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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
(this is also posted on av123 forum).


Speaker impressions are entirely subjective. Listen to what I say and then go listen for yourself. My post is intended to help people considering Rockets vs. Ref1s. I own both.


I have owned the Ultra Package for about four months now (750s fronts and rears, 200 center) and had those installed in a downstairs A/V area. I have built a multi-use room, including a home theater upstairs. I have been extremely happy with the Rockets, but to my disappointment, was not able to use either the rosewood or ebony finishes in that room (I think those finishes are outstanding! I had a sample of the ebony and I know people will be quite impressed with the finished product). The room required a piano black or black finish (room is black and gray). So, after a lot of reading, thinking, and input from Sean, Steve, and Mark, I decided to give the Ref1s a try.


Because I have not yet sufficiently broken in the Refs, I will only provide initial thoughts on 2 channel stereo, particularly as compared to the 750s. I do have 4 Ref1s and the Ref center (all piano black finish). I ended up buying RSS300s for the side speakers (7.1 in home theater) and will wrap those in gray fabric to blend with the room. So, in a little while (a week or so), I should be able to provide a more complete report on the Ref1s and Ref center for Home Theater and compare that setup to the Rocket Ultra package.


Preliminary Thoughts:


I initially connected Ref1 fronts in my downstairs system. The system is powered by a Sony 444ES receiver and has dual SVS 20-39PC+ subs. I use the Sony 755 DVD player as the CD transport and sometimes, my HTPC using a Revolution 7.1 audio card (analog and digital connections to the Sony). I have previously commented on the Rockets in this system and they are, without a doubt, simply outstanding. I listen to music without a sub typically and after breaking in the Ref1s, did some A/B comparisons.


You should know that I initially hesitated to buy the Ref1s because I have firmly always believed that no monitor can play as full as a floor speaker. I heard Von Schweikert VR1s at CES this year, as well as numerous other monitors, and although they sounded really nice, I continued to believe that monitors have limitations on staging. My discussions with Mark convinced me to try the Refs. Let me tell you that the Ref1s play nothing like a typical monitor. When I hooked them up in my downstairs system, I kept coming up to check to make sure that the Rockets were disconnected, because the Ref1s filled the room just like the 750s. Mind you, this is a big room. 30 by 25 with 14 foot ceilings, open to another 30 by 25 area.


The sound was simply outstanding. I play combinations of classical, Eva Cassidy, Diana Krall, Genesis, Sting, U2, and a variety of other selections and was impressed by the imaging, stage, and clarity of the Ref1s. The Ref1s definately play a bit more forward than the 750s. The sound is more revealing than the 750s, but not overly bright and the detail is simply amazing. I thought that the 750s were detailed (and they are, compared to most speakers near their price range), but the Ref1s are in another league as far as clarity and detail for music are concerned (keep in mind, this is not a home theater review -- that will come later once all four Ref1s are broken in). Although the Rockets sounded wonderful on a large mix of music, they appeared laid back when I A/B the Ref1 on the same selections. This was particularly true on classical selections. Piano was outstanding on the Ref1s. Overall, for music, I can see why the Ref1s make more sense for people listening to music 50 percent of the time or more.


I have now also connected the Ref1s and Ref Center in my upstairs system. The room is not completely finished, so the Ref1s rears and RSS300s will not be connected until this weekend at the earliest. The Refs in this room are powered by a Denon 3803 receiver (great receiver, by the way. I am a big fan of Sony, but after much, much research, selected the Denon for this room and I am very glad I did.) Earlier in the day, I was listening to Eva Cassidy and I swear I got up about 20 times to make sure that the speakers were playing in stereo. The imaging was so oustanding that I was convinced every time I got up that the only speaker playing was the center (and of course, the center was not even connected!).


The room upstairs is also pretty sizable (30 by 18) with a cathedral ceiling. The Denon 3803 sounds great with the Refs and is more than capable of driving them in that room. My findings with the Denon are similar to those with the Sony in the downstairs system. Again, the imaging and staging is outstanding. One impressive difference is that as I type this, I keep marvelling at the bass produced by the Ref1s. I keep smiling because I do not have a sub in this system yet but this is not very apparent because the Refs do quite a nice job for their size.


I have an MP3 server in this room (it was probably apparent that I am not an audiophile, but this should make it clear) and although heavily compressed, the MP3s sound really good on the Ref1s.


A few comments about the Ref center. So far, with limited use, I find that this is a very nice complement to the Ref1s. I will do A/B with Bigfoot and the Ref1s to the 750s for home theater, but preliminarily, it does not appear that the Ref center gives up too much, if anything, to Bigfoot. To the contrary, it holds its own quite nicely. I can't wait to listen to multichannel this weekend when all five Refs are connected to the Denon. I just need to get a SACD and/or DVD-A player for this system.


Hopefully, these initial impressions are helpful to people considering the Refs. These are just my impressions -- your findings may differ!
 

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What would your suggestion be for a user that is at 90% HT? Stick w/ the 750s and bigfoot or go all Ref's? Just curious...
 

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I would stick with the Rockets. The price difference between the two is pretty substatial and is only really worth it if you are listening to a lot of music. That's just my thoughts on it and I have A/B both of them too.


