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I mainly listen to rock, some jazz and pop vocal. The Ascends do perform well but I thought shelling out for a pair of speakers in the $10000 range would give me more refinement (more musicality, you are there presence) than the Ascends. At times, the Ascends (recording dependent) can sound shrill in the high end. It's more of a belief that more money will bring more satisfaction. Perhaps I'm mistaken. The size of the Ascends is what I'm looking for because I can't go too large because of the smaller size of my room (13 X 18 ft.).
In April I was in communication with Jim Salk and was ready to order a pair of speakers thru him but didn't want to wait for many months due to Covid-19 production slowdown so I purchased a pair of Harbeth Super SL5 plus speakers. I thought they would bