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Ascend Sierra Luna Duo Center/Main Speaker Review

GimeDsp

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What do you think makes a midrange have body and warmth that isn't accounted for by frequency response/distortion? Most of the ribbon speakers don't even have the ribbon playing the midrange.
That is a great question. I do firmly beleive there are many things besides frequency response that can give "warmth" to the mid range.
Here is what I understand to be a good break down of range (from a pro audio/mixing perspective)
SPECTRUM.JPG

Often time in smaller 3 ways the "mid" driver is crosser over at 3500hz or so.
I have always considered mid range to include low mid, mid, and upper mid.

I have my own ideas and theories about what gives a warm, natural, full mid range in a speaker but I don't have any hard data to back it up.
I do know this though, from playing drums for many decades I have heard the real sound of resonance, stored energy, and the attack/decay of sound. Having 2 drivers such as a cone/Ribbon that are so dissimalar in stored energy and resonance can create and unatural transition between drivers. The FR might blend well but the other aspects are worlds apart.
In a 3 way, this dissimilarity is moved up higher, past the part of human hearing that is so attuned to be critical of, and should be less of an issue. The beauty of a 3 way is that it can have 1 driver playing the all important mid range and upper midrange with no crossover going on(in that range). This, IMO, can create the most clear and natural sounding mid range of all. This is also why I beleive that Bose can do so well with vocals, having only 1 driver handle the whole spectrum. Of course the Bose suck having no highs and no lows.
 
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goldark

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Chromatischism

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Hmm. I would like to know what Amir thinks about the notion put forth that we only hear in 1/6 octave groupings. I suppose that would be what, 16 Hz between 100-200 Hz and 166 Hz between 1000-2000 Hz? Seems reasonable to me, but I think we can hear a bit better than that, so I would entertain the 1/12 idea. It may depend on the person.
 
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Chromatischism

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It would be nice to see the measurements, but I am not a member of the forum. But, TLDR, it's possible Klippel NFS exaggerates port resonances, especially front ports, causing much consternation here at ASR; but it pushed Dave to double down and come up with something better, so kudos.
 

617

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Big credit due to Ascend in not only investing in their r&d (not just the NFS, but getting a cnc and 3d printer for prototyping) but also writing about their process publicly.

I do agree that the port resonances the NFS picks up are not as significant as they appear. Break out an eq and insert a similar high q notch, you won't hear it unless you sweep it around. However even if the NFS is in accurate in this sense, it is so vastly superior to the old methods ascend was using for directivity.

I share Ascend's view that overly high res measurements are so what misleading. The NFS just gives an absurd level of resolution which is not representative of what we hear. Great for designers, not relevant to consumers, even for critical listening.

I really like that Ascend still subscribes to some audiophilish tendencies such as the use of ribbon tweeters and so on; combined with next generation measurement gear they are well positioned to deliver a very performance version of the wide dispersion audiophile sound which can be so enjoyable.

I do wish they'd make some different form factor speakers. If they made a 10/3/1 inch 3 way I bet it would be very popular.

If I was in the market for passives I would definitely be keeping an eye on their lineup. Nice to see a domestically produced, performant and affordable speaker lineup. That's a very rare thing.
 

echopraxia

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Big credit due to Ascend in not only investing in their r&d (not just the NFS, but getting a cnc and 3d printer for prototyping) but also writing about their process publicly.

I do agree that the port resonances the NFS picks up are not as significant as they appear. Break out an eq and insert a similar high q notch, you won't hear it unless you sweep it around. However even if the NFS is in accurate in this sense, it is so vastly superior to the old methods ascend was using for directivity.

I share Ascend's view that overly high res measurements are so what misleading. The NFS just gives an absurd level of resolution which is not representative of what we hear. Great for designers, not relevant to consumers, even for critical listening.

I really like that Ascend still subscribes to some audiophilish tendencies such as the use of ribbon tweeters and so on; combined with next generation measurement gear they are well positioned to deliver a very performance version of the wide dispersion audiophile sound which can be so enjoyable.

I do wish they'd make some different form factor speakers. If they made a 10/3/1 inch 3 way I bet it would be very popular.

If I was in the market for passives I would definitely be keeping an eye on their lineup. Nice to see a domestically produced, performant and affordable speaker lineup. That's a very rare thing.
Same here. I’ve owned their Ascend Sierra RAAL Towers (and their entire RAAL lineup), and they sound amazing — at least for those of us who appreciate the wider beam style of sound.

