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While waiting on the SVS MTS-01 speakers (a few months out) I've decided to run through some speakers, not without cost obviously because reselling them I always come up short. I'm trying to stay within the $1000 or less range for a 5 speaker setup, L/C/R and surrounds.

I currently have the SVS SBS-01 setup, and for the money, these are hard to beat. Highly recommended for small rooms like mine (11.5' W x 19.5' L x 8' H = 1800ft^3). These are my reference speakers, so to speak. I have been extremely impressed with these for their size... even in our great room they faired well, but might be a tad on the shy side for the larger rooms. I have been running these off my Earthquake Cinenova Grande amp (300wpc) which is no longer in my setup (I'm at this moment without - can you believe it? :rolleyesno: ) I am eager to hear how these will sound with my new Yamaha RX-V1700 receiver that will hopefully be here in a few days.

I've tried the JBL Northridge setup with the E90s and EC35, using the SBS-01s as surrounds, and again, for the money, they are very good speakers. They started out a little bright and maybe a tad harsh, but after several hours of break in, they mellowed out satisfactory to me. I have no final complaints with these and would recommend them as well. You get a lot of speaker for the money. They appear to be liked very well and if you are budget minded you will not go wrong with these.

Next on the list of speakers I'm considering are some speakers that have received some really good reviews. The Ascend Acoustics CMT-340s and HTM-200s. The potential setup would be the CMT-340s to go across the front and a pair of HTM-200s for the rears. With the pedestal stands for the L/R fronts and shipping, I would bust my budget of $1000 by 48 bucks ($1048). These would be the most expensive speakers I've owned since my VMPS RM30s.

I would very much enjoy hearing from those who own or have owned Ascends and/or any other suggestions of similar priced range speakers I could consider tinkering with.







 

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The Ascend's are definitely worth an audition. I have the 340 classics up front and 170 surrounds (5.1 set-up) and have been very happy with them. I'm hoping to upgrade to the newer SE models, so if you buy the Ascends and decide to switch to the new SVS line - I got dibs on the 340's!

I'll be interested to hear how you like the Yamaha. I run a lower model (RX-V659) but have been pretty happy with it.

Keep us posted Sonnie...
 

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Hi Sonnie,

Please allow me to start by saying I have never written a review before. Please forgive my amateurish attempt at writing my first one.

I just picked up this same combination but I have two additional HTM-200s for surround duty (7.1).

The speakers came very well packed double boxed (except for HTM-200s). Ascend has awesome customer service, I have even gotten email from the company president David Fabrikant assisting me with set up.

This is my first "matched" system and I have to say I am very impressed with the sound given what I spent for the system. Left and right transitions are seamless with front to back/back to front transitions sounding superior. The whole system sounds great.

I use Master and Commander, Finding Nemo, and Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring as my evaluation source material. The opening battle scene from M and C is extremely powerful with its cannon shots and other battle sounds coming from all quarters. The scene also contains alot of surround detail and transitions that give the Ascends a good workout. It actually does sound like someone is running around on the "deck" over your head.

Finding Nemo has alot of very subtle surround detail like water swishing, fish swimming, and bubbles giving the impression that you are under water. The Ascends had no trouble at all handling this surround detail.

My only question is how well the CBM-170 SE sound with the same drivers as the 340 SE. Matched drivers all around would be *the* idea set-up. However there were a few concerns, the size of the 170 and the fact that they are rear ported prevents flush wall mounting. This could be a problem in a smaller room by sticking out too far from the wall.

Listening to two channel music is also most impressive. I use Steely Dan's "Asia" and "Gaucho" on Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab CDs for their smooth, well mixed and detailed music, Maceo Parker "Life on Planet Groove" recorded live in a club. (An extremely bright recording!) I like to throw in a recording that has some "issues" to see how true to the recording the speaker is.)

