A newbie review thread - Ascend Sierra Towers vs Focal Aria 936 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
Forum Jump: 
 151Likes
Reply
 
Thread Tools
post #1 of 143 Old 02-17-2016, 03:39 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 116
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 83 Post(s)
Liked: 69
A newbie review thread - Ascend Sierra Towers vs Focal Aria 936

I just started to build out my system after doing my research here. I wanted to build a 2.1 system that would be used about 75% for music and 25% for HT. Most of my listening would be for jazz and classical but I listen to just about anything that sounds good to my ears. Originally, I started out with Epos Epic 5 towers which sounded great for a pair of $750 towers. But then, because of this forum, I began to wonder if I could do better if I set a budget of $2,500 or so for a pair of tower speakers (seriously dangerous hobby ). It turned out that there were so many options to choose from in this price range but I settled on two:

Focal Aria 936 & Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers with RAAL

Now, I purchased the Focal Aria 936 from MusicDirect for $2,499 (on sale from approximately $4,000). I have had these speakers for about 3 weeks. Since MusicDirect have a 60 day return policy, I had to try the Ascend Sierra Towers because everyone had amazing things to say about them (literally have not read a single negative review). Now, the Ascend Sierra Towers in Satin Espresso with RAAL costs approximately $2,800 so there is an approximate $300 difference in pricing here to take into account. Ascend allows a 30 day return policy.

Now, keep in mind with the following review that I am a newbie in this space. I don't know the technical terms and have relied solely on my own ears to assess the differences between the two speakers. I won't be referring to frequency or any technical charts because to me, that is not what I cared about. I hope this helps some others out there as you guys have helped me.

Powered By: Anthem MRX 510 AVR, Marantz 5007

Appearance and Quality of Build:




The Aria are taller and bulkier (both width and depth wise) than the Sierra towers.


A glimpse of some of the details of the Aria and the Sierra side by side. The Sierra's RAAL tweeters versus the Aria's.



Both speakers are beautifully constructed. The Aria appears more high end due to its walnut siding, glass black top, and leather face/backing. The Aria's are constructed in France and in terms of materials used, the Aria certainly exudes quality. The Sierra is no slouch either though. From my perspective, the Sierra's may look simple but to me, they look incredibly sleek. The black on dark espresso works well together it just looks so well put together.

However, from a pure looks perspective, I would probably give the nudge to the Aria simply because it has a WAF in my case

Sound Quality: As soon as I got the speakers up and running, I ran a few tests and switched between speakers frequently to try and hear any audible differences. I also made my better half do blind listening tests to get her opinion as she used to play in an orchestra. Since she has a much sharper ear than me, I figured it would be best to get her impartial thoughts. They carry more weight than mine at the end of the day

Miles Davis - Autumn Leaves - I love this track. This was used as my benchmark song when I first started this hobby. The mixture of instruments and high and low pitches make this a good song for me to test the dynamic range of a speaker. In this case, the performance of the Sierra and the Aria was not very noticeable. Both played the song very well. The sax and trumpet reproduction was fantastic - you really hear each note being played at a pitch that would have been representative of the live performance. The detail in both speakers were fantastic and there was no harshness in the high's at any point (I was listening at a fairly high volume). The trumpet in the Sierra was so good that it felt like you were sitting right in the audience. The piano in this recording is a little recessed to me but that is the recording and not the speaker's fault. My wife couldn't tell the speakers apart in this one.

Nils Lofgren - Keith Don't Go - A very high quality recording so this sounds good on a lot of speakers but the high end speakers should accentuate the details (good and bad). Let's just say that both speakers sound amazing with this track on. The individual strings being plucked is very audible for both. However, when the vocals started, the Sierra hit me hard. The vocal reproduction from the Sierra sounded different - almost a little more airy but so clear. The experience with the Sierra is such that you feel like you're in the crowd sitting right in the middle of it all. The reverberations of the strings and vocals (especially when I closed my eyes), seemed to completely immerse you in the Sierra's. I would say that the Sierra's presented more details and nuances that I may not have heard before came to light. The Aria's are no slouch when it comes to the vocals either but the Sierra's just sounded different in a pleasant way. With the Aria's, the term I would use is that they are smooth. Just so smooth and not overly bright or warm.

Ryuichi Sakamoto - Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence - This is a great track to test the piano reproduction. Again, I had to close my eyes but me and my wife both commented on how you could hear the pitch of each individual key being struck. She commented that this is exactly how I would have thought the piano would have sounded like in the performance. Because she had no idea which speaker was playing, she was actually convinced that the Focal's were the one that she was listening to. When I told her that it was the Sierra's she thought I had tricked her haha. Both speakers played this track really well but to us, the Sierra's were more clear, more detailed and more life like.

Norah Jones - Come Away With Me - Me and my wife sat down and listened to this on Tidal the other night. I have to say that this is where I noticed the Sierra's because of how natural they sounded. In the Focal's, while the sound was still very good, you could really hear the brushing of the drums. Almost to a point where I would describe the sound of the track... "grainy". Not sure if that makes sense. The Sierra's seem to smooth that out and bring out the vocals of Norah's voice in a more forward and clear way. I would have to say that I enjoyed the Sierra's version of this song more in all honesty. My wife didn't hear a huge difference but agreed overall.

