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Thread: Life after Sierra-2: The usual redundant "where next" question (preference 2.0)

  1. #1
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    Default Life after Sierra-2: The usual redundant "where next" question (preference 2.0)

    Precis/update: I had trouble with harshness with my Sierra-2's, but it seems that the problem was having my Oppo 103's volume on 'variable' (digital volume) rather than 'fixed'. Changing the Oppo's volume control to 'fixed' and using my integrated amp for volume control improved things noticeably....probably dramatically. Thanks to everyone for help.
    Now you can skip the rest of my post!

    Probably not a very interesting predicament, though I thought I'd share Too Much Info on my circumstances and preferences and maybe someone has had similar experience and could offer some pointers.

    I've been using my Sierra-2 bookshelf speakers for almost 4 months now (about 300 hours of use), and my feelings are mixed/good. I used a pretty rudimentary set-up:
    Oppo-103D (about half compact discs and half lossless files) -->Monoprice RCA connects-->NAD C316BEE 40W integrated amp-->Audioquest cables purchased in 2010--->Sierra-2 on Sanus 30" stands.
    Unfortunately not much clearance on either side (maybe a foot from wall or furniture either side), but 2-3 feet from the back wall behind speakers. Speakers only about 4.5 feet apart...another disadvantage. Might be the room and arrangement, no? No fixing that presently, simply not an option.
    Sitting ~7 feet away or so, ears right at the top edge of the woofers. Total space ~10ft x 15ft or so, with a wall right behind my back and to my left.

    Resolution is all that, but the speakers almost seem to be at the mercy of whatever recording I throw at them. There seems to be an awful lot of emphasis of the mids, and I find the effect fatiguing and unpleasant. I listen to a lot of classical/orchestral music, and one thing that seems to be a consistent problem is a harshness in the brass. The sense of a kind of brittle mid-y quality isn't limited to orchestral brass, though. Recent masters of, for example, David Bowie's YOUNG AMERICANS and STATION TO STATION, sounded harsh and blaring. Examples abound.

    With respect for the usual suggestion, I am really not sure I can deal with a sub at this point; I understand why they are recommended, but I need my speakers to work well in a 2.0 setup before dealing with a whole new dimension and the physics that come with it. Can I make these Sierra-2s work in 2.0? I know the problem isn't simply a "lack" of bass, because I have played some fairly bass-intensive recordings (Andy Stott, Bjork, etc) at them and been very pleased by the quality and cohesion of the bass, even in my compromised little space. I look forward to a sub but only when I have the space and cash for a proper AVR and/or bass management system to handle it.

    Nothing but love for the Ascend customer service, packing/shipping/etc. It might be my expectations, my taste or preferences, my upstream gear, etc. I am still looking for the magic, and I hope I can still find it with these speakers. I wondered if it was simply a matter of getting a dedicated CD player instead of a "universal" player (even a cheap but reportedly good player like the Onkyo 7030 that could possibly be a good cheap transport into fine DAC or AVR/DAC situation). And/or a nice DAC. And/or an AVR with a nice DAC and preamp, like perhaps one of the Yamaha Aventages or etc etc etc. This way lies madness.

    The only real reason I post here before plaguing Ascend HQ is that it seems like it might be something that could be resolved with a little simple tweaking, a little smart spending, or not at all.
    Last edited by Octave; 05-29-2017 at 02:45 PM. Reason: minor formatting

  2. #2
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    Feb 2014
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    Default Re: Life after Sierra-2: The usual redundant "where next" question (preference 2.0)

    Does your room have any acoustical treatments?

  3. #3
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    456

    Default Re: Life after Sierra-2: The usual redundant "where next" question (preference 2.0)

    Edit: I didn't notice only 40 watts at Class D were used. More powerful amp is recommended.
    Last edited by sludgeogre; 03-06-2017 at 10:01 PM.
    -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

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Life after Sierra-2: The usual redundant "where next" question (preference 2.0)


  5. #5
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    141

    Default Re: Life after Sierra-2: The usual redundant "where next" question (preference 2.0)

    I agree. It's the room. I didn't have many complaints about the initial sound, but spending 400 bucks at Acoustimac absolutely did wonders!

