Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 26

Thread: Sierra Raal Towers soundstage vs LS50 Wireless

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Posts
    15

    Default Sierra Raal Towers soundstage vs LS50 Wireless

    Hi,

    (First time poster).

    So I own a pair of Sierra Raal Towers that I love. They are running with a Hegel amp and cycling though various R2R Dac's of late, in a lively midsize living room (old craftsman with wood panels, hardwood floors, etc). The sit towards the corners of a rectangular room with openings on each wall to other rooms. Brick fireplace sits between them - but they stand a bit further out than the brick.

    For whatever reason, I recently became intrigued with the LS50 Wireless with built in active amplification and Dac. While they are completely different beasts in many ways, I have been doing some side-by-side comparisons between the two ....

    While the Raal tweeter is clearly more refined, smooth, and crystal clear, the LS50W's are creating a huge holographic soundstage that the Sierra's simply can't match. There is a sense of depth, air, layering that is amazing. The LS50W's have built-in DSP phase correction and obviously excel at this particular aspect of sound reproduction. Bass is another area where the LS50W's are surprisingly excellent - the active amps and DSP are really juicing these things with presence and energy.

    I now realize how *flat* my Sierra's sound. I feel like there is something wrong and not optimized with my setup/chain. I would prefer to keep the Ascends given their better accuracy, clear highs, looks, and future control/upgradeability of the Dac/Amp. My open question is what can I do to improve the soundstage/image of the Sierra Towers? Any thoughts/suggestions? Maybe they just don't work in my lively room.

    I have used DRC in the past - but off for this comparison and I know any improvement it makes on imaging won't match the LS50W's. I doubt spending more $$ on a different Dac is going to help that much. I am going to try a sub to see if that gives the Sierra's more presence and implied space/air/depth. Not sure what else would really impact things at the end of the day. Room treatment is not a possibility as this is our living room.

    I guess it's always a matter of trade-offs, but I am really irritated that my rational side is leaning towards dumping the Sierra Towers and keeping the LS50W's

    (Edit: yes, I have previously owned/tried the LS50 passives and Sierra 2 Raal's and know their strengths and weaknesses - the LS50W is a completely different beast from the LS50 passives - much warmer, less fatiguing, and more transparent ... but still can't match the Raal tweeter in some ways).
    Last edited by nquery; 10-05-2017 at 06:23 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    3,631

    Default Re: Sierra Raal Towers soundstage vs LS50 Wireless

    Can you please post a picture of the front of your room clearly showing the placement of both speakers?

    Speaker placement is everything when it comes to imaging and unless you are able to place the speakers in the exact same positions, it will never be a proper comparison. Try moving the towers to the exact same position as the LS50W.

    You also need to understand that with a powered speaker like the LS50W, it has electronic equalization built in to boost bass, something that passive speakers can not do - such that you might need equalization in your receiver to boost bass (if you find this is the cause for the differences in "presence" you mentioned). Using EQ in your receiver is essentially the same thing as the electronic EQ in the LS50W....
    .
    .
    .
    Good Sound To You!

    David Fabrikant
    www.ascendacoustics.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Sierra Raal Towers soundstage vs LS50 Wireless

    Hi Dave,

    Fair enough. See attached. Both swapped positions. I still get similar results - obviously the soundstage is a bit wider when the speakers are moved to the outside.

    Yes, I should have clarified my original post - I have also compared the towers with DRC convolution enabled/disabled, and I have tried PEQ to match the trim treble and bass boost on the LS50W dsp. i.e. trying to get them as apples to apples as possible. I have tried A+, Roon, USB/ethernet, etc.

    The Sierra Raal has clearer highs on vocals and better timbre on instruments such as piano and strings. The LS50W is much grainier. But I just can't get the same sense of space, image, depth, involvement that I do with the LS50W's. I would like to think that the Sierras are capable of producing a similar soundstage with the right setup. Its very frustrating that a $2200 pair of active LS50's can produce a better soundstage than my combination of $5000+ separates (speaker, dac, amp). I am at the point where I am questioning snake oil things like my speaker cables and such ... sigh !

    IMG_1594 (1).jpg IMG_1593 (1).jpg
    Last edited by nquery; 10-05-2017 at 10:51 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: Sierra Raal Towers soundstage vs LS50 Wireless

    Quote Originally Posted by nquery View Post
    Hi,

    (First time poster).

    ...
    For whatever reason, I recently became intrigued with the LS50 Wireless with built in active amplification and Dac. While they are completely different beasts in many ways, I have been doing some side-by-side comparisons between the two ....

