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Thread: New Sierra-2 impressions...

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    373

    Default Re: New Sierra-2 impressions...

    Thanks so much for posting your impressions thus far, Harley and smurraybhm.

    These are exactly the sorts of descriptions I was hoping to hear

    In my own setup, I purchased 11 custom speakers from Ascend. At the time, the Sierra-2 were in development, but they didn't exist yet. I was 100% certain of my choice of Front 3 speakers, which were a pair of custom "low-profile", vertically oriented Sierra Horizon RAAL Mains, and a one-off "Skinny" Sierra Horizon RAAL Center. Those speakers were part of my "master plan" from my future house and dedicated home theatre, and Dave's willingness to design and manufacture that one-off "Skinny" Center really was the lynchpin!

    But, my other big demand was a pair of bookshelf speakers that would PERFECTLY match the sonics of those Front 3 Sierra Horizon RAAL speakers. I did not want ANY difference in the treble and mid-range between the Front 3 and my Front Wide speakers.

    In speaking with Dave, he told me straight up that the best possible solution was to use the Sierra-1 cabinet, but to use the exact same RAAL 70-20XR ribbon tweeter and dedicated, phase-plug mid-range driver as those Sierra Horizon RAAL speakers. The ONLY down side is that the dedicated mid-range driver cannot play all that low. I have settled on a 120Hz crossover frequency to my subwoofers.

    The results have been exemplary. The sonic match across my Front Wides and Front Mains & Center really is perfectly seamless, and simply glorious to hear in person. The best compliment I can think to pay is in saying that I am STILL not "used" to the sound quality I am enjoying on a daily basis. It still just kind of shocks me every single time I sit down and listen to anything on my system -- and that is a rare thing indeed! It's like falling in love and never getting out of the honeymoon phase -- haha.

    All of this is a long-winded preamble to talk about my Sierra-1 NrT speakers, though, and why I have decided that I will be upgrading all of them to Sierra-2 in the not too distant future. As I said, at the time of my order, the Sierra-2 did not yet exist. I opted to purchase 3 pairs of Sierra-1 NrT to act as my Surround, Surround Back, and Front Height speakers.

    I have always said, and I still maintain, that if you are going to skimp ANYWHERE in your sound system, then skimp on your Surround speakers. Their job is primarily ambience, and the occasional sound effect. I still very much hold that opinion. And I did NOT skimp -- I bought Sierra-1 NrT, which are excellent speakers!

    But...as smurraybhm just pointed out so well, there's still a "wow factor" and an improvement to be had.

    Naturally, I've done direct comparisons between my Sierra-1 NrT speakers and my custom 70-20XR + dedicated mid-range bookshelf Front Wides. I can listen to the Sierra-1 NrT and think to myself, "these are just excellent sounding speakers that allow me to hear everything in the recording". Then I switch over to the custom Front Wides, and it's like going from looking out a very clean window to removing the glass entirely. There's just an extra level of realism. It goes from "excellent speakers" to "uncannily real".

    That comparison and lasting impression is what has led me to the conclusion that I will upgrade all of my Sierra-1 NrT speakers to Sierra-2. I had even considered switching all 6 of my Sierra-1 NrT over to the exact same 70-20XR tweeters and dedicated mid-range drivers, just like my Front Wides. But, that notion is less than ideal: the cost would be very substantial, as I would have to ship all of my Sierra-1 NrT speakers from Canada back to Ascend in order to cut the cabinets for the 70-20XR tweeters to fit, and the parts themselves are not inexpensive. But, more than that, the 120Hz crossover works very well for the Front Wide positions, as they are essentially co-located with my dual subwoofers, but it would be less than ideal for the Surround, Back and Front Height channels. 120Hz is high enough that the transition from the speakers to the subwoofers might become noticeable and localizable.

    So, the Sierra-2 are here to save me! haha.

    I already feel ridiculous for wanting to improve upon the Sierra-1 NrT. It is NOT a case of feeling as though I "skimped", or hearing so large a difference in the sound quality that I feel the upgrade is necessary. Rather, I feel as though I am SO CLOSE to an absolutely flawless soundstage ALL around me, that I just cannot shake the desire to see it through!

    When sounds transition from my Front 3 speakers, through my Front Wides, and into my Surround and Back channels, the timbre of the sound remains excellently matched, but there's the slightest disconnect. It's made more noticeable (to me, probably not anyone else -- haha) by the fact that the transition from the Front 3 to the Front Wides is just PERFECT. Thus, I can't help but feel it is only natural for me to want to continue that absolutely flawless transition through every single speaker in my system!

