Question about ML Ascent i

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Mike Lawrence

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I recently listened to the Ascent i speakers at two different local stores. Both stores had them connected to recievers. (One of these was the Denon 3805.) I was a bit dissapointed with them. They seemed unpleasantly bright and harsh at moderately high volumes.

My question is - Is this because of the Denon receiver couldn't properly power these speakers?

I have just ordered a used Innersound ESL-300 amp. Would this give me better results?

There is one more store that I can hear these at. It is a bit of a drive though. I read alot of good things about these speakers so I want to make sure I give them a fair chance before I dismiss them totally.
 

SugarMedia

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Hi Mike,

I experienced similar things when auditioning the Aeon-i, and unlike many, I didn't have the option to test them out at my house. Anyway, the dealer originally hooked them up to Rotel gear and I was very disapppointed, so much to the point I almost passed on them and chose B&W 800 Series.

I then had the dealer switch out the Rotel for a Classe Int-amp and CD player. This made an incredible difference, so much to the point that the bass was there and the sound began to surround me and fill the room... everything was extremely pleasing and I remember literally getting goosebumps. I played with them some more by choosing different speaker wire and interconnects and still found more improvement.

In the end, the Classe was over my budget and I ended up going with the new Musical Fidelity A5 CDP and Integrated amp. I am one happy guy and glad I made the right choice.
 
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ernio1

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Mike, electrostatic speakers are extremely sensitive to electronics and sources upstream from them and also sound the best when powered sufficiently. I would say 200 wpc at minimum.

I first heard the Ascent I's at Magnolia, a high end branch of Best Buy. They were hooked up to a 100 wpc Krell integrated. They were not bright but sounded rather dry, lacked inner detail and warmth and had no bass slam whatsoever. I asked the salesman to use a higher powered amp. It was then hooked up to a 200+ wpc Krell and the sound really opened up. However, they still seemed to lack some detail. Either the speaker was not mating well with the Krell electronics or it was the cd player.

I heard them later at a high end audio store. They were hooked up to a Pass X150 with a Wadia 861SE as a source. The system also had top quality cables hooked up to it and power conditioners. Wow.....loads of inner detail and layering and depth that seemed to go way beyond the front plane of the speakers.

I later purchased the Ascent I's. Since the purchase, I've matched them with Audio Research VT100 mk II, Bel Canto evo4, and now with a Gamut D200 Mk II (the best match). Krell is a respected name, however, it could not even bring the best out of the Ascent I's.

I would never consider a receiver with Ascent's. That would be like putting a
Hyundai engine in a Porsche. However, I believe some people do use receivers with ML's and are quite satisfied.

Ernie.
 

Sky Saw

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Hi Mike, and welcome!

ML's can sound bright and harsh when 1) new, and not yet fully broken-in and 2) when hooked up to bright and harsh electronics.

If you can contact the other dealer before going in and ask them to demo their most senior pair, and what electronics they will be connected to, you might even be able to influence what those electronics are. Placement is also an issue, so try to get the speakers 3-5 ft from the back wall and at least 1.5-3ft from side walls. Ascent-is have a bass attenuation switch at the back, so make sure it is flat (rather than -3db). Finally, dealers often have the left/right reversed. Play something classical or something that will enable you to identify correct wiring. Phase is another issue that you will just have to trust them on.

Lots of electronics work with ML's, but if you want to hear what the speakers can do, get the dealer to try several different brands and listen to whether the problems that you hear with one set are common with other sets of electronics. Avoid HT electronics for the demo (keep the audition simple and focused), unless that is specifically what you want to use the speakers for.

Good luck, and let us know what happens in your next round of auditions,
 

Reverb

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Hello Mike


Martin Logan’s are one of those rare speakers that can get out of the way, and reveal everything about your system. Don’t think of it as the Ascents don’t sound right, but as some thing in my system has a harsh colored sound to it. Receivers are typically over rated in their power out put, they realistically put out about half there rated power. So 100 watts per channel would be closer to about 50 watts per channel.

Try listing with other components in place. I would not recommend you use a receiver to power the ascent’s, just because you can doesn’t mean you should .A good two channels external amp rated for the same power output, or even lower could blow a receiver out of the water any day of the week.

Take care mike
:rolleyes:
 
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EricE

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Sky Saw has a very good point. Break in...
I've had my Ascent I's for just over a month now and they have changed dramatically over that time period. Low to mid bass has grown fuller and more pronounced while the mids and highs from the electrostatic panel has smoothed out. My 2 previous ML's were demos so I did now know how much of change they went through during a break in but I must say that all good things come to those who wait :rolleyes:
 

Spike

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Another case of Ascent revealing weakness in electronics

I recently listened to the Ascent i speakers at two different local stores. Both stores had them connected to recievers. (One of these was the Denon 3805.) I was a bit dissapointed with them. They seemed unpleasantly bright and harsh at moderately high volumes.
Very typical of the receiver clipping trying to keep up with the Ascent i.

I have just ordered a used Innersound ESL-300 amp. Would this give me better results?
Definitely. Innersound ESL amps are designed to work with the tough load of electrostatics so you should notice huge improvement through the Ascent i.

There is one more store that I can hear these at. It is a bit of a drive though. I read alot of good things about these speakers so I want to make sure I give them a fair chance before I dismiss them totally.
ML speakers are VERY revealing and very sensitive to set-up. Unfortunately, there are lots of stores which don't go through the hassles to set up MLs correctly, nor do they pay attention to the matching electronics. I'm seeing in your post that these stores set up ML with...receivers! No wonder you're hearing the clipping sonic signature of bright and harsh sound coming from the Ascent at high volumes. Even some beefy (well known) amplifiers will make the MLs sound bright and harsh if the amps are not good match with the speakers. If the stores are using the most profitable electronics (or the more recognized brand) on the MLs, they are not getting the most out of the MLs at all. Bottom line, I don't think you've given the MLs a fair chance auditioning them at these stores. Whoever is the next store you're auditioning, call them up first for an appointment and ask them to set up the MLs properly so you can have a fruitful audition. Good luck.
 
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