies. Think of the expense that is involved when B&W comes out with a new line vs. a reputable ID company like Philharmonic (extreme, but valid).

Still patiently waiting on data, its easy to assume a big company spends more on R&D, but past experience in other industries has shown that to not always be the case. Thanks.

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post #23 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 03:50 PM
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Still patiently waiting on data, its easy to assume a big company spends more on R&D, but past experience in other industries has shown that to not always be the case. Thanks.
I think it is safe to say that the big companies SPEND more on R&D, but it doesn't necessarily mean they DO more R&D.

They definitely do more advertising/marketing, they spend more to support their products...they have to support their retailers. They spend more on management/administration.

This is just some of the things bigger b&m type companies have to contend with.

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post #24 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 04:05 PM
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I would say a 1.5 ratio is about right. IOW, a $1000 ID speaker is comparable to a $1500 (street price) non-ID speaker. However, this equation gets altered when the non-ID speakers are being sold below their normal street price.
ID really has to be pretty decent because most of them have a return guarantee that costs them some money if the customer returns the product!
The third player not yet mentioned is pro audio. I think if you are open to buying pro audio speakers and are aware of near-field/mid-field/far-field concerns, they are close to rivaling some of the best ID and non-ID deals.

As far as R & D goes, I think the big companies generally put their R&D into their premiere speakers and give the lower-level models to Dr. Frankenstein to choose where to spend money from the past trickle down R&D tool box. While this can work pretty good, don't believe that your $500/pair speakers have much R&D behind them when the company is selling 5 other series of speakers at higher performance/price levels.

Cheers,
Kurt (aka KEW)

Last edited by Taking Notes!; 12-21-2015 at 04:12 PM.
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post #25 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 04:11 PM
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I think it is safe to say that the big companies SPEND more on R&D, but it doesn't necessarily mean they DO more R&D.

They definitely do more advertising/marketing, they spend more to support their products...they have to support their retailers. They spend more on management/administration.

This is just some of the things bigger b&m type companies have to contend with.
All good points Curtis. I always find SEC filings of interest when trying to learn more about a publicly traded company. A good example of a large audio company that makes some good speakers is Harmon. Easy to see just what they are spending to support their sales, marketing, etc. Unfortunately what they spend on RD&E is buried in admin expenses. Still interesting to review:

http://globaldocuments.morningstar.c...msdoc/original
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post #26 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 04:13 PM
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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.
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post #27 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 05:04 PM
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I’ve never owned an Ascend Acoustics speaker (but have always wanted to try them out).
Corona to San Clemente isn't too bad of a drive for you to listen to some of their stuff.

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post #28 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 05:25 PM
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There seems to be almost a cult following for Salk and Ascend... I am very tempted to find out how good they are, BUT they are over 2K shipped and with ribbon tweeters. Not we are talking about a nice B&W floorstanders territory...
Can't speak for Salk, but I would highly recommend you try to find an Ascend owner in your area and listen to either Sirrra-2 or Sierra Tower with RAAL

FYI, my main speakers for the 2 channel rig was a pair of the 805 Diamond and since I received my Sierra-2, I found myself spend more time with Sierra-2 than 805D2..

As far as resale value, if you do a quick search on hifishark.com for Ascend Sierra-2 or Sierra Tower, you will find they hold their value really really well, even better than some of the bigger retail brands!

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post #29 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 05:55 PM
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I don't see how its possible to generalize on how much research big companies within an industry do without looking at the specific company. Harmon has a legendary testing facility and you would be hard pressed to convince me that Harmon doesn't conduct adequate research. There's a reason JBL is in the majority of mixing studios and cinemas in the country. Also, if you call JL Audio with a product question, you can actually speak with one of their engineers if you know how to ask. Moreover, does anybody who watches this podcast think KEF doesn't conduct adequate research:

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/138-av...stics-kef.html

At the same time, I also don't think its fair to generalize about ID companies for some of the reasons other posters have already mentioned. Each company should be judged on its own merits and just because the company is "big" or "internet direct" doesn't mean much to me without looking at the track record of the specific company.
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post #30 of 115 Old 12-21-2015, 06:28 PM
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When an amp or speaker goes out after the company has folded where do you go from there?
You take the amp to any competent local tech and have it repaired. I used to do this myself and it's not difficult usually as almost all parts are available if you know where to look.

With small speaker manufacturer it's even easier: because of the small numbers they make, they buy off the shelf drivers. If one fails, it can be replaced from a variety of sources, eg Madisound. Larger manufacturers can and do have drivers modified or custom designed for them so replacements would be hard to come by, new. If KEF disappeared tomorrow, where would you replace the coax if needed? I bet for all of the smaller boutique ID manufacturers like Salk, I could replace the driver easily. Over parts are all pretty generic and easily sourced.
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