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Thread: Sierra-2 Development Thread

  1. #51
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    Default Re: Sierra-1 NrT: Next phase?

    Quote Originally Posted by GirgleMirt View Post
    My doubts with that is that the RAAL upgrade is 700$ for the towers, and that's basically ignoring/replacing the NrT crossover with the RAAL crossover, in other words, you're only purchasing 2 RAAL tweeters (so around 350 each) for the towers as the price of two crossovers is already included in the original price of the NrT towers, so the RAAL upgrade cost is majority tweeters imho.

    So if the upgrade is for the Sierra-1 RAAL tweeter, your current crossover is useless, so you must buy two more crossovers, so if the pricing is similar, you're looking at >700$, not below 800$ in my estimate... Which is a significant cost! It's the original price for the Sierras!

    If we take the NrT upgrade, it was 340$, so I'm not sure how great the pricing works.. Sure, maybe volume discounts and all will factor, but a RAAL upgrade will be quite costly... There are cheaper ribbon tweeters available though, some which would probably fit in the existing cabinet...

    But thinking back on my earlier guess, my mid cabinet option might also be quite expensive, not sure how much it would cost to make 2 small cabinets + two mids + crossover... Maybe also costly... And performance wise, not having heard the NrT towers or RAAL towers, I could only guess which of these two upgrades would be better... Another thing, the towers use different bass woofers from Sierra-1, so again maybe another component to change? Leaving as is would be ok too, but if you add the mid.. Anyhow, can't wait to hear more details
    You make a lot of good points. I've been racking my brain trying to figure out an upgrade path that provides reasonable cost (considering volume discounts), uber performance, and the DIY option. My biggest hindrance is the fact I don't have decades of engineering experience or potent relationships with key vendors.

    GirgleMirt, I have to say your guess is pretty good. I think it's logical and reasonable. However, I still do have some unanswered questions in a few areas and haven't come up with any solutions yet.

    As I pointed out earlier, the key seems to be the DIY option. Ascend has to streamline the upgrade process so it's relatively straightforward for most customers to accomplish. Consider the NrT upgrade. Dave posted great instructional videos, and the whole process is very simple to do (excluding the extra time involved with the 1st-gen cabinets).

    Then comes the area of cost. To me, the earlier discussion in this thread indicated that ~$1,800/pr would be too high for most folks looking at bookshelf monitors. Now of course that included the reworked cabinet, plus all the new components. So my gut feeling is that Dave found 1) a workaround or 2) a new possibility that showed great promise, allowing customers to use their existing cabinets and providing a more "reasonable" cost to upgrade.

    Perhaps I should undergo plastic surgery and cosmetic adjustment so I can sneak in under the guise of "Sal." Then I could get a sneak preview.
    -Jacob

  2. #52
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    Default Re: Sierra-1 NrT: Next phase?

    Jacob....like you have mentioned, Dave/Ascend has strong relationships with suppliers/OEMs. This is something that I believe few, if any, ID speaker manufacturer has. These OEMs go to Dave with new products to try and evaluate. They welcome his feedback and engineering expertise. He is also able to bring costs down because of quantities purchased.

    These relationships open a lot of doors for Ascend. I have a feeling that whatever Dave has cooking, significantly exploits these advantages.

    When Dave is ready to give a peek at what is going on...I will be there.

    Happy 4th of July!!
    -curtis

  3. #53
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    Default Re: Sierra-1 NrT: Next phase?

    Thank you for the insight and additional details, Curtis. I feel very fortunate to have discovered Ascend.

    Happy 4th to you, too, and to everyone else here on the Forums.
    -Jacob

  4. #54
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    Default Re: Sierra-1 NrT: Next phase?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Ranger View Post
    Now of course that included the reworked cabinet, plus all the new components.
    No no! Just to be sure we've got the same idea... Hmmm... Take JMLabs Utopia for instance: http://www.stereophile.com/images/ar...710focal.1.jpg

    They are built with multiple cabinets. That's what I had in mind. The original Sierra cabinet wouldn't change at all, just another 'module' would sit on top, containing the mid woofer. So you'd end up with a MTW, just like the tower's MTWW. This would require new crossover of course, but then, each crossover is wired in parallel, so to do that, no need to bust anything in the original sierra cabinet, simply remove the woofer, replace the current crossover with the new one, and then, from outside, by the binding posts, connect the speaker as usual, and then have jumpers going to the top module, which would contain the mid crossover and woofer. The bottom crossover would contain the circuit for the woofer and the tweeter.

