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Mini-review Ascend ELX Ribbon Tower …

To a certain extent, I get it...continually battling the relentless and still-prevalent "high end" cable industry and their legions of fans is frustrating and fatiguing. But, this sort of open and aggressive display of hobbyist-PTSD is a bit wild and certainly unhelpful. This member mentioned nothing of the cables except that they simply exist. Please consider keeping your audiophile guns holstered over such trivial "signals" and encourage healthy participation. One sure-fire way to ensure that someone will not be interested in learning is to immediately make them feel foolish.

Anyway, just a note that the ribbon tweeters in the ELXs and Salks are similar but not the same. The ELXs use an Ascend-specific customized version of the RAAL 70-20XRAM.

Here's some NFS data for the towers:


Have fun with the new speakers!

I understand your criticism, and I will take it into account in the future. If the OP feels offended, I am more than happy to apologize.

However, I would like to point out one thing. My comments are not aimed at the OP in particular, nor are they aimed at this hobby (as such), much less the cable industry. In fact, they are not aimed at any specific hobby.

My comments are born out of frustration with the way people think ... or more specifically, the way they do NOT think. Clear, critical thinking seems rarely found today. Instead, the fashionable norm seems to be lazy, lackadaisical and unclear thinking. (Cue "Feelings" by Morris Albert. :D)

Subjectivism, my pet peeve in these pages, is simply one example of that lazy, lackadaisical and unclear thinking. (As such, the subjectivist/objectivist divide, and in fact audio in general, are insignificant footnotes in a wider human commentary. Amir has wisely bade us restrict our focus.)

So I have (narrowly) confined my comments to the audio realm ... specifically subjectivism. The OP is undoubtedly an enthusiastic audio hobbyist, and he is, as I said, undoubtedly proud of his system. I understand those points, and I have absolutely no criticism of them. His descriptions however, as he initially pointed out, are purely subjective. They have no reference, they are not scientific, and most pointedly, they are not reproducible.

The OP needs to understand why that is important.

Jim
 
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I understand your criticism, and I will take it into account in the future. If the OP feels offended, I am more than happy to apologize.

However, I would like to point out one thing. My comments are not aimed at the OP in particular, nor are they aimed at this hobby (as such), much less the cable industry. In fact, they are not aimed at any specific hobby.

My comments are born out of frustration with the way people think ... or more specifically, the way they do NOT think. Clear, critical thinking seems rarely found today. Instead, the fashionable norm seems to be lazy, lackadaisical and unclear thinking. (Cue "Feelings" by Morris Albert. :D)

Subjectivism, my pet peeve in these pages, is simply one example of that lazy, lackadaisical and unclear thinking. (As such, the subjectivist/objectivist divide, and in fact audio in general, are insignificant footnotes in a wider human commentary. Amir has wisely bade us restrict our focus.)

So I have (narrowly) confined my comments to the audio realm ... specifically subjectivism. The OP is undoubtedly an enthusiastic audio hobbyist, and he is, as I said, undoubtedly proud of his system. I understand those points, and I have absolutely no criticism of them. His descriptions however, as he initially pointed out, are purely subjective. They have no reference, they are not scientific, and most pointedly, they are not reproducible.

The OP needs to understand why that is important.

Jim
To close the circle, if the OP had perhaps commented specifically on one of the few deviations from flat in the supplied FR charts which indicated a rise in the high treble. He does this tangentially by commenting on "the airiness of the highs" which could be the elevated treble which annoy in the future or simply compensating for the loss of high frequency hearing that seems to afflict most of us music lovers.

I do have a question on the supplied curves which are described as 'equalized'. Does this imply external EQ or that the curve has been smoothed?
 
To close the circle, if the OP had perhaps commented specifically on one of the few deviations from flat in the supplied FR charts which indicated a rise in the high treble. He does this tangentially by commenting on "the airiness of the highs" which could be the elevated treble which annoy in the future or simply compensating for the loss of high frequency hearing that seems to afflict most of us music lovers.

I do have a question on the supplied curves which are described as 'equalized'. Does this imply external EQ or that the curve has been smoothed?
There is no such on-axis treble rise in the NFS measurements:

ELX_RTower_Full_Range_On-Axis_Anechoic_Frequency_Response.png


It's also strange that the two speakers appear to be very well pair-matched except that the high frequency surge starts much sooner on one speaker than the other. I wonder if this is simply an MLSSA measurement artifact/error.
 
