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Thread: Sierra-2 impressions: initial and a week in

  1. #1

    Thumbs up Sierra-2 impressions: initial and a week in

    I upgraded my Sierra-1 pair to a Sierra-2 last week. My first impression was mixed.

    I mean, of course it was.

    Don't know about you, but this happens to me every time I change my primary means of listening. Over the years I've gone through all kinds of stuff before I worked up to something as awesome as a Sierra-2. Computer speakers with a "subwoofer", lots of headphones, various bookshelves. Every time it was the same. Some aspects were clearly better, others felt different. I searched through a lot of tracks before finding ones that seemed to play to the strengths I was perceiving.

    My initial Sierra-2 impressions (after XT32 calibration) were Huh, the midbass and warmth feels wrong, and HOLY JEEZ imaging lasered into my ears. But I knew had to narrow down some variables.

    Did I mention my home theatre room (a.k.a. multi-use finished basement, 20x10x7.5) is an acoustic mess? I've never gotten around to doing any targeted treatment. First step, I shut off my XT32 and dynamic EQ, and my LV12R.

    OK, getting a clearer picture now. The caliber of the speakers was pretty clear...even with the frequency response and imaging thrown off by the room, I was getting goose bumps more readily than from the Sierra-1. Midbass has been a problem for every single speaker I've put in this room. The Sierra-2 seemed more affected by it than the Sierra-1 for some reason. Other thing was despite the merits of the high end, it seemed a little grating. Didn't sound bright...it just felt that way.

    Next step, brought the speakers to a better listening area. BAM, midbass was fantastic. High end was even more impressive. The grating feeling was still there though. I started getting pretty excited at this point.

    Back in the basement, I shuffled some stuff around. Then I did two things that made all the difference for me. First, I tweaked my Audyssey settings. Making plain how much help my room needs, the calibration thought the Sierra-2s should be crossed-over at 120Hz. Uh, no. I put this to 80Hz (though I've read that without calibration deriving that for itself, it may not be making full use of that bandwidth). The other important Audyssey setting for me was changing Dynamic EQ to a reference level of 10dB. Lower than that was too bass-heavy, and higher wasn't enough.

    The second thing I did was put the grills on. The harsh high end feeling disappeared.

    Weird, right? If you want to call me nuts, I won't blame you. For me, in my room, it was effective.

    And let me tell you...the end result is stunning. I think this is the first time for me that EVERYTHING sounds good. Some songs have more of a wow factor, but the Sierra-2 really just beautifully presents what was recorded. Simple songs are reproduced faithfully. Heavily produced stuff like Adele just throws out a glorious wall of sound like nothing I've heard in my home before. XT32 really locked in the imaging, and the RAAL tweeters do not disappoint. It's not quite right to just say it sounds better. It feels more real. Live recordings bring you there, as do studio bits in pleasing acoustic spaces. I found myself seeking out songs where you could hear the room.

    On the movie side, I watched Spectre and it was everything I hoped. Stunning imaging. My center and surrounds are HTM-200SEs, and they all sounded great together. Not sure how much of it is XT32, but it was seamless. I'm going to upgrade to a Sierra-2 center soon to improve dialog legibility, but I'm thrilled as-is to be honest.

    It's only been a week, but I'm quite satisfied. Well worth the upgrade!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Posts
    162

    Default Re: Sierra-2 impressions: initial and a week in

    I have tried my Sierra 2's in a treated listening room (former home recording studio) as well as an untreated living room as HT front speakers.
    Until I can treat the LR the S2's are back in the listening space, as they seem a waste doing HT duty (at present) largely due to the Audyssey settings for this cavern-like living room of ours.
    Glad you love your 2's as I do mine, and while a bit less low end than your S1's (just slightly) the mid range clarity and airy treble seemed to have hooked you as they did me.
    Your room dimensions are actually pretty good. A bit of treatment should help tremendously and there are many options available, including panels that look like art. Depending on where you live, you may be able to save some $$ and make panels yourself. I live in LA, so can buy for about the same price as a build would cost me.
    Given the investment you've made / are making in speakers, I would recommend a basic treatment set up. You'll notice the difference, and appreciate the S2's all the more I suspect.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Sierra-2 impressions: initial and a week in

    Good thoughts Jaybeez. I certainly agree that I should give it a shot.

    Few tough things in the room. One, a few feet to the left of my front left S2 is the boiler room. This room doesn't have a solid core door like the rest of the house; it has a slatted one. Talk about sound leakage! It's a bit of an undertaking to go about replacing that, and I'm guessing there may be safety / practical reasons why it's that way. If nothing else, there's a CO / smoke alarm in there that I certainly want to be able to clearly hear if something goes awry...

