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Ascend Acoustics - ELX Towers or Sierra EX + a subwoofer?

sundek

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Hello all,

I’m trying to decide between getting a pair of the Sierra EX speakers and a sub vs getting a pair of ELX towers *with the dome tweeters*. As I see it, the strong points of each option are something like this:

Sierra EX
+Flexibility (can change stand arrangement to adjust height, which may be more important given the narrower vertical radiation of the ribbon tweeter on the EX)

+Less expensive (unsure what sub I would get, but the difference between the Ascends is about 2,300, more than I would spend on a sub)

+Ribbon tweeter (wider horizontal dispersion, other benefits)

+Lower bass (per the manufacturer, the ELX towers have an F3 of 36Hz, which is pretty good but not as deep as a sub would reach)

ELX Tower
+Simpler (fewer things to set up and manage, no need to figure out how to set up a sub and avoid tripping on it)

+More power handling (at least outside the sub’s frequencies)

+Wider vertical dispersion (due to the dome tweeters, hopefully helping to make up for the reduced opportunities for height adjustment)

My listening space is still being developed but will be about 14’ wide by 21’ deep. Amplification would come from a Hypex based Buckeye amp. I listen to many types of music, the main exception being electronic music. Since bass handling enters the question here, I will also say that I don’t listen to pipe organ music. I do however listen to some hip hop.

I feel that some trade offs will be inherent in any choice but welcome any advice or pointers on things I may be overlooking or looking at wrong.

Thanks for reading!

Erik
 

ooheadsoo

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I haven't listened to the elx but I Heard the ex and lx back to back at ascend hq. They really didn't sound alike, so it's going to be really hard to know what you will ultimately prefer. If you're interested in elx with the dome tweeter, how about the lx?
 
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sundek

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Hello and thanks for your suggestion! I have definitely considered the LX. It is my impression that the EX v2s outperform the LX in most areas, with bass being the exception. My hope, then, was that the EXs with sub would be better than either the EX or LX models alone. The reasons I’d likely get the ELX with domes would be that the wider vertical dispersion would help insure against any issues with height (towers being harder to adjust in that way) and cost, which is more of a concern with towers. Am I thinking about this wrong?

This does raise another question: I’ve read here and there that ribbons aren’t as suitable for loud and fast music as domes - but have also seen the contrary position advanced. This leads me to suspect that this is likely a non-issue (either way) but I would be very interested in hearing the thoughts of anyone in this forum on the matter. Thanks again!
 

DavidEdwinAston

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I can only offer a subjective viewpoint.
My LX's with REL S5 subs are "perfect"!
They replaced Spendor S100's, also with the same subs. Also "perfect".
Sorry, perhaps not a lot of help.
 

JAJDACT

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How far away do you plan on sitting from the speakers? That's a fairly large room. I compared the Philharmonic BMR's with the smaller ribbon tweeter like the 2EX has, against the Sierra LX's and I chose the LX as the overall winner. I now own a pair of ELX Ribbon Towers with the larger RAAL tweeter. I think your options really come down to price and if you want to integrate a subwoofer or two. If you are already considering the Titan Towers then I would seriously consider the LX and a pair of subs. I ran that exact setup for 4 months. If you don't want to mess with subs at all then I would buy the ELX towers. Having owned the LX with the Titan dome I can say that it does handle some genre specific recordings better than the RAAL on the ELX tower,but not by very much,however the RAAL's strengths with acoustic and string instrument reproduction are much larger,and ultimately that's why I chose them.
 

AVKS

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Hello and thanks for your suggestion! I have definitely considered the LX. It is my impression that the EX v2s outperform the LX in most areas, with bass being the exception. My hope, then, was that the EXs with sub would be better than either the EX or LX models alone. The reasons I’d likely get the ELX with domes would be that the wider vertical dispersion would help insure against any issues with height (towers being harder to adjust in that way) and cost, which is more of a concern with towers. Am I thinking about this wrong?

This does raise another question: I’ve read here and there that ribbons aren’t as suitable for loud and fast music as domes - but have also seen the contrary position advanced. This leads me to suspect that this is likely a non-issue (either way) but I would be very interested in hearing the thoughts of anyone in this forum on the matter. Thanks again!
The vertical dispersion looks pretty similar to me. Unless you're sitting very close and much higher than the tweeter, creating sharp vertical angles, and/or doing a lot of standing listening, I don't know that it needs to be a key factor in your decision.
 

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mziegler

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Hello and thanks for your suggestion! I have definitely considered the LX. It is my impression that the EX v2s outperform the LX in most areas, with bass being the exception. My hope, then, was that the EXs with sub would be better than either the EX or LX models alone. The reasons I’d likely get the ELX with domes would be that the wider vertical dispersion would help insure against any issues with height (towers being harder to adjust in that way) and cost, which is more of a concern with towers. Am I thinking about this wrong?