I do have a question on the supplied curves which are described as 'equalized'. Does this imply external EQ or that the curve has been smoothed?

Equalized in MLSSA means that microphone calibration has been loaded and is being used.
 
To close the circle, if the OP had perhaps commented specifically on one of the few deviations from flat in the supplied FR charts which indicated a rise in the high treble. He does this tangentially by commenting on "the airiness of the highs" which could be the elevated treble which annoy in the future or simply compensating for the loss of high frequency hearing that seems to afflict most of us music lovers.

There is no high frequency rise in the treble. It is important to understand that the supplied measurements are accurate, but not anywhere near to the accuracy or resolution of the NFS. These are production line measurements, and the measurements for our towers are taken with the speakers laying down horizontally on pallets, which are placed on a a conveyor. Microphone position is fixed, such that in the case of our towers (and most of our other speakers) - the tweeter is not vertically aligned with the microphone height and even horizontal positioning is going be off off a bit from speaker to speaker.

We make sure the measurements taken closely match our reference curve for the model taken in the same positioning, but the measurements are used more for QC and are not truly representative of the speaker's actual measurements. This is par for the course for companies like us that actually do measure every speaker shipped. It is impossible to take truly accurate measurements in a production environment, nor are they needed.

Here is a pic of a tower we are testing right now so you can get an idea.
 

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It's also strange that the two speakers appear to be very well pair-matched except that the high frequency surge starts much sooner on one speaker than the other. I wonder if this is simply an MLSSA measurement artifact/error.

Not due to MLSSA, simply due to differences in aligning the speakers to the fixed microphone, which is not a simple task in a production environment.
 
@Gyosa1 thanks for posting your impressions and comparison with the Salks.

@Chrispy Yes, mentioning the cable (especially Kimber) is suspect but I tend to agree with OP that he didn't actually say anything ABOUT the cable, and so I think it's not worth stirring anything up. Saying "Seems you're easily distracted if anything." is technically ad hominem.

@Jim Taylor Yes, it's just a subjective review, but it delivers 2 data points which could be useful. 1) This person thinks the Ascend speaker compares favorably to the Salk speaker. 2) This person really likes the Raal tweeter.

Is that definitive data? No. Can it substitute for measurements in any meaningful way? No. But if you happen to have heard any of the speakers mentioned, it might be relevant info, even if you're just curious what other people think. Worth posting IMO.
 
@Gyosa1 thanks for posting your impressions and comparison with the Salks.

@Chrispy Yes, mentioning the cable (especially Kimber) is suspect but I tend to agree with OP that he didn't actually say anything ABOUT the cable, and so I think it's not worth stirring anything up. Saying "Seems you're easily distracted if anything." is technically ad hominem.

@Jim Taylor Yes, it's just a subjective review, but it delivers 2 data points which could be useful. 1) This person thinks the Ascend speaker compares favorably to the Salk speaker. 2) This person really likes the Raal tweeter.

Is that definitive data? No. Can it substitute for measurements in any meaningful way? No. But if you happen to have heard any of the speakers mentioned, it might be relevant info, even if you're just curious what other people think. Worth posting IMO.
Yeah, sorry, it's just annoying like how wires are mentioned in so many stupid reviews in many of the audiophool publications in the "equipment list" as if it is relevant.
 
There is no high frequency rise in the treble. It is important to understand that the supplied measurements are accurate, but not anywhere near to the accuracy or resolution of the NFS. These are production line measurements, and the measurements for our towers are taken with the speakers laying down horizontally on pallets, which are placed on a a conveyor. Microphone position is fixed, such that in the case of our towers (and most of our other speakers) - the tweeter is not vertically aligned with the microphone height and even horizontal positioning is going be off off a bit from speaker to speaker.

We make sure the measurements taken closely match our reference curve for the model taken in the same positioning, but the measurements are used more for QC and are not truly representative of the speaker's actual measurements. This is par for the course for companies like us that actually do measure every speaker shipped. It is impossible to take truly accurate measurements in a production environment, nor are they needed.

