Focal Aria 936 or Monitor Audio Silver 8 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 37 Old 01-11-2016, 05:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Focal Aria 936 or Ascend Sierra Towers with RAAL

Guys,

I just put in an order for the Focal Aria 936's but they are holding it for me due to an increased charge for freight. The Monitor Audio Silver 8's are on sale on Crutchfield for about $2,000 with free shipping and a very cheap return freight fee. They are also $600 cheaper than the 936's.

My question is, given the choice between these two speakers, which is your choice? I am primarily using them for music and I listen to mostly Jazz/Classical. However, given the chance, good bass performance is a nice to have as well.

These will be paired with an Anthem MRX 510 and HSU VTF-3 Mk5 HP.

Any input would be greatly appreciated!

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post #2 of 37 Old 01-11-2016, 06:31 PM
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Going by specs alone, the Focals seem to have greater cone area, but a slightly worse low end going by the frequency response. However, I have listened to the Aria series and many other Focals (including the Utopia series) and can assure you that they have no problem reaching low. Their midrange and high frequency is the cleanest and clearest I have ever heard. Focal started off making the speaker itself, and due to this, they make some of the best speakers I have ever heard (other than a modified Altec One). I have not heard any Monitor speakers, so my opinion is incredibly biased. Either way you go, you won't lose, but I think the Focals are better speakers.
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post #3 of 37 Old 01-11-2016, 08:23 PM
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I haven't heard the current Silver series but I had heard the RS and RX series. Personally I like the Aria series more so then the MAs for music, especially the types of music you're listening to. Not to say the focals don't play rock or EDM well either, just the MAs may play those styles with a different perspective, one I'd say that's slightly more aggressive. I heard the 936s on Cambridge gear, the MAs on Denon AVR. As far as bass response, both are pretty good, I'm used to my Dynaudios so I find them both lacking just a touch, but perhaps the MAs have slightly better bass then the focals but the mids and highs on the focals pull ahead of the MAs.

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post #4 of 37 Old 01-11-2016, 09:22 PM
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The Aria 936's are like $3500.. Where did you find them for $2600? I've heard the 926's and had the Monitor RX8's.. Honestly, they are both really good. I can only imagine that the Silver 8's are a little smoother from what others have said. But I really liked the RX8's. I know Callas loves his Dynaudio's, but if your going to listen to Jazz/Classical.. Why are you not looking at Martin Logan Electromotion ESL's. I Own these. I went and listened to the Focal 926's, Golden Ear Triton 1's,2's & 7's. I also heard the Focals with the beryllium tweeters at 10k.. These were running off of Cambridge audio. I listened closely to all of them..

They also had the ML EM ESL's, so I had him pull those out just for comparison. There was no comparison, the ESL's just destroyed everything. There is not anyone that is going to say the ESL's suck for Jazz/Classical. The will say they were born for that music.. I think they sound awesome with any music. Are they finicky? Sure.. Is it worth getting them set up right? Hell yes! Do they have a small sweet spot, yes.. Its not that small. If its just you and maybe your girl, you will be fine. The thing is, the sound is much bigger than any box speaker. Being their dipole nature, the sound is huge. It was readily apparent when we A/B'd them with the other speakers. Even the sales guy said they were clearly the best. Don't listen to me tho, everyone has their preference. Use your ears.. But, if you haven't, you owe it to yourself to check them out..
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post #5 of 37 Old 01-11-2016, 09:59 PM - Thread Starter
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The Aria 936's are like $3500.. Where did you find them for $2600? I've heard the 926's and had the Monitor RX8's.. Honestly, they are both really good. I can only imagine that the Silver 8's are a little smoother from what others have said. But I really liked the RX8's. I know Callas loves his Dynaudio's, but if your going to listen to Jazz/Classical.. Why are you not looking at Martin Logan Electromotion ESL's. I Own these. I went and listened to the Focal 926's, Golden Ear Triton 1's,2's & 7's. I also heard the Focals with the beryllium tweeters at 10k.. These were running off of Cambridge audio. I listened closely to all of them..

