Along with the aforementioned Wharfedale line, Crutchfield just picked up the Quad S and Z lines (the Quads having Fountek ribbon tweeters that are cheaper than the RAAL's). Quad's bookshelf speakers would also compete with the Ascend 2EX.
Many British speakers tend to appear to be overpriced in the US, once you factor in the exchange rate and the cut the importer gets. Once we get beyond that, I feel that Wharfedale and Quad usually offer good value for the money, what with me not wanting to cough up $3000 for the Dynaudio Special Forty's (though those are also a hefty 2500 pounds in the UK). My Quad amplifier sounds warm, and I wouldn't be surprised if their speakers did too, and I wonder if they would allow the listener to hear every last detail in a recording.
I hope Ascend midrange quality would be among best in class at the prices they sell for, if they incorporate technology from the expensive SEAS Excel W line, offered at a lower cost. I also hope that their drivers don't have the cone breakup that my previous Monitor Audio Silvers had (audible as "warmness" compared to more expensive Revel models I had heard recently). Personally, I feel that I need at least two six inch bass drivers in order to properly reproduce classic rock music, let's say at some point below 200 Hz and where the sub would be crossed over at. That's why I've been avoiding the Ascend Towers and their 5 1/4" woofers.
The EVO 4.2 appears to be a solid three way design, at a reasonable cost. It appears that Wharfedale is using the inexpensive Hi-Ve DMB-A midrange driver for which I have few reviews available. I would give the 2EX the nod for bass extension, it appears that they had used porting techniques that added bass extension at the expense of sensitivity, like in the larger BMR Philharmonitor (that one, is also on my list still).
I am seriously considering the EVO 4.4 at $2000. It has the same midrange driver and tweeter as the smaller 4.2, so it appears that you are paying for the bass as you go up in that line. WhatHiFi? gave the EVO 4.4 five stars, but I don't know if that speaker's midrange is demonstrably superior to a conventional cone design, despite that magazine's glowing hyperbole about it. It's a bit of an oddball product, that hasn't been thoroughly reviewed.
Another bookshelf speaker I intend to listen to again, is the Martin Logan 35XTi, which appears to have an identical AMT tweeter to that of the Wharfedales, but crossed over lower (2 kHz vs. 3.9 kHz), which should allow the detail offered by that driver to shine through in the former model, where their bass driver could be mediocre at best. Not sure what the Ascend 2EX is crossed over at. My guess is, 3 kHz.
I had also found Elac and Usher bookshelf speakers for under $2000.
Originally Posted by Zorba922
Supposedly the RAAL tweeter is in a whole other league than the AMT, but from my very rough and unreliable aural memory I doubt the gap is as large as most people assume...and this is using as reference the decidedly imperfect, low-budget Emotiva B1s (which have a smaller AMT than that on the Evos if I understand correctly) vs both the Sierra 2 originals that I heard at Ascend HQ (and loved) as well as my own Phils BMRs (which I love as well). The other factor is that the Evo 4.2 is a 3 way design vs the 2-way of the Sierra 2EX...which might well close the gap and/or give them a slight edge. Either way, I doubt one is night-and-day "better" than the other, similar to the OP's conclusion about the R3 vs the 2EX.
All idle speculation of course.