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Thread: ELX Titan Towers Review

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2023

    Thumbs up ELX Titan Towers Review

    For those who don't know, Ascend Acoustics is a direct-to-consumer speaker manufacturer based in California. I first heard about them when I was looking for reviews of speakers in the $4,000 - $5,000 price range. I was about to pull the trigger on a pair of Revel F208's when I saw a post on a forum recommending that everyone forget the big names and look at smaller companies that offer better quality and value, with Ascend Acoustics being one of the alternatives mentioned. I then looked for reviews of the ELX Tower and saw a lot of positive things, including a favorable comparison with the Revel F208.

    The buying experience was easy and hassle free, as it should be from a consumer direct company, but Ascend Acoustics went above and beyond, being very friendly and communicative throughout the process. Packaging was meticulous with each speaker being double boxed with additional reinforcement and thick foam isolation. As usual, UPS did their best to destroy them, with one box having the obligatory UPS forklift wound, but since precautions were taken, the speakers themselves were undamaged. Setup and assembly was very simple. Just attach the base with four screws and level the feet. Pro tip: level the feet before attaching the base. The binding posts are high quality and rock-solid.

    I opted for piano black with the Titan dome tweeter. A Raal ribbon tweeter is available as an option. I have always been mostly a bass head and I never considered myself a connoisseur of tweeters, so I didnít think I would appreciate the difference. I donít find that there is anything left to be desired from the Titan dome tweeter, but now that Iíve heard what these speakers can do, Iím kind of curious what special sauce the Raal ribbon adds. The price was $4,398 for the pair, which might sound absurd to those outside this hobby, but we know that this is little more than entry level for audiophile grade speakers. Fit and finish is very good, and the overall look is quite handsome. The CGI renders on the web site donít really do them justice and the pictures in the customer gallery give a better idea of what they really look like. Some might quibble that the design is businesslike and utilitarian, but in reality they have more curves than the Kef R7 Meta, and while the Kefís chic color palette looks good in pictures, they would be hard to blend into a traditional living space. The piano black ELX Towers donít have that problem, and now that I have to live with them, Iím glad they donít draw too much attention to themselves.

    The rest of my system consists of a Parasound A21 power amp, Musical Fidelity M6S preamp, a Denafrips Ares II, and two SVS SB-1000 subs. I have the subs connected to the power amp through the high level inputs. I may upgrade the subs sometime in the next year, but this is an audiophile setup, and I donít really ask a lot of them. I have the volume and crossover levels set very low. The front end is a PC streaming Amazon Music HD through Windows Equalizer APO with the Peace interface. I use Equalizer APO in conjunction with REW to generate Harman shaped frequency response curves with somewhat elevated bass and slightly rolled-off treble. I have a few slightly different curves with varying amounts of bass boost and treble roll-off set to hot-keys that I can switch to depending on the recording that is playing. The room is 12íx30íx8í with two large openings to the rest of the house in the back half. The speakers are about 8í apart, which puts them about 2í from the side walls and about 30Ē from the front wall. Listening position is about 12í. I have the speakers toed out from the on-axis position by 5į - 10į. I have four pieces of actually effective room treatment including 12Ēx16Ēx48Ē bass traps in the front corners, and 6Ēx24Ēx48Ē absorbers with a 3Ē air gap set at first reflection points. Optimal placement of the side absorbers is debatable, and I may add more or move them as I gain more experience with their effects.

    Since Iím using a full-featured parametric EQ, and I consider it a vital component of the system, most of my experience is based on using it. I can turn it off, and the results are about what would be expectedóroom modes in the bass and sub-bass frequencies return in full force and treble is a little subdued from my room treatments. So taming room modes and restoring treble is basically what the EQ does. If there are any major humps and valleys in the ELX towerís response, the EQ would do a good job of disguising them, so I canít speak to that. However, it is a selling point of the speakers that they were designed using extensive measurements which are available on the web site, so I donít have any reason to think Iím papering over any major deficiencies.

    The ELX Towers are replacing a set of Wharfedale Lintons, which most people agree are good sounding speakers, at least for the money. I figured if I upgraded a price category or two and I could hear that it really was a substantial upgrade, then I could be content that I got my moneyís worth. When I hooked the ELX Towers up and started getting the sound sorted out, I quickly started to realize that I had gotten way more than I had bargained for. My first thoughts were along the lines of ďthis is what real Hi-Fi sounds likeÖexpensive Hi-Fi.Ē It sounded like a dealer demo of an absurdly priced system that they are nice enough to let you try even though they know you canít afford it. I didnít think it was possible I was hearing this caliber of sound from something that I owned in my living room. The sound is the complete package. The bass is deep, clean, and powerful. The mids are rich without losing clarity and detail. The upper mids and treble are bold without sounding brittle or fatiguing. I could pick out any instrument and hear every nuance that the musician put into it. Nothing is lost in the mix, and no part of the sound spectrum dominates at the expense of the rest. Clarity, resolution, and instrument separation are freakishly good. If the track had a brash trumpet, it was brash and so realistic it was like standing in front of the stage. The same with lilting piano passages. I could hear the hammer hitting the string, and every nuance of the resonance and decay. Spacey synth passages sounded like the mothership taking off.

    I know of at least one prominent influencer who says that if anyone describes a speaker as detailed, then that probably means that the treble is artificially tilted up. I think the ELX towers are proof that this isnít always true. I have yet to hear the treble coming from them to be overly bright or fatiguing, even though the upper mids and treble donít pull any punches and can take the top of your head off, if that is what is in the recording. I found them to be less fatiguing than the Lintons, which is not known to be a fatiguing speaker. To my ears, the ELX towers always retain a bit of roundness and warmth across the spectrum.

    I hesitate to single out one part of the sound from the rest, because the tonal balance and dynamics from top to bottom are a big part of what makes these speakers so satisfying to me. Bass, midrange, and treble are always present and accounted for, almost regardless of how dark or thin the recording is. Still, I have to say that the bass deserves special mention. It is clean, clear, and it is almost hard to believe how deep they can dig. No matter what I send their way, the bass refuses to get bloated or muddy. Donít be put off by the fact that they are 6Ē drivers. Obviously, there is more to a woofer than cone diameter, and these drivers are proof of that. Smaller cones do have some advantages, like lower inertia and higher stiffness, which directly relate to their performance. Thatís about the extent of my knowledge of driver engineering, but what we do know is who makes them and that they are not just bean counter designs. I was never impressed by speaker companies that advertise their drivers are designed and made in-house. How is that a selling point? I would much rather know the drivers are made by an established company whose designs must prove themselves in the marketplace.

    I think Iíve pretty much said all I can say. These are just great sounding speakers and I canít imagine anyone who hears them saying anything else. I would have loved to do a shootout between the ELX towers, the Revel F208ís and the Kef R7 Metas, but Iím not in a position to do that without return scumming some dealer just trying to make a living. I would only do that if I could get open box units and pay for all of the shipping, and, honestly, I donít really have the time or energy for it. I decided to try something a little different and possibly get something a little more special, and Iím glad I did.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003

    Default Re: ELX Titan Towers Review

    Thank you so much for the wonderful review and I am thrilled you are enjoying the ELX Titan Towers!!!
    Good Sound To You!

    David Fabrikant

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