Great review! I can't wait to hear your thoughts on the center channel. Mine won't be here until next week.
 

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That is kind of what I was thinking too. Thanks for getting me off the fence. Still waiting on the ebony's to get in. I hate the wait but thats part of the process huh???? Thanks again...
 

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yep. I'm waiting for my Ref 1's for 2 weeks and my Ref 2's won't be in for another month. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Given the price difference, unless other factors are involved (for me, the finish was an important factor), the 750s and Bigfoot cannot be beat for 90% home theater. I will be doing head to head with the systems and will post results in about a week, but I think that the Rockets and Bigfoot will hold their own in HT, at a much lower price point. These are both very good products, tailored to slightly different applications, depending on preference. I would not hesitate much about this.

Quote:
Originally posted by MRL
What would your suggestion be for a user that is at 90% HT? Stick w/ the 750s and bigfoot or go all Ref's? Just curious...
 

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I would say the Rocket's definitely offer the better bang for the buck for HT. From my limited testing of the Ref's for HT, I still found them preferable to me. In about two weeks, I should be able to do more testing of this (although not in comparison to the Rocket's). However, if you like to listen at REALLY loud levels for HT, it might be more important to have the Ref 2's as mains, which widens the price gap between Rocket and Ref setups further. I am also interested to see how the Ref 100 center compares to Bigfoot. Hopefully I'll be able to hear this comparison eventually.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by MRL
What would your suggestion be for a user that is at 90% HT? Stick w/ the 750s and bigfoot or go all Ref's? Just curious...
Good Morning MRL...


Stick to the RS 750's (IMHO)... and I also want to acknowledge you for taking some unwarranted heat in another thread --- and then doing the right thing by not taking the bait... Good for you MRL... :)


Wishing you all the very best...


mls
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by cschang
Anybody have a link to the Ref1's? So I can have a peak.
I have a pair of Ref 1s and I live in Los Angeles so you are more than welcome to come over to take a peek and audition them...You'd be more than welcome to bring your Ascends along to compare...:)
 

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Quote:
I have a pair of Ref 1s and I live in Los Angeles so you are more than welcome to come over to take a peek and audition them...You'd be more than welcome to bring your Ascends along to compare...
Hey Mad Dog, and cschang,


CS, I have placed the Ascends in a couple small HT projects I have done and I have to say they are very clean. If you like their sound, you will love the Refs, since the Refs have the same big clean top, but with a Bottom to match. Much like an ex-girlfriend I had :D


Also, even though the Ref Ones are more expensive, they have the potential to double your enjoyment of your hobby.


While many enter this "fray" via the HT route, I have to say it is equally if not more fun to set up the great "audiophile" system.


To hear two speakers produce a soundstage as a sonic hologram is truly awe inspiring when you get it right.


And the fun part is, the tweaks and set up tips you begin to pick up, make it even that much more focused.


Eventually you don't just have "center fill" (the first goal), but you have every instrument of a symphony, side to side and front to back, laid out before you in your darkened livingroom. Diana Krall or James Taylor are singing right there so close you have to wipe the spit off your forehead:p


Mad Dog,


I just ordered a pair of of VMPS 626Rs today and that would be a fun "listening session" (Ascend/Ref ONEs/626Rs). I'll let you know when they arrive.


All the best,


John
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by bioforce
...I just ordered a pair of of VMPS 626Rs today and that would be a fun "listening session" (Ascend/Ref ONEs/626Rs). I'll let you know when they arrive...
OH YEAH, baby! Please do let me know when they arrive! I'll be looking forward to hearing this comparison...and it'll be great to see you again!
 

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John, are you using a Carver feature to produce the sonic hologram?
 

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Count me in too, as always :D Break them in as much as you can John before this happens :) Did you end up going with cherry again?
 

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Hi Tom,


No Carver here, but I do thank Bob for the terminiolgy and I actually have the "vinyl" recording for the C-400 from 1980. I'm looking at it as I type.


Sa-dono,


Yep, they are the full wrap cherry. Now I know they won't be as pretty as the Refs, but maybe in the sonics category they can score points... :)


And I have to say again how much I like "What Would You Say?" by Dave Matthews Band. Satellite isn't bad either. Thanks for the turn on. I may put it on my VMPS Reference cut disc when I rip it.


Regards,


John
 

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Well I'll be looking forward to finally hearing the 626R's and hearing the new tweeter :) And no problem about DMB...this hobby IS partially about the music after all.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by bioforce
If you like their sound, you will love the Refs, since the Refs have the same big clean top, but with a Bottom to match. Much like an ex-girlfriend I had :D


Also, even though the Ref Ones are more expensive, they have the potential to double your enjoyment of your hobby.

ROTFLMAO!!!! Maybe that's my problem...I never had a taste for big bottomed women.


I would love to put more money in to this "hobby", unfortunately there are other priorities, and I don't really have the space. I love the combination of Ascend/Hsu and don't imagine I will change for quite some time. But I am going to change my receiver. :D


A pair of Ref1's will cost more than what I paid for the full Ascend CBM-170s, HTM-200s, and VTF-3 combo.


Hey...I would love to go to your place for a listen and dream.
 
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