You Don't know What You Got 'Til It's (Temporarily) Gone

Trell

Trell

Audioholic Chief
That's today! Oh boy oh boy oh boy! I'm eager to hear your impressions. I missed them and am pretty tickled to have them back. Now I don't have to pretend I don't see that crack every time I dust over there or let the dogs in and out, lol.
Dud, you know there are small kids looking up at you, and this is what you offer to them?

I'll crawl back under my rock now :eek:
 
VMPS-TIII

VMPS-TIII

Full Audioholic
WELL?!?
I hope your lack of response isn't due to dissatisfaction..?
@Pogre - I have been unboxing and trying to find the best way to integrate the Ascend Sierra Towers into my setup. I was using Paradigm and VMPS SuperTower III's as my front speakers. They worked well together as the Paradigms play well at lower volumes and when the sound level rises the 7 foot towers kick in for killer, fat, wide powerful sound.

After going thru several combinations and Audyssey EQ sessions I found setting up the Sierra Towers with RAAL 70-20 tweeters in the Front LR position while using the VMPS Towers as front surrounds works well. This gives me Stereo mode for listening to the Sierra Towers and HSU subs alone, Auro-3D mode with a 9.2 configuration or Multi-Channel Stereo with fronts, center, surrounds, rear surrounds and highs.

The Sierra Towers are more sensitive than any of my other speakers -- with an SPL over 90db from 250Hz and up. The RAAL 70-20 opens my ears to things that were not apparent with my other speakers. It's usually lower SPL percussion or a singer taking a breath or other small details that are not obvious. Rather than calling them silky smooth, I would call them a little on the edgy side. That's what brings the high definition. They have a different flavor than my Canton Vento 9.2 DC aluminum ceramic oxide tweeters that seem a little smoother.

SPL.png


In Stereo mode 44 reaches 80db on the Denon 4500 using the Adcom GFA amp. In Auro-3D 9.2 mode 50 on the volume reaches 80db. This happens as Audyssey reduces the Sierra Tower volume to match the other speakers. And in Multi-Channel mode 40 on the volume reaches 80db. It's interesting comparing these configurations. They all sound great but for pure Sierra Tower sound the Stereo configuration provides a nice music mode while Auro-3D smoothes out the sound a little.

I have a few questions for you.
1. What crossover setting are you using on your Sierra Towers in the Denon Receiver? 80, 60, 40 in the Denon crossover setting?
2. How did you setup your HSU subs? Do you cross them over at 80 or higher?
3. Do you use LFE or LFE+Main?
4. Do you notice a difference playing the Sierra Towers with grills on vs off?

These little 50 pound speakers have more sound power than anything I have ever used in this size class. I would expect the Sierra Tower sound power to easily beat speakers 2x their size. I was laughing to myself after completing these tests that these little 43" x 7.5" x 10.5" speakers can almost replace all of the 9 speakers in my 22' x 28' listening room.

I love the bamboo natural finish. It's really classy and looks perfect from every angle. Most of my speakers are just black boxes. I hope my wife doesn't come down to my cave and see how beautiful these are. She might want them upstairs, then I would have to buy another pair. :p

Thank you for suggesting these wonderful speakers!

natural2.png


 
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VMPS-TIII

VMPS-TIII

Full Audioholic
Symphony - "You don't Know What You Have Until It's Gone..."


 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
@Pogre - I have been unboxing and trying to find the best way to integrate the Ascend Sierra Towers into my setup. I was using Paradigm and VMPS SuperTower III's as my front speakers. They worked well together as the Paradigms play well at lower volumes and when the sound level rises the 7 foot towers kick in for killer, fat, wide powerful sound.

After going thru several combinations and Audyssey EQ sessions I found setting up the Sierra Towers with RAAL 70-20 tweeters in the Front LR position while using the VMPS Towers as front surrounds works well. This gives me Stereo mode for listening to the Sierra Towers and HSU subs alone, Auro-3D mode with a 9.2 configuration or Multi-Channel Stereo with fronts, center, surrounds, rear surrounds and highs.

The Sierra Towers are more sensitive than any of my other speakers -- with an SPL over 90db from 250Hz and up. The RAAL 70-20 opens my ears to things that were not apparent with my other speakers. It's usually lower SPL percussion or a singer taking a breath or other small details that are not obvious. Rather than calling them silky smooth, I would call them a little on the edgy side. That's what brings the high definition. They have a different flavor than my Canton Vento 9.2 DC aluminum ceramic oxide tweeters that seem a little smoother.

View attachment 39558

In Stereo mode 44 reaches 80db on the Denon 4500 using the Adcom GFA amp. In Auro-3D 9.2 mode 50 on the volume reaches 80db. This happens as Audyssey reduces the Sierra Tower volume to match the other speakers. And in Multi-Channel mode 40 on the volume reaches 80db. It's interesting comparing these configurations. They all sound great but for pure Sierra Tower sound the Stereo configuration provides a nice music mode while Auro-3D smoothes out the sound a little.