Anne Bisson - September in Montreal - The Sierra's presented the background detail of this track clearly. Another audible difference was that the Sierra's could pick up the little nuances in the vocalist's voice towards the end of the song that were not as prominent in the Focal's. Now, that's not to say that both speaker's didn't sound great because they really did but the Sierra's showed that they were slightly more transparent and neutral in this one.

TV (Netflix/Oscars on HD/Bluray) - What can I say? Both speakers were excellent in this regard. I did not turn on the center speaker so that I could focus on the towers but in both, the dialogue was clearly audible in either case. For movies such as Captain America - Winter Soldier, I thought that the dialogue during louder scenes were somewhat clearer with the Sierra towers but that the lower end was more prominent in the Focals. A bit of a trade off but if you have a sub, the lower end compromise shouldn't be a problem.

Conclusion: None yet, I will continue to test and post up my thoughts. I'll make an assessment at a later date.

Ascend Acoustics Sierra Tower with RAAL
Ascend Horizon with RAAL
HSU VTF-3 Mk5 HP
Anthem MRX 510 / Oppo 105D / Furman Elite-15 PFi

Last edited by freesole; 03-01-2016 at 09:33 AM.
freesole is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 143 Old 02-17-2016, 03:46 PM
AVS Forum Special Member
 
dsrussell's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Corona, CA.
Posts: 5,836
Mentioned: 76 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2263 Post(s)
Liked: 3109
Looking forward to your impressions of both speakers.

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.
dsrussell is offline  
post #3 of 143 Old 02-18-2016, 09:44 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 116
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 83 Post(s)
Liked: 69
Had a chance to test these speakers against the Aria's yesterday! Spent about 4-5 hours listening to the both of them.

Opening thread has been updated for a few song reviews.
Billy p and yanks1 like this.

Ascend Acoustics Sierra Tower with RAAL
Ascend Horizon with RAAL
HSU VTF-3 Mk5 HP
Anthem MRX 510 / Oppo 105D / Furman Elite-15 PFi
freesole is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #4 of 143 Old 02-18-2016, 10:23 AM
AVS Forum Special Member
 
Billy p's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: GTA (Greater Toronto Area)
Posts: 1,869
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 389 Post(s)
Liked: 789
Good reading thus far. I briefly auditioned the 906 at the time I had the S1 NrT. Based on auditory recall the Focal sounded a wee bit colored and soundstage albeit very good did not match the Sierras. Acoustic guitar & strings especially really "pop"...they're sharp and precise with little overhang, not very forgiving if the recording is not up to snuff. The Focal OHOH were slightly more forgiving and why I felt they sort of muddied the sound...for others...ymmv.

Subscribed....

Re, Bill

Ascend Acoustics: Towers, STC w RAAL & 200 SE in espresso,
54" of Panny Bliss, Anthem MRX 300, Oppo 103D,
Sub: Funk Audio 18: (Santos Rosewood)
Indian proverb: We don't inherit the earth from our ancestors but we borrow it from our children!
Billy p is offline  
post #5 of 143 Old 02-18-2016, 10:37 AM
AVS Forum Special Member
 
justthinking's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Northern California
Posts: 1,036
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 389 Post(s)
Liked: 226
Quote:
Originally Posted by freesole View Post
Had a chance to test these speakers against the Aria's yesterday! Spent about 4-5 hours listening to the both of them.

Opening thread has been updated for a few song reviews.
Great write up, can't wait to read more of your notes..

RAAL tweeter is simply amazing, it is airy, crisp, clean and so transparent that it will pretty much make any tweeter it is compared to sound veiled

The only nick pick I have against the Ascend w/ RAAL is maybe because they are so neutral, sometimes they will sound slightly too thin with some tracks..

5.2.4 HT - Sony XBR75X850C, Denon X4400H, Monitor Audio GS60, GSLCR, GSFX, C380LCR x4 and Martin Logan Descent I x2
2 Channel - Ascend Sierra Tower w/ RAAL, Sony HAP-Z1ES, Marantz SA-KI-Pearl, Primaluna Dialogue Three, Parasound Halo A21, JL Audio CR1, JL Audio E112 and ATS Acoustics room treatments
justthinking is offline  
post #6 of 143 Old 02-18-2016, 10:42 AM
AVS Forum Special Member
 
Elihawk's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Iowa City, Iowa
Posts: 6,071
Mentioned: 30 Post(s)
Tagged: 2 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1941 Post(s)
Liked: 2085
I know this is a generalization and granted, I haven't heard a lot of really high end dome tweeter (Legacy, RBH)...but putting any type of tweeter up against a really good ribbon tweeter seems unfair!

