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Best $1000 Upgrade from AV123 ELT525 towers (excluding used speakers)

  • Ascend Sierra-1 Monitors

    Votes: 5 71.4%
  • Aperion Audio Verus Grand Bookshelfs

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Swans D2.1SE

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Your Suggestion

    Votes: 2 28.6%
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Discussion Starter #1
Went from an Onkyo TX-SR707 to a Denon 2312CI hoping to upgrade the sound of my AV123 ELT525 towers. When I realized they sounded pretty much the same, I realized I wanted new speakers.


50% Lossless Music(electronic, rock, 80s) | 40% Hulu, HBOGO, Youtube | 10% Bluray


The thing I love most about the AV123 ELT525 towers is how smooth they sound, never fatiguing or bright. However, I want better soundstage, clarity for TV and movies, and imaging.


With a budget of $1000, I want to start a new system with just fronts; later I will want to get the matching center, and even later, surrounds.


I had the entire AV123 ELT525 setup, and was never impressed with the center and took it out of my setup because I often had a hard time hearing dialogue. So whatever I decide to upgrade to, I want to make sure there is an excellent matching center. I'm sure the Aperion Verus Grand Center is very good, and the Ascend Sierra-1 Center, but I'm not sure about the Swan center.


No sub, I'm in a townhouse, so I won't ever be playing anything near reference.


Ascend Acoustics Sierra-1 - great reviews, lots of reviews, signs of harshness or brightness only mentioned a few times


Aperion Audio Verus Grand Bookshelf Speakers - Weaker bass (don't really mind), not sure about the highs


Swan D2.1SE - Perhaps the smoothest/warm sounding of this bunch?


For now I'm not looking at used equipment. Local choices are very limited, so I'm leaning towards internet options. I realize I have nothing to lose with companies like Aperion but I'm looking for opinions before I do anything.
 

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Kef, Tannoy, NHT, Paradigm, Monitor Audio, PSB, Vandersteen, Revel, etc. There are so many awesome options. I'm partial to Paradigm and Revel, but it doesn't really matter. All of these manufacturers play at a very high level.
 

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Being in Santa Cruz, you should have some shops near by to do some listening to B&M brands.


All the ID speakers mentioned so far have good trial policies. Get them to your home and compare. Some local shops will even let you bring them in to compare to what they have.
 

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Discussion Starter #5

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmichaelf  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22170992


Kef, Tannoy, NHT, Paradigm, Monitor Audio, PSB, Vandersteen, Revel, etc. There are so many awesome options. I'm partial to Paradigm and Revel, but it doesn't really matter. All of these manufacturers play at a very high level.

Never heard of Tannoy, from what I've heard about Monitor Audio and NHT is that they would be brighter than the Ascend Sierra-1. Aren't Vandersteen and Revel really expensive? PSB I could get from Saturday Audio but right now their stock is low. I've always been interested in Paradigm, maybe I could find a place locally that has some. Not sure where to buy Vandersteen, and I've considered Kef in the past, guess I will consider them again

Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22171173


Look at Outlaw Audio BLS speakers
http://www.outlawaudio.com/products/bls.html

B-stock speakers for less - here
https://www.outlawaudio.com/mofcart/bstock.html

Never heard of these speakers, they compete with the previously mentioned ones? I'll have to try and find some reviews on them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cschang  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22171206


Being in Santa Cruz, you should have some shops near by to do some listening to B&M brands.

All the ID speakers mentioned so far have good trial policies. Get them to your home and compare. Some local shops will even let you bring them in to compare to what they have.

Ah I wish I was still in Santa Cruz, I need to update that. Now I'm in Fresno, much bigger than Santa Cruz, but less options for small home audio shops and overpriced.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by zieglj01  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22171786


They were built by Snell, and based off the Snell K7 speakers.
http://www.snellacoustics.com/K7Lit_31508.pdf
I had the Outlaw BLS's in my room for a while.


Very nice and balanced sound.
Quote:
Originally Posted by edgeh2o  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22171733


Ah I wish I was still in Santa Cruz, I need to update that. Now I'm in Fresno, much bigger than Santa Cruz, but less options for small home audio shops and overpriced.
If you feel like driving down to LA, you are more than welcome to come listen to my standard Sierra-1's.
 

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fwiw,at one time a few years back i had a pair of sierra-1's and the outlaw bls which are quite the same in specs and price and kept the outlaws they just sounded better in " my" room .both are great speakers for their price range. upgraded since but still use them in my 2.1 bedroom system
 

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Discussion Starter #9

Quote:
Originally Posted by cschang  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22172248


I had the Outlaw BLS's in my room for a while.

Very nice and balanced sound.

If you feel like driving down to LA, you are more than welcome to come listen to my standard Sierra-1's.

What do you run now? Thanks I'll keep that in mind if I'm down there before I upgrade


Quote:
Originally Posted by smasher50  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22172423


fwiw,at one time a few years back i had a pair of sierra-1's and the outlaw bls which are quite the same in specs and price and kept the outlaws they just sounded better in " my" room .both are great speakers for their price range. upgraded since but still use them in my 2.1 bedroom system

Did the top end sound better or just overall? I'm definitely looking for a smooth sounding top end. What have you upgraded to?



I talked to 4 dealers today, none really have showrooms where I can do a comparison, and most carried Sunfire and Paradigm. I was quoted B&W 684 Towers for $1100. The Revel F12 Speakers at $1500.00, Revel’s smaller Bookshelf M12 speakers w/ Stands for a little less than $1000. And GoldenEar Aon 3 Bookshelf speakers for $1000, but I've never heard of them. What do you guys think about these?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by edgeh2o  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22173313


What do you run now? Thanks I'll keep that in mind if I'm down there before I upgrade
Sierra-1's
Quote:
Originally Posted by edgeh2o  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22173313


I talked to 4 dealers today, none really have showrooms where I can do a comparison, and most carried Sunfire and Paradigm. I was quoted B&W 684 Towers for $1100. The Revel F12 Speakers at $1500.00, Revel’s smaller Bookshelf M12 speakers w/ Stands for a little less than $1000. And GoldenEar Aon 3 Bookshelf speakers for $1000, but I've never heard of them. What do you guys think about these?
All reputable brands/speakers. You should go listen to them.
 

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Did the top end sound better or just overall? I'm definitely looking for a smooth sounding top end. What have you upgraded to?


the sierras where a little better in bass depth( but i use a sub) but the mids and upper where more detailed again not by much and in" my" room with my surroundings. i have since upgraded to a pair of reference 3a de capo i's. as for the speakers you listed i personally have not heard them but they are from some reputable speaker manufactors again there are so many speakers in this price range and no one is that much better( maybe in aesthetics) than the next. to save yourself from going crazy i suggest that you make strict list of three speakers and audition them in" your" home like i did with the sierras and outlaws.and make sure their burned in long enough to make a real decision on the sound. most id speaker companies have 30 - 60 day trials again this is just my 2 cents
 

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Having owned an entire ELT525 setup a few years ago (525T, 525C, and 525M)... I can say the Sierra-1 and NHT Classic Three/TwoC are noticeable improvements over the 525T/525C... Even the switch to Energy RC-10/LCR was a step up IMO.


I did like the non-fatiguing sound of the 525T, but I hated the 525C - dialogue was muffled and boomy... and overall I think that entire line lacked a bit of detail/resolution. So I began the path to upgrade... I directly compared the RC-10 and Sierra-1 to the 525T and preferred both over the 525T... and the RC-LCR and Sierra-1 Center stomped the 525C in terms of dialogue clarity and off axis performance.


Ultimately, I sold the Sierra setup long ago, mainly for financial reasons. The one gripe I had was that I found sibilance a little more noticeable on the Sierra-1 center than the Energy RC-LCR, but otherwise thought the Sierra was clearer/more resolving, especially in the lower midrange/upper bass, where the RC-LCR could be a little thick sounding.


I had the Energy RC's for a couple years, demo'ing and returning/reselling multiple speakers in that price range along the way. I recently compared the NHT Three and RC-10 and felt it was a noticeable step up, so I sold the Energy's. It's been too long since I had the Sierra to say how I think the Three/TwoC and Sierra compare.


Since personal preferences vary so much, I'd say try to give a listen to the Sierra's and some others (like the Outlaw BLS) that have been recommended in this thread. Check around for other forum members in your area that would be willing to help out, like cschang who already extended the offer. The Verus Grand has been well reviewed, and Aperion has a no risk 30-day policy, so you can demo those in home to see if they're right for you. NHT has a no risk policy as well - and may work with you a bit on pricing for the Three, since they've run some big sales on them recently.
 

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Discussion Starter #13

Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaiii  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22174373


but I hated the 525C - dialogue was muffled and boomy.
Couldn't agree more on the 525C. I didn't know NHT did a 30day guarantee with free return shipping, so that is very cool. The sibilance mentioned on the Sierra-1 center is a bit of a bummer.


At this point it looks like my best options are Ascend Sierra-1, Aperion Audio Verus Grand Bookshelfs (still debating if the Forte Towers would be better for me), and the NHT Classic Three. [as far as free returns are concerned]


I tried reading as much as I could on the Outlaw BLS and it seems like it might tend towards bright, but I'm still going to do a lot more reading on all these in the coming days.