    Will the Sierra-2 accomplish that? My hopes are very high To put it plainly, the stunningly low cost -- all things considered -- of the upgrade kits, and the relative ease with which the Sierra-1 NrT parts can be swapped out - by me, in my own home - for Sierra-2 parts, it has made this an easy decision. But, written impressions, such as the ones above, only bolster my hopes! If people are describing the very same sorts of differences in going from the Sierra-1 to the Sierra-2 as what I just described in going from my own Sierra-1 NrT to my custom Wides, I find that highly encouraging! That is exactly what I was hoping for, and it is all coming true

    I really do feel almost disrespectful for intending to use Sierra-2 speakers as lowly Surrounds, Backs, and Heights, rather than letting them shine as Front Main speakers! But, this is about chasing perfection. The Sierra-1 NrT already do their jobs phenomenally well in my setup. They produce that ambience and the occasional sound effects of those channels with wonderful quality and detail. But...what if...? What if, during those rare instances when a sound fully circles the room, or transitions from front to back, or vice versa, what if those transitions were just completely undetectable? What if the glass were simply never there at all? What if I didn't have 11 speakers, but instead, I just had SOUND? That is what is driving me now. That is what I am chasing. And I really do believe the Sierra-2 can get me there.

    I shall let you know, if and when it happens...


  2. #12

    Default Re: New Sierra-2 impressions...

    Quote Originally Posted by FirstReflect View Post
    Thanks so much for posting your impressions thus far, Harley and smurraybhm.

    These are exactly the sorts of descriptions I was hoping to hear

    In my own setup, I purchased 11 custom speakers from Ascend. At the time, the Sierra-2 were in development, but they didn't exist yet. I was 100% certain of my choice of Front 3 speakers, which were a pair of custom "low-profile", vertically oriented Sierra Horizon RAAL Mains, and a one-off "Skinny" Sierra Horizon RAAL Center. Those speakers were part of my "master plan" from my future house and dedicated home theatre, and Dave's willingness to design and manufacture that one-off "Skinny" Center really was the lynchpin!

    But, my other big demand was a pair of bookshelf speakers that would PERFECTLY match the sonics of those Front 3 Sierra Horizon RAAL speakers. I did not want ANY difference in the treble and mid-range between the Front 3 and my Front Wide speakers.

    In speaking with Dave, he told me straight up that the best possible solution was to use the Sierra-1 cabinet, but to use the exact same RAAL 70-20XR ribbon tweeter and dedicated, phase-plug mid-range driver as those Sierra Horizon RAAL speakers. The ONLY down side is that the dedicated mid-range driver cannot play all that low. I have settled on a 120Hz crossover frequency to my subwoofers.

    The results have been exemplary. The sonic match across my Front Wides and Front Mains & Center really is perfectly seamless, and simply glorious to hear in person. The best compliment I can think to pay is in saying that I am STILL not "used" to the sound quality I am enjoying on a daily basis. It still just kind of shocks me every single time I sit down and listen to anything on my system -- and that is a rare thing indeed! It's like falling in love and never getting out of the honeymoon phase -- haha.

    All of this is a long-winded preamble to talk about my Sierra-1 NrT speakers, though, and why I have decided that I will be upgrading all of them to Sierra-2 in the not too distant future. As I said, at the time of my order, the Sierra-2 did not yet exist. I opted to purchase 3 pairs of Sierra-1 NrT to act as my Surround, Surround Back, and Front Height speakers.

    I have always said, and I still maintain, that if you are going to skimp ANYWHERE in your sound system, then skimp on your Surround speakers. Their job is primarily ambience, and the occasional sound effect. I still very much hold that opinion. And I did NOT skimp -- I bought Sierra-1 NrT, which are excellent speakers!

    But...as smurraybhm just pointed out so well, there's still a "wow factor" and an improvement to be had.

    Naturally, I've done direct comparisons between my Sierra-1 NrT speakers and my custom 70-20XR + dedicated mid-range bookshelf Front Wides. I can listen to the Sierra-1 NrT and think to myself, "these are just excellent sounding speakers that allow me to hear everything in the recording". Then I switch over to the custom Front Wides, and it's like going from looking out a very clean window to removing the glass entirely. There's just an extra level of realism. It goes from "excellent speakers" to "uncannily real".

    That comparison and lasting impression is what has led me to the conclusion that I will upgrade all of my Sierra-1 NrT speakers to Sierra-2. I had even considered switching all 6 of my Sierra-1 NrT over to the exact same 70-20XR tweeters and dedicated mid-range drivers, just like my Front Wides. But, that notion is less than ideal: the cost would be very substantial, as I would have to ship all of my Sierra-1 NrT speakers from Canada back to Ascend in order to cut the cabinets for the 70-20XR tweeters to fit, and the parts themselves are not inexpensive. But, more than that, the 120Hz crossover works very well for the Front Wide positions, as they are essentially co-located with my dual subwoofers, but it would be less than ideal for the Surround, Back and Front Height channels. 120Hz is high enough that the transition from the speakers to the subwoofers might become noticeable and localizable.

    So, the Sierra-2 are here to save me! haha.

    I already feel ridiculous for wanting to improve upon the Sierra-1 NrT. It is NOT a case of feeling as though I "skimped", or hearing so large a difference in the sound quality that I feel the upgrade is necessary. Rather, I feel as though I am SO CLOSE to an absolutely flawless soundstage ALL around me, that I just cannot shake the desire to see it through!

    When sounds transition from my Front 3 speakers, through my Front Wides, and into my Surround and Back channels, the timbre of the sound remains excellently matched, but there's the slightest disconnect. It's made more noticeable (to me, probably not anyone else -- haha) by the fact that the transition from the Front 3 to the Front Wides is just PERFECT. Thus, I can't help but feel it is only natural for me to want to continue that absolutely flawless transition through every single speaker in my system!

    Will the Sierra-2 accomplish that? My hopes are very high To put it plainly, the stunningly low cost -- all things considered -- of the upgrade kits, and the relative ease with which the Sierra-1 NrT parts can be swapped out - by me, in my own home - for Sierra-2 parts, it has made this an easy decision. But, written impressions, such as the ones above, only bolster my hopes! If people are describing the very same sorts of differences in going from the Sierra-1 to the Sierra-2 as what I just described in going from my own Sierra-1 NrT to my custom Wides, I find that highly encouraging! That is exactly what I was hoping for, and it is all coming true

    I really do feel almost disrespectful for intending to use Sierra-2 speakers as lowly Surrounds, Backs, and Heights, rather than letting them shine as Front Main speakers! But, this is about chasing perfection. The Sierra-1 NrT already do their jobs phenomenally well in my setup. They produce that ambience and the occasional sound effects of those channels with wonderful quality and detail. But...what if...? What if, during those rare instances when a sound fully circles the room, or transitions from front to back, or vice versa, what if those transitions were just completely undetectable? What if the glass were simply never there at all? What if I didn't have 11 speakers, but instead, I just had SOUND? That is what is driving me now. That is what I am chasing. And I really do believe the Sierra-2 can get me there.

    I shall let you know, if and when it happens...

    Hello Rob!

    Great post! Very eloquently written. It reminds me of Smaug talking on the 2nd Hobbit movie Ha! I kinda of imaging him speaking, but I know its you from AV Rant! Love that podcast!

    I also have recently got a pair of Sierra-1 NrTs (used but in 10/10 condition), and they sound great! But very much like you said, I've heard the RAAL towers and Horizon center and those tweeters are amazing! There is like an extra layer of clarity that seems like removing the crystal all together. I heard this with the towers and another pair of bookshelves (Legacy Studio HDs) that have ribbon tweeters as well. In the end thats where I will be heading too!
    Also, the ability to do the upgrade at home saves me money as shipping of my speakers to Ascend for the upgrade would include higher than usual shipping cost (shipping from Puerto Rico). Although it would reset the warranty and be remeasured, etc, and that is a big plus! but I trust I can do it at home and still get the same results as if done at the factory and we know components are of high quality and are tested before shipment so they should be good when they get home.
    Last edited by eliwankenobi; 01-05-2014 at 06:18 AM.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    239

    Default Re: New Sierra-2 impressions...

    I've been doing some critical listening today, comparing the new Sierra-2s to my RAAL Towers. The new Twos are just absolutely stunning, second best speaker I've heard recently. I heard some Apogee speakers many, many moons ago that were VERY good (and also very expensive) but that was a lifetime ago, so not fair to compare an ancient memory with current tech.

    I will note here that the S-2s do have one advantage over the Towers, that being they are more forgiving with regard to vertical dispersion. Loss of the high frequencies is far less noticeable when standing compared with the Towers (tweeters are at almost identical heights). Like the Towers, the imaging of the S-2s is deep, and wide (proper placement dependent of course).

