Speaker selection - Ascend vs JBL vs Wharfedale vs ...? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 32 Old 06-09-2019, 09:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Speaker selection - Ascend vs JBL vs Wharfedale vs ...?

Speaker budget: Up to ~$3k, less is better
Room size: L shaped space, main area is 14' x 13', plus nook 8' x 8'
Listening position: In the main area, 8' from speakers (and speakers will be 6' apart)
Uses: Music 95%, movies 5%
Use case: Low to medium volume listening (kids sleeping plus neighbors behind thin walls), need something easy to drive
Preferences: Detailed presentation, big sound stage.
Content: Soundtracks, modern classical, ambient, chill-out, jazz, female vocalists
Other equipment: Denon X4400H receiver, no plans for anything else, won't be using a sub (no space)
Misc: Speakers must look nice. Won't consider bookshelves (small kid running round - need something solid, ie floorstanders - won't risk it with stands whatever they're made of, heavy unobtainium or otherwise)

I am considering the following models.
(anything else I should be looking at?)

Will audition myself, still - keen to hear views?
(especially any "red flags" from design standpoint).

+++++++

Ascend Sierra Tower with RAAL - like the three-way construction, concerned about low end? (won't be using a sub)

JBL Studio 590 - somewhat concerned these will be missing mid-range?

Wharfedale Reva 4 - drivers made out of "glassfiber", good thing or bad?
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post #2 of 32 Old 06-09-2019, 10:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neotinto View Post
Speaker budget: Up to ~$3k, less is better

Room size: L shaped space, main area is 14' x 13', plus nook 8' x 8'

Listening position: In the main area, 8' from speakers (and speakers will be 6' apart)

Uses: Music 95%, movies 5%

Use case: Low to medium volume listening (kids sleeping plus neighbors behind thin walls), need something easy to drive

Preferences: Detailed presentation, big sound stage.

Content: Soundtracks, modern classical, ambient, chill-out, jazz, female vocalists

Other equipment: Denon X4400H receiver, no plans for anything else, won't be using a sub (no space)

Misc: Speakers must look nice. Won't consider bookshelves (small kid running round - need something solid, ie floorstanders - won't risk it with stands whatever they're made of, heavy unobtainium or otherwise)



I am considering the following models.

(anything else I should be looking at?)



Will audition myself, still - keen to hear views?

(especially any "red flags" from design standpoint).



+++++++



Ascend Sierra Tower with RAAL - like the three-way construction, concerned about low end? (won't be using a sub)



JBL Studio 590 - somewhat concerned these will be missing mid-range?



Wharfedale Reva 4 - drivers made out of "glassfiber", good thing or bad?
KEF R series. Best for music and soundstage.
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post #3 of 32 Old 06-09-2019, 11:33 PM
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Sonus Faber is also known for wide soundstage.
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post #4 of 32 Old 06-10-2019, 06:52 AM
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The Polk LSi M707 is a very good full range tower that is currently half off from Polks EBAY store: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Polk-Audio-...-/233202439012

You can get a pair of their flagship speakers for $2,000 shipped and I think they’d be a very good option for you.
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Polk LSi M707 - sensitivity of 88dB makes me concerned about its performance in low-volume listening
Sonus Faber - seems only Venere line would be pithing budget
KEF - happy to consider.

How do you recommended speakers compare to ones from my shortlist?
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post #6 of 32 Old 06-10-2019, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neotinto View Post
Polk LSi M707 - sensitivity of 88dB makes me concerned about its performance in low-volume listening

Sonus Faber - seems only Venere line would be pithing budget

KEF - happy to consider.



How do you recommended speakers compare to ones from my shortlist?


Why would that sensitivity have anything to do with low volume listening?

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post #7 of 32 Old 06-10-2019, 09:12 AM - Thread Starter
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Why would that sensitivity have anything to do with low volume listening?
Easier to drive, including at lower volume and lower power levels.

How does your recommended speaker compare to speakers from shortlist?
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post #8 of 32 Old 06-10-2019, 09:17 AM
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i like wharfedale for music ,, the reva 4 is a nice candidate...
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post #9 of 32 Old 06-10-2019, 09:35 AM
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Kef R900, excellent soundstage, great imaging and detail, slightly on the bright side of neutral. Off axis response is 2nd to none.
https://www.accessories4less.com/mak...ach-new/1.html

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post #10 of 32 Old 06-10-2019, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Neotinto View Post
Easier to drive, including at lower volume and lower power levels.



How does your recommended speaker compare to speakers from shortlist?


Low volumes aren’t going to require much power, and 88dB is right at average for most speakers.