    So no carpentry needed at all for the consumer, it would be just a sealed cabinet sitting on top of the sierra. Sort of like this too. So it wouldn't be any more complicated than the NrT upgrade

    For RAAL upgrade, as I said, maybe it's a more worthwhile upgrade than the mid woofer.. Maybe the extra mid/cabinet would be more expensive... Anyhow, I have really no idea, whatever is coming I'm sure it'll be something!
    Last edited by GirgleMirt; 07-04-2012 at 03:05 PM.

  5. #55
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    Default Re: Sierra-1 NrT: Next phase?

    Don't worry, we're both on the same page. I completely understand the design you're thinking of.

    My comment about the reworked cabinet referred to the RAAL tweeter upgrade mentioned on the first page of this thread. The 70-20XR would not be a drop-in replacement like the NrT upgrade was. The Sierra-1 cabinet would need to be modified to accommodate the ribbon tweeter, hence the $1.8K tag on the BOM.

    With your idea, I agree that it would most likely be a mid-woofer attachment. One of the problems I ran into was how to properly secure the "box" on top without ruining appearance. In addition, each box would need to be available in the same finish options as the Sierra-1 cabinets (arguably a minor problem).

    Attaching the mid-woofer to the primary crossover is one problem I've been mulling over. Piggy-backing off the main binding posts is one option, but I think that would require two crossovers. I'm just not sure that's the best way to do it.

    This is why Dave builds the speakers and I buy the speakers.
    -Jacob

  6. #56
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    Default Re: Sierra-1 NrT: Next phase?

    Quote Originally Posted by GirgleMirt View Post
    For RAAL upgrade, as I said, maybe it's a more worthwhile upgrade than the mid woofer.. Maybe the extra mid/cabinet would be more expensive... Anyhow, I have really no idea, whatever is coming I'm sure it'll be something!
    Now we're all just speculating here and feeding the rumor mill, but it's still fun.

    I have no idea on the cost of a mid-woofer module attachment, but if we're building it out of bamboo (likely), plus new crossovers and transducer, I can see BOM climbing quickly.

    Dave said a few things earlier that keep nagging me regarding the mid-woofer theory:

    With that in mind, I built a prototype using this mid, one Sierra-1 woofer and the NrT dome. The problem with this is that there is a significant difference in efficiency between the two different woofers and both the tweeter and the mid have to be padded down by at least 4-5 dB. This 3-way bookshelf speaker, or LCR, would only be slightly less expensive than our Sierra Tower and I was simply not able to get the performance I would have liked. The beauty in the Sierra Tower is that the sensitivity of the dual 5 1/4" woofers match the mid and that matches the NrT dome (and even the RAAL, which has a custom impedance / sensitivity profile for us). There is almost zero padding on any of the transducers in the Sierra Tower which means the efficiency on all the components is maximized.
    Perhaps he's found a way around it, maybe not.

    One thing's for sure, he's confident enough to announce it, whatever "it" is.
    Last edited by Dark Ranger; 07-04-2012 at 04:08 PM. Reason: Clarification.
    -Jacob

  7. #57
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    Default Re: Sierra-1 NrT: Next phase?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dark Ranger View Post
    With your idea, I agree that it would most likely be a mid-woofer attachment. One of the problems I ran into was how to properly secure the "box" on top without ruining appearance. In addition, each box would need to be available in the same finish options as the Sierra-1 cabinets (arguably a minor problem).

    Attaching the mid-woofer to the primary crossover is one problem I've been mulling over. Piggy-backing off the main binding posts is one option, but I think that would require two crossovers. I'm just not sure that's the best way to do it.
    Correct on all

    For 'securing' the box, there's no real need for securing... I mean, we're on earth so gravity will take care of holding the top compartment Maybe just have some sort of spacer, foam, rubber, whatever, but I don't see a need to 'secure' it in place... If you give it the same shape as the original Sierras, besides a small seam which would barely be noticeable, I don't think it would detract at all... But yeah, obviously, you'd need the same Sierra finish options lol

    2 crossovers wouldn't be a big deal IMHO. Whether you put the components on one plate or two, not a huge difference... Plate is probably cheap... Manufacturing 1 vs 2 the same, the same parts still need to go on crossover, so whether 1 or 2 are built, so I don't think it would be a big deal... I'd just put the mid cross in top cabinet with binding posts/jumpers, and that's it. Otherwise yeah you have to pass the wires somewhere from inside the main cabinet and the top one and that doesn't really work without modifying the original sierra cabinet.