I have a few questions for you.
1. What crossover setting are you using on your Sierra Towers in the Denon Receiver? 80, 60, 40 in the Denon crossover setting?
2. How did you setup your HSU subs? Do you cross them over at 80 or higher?
3. Do you use LFE or LFE+Main?
4. Do you notice a difference playing the Sierra Towers with grills on vs off?

These little 50 pound speakers have more sound power than anything I have ever used in this size class. I would expect the Sierra Tower sound power to easily beat speakers 2x their size. I was laughing to myself after completing these tests that these little 43" x 7.5" x 10.5" speakers can almost replace all of the 9 speakers in my 22' x 28' listening room.

I love the bamboo natural finish. It's really classy and looks perfect from every angle. Most of my speakers are just black boxes. I hope my wife doesn't come down to my cave and see how beautiful these are. She might want them upstairs, then I would have to buy another pair. :p

Thank you for suggesting these wonderful speakers!

View attachment 39560

I'm a little confused with your setup, it sounds a lot more complicated than mine. I did however, look up your STIII's and they're big, impressive ribbon towers with a great rep also.

st3sre.jpg


I'm just running a simple 5.1 and used all 8 mic positions during setup. The Sierras have the highest sensitivity of any speaker I've had before. Audyssey trims them back -3, -3.5 dB respectively so the higher sensitivity really doesn't matter as far as blending them into my setup.

1. Audyssey on, DEQ on, RLO 10. 90 hz crossover. (Tho 80 works just as well).
2. I set the Hsu subs up according to the manufacturer by running room correction with 1 port plugged, EQ1. Crossover switched to "out". That bypasses the sub's filter and let's your avr handle the crossover between it and your speakers. Then I used REW sweeps and a MiniDSP 2x4 HD to flatten out my bass fr to within +/- 1.5 dB. Then I pull the port plug and switch to EQ 2.
3. LFE only. I would never use LFE+Main. To me it defeats the purpose of using bass management.
4. No, but my hearing for those higher frequencies isn't what it used to be. In a conversation with Dave he said there may be a difference in upper frequencies of -1 dB with the grilles on, but very doubtful a person could hear it.

I don't understand what you have going on with multiple pairs of towers up front? Are you playing all of them together? Switching between them or..?

They really do sound much bigger than they are. Remember, I'm coming from a pair of Ultra towers which are also significantly larger. I think the Sierras keep up with them, are just as capable of filling the room and can handle a lot of power. Yes, the natural bamboo finish is really sharp. Looking at yours has me thinking I'd love the look in my room too, but all of my other gear is black so they match up with my current system well.

You're very welcome. It tickles me to see you happy with them, knowing my impressions were an influence. I really missed having them for the week I was dealing with repair and couldn't be happier having them back.
 
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Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
I'll say too, the midrange driver used in the Sierras is almost as big a star as the ribbons. Solid bass too. When I hooked the Sierras back up the first thing I did was trim my subs back a couple of dB. Seems counter intuitive that the Sierras have better mid bass than the Ultra towers do, but I'm sure the way they couple with my room has a lot to do with that. That midrange tho... more present and detailed than I expected. I find them very smooth and not edgy at all, but then again my hearing with higher frequencies isn't what it used to be so ymmv.
 
VMPS-TIII

VMPS-TIII

Full Audioholic
The midrange driver used in the Sierras is almost as big a star as the ribbons. Solid bass too. When I hooked the Sierras back up the first thing I did was trim my subs back a couple of dB. Seems counter intuitive that the Sierras have better mid bass than the Ultra towers do, but I'm sure the way they couple with my room has a lot to do with that. That midrange tho... more present and detailed than I expected. I find them very smooth and not edgy at all, but then again my hearing with higher frequencies isn't what it used to be so ymmv.
@Pogre - I would agree, the mid-bass on the Sierra Towers is strong. It's hard to believe it's a 5.25" driver. There is value in speakers that don't weigh 100-200 lbs and still sound really good. I can see the Sierra Towers fitting in spaces where larger towers would be out of place. The sensitivity is amazing too. Do you ever use more than 50% of the power available from the Monolith? When I have the grills off they seem a little bit more open. I have not seen that with my other speakers.

Moving RLO 10 on DEQ makes a difference. It cleans up the low end. What are you using to play your music? CD player? HEOS? Using an external DAC and a computer? Thanks!
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
I ripped my whole cd collection to lossless files and play them from my pc so mostly there, but I'll YouTube the ocassional song. I don't own a cd player anymore unless you count my Xbox 1X, which also doubles as my HD Blu Ray player. I've never used HEOS either.

I think I've had them turned up enough to tap into 100+ watts pretty easily when I was testing limits after I first got them. I was hitting 100 dB at my seat, which is 14.5 ft away. I think they could have handled some more, but that was pretty frickin' loud and I didn't wanna push my luck.

