You know the saying about how you only get one chance to leave a first impression? For a first-time CEDIA exhibitor, the show that German loudspeaker maker Ascendo put on was quite impressive, hitting the right notes when it came to presenting a dynamic, yet non-fatiguing immersive-audio experience with a six-subwoofer, 9.1.4 configuration (with a Trinnov running the show) that supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

 
Geoffrey Heinzel and Juergen Scheuring were demoing Ascendo's immersive-audio system in its CEDIA debut. Photo by Mark Henninger
Ascendo's system design is interesting because it combines several effective approaches to achieving higher fidelity, ones that I find appealing. For one thing, it is an active system that puts digital decoding and amplification where it belongs, paired with the speaker itself. With this system, you connect the processor to the speakers using standard CAT5 cable.The speakers themselves employed concentric two-way dynamic drivers featuring compression-driver, horn-loaded tweeters. The demo system contained three front speakers (L/C/R), six surround speakers, four ceiling speakers, and six subs (four up front, two in the rear). Every speaker and every subwoofer had 1000 watts of class-D amplification dedicated to it, for a grand total of 19 kW of power. In the case of the two-way speakers, each driver had its own 500-watt amp.

The specific speakers used in in the system include three CCRM12 12-inch 2-way coaxial speakers (45 Hz - 20 kHz, 125 dB continuous output), ten CCRM6 6-inch coaxial speakers (55 Hz - 20 kHz, 115 dB continuous output), and six SMSG 15 15-inch subwoofers (18 Hz - 100 Hz, 119 dB continuous output).

All the specifications in the world don't mean a thing if speakers don't sound good in their intended application. In this case, the performance of the Ascendo system vindicated the company's decision to come to CEDIA. As I watched clips from the movies Mad Max: Fury Road and Gravity, I jotted down the words "reference quality." Positioning was precise, sounds were clear and bass had physical grip with fine texture.

The Legends of Jazz: Showcase Blu-ray offered a window into the system's capacity to reproduce music with verisimilitude. I'm a big fan of systems that can effectively disappear, and that's the experience I got from Ascendo's first CEDIA demo.