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Thread: AA Sierra-2EX Monitor Review

  1. #1
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    Exclamation AA Sierra-2EX Monitor Review

    After following the development, bothering Dave with many questions and reading reviews of the Sierra-2EX’s for the past 2 years, I’ve finally stepped away from my beloved Sierra-1 NrT’s of 10 years. Though very satisfied and happy with the NrT’s, as Dave and many others have stated…the Sierra-2EX’s are in a whole ‘nother league! Even the Sierra-2’s that I tried for 30 days didn’t fully accomplish what I wanted in my small dedicated near-field music room. However, the Sierra-2EX has surpassed even My long awaited expectations and more importantly, My Serious OCD ears!!! Many have written of their experiences and opinions on the 2EX with virtually 100% approvals. But if you are new to Ascend Acoustics ID audio speakers, or would simply like to read more glowing positive accolades…read on!

    Brief personal background: I’ve studied classical piano for 10 years, have an instrumental music degree, have performed on most wind instruments and strings and have been an “Audiophile” for the past 45 years. I know and appreciate acoustical non-amplified music, with many exposures to LIVE orchestral, choral, keyboard, chamber, small wind ensemble and intimate jazz group performances…in simpler words, I know when reproduced music sounds Real! My recorded musical library includes a wide genre variety of musical taste, but 90% are geared towards acoustic instrumental, vocals and keyboard (including cathedral pipe organ)! For the past 10 years, I’ve developed reference recorded sources that are “high end”, offering me accurate evaluations and repeatability of every step of analysis, listening and performance of components (especially speakers). Okay, I know, this wasn’t very brief…I’ll move on!

    The Ascend Acoustic Sierra-2EX: It would be Much easier (and faster) to simply state the negatives of the Sierra 2-EX…er, the only negative (besides waiting for 2 years) would be, They’re Not Free! Okay, that’s too easy, so I’ll start with what they do Well! The best opinion to offer and what my ears “hear” are they present Exactly what is in the recording, good or bad! I can listen for many hours to my great recorded library and never feel fatigued…just highly satisfied to the depths of my soul! They are very detailed and analytical, offering substantial precision and definition while always maintaining accurate musicality and realism!

    No doubt (as Dave has stated many times), the Custom RAAL ribbon tweeters are one of the industries’ best transducers…Fast, Clear, Neutral and Precise…Most Natural cymbal, melodic percussion, keyboard and instrumental Tonalities I’ve ever Heard! The whisper of a breath, very low ambient background sounds of the venue, the superb clarity and separation of soloist/background vocals and the brilliant timbre of strings, woodwinds, brass and melodic percussion all come through with natural conviction, authority and realism. With the Custom 2EX Sierra midbass/woofer development (created to keep up with Sierra’s $3.5K Diamond Dome Tweeter in a Custom Sierra 2di configuration), credit Dave for acting on AA memberships’ request to pair this very special (and costly) Custom 6” EX woofer with the small Custom Sierra RAAL tweeter…a Match made in Audio Heaven (including Dave’s brilliant xover Magic)! Visceral impact throughout the bass/midrange is astounding and immersive. I’ve not experienced a S-2EX to RAAL-Tower comparison, but according to others who have, state the S-2EX is closer to the RAAL Towers than to the Sierra S-2…That about says it all!


    Some other quick observations from my 100+ hours of listening these past few weeks:

    Soundstage - can be HUGE, but depends on the recording. Not only is the center image locked in with perfect size, weight and pinpoint placement, but also easily floats in space between the LR channels and can also extend well beyond the listening setup walls. Again recording and genre dependent, the soundstage can easily extend 5-10ft outside of the side walls, 10-20ft above the 2EX placement and 5-30ft beyond the back listening wall for an Amazing Stereo 3D Presentation (very holographic). This large soundstage places instruments and vocals in their proper place and size with respect to the recorded venue, space and miking techniques. Separation of harmonies, textures and space stays locked in and assist in the 2EX monitors Completely Disappearing…you visually See Speakers, but hear Music, just glorious natural MUSIC!

    Balance – The 2EX has powerful, articulate, fast and deep bass (full range, seems to extend flat down to 35Hz in my room) that for most music, could be all you desire. Punch you in the chest is very high, with no boom or hangover ring. Midrange fidelity and clarity are also a huge step-up from the Sierra-1, rendering vocals with new details I've not heard before from my music library! However, I do have the 2EX high passed at 50hz with a very well integrated and musical powered sub low passed at 50hz to cover the bottom 1 ľ octaves (my preference for orchestral and pipe organ music). Overall, the RAAL blends seamlessly with the EX to create a 1-point source wall of sound that Defies their diminutive size and prowess.

    Dynamics – Even though not as efficient as the S1-Nrt or the S-2, the 2EX seems to easily play greater dynamic peaks without Ever sounding harsh, strained or distorted…my SWAG being in the range of 3-5db more listenable volume! This translates into less compression and offers more realistic live performances. Energy and emotional transference of the music’s spirit is a forte of the 2EX, sounding live with involuntary toe-tapping rhythmic involvement and peak jaw dropping surprises. Throughout the full bandwidth, Micro and Macro dynamics are simple superb, translating into equal listener satisfaction, no matter the volume playback chosen! Faithful to the music, delicate soft passages have pristine openness and clarity, then in similar fashion, crescendos take my breath away as I recover from the excitement of the uncompressed moment!