I love listening to music, mostly newer music(Empire of the Sun, Beach House, Sigur Ros, Depeche Mode, Flaming Lips, Daft Punk, MGMT, etc), for hours at a time...and since albums differ in quality, it is important(to me) that the speakers be somewhat forgiving, or at least maintain a smooth sound.


I also watch most TV/movies on streaming sites like Hulu, XfinityTV, HBOGo, Netflix, which unfortunately don't offer sound in DD or DTS formats, so the sound quality is a little subpar when compared to a set-top box. This is another reason I'd like the speaker to be a little forgiving and not point out all the nuances within the source. This is huge for me.


In my car I run Hertz MLK 165 speakers. They are Hertz's top component speakers, but while they are much more detailed than Hertz's lower offerings, they are also the smoothest sounding out of the bunch. I'm looking for something similar for home audio
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by edgeh2o  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22175392



I tried reading as much as I could on the Outlaw BLS and it seems like it might tend towards bright, but I'm still going to do a lot more reading on all these in the coming days.

I love listening to music, mostly newer music(Empire of the Sun, Beach House, Sigur Ros, Depeche Mode, Flaming Lips, Daft Punk, MGMT, etc), for hours at a time...and since albums differ in quality, it is important(to me) that the speakers be somewhat forgiving, or at least maintain a smooth sound.

Be carefull of subjective reviews - I do not really pick that up in the reviews. Also, I own the Snell K7 - which

the Outlaw is built off of - I get no real sense of brightness, or get ear fatigue at any time, and still get good

detail and definitation. Who knows, maybe my ears are going bad.



Good Luck with your choice and whatever speakers you audition, for your new adventure.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by edgeh2o  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22175392


The sibilance mentioned on the Sierra-1 center is a bit of a bummer.

I'm not doubting what Alphaiii heard and have no experience with the Sierra-1 center, but I don't recall many people mentioning a sibilance issue with it. It does seem odd that the center would sound sibilant but the bookshelves would not. My Sierra-1s have never sounded this way, either pre or post NRT upgrade.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by holt7153  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22175504


I'm not doubting what Alphaiii heard and have no experience with the Sierra-1 center, but I don't recall many people mentioning a sibilance issue with it. It does seem odd that the center would sound sibilant but the bookshelves would not. My Sierra-1s have never sounded this way, either pre or post NRT upgrade.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying the Sierra itself is causing sibilance... just that it doesn't hide it at all, and will reveal it in bad recordings. I'm not the only one who has thought this:
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1386720/my-comparisons-energy-veritas-v5-1-polk-lsi7s-b-w-685bs-and-ascend-sierra-1s


Sibilance was likely less noticeable with the Energy RC-LCR because the treble is just a touch laid back on that speaker. Also, I wouldn't say that the NHT TwoC and Three hide sibilance either, but I don't feel like the exaggerate it.


BTW, I mentioned it being an issue with the center only because movie/TV dialogue plays through that channel, and it was most noticeable with movies/TV shows. I realize the sound would be essentially the same coming from the L/R Sierra's... I just don't watch that material in stereo, so I commented on the Sierra as a center.


I think we can agree that the quality of the audio tracks from many movies and shows is less than stellar... so a resolving speaker is only going to make that noticeable. Also, I am very sensitive to sibilance, and it drives me nuts in "real life" too.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by edgeh2o  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22175392


The sibilance mentioned on the Sierra-1 center is a bit of a bummer.

See my post above about this... I tried to clarify a bit better.
Quote:
Originally Posted by edgeh2o  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22175392


I tried reading as much as I could on the Outlaw BLS and it seems like it might tend towards bright..

Just remember - one person's "bright" is another's "detailed" or "airy"...


The best thing you can do is find someone who has them that will let you demo... Or demo them in home and risk return shipping costs for the peace of mind that you didn't miss out, so to speak. Sometimes you're better off taking a small hit up front than you would be buying something unheard (based on others' opinions), later upgrading again, and taking a bigger hit on re-sale.


In retrospect, I wish I had followed my own advice, but I chose the long way around.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaiii  /t/1417692/best-upgrade-path-from-av123-elt525-towers-1000#post_22175648


Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying the Sierra itself is causing sibilance... just that it doesn't hide it at all, and will reveal it in bad recordings.

OK, thanks for the clarification. I feel it's a fairly accurate speaker, and unfortunately as you mention there are plenty of sub-par sources out there
.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Poor Swan and Aperion, are people not voting for them because they haven't used them before or are they not on the same page as the Sierra?
 
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