Are Avalon Ascents the Classics they seem to be?

I have a mint pair of Avalon Ascent seriesII in a dedicated room of 22x13x8.They are driven by Rowland 8t With a second amp housing containing a new switch mode power supply done up by Rowland.The restof the system is also of high quality'such as Levinson390s and SOTA COSMOS w/Graham 2.2 and Transfiguration temper-V.An ultramodified (by Great Northern Sound) Audio Research SP-15 preamp rounds out the system.Cables are Cardas and Transparent Audio with quality but not insanely rediculous powercords into 3 dedicated lines.Also a REL stentor (in right corner of room)rounds out the set up coming in at 24hz (with corner loading you hear the presence of the sub,but gain is set low for a nice blend that works.I have made an attempt to hear a good deal of current speakers and haven't felt that there is much out there that warrants spending the kind of money to make such a change.I have to be blown away,and although I've heard the Kharma stuff as well as the Eidolons and veritys I still can"t get too exited.I really like the Nova utopias Be and think that the TAD-1 would be killer but I really don't think my room is big enough.It is a closed in space with no venting into other rooms.The Wilson stuff don"t(to me)have the true upper mid detail that I have come to love.I know that it may seem as though I'm answering my own question,however,I know that there are some of you out there that may have the experience and rationale to help me to be sure I'm not rationalizing or deluding myself.Thanks!I also can't help but feel that the sealed box design and easy load that Avalon once marketed as well as external crossovers and the significant mass of the speaker syst. has to be a significant contribution.
I agree. I recently chose the Ascent MkII being the sole big Avalon that works well with my Fourier Pantheres. The latter ones are OTLs (delivering some 200 watts) which require a load not below 4 Ohm. I happen to have a pair Pantheres that work without problems which seems to be a rarity. These OTL`s highlight the virtues of the Ascent: effortless and glorius music making. Together with the Cello Suite, a Platine Verdier/ Naim Aro/ Vh Hul Grasshopper IV, Cardas and JPS Superconductor II I finaly have come to the end of the road. You not always need to have the latest design to get good sound. Sirspeedy thank you for the valuable information.
Hodelrecords,I think you will find the speakers to perform better with the best components you can give them.They are rediculously good,and I have a sneaky suspicion that those owners moving away from them,some time ago,would have gotten much more from them with today's best electronics.
I assume you have the grilles cut out,to expose the drivers.Also,the owner's manual is SPOT ON in terms of the descriptions of performance,and how to get the best from these "heirloom quality" beauties.I am amazed at how accurate that manual is,regarding this speaker compared to others.Time has proven that the manual's claims were not marketing hype.Also,though I like the newer stuff,it is clear that the "new Avalon designs" are completely opposite of the claims in our owner's manual,as to what is most accurate.Hmm!

In an attempt to keep my pair current with today's tweeter trends(the supposed superiority of Berrylium,or Diamond),not that I hear any deficiencies from the modded titanium drivers,we have,I am seriously considering an add on super tweeter.Like the Townshend Maximum Super Tweeter.This device does not come into play until 20khz,and is beautifully integrated sitting just above the Ascents dome.I have heard it make a significant improvement in a Sonus Faber Extrema.Yet the Extrema does not have the high frequency extension of the Ascent.I may consider the Muratas as well.Also,I have seen pictures of other Ascent owners,in Japan,running ribbon super tweeters,above the titanium dome,so maybe there's something to this.

Any thoughts?

Best of luck!
"This device does not come into play until 20khz,and is beautifully integrated sitting just above the Ascents dome."

Actually the supertweeter begins to lift the high frequency output of a linear system around 10K (note the shelving of the response in the online example, it appears that "setting 4" used in the example would make a typical system +10-+12dB at 20khz. In my opinion a nice party trick but certainly not really the benefits discussed on the website. This tweak acts to Double the output of the 23Khz resonance of your tweeter which I'm certain can be sensed if not heard. Need to know what phase your tweeter actually is because you could get cancellations too. Lastly there are many alternatives with a little DIY with a little box, .047uf capacitor and a little can-do you'd have the same thing for $400-$600. Check brands like Visaton, Aurum Cantas, RAAL, LCY...Some only go to 40khz like it matters :)

As for your experience with the tweeter The dark rich sounding Esotar (actually goes to 28khz) in the Extrema would likely tolerate this treatment much much better than your all metal dome Ascents. I can just imagine the sibilance showing up at all the wrong times.