At low to moderate SPL, I still find the Ascend towers capable some of the best soundstage I’ve ever heard. The Revel Salon2 and Revel F328Be are the only others I’ve heard that are comparable in this way, but they cost much more. However, these Revel products are capable of going MUCH louder before encountering any meaningful distortion, and so in that way Ascend’s speakers can’t keep up with the pricier Revel flagships (around 96db the Ascend yields a lot of bass distortion and even some tweeter distortion, as you can see from the ASR review of the Ascend Horizon).

So like you, I wish they would make a bigger speaker aimed at effortlessly achieving higher SPLs. I would gladly pay Ascend a lot of money to buy new flagship towers from them with considerably more low-distortion SPL headroom, akin to towers like the Revel F328be etc. I really think Ascend has the resources and talent to pull something like that off (Revel-killers, in that Revel’s towers are also fairly wide dispersion, but capable of much higher SPL before distortion).
 
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Chromatischism

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I do agree that the port resonances the NFS picks up are not as significant as they appear. Break out an eq and insert a similar high q notch, you won't hear it unless you sweep it around. However even if the NFS is in accurate in this sense, it is so vastly superior to the old methods ascend was using for directivity.
Dave actually believes that the NFS exaggerates the port resonances. He thinks it could be due to the propagation of that type of sound to be different than that of a woofer, which is what Klippel is assuming and calculating.

This means that an attempt at EQ to reduce output in that area would likely not be beneficial and could be detrimental.
 
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Kachda

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Dave actually believes that the NFS exaggerates the port resonances. He thinks it could be due to the propagation of that type of sound to be different than that of a woofer, which is what Klippel is assuming and calculating.

This means that an attempt at EQ to reduce output in that area would likely not be beneficial and could be detrimental.
Dave also claims his speakers sound very good and have lots of satisfied customers, but a trained listener like amir found it to be horrible. Unless he can prove that klippel is exaggerating it, i will take his claims as marketing (exaggerations :)) speak itself
 

617

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Dave also claims his speakers sound very good and have lots of satisfied customers, but a trained listener like amir found it to be horrible. Unless he can prove that klippel is exaggerating it, i will take his claims as marketing (exaggerations :)) speak itself

I think the port issues are exaggerated. Reading his investigation of them, I believe him - this guy knows a lot about speaker measurement and he just spent over $200K on prototyping and test gear because of ASR. If my reading of his account is correct, Klippel themselves were unable to explain the difference between his measurements and the NFS results. The idea that the Klippel delivers perfection at the push of a button to even loudspeaker measurement amateurs is itself a marketing claim.

However, there are other issues with the Ascend lineup and my hope is that he develops some new models with superior off axis measurements, greater refinement and so on.
 

mboilers

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Dave also claims his speakers sound very good and have lots of satisfied customers, but a trained listener like amir found it to be horrible. Unless he can prove that klippel is exaggerating it, i will take his claims as marketing (exaggerations :)) speak itself

I'm curious, have you read the 5 part posting from Dave? From your reply it would seem not, but I still must ask.
 
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Kachda

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I'm curious, have you read the 5 part posting from Dave? From your reply it would seem not, but I still must ask.
I read all five parts. I felt there was way too much of showboating in his posts.

having said that, I am happy that he’s taking the constructive way out of this rather than claiming there is no problem or throwing audiophiley words around. His language and tone are not to my liking but the approach certainly Is
 

aarons915

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Dave also claims his speakers sound very good and have lots of satisfied customers, but a trained listener like amir found it to be horrible. Unless he can prove that klippel is exaggerating it, i will take his claims as marketing (exaggerations :)) speak itself

It really should be a case study of how brand bias can overshadow almost any audio deficiencies if there were hardly any unsatisfied customers of those speakers. Of course it's not entirely true as someone in that thread stated something was off in the midrange of the Duo and I believe whoever sent the Luna and Duo into Amir also mentioned that they never quite sounded right and was their reasoning for having them reviewed.
 

echopraxia

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It really should be a case study of how brand bias can overshadow almost any audio deficiencies if there were hardly any unsatisfied customers of those speakers. Of course it's not entirely true as someone in that thread stated something was off in the midrange of the Duo and I believe whoever sent the Luna and Duo into Amir also mentioned that they never quite sounded right and was their reasoning for having them reviewed.
I agree it’s a little bit of bias on Ascend’s part to paint them as universally loved, and that he’s making them even better while simultaneously claiming the prior version has no real flaws.