    While the Raal tweeter is clearly more refined, smooth, and crystal clear, the LS50W's are creating a huge holographic soundstage that the Sierra's simply can't match. There is a sense of depth, air, layering that is amazing. The LS50W's have built-in DSP phase correction and obviously excel at this particular aspect of sound reproduction. Bass is another area where the LS50W's are surprisingly excellent - the active amps and DSP are really juicing these things with presence and energy.

    I now realize how *flat* my Sierra's sound. I feel like there is something wrong and not optimized with my setup/chain. I would prefer to keep the Ascends given their better accuracy, clear highs, looks, and future control/upgradeability of the Dac/Amp. My open question is what can I do to improve the soundstage/image of the Sierra Towers? Any thoughts/suggestions? Maybe they just don't work in my lively room.

    I have used DRC in the past - but off for this comparison and I know any improvement it makes on imaging won't match the LS50W's. I doubt spending more $$ on a different Dac is going to help that much. I am going to try a sub to see if that gives the Sierra's more presence and implied space/air/depth. Not sure what else would really impact things at the end of the day. Room treatment is not a possibility as this is our living room.
    The bottom line is you are comparing apples and oranges. The Kef's have some kind of tailored digital processing and 230 watts per channel. Since your Hegel doesn't have either of that, you're stuck with what it does. The Ascend Towers aren't to blame.

    **** does something similar in their powered speakers, albeit in a mid fi for the masses. It's nice, but not my cup of tea because it's just another way to mess with the sound and get bass out of small drivers.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Sierra Raal Towers soundstage vs LS50 Wireless

    Quote Originally Posted by sharkman View Post
    The bottom line is you are comparing apples and oranges. The Kef's have some kind of tailored digital processing and 230 watts per channel. Since your Hegel doesn't have either of that, you're stuck with what it does. The Ascend Towers aren't to blame.

    **** does something similar in their powered speakers, albeit in a mid fi for the masses. It's nice, but not my cup of tea because it's just another way to mess with the sound and get bass out of small drivers.
    I agree for the most part. I am not 'blaming' the Sierra Towers - as I said I feel like they should be capable of producing more. I just wonder if there is something else I can do to improve the soundstage.
    Last edited by nquery; 10-05-2017 at 11:08 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    3,631

    Default Re: Sierra Raal Towers soundstage vs LS50 Wireless

    Thanks for posting the pics. Your room is about what I was expecting based on your descriptions of the LS50 (a speaker I have evaluated dozens of times).

    Your room is very live - with both heavy reflections from ceiling, floor and left/right side walls. The Sierra Tower has tightly controlled vertical directivity - designed to *minimize* both floor and ceiling reflections. The LS50, by design, throws sound equally in all directions - for which you are going to hear much more reflected sound from the LS50 compared to hearing more direct sound from the towers.

    Don't confuse reflected sound (which always sounds more spacious since it is bouncing around all over your room) with what the recording is actually supposed to sound like. If you have ever been to a recording studio - or listened to speakers in well treated rooms, you would immediately understand.

    That spaciousness is always quite impressive, at first, but for most listeners it becomes problematic over time as it masks the actual "soundstage" and the imaging within the soundstage, as well as smearing detail. Ever hear a pair of 901's? Soundstage, presence, depth - these aspects are quite impressive, as the design is such that you are meant to hear more reflected sound (your room) compared to the direct sound.

    If you feel like it, try this experiment - take both sets of speakers outside and then have a listen. Do the LS50's still convey that same sense of spaciousness? Which speaker sounds more similar listening outside and then inside?

    Treat your reflections in the room (to minimize reflections) and the soundstage / imaging comparison between the 2 speakers will start becoming much closer. But it will be the imaging of the LS50's that starts becoming more similar to the towers.

    We actually do this quite often in our well treated demo room, where we treat 1st, 2nd and 3rd reflections and then remove selected treatments and customers listen again.

    All that said, you very well might prefer the sound this way - but like with all speaker designs, there are compromises.

    You might try a few little tweaks with towers:

    1. take the grilles off
    2. move the towers a bit more into the room
    3. try angling the towers upward a bit, this will throw a bit more sound to ceiling (ceiling reflections give a great impression of spaciousness)
    4. Turn off as much digital processing in your electronics as possible - image specificity queues often get lost each time sound is converted from analog to digital and back again.

    Have fun with all of it!
    .
    .
    .
    Good Sound To You!