    Professional Monitor? – IMHO-YES! The Ascend Acoustic Sierra 2EX's offer a critical and accurate window not only into the music, but also the recorded venue, the medium (mics, mixing, etc.) and the energy and soul of the performers. They add nothing to the presentation but musical truth, thus could easily be declared worthy of professional studio mixing task! But wait, look at the high quality inert laminated bamboo build, possibly the best transducers on the market and fused with high end crossover components…easily worthy of a retail value 4X+ the asking price! How does Dave do it? Don’t know, but decided to pick up this value deal before Ascend goes up on their prices!!!

    More descriptives, superlatives or praises…nah, this review is long enough! If you want to hear what I and others hear from the engineers at Ascend Acoustics, get a pair to try for 30-days…believe you’ll find like me, these are Definite Keepers!

    Ted
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    Last edited by theophile; 03-30-2021 at 05:04 AM.
    Sierra-2EX, Axiom EP 500, Emotiva USP-1, Emotiva UPA-2, Phillips CD880 (dedicated 2.1 listening room)!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: AA Sierra-2EX Monitor Review

    Nice write-up, Ted.
    Emotiva USP-1/UPA-1 - nice combo - I used to have same in my office, although sold both some time ago when I took down office set up (now just stream from computer).
    No worries about stacking electronics on the sub?
    Robert

  3. #3
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    Default Re: AA Sierra-2EX Monitor Review

    Quote Originally Posted by racrawford65 View Post
    Nice write-up, Ted.
    Emotiva USP-1/UPA-1 - nice combo - I used to have same in my office, although sold both some time ago when I took down office set up (now just stream from computer).
    No worries about stacking electronics on the sub?
    Robert
    Thanks Robert!

    Surprisingly, Iíve no vibration or feedback issues. My listening room is 10ft x 9ft and am able to easily energize my intimate near-field listening space with 106db+ dynamic peaks without clipping, feedback or strain (20hz-28Khz)! The sub cabinet is built with 1" mdf...heavy, but solid and easily supports the weight of the stacked components (these anyway)! A few years ago I was experiencing some resonant RF electrical feedback, but found remediation with much higher quality shielded interconnects!

    Ted
    Sierra-2EX, Axiom EP 500, Emotiva USP-1, Emotiva UPA-2, Phillips CD880 (dedicated 2.1 listening room)!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: AA Sierra-2EX Monitor Review

    thanks, Ted.

    Makes me wonder if I could use my Rythmik's as a "shelf", if needed. At least for solid state gear - I'd be hesitant to put my tube stuff on top of one of the subs.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: AA Sierra-2EX Monitor Review

    Quote Originally Posted by racrawford65 View Post
    Makes me wonder if I could use my Rythmik's as a "shelf", if needed. At least for solid state gear - I'd be hesitant to put my tube stuff on top of one of the subs.
    I have a lava lamp sitting on my Rythmik F15HP.
    -curtis

  6. #6
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    Default Re: AA Sierra-2EX Monitor Review

    Quote Originally Posted by curtis View Post
    I have a lava lamp sitting on my Rythmik F15HP.
    Curtis...Does it sound BOOMIE?
    Sierra-2EX, Axiom EP 500, Emotiva USP-1, Emotiva UPA-2, Phillips CD880 (dedicated 2.1 listening room)!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: AA Sierra-2EX Monitor Review

    Quote Originally Posted by curtis View Post
    I have a lava lamp sitting on my Rythmik F15HP.
    Not one of the new Anthems? Although, why am I not surprised about the lava lamp?

    Just kidding, Curtis!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: AA Sierra-2EX Monitor Review

    Quote Originally Posted by theophile View Post
    Curtis...Does it sound BOOMIE?
    Ha!
    Quote Originally Posted by racrawford65 View Post
    Not one of the new Anthems? Although, why am I not surprised about the lava lamp?

    Just kidding, Curtis!
    LOL!
    Audio purchases are on hold until my GF and I settle on and buy a house.

    That said, Iím very interested in the new Anthems. I really enjoy my AVM 60. For the new Anthems Iím interested in how Roon will be implemented.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: AA Sierra-2EX Monitor Review

    Nice review Ted! I debated between upgrading my existing Sierra1's, buying a fresh set of Sierra2ex's and the Towers - I ended up choosing the Towers only because my listening area is pretty large. I will say that I am extremely happy that I got the RAAL upgrade - those tweeters are magical. Your system looks great - love the pics....Jim

  10. #10
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    Default Re: AA Sierra-2EX Monitor Review

    Wonderful review and thank you! So pleased that you are enjoying the Sierra-2EX!!
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    Good Sound To You!

    David Fabrikant
    www.ascendacoustics.com

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