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Help for selecting passive bookshelf speakers and more

great04

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Hi,

Newbie here and looking for some advices for upgrading my 2.1 stereo system. I learned a lot from Amir's tutorials and others' posts. Wonderful forum here!

Current system: a pair of KEF Q150, Sony STR-DH190 power amp, Bluesound Node 2i, and RSL Speedwoofer 10S MKII. (I am considering to keep the last 2 items.) Mostly listen to classical, jazz and some electronic music, as well as watching TV. So, cannot have a noticeable delay of sound. Current system doesn't have the issue. Room setup is not good: 13' x 17' x 9', no acoustic treatment.

Below are some selections I have mind. I am also open to suggestions to other ways of putting together the system. Overall budget is $2500 to $3000.

Passive speakers

  1. Ascend Acoustics SIERRA-LX ($1500), Ascend Acoustics Sierra 1 V2 ($1000). It is hard for me to tell how much better LX is, based on P.S. Does anyone have experiences listening to them?
  2. These were what I found on ASR's recommendation list that fit my budget. Did I miss some other applicable selections?

Power Amplifiers​

  1. Choosing between Topping PA5, PA7 and Topping LA90 discrete. Is PA5 sufficient for the system?
  2. LA90 discrete is possibly beyond my budget, depending on speaker cost. Where is the better place to spend the $400 to $500, the speakers or amp?

DAC​

  1. miniDSP Flex (balanced). This is one of few that provides 2.1 output. DAC in it seems good enough that I don't plan to buy a standalone DAC right now.
  2. Here are my somewhat convoluted input methods: MacBook Air connects to miniDSP via USB cable. MacBook Air Airplay to Blueound > TOSLINK optical > miniDSP (sometimes I play Apple Music and don't want to be tethered. I know Airplay is not lossless.)
Thanks for reading my many questions above! Appreciate any advices!
 

DavidEdwinAston

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Because I am in the UK, my LX's were considerably more than $1500. Purchased unheard, because of Sweetchaos recommendation. Replaced Old Spendor S100's.
For a short while, I considered the sound "smaller"! Forgive my subjective guff.
Now, months later, I find them "perfect".
The two subs which supplemented the S100's, perform the same task with the LX's.
Ascend Acoustics, great to deal with.
Can't help you any further.
 
OP
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great04

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Because I am in the UK, my LX's were considerably more than $1500. Purchased unheard, because of Sweetchaos recommendation. Replaced Old Spendor S100's.
For a short while, I considered the sound "smaller"! Forgive my subjective guff.
Now, months later, I find them "perfect".
The two subs which supplemented the S100's, perform the same task with the LX's.
Ascend Acoustics, great to deal with.
Can't help you any further.
Thanks for sharing your experience! I talked to the company and they said LX and 1-V2 were very similar, other than LX having better bass. I have a subwoofer, so I'm gonna go with 1-V2. Did it take months to break in those speakers?
 

sweetchaos

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Ascend Acoustics SIERRA-LX ($1500), Ascend Acoustics Sierra 1 V2 ($1000). It is hard for me to tell how much better LX is, based on P.S. Does anyone have experiences listening to them?

They are indeed very similar in tonality, with Sierra-LX having deeper frequency extension (due to larger woofer).
both.gif



  1. These were what I found on ASR's recommendation list that fit my budget. Did I miss some other applicable selections?
Correction:
My recommendation list.
Not Amir's/ASR's recommendation list.

In addition to these, Kef R3 non-meta comes to mind, at US$1400/pair (link) before being discontinued soon. Reviewed by Amir and Erin.
 
OP
G

great04

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They are indeed very similar in tonality, with Sierra-LX having deeper frequency extension (due to larger woofer).
View attachment 332721



Correction:
My recommendation list.
Not Amir's/ASR's recommendation list.

In addition to these, Kef R3 non-meta comes to mind, at US$1400/pair (link) before being discontinued soon. Reviewed by Amir and Erin.
Thanks for the correction.
 

hellysmith

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Great to hear you're diving into upgrading your stereo system—it's always an exciting journey! Your current setup is already impressive, and you've got a good grasp from Amir's tutorials and other forum posts. You're definitely on the right track.

Considering your preferences for classical, jazz, and electronic music, along with TV viewing, maintaining minimal sound delay is crucial. Your current system seems to be handling this well, which is fantastic.

Let's break down your upgrade considerations:

Speakers: The Ascend Acoustics Sierra-LX and Sierra 1 V2 are both solid choices. The Sierra-LX might offer some enhancements, but the difference might not be as noticeable based solely on specs. If possible, auditioning them or finding user experiences could help in making the decision. You've looked at ASR's recommendations well, but there might be other suitable selections within your budget worth exploring. It's always good to cast a wider net!

Power Amplifiers: Choosing between Topping PA5, PA7, and Topping LA90 is a tough call. The PA5 might suffice for your system, but if you can stretch your budget a bit, the LA90 could offer more substantial benefits. Generally, investing in speakers yields more noticeable audio improvements than amplifiers, so consider where you want the bulk of your budget to go.

