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Thread: Speaker Shootout

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Posts
    168

    Default Speaker Shootout

    I am a member of various forums for several of my interests. On one forum there is a bookshelf speaker in the Polk line that gets rave reviews, the LSiM703. The forum doesn't have much information on Ascend, though there are a number of comparisons between the 703s and speakers by B&W, Focal, Totem, Usher and other brands which I would consider more competitive with Ascend.
    With that as a backdrop, I got my hands on a set of nearly new Polk 703's and decided to do an A/B shootout vs. my Sierra 2's.
    I used 4 songs, picked from the group I auditioned my speakers with when I visited Dave and Dina, played through my Plinius 9100 integrated with no EQ and I level matched each song with an SPL meter. My room is a converted 3rd car garage (18 x 11 x 8) and is sometimes a recording studio, so is treated with broadband panels on the walls and bass traps in all 4 corners, as well as the front and rear walls. Both sets of speakers were placed without grills on my Ultimate Support stands, which are 8 feet from my primary listening position. In summary, the best environment I could come up with for a fair comparison.
    Songs: Hotel California - Eagles (When Hell Freezes Over version) ; Freddie Freeloader - Miles Davis (remastered hi-def ALAC file) ; They Can't Take That Away From Me - Diana Krall (hi-def ALAC file) ; In The Air Tonight - Phil Collins (2015 remastered ALAC file).
    I won't get into detail on each song, but took notes for each set of speakers, with emphasis on bass, treble and mid-range.
    Overall, the Polks were boomy in the low end. Mids were neutral but a bit laid back. Treble was neutral and pretty decent, but nothing special. My overall impression would include the words "slow" and "muddy". By comparison, the S2s were solid and punchy in the low end, with the lower conga on the Eagles song coming through at almost subwoofer level in depth and clarity. The mids were neutral and right where they needed to be, in terms of forward / backward. The highs were stunning (as always). Hearing Miles' exhale during "Freddy" and the clear, breathy vocals from Diana Krall were things I had become used to, if not taken for granted. My overall impression includes the words "fast" and "articulate".
    I've wanted to do this comparison for some time. The Sierras and Polks may be in the same price range, but nowhere near each other in terms of musicality. The Polks do better in a Home Theater setup, with the benefit of Audyssey to take care of a few sonic issues. Not better than the Sierras, but better than in my music test.
    My Sierras are nearly two years old. I've loved them from day 1, and continue to enjoy them with no reservation. This test only served to reinforce what a fine speaker this is, even when compared to what some consider a very good speaker.
    Sorry for the lengthy review, but just wanted to get this all down while fresh in my mind (and ears).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    3,895

    Default Re: Speaker Shootout

    Thanks for sharing. I liked the LSi 703's -- probably the best sounding set of Polk speakers I ever auditioned. Happy you continue to enjoy your Sierra-2
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    Good Sound To You!

    David Fabrikant
    www.ascendacoustics.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: Speaker Shootout

    "They Can't Take That Away From Me - Diana Krall (hi-def ALAC file)"

    I had not heard that wonderfully rich cut on my Ascends (S2-Horizon-S2 + Rhythmik LVX12) - your post reminded me to try it.

    Note I streamed it from Amazon Music, so the source quality was decidedly questionable (some audible background noise which sounded a lot like tape hiss). However, I could hear amazing detail. Please confirm or help me understand otherwise: I am quite sure I hear the sounds of her lips peeling apart (for lack of a better term) two different times in the first 45 seconds or so!

    Am I confused?

    While I do not have the towers (maybe someday), I continue to be amazed by my Ascend Acoustics speakers.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Posts
    168

    Default Re: Speaker Shootout

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianNLS View Post
    "They Can't Take That Away From Me - Diana Krall (hi-def ALAC file)"

    I had not heard that wonderfully rich cut on my Ascends (S2-Horizon-S2 + Rhythmik LVX12) - your post reminded me to try it.

    Note I streamed it from Amazon Music, so the source quality was decidedly questionable (some audible background noise which sounded a lot like tape hiss). However, I could hear amazing detail. Please confirm or help me understand otherwise: I am quite sure I hear the sounds of her lips peeling apart (for lack of a better term) two different times in the first 45 seconds or so!

    Am I confused?

    While I do not have the towers (maybe someday), I continue to be amazed by my Ascend Acoustics speakers.
    I wouldn't doubt your ability to hear lips. That is an amazing recording, whether you like Diana Krall or not. It really shows off the S2's, particularly the highs.

    I find myself gravitating to better recordings most times, as they really bring out the best in the S2's. Most of my "good stuff" is ALAC, but I recently picked up a Marantz SACD player, and ordered a few SACDs, most of which I have in other format (vinyl, etc.) but represent well recorded / mixed music that reviews indicate really shine on SACD. I'm (im)patiently waiting for Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms" and in particular the last minute, when the Hammond B3 swells over the guitar. I have a pretty good idea what that will sound like, but can't wait to let it rip at about 85 dB!

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