"new Avalon designs" are completely opposite of the claims in our owner's manual,as to what is most accurate."

I've never been very impressed with the technical prowess of Avalon as their speakers are very hit and miss despite the fact they currently are all nearly the same!

Wasn't the Ascent designed by somebody outside the company or hired for the project? Because I have to agree with you that it shines above all other Avalons from its day.

If you want more midrange detail an ATC or an upper end PMC will certainly redefine your standards, just not as sexy. I can't wait for the new active Focal pro tower that is in the works if you want true 100khz design (maybe a year away), that should be awesome too.

If you like Avalons, stick with them, get some room correction stuff and play around with it if your getting a bit bored.

But that's just my opinion

THANK YOU "SO" MUCH--Cinematic systems!!I find your comments to be a real eye,I mean ear opener.You clearly have more technical knowledge than me,and I cannot tell you how much I value these recent comments.

Believe me,I don't want to make any mistakes,as quite honestly,I was planning on moving to a super tweeter just out of what I theorized "might" be an improvement.Not based on any problems I hear in my speaker,which have a wonderful sense of extension,and air.Fine timbres as well,but those DARN marketing guys tell me that I have to have a "diamond" or Beryllium,or whatever is next.I think we'll start hearing about "black diamond domes" soon.I have read about this.Maybe I can use some of my wifey's stones!

Yes,these(the Ascent,and Eclipse) were originally designed by Charles Hansen,now owner of Ayre electronics.

I have always felt these titanium domed tweeters(Modded BTW)were superb,with clearly more air than the Esotar(my friend has the Esotar,in his speakers),but maybe I have been affected by industry hype.I'm FAR from perfect!!As I'm sure you know.

Though I must admit that the Esotar used in the Sonus Faber Extremas,where I had heard(and loved)the addition of the Townshend Ribbon add ons,really benefited from the super tweets.So I did some research,and found that Sonus Faber claims the upper freq. limit to only 17khz.Mine are claimed to be ruler flat(+or- 1.5db)to 25khz.My friends felt I'd be taking a risk,and your informative thoughts certainly give me pause for real thought.

I must emphasize the fact that I don't hear any upper freq problems,in my system,as of now,but thought "maybe" I could squeak a bit more of "whatever"!Who knows?I sure don't,and I am willing to play it safe,after your educated comments.

What do ya think?

Oh yeah,and thanks in advance!!

The dude at Sonus is obsessive about modifying drivers, I can't remember which speaker but Scanspeak had to make him like 30-35 versions of the same driver. I had to patch into memory for how the Extrema performed and it seemed that it would be a candidate. Definitely not the same Esotar thats in the Confidence 5!

I was serious about trying a digital eq, even a cheap one just to see how it can affect your system, click it in click it out. A DBX or the Behringer DEQ2496 are good enough to expirement with before you make a serious investment in a Rives Parc, Accuphase or Lake Technology Quad Mesa.

Also downloading Doug P's ETF $399 with mic or True Audio's RTA $250 gives your ears eyes.

It was my pleasure to be helpful.
Sir Speedy and Cinematic systems. The biggest asset of the Ascent is the ruler flat impedance that mates very well with an otl. When you change the tweeter what will happen to the impedance? I have had the Apogee Duetta which had very good resolution and a very good tweeter but music was not very captivating and only a few records were great. Voices and instruments did not have their natural size etc. Avalon (I have also had the pleasure of 10 years listening Radian with really superb solid state amps)did cure this. So please be careful with what will happen to the music

"Voices and instruments did not have their natural size etc."

Apogees in general were slightly bright speakers, which was magnified by the common installation in a typical domestic environement.

You may know the dipole radiation and distance from the rear wall and the frequency response of that reflection off the back wall all factor in to any dipoles sound quality.

The delay in the reflection gives the sound its uncontrollable larger size.

"When you change the tweeter what will happen to the impedance?"

Changing the tweeter will likely do very little to disturb the impedance with a proper crossover solution and the ease to drive the speakers will remain the same as tweeters run on very little power in the grand scheme of the speaker design. BUT! integrating a new tweeter will be no picnic. When a speaker is this good and well designed you have to leave it alone, upgrading an individual part of a well designed speaker SYSTEM is an oxymoron 99.999999% of the time.

