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Ascends or Monitor Audio S2's

470 Views 8 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  gixxer6326
I was just about to order the Ascends when I stopped by a local HT store and listened to the Monitor Audio S2's. They blew me away. They were the best sounding bookshelf I have heard under $1200. They retail for $750/pair but can be had for less online. Since I have never heard the Ascends, I dont know what to buy now. Has anyone compared the two?
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I have heard the MA B2....a nice speaker. If the S2 is an upgrade to that, and you like them a lot, then go for it.

Does the shop where you heard the S2's have a nice return policy? If so, and you are still curious about the Ascends, do the 30 day trial on a pair a pair of each. In home is the best place to compare.

Otherwise, don't sweat it, go for the S2 and enjoy them.
If you like the sound of the MA Silver series, you will find the Ascends have a very different sound. The Monitor's are considerably brighter, and have more treble energy. The Ascends have a smoother more balanced presentation, and the dome tweeter is easier to listen to for old, easily annoyed guys. The Monitor's throw a larger soundstage as I found the Ascends a tad boxy for my taste. They both image very well though. The Ascends have tighter bass but don't extend low enough for me for the music I listen to. While the Monitors have better extension, the bass is a bit sloppier than you would expect from a speaker in their price range.

I would look around a little before plunking down your cash for the Monitors. I also think you can get better build for the money they are asking.
Originally posted by rt297
The Ascends have a smoother more balanced presentation, and the dome tweeter is easier to listen to for old, easily annoyed guys.
:D Geez...I hope it is not a sign of me getting old!
Thanks RT297. I'm going to look at the B&W 602's today. I need new speakers soon. I sold my Paradigm Monitor 11's last week and I'm using my old Polk's untill I can find something new.
Not sure what Ascends you were looking at...but I would suggest the CMT-340 l/r.
I'm very partial to the B&W sound. They have a distinctive signature that many have tried to duplicate. Their build quality is second to none. If I'm not mistaken, the 602's have now been upgraded to the 700 series??? If that is true, I heard them in Phoenix recently at "Sounds like Music". While not in the same class as the CNT's or N series of course, they nonetheless sounded great. They still insist on that metal tweeter, so there is occasional ringing with some material, but that is excused by the huge soundstage and pinpoint imaging IMO. They are also using a new cabinet design that wraps the front baffle in one piece across the top front corner. It looks difficult to execute and gives them a unique and classy appearance.
Actually, Russ, it's the B&W CNT series that has been replaced by the 700 series. The B&W 600 series is still in its most recent s3 iteration. I agree that the Monitor Audios definitely have more treble energy and can be considered bright to some people. The B&Ws have a similar, high-energy-treble sound, though I find that it has a more pronounced mid-range than the MAs, which some people like and some dislike.

Never had a chance to compare my Ascends to the MAs side by side. I did compare the Ascends to the B&W 600 and CNT series and preferred the Ascends due to the smoother treble and a generally more balanced presentation (no emphasis on any given frequency spectrum). While most people tout B&W for their detailed midrange and highs, I thought the Ascends relayed the same amount of detail, but just in a less strident manner that drew attention to it. Also, while the B&Ws played lower, I thought that what bass the Ascends put out was more accurate and controlled.

So if anything, the only weakness I found in the Ascends is that of low-frequency omission -- the frequencies that it does play is extremely clean and refined, but that only extends a little lower than 80Hz, necessitating the use of a subwoofer for most bass-heavy music and HT applications.
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Well, I ended up getting the B&W 602's today.
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