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Thread: Upgrade from 170se

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Just outside Pearland, TX

    Default Re: Upgrade from 170se

    Quote Originally Posted by davef View Post
    Once you develop those skills - and start to really notice the differences, it is impossible to go back.
    And this is what keeps Dave in business, which we all deeply appreciate.
    Sierra-1 NrT in study, Sierra-1 in office, HTM-200s in kitchen. Brother owns CMT-340s and dad has a pair of CBM-170s.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2014

    Default Re: Upgrade from 170se

    Quote Originally Posted by Mose Harper View Post
    I really struggled that first month I had the Sierra 2's (three identical across the front) to find $1.8K (B stock) difference between them and the 170's I'd had for over a decade.

    I wanted to be floored right out of the box, but I honestly have to say I wasn't.

    Even when I though I had 'proof' that they'd finally justified themselves - I was watching a film with a 2 channel stereo track, and the imaging was perfectly matched to the screen between them- i swapped the 170s back in afterward expecting them to fail the test and they didn't. The truth was they just didn't seem that far off from what I'd heard with the Sierra 2's.

    However I ended up keeping them past the 30 day trial, taking it on a leap of faith that other people were right and I just needed to devote some more time to placement and critical listening.

    It was well past the 30 days (closer to 60) when they finally started to click for me. I started to recognize subtle qualities to the sound and presentation that I'd actually never gotten with the 170s.
    Once I started to hear it, it became more and more apparent. They were doing things the 170 just never could.

    A Toyota Corolla will get you from point a to b- save you gas, and be plenty reliable.
    A Lexus will get you from a to b as well. But once you get used to the little luxuries of the ride, it's hard to go back to the Corolla, even though you are still just going from a to b.
    I felt like upgrading from Axiom M22s to Ascend Sierra 2s was not a small jump in performance. At the time, I wasn't sure that the Sierra 2s were the speaker for me, so I did a three way comparison with SVS Ultra Bookshelf speakers and a pair of Aperion Audio Verus Grand Towers. I listened to the SVS speakers first, then the Aperion speakers and then the Ascend. For each set of speakers I spent about 1 week listening to a variety of material. The order was simply chosen by the order that they arrived. It's funny, because they were in increasing order in terms of price (the Aperions were on sale at the time) and it turned out that they were also arranged in my order of preference.

    The biggest problem I had with the Axiom speakers was listening fatigue. If I watched a two hour movie at more than -35 dB my ears would be ringing quite a bit for the rest of the day. Any of the other speakers in the shootout significantly improved things in terms of listening fatigue. The SVS speakers sounded like a little bit of a step up, when I first heard them. I could hear the soundstage regularly coming out into the room usually about 3 or 4 feet. Rarely would the Axiom's give any depth of soundstage. The SVS speakers imaged a little bit better than the Axioms. This was evident when watching scenes with Bane on the Dark Knight rises, or when listening to music. The SVS speakers were a little bit better at delineation, being able to isolate one particular instrument or sound in a mixture of others.

    The Aperion audio speakers were quite similar to the SVS speakers. The biggest differences to me were that they could image a little bit better than the SVS speakers and the soundstage was just bigger than on the SVS speakers. The soundstage was taller, wider and deeper. It was cool, some sounds could even be placed behind me, fooling me into thinking that I had my surround speakers on when listening to stereo.

    Then I listened to the Ascend Sierra 2s. The first thing that jumped out at me was the imaging. I thought the Aperion speakers imaged well, but it was almost like having a sheet in front of the speakers removed when switching to the Ascend speakers. If you want to compare to some low end home theater in a box speakers, it would be more like a blanket was removed in front of those. As a result of this there were details in familiar recordings that just lept out at me when listening to the Sierra 2s, that all of the other speakers just glossed over. It didn't happen all the time, but I noticed it within the 30 day trial period. The soundstage was just as deep as from the Ascends, but nowhere near as wide or tall. I'm guessing that the Aperion speakers are not presenting an accurate soundstage and maybe doing this for the wow factor. It was also a noticable difference how the Ascend speakers were quieter, for lack of a better word. I didn't realize until switching to them that they did this and I think this help with the imaging. I felt like the extra cost of the Sierra 2s ($200 more than the Aperion's and $400 more than the SVS's) was worth it to me. I could pick out the extra things that the Sierra 2s could do well and it wasn't subtle in comparison. It wasn't massive either though. If I had to put a percentage on it, it was close to the difference in prices. So it was an easy decision to just spend the extra money and get the speaker that did everything else better.

    Maybe the Ascend 170SE's are just really good speakers, where the step up to the Sierra 2s are just small improvements in all areas. If the SVS Ultras or Aperion Verus Grand speakers are close to the 170SE's in performance, then it would be hard to not think about the 4 to 5 times difference in cost and expect something like that in terms of a jump in performance.

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