Here is a pic of a tower we are testing right now so you can get an idea.
Hi Dave ,

I was hoping you’d chime in …

My goal in posting originally was for people to be able to read a comparison , nothing more - something I wish I had been able to do while making a decision on purchasing - as I believe the Ascends and Salks have a similar sound signature - probably a similar target clientele as well .

I like them , obviously.
And I enjoy “listening” to them rather than “measuring“ them … Ultimately, that’s why we’re all here , right ?

I've had the Salks for the last 5 years or so , so that is obviously my frame of reference- and a very good one , in my humble opinion - for me … These Salks are very , very good speakers . (subjectively , of course - LOL).
As I’m sure you’re aware , the higher end Salks have a very good reputation and a cult-like following - a high bar.

Well done , they exceeded my expectations.

But to give credit where credit is due , the recent review by Amir of a pair of your Sierra-1 V2 monitors is what led me to explore your speakers in the first place . I was impressed by the measurements and your apparent obsession with their design. I figured the ELX’s had to have the same DNA in them.

Tell Dina thanks for all her help !

bk
 
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Yeah, sorry, it's just annoying like how wires are mentioned in so many stupid reviews in many of the audiophool publications in the "equipment list" as if it is relevant.
It's snake oil purveying politicians weaseling their way into the industry one step at a time. They get personal connections over years of attending shows and stuff and then they get powerful enough and voila... they are relevant in audio test reviews even if snake oil. :facepalm:
 
It's snake oil purveying politicians weaseling their way into the industry one step at a time. They get personal connections over years of attending shows and stuff and then they get powerful enough and voila... they are relevant in audio test reviews even if snake oil. :facepalm:
Yeah but doesn't make those audio test reviews justified/relevant/meaningful, but rather the opposite, at least to me. If you repeat a lie often enough.....
 
Yeah but doesn't make those audio test reviews justified/relevant/meaningful, but rather the opposite, at least to me. If you repeat a lie often enough.....
Figure out who the personal connections are that enable all of this and follow the money.
 
Yeah, sorry, it's just annoying like how wires are mentioned in so many stupid reviews in many of the audiophool publications in the "equipment list" as if it is relevant.
I totally agree, and also agree that we haven't caught the real culprit here. :)
 
Doesn't invalidate his observations. Sometimes this site...sheesh...
You are right it doesn't invalidate anything in any way. It offers the information not as a preferred or different or better or worse but as information.
If someone said they had used coat hangers as interconnect or speaker cables, I would have suggested using a better type of cabling. I'm not suggesting
it sounds better. I'm suggesting it's a better choice considering all the potential issues using "coat hangers." It's not always about the sound it may be a
VISUAL preference, a better construction or some type of noise rejection because of the way the cable is made. COST is irrelevant. I use Chinese, Malaysian
or Turkish or whoever the seller or manufacture is. Made in the "put your own country of preference in" doesn't mean squat to me.

I could care less about name brands, or Chinese "knockoffs", but tell that to the people that put their money down on "Transparent cables" that cost
20K that I built the same exact cable for 50.00 usd. The box was a little off but then it was for pure pleasure to begin with. I enjoyed the build and the
fact that the little network I installed actually did roll off the highs at 20Khz vs Transparent that rolled off at 35-40khz. If anything was learned by me it
was how to do something, I didn't know how to do before.

At least the cable I built wasn't dripping with oil, or grout, thank God. BTW I don't care for the homely next door neighbor either. I prefer the other
neighbor, at least she bakes me cookies. I love the way she delivers them too. I mention one neighbor vs the other for information just in case people
get my house address wrong. One place you get cookies, one place you might need a stiff drink after the encounter.
But some people do like ugly, just sayin'. I'm defiantly in the "no wire coat hanger" crowd. What you SEE, can definitely influence what you hear.

I've listen to many Kimber cables, only because someone else used them. I'm still in the NAPA Belden camp for most of my repairs and have been
since the 60s. Same wire my Pops used in Vietnam on F-4 and the same wire he used in Korea on F-80 and F-86s. I've made more than one cable
harness for planes, trains and automobiles and I ALWAYS add the kind of wire I used in the billing statement. I NEVER attempted to sell anyone
coat hangers just because someone said they would work.