They also had the ML EM ESL's, so I had him pull those out just for comparison. There was no comparison, the ESL's just destroyed everything. There is not anyone that is going to say the ESL's suck for Jazz/Classical. The will say they were born for that music.. I think they sound awesome with any music. Are they finicky? Sure.. Is it worth getting them set up right? Hell yes! Do they have a small sweet spot, yes.. Its not that small. If its just you and maybe your girl, you will be fine. The thing is, the sound is much bigger than any box speaker. Being their dipole nature, the sound is huge. It was readily apparent when we A/B'd them with the other speakers. Even the sales guy said they were clearly the best. Don't listen to me tho, everyone has their preference. Use your ears.. But, if you haven't, you owe it to yourself to check them out..
They are on sale at Music Direct as well as at my local store for $2,499 actually (the Focal Aria's). I haven't heard the Martin Logan's actually! After taking a look at the Martin Logan's, I think they probably have a low WAF lol. But I have to listen to them, perhaps I will take a look in store to see if I can take a listen. Still though, the 936's blew me away with its clarity and detail. The sound was pretty amazing. I wish there was a way to try the Monitor Audio locally to make a decision.
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post #6 of 37 Old 01-11-2016, 10:06 PM
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post #7 of 37 Old 01-11-2016, 10:18 PM
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Originally Posted by freesole View Post
They are on sale at Music Direct as well as at my local store for $2,499 actually (the Focal Aria's). I haven't heard the Martin Logan's actually! After taking a look at the Martin Logan's, I think they probably have a low WAF lol. But I have to listen to them, perhaps I will take a look in store to see if I can take a listen. Still though, the 936's blew me away with its clarity and detail. The sound was pretty amazing. I wish there was a way to try the Monitor Audio locally to make a decision.
Holy Crap, that's dirt cheap! Cmon, the ML's don't have a low WAF, My GF loves the look and the sound. Go listen to them, take her with. Compare them with other speakers.. Trust me on this..
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post #8 of 37 Old 01-11-2016, 10:30 PM
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I Demo'd to Silver 8s, Monitor 11s, Revel F12s, and in the 936s. The 936 were just kind of sitting on a platform in front of a window exposed to the whole shop and hooked to something or other (didn't really look). We pulled up a chair and had a listen. We pushed the woofers too far with Watermark by Enya and got some clicking out of them. We were not silly with the volume either. That said...If 3600 was in my budget I would have bought them and ran a sub.
I ended up with gloss Silver 10s, center, and FX surrounds for 3900 OTD and I'm 100% satisfied with them.
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post #9 of 37 Old 01-11-2016, 10:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Holy Crap, that's dirt cheap! Cmon, the ML's don't have a low WAF, My GF loves the look and the sound. Go listen to them, take her with. Compare them with other speakers.. Trust me on this..
Yeah it's a big sale. The regular price is $4,000 on Music Direct and at this local dealer. That's why I almost think it's too good a deal. I'll definitely look for a local dealer that has the ML's on stock and test them out!

I live in Seattle.
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post #10 of 37 Old 01-11-2016, 10:45 PM - Thread Starter
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I Demo'd to Silver 8s, Monitor 11s, Revel F12s, and in the 936s. The 936 were just kind of sitting on a platform in front of a window exposed to the whole shop and hooked to something or other (didn't really look). We pulled up a chair and had a listen. We pushed the woofers too far with Watermark by Enya and got some clicking out of them. We were not silly with the volume either. That said...If 3600 was in my budget I would have bought them and ran a sub.
I ended up with gloss Silver 10s, center, and FX surrounds for 3900 OTD and I'm 100% satisfied with them.
Hmm clicking? That's not good - we ran them at a fairly high volume (higher than we would listen to at home that's for sure). And we didn't get any distortion. Luckily, the 936's are not $3,600 but only $2,500 right now haha. How did you think the Silver 8's compared to them?
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post #11 of 37 Old 01-11-2016, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Curt D View Post
I Demo'd to Silver 8s, Monitor 11s, Revel F12s, and in the 936s. The 936 were just kind of sitting on a platform in front of a window exposed to the whole shop and hooked to something or other (didn't really look). We pulled up a chair and had a listen. We pushed the woofers too far with Watermark by Enya and got some clicking out of them. We were not silly with the volume either. That said...If 3600 was in my budget I would have bought them and ran a sub.
I ended up with gloss Silver 10s, center, and FX surrounds for 3900 OTD and I'm 100% satisfied with them.
Very nice.. I bet they sound great!
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post #12 of 37 Old 01-11-2016, 10:53 PM
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Yeah it's a big sale. The regular price is $4,000 on Music Direct and at this local dealer. That's why I almost think it's too good a deal. I'll definitely look for a local dealer that has the ML's on stock and test them out!