Set up #1: EMP e5Ti, e5Ci, and EMP e5Bi surrounds, Outlaw LFM1 Plus sub, SVS NSD SB12 sub, Marantz Slimeline 1504 AV receiver
Set up #2: Def Tech SM450, CLR2002, SLS Qline surrounds and EMPtek10i10i sub, Denon 1910 AV receiver
Set up #3: Philharmonics- BMR in a 2.0 system, music only, Yamaha RXV-363 AV receiver
Elihawk is offline  
post #7 of 143 Old 02-18-2016, 11:15 AM
Advanced Member
 
Join Date: May 2015
Posts: 988
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 562 Post(s)
Liked: 189
One thing that I take out of this short, brief review, that is NOT spending $4k on the Aria, $2.5K is questionable and probably reasonable
tinhvo is offline  
post #8 of 143 Old 02-18-2016, 03:07 PM
Advanced Member
 
Ascend's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: San Clemente, CA
Posts: 829
Mentioned: 23 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 216 Post(s)
Liked: 621
Quote:
Originally Posted by freesole View Post
I just started to build out my system after doing my research here. I wanted to build a 2.1 system that would be used about 75% for music and 25% for HT. Most of my listening would be for jazz and classical but I listen to just about anything that sounds good to my ears. Originally, I started out with Epos Epic 5 towers which sounded great for a pair of $750 towers. But then, because of this forum, I began to wonder if I could do better if I set a budget of $2,500 or so for a pair of tower speakers (seriously dangerous hobby ). It turned out that there were so many options to choose from in this price range but I settled on two:

Focal Aria 936 & Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers with RAAL

Now, I purchased the Focal Aria 936 from MusicDirect for $2,499 (on sale from approximately $4,000). I have had these speakers for about 3 weeks. Since MusicDirect have a 60 day return policy, I had to try the Ascend Sierra Towers because everyone had amazing things to say about them (literally have not read a single negative review). Now, the Ascend Sierra Towers in Satin Espresso with RAAL costs approximately $2,800 so there is an approximate $300 difference in pricing here to take into account. Ascend allows a 30 day return policy.

Now, keep in mind with the following review that I am a newbie in this space. I don't know the technical terms and have relied solely on my own ears to assess the differences between the two speakers. I won't be referring to frequency or any technical charts because to me, that is not what I cared about. I hope this helps some others out there as you guys have helped me.

Powered By: Anthem MRX 510 AVR, Marantz 5007

Appearance and Quality of Build:




The Aria are taller and bulkier (both width and depth wise) than the Sierra towers.


A glimpse of some of the details of the Aria and the Sierra side by side. The Sierra's RAAL tweeters versus the Aria's.



Both speakers are beautifully constructed. The Aria appears more high end due to its walnut siding, glass black top, and leather face/backing. The Aria's are constructed in France and in terms of materials used, the Aria certainly exudes quality. The Sierra is no slouch either though. From my perspective, the Sierra's may look simple but to me, they look incredibly sleek. The black on dark espresso works well together it just looks so well put together.

However, from a pure looks perspective, I would probably give the nudge to the Aria simply because it has a WAF in my case


Sound Quality: As soon as I got the speakers up and running, I ran a few tests and switched between speakers frequently to try and hear any audible differences. I also made my better half do blind listening tests to get her opinion as she used to play in an orchestra. Since she has a much sharper ear than me, I figured it would be best to get her impartial thoughts. They carry more weight than mine at the end of the day

Miles Davis - Autumn Leaves - I love this track. This was used as my benchmark song when I first started this hobby. The mixture of instruments and high and low pitches make this a good song for me to test the dynamic range of a speaker. In this case, the performance of the Sierra and the Aria was not very noticeable. Both played the song very well. The sax and trumpet reproduction was fantastic - you really hear each note being played at a pitch that would have been representative of the live performance. The detail in both speakers were fantastic and there was no harshness in the high's at any point (I was listening at a fairly high volume). The trumpet in the Sierra was so good that it felt like you were sitting right in the audience. The piano in this recording is a little recessed to me but that is the recording and not the speaker's fault. My wife couldn't tell the speakers apart in this one.

Nils Lofgren - Keith Don't Go - A very high quality recording so this sounds good on a lot of speakers but the high end speakers should accentuate the details (good and bad). Let's just say that both speakers sound amazing with this track on. The individual strings being plucked is very audible for both. However, when the vocals started, the Sierra hit me hard. The vocal reproduction from the Sierra sounded different - almost a little more airy but so clear. The experience with the Sierra is such that you feel like you're in the crowd sitting right in the middle of it all. The reverberations of the strings and vocals (especially when I closed my eyes), seemed to completely immerse you in the Sierra's. I would say that the Sierra's presented more details and nuances that I may not have heard before came to light. The Aria's are no slouch when it comes to the vocals either but the Sierra's just sounded different in a pleasant way. With the Aria's, the term I would use is that they are smooth. Just so smooth and not overly bright or warm.