The 340 SE sounded very relaxed and detailed when playing back Babylon Sisters. The electric piano sounds like it is right in front of you, very crisp, clean and clear. "Life on Planet Groove" is as expected, the Ascends play true to the source material.

Overall I am very happy with my purchase and am extremely pleased that I am now running a matched system.

Please let me know if there are any questions.
 

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I bought 4 170s and a 340 center about three years ago along with a roughly $500 yamaha amp and a HSU sub. Replacing a Bose system they sounded great, and I still think they are a great value. Only thing I would have liked more would be a bigger and better defined soundstage, for more of a "you are there" kind of feeling, but there are a ton of things that seem to go into that besides speakers (room, room treatment, other components)... They can be wall mounted (170s anyway) but having done that you really have a pretty big box of a speaker on your wall, definitely looked better to me on stands or consoles.

As an inexpensive bookshelf you really cant go wrong with them (again talking about the 170s).

Hope this helps.

--Matt
 

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I'm sure you've read the boards @ the Ascends -- the AVS thread on them is enormous -- and replacing your front three speakers with 340's would be a significant upgrade IMO. Considering the $884 cost incl. shipping, I'd stop there and use your SBS-01s as surrounds. I'd make surround dipoles out of pairs of the SBS-01's by putting them back to back and reversing the tweeter leads on one tweeter -- anyone remember if it's the front or rear facing tweeter out of phase, I always forget -- and use the SCS-01 center as a center rear.
FWIW that is what I myself would actually do from where you are with a $1k budget.

If you want to try something less expensive, SVS had an all-SCS-01 system (centers all around) set up at CES and it was well liked. It's not on their web site yet but you can ask for the dual woofer SCS-01's set up for vertical or surround use for 10% off. IIRC they're $185 to start, so a pair to replace your mains would be $185 x 2 x 0.9 = $333 + shipping. Here's Ron's post about it:
http://www.hometheaterspot.com/htst...ds=+RonStimpson&topic=&Search=true#Post828920
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Cool... I never thought about the SCS center all around.

I am however, going to try something else that has run across me first... for under a $1000 I will be trying out a Boston Acoustics system... VR2, VRC and VRX system. Initially I was unable to snag it at less than about $1500 or so, but a few things have happened to allow me to grab it for about $900. I figure it will be worth a shot while waiting on the MTS-01 system from SVS. And at the price I'm paying, I should be able to resell them and not lose much if anything. :bigsmile:
 

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You got a great deal --- at least $200 better than I could have done!

I've always liked cylindrical section surrounds -- the only ones I've seen before were Swans.
 

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I have the classic Ascends, 340s across the front and HTM for surounds. My room is 14x12x8.5 with a big opening into the Kitchen off to the side. I used master & commander to set the input levels on my Denon 3805 to prevent the 1124p from clipping. My volume on the avr was around -8 or -10 I can't quite remember. Once I was all done though I couldn't watch the movie at that level. The volume level was so intense I couldn't focus on the TV screen. 46" It actually drove me out of the room. The loudest that I can crank the volume is about -17 or 18 on the AVR. -15 is quite intense but fun for demos. :devil:
My typical volume is -28 - -24. My point being is they fill the room with plenty of sound :raped:

If you decide to demo them, I'm sure you will enjoy them.
 

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Ascend 340s are near the top of the heap for a commercial speaker at its price, but there are a few weaknesses to them that I have noticed time and again that you may want to consider. I have some impressions with signatures vs the DIY Modula MTs and classics vs the Boston VR3s in this thread. I was really expecting the 340s to mop up the MTs, but none of us really saw it that way. With the eventual tweak Jon made to the tweeter crossover in the MTs, I'm certain they would have beat the signatures in just about every song we listened to.