    For the tweeter upgrade... As I said, I sort of doubted it was the case... Last week or so I've been passing some time with a ribbon tweeter, and for the high end the NrT more than holds its own. The NrT is really good!!! I personally wouldn't upgrade it a 2nd time for the high end. Which leaves the mids, which gets a bit impacted by the tweeter... Well that's a bit touchy, the RAAL goes down lower in frequencies than your average ribbon tweeter, so it's a special case for the mids... So going tweeter upgrade, IMHO, would basically require a 'very fancy' tweeter if you wanted it to go down low (mids), and very fancy usually means $$$... Whereas the mid woofer+cabinet upgrade, I'm not sure, but might be cheaper... Well probably would be than 700+$ of RAAL tweeters/crossovers... It would make the Sierra a 3 way, and personally, that might seem like a more interesting idea than simple tweeter upgrade... But then again, nobody knows what Dave has cooked up so that statement is waay premature!

    And actually, even a woofer upgrade is possible. The woofer could in theory improve mids, maybe even bass... Hmm!

    Dave said a few things earlier that keep nagging me regarding the mid-woofer theory:
    With that in mind, I built a prototype using this mid, one Sierra-1 woofer and the NrT dome. The problem with this is that there is a significant difference in efficiency between the two different woofers and both the tweeter and the mid have to be padded down by at least 4-5 dB. This 3-way bookshelf speaker, or LCR, would only be slightly less expensive than our Sierra Tower and I was simply not able to get the performance I would have liked. The beauty in the Sierra Tower is that the sensitivity of the dual 5 1/4" woofers match the mid and that matches the NrT dome (and even the RAAL, which has a custom impedance / sensitivity profile for us). There is almost zero padding on any of the transducers in the Sierra Tower which means the efficiency on all the components is maximized.
    Perhaps he's found a way around it, maybe not.
    Ooooh interesting.. So he's probably referring to the Sierra tower mid... Yeah, then a new/modified mid would be required... Well... I'm no speaker designer, but that would certainly seem to be within the realm of possibility

    Actually, now I'm starting to think that the mid upgrade is far more likely than a tweeter, simply because in my own experience, the NrT tweeter is a great performer and I wouldn't see a huge potential for the high end...

    Anyhow, I guess I should put more listening/comparing time on the NrT vs ribbon, but it's not that easy, either like I've been saying they're very close, or I'm a very poor listener... but the differences aren't very apparent to me, I even fear I might fail a DBT on it... (!!!)

    I think a question would be, for the top cabinet, how large would it need to be? If we're talking a 5 inch woofer, I think that's quite a big cabinet on top of the sierra... If we're talking a smaller mid, then it opens the possibility of a smaller top compartment which might be the only viable option. Damn, couch speaker designing is so hard!!! lol
    Last edited by GirgleMirt; 07-05-2012 at 06:13 PM.

  8. #58
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    Default Re: Sierra-1 NrT: Next phase?

    Girgle...I have heard a few different ribbon tweeters, I can tell you they don't sound the same.
    -curtis

  9. #59
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    Default Re: Sierra-1 NrT: Next phase?

    Quote Originally Posted by curtis View Post
    Girgle...I have heard a few different ribbon tweeters, I can tell you they don't sound the same.
    Yeah sorry not claiming they all sound the same... The 340SE tweeter for example sounds more distinct to me than either the NrT and Fountek's NeoCD3.0, same for the original Sierra tweeter... But, going from NrT vs Fountek Ribbon, I heard more similarities than differences. I mean that's a good thing, as sound reproduction gets better all products should converse to the same direction. But that was a non level matched & go switch speakers kind of test... Only alternated between both a couple of times and what struck me was that although the two speakers sounded drastically different, the top end felt quite similar, the Ribbon didn't strike me as "having significantly more air" or "being more detailed" or whatever, unlike the mids/bass/soundstage/imaging/etc., the top end sounded quite similar... But that was with the Fountek NeoCD3.0, RAAL or other ribbons are another story... Maybe it was my ears, or the listening material... I was focusing on cymbals mostly...