Ryuichi Sakamoto - Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence - This is a great track to test the piano reproduction. Again, I had to close my eyes but me and my wife both commented on how you could hear the pitch of each individual key being struck. She commented that this is exactly how I would have thought the piano would have sounded like in the performance. Because she had no idea which speaker was playing, she was actually convinced that the Focal's were the one that she was listening to. When I told her that it was the Sierra's she thought I had tricked her haha. Both speakers played this track really well but to us, the Sierra's were more clear, more detailed and more life like.

Conclusion: None yet, I will continue to test and post up my thoughts. I'll make an assessment at a later date.

Freesole,


Glad you are having fun with this and welcome to high end audio. You are definitely going about this the right way by spending time listening / comparing.


One quick comment, from the pics, it looks as if the Sierra Towers (being on the outside) are slightly behind the Focals such that there would be a large inside reflection caused by the Focal cabinet (at least on the right pair of speakers) If at all possible, try to move the Sierra Towers a bit more forward keeping the faces of each speaker flush with each other. Generally speaking, to accomplish this you will likely have to move the two outer speakers slightly closer to you, such that they will end up just slightly forward of the inner speakers. Send me an email if you have any questions, I am not sure if explained this well enough
freesole likes this.

David Fabrikant

audio professional and soft spoken representative of www.AscendAcoustics.com

Ascend is offline  
post #9 of 143 Old 02-18-2016, 03:23 PM
AVS Forum Special Member
 
beaveav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: SoCal
Posts: 2,581
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 526 Post(s)
Liked: 674
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ascend View Post
Freesole,


Glad you are having fun with this and welcome to high end audio. You are definitely going about this the right way by spending time listening / comparing.


One quick comment, from the pics, it looks as if the Sierra Towers (being on the outside) are slightly behind the Focals such that there would be a large inside reflection caused by the Focal cabinet (at least on the right pair of speakers) If at all possible, try to move the Sierra Towers a bit more forward keeping the faces of each speaker flush with each other. Generally speaking, to accomplish this you will likely have to move the two outer speakers slightly closer to you, such that they will end up just slightly forward of the inner speakers. Send me an email if you have any questions, I am not sure if explained this well enough
Also, you might want to set up the speakers so that it's AB AB, instead of AB BA. In other words, right now you have the Arias both inside and the Ascends both on the outside. So the Ascends are farther apart, the Focals closer together, and that can affect soundstaging and imaging a bit.

I've done lots of comparisons like this, and I definitely think it's the best way to make a decision.. But it's impossible to make it a perfectly fair fight. Just having one speaker next to the other will have a small effect on the output of the speaker being played.

Oh, one other thing: Are you level-matching them? Do they sound like the're about the same level when you switch back and forth, or is one louder? If one is a bit louder and you don't compensate for that, then it gets an unfair advantage.

I look forward to more of your comparisons. Two good speakers, IMO.

Semi-retired Technology Insider.
Insist on Quality Posting.

Last edited by beaveav; 02-18-2016 at 04:42 PM.
beaveav is offline  
post #10 of 143 Old 02-18-2016, 03:29 PM
AVS Forum Special Member
 
Defcon's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 3,031
Mentioned: 14 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1644 Post(s)
Liked: 921
Very nice writeup that I enjoyed reading, even though this class of speaker is out of my budget. You have a very nice looking room, so neat and clean.
Defcon is offline  
post #11 of 143 Old 02-18-2016, 03:34 PM
Advanced Member
 
Ascend's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: San Clemente, CA
Posts: 829
Mentioned: 23 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 216 Post(s)
Liked: 621
Quote:
Originally Posted by beaveav View Post
Also, you might want to set up the speakers so that it's AB AB, instead of AB BA. In other words, right now you have the Arias both inside and the Ascends both on the outside. So the Ascends are farther apart, the Focals closer together, and that can affect soundstaging and imaging a bit.

I've done lots of comparisons like this, and I definitely think it's the best way to make a decision.. But it's impossible to make it a perfectly fair fight. Just having one speaker next to the other will have a small effect on the output of the speaker being played.

Oh, one other thing: Are you level-matcing them? Do they sound like the're about the same level when you switch back and forth, or is one louder? If one is a bit louder and you don't compensate for that, then it gets an unfair advantage.

I look forward to more of your comparisons. Two good speakers, IMO.

Some good recommendations here. I have done hundreds of comparisons like this, AB BA, AB AB , even just AB and then BA, lol. One thing with doing AB AB is that it gets a bit annoying as you must move your listening positioning when switching speakers so that you are always centered between the pair that is playing.


Sensitivity between the Sierra Tower and the Focal Aria is nearly identical (within a few tenths of a dB) so that definitely makes things much easier.

David Fabrikant

audio professional and soft spoken representative of www.AscendAcoustics.com

Ascend is offline  
post #12 of 143 Old 02-18-2016, 04:32 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 116
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 83 Post(s)
Liked: 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ascend View Post
Freesole,


Glad you are having fun with this and welcome to high end audio. You are definitely going about this the right way by spending time listening / comparing.