    I was also quite pleasantly surprised at the quality and quantity of the bass the S-2 are capable of, well able to play competently without a sub IMHO. Tight, tight, tight.

    I'm still not set up to quick switch between the Twos and the Towers, but I can definitely discern differences between the two. I'll be posting more shortly!

    Jay

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Posts
    1

    Default Re: New Sierra-2 impressions...

    I will start with I had the B&W CM-5's with the B&W Center. I sold them because the speakers have a so called laid back sound in the upper midrange and upper highs. I feel that it was not laid back, but missing sounds in those areas. I just received my Sierra-2's in Black Piano finish. The speakers are just as good looking as the B&W's. The sound from the upper highs are so smooth! I was wondering if the RAAL would be a little harsh, not the case. The sound field is very detailed and crisp! Ascend has done an excellent job with the speakers. The price is the same as the CM-5's but I feel either the B&W's were overpriced or the Sierra is under priced! You will not get listening fatigue with the Sierra speakers. I found that with the B&W speakers. Thanks for making such a superior product in the price range customers can enjoy!
    Greg

  5. #15

    Default Re: New Sierra-2 impressions...

    Quote Originally Posted by was-b&w View Post
    I will start with I had the B&W CM-5's with the B&W Center. I sold them because the speakers have a so called laid back sound in the upper midrange and upper highs. I feel that it was not laid back, but missing sounds in those areas. I just received my Sierra-2's in Black Piano finish. The speakers are just as good looking as the B&W's. The sound from the upper highs are so smooth! I was wondering if the RAAL would be a little harsh, not the case. The sound field is very detailed and crisp! Ascend has done an excellent job with the speakers. The price is the same as the CM-5's but I feel either the B&W's were overpriced or the Sierra is under priced! You will not get listening fatigue with the Sierra speakers. I found that with the B&W speakers. Thanks for making such a superior product in the price range customers can enjoy!
    Greg
    You know, your username has got to be one of the better testimonials I've seen. It says it all!! Enjoied your post a lot!

    Cant wait to receive my upgrades....

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Posts
    239

    Default Re: New Sierra-2 impressions...

    I have my quick switching system in full working order, and have been listening to, and comparing my RAAL Towers to my new set of Sierra-2s. I just now came in from the shop, feet and hands can't take the cold any longer. Shop is heated, but propane is expensive, 45 degrees gets a bit chilly after a while!

    The Twos just continue to impress the living daylights (PG rated description) out of me! I'm going to do some more listening at several different volume levels, before I'm through, but I have to say the two speakers are far more alike than I'm comfortable admitting to.

    I would say that for someone on the fence, thinking they are giving up a considerable chunk of performance, and are compromising by opting for the Twos, I'm here to tell you if I were doing this testing blind, and didn't know which was playing, I'm not sure I could tell. Yep they really are that good!

    I don't even know where to begin, I knew the RAAL tweeter would be awesome, but how can a single mid/woofer handling the frequencies from about 3 kHz to under 40 Hz hang with the awesome Tower? Dave is truly an absolute master at his craft, and his partners have conspired with him to build a piece of sonic magic.

    I was excited about these speakers before we really knew anything about them, I was even more intrigued as the details were made public. Now that I have actually been throwing all of my very most demanding music at them, all I can say is they somehow managed to exceed my expectations. Like I said before, there's a new sheriff in town !

    Man, I'd love to take a pair of these into a big box store, and blow some minds!

    Jay
    Last edited by petmotel; 01-22-2014 at 11:00 PM.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Location
    SouthWest of Cleveland
    Posts
    1,513

    Default Re: New Sierra-2 impressions...

    Wow! Comparing them to the RAAL towers so closely is crazy, but just confirms what my ears have experienced.... Dave has created a true giant slayer.

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    197

    Default Re: New Sierra-2 impressions...

    Has anyone had a chance to compare the 2's to the Kef LS50? I had a chance to listen to the Kef's today at lunch for a few minutes and was really blown away by them.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Manhattan Beach, California
    Posts
    6,191

    Default Re: New Sierra-2 impressions...

    Quote Originally Posted by ematthews View Post
    Has anyone had a chance to compare the 2's to the Kef LS50? I had a chance to listen to the Kef's today at lunch for a few minutes and was really blown away by them.
    Compare them...I'd bet you will be pleasantly surprised. If not, send the 2's back.
    -curtis

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    197

    Default Re: New Sierra-2 impressions...

    I couldn't do that. I just got off the phone with Dina and placed my order on the 2's.

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