This does raise another question: I’ve read here and there that ribbons aren’t as suitable for loud and fast music as domes - but have also seen the contrary position advanced. This leads me to suspect that this is likely a non-issue (either way) but I would be very interested in hearing the thoughts of anyone in this forum on the matter. Thanks again!
I have compared both the EX and LX at Ascend. Although Raal is a better tweeter, I could not tell the difference between the two -- probably a function of my age. As a guitar player Dave said there was a difference he could hear. Bass response, of course, is a big difference. I thought there was a very big difference in presense. The LX threw a wider soundstage, and it definitely sounded like we were listening to towers. There seems to be a consensus that the LX is better for rock, while the EX is better for jazz. I agree with the rock part, but as more of a jazz listener I could not really distinguish the two, again because I could not discern the difference in tweeters. Not sure if this helps in any way.
 
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sundek

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Thanks for all of your input, everyone! I guess maybe the LX is back on the menu. Which leaves me with maybe a more generic “full range towers vs monitors and subs” question. Not necessarily easier (for me) but maybe a little more of a standard issue dilemma. I should search more here. Thanks again! (To be clear, I definitely still welcome more advice!)
 

JAJDACT

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Thanks for all of your input, everyone! I guess maybe the LX is back on the menu. Which leaves me with maybe a more generic “full range towers vs monitors and subs” question. Not necessarily easier (for me) but maybe a little more of a standard issue dilemma. I should search more here. Thanks again! (To be clear, I definitely still welcome more advice!)
If I were in your position I would just go ahead and get the towers if you can afford them. If you want to add subs later down the road then you always can,but I think if your already eyeing the towers then you will have doubts if you settle for the bookshelves. I spent a lot of time and money trying different bookshelves to save money and avoid buying tower speakers. After splurging for the ELX towers I don't want for more. A lot depends on your listening habits and content. If I just listened to 2 channel music I would have just the towers,but I watch a lot of movies so subwoofers were a must for me.
 

ooheadsoo

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I have compared both the EX and LX at Ascend. Although Raal is a better tweeter, I could not tell the difference between the two -- probably a function of my age. As a guitar player Dave said there was a difference he could hear. Bass response, of course, is a big difference. I thought there was a very big difference in presense. The LX threw a wider soundstage, and it definitely sounded like we were listening to towers. There seems to be a consensus that the LX is better for rock, while the EX is better for jazz. I agree with the rock part, but as more of a jazz listener I could not really distinguish the two, again because I could not discern the difference in tweeters. Not sure if this helps in any way.
I did the same, and I did think the RAAL was more "sparkly" and "twinkly", but I ultimately favored the LX presentation, although I am a string player and listen to a lot of jazz and acoustic music. Part of the irony of hearing the "sparklies" is that in real life, I don't even know if the player will hear so much - a lot of it has to do with the instruments being close mic'd. At the end of the day, though, it's a preference thing. The difference in the tonality and soundstage is significant.
 

Humon

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Thanks for all of your input, everyone! I guess maybe the LX is back on the menu. Which leaves me with maybe a more generic “full range towers vs monitors and subs” question. Not necessarily easier (for me) but maybe a little more of a standard issue dilemma. I should search more here. Thanks again! (To be clear, I definitely still welcome more advice!)
I have the Ascend ELX towers on order. I'm pretty much in the same position as you. My space is 12' x 30' x 8' and the 30' dimension might technically be more since the back is only about 3/4 of a wall that opens to the rest of the house. For bookshelves, I've used Elac UniFi UB52, Klipsch RP-160M and now I'm using Wharfedale Lintons. I think the Lintons are pretty much equivalent to a smaller tower. I've always ran two SVS SB-1000 subs. I thought the bookshelves did pretty well, but the Lintons definitely have a bigger, fuller sound, probably because of the 8" woofer and some help from that wide baffle.

That is the thing that I keep hearing--that big speakers have a bigger sound. That has been my experience as well, but I could see how that could be too much of a good thing for a particular room. More objectively, it seems that the basic advantages of towers over bookshelves is slightly more bass extension and less distortion at higher volumes. The Arendal towers for example have four woofers in a 2.5 way design, and all the reviews on them point out how clean they sound at higher volumes as well as just sounding big.

I think most people would agree that any system will benefit from the addition of a sub or two. You would have to run the subs at a higher cross over with bookshelves, which would be asking them to do more. It would pay to learn about the frequency response curves of the subs you are interested in before buying.

Still, I would love to be able to do a head to head comparison between for example Kef R3 Metas and R7 Metas with and without subs. The R7's are $2800 more than the R3's and that will buy two very nice subs. I would have to bet on the R3's with two good subs over the R7's without subs, but the R7's with subs should be even better. I guess paying more and more for diminishing returns is the audiophile dilemma.
 
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sundek

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Ha, yes, more would seem to be better as long as room correction is there to clean up the excess. I don’t know that my budget stretches to everything now but I may be able to get there in time.

For giggles, if I couldn’t have it all, would monitors + sub + Dirac be better than towers alone or just towers and dsp *or* subs? I’m guessing the full monitor package would get more votes than towers all alone.

Thanks for all of your thoughts.
 

AVKS

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Ha, yes, more would seem to be better as long as room correction is there to clean up the excess. I don’t know that my budget stretches to everything now but I may be able to get there in time.