One quick comment, from the pics, it looks as if the Sierra Towers (being on the outside) are slightly behind the Focals such that there would be a large inside reflection caused by the Focal cabinet (at least on the right pair of speakers) If at all possible, try to move the Sierra Towers a bit more forward keeping the faces of each speaker flush with each other. Generally speaking, to accomplish this you will likely have to move the two outer speakers slightly closer to you, such that they will end up just slightly forward of the inner speakers. Send me an email if you have any questions, I am not sure if explained this well enough
Thank you David for the advise and also for sending these speakers so quickly. I received them in 3 days from the time you shipped! Fantastic customer service.

I'll move the speakers around a bit but is there an advantage to being the speaker most forward? Or another way of saying it, is there a disadvantage to being the speaker behind the front?

Ascend Acoustics Sierra Tower with RAAL
Ascend Horizon with RAAL
HSU VTF-3 Mk5 HP
Anthem MRX 510 / Oppo 105D / Furman Elite-15 PFi
freesole is offline  
post #13 of 143 Old 02-18-2016, 04:34 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 116
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 83 Post(s)
Liked: 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by beaveav View Post
Also, you might want to set up the speakers so that it's AB AB, instead of AB BA. In other words, right now you have the Arias both inside and the Ascends both on the outside. So the Ascends are farther apart, the Focals closer together, and that can affect soundstaging and imaging a bit.

I've done lots of comparisons like this, and I definitely think it's the best way to make a decision.. But it's impossible to make it a perfectly fair fight. Just having one speaker next to the other will have a small effect on the output of the speaker being played.

Oh, one other thing: Are you level-matcing them? Do they sound like the're about the same level when you switch back and forth, or is one louder? If one is a bit louder and you don't compensate for that, then it gets an unfair advantage.

I look forward to more of your comparisons. Two good speakers, IMO.
I do have the speakers at approximately the correct levels in volume. I don't notice that one is louder than the other so I don't think that would give one the advantage over the other in my case. Agreed that it is hard to make it a perfectly fair fight. I might try swapping the inside with the outside tonight and listen to the same songs again. Maybe I'll feel a little differently... maybe not.

Ascend Acoustics Sierra Tower with RAAL
Ascend Horizon with RAAL
HSU VTF-3 Mk5 HP
Anthem MRX 510 / Oppo 105D / Furman Elite-15 PFi
freesole is offline  
post #14 of 143 Old 02-18-2016, 04:40 PM
AVS Forum Special Member
 
beaveav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: SoCal
Posts: 2,581
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 526 Post(s)
Liked: 674
Quote:
Originally Posted by freesole View Post
I do have the speakers at approximately the correct levels in volume. I don't notice that one is louder than the other so I don't think that would give one the advantage over the other in my case. Agreed that it is hard to make it a perfectly fair fight. I might try swapping the inside with the outside tonight and listen to the same songs again. Maybe I'll feel a little differently... maybe not.
Yeah Dave just said the sensitivity of the two is about the same, so they should seem about the same level when you compare. That's good - it makes your comparison fair without you having to constantly change the volume to adjust for one being louder than the other.

One other thing I've found is really interesting when comparing speakers: In addition to what you're doing, do a comparison in mono. Take the two speakers on the right in your picture and play mono material (or just one channel of stereo material, or set your avr to mono if it can) just into those two speakers. You won't be able to compare imaging and soundstaging and all that, but in mono speaker comparisons, it can be easier to identify differences in tonal balance, distortions, resonances, etc.

Semi-retired Technology Insider.
Insist on Quality Posting.
beaveav is offline  
post #15 of 143 Old 02-18-2016, 05:10 PM
Advanced Member
 
Ascend's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: San Clemente, CA
Posts: 829
Mentioned: 23 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 216 Post(s)
Liked: 621
Quote:
Originally Posted by freesole View Post
Thank you David for the advise and also for sending these speakers so quickly. I received them in 3 days from the time you shipped! Fantastic customer service.

I'll move the speakers around a bit but is there an advantage to being the speaker most forward? Or another way of saying it, is there a disadvantage to being the speaker behind the front?

There shouldn't be. If you do it right, the outer speakers will be the same distance from you as the inner speakers. Try to arrange the speakers so that the fronts of each speaker are aligned on an imaginary semicircle.


However, it is impossible to be perfectly fair. Don't go crazy, just have some fun. I think you might find that the more you listen to the RAAL ribbons, the more you appreciate them as it takes some time to get accustomed to what they are capable of and to recognize it. I would also highly recommend that at some point, just enjoy 1 pair of speakers for a few evenings (and then switch to the others) and rather than try to focus on what you heard, focus on how you felt after the sessions (emotional involvement)
avs markie and Lp85253 like this.

David Fabrikant

audio professional and soft spoken representative of www.AscendAcoustics.com

Ascend is offline  
post #16 of 143 Old 02-18-2016, 05:14 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 91
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 58 Post(s)
Liked: 16
That's a very nice looking setup sir! I've always wanted to hear a pair of Focal's. Do you have any experience with KEF speakers? If so, how do they compare?

Video Pioneer PDP-LX5090 (calibrated)
Audio Benchmark AHB2, Chord Hugo 2, KEF LS50 (Frosted Black), Custom Design FS104
Cables QED Reference HDMI, QED Reference Optical Quartz, QED Reference USB A-B, QED Supremus, QED Signature Audio 40
Sources PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, MacBook Pro, AirPort Express
W4RLORD is offline  
post #17 of 143 Old 02-19-2016, 08:57 AM - Thread Starter
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 116
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 83 Post(s)
Liked: 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by W4RLORD View Post
That's a very nice looking setup sir! I've always wanted to hear a pair of Focal's. Do you have any experience with KEF speakers? If so, how do they compare?
I have not unfortunately but I have heard Wharfedale's, Epos', Goldenear, Magnepan, and B&W's in comparison prior to deciding on the Focal's originally.

Ascend Acoustics Sierra Tower with RAAL
Ascend Horizon with RAAL
HSU VTF-3 Mk5 HP
Anthem MRX 510 / Oppo 105D / Furman Elite-15 PFi
freesole is offline  
post #18 of 143 Old 02-20-2016, 09:25 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 91
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 58 Post(s)
Liked: 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by freesole View Post
I have not unfortunately but I have heard Wharfedale's, Epos', Goldenear, Magnepan, and B&W's in comparison prior to deciding on the Focal's originally.
What's the sound like compared to a Bowers & Wilkins sound signature?

Video Pioneer PDP-LX5090 (calibrated)
Audio Benchmark AHB2, Chord Hugo 2, KEF LS50 (Frosted Black), Custom Design FS104
Cables QED Reference HDMI, QED Reference Optical Quartz, QED Reference USB A-B, QED Supremus, QED Signature Audio 40
Sources PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, MacBook Pro, AirPort Express
W4RLORD is offline  
post #19 of 143 Old 02-20-2016, 02:03 PM
AVS Forum Special Member
 
Mr.SoftDome's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 1,553
Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 667 Post(s)
Liked: 537
I know Ascend has a following and I have not heard them but I happen to like the focal sound. I heard the Aria for this first time a month or so ago and I think they sounded really nice..

Looks in the eyes of the beholder and I know you state that are very close in build quality. I don't see it from the pictures. The Aria are in a different league to me altogether and the MSRP price (not the price from Music Direct) is clearly reflected to me. Exposed screws all over the place on the Ascend vs. not a screw in sight on the Focal. Holes in the cabinet to hold the grill on the Ascend vs. no grill required or the small round ones I think you can use to cover the drivers. Why would you want to cover that beautiful speaker anyway.The woodwork looks superior to me on the Focal. It just a sexy look to me that Ascend can't approach (it this example).

I like your room and know the sound-I have a feeling which I would be swayed. The Ascend would need to be a hell of a lot better sounding to me. Maybe it is

This from a KEF guy so no stake in this race-

Good Luck.

Rick
Mr.SoftDome is offline  
post #20 of 143 Old 02-20-2016, 03:40 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2014
Posts: 91
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 58 Post(s)
Liked: 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.SoftDome View Post
I know Ascend has a following and I have not heard them but I happen to like the focal sound. I heard the Aria for this first time a month or so ago and I think they sounded really nice..

Looks in the eyes of the beholder and I know you state that are very close in build quality. I don't see it from the pictures. The Aria are in a different league to me altogether and the MSRP price (not the price from Music Direct) is clearly reflected to me. Exposed screws all over the place on the Ascend vs. not a screw in sight on the Focal. Holes in the cabinet to hold the grill on the Ascend vs. no grill required or the small round ones I think you can use to cover the drivers. Why would you want to cover that beautiful speaker anyway.The woodwork looks superior to me on the Focal. It just a sexy look to me that Ascend can't approach (it this example).

I like your room and know the sound-I have a feeling which I would be swayed. The Ascend would need to be a hell of a lot better sounding to me. Maybe it is

This from a KEF guy so no stake in this race-

Good Luck.

Rick
I see you own KEF Reference. What's it like compared to the LS50's? I may possibly replace my LS50's with Reference 1's in the future if they're significantly better.

Video Pioneer PDP-LX5090 (calibrated)
Audio Benchmark AHB2, Chord Hugo 2, KEF LS50 (Frosted Black), Custom Design FS104
Cables QED Reference HDMI, QED Reference Optical Quartz, QED Reference USB A-B, QED Supremus, QED Signature Audio 40
Sources PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, MacBook Pro, AirPort Express
W4RLORD is offline  
post #21 of 143 Old 02-20-2016, 04:44 PM
Advanced Member
 
rustolemite's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Pineville, LA
Posts: 664
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 372 Post(s)
Liked: 114
Since you have that nice big sub have you given any thoughts to bookshelf speakers?

VIDEO: Epson 5050UB * SeymourAV CenterStage XD 137.7" * Samsung UBD-M9500 * Nvidia Shield * HTPC * Xbox OneX * URC MX-990
AUDIO: Yamaha CX-A5200 * Emotiva XPA-9 Gen3
SPEAKERS: PSA MTM-210T L/C/R * PSA MTM-110 (2) Surrounds * S2(4) Atmos * HSU VTF-3MK4
http://www.invelos.com/dvdcollection.aspx/Rustolamite
rustolemite is offline  
post #22 of 143 Old 02-20-2016, 06:56 PM
AVS Forum Special Member
 
postrokfan's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Ft. Collins, CO
Posts: 6,369
Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 811 Post(s)
Liked: 5576
Good reading so far. I look forward to any additional thoughts you have on these two great speakers.

2-channel: MA Silver 2 (5th Gen), Music Fidelity M2si, B&W ASW608, Rega RP1, Pro-Ject Phono Box, Marantz CD5004, Lenovo Ideapad, AQ DF Red
Living Room: 3 x KEF Q150, B&W ASW610, Yamaha Aventage RX-A2030
postrokfan is offline  
post #23 of 143 Old 02-20-2016, 09:34 PM
AVS Forum Special Member
 
ereed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 3,460
Mentioned: 116 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2307 Post(s)
Liked: 1627
Nice room! Very similar to mine with modern taste!

Pick one pair of speakers for now....move the other speakers out of the way like on the side on another wall. Put your speakers where you would normally put them and listen to it for 2 days with music you are used to and know well....hell even watch a movie and then more music. Then move that pair out of the way and bring in the other pair and listen for 2 days. Then bring back old pair and listen again and see which you like from there. Many people make mistake trying to compare back and forth with each song without spending real time with the speakers to get your ears used to it.

If you find both sound equally as good then just pick the one that looks visually better to you. I already know which one I would pick.

Sony 45es | 120 inch screen | Panasonic BDT500 | Rotel RMB-1075 | Rotel RMB-1077 | Rotel RSP-1068 | Klipsch RP-280F/RP-450C/RP-160M (x4) | Funk Audio subs (x2) | MiniDSP 2x4HD | Crowson D-501/Shadow-8 Actuators (x2) | Monster Power Conditioner | GIK acoustic panels
ereed is offline  
post #24 of 143 Old 02-20-2016, 10:26 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 116
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 83 Post(s)
Liked: 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by ereed View Post
Nice room! Very similar to mine with modern taste!

Pick one pair of speakers for now....move the other speakers out of the way like on the side on another wall. Put your speakers where you would normally put them and listen to it for 2 days with music you are used to and know well....hell even watch a movie and then more music. Then move that pair out of the way and bring in the other pair and listen for 2 days. Then bring back old pair and listen again and see which you like from there. Many people make mistake trying to compare back and forth with each song without spending real time with the speakers to get your ears used to it.

If you find both sound equally as good then just pick the one that looks visually better to you. I already know which one I would pick.
Thanks! Which speaker would you pick out of the two aesthetically?

Ascend Acoustics Sierra Tower with RAAL
Ascend Horizon with RAAL
HSU VTF-3 Mk5 HP
Anthem MRX 510 / Oppo 105D / Furman Elite-15 PFi
freesole is offline  
post #25 of 143 Old 02-20-2016, 10:31 PM - Thread Starter
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 116
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 83 Post(s)
Liked: 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by rustolemite View Post
Since you have that nice big sub have you given any thoughts to bookshelf speakers?
Well I never gave it much of a thought to be honest. I always thought of towers because of my made belief bias that they would provide fuller sound.

The space is quite big so a VTF-3 Hsu Sub is barely enough I think.

Ascend Acoustics Sierra Tower with RAAL
Ascend Horizon with RAAL
HSU VTF-3 Mk5 HP
Anthem MRX 510 / Oppo 105D / Furman Elite-15 PFi
freesole is offline  
post #26 of 143 Old 02-20-2016, 10:58 PM
Advanced Member
 
rustolemite's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Pineville, LA
Posts: 664
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 372 Post(s)
Liked: 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by freesole View Post
Well I never gave it much of a thought to be honest. I always thought of towers because of my made belief bias that they would provide fuller sound.

The space is quite big so a VTF-3 Hsu Sub is barely enough I think.
How big is your room? Mine is 18.5x19.5x8 and I had always used tower speakers but then I decided to just try a bookshelf setup for my LCR setup and I also have a HSU VTF-3 that sits behind me to the right and fires against the wall.
The first thing I did after hooking the new speakers up was to fire up some music in 2 channel mode I can honestly say that they were able to match the Goldenear Triton 5's they they replaced in volume and quality of sound.
And yes I know there are some rooms where you really may need a tower to get the sound you need but I am glad I finally made the switch and so far could not be happier.
As for your sub I would see if you place it somewhere else than out in the open like that even Dr. Hsu recommends that they not be out front next to your LCR.
Sorry for being so long winded.

VIDEO: Epson 5050UB * SeymourAV CenterStage XD 137.7" * Samsung UBD-M9500 * Nvidia Shield * HTPC * Xbox OneX * URC MX-990
AUDIO: Yamaha CX-A5200 * Emotiva XPA-9 Gen3
SPEAKERS: PSA MTM-210T L/C/R * PSA MTM-110 (2) Surrounds * S2(4) Atmos * HSU VTF-3MK4
http://www.invelos.com/dvdcollection.aspx/Rustolamite
rustolemite is offline  
post #27 of 143 Old 02-21-2016, 12:35 AM
AVS Forum Special Member
 
justthinking's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Northern California
Posts: 1,036
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 389 Post(s)
Liked: 226
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr.SoftDome View Post
I know Ascend has a following and I have not heard them but I happen to like the focal sound. I heard the Aria for this first time a month or so ago and I think they sounded really nice..

Looks in the eyes of the beholder and I know you state that are very close in build quality. I don't see it from the pictures. The Aria are in a different league to me altogether and the MSRP price (not the price from Music Direct) is clearly reflected to me. Exposed screws all over the place on the Ascend vs. not a screw in sight on the Focal. Holes in the cabinet to hold the grill on the Ascend vs. no grill required or the small round ones I think you can use to cover the drivers. Why would you want to cover that beautiful speaker anyway.The woodwork looks superior to me on the Focal. It just a sexy look to me that Ascend can't approach (it this example).

I like your room and know the sound-I have a feeling which I would be swayed. The Ascend would need to be a hell of a lot better sounding to me. Maybe it is

This from a KEF guy so no stake in this race-

Good Luck.

Rick
Focal's cabinet is made of 1 inch MDF boards and Sierra Tower is made of vertical laminated bamboo for the entire cabinet

While Focal may look nice with all the decorated trim pieces, Sierra Tower is without a doubt a much better cabinet

I think Aria 936 while is a nice pair of speakers, are more comparable to the regular Sierra Tower with NrT tweeter ($4k vs $2k)

Once you upgrade the Sierra Tower with RAAL, it became a no contest, at least as far as sound is concern...

5.2.4 HT - Sony XBR75X850C, Denon X4400H, Monitor Audio GS60, GSLCR, GSFX, C380LCR x4 and Martin Logan Descent I x2
2 Channel - Ascend Sierra Tower w/ RAAL, Sony HAP-Z1ES, Marantz SA-KI-Pearl, Primaluna Dialogue Three, Parasound Halo A21, JL Audio CR1, JL Audio E112 and ATS Acoustics room treatments
justthinking is offline  
post #28 of 143 Old 02-21-2016, 07:28 AM
AVS Forum Special Member
 
ereed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 3,460
Mentioned: 116 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2307 Post(s)
Liked: 1627
Quote:
Originally Posted by freesole View Post
Thanks! Which speaker would you pick out of the two aesthetically?
Obviously you should pick the speaker that sounds best to you and in your room. If both sound just as good and can live with either one, I'd pick the Focals Arias cause they look more high end with the exotic wood finish. Thats just me. Cause at the same time I can look at the beauty of the speakers while enjoying the sound. Not saying the Sierras are not good looking but they look like any other traditional box speakers. Again beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Have you compared both without the sub and ran them full range to see which you like best in 2.0 music setup? I find that is the best way to compare the towers for music and then you can use the sub for even deeper bass or for HT purposes.

How far apart do you have the speakers and how far do you sit from them? I find most speakers sound best when almost as wide as sitting distance but a tad smaller. For example, I sit 13 feet away from my speakers and they are 9 feet apart.

I also notice you have lots of windows and hardwood flooring, any issues with high frequencies or anything between the two or which sounds brighter in your room?

Sony 45es | 120 inch screen | Panasonic BDT500 | Rotel RMB-1075 | Rotel RMB-1077 | Rotel RSP-1068 | Klipsch RP-280F/RP-450C/RP-160M (x4) | Funk Audio subs (x2) | MiniDSP 2x4HD | Crowson D-501/Shadow-8 Actuators (x2) | Monster Power Conditioner | GIK acoustic panels
ereed is offline  
post #29 of 143 Old 02-21-2016, 09:16 AM
Member
 
bryan338's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 137
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 35 Post(s)
Liked: 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by freesole View Post
Thanks! Which speaker would you pick out of the two aesthetically?
For me i will choose sierra with raal, i got tired of seeing speakers with round tweeter. Ribbon tweeter looks much sexier and sophisticated specially when naked.
bryan338 is offline  
post #30 of 143 Old 02-21-2016, 12:03 PM
AVS Forum Special Member
 
ereed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Charlotte, NC
Posts: 3,460
Mentioned: 116 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2307 Post(s)
Liked: 1627
Quote:
Originally Posted by bryan338 View Post
For me i will choose sierra with raal, i got tired of seeing speakers with round tweeter. Ribbon tweeter looks much sexier and sophisticated specially when naked.
Put the grills on both of them and the Focal Arias still look better IMO.

Sony 45es | 120 inch screen | Panasonic BDT500 | Rotel RMB-1075 | Rotel RMB-1077 | Rotel RSP-1068 | Klipsch RP-280F/RP-450C/RP-160M (x4) | Funk Audio subs (x2) | MiniDSP 2x4HD | Crowson D-501/Shadow-8 Actuators (x2) | Monster Power Conditioner | GIK acoustic panels
ereed is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Reply Speakers

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off