I live in Seattle.
I listened to the ML's and the 926's side by side. The ML's simply sounded faster and bigger. Like someone else said... Listening to the 926's was like listening at a concert from like the 4th or 5th row. Listening to the ML's, its like the band is in the room with you.. And for the type of music you like, you will have a joker like grin on your face!
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post #13 of 37 Old 01-12-2016, 05:09 AM
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Monitor Audio - Seattle WA





I also saw a place called Seattle HiFi in Auburn, and The Music Room in Lynwood, just other places to explore.

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Originally Posted by freesole View Post
Guys,

I just put in an order for the Focal Aria 936's but they are holding it for me due to an increased charge for freight. The Monitor Audio Silver 8's are on sale on Crutchfield for about $2,000 with free shipping and a very cheap return freight fee. They are also $600 cheaper than the 936's.

My question is, given the choice between these two speakers, which is your choice? I am primarily using them for music and I listen to mostly Jazz/Classical. However, given the chance, good bass performance is a nice to have as well.

These will be paired with an Anthem MRX 510 and HSU VTF-3 Mk5 HP.

Any input would be greatly appreciated!
Maybe save $600 and try the monitor audio and use that money for more room treatments, cds, dvds, etc. Both are great speakers and you will be happy with both. I would not worry about how low they go since it looks like you will be using your HSU sub for that purpose and just focus more the mids/highs and see which you like best. Since both are great speakers and you will be happy with both unless you demo side by side in your room at same time I don't think you will notice any difference. If it was me I would either go with whichever is cheaper or visually looks better to you in your room if you like looking at your speakers. Either way you have a killer setup and enjoy the music!

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Hmm clicking? That's not good - we ran them at a fairly high volume (higher than we would listen to at home that's for sure). And we didn't get any distortion. Luckily, the 936's are not $3,600 but only $2,500 right now haha. How did you think the Silver 8's compared to them?
I had a small amount of time with the Focals and honestly in high end audio as well. With that said, The Focal seemed slightly smoother to me from the mids on up. I'd like to listen to them again since I have had some time with my Silver 10s. The MAs have gotten even better after 50+hrs on them.
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post #16 of 37 Old 02-02-2016, 03:24 PM - Thread Starter
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So an update - I have had the Focal Aria 936's for about 2 and a half weeks now. They sound amazing and definitely dwarfed by Epos Epic 5's in terms of creating a more lively sound stage. The speakers handle the high's very well and I haven't found them fatiguing to listen to at all. They also look great so the WAF is high

Instead of creating a new thread though - has anyone compared these speakers to the Ascend Sierra towers with RAAL? I know that these are a few hundred more than the Aria 936's but I wonder if the performance is that much better in the Sierra's. I really shouldn't be but I find myself wondering if I would be happier with those versus what I have now (such a dangerous game to play). Any help would be appreciated!

Thanks!
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post #17 of 37 Old 02-09-2016, 09:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Any thoughts? I still have about 45 days left on the return policy for the Focal Aria's. I don't think that there have been many people who have had the chance to listen to this speaker and the Sierra Towers with RAAL but just thought I'd throw it out there. Anyone think that the Sierra Towers would out perform the Aria 936's?

Keep in mind, the incremental cost for the Sierra Towers is almost $700 (includes the cost of shipping the Aria towers back to MusicDirect).
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Any thoughts? I still have about 45 days left on the return policy for the Focal Aria's. I don't think that there have been many people who have had the chance to listen to this speaker and the Sierra Towers with RAAL but just thought I'd throw it out there. Anyone think that the Sierra Towers would out perform the Aria 936's?

Keep in mind, the incremental cost for the Sierra Towers is almost $700 (includes the cost of shipping the Aria towers back to MusicDirect).
If you are truly enjoying the sound and there is nothing you dislike about them then I woudn't spend more money. I would only spend more if something is missing in the speakers or if I preferred a different sound. Can you demo the sierra towers or find someone in your area that has it? Maybe post your thread in the focal and sierra thread forum and they could give some feedback. Honestly if you are happy with focals already I would use $700 to buy center/surrounds if you haven't or room treatments/cds/4k bluray player, etc.

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If you are truly enjoying the sound and there is nothing you dislike about them then I woudn't spend more money. I would only spend more if something is missing in the speakers or if I preferred a different sound. Can you demo the sierra towers or find someone in your area that has it? Maybe post your thread in the focal and sierra thread forum and they could give some feedback. Honestly if you are happy with focals already I would use $700 to buy center/surrounds if you haven't or room treatments/cds/4k bluray player, etc.
That's fair. I always find myself wondering what the Sierra towers with RAAL sounds like in comparison. It's the thought of not knowing

I don't plan to do surrounds at all in my setup. The room is too open to have cables lying everywhere. Room treatments maybe but they shouldn't cost too much since I would be limited in what I could do (WAF).
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That's fair. I always find myself wondering what the Sierra towers with RAAL sounds like in comparison. It's the thought of not knowing

I don't plan to do surrounds at all in my setup. The room is too open to have cables lying everywhere. Room treatments maybe but they shouldn't cost too much since I would be limited in what I could do (WAF).
This is why I don't listen to things outside my budget cause its a dangerous hobby! lol

Do you have the center channel or subwoofer? I have 3.1 setup with no surrounds and its been fine in my open floor plan. If you really want surrounds they make wireless surround speakers that could work but I would focus on that extra money into the center/subwoofer rather than surrounds if you don't have that.

I also have a friend that has temporary surrounds with sattelite speakers which he hooks up to avr and and puts the small speakers behind his couch only for movie nights and then disconnects them and puts them in his closet during non movie watching so wires don't show to make his wife happy.

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This is why I don't listen to things outside my budget cause its a dangerous hobby! lol

Do you have the center channel or subwoofer? I have 3.1 setup with no surrounds and its been fine in my open floor plan. If you really want surrounds they make wireless surround speakers that could work but I would focus on that extra money into the center/subwoofer rather than surrounds if you don't have that.

I also have a friend that has temporary surrounds with sattelite speakers which he hooks up to avr and and puts the small speakers behind his couch only for movie nights and then disconnects them and puts them in his closet during non movie watching so wires don't show to make his wife happy.
It is such a dangerous hobby. I was bringing up the fact that there are still 40 or so days left in the refund policy and that maybe we should try one more speaker. Let's just say she was not too pleased Still though, I am not sure if I want to be wondering the whole time whether the Sierra's are that much better. I'd like to think not but what if!

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when i decided on my current speakers, I compared tem to every speaker in the store to include maggie 3.7's, BW nautilus models , goldenear, macintosh, etc... when I made the purchase, I was very pleased with everything. Im sure something is out there that may make me smile wider, but I am not looking back. I recommend you buy something that keeps you smiling and doesnt leave you second guessing.

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It is such a dangerous hobby. I was bringing up the fact that there are still 40 or so days left in the refund policy and that maybe we should try one more speaker. Let's just say she was not too pleased Still though, I am not sure if I want to be wondering the whole time whether the Sierra's are that much better. I'd like to think not but what if!
She is probably thinking you should spend that extra money on her instead. lol Can you not order the sierras now so you can do side by side comparison and keep the ones you both prefer? I have a feeling you will be happy with either one since both are very good speakers.

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I also noticed you have aperion grands center in your signature. Did you try the VG towers before the focals?

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post #25 of 37 Old 02-10-2016, 10:36 AM - Thread Starter
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when i decided on my current speakers, I compared tem to every speaker in the store to include maggie 3.7's, BW nautilus models , goldenear, macintosh, etc... when I made the purchase, I was very pleased with everything. Im sure something is out there that may make me smile wider, but I am not looking back. I recommend you buy something that keeps you smiling and doesnt leave you second guessing.
I see you have a set of Aria's too - I also compared my 936's to the Magnepan's, B&W's, Golden Ears, and just for kicks, Wilson's too. To me, I did not like the Golden Ear's one bit and thought that the Aria's out performed the B&W's and did so at a (sales) price less than 40%.