    Next, I have a large elliptical stepper next to the seating area, and a cat tower next to the front right S2. I'm actually not entirely clear how these affect things. I made a point of bookmarking this thread on REW to give my room a measure soon.

    Part of me is afraid to touch anything at this point honestly, because I'm finally satisfied with the balance of sound. But it's only a matter of time until I do some measurements. In the end it's my perception that will determine if I'm happy, but I like to add some reality-checks to that now and then.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Posts
    162

    Default Re: Sierra-2 impressions: initial and a week in

    You can get a panel with a stand and place it in front of the boiler room door, with space in between. The panel material (703 or Roxul) will absorb sound from that room AND potential reflection from the speaker. Not sure the cat tower will have much impact and the impact of the elliptical might be as a quasi-diffuser, which wouldn't be all bad. Measuring the room is a good idea as well.
    In the end though, if it sounds good you may be fine. No need to overthink it.
    That said, if you do decide to treat, there are treatment vendor sites that may be worth looking at, like Acousticmac and Acoustic Solutions. I own local made and GIK panels. Latter company's site is worth checking out as it has some good educational material to help you decide what you need.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Sierra-2 impressions: initial and a week in

    Good food for thought, I appreciate it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Posts
    290

    Default Re: Sierra-2 impressions: initial and a week in

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaybeez View Post
    You can get a panel with a stand and place it in front of the boiler room door, with space in between. The panel material (703 or Roxul) will absorb sound from that room AND potential reflection from the speaker.
    This is a brilliant idea. I have a mechanical room in my finished basement with a louver door as well and I initially wanted to just replace it with a solid was thinking like kdaq. But, unfortunately if the boliler, furnace, or hot water heater is drafting from inside of the house you need a minimal enclosure space, which typically exceeds the mechanical room. This is the reason why a louver door was installed in the first place.

    My next thought was to try to install some panels on the leuvor doors, but I thought that might cause issues with restricting the space for my boiler to vent within the mechanical room and perhaps make things unsafe. Your comment here made me remember that air can pass through fiberglass or roxul insulation no problem. In fact, in newer constructions of houses they not only try to insulate well but to seal up the house for drafts. The two are quite different. A draft in the attic of your house can only be fixed by sealing up small holes with spray foam and drafts in the walls can only be fixed similarly or by wrapping with some kind of plastic to stop the air flow. Even though there is already insulation (roxul or fiberglass) the air just goes right by it. No a spray foam insulation will actually do both, but that is probably not the most common type of insulation used.

    So, it should be safe to put sound treatments right on the leuvor doors. Or as you suggest to put some panels on stands right inside and/or outside the door to help damp the sound before it gets into the listening area.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Central NC
    Posts
    50

    Default Re: Sierra-2 impressions: initial and a week in

    Quote Originally Posted by kdaq View Post
    Few tough things in the room. One, a few feet to the left of my front left S2 is the boiler room. This room doesn't have a solid core door like the rest of the house; it has a slatted one. Talk about sound leakage! It's a bit of an undertaking to go about replacing that, and I'm guessing there may be safety / practical reasons why it's that way. If nothing else, there's a CO / smoke alarm in there that I certainly want to be able to clearly hear if something goes awry...
    You should ask your HVAC technician at your boiler's next checkup if your boiler is drawing combustion air from inside the house (inefficient, you never want to create a negative pressure inside a house as it will cause air leakage from every tiny crack and seal [that air has to come from somewhere] and make the whole house feel colder) or from outside (considerably more efficient). If it's from inside, ask what it would take to convert to outside. Then ask, if the boiler is pulling combustion air from outside, do you still have to have a louvered door? Don't be surprised if the answer is yes, because building codes are building codes and it takes a long time for them to creep forward. But in a region where it's cold enough to use boilers in the winter they are pretty concerned with efficiency and may have fixed the building codes appropriately. IDK. Which is why you should ask.

    I'm just saying there might be a way to fix that door, and at the same time save you some money. So what do you have to loose by asking?
    "If it sounds good, it is good." -- Duke Ellington

  8. #8

    Default Re: Sierra-2 impressions: initial and a week in

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
    You should ask your HVAC technician at your boiler's next checkup if your boiler is drawing combustion air from inside the house ...
    OH! It just so happens I upgraded to a high efficiency boiler a year ago, and it does indeed draw air from outside! The one original to the house did not. I'll have to ask my tech about this next checkup.

    Great info, thanks all!

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