I empathize with the difficulty in maintaining a balanced perspective though when running a small business exposing your products to a lot of fan mail and hate mail alike. My understanding is that in situations like these, you have to either filter out all the negative comments from the internet out to maintain your sanity, OR hire someone to survey your customers for honest constructive criticism (where having a 3rd party as a “psychological negativity buffer“ is a key detail). Perhaps Ascend should do the latter.

If they did, they’d hear from me that I wasn’t too thrilled with my Lunas either. They worked fine as rear surrounds, but I agree they didn’t sound “quite right”. Certainly not on the same level as the Towers and 2EX I had.
 

617

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I agree it’s a little bit of bias on Ascend’s part to paint them as universally loved, and that he’s making them even better while simultaneously claiming the prior version has no real flaws.

I empathize with the difficulty in maintaining a balanced perspective though when running a small business exposing your products to a lot of fan mail and hate mail alike. My understanding is that in situations like these, you have to either filter out all the negative comments from the internet out to maintain your sanity, OR hire someone to survey your customers for honest constructive criticism (where having a 3rd party as a “psychological negativity buffer“ is a key detail). Perhaps Ascend should do the latter.

If they did, they’d hear from me that I wasn’t too thrilled with my Lunas either. They worked fine as rear surrounds, but I agree they didn’t sound “quite right”. Certainly not on the same level as the Towers and 2EX I had.

I also empathize. Improving a product can be difficult because it devalues the previous version. I get the impression that the same guy doing the design is also doing the marketing at Ascend, which is why they should be commended for being so candid about their problems and the way they go about solving them.

I'm not particularly enticed by any of Ascend's products, but there are a lot of things I really like about them:
1. Domestically produced
2. Very inexpensive, despite having nice bamboo cabinets and very high end drivers (a RAAL at these price points is unheard of)
3. Been in business a long time, presumably a decent second-hand market
4. Inept, unsophisticated marketing because the proprietors are more concerned about buying an NFS and a CNC for prototyping than blowing smoke up everyone's aperiodic vent.

Also with the CEA 2034 score, you have to look at it from the perspective of a small speaker producer. Harman develops this metric, and then makes speakers which hit that metric better than any other speaker. How can you compete? The metric is obviously valid to a large degree, and certain sound preferences seem to be almost universal, but I think it is important that different producers offer different intentional deviations from this 'ideal' to suit different musical tastes and use cases. Obviously FR and DI should always be fairly smooth, but I really believe that bass quantity and quality and treble and upper mid dispersion are two areas where some deviation is warranted.

I've often said that for me, there's no one speaker which would suit all my musical taste. I would love a wide dispersion, immersive speaker with less image specificity and more atmosphere for my living room. Something like Ascend's RAAL speakers, or the BMR monitors, or maybe even a Dipole design. For listening at my work computer, active monitors are better. If I had room for a big home theater, my Gedlee's and subs would be ideal.

Long story short, I need a bigger house.
 

Sancus

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I agree it’s a little bit of bias on Ascend’s part to paint them as universally loved, and that he’s making them even better while simultaneously claiming the prior version has no real flaws.

He focuses on the midrange port resonances(perhaps because that's where most development time was spent), but looking at the V2 measurements, other unmentioned things were fixed as well, particularly the hot tweeter on the Luna which was Amir's biggest listening test complaint, and similar tweeter tweak + fix of the 100-300hz bump on the Duo.

Regardless of their other speakers' performance, these ones sure had issues and they weren't limited to the port resonances. The improvements are very impressive though. If Ascend follows this plan for all their speakers and posts Klippel-quality measurements they could very easily become one of the most recommend brands around here.
 