    David Fabrikant
    www.ascendacoustics.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Sierra Raal Towers soundstage vs LS50 Wireless

    Thanks for the response and suggestions. I understand that my super lively room can create a sense of spaciousness with the dispersion characteristic of the LS50W's but might be smearing the sound at the same time. It's almost like the there is a "reverb" setting enabled. The Sierras are certainly more neutral and clear - likely because the ribbon is limiting/controlling vertical dispersion as you say.

    So now I am trying to understand to what degree the soundstage I am hearing is from my room effects vs what's in the recording. While the LS50W soundstage may be exaggerated by my room effects, I feel that the Sierras may not be bringing out the full soundstage with my current room setup. Strange as those two opposing things are.

    I have pulled the speakers further out into the room which helps somewhat, I think. I will play with things some more over the weekend and let you know how it works out!
    Last edited by nquery; 10-06-2017 at 02:49 PM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    76

    Default Re: Sierra Raal Towers soundstage vs LS50 Wireless

    If you want to check for soundstage, play "Vogue" by Madonna. The soundstage in that tune is just crazy. Every time I play that song I can swear that my surround speakers (Sierra 2s and Lunas) are active. Play that song with your Sierra Towers and let me know what you find. BTW, my room is heavily treated for reflections and I have zero complaints about soundstage with my Sierra Towers.
    Enrico Castagnetti @ Rythmik Audio
    Media Room: Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers w/ RAAL, Horizon w/ RAAL, Sierra 2s & Lunas | Rythmik F12SE (x2) | Emotiva XMC-1 | Emotiva XPA-3 & XPA-200 | Oppo 105D | Bluesound Node 2 | Sony HW40ES |
    Desktop: Dynaudio BM5 mkIII | Rythmik L22 | Apogee Quartet | 27" iMac|
    Bedroom: B&W 685 S2 | Rythmik LVX12 | Marantz NR1606 | Emotiva XPA-200 Gen 2 | Samsung UN50JU6500 |

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    3,631

    Default Re: Sierra Raal Towers soundstage vs LS50 Wireless

    Quote Originally Posted by nquery View Post
    Thanks for the response and suggestions. I understand that my super lively room can create a sense of spaciousness with the dispersion characteristic of the LS50W's but might be smearing the sound at the same time. It's almost like the there is a "reverb" setting enabled. The Sierras are certainly more neutral and clear - likely because the ribbon is limiting/controlling vertical dispersion as you say.
    It is quite a bit more than the ribbon tweeter controlling vertical dispersion, it is the overall design of the entire speaker, including the driver layout and the crossover. Not that the LS50's aren't great speakers - but you will find most higher end speakers designed for accuracy and detail use many approaches to controlling vertical dispersion.

    Quote Originally Posted by nquery View Post
    So now I am trying to understand to what degree the soundstage I am hearing is from my room effects vs what's in the recording. While the LS50W soundstage may be exaggerated by my room effects, I feel that the Sierras may not be bringing out the full soundstage with my current room setup. Strange as those two opposing things are.
    The towers present a very accurate soundstage, - in fact, the towers have one of the smoothest and most accurate horizontal polar response measurements I have ever seen - and this is the key indicator as to how accurate the soundstage will be. That said, if you really want to hear how much your room is affecting the sound - it is simple, drag the LS50W's outside and have a listen. I think you will be quite surprised to learn just how much the room plays into this.

    Have fun with it!
    .
    .
    .
    Good Sound To You!

    David Fabrikant
    www.ascendacoustics.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Sierra Raal Towers soundstage vs LS50 Wireless

    Hi,

    So I have been playing around with things further with what time I have had. To make a long story short, I was convinced that the Sierras just weren't right for my particular space - I had tried positioning, DAC change, verifying my speaker cables, etc.

    The one thing I hadn't tried was changing my amp. I went to a local dealer and demo'ed a Rega Elex-R integrated for the evening and it has definitely made an improvement over the Hegel. More space, better soundstage, punch, drive. I really believed that a (half-decent) amp was an amp, but now I am questioning this. The Hegel is characterized as very neutral, highly damped/controlled ... and I am starting to wonder if it just has a bad synergy with the similarly voiced Sierras (and not enough 'juice' even though the Sierra's are easy to drive ... !@#)

    I am going to try various other amps to see if I can discern further differences. I know, amps shouldn't make that much of a difference overall ... but given that the LS50W's are actively amplified maybe that *is* where there is a big difference at play here.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •