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Thread: Sierra Towers with RAAL vs Focal Aria 936

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: Sierra Towers with RAAL vs Focal Aria 936

    Anyway...Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers (RAAL tweeter) vs. Focal Aria 936:
    Not a true scientific experiment: did not have a speaker selector -- changed speakers by switching the speaker wire connections; clearly not even single-blind let alone double-blind! Focals played slightly louder than the Sierras for the same volume setting on the pre-amp -- I stepped up the volume for the Sierras when the played, but they were then just a tad louder than the Focals. I had no way to completely equalize the volumes between them.

    Still, my buddy and I could make the change in less than 30 seconds and compare the same tracks that way. We had four of us comparing at most, although often just two of us.

    Associated equipment: Emotiva power amp (150 watts per channel); Apt-Holman pre-amp; Technics SL-1200 turntable, w/Audio Technica cartridge; Pioneer Elite DVD player (for CDs, SACDs, and DVD-As).

    Speakers were placed in an AB/AB arrangement. No subwoofer. At least 3 feet from side walls and front walls. Room open to the back (to the home theater). Speakers approximately 7.5 feet apart and 8.5 feet from the listening positions (almost the desired equilateral triangle). Ear height approximately equal to the tweeter height (exactly for the Sierras; a couple of inches below for the Focals)

    Music: soft/folk rock (Jackson Browne, Carole King, etc.), harder rock (early Chicago, The Who, The Beatles, The Stones), classical (various symphonies,various composers), The Great American Songbook (Ella, Frank, etc.). So, a pretty fair representation of the music we listen to.

    Hat tip to Hanson AV in Dayton, OH (perhaps the best hi-fi store in central/southern Ohio -- Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati) for letting me take the Focals home for a couple of days for this shootout.

    Initially, the Focals sounded better on most music -- but they were completely broken-in while the Sierras were right out of the boxes (after having been delivered cross-country earlier that day). Over time, most of us thought that the sound of the Sierras improved significantly. I have never been a believer in speaker break-in, but this was clearly a case where it occurred. The other listeners probably had never even heard of this before, but they all said that the Sierras sounded better the second day. The Focals were completely broken-in, as they were the display models.

    For much of the music we listened to, there was not a lot of difference between the two (on the second day). This comparing a $2,700 pair of speakers with a $4,000 pair (although on sale for $3,000)! But the Sierras gave a better sense of "presence" on "smaller" or "live" music (Jackson Browne Solo Acoustic, vol 1, for example) -- it clearly sounded as if he was in the room playing relative to the Focals.

    The Focals appeared to have more "depth" on many recordings, while the Sierras had a smoother high-end (love that ribbon tweeter).

    I think what may have occurred here is that the flatter response of the Sierras and the flat (but not as flat) response of the Focals gave the appearance of more depth to the Focals -- it may have been some emphasis in the lower mid-range that did this. With no test equipment, I couldn't tell for sure. But in addition to break-in, I think that those of us listening eventually got used to the flatter response of the Sierras and this was an additional reason why most of us (but not all) thought that the performance of the Sierras improved in day 2.

    I had to return the Focals at the end of day 2, as the store needed them to lend to someone else. I had until today to decide if I wanted to purchase the Focals at the (really good) sales price, or not. The Sierras, of course, have the fantastic return policy of Ascend Acoustics, so I can return them later.

    Which one did I choose?

    I'm away on business for the next week, but when I return home I will take a photo of the winner and post it here (hopefully right side up!). (And if you think that my returning the test Focals gave it away, I can get new ones delivered next weekend in the color I want, and they and my wife will set them up -- so you still don't know!).

    Stay tuned!

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: Sierra Towers with RAAL vs Focal Aria 936

    Now that I'm back, photo of the winner coming tonight (with explanation). Hopefully right side up!

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: Sierra Towers with RAAL vs Focal Aria 936

    And the winner is:


    speaker winner.JPG
    Last edited by davidwb; 01-17-2017 at 08:26 PM.

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    141

    Default Re: Sierra Towers with RAAL vs Focal Aria 936

    Quote Originally Posted by davidwb View Post
    And the winner is:

    Hmm. They look lonely without a sub ( or two). Please add two rythmik F15 HPs and post the pics here.��

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Manhattan Beach, California
    Posts
    6,160

    Default Re: Sierra Towers with RAAL vs Focal Aria 936

    Congrats...but I wonder is what up with not getting the picture right side up.
    -curtis

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Posts
    456

    Default Re: Sierra Towers with RAAL vs Focal Aria 936

    Awesome, I knew it would be the Towers.

    What's weird is when I download the picture, it's right side up, only upside down in the forum. Very strange indeed.
    -Alex
    PS4/Nvidia Shield --> Emotiva XMC-1 --> Emotiva XPA-5 --> Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers and Horizon Center w/ RAAL tweeters (L/C/R), HTM-200 SE (Surrounds), 2x Rythmik F12 subwoofers

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Columbus, OH
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: Sierra Towers with RAAL vs Focal Aria 936

    I experimented in various ways trying to get the picture to appear right-side-up here, but failed in each effort.

    What you can't see in the photo is that I have an old Velodyne sub connected to the system with a cross-over at around 45hz. I would love to get a pair of Rythmik F15s, but the budget will not allow it. But, I plan to get a single (smaller) Rythmik or SVS sub in the near future.

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