Chromatischism

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He focuses on the midrange port resonances(perhaps because that's where most development time was spent), but looking at the V2 measurements, other unmentioned things were fixed as well, particularly the hot tweeter on the Luna which was Amir's biggest listening test complaint, and similar tweeter tweak + fix of the 100-300hz bump on the Duo.
I noticed his comments that the speakers sound "warmer and more relaxed". That is a lot more tweaking than a possibly inaudible port resonance.
 

amnesia0287

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Soooo… what are the thoughts now that he sent the same speaker to SEAS and had it measured in their anechoic chamber and their data also matched Daves and not Amir’s. To be honest I’ve been most impressed with Dave’s ability to not get angry. Even now he makes clear Amir had no fault and it’s just hard to measure ribbons and such. And it still allowed him to find more ways to improve things. But I feel bad for the guy since he was basically slandered, went out of his way to actually find out if he was wrong and even torched his wallet for nicer measuring equipment than many of the big companies and people were still calling him biased.

But I don’t think it’s really possible to argue with the measurements from SEAS, given what they do… if they can’t measure a speaker correctly in their own anechoic chamber, then accurate measurements must just be impossible lol.

I’m still glad I waited on getting a duo for my center (sadly horizon is just too big for my current setup), cause better is better, even if I’m totally incapable of hearing the difference.
 

goldark

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Soooo… what are the thoughts now that he sent the same speaker to SEAS and had it measured in their anechoic chamber and their data also matched Daves and not Amir’s. To be honest I’ve been most impressed with Dave’s ability to not get angry. Even now he makes clear Amir had no fault and it’s just hard to measure ribbons and such. And it still allowed him to find more ways to improve things. But I feel bad for the guy since he was basically slandered, went out of his way to actually find out if he was wrong and even torched his wallet for nicer measuring equipment than many of the big companies and people were still calling him biased.

But I don’t think it’s really possible to argue with the measurements from SEAS, given what they do… if they can’t measure a speaker correctly in their own anechoic chamber, then accurate measurements must just be impossible lol.

I’m still glad I waited on getting a duo for my center (sadly horizon is just too big for my current setup), cause better is better, even if I’m totally incapable of hearing the difference.
Here is the thread for reference: http://forum.ascendacoustics.com/showthread.php?7485-NFS-Luna-Duo-Follow-up
 

Beave

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Soooo… what are the thoughts now that he sent the same speaker to SEAS and had it measured in their anechoic chamber and their data also matched Daves and not Amir’s. To be honest I’ve been most impressed with Dave’s ability to not get angry. Even now he makes clear Amir had no fault and it’s just hard to measure ribbons and such. And it still allowed him to find more ways to improve things. But I feel bad for the guy since he was basically slandered, went out of his way to actually find out if he was wrong and even torched his wallet for nicer measuring equipment than many of the big companies and people were still calling him biased.

But I don’t think it’s really possible to argue with the measurements from SEAS, given what they do… if they can’t measure a speaker correctly in their own anechoic chamber, then accurate measurements must just be impossible lol.

I’m still glad I waited on getting a duo for my center (sadly horizon is just too big for my current setup), cause better is better, even if I’m totally incapable of hearing the difference.

Huh?
 

Hemi-Demon

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Soooo… what are the thoughts now that he sent the same speaker to SEAS and had it measured in their anechoic chamber and their data also matched Daves and not Amir’s. To be honest I’ve been most impressed with Dave’s ability to not get angry. Even now he makes clear Amir had no fault and it’s just hard to measure ribbons and such. And it still allowed him to find more ways to improve things. But I feel bad for the guy since he was basically slandered, went out of his way to actually find out if he was wrong and even torched his wallet for nicer measuring equipment than many of the big companies and people were still calling him biased.

But I don’t think it’s really possible to argue with the measurements from SEAS, given what they do… if they can’t measure a speaker correctly in their own anechoic chamber, then accurate measurements must just be impossible lol.

I’m still glad I waited on getting a duo for my center (sadly horizon is just too big for my current setup), cause better is better, even if I’m totally incapable of hearing the difference.

Can you post the data from the designer and from Seas? That forum has everything blocked unless you create an account.

Amir post all of this information for free, and opens himself up to criticism from all without ads.

I don't think Amir does any smoothing on his testing, especially on the M105 as the designer is inferring. Seems like a underhanded dig. If all things were good with these designs, why the new crossover options that are being prepped? Why not work with Amir versus taking under handed shots?

The measurement distance is a function of wanting test methodology uniformity. Wouldn't it make things inaccurate if for different speakers you have to adjust the distance and mic angle everytime? Maybe I just dont understand, so please correct me as I always want to learn.

The designer is very polite, but he is in essence saying that Amir doesn't know how to use the tool.
Seems a tad underhanded.
 
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