The old CH were actually pretty good for O2/C2H2 welding. I can't remember if I ever used coat hangers for a conductor or not, Maybe! :)

I like Mcintosh and I mean I really like Mac. The crap I've read behind that and the insults would piss anyone off. Unless. I have never nor will
I ever discourage people from charging really high prices or ask why they do it, I usually just laugh at the person that bought it. It's like asking
what to upgrade from and saying room correction or room treatment isn't an option. BUT spending money is?

BTW I like the speakers. I'm a dedicated planar/ribbon guy from WAY back. I'm building a set on the recommendation of the miniDSP Flex HTx.
I'm using a narrow baffle planars/ribbons, in solid hardwood (for the upper cabinets). Chocolate Apatong and red oak. Talk about HARD wood!!

My hands are in the hot wax tub and on to the old ice bucket tonight. Hot wax is better than eatin' bugs, I tell ya!

Regards.
 
For the record, I have Kimber cable as well. Specifically bought some speakers it came with and sold the speakers. Think the cables ended up costing $5. Works for me, looks like something unique.
I also have some monster cables I made up with cheapo sawtooth plugs.
Also have some qed silver cable that came with something. Personally I find it's too stiff due to its construction.
 
For the record, I have Kimber cable as well. Specifically bought some speakers it came with and sold the speakers. Think the cables ended up costing $5. Works for me, looks like something unique.
I also have some monster cables I made up with cheapo sawtooth plugs.
Also have some qed silver cable that came with something. Personally I find it's too stiff due to its construction.
I can get behind buying cables because they look cool, especially for $5.
 
How’s the sound ?

note , purely subjective…..

Very , very similar sound compared to my Salk’s .. SuperCharged Song Towers

My Salks , I think , are some of the most articulate , detailed and precise speakers I’ve heard … they were only lacking in the deep-end a bit - but their bass was very accurate, albeit a tad lean .. the mid-range is really where they shine.

The ELX’s have the bass in spades.. no subwoofer needed at all ..they dig really deep ..

The Mids are a bit more coherent and clear - obviously a 3 way vs a 2 way but the airiness of the highs is still there - due to the same Raal..

As I suspected, basically , my Salks on steroids …

Only had a few hours to listen today , but very , very impressed so far …. I suspect the only Salk competition for them would be the BePure 2’s or Song 3 Encores at double the price …

So , yeah , I do love the signature sound of Salks
And these will do just fine …..

Cabinet is not as fine as the work Jim does on his Salks , but they’re still finished great - just not high-end furniture grade …NOT MEANT AS A DIG ON ASCEND .. if you had never seen Salks in person you’d be more than happy , the Salks are just on a whole ‘nother level , finish wise - but you’ll pay for it.

The bamboo cabinets appear to be very solid with no resonance when rapping them with your knuckles… magnetic grills - nice touch and mandatory in my opinion.

So , yeah , I’m impressed , especially given their price of @$5k or so….
Definitely punch well above their price point.

Anyone sitting on the fence with these - get them … and between the Titan or Raal tweeter - get the Raal .
The Raal is the best tweeter *I’ve* ever heard . I’ve never heard the Titan , but I’ve personally never heard any other tweeter that can compete with the Raal … it’s simply THAT good.

Nicely done Dave !

Edit - forgot to mention equipment …
Eversolo Dmp-A8 , Parasound A21 , Kimber Kable

Bk
I appreciate your impressions of the ELX towers. I am considering these speakers with the Titan dome tweeters in the future. Unfortunately, my current living situation is not favourable to wide dispersion speakers.
 
Why on earth do you mention Kimber Kable as relevant audio gear is my first thought in considering your "evaluation". Seems you're easily distracted if anything. I'd think the Ascend is a very good speaker in any case, own several different models myself. I do wish I had obtained Salks before they shut down the business, tho.


These sort of straw man arguments give ASR a bad reputation. A member goes out of their way to provide a speaker comparison and you latch onto 2 words mentioning the cables in their system? If it said "Blue Jeans" or "no name cables" would it have changed anything about their subjective review? They never even claimed the cables improved the sound compared a different option, they simply mentioned it as part of their system. You might as well criticize them for owning the A8 instead of the A6.

OP, thanks for the review, and I'm glad you're enjoying your speakers.

Its known as the ASR welcome committee.
 
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