Here’s a good review of the Polk LSiM series with measurements: https://www.soundandvision.com/conte...speaker-system

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post #11 of 32 Old 06-10-2019, 11:11 AM
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Have not heard any real complaints about the JBL Studio 590 lacking in the midrange -- the JBL Studio 590 towers has been tested with the KEF R series and held its own -- do not under estimate the JBL -- you have some decent options, enjoy the audio search adventure

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post #12 of 32 Old 06-10-2019, 12:52 PM
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Assuming your budget is for front left and right only?

Based on your usage of 95% music, with no plans for a subwoofer, I would take a look at the Ohm Walsh 2000 Tall speakers. +/- 3dB of 32Hz. They will give big sound and have different wood finish options. Made in Brooklyn.

https://ohmspeaker.com/speakers/walsh-tall/#wt-2000

I wouldn't seriously consider speakers known to be "laid back" like Wharfedales. They make great speakers by all accounts, however. The JBL is going to be a very different kind of sound, with the horn focusing the energy.

As noted, sensitivity isn't going to matter for you at all. It would matter if you needed high SPL and amp power became a factor.

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post #13 of 32 Old 06-10-2019, 01:26 PM
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Where are you located? It is worth finding out if anyone in your area has Ascend with RAAL and willing to demo. For music, once you hear RAAL there is never going back. As you can see, I am biased and suggest listening.

Ascend Sierra Tower and Horizon with RAAL. HSU VTF-15H MK2. Sony 40ES and Silver Ticket 135.
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post #14 of 32 Old 06-10-2019, 02:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Where are you located? It is worth finding out if anyone in your area has Ascend with RAAL and willing to demo. For music, once you hear RAAL there is never going back. As you can see, I am biased and suggest listening.
You're right.

Located in Bay Area - would love to audition.

Have asked a question about auditioning locally on Ascend's forums, but despite 100 views - no response.

Anyone here open to an audition locally (Ascend towers or otherwise)?
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post #15 of 32 Old 06-10-2019, 02:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neotinto View Post
You're right.

Located in Bay Area - would love to audition.

Have asked a question about auditioning locally on Ascend's forums, but despite 100 views - no response.

Anyone here open to an audition locally (Ascend towers or otherwise)?
While not exactly in the Bay Area, Ascend is in San Clemente.

They also offer an in-home trial, as does Ohm. I think the best thing would be to order both and keep the winner. Order on day 1 of your credit card cycle.

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post #16 of 32 Old 06-10-2019, 03:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FIQBAL View Post
Where are you located? It is worth finding out if anyone in your area has Ascend with RAAL and willing to demo. For music, once you hear RAAL there is never going back. As you can see, I am biased and suggest listening.
I compared the RAAL to the identical bookshelf but with a $20 dome tweeter and thought the dome bookshelf sounded better so not sure I agree with that but I do think if someone is interested in them that they compare them with another good tower and send back the loser. If you can test them blind and level matched that would be best. Revel F206 and KEF R5 would both be good candidates and someone earlier mentioned the Polk LSIM 707, that is a great speaker for the price too but many people think the 705 is even better, that one should only be 1499 if it's 50% off.
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post #17 of 32 Old 06-11-2019, 12:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Polks and KEFs - will consider as well.
Need to do more reading on the Ohms.

For auditioning - there’s got to be a better way than ordering all of the gear, and sending it back.

Anyone here in Bay Area, open to hanging out & demoing together?
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post #18 of 32 Old 06-11-2019, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neotinto View Post
Polks and KEFs - will consider as well.
Need to do more reading on the Ohms.

For auditioning - there’s got to be a better way than ordering all of the gear, and sending it back.

Anyone here in Bay Area, open to hanging out & demoing together?
Crutchfield speaker compare app. Won't paint the whole picture, but will let you hear the difference between speakers.
https://www.crutchfield.com/speakercompare/

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post #19 of 32 Old 06-11-2019, 11:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soulburner View Post
Based on your usage of 95% music, with no plans for a subwoofer, I would take a look at the Ohm Walsh 2000 Tall speakers. +/- 3dB of 32Hz. They will give big sound and have different wood finish options. Made in Brooklyn.

https://ohmspeaker.com/speakers/walsh-tall/#wt-2000

Also, these speakers are very kid-resistant because of the pillar design and the tweeter is enclosed in a metal cage.

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post #20 of 32 Old 06-12-2019, 02:36 AM
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Polks and KEFs - will consider as well.
Need to do more reading on the Ohms.