I think you will definitely find the Boston VR line a step up from the Ascends, but if at all possible, I would try to get a 3rd VR2 or a single VR1 to use as a center instead of the VRC. Boston has a strong history of great center channels, but the VRC falls kinda short. It's pretty small and wimpy with an early rolloff, and I don't think it can hang with the VR2s/3s. To save money and keep you from busting that $1000 budget, I wouldn't even worry about timbre matching the surrounds - the MSRP $500 VRX surrounds are quite pricey me thinks. If possible, I'd go three VR towers across the front and then just use some of your JBLs for surrounds, as the sound quality from surrounds isn't very noticable or important, and they really don't get used all that much, unless perhaps you listen to a lot of multichannel music. Personally I don't care for the stuff and prefer to stick to stereo music listening. I'm using a hodge podge of speakers for surround duty - 340s for surrounds and RCA bookshelves for rears, and it sounds great. Everytime I've seen one of those factory renewed sales at onecall, I've thought about getting VR1s for surrounds and rears, but in the end, I don't think I would notice the difference (the audible one, not the visual one). Three towers will give you a totally seemless, dynamic, and identically voice matched front soundstage without any bottlenecks between them.

That said, I believe you actually prefer a laid back sound, as in rolled off highs. That's not really what you are going to get with the Bostons. See here for a measurement of the VR3s, the purple line. The top end will be the same between the VR3s and VR2s, all that's different is the <200hz performance. If a more detailed top end isn't an eye opener for you though :R , you could still roll it off with your built in EQ.

The Modula MTs would also be something to try out, as they are very nice in regards to pure sound quality and price - typically the premade Parts Express boxes are used, making it really easy. Without doing Jon's tweeter tweak, just using the standard crossover, the highs won't be detailed as the Bostons or Ascends, and that may be the type of sound your prefer. Now I wouldn't personally feel too comfortable with a MT setup in regards to dynamics and midbass performance in relation to subwoofage, which you have a ton of too, but if you have been living with and enjoying the SVS bookshelves already, the MTs would be an improvement in even that regard. There is a definite sense of power in reproduction that you get with a tower in relation to a bookshelf though, even if comparing them both crossed at 80hz.

So to sum up, Ascends 340s are pretty nice, but I think you can do a little better without spending much more. The Boston VRs are a noticable step up, though you may not like the detailed top end. If possible, try to do three towers across the front instead of the VRC. The Modula MTs are also a noticable step up from 340s, and might be more of the type of sound you are looking for in regards to the top end. They aren't too much work if you use the PE cabinets and are quite inexpensive.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all the comments... :T

Steve, I've actually already ordered the package... ended up at only $700, so I can't complain too much there. I know where a VR920 is that I can possibly snag to replace the VRC, but I want to at least try the VRC first. Remember my room is very small and Rodny is actually pretty happy with his VRC in his small room. I'm not sure where I'd put another VR2 or VR1... unless one would lie on its side on top of my cabinet... and I'm not sure it would be designed to use that way. I could probably just leave the SBS-01s for rears, but since I got the VRX set for about $200, why not use them and see what happens, not that I'll notice anything.

As far as listening... I very seldom listen to a CD... only DVDs. I do watch a few concert DVDs. Actually right this minute I'm jammin' with the Eagles in HD-DVD and it sounds wondermous! And I do like the softer upper range, but neutral was always satisfying as well. As you say, I can soften it up a bit if needed, but that really only comes into play with the DVD concert and a what music I might hear on a DVD movie all along.
 

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You are using a projector right? What would be in the way of a vertically orientated tower for a center, is there an equipment rack or something? VRX for $200 is a good deal.....you got a **** of a deal on the whole package, ahem :daydream:
 

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Yes a projector, and yes an equipment rack.

I agree... that package brand new just doesn't get any cheaper... :bigsmile:

This is an old pic... again... I'm just no good with cameras.