    Or, maybe because it was one of the few commonality between the two speakers sound I thought it was more similar than it actually was... But all I can say for sure is that based on that short demo, the two tweeters felt rather equivalent, none seemed superior/inferior... So going on that short demo, I wouldn't spend $ to 'improve' the NrT tweeter to that ribbon, if it's even an improvement, I know in theory they should sound quite different, but I didn't hear it, weird... To be frank, I was expecting more differences than I heard... Like I said, rest of the speaker sounded drastically different, top end, not so much! So maybe that somewhat skewed the tweeter comparison...

    I think Dave made a thread asking for recommendations a while back to highlight the NrT tweeter, maybe I should try some material from that thread and see if I hear more differences...
    Last edited by GirgleMirt; 07-05-2012 at 09:53 PM.

  10. #60
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    Default Re: Sierra-1 NrT: Next phase?

    Quote Originally Posted by GirgleMirt View Post
    For the tweeter upgrade... As I said, I sort of doubted it was the case... Last week or so I've been passing some time with a ribbon tweeter, and for the high end the NrT more than holds its own. The NrT is really good!!! I personally wouldn't upgrade it a 2nd time for the high end. Which leaves the mids, which gets a bit impacted by the tweeter... Well that's a bit touchy, the RAAL goes down lower in frequencies than your average ribbon tweeter, so it's a special case for the mids... So going tweeter upgrade, IMHO, would basically require a 'very fancy' tweeter if you wanted it to go down low (mids), and very fancy usually means $$$...
    If this "uber performance" upgrade is a new tweeter/crossover, I agree that it would have to be something special, hence Dave's R&D with the 70-20XR. While this combination was considered "exceptional," he ran into the whole cost and redesign issue.

    So as you stated, a worthwhile tweeter upgrade over the NrT would be $$$.

    It's possible he's found a way to "Honey, I shrunk the 70-20XR" and fit it into the existing cabinet, as merrymaid offered earlier. I just don't see how that's possible, hence my comment about a miracle.

    Then again, it could be an entirely new ribbon tweeter offering similar performance, but in a much smaller package...

    Quote Originally Posted by GirgleMirt View Post
    And actually, even a woofer upgrade is possible. The woofer could in theory improve mids, maybe even bass... Hmm!
    This was one possibility I considered as well, something like a "Signature Edition" upgrade for the Sierra-1: new woofer, tweet, and crossover. However, while the DIY should be applicable, the issue I see is cost. The Sierra drivers are already very high quality. Then you run into questions like:

    • what tweeter would be an upgrade to the NrT, but not cost an internal organ?
    • what would a new bass driver give? Deeper extension, better mids, better efficiency? Etc., etc.
    • so how much is replacing all the guts going to cost me?


    Quote Originally Posted by GirgleMirt View Post
    Actually, now I'm starting to think that the mid upgrade is far more likely than a tweeter, simply because in my own experience, the NrT tweeter is a great performer and I wouldn't see a huge potential for the high end...
    While I agree that a mid-woofer addition would be "uber performance," the design could be checkmated based on Dave's quote I pulled from the first page. That seemed to be a show-stopper for the Sierra-1 3-way design (at least at the time).

    Quote Originally Posted by GirgleMirt View Post
    I think a question would be, for the top cabinet, how large would it need to be? If we're talking a 5 inch woofer, I think that's quite a big cabinet on top of the sierra... If we're talking a smaller mid, then it opens the possibility of a smaller top compartment which might be the only viable option.
    My thought was to go simple: same width and depth as the Sierra-1 cabinet, and high enough to accommodate the 5.25" mid-woofer. However, it also increases cost since more direct materials are used. Furthermore, the Sierra-1 would be more imposing and harder to place. It's probably pushing the limits of a "bookshelf" design. If a smaller woofer is used, I'm not sure how much performance one would give up for a slightly smaller module.

    Quote Originally Posted by GirgleMirt View Post
    Damn, couch speaker designing is so hard!!! lol
    I completely agree. Like I said earlier, I'll let Dave handle the design and engineering, and I'll just open my wallet when he's ready.


    Note to all: I'm having some fun discussing this upgrade. However, because my design experience is infinitesimal compared to Dave's, I have no illusions of competence. I hope he has a good laugh at my expense. Seriously.
    -Jacob

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