For auditioning - there’s got to be a better way than ordering all of the gear, and sending it back.
There is a better way:

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-sp...nce-shows.html

Also, higher sensitivity is ALWAYS better, not worse, regardless of listening level. The higher the sensitivity of the speaker, the less power it requires. This is good in every way. Higher priced "hi-fi" type speakers tend to be low efficiency because they try to play full range rather than cross to a pair of good subs which is a superior option. Also, 8 ohm speakers are a better option than 4 ohm as far as ease with which they are powered. Reduces the need for expensive amplification.
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post #21 of 32 Old 06-13-2019, 01:33 AM
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Another vote for the KEF R5. Listen to the Revel towers and take a look at Focal as well.


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post #22 of 32 Old 06-13-2019, 05:48 AM
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Just be very careful relying on manufacturer sited specifications. Some inflate the sensitivity rating and impedance levels. It's really best to try and demo speakers in person and, whenever possible, in your own home. The room plays a huge role in how a speaker sounds and can make or break a good sounding speaker.
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post #23 of 32 Old 06-13-2019, 08:08 AM
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Just be very careful relying on manufacturer sited specifications. Some inflate the sensitivity rating and impedance levels. It's really best to try and demo speakers in person and, whenever possible, in your own home. The room plays a huge role in how a speaker sounds and can make or break a good sounding speaker.
Yeah. There is anechoic and in-room sensitivity and extension. If they don't specify, it's easy to publish the one that looks better.

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post #24 of 32 Old 06-13-2019, 08:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Neotinto View Post
Polks and KEFs - will consider as well.
Need to do more reading on the Ohms.

For auditioning - there’s got to be a better way than ordering all of the gear, and sending it back.

Anyone here in Bay Area, open to hanging out & demoing together?
you would think there would be an easier way , but not really ..., it's a shame too

YAMAHA TSR 5790.. front l/r emotiva b1's and /or kef q100's ..BIC v1220.....Emotiva basx10.... ascend cbm 170 center.. polk t15 rears..samsung 55" j620d
bedroom .. YAMAHA r-xv 383... front l/r.. wharfedale 10.1s... ascend cbm 170 center ... Emotiva basx8... samsung ku6300 50 in
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post #25 of 32 Old 06-13-2019, 08:59 AM
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Your receiver is no slouch and should be able to easily handle 4ohm/88 DB speakers and normal listening levels. I wouldn’t worry too much about sensitivity or impedance unless you were considering something below 86db speakers.

Even if you got very low sensitivity speakers, you can always add an external amp (your receiver has the necessary preamp outputs) at a later stage.


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post #26 of 32 Old 06-14-2019, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bear123 View Post
There is a better way:

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-sp...nce-shows.html

Also, higher sensitivity is ALWAYS better, not worse, regardless of listening level. The higher the sensitivity of the speaker, the less power it requires. This is good in every way. Higher priced "hi-fi" type speakers tend to be low efficiency because they try to play full range rather than cross to a pair of good subs which is a superior option. Also, 8 ohm speakers are a better option than 4 ohm as far as ease with which they are powered. Reduces the need for expensive amplification.
Bear, it is always a trade off...

This was from Dave at Ascend: "The trade-off to achieve high efficiency is huge, very short voice coils, very low excursion, basically little to no bass below 100Hz, use of very different tweeter technology that has shortcomings with regards to linearity and extension... In my professional opinion, you sacrifice sound quality for the ability to play at volume levels that are damaging to your ears. Now, that is not to say they won't sound great for home theater, but when listening to music - differences become obvious."

So not always black and white and "ALWAYS" better.....
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post #27 of 32 Old 06-14-2019, 03:46 PM
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Bear, it is always a trade off...

This was from Dave at Ascend: "The trade-off to achieve high efficiency is huge, very short voice coils, very low excursion, basically little to no bass below 100Hz, use of very different tweeter technology that has shortcomings with regards to linearity and extension... In my professional opinion, you sacrifice sound quality for the ability to play at volume levels that are damaging to your ears. Now, that is not to say they won't sound great for home theater, but when listening to music - differences become obvious."

So not always black and white and "ALWAYS" better.....
First off, let me say that I have great respect for Dave at Ascend, his company, and his products. I will also say that I try to keep an open mind as there is always new knowledge to be gained. However, I will offer some counter arguments to the above statements.

I would say that a speaker that is designed from the ground up to play as optimally as possible 80 Hz and above, crossed over to good quality, properly placed subwoofers, is superior and less compromising for sound quality than the alternative: attempting to play full range down to 40 Hz with bookshelf speakers with small woofers. Trying to get a 5 or 6" woofer to produce a lot of output down to 40 Hz will, by nature, end up compromising capability above 100 Hz up to crossover when compared to a woofer that foregoes the attempt to produce low frequencies that subwoofers will do much better.

So the higher sensitivity speaker, which is not handicapping itself by trying to play lower than it should, will not only have higher SPL capability, but better sound quality and lower distortion, which in turn yields better sound quality. Crossed to good quality subs that are properly placed for good low frequency response will result in much better overall sound quality than little speakers placed symmetrically for imaging.

As far as sacrificing linearity, a well designed high efficiency speaker, although giving up unnecessary extension, can be just as linear if not more so than plenty of popular retail and ID low efficiency designs.

I think a big part of what drives this is the mythical perception that subwoofers are a bad word, the best and purist sound quality for music comes only from 2 channel playback without subs, when in fact much better sound quality is achieved with subs rather than itty bitty speakers. It's why big bass drums in real life aren't 5" in diameter. Although a rather generic generalization, when it comes to low frequencies, bigger is better. So let the itty bitty living room friendly bookshelf speakers do what they do best...play above 80 Hz, and let the superior tool for the job do the rest...subs.
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post #28 of 32 Old 06-14-2019, 04:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bear123 View Post

First off, let me say that I have great respect for Dave at Ascend, his company, and his products. I will also say that I try to keep an open mind as there is always new knowledge to be gained. However, I will offer some counter arguments to the above statements.

I would say that a speaker that is designed from the ground up to play as optimally as possible 80 Hz and above, crossed over to good quality, properly placed subwoofers, is superior and less compromising for sound quality than the alternative: attempting to play full range down to 40 Hz with bookshelf speakers with small woofers. Trying to get a 5 or 6" woofer to produce a lot of output down to 40 Hz will, by nature, end up compromising capability above 100 Hz up to crossover when compared to a woofer that foregoes the attempt to produce low frequencies that subwoofers will do much better.

So the higher sensitivity speaker, which is not handicapping itself by trying to play lower than it should, will not only have higher SPL capability, but better sound quality and lower distortion, which in turn yields better sound quality. Crossed to good quality subs that are properly placed for good low frequency response will result in much better overall sound quality than little speakers placed symmetrically for imaging.

As far as sacrificing linearity, a well designed high efficiency speaker, although giving up unnecessary extension, can be just as linear if not more so than plenty of popular retail and ID low efficiency designs.

I think a big part of what drives this is the mythical perception that subwoofers are a bad word, the best and purist sound quality for music comes only from 2 channel playback without subs, when in fact much better sound quality is achieved with subs rather than itty bitty speakers. It's why big bass drums in real life aren't 5" in diameter. Although a rather generic generalization, when it comes to low frequencies, bigger is better. So let the itty bitty living room friendly bookshelf speakers do what they do best...play above 80 Hz, and let the superior tool for the job do the rest...subs.
+1. Said it better than I could have. There are amazing speaker designs out there that I just wish would give up a bit on their quest for maximum bass extension to get their sensitivity ratings up...that attempt at speaker bass extension only holds back a system with good subs.

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post #29 of 32 Old 06-14-2019, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Soulburner View Post
+1. Said it better than I could have. There are amazing speaker designs out there that I just wish would give up a bit on their quest for maximum bass extension to get their sensitivity ratings up...that attempt at speaker bass extension only holds back a system with good subs.
I have reasonably sized bookshelf speakers that are 8 Ohm, 94 dB efficient, and cross at 80 Hz. Will likely play around with higher crossovers up to 120 to see what sounds/measures best as my subs are ultra low distortion and flat to above 200 Hz. They are also extremely linear, much more so than the lower efficiency speakers I replaced, with extraordinarily flat off axis performance.

Also, I don't agree that the tweeters in high efficiency designs are weak in the area of extension. In fact, "hifi" tweeters can be more of a compromise, such as the RAAL which I think has to be crossed at 3kHz as it has poor extension. My high efficiency tweeter, on the other hand, crosses at 1.5 Khz and is flat to above my hearing ability.

Everything is a trade off.

Last edited by bear123; 06-14-2019 at 04:29 PM.
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post #30 of 32 Old 06-14-2019, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bear123 View Post
Also, I don't agree that the tweeters in high efficiency designs are weak in the area of extension. In fact, "hifi" tweeters can be more of a compromise, such as the RAAL which I think has to be crossed at 3kHz as it has poor extension. My high efficiency tweeter, on the other hand, crosses at 1.5 Khz and is flat to above my hearing ability.
The RAAL comes in different versions. The 70-10 is as you stated. However 70-20XR used in Ascend Sierra Towers and some by Salk and Selah is crossed at 1800-2000.

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