  6. #6
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    Oct 2016
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    Default Re: Life after Sierra-2: The usual redundant "where next" question (preference 2.0)

    Thanks everyone. I should have known as much. A little embarrassed to rehash something so elementary, but I will look at this as an opportunity for exercise i.e. getting butt off couch repeatedly.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Life after Sierra-2: The usual redundant "where next" question (preference 2.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by Octave View Post
    Probably not a very interesting predicament, though I thought I'd share Too Much Info on my circumstances and preferences and maybe someone has had similar experience and could offer some pointers.

    I've been using my Sierra-2 bookshelf speakers for almost 4 months now (about 300 hours of use), and my feelings are mixed/good. I used a pretty rudimentary set-up:
    Oppo-103D (about half compact discs and half lossless files) -->Monoprice RCA connects-->NAD C316BEE 40W integrated amp-->Audioquest cables purchased in 2010--->Sierra-2 on Sanus 30" stands.
    Unfortunately not much clearance on either side (maybe a foot from wall or furniture either side), but 2-3 feet from the back wall behind speakers. Speakers only about 4.5 feet apart...another disadvantage. Might be the room and arrangement, no? No fixing that presently, simply not an option.
    Sitting ~7 feet away or so, ears right at the top edge of the woofers. Total space ~10ft x 15ft or so, with a wall right behind my back and to my left.

    Resolution is all that, but the speakers almost seem to be at the mercy of whatever recording I throw at them. There seems to be an awful lot of emphasis of the mids, and I find the effect fatiguing and unpleasant. I listen to a lot of classical/orchestral music, and one thing that seems to be a consistent problem is a harshness in the brass. The sense of a kind of brittle mid-y quality isn't limited to orchestral brass, though. Recent masters of, for example, David Bowie's YOUNG AMERICANS and STATION TO STATION, sounded harsh and blaring. Examples abound.

    With respect for the usual suggestion, I am really not sure I can deal with a sub at this point; I understand why they are recommended, but I need my speakers to work well in a 2.0 setup before dealing with a whole new dimension and the physics that come with it. Can I make these Sierra-2s work in 2.0? I know the problem isn't simply a "lack" of bass, because I have played some fairly bass-intensive recordings (Andy Stott, Bjork, etc) at them and been very pleased by the quality and cohesion of the bass, even in my compromised little space. I look forward to a sub but only when I have the space and cash for a proper AVR and/or bass management system to handle it.

    Nothing but love for the Ascend customer service, packing/shipping/etc. It might be my expectations, my taste or preferences, my upstream gear, etc. I am still looking for the magic, and I hope I can still find it with these speakers. I wondered if it was simply a matter of getting a dedicated CD player instead of a "universal" player (even a cheap but reportedly good player like the Onkyo 7030 that could possibly be a good cheap transport into fine DAC or AVR/DAC situation). And/or a nice DAC. And/or an AVR with a nice DAC and preamp, like perhaps one of the Yamaha Aventages or etc etc etc. This way lies madness.

    The only real reason I post here before plaguing Ascend HQ is that it seems like it might be something that could be resolved with a little simple tweaking, a little smart spending, or not at all.
    This sounds a bit like amplifier clipping, considering the somewhat limited power of your NAD. If you have an SPL meter, please take a measurement and let me know how loud you are listening when you hear the issues you have described. If you don't have an SPL meter, I strongly recommend picking one up as it is a very useful tool.

    Thanks in advance!
    .
    .
    .
    Good Sound To You!

    David Fabrikant
    www.ascendacoustics.com

  8. #8
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    Oct 2016
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    Default Re: Life after Sierra-2: The usual redundant "where next" question (preference 2.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by davef View Post
    This sounds a bit like amplifier clipping, considering the somewhat limited power of your NAD. If you have an SPL meter, please take a measurement and let me know how loud you are listening when you hear the issues you have described. If you don't have an SPL meter, I strongly recommend picking one up as it is a very useful tool.