For giggles, if I couldn’t have it all, would monitors + sub + Dirac be better than towers alone or just towers and dsp *or* subs? I’m guessing the full monitor package would get more votes than towers all alone.

Thanks for all of your thoughts.
Yes, of those limited combinations using subs would afford you the benefits of better sub positioning and relieve the speakers the strain of lower frequencies. Assuming you weren't trying to achieve ear-bleeding levels and that your known speakers positions aren't somehow perfect for bass, you would be fine with capable monitors.
 
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sundek

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I have the Ascend ELX towers on order. I'm pretty much in the same position as you. My space is 12' x 30' x 8' and the 30' dimension might technically be more since the back is only about 3/4 of a wall that opens to the rest of the house. For bookshelves, I've used Elac UniFi UB52, Klipsch RP-160M and now I'm using Wharfedale Lintons. I think the Lintons are pretty much equivalent to a smaller tower. I've always ran two SVS SB-1000 subs. I thought the bookshelves did pretty well, but the Lintons definitely have a bigger, fuller sound, probably because of the 8" woofer and some help from that wide baffle.

That is the thing that I keep hearing--that big speakers have a bigger sound. That has been my experience as well, but I could see how that could be too much of a good thing for a particular room. More objectively, it seems that the basic advantages of towers over bookshelves is slightly more bass extension and less distortion at higher volumes. The Arendal towers for example have four woofers in a 2.5 way design, and all the reviews on them point out how clean they sound at higher volumes as well as just sounding big.

I think most people would agree that any system will benefit from the addition of a sub or two. You would have to run the subs at a higher cross over with bookshelves, which would be asking them to do more. It would pay to learn about the frequency response curves of the subs you are interested in before buying.

Still, I would love to be able to do a head to head comparison between for example Kef R3 Metas and R7 Metas with and without subs. The R7's are $2800 more than the R3's and that will buy two very nice subs. I would have to bet on the R3's with two good subs over the R7's without subs, but the R7's with subs should be even better. I guess paying more and more for diminishing returns is the audiophile dilemma.
Have you heard the ELX towers in person? How do you like your Lintons? Do they have a wide horizontal sweet spot as one hears about Ascend and Philharmonic models? I don’t intend to coax you into speaking ill of the Wharfedales but they are another model I’ve considered and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts since you obviously share my interest in the ELX towers.
 

Humon

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Have you heard the ELX towers in person? How do you like your Lintons? Do they have a wide horizontal sweet spot as one hears about Ascend and Philharmonic models? I don’t intend to coax you into speaking ill of the Wharfedales but they are another model I’ve considered and I would be interested in hearing your thoughts since you obviously share my interest in the ELX towers.
No, I haven't heard the ELX towers yet, so like many others in these days of Internet retail I just did a lot of homework and read as many reviews as I could find. It helps that the owner/designer has built a rapport with various Internet communities. I wanted to build a DIY tower as my next major upgrade but I wasn't looking forward to all the work involved. I was almost ready to pull the trigger on a set of Revel F208's when I saw some reviews comparing them with the Ascend towers. I checked them out and they were just what I was hoping to find. They have the component and cabinet quality of a DIY speaker, but with reviews, measurements, and actually experienced people building them.

Like most people who have tried them, I really like the Lintons. Compared to an articulate bookshelf like the Elac UB52 there's no doubt the Lintons are a wider sound and you hear less obvious stereo separation, or what audiophiles call imaging. The tradeoff is that the wide wall of sound presentation works very well for many music genres. Nobody cares much about imaging for classic rock, especially heavy metal. The same for bombastic orchestral works like Tchaikovsky, or string filled classic pop. For those styles, you want it to sound big and wide. If it is a jazz quartet, then maybe that is a different story. Horses for courses, right? Still, I think it is wrong to dismiss the Lintons as just a vintage reissue. They have notably more articulation and a more forward upper register than the woolly, diffuse, and rolled-off sound I remember from vintage speakers. They can still do some imaging when the music itself calls for it, but it isn't their strong point. For downsides, most people agree that the treble is where they sound most like their price point.

I'm hoping that the ELX towers will improve on the Lintons in terms of imaging and resolution, but with more and better drivers keep most of that big sound. Most owners really like the bass they deliver, but unless they are freakishly good in that way, I will most likely keep using subs. I think subs add a dimension to the sound that goes beyond just having more low end.
 

Ron Texas

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The Lintons sure get a lot of love around here. Kind of interesting for an old school style design.
 

thewas

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The Lintons sure get a lot of love around here. Kind of interesting for an old school style design.
Because opposite to old school small 2-way bookshelfs the good old 3-way design with not too large mid driver and wide baffle works often quite well even with tweeters without waveguide and the corrsponding spins show that.
 

Ron Texas

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Because opposite to old school small 2-way bookshelfs the good old 3-way design with not too large mid driver and wide baffle works often quite well even with tweeters without waveguide and the corrsponding spins show that.
They also have a ridge around the edge. One of these days I might find a pair to audition. However, My LS50's (original) with L12 Subs work really well.
 
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