 

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The Modula MTs would also be something to try out, as they are very nice in regards to pure sound quality and price - typically the premade Parts Express boxes are used, making it really easy. Without doing Jon's tweeter tweak, just using the standard crossover, the highs won't be detailed as the Bostons or Ascends, and that may be the type of sound your prefer. Now I wouldn't personally feel too comfortable with a MT setup in regards to dynamics and midbass performance in relation to subwoofage, which you have a ton of too, but if you have been living with and enjoying the SVS bookshelves already, the MTs would be an improvement in even that regard. There is a definite sense of power in reproduction that you get with a tower in relation to a bookshelf though, even if comparing them both crossed at 80hz.
You there there is another xover version of the Modula MT for the Seas tweeters, right? In fact, I think the Seas variants are the more popular builds. They have different sound than the RS28a, and I know the 27TDFC has a more "likable" topend (it isn't so flat like the 28).

And by "won't be as detailed" you mean the highs roll-off quicker, and most of that is inherent to the tweeter (the 28a).
 

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There isn't really any top end rolloff to the Dayton, and the standard crossover measures pretty flat up top. It just has dull sounding highs, lack of clarity. I'm of the opinion that all speakers should have a boost at the top end as a baseline if only so that lots of toe in doesn't have to be used. If a speaker measures flat to 20hz on axis, it's gonna roll off up top off axis, meaning the tweeter better be pointed right at your ears. By using a boost, you don't need to use very much toe in, keeping the resulting FR at your ears flat AND providing a much, much wider soundstage. In addition to that, I like a little more on the top end anyway. Jon's tweak reduces the attenuation on the tweeter, and that helps considerably, but the highs still aren't as nice as his Totems or my Bostons.
 

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wrong. http://www.partsexpress.com/pdf/275-130g.pdf

The xover doesn't have much to do with the top-end response at all, besides a bit of EQ here and there. The setup used to measure the final response of the design can't even measure beyond about 16kHz.

And you've given me your spiel about boosted top-end before. You say the Dayton is flat and has no roll-off yet you say it sounds better with the tweak which boosts the high-end...

My point is, tweeters matter, and the Seas' are most definitely different than the 28a. And if just wants "clear sounding" highs, they should go with ribbons. ;)
 

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A new player in this category is Ascendant Audio's Arbiter MTM -- whenever Ascendant gets their site back up! The woofs are 6 1/2" and the tweeter is the Vifa XT25. IIRC they were offering it in kit form and the price was reasonable.

Has anyone heard the Elemental Design A5/A6 MTMs?
 

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See here. There is a dip ~16khz, but it comes back up - EQ can fix that.

You say the Dayton is flat and has no roll-off yet you say it sounds better with the tweak which boosts the high-end...
Correct.

My point is, tweeters matter, and the Seas' are most definitely different than the 28a.
I'm not saying they aren't. Personally I wouldn't use either of them though. Jon is using the expensive ScanSpeak in his next project and depending on the level of success the speaker achieves, I may be tempted to try my hand at it. I'd likely use the Peerless tweeter....real shame about those AA 6.5s disappearing though, I would have liked to have used them if I go that route. Even before considering price, they look like the best performing 6-7" driver.
 

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I didn't know I was being abrasive.

And who is doing the EQing?

Personally I wouldn't use either of them though.
Well I already know you've heard the RS28 so you have a valid reason for not liking it, but the Seas? His Totem's have a Seas tweeter.

And I never pegged you for someone who'd be interested in an expensive SS...but of course since Jon is messing with it, I can see why. :p
 

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And who is doing the EQing?
I'm saying EQ in a crossover can easily fix that dip.

Well I already know you've heard the RS28 so you have a valid reason for not liking it, but the Seas? His Totem's have a Seas tweeter.
Distortion/FR measurements aren't all that great. His Totems, while nice, aren't perfect.

And I never pegged you for someone who'd be interested in an expensive SS...but of course since Jon is messing with it, I can see why.
Well as I said, I'd go with the Peerless.
 

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Really? I thought they measured pretty well.

Which Peerless are you referring to.

And its clear now, in the measurements of the Totems. There is a peak around 10kHz. Figures.
 
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