    Thanks in advance!
    Thanks, Dave...it's alarming to hear this.

    I'm still almost completely ignorant about clipping, but I wonder if I've had gain issues without knowing it: I've usually had the Oppo 103's volume output set to 'variable', with its volume setting ~85-90 for most recordings, where the NAD's volume knob would be just a bit louder than comfortable if I were to push the Oppo's volume output to 100%.

    Putting the volume output back to 'fixed', I'm now wondering if the problems have vanished. I've been moving my speakers around, so that's a possible fix; and I'm also probably more than a little susceptible to placebos.

    How would I know if I've damaged my speakers? I am now living in dread.

    Sorry to be such a noob about this, but I thought that my listening was not overly high-volume, and that clipping would be much more apparent to me. I suppose there's a reason instruments are used to get to the bottom of things....."SHOW ME THE DATA!"

    Here's another recent thread re: Sierra-2 brightness that I missed, for others who have found this thread first:
    Really-wanting-to-keep-the-Sierras
    Dave's suggestion therein for zero toe-in for the Sierra-2 was news to me, and it's one of the things I am trying now. Whatever cocktail of little things I've been doing is seeming to work. We will throw some Bruckner at it and see what's what.
    Last edited by Octave; 03-06-2017 at 10:10 PM. Reason: minor addition

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Life after Sierra-2: The usual redundant "where next" question (preference 2.0)

    I missed that you only have 40 watts on a Class D amp in a small room. I used a Class D 30 watt amp on bookshelf speakers once and yeah, harsh is the first word I would use to describe it.

    You should consider buying a more powerful amp. I love Emotiva amps, personally.
    -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

  10. #10
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    Aug 2003
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    Default Re: Life after Sierra-2: The usual redundant "where next" question (preference 2.0)

    Quote Originally Posted by Octave View Post
    Thanks, Dave...it's alarming to hear this.

    I'm still almost completely ignorant about clipping, but I wonder if I've had gain issues without knowing it: I've usually had the Oppo 103's volume output set to 'variable', with its volume setting ~85-90 for most recordings, where the NAD's volume knob would be just a bit louder than comfortable if I were to push the Oppo's volume output to 100%.

    Putting the volume output back to 'fixed', I'm now wondering if the problems have vanished. I've been moving my speakers around, so that's a possible fix; and I'm also probably more than a little susceptible to placebos.

    How would I know if I've damaged my speakers? I am now living in dread.

    Sorry to be such a noob about this, but I thought that my listening was not overly high-volume, and that clipping would be much more apparent to me. I suppose there's a reason instruments are used to get to the bottom of things....."SHOW ME THE DATA!"

    Here's another recent thread re: Sierra-2 brightness that I missed, for others who have found this thread first:
    Really-wanting-to-keep-the-Sierras
    Dave's suggestion therein for zero toe-in for the Sierra-2 was news to me, and it's one of the things I am trying now. Whatever cocktail of little things I've been doing is seeming to work. We will throw some Bruckner at it and see what's what.
    You should not be using the variable output of the OPPO. Few people understand that this is a digital volume control, which can be very problematic (at best) We had a very similar issue with audible distortion when we attempted to use our OPPO 105 as the pre-amp. It was embarrassing as we had customers at our facility for a demo and we heard distortion / an uncomfortable edginess to the sound with our ribbon speakers (which are more revealing). I took the OPPO out of the system altogether and the distortion cleared up.

    I thought our beloved 105 had issues so I quickly got in touch with the techs at OPPO and they recommended I keep the "volume" level on the OPPO to fixed and use a pre-amp (analog volume control) to adjust volume. Problem was instantly solved...

    Give this a try and please report back. This is the first step to troubleshoot...
    .
    .
    .
    Good Sound To You!

    David Fabrikant
    www.ascendacoustics.com

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