I just keep hearing about the Sierra's and everyone raving about them (literally have not read a bad review) and that prompts me to try them out. Not sure if it would be a big improvement though haha!

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I also noticed you have aperion grands center in your signature. Did you try the VG towers before the focals?
No, that was an unfortunate/fortunate spontaneous buy. I bought this before thinking about what my tower upgrades were going to be. At the time, I had my Epos speakers which did not have a matching center so I bought a center that I could try. Aperion had their 30-60 day trial period so I gave it a go and I loved the sound. Now... if I went with the Sierra's... I would have to think about eventually going to the Horizon center with RAAL and sell this one off.. I'm not sure that i would do so anytime soon though. I find myself listening to 2 channel even with TV most of the time (the dialogue is still very clear to me with my Focal's).

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post #27 of 37 Old 02-10-2016, 11:08 AM
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Oh ok....I was gonna ask you the sound difference between the two. Maybe you should do focal center and save money that way rather than sierras and matching center. But if you have the extra cash and like seirras better than thats also great. Usually when I demo speakers I look at my budget and find best one I can live with and happy with.

You wanna help me with a review? Best buy magnolia store will be having the wharfedale speakers in 2 weeks. Maybe you could the diamond 240 or whichever is closest to your focal aria speakers and do a side by side demo with your equipment? I noticed you have a NAD equipment. Since you have 40 days left on your focals maybe you could demo wharfedales from best buy to compare with focals for music? My rotel is more on neutral side almost like your NAD and wanted your experience/feedback as well. I know focal supposed to be more forward and lively than wharfedales but not sure if its more forward compared to my axioms. Seems like no one has compared the focals to axioms in terms of brightness from looking at reviews. I'm thinking of wharfedales to replace my axioms with my rotel gear or focals if the wharfedales are too laid back. Looking for something more musical in 2 channel and I can't afford to do both demos at same time (focal and wharfedale, unless I do one at a time). Like you my room is open floor plan with hardwood floors.

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post #28 of 37 Old 02-10-2016, 05:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Oh ok....I was gonna ask you the sound difference between the two. Maybe you should do focal center and save money that way rather than sierras and matching center. But if you have the extra cash and like seirras better than thats also great. Usually when I demo speakers I look at my budget and find best one I can live with and happy with.

You wanna help me with a review? Best buy magnolia store will be having the wharfedale speakers in 2 weeks. Maybe you could the diamond 240 or whichever is closest to your focal aria speakers and do a side by side demo with your equipment? I noticed you have a NAD equipment. Since you have 40 days left on your focals maybe you could demo wharfedales from best buy to compare with focals for music? My rotel is more on neutral side almost like your NAD and wanted your experience/feedback as well. I know focal supposed to be more forward and lively than wharfedales but not sure if its more forward compared to my axioms. Seems like no one has compared the focals to axioms in terms of brightness from looking at reviews. I'm thinking of wharfedales to replace my axioms with my rotel gear or focals if the wharfedales are too laid back. Looking for something more musical in 2 channel and I can't afford to do both demos at same time (focal and wharfedale, unless I do one at a time). Like you my room is open floor plan with hardwood floors.
Alright, so I did the deed and ordered the Sierra Towers with RAAL. I'm going to demo these speakers side by side with the Focal Aria's and see if there is a big enough difference to send back the Aria's. I'll feel a lot better after I've actually given them both a try. Sigh, what a hobby haha.

By then I don't think I'll have the time left to trial the Wharfedales unfortunately..

Ascend Acoustics Sierra Tower with RAAL
Ascend Horizon with RAAL
HSU VTF-3 Mk5 HP
Anthem MRX 510 / Oppo 105D / Furman Elite-15 PFi
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post #29 of 37 Old 02-10-2016, 05:13 PM
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Alright, so I did the deed and ordered the Sierra Towers with RAAL. I'm going to demo these speakers side by side with the Focal Aria's and see if there is a big enough difference to send back the Aria's. I'll feel a lot better after I've actually given them both a try. Sigh, what a hobby haha.

By then I don't think I'll have the time left to trial the Wharfedales unfortunately..
I can't wait for the review!

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post #30 of 37 Old 02-10-2016, 05:50 PM
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Can't wait for your review! I wanna see pics!

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