DAC: The miniDSP Flex (balanced) seems like a suitable choice, especially with its 2.1 output capability. Since its DAC meets your current needs, deferring a standalone DAC purchase for now seems reasonable. Your convoluted input methods are understandable, but focusing on retaining the flexibility you need for various inputs is smart.

Lastly, room setup and acoustics play a significant role in audio quality. Considering your room's dimensions and lack of acoustic treatment, allocating some budget for room treatment might enhance the overall listening experience, potentially bringing out more from your upgraded system.

In the end, the best advice would be to audition components when possible and read more user experiences to finalize your decisions. Your budget allows for some flexibility, so allocating it wisely among speakers, amplifiers, and room treatment will yield a balanced upgrade.
Newbie here and looking for some advices for upgrading my 2.1 stereo system. I learned a lot from Amir's tutorials and others' posts. Wonderful forum here!

Current system: a pair of KEF Q150, Sony STR-DH190 power amp, Bluesound Node 2i, and RSL Speedwoofer 10S MKII. (I am considering to keep the last 2 items.) Mostly listen to classical, jazz and some electronic music, as well as watching TV. So, cannot have a noticeable delay of sound. Current system doesn't have the issue. Room setup is not good: 13' x 17' x 9', no acoustic treatment.

Below are some selections I have mind. I am also open to suggestions to other ways of putting together the system. Overall budget is $2500 to $3000.

Passive speakers

  1. Ascend Acoustics SIERRA-LX ($1500), Ascend Acoustics Sierra 1 V2 ($1000). It is hard for me to tell how much better LX is, based on P.S. Does anyone have experiences listening to them?
  2. These were what I found on ASR's recommendation list that fit my budget. Did I miss some other applicable selections?

Power Amplifiers​

  1. Choosing between Topping PA5, PA7 and Topping LA90 discrete. Is PA5 sufficient for the system?
  2. LA90 discrete is possibly beyond my budget, depending on speaker cost. Where is the better place to spend the $400 to $500, the speakers or amp?

DAC​

  1. miniDSP Flex (balanced). This is one of few that provides 2.1 output. DAC in it seems good enough that I don't plan to buy a standalone DAC right now.
  2. Here are my somewhat convoluted input methods: MacBook Air connects to miniDSP via USB cable. MacBook Air Airplay to Blueound > TOSLINK optical > miniDSP (sometimes I play Apple Music and don't want to be tethered. I know Airplay is not lossless.)
Thanks for reading my many questions above! Appreciate any advices!
 

Grandzoltar

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Sierra Lx are low efficiency speakers (83db@1m) your choice of amplifiers are on the low end of available wattage unless buying 2 la90 discreet and bridging them. A buckeye nc252mp will be 200 cheaper than the topping and provide more wattage. For 200 more than the topping you could get the buckeye ncx500 amplifier and be more in the suggested power requirements per ascends web site.
Looking at early reflections the only absorption needed and I use the term needed loosely would be ceiling. Unless your room is very live highly reflective (hardwood floors bare walls) the reflection responses are very smooth and are designed for the end in room response since you are looking at mini dsp it's way easier to tame bass freq with that then getting into defusers
 
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great04

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Sierra Lx are low efficiency speakers (83db@1m) your choice of amplifiers are on the low end of available wattage unless buying 2 la90 discreet and bridging them. A buckeye nc252mp will be 200 cheaper than the topping and provide more wattage. For 200 more than the topping you could get the buckeye ncx500 amplifier and be more in the suggested power requirements per ascends web site.
Looking at early reflections the only absorption needed and I use the term needed loosely would be ceiling. Unless your room is very live highly reflective (hardwood floors bare walls) the reflection responses are very smooth and are designed for the end in room response since you are looking at mini dsp it's way easier to tame bass freq with that then getting into defusers
Thanks for your detailed response. I eventually bought Ascend Acoustics Sierra 1 V2, which is easier to drive then LX. I am considering to buy the newly released AIYIMA A70 Stereo Amplifier with 48V supply. I will be using XLR connections. The amp seemed to powerful enough for 6 to 10ft listening distanc. Am I correct?
 

kemmler3D

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Forgive me, I sort of don't believe in "break in".
I had the opportunity to measure break-in while I was working at an audio company. It was with headphones, but they had paper cones with flexible surrounds.

Long story short, I managed to measure perhaps +/- 1dB of break-in in the mids/treble. I took a factory-new unit and blasted pink noise overnight. In the morning the measurements changed a tiny bit. However, the amount of change was smaller than what you could get by moving the headphones on the test jig... so probably not actually real.
 

Grandzoltar

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Thanks for your detailed response. I eventually bought Ascend Acoustics Sierra 1 V2, which is easier to drive then LX. I am considering to buy the newly released AIYIMA A70 Stereo Amplifier with 48V supply. I will be using XLR connections. The amp seemed to powerful enough for 6 to 10ft listening distanc. Am I correct?
If your going that route buy 2 of these Fosi Audio V3 Mono instead it's $60 more with better measurements and little more power
 
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great04

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If your going that route buy 2 of these Fosi Audio V3 Mono instead it's $60 more with better measurements and little more power
Thanks so much for bringing it to my attention. Can't wait for the launch!
 
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