I don't see the point with an external DAC. The DAC in my SR6011 is more than competent. At this level the minor differences are inaudible. Might look better on paper but it doesn't translate into anything the human ear can detect. I can't find the quote, but Dave, the guy who designed the speakers and grilles said straight up that there's little chance anyone can hear a difference with grilles on or off. I can't. Auditory memory is very fleeting. The time it takes to get up and pull the grilles off and sit back down is long enough for you to forget for comparison's sake. You sure you're just not being placebo'd by expectation bias?
 
VMPS-TIII

VMPS-TIII

Full Audioholic
I ripped my whole cd collection to lossless files and play them from my pc so mostly there, but I'll YouTube the ocassional song. I don't own a cd player anymore unless you count my Xbox 1X, which also doubles as my HD Blu Ray player. I've never used HEOS either.
I have ripped some of my albums in AIFF and Apple Lossless but Airplay limits quality to 44.1Hz which isn't a bad thing. However, Tidal lets me play files up to 192kHz directly to the Denon HEOS hardware. It's higher resolution and a bigger collection than I will ever have and the iPad HEOS app makes it easy to navigate. It's also a great way to have instant access to just about any music selection.

I have a Topping E30 DAC in my office that offers 32bit/768k DSD512 support but I don't see much source material over 192kHz. It's easy to plug the MBP in via USB and use Audirvana to stream Tidal or Qobuz. There are a lot of great ways to stream music these days.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Warlord
@Pogre
Moving RLO 10 on DEQ makes a difference. It cleans up the low end.
This statement had me scratching my head a little bit. The RLO setting is really just a bass boost. 0 gives the biggest boost and -15 the least. I don't know if one setting would clean things up over another, but there is a difference of ~2 dB between each setting. You said some other things too that have me scratching my head wrt multiple mix n matched speakers up front. If so it screams comb filtering to me and there's potential for messy sq and blending issues.

What do you have going on over there? Are you using 2 sets of main speakers from different brands with different voicing? How are you crossing things over? Are you using your sub's filter as well as your avr's crossover? LFE + mains? What crossover are you using? Do you have any way to measure things? You already owned some very nice speakers. How are you integrating the Sierras into the rest of your system?

I have ripped some of my albums in AIFF and Apple Lossless but Airplay limits quality to 44.1Hz which isn't a bad thing. However, Tidal lets me play files up to 192kHz directly to the Denon HEOS hardware. It's higher resolution and a bigger collection than I will ever have and the iPad HEOS app makes it easy to navigate. It's also a great way to have instant access to just about any music selection.
This too... if you can hear the difference between 44.1 and 192 then you have some amazing hearing. Better than mine, that's for sure, but I think you might be dealing with expectation bias again. I've heard high quality mp3s that sounded as good as my lossless rips. Have you tried any kind of direct switching between the 2, unsighted?

Amazon music had a couple of free months for their HD service (192 khz) when it first came out and I did some switching with familiar music, same song. My lowly 44.1 cd rips sound better than Amazon's 192 without question. I think @panteragstk had the same experience. They still have some work to do to last time I listened. I let my sub run out when the trial was over.
 
VMPS-TIII

VMPS-TIII

Full Audioholic
This statement had me scratching my head a little bit. The RLO setting is really just a bass boost. 0 gives the biggest boost and -15 the least. I don't know if one setting would clean things up over another, but there is a difference of ~2 dB between each setting.
I had DLO set at 0. When I was using the Sierra Towers as a Stereo pair. They were a little boomy in the lower midrange. Moving DLO to 10 helped.

I have three configurations available.
1. Stereo Pair - Sierra Towers and HSU subs only.
2. Aura 3D - 9.2 configuration with Sierra Towers LR, HSU subs, center, VMPS towers as surrounds and VMPS dipole rear surrounds and highs (Canton Vento 9.2 DC bookshelf also works well for my High Channels).
3. Multi-Channel Stereo - This configuration uses all 9.2 speakers in stereo. It's a powerful wall of sound.

All speakers are crossed over at 80Hz in the Denon and the HSU subs are set at 80 with LFE only. I have more bass than I need with the subs below 80 and the rest above (even though the VMPS Tower 15"s could go as low as most subs. I have a UMIK and REW but I haven't messed with it. Maybe someday I'll get to it. It sounds so good it hasn't been a priority.

I tried Amazon's HiFi trial. I wanted it to work as it's $12.99 a month. I A/B their songs versus Tidal and Tidal sounded consistently cleaner to me. I also did the same with Qobuz. While Qobuz is better than Amazon's quality it's not supported with HEOS and Qobuz is missing some of the songs I like on Tidal. So for now, I will keep Tidal and unsubscribe to Qobuz.

I have not found my CD AIFF or Lossless rips were better than Tidal. I like using Audirvana on the Mac as it does a much better job of buffering the source and prioritizing the Mac CPU for music when using an external DAC. It's fun to play with HiRes files on the Denon or with the Topping E30 with the Hegel or using the USB directly on the Hegel H90. But as you say a good CD quality sound is hard to beat.
 

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