Also to clarify the addition of the supertweeter would also not effect the impedance either.
I have decided to leave well enough alone(I've put the kabbash on the super tweeter subject)!Truthfully,and having heard a load of the newer(all fine,btw)stuff,I am still ecstatic about the performance of the Ascents.Though I did purchase a Rel Stentor sub some time ago.The sub DOES blend flawlessly,but took me "eons" to get correct.Very low crossover point,and very low gain setting.Also,in my dedicated room,I have found it performs best just behind,and a bit to the right of my right channel speaker.This places it three feet out,from back wall,and two feet from side wall.The room is a closed off affair.Measures 13x22.5x8.Speakers are actually about 8.5 feet from back wall,as measured from back of cabinets.SERIOUS SOUNSTAGE DEPTH,as well as ambience and great inner details.I guess I'm a happy camper!Thanks,so much for the well intentioned feedback!

A good friend runs the old Eclipse with a really good tweak that improves both extension and imaging.He uses three Totem beaks on each speaker and loves the sound he is getting.I heard the new opus speaker from Avalon with Cat JL3 and a Wadia GNSC 861se,the woofer was down firing and proved to be problematic from the get go.I thought the old pair of Eclispe easily bettered the new opus in every parameter.I also use the beaks on my Paragon speakers and also on my tube amp next to signal and power tubes with spectacular results in sound.I also listened to the Ascents and thought they were sonic marvels in the imaging dept.,I can't help wondering if there are cabling issues. A super tweeter would only upset the tonal balance as well as the imaging and time alignment.The beaks are a cheap tweak and do wonders for old Hansen based designs,I strongly recommend them over a super tweeter any day! Take care Dennis
Cenline,as I have my Ascents on carpet,would the Beaks penetrate the fibres?I think it could pose a problem.Also,the German Cones coming with the original speakers are really quite good.

With my Radians I had good results with Harmonix tuning feet (the old #66). I have never used the Avalon spikes. The tuning feet proved to work excellent with my all wooden floor. Since the Ascent is a 4 chassis affair I haven`t tried these under my speakers. May be I should start with the cross overs. Has anybody experienced with tweaks like these?
I use APEX from Grand Prix Audio for some time know instead of the origenal Avalon spikes beneath the Arcus.
They have given an real improvement, especially in the definition of the lower end.
They are also standing on an all wooden floor.
Sirspeedy the Totem beaks are used on the top of the speaker and have nothing to do with the spikes of the speaker.How much do the Avalons weigh? The Sistrum 101 stands are one of the best values in audio and have a profound impact on all aspects of the sound.They are able to hold 350 pounds per stand,you can see both the beaks on top of the speakers and the stands underneath them if you view my virtual system.The Totem beaks help break up standing waves on top of the speaker caused by the tweeters high speed emissions.Both my friend and I have found that 3 beaks work the best on top of the speaker and also next to the tubes on the top of my amp.Hope this helps Dennis
Cenline,thanks for the info,but as described I don't think I can go for the beaks.I like the dispersion of my tweeters,and don't want to affect it.As to a stand,I don't like the idea of increasing the height of my 175 lb Ascents,and am on concret flooring.
Sirspeedy, the beaks don't change the way the tweeter operates.The beaks eliminate the waves going across the top of the speaker and thus increase focus of the images.The Paragon speaker also is a heavy weight at a paltry 165lbs,I found that the extra height has no effect on the imaging of the speaker.My friend Dick found that the Eclispe actually improved in every aspect of the sound with the stands.Robert at Star sound will let you try the stands with a money back gurantee,also you could put the crossover on a sp004 stand which would help everything immensely.I am so sold with the stands that you don't know unless you try them (ditto with the totem beaks).These tweaks are not subtle in the final results and I hope you try them -Dennis
Dennis,I have tried different materials on top of my speakers,and have found the dispersion always sounded best with nothing on top.It's not the actual tweeter,itself,but the shape of the wavelaunch,due to the cabinet angles.I would love to try the beaks,but won't make a move until that happened.As to the stand,that's another story.I am on a concrete floor,but unless I had the stands for trial,I'd have to stay put.There is also the "pain in the tush" factor involved in moving such massive speakers.

Thanks for the wonderful feedback!
Before we go to details I want to tell all of you again how wonderful truthful the ascents sound with powerful otl`s. I haven`t been thinking of tweaks since I got the speakers. Even good digital (red book)can sound terrific. Once you have heard a Bruckner crescendo with almost lifelike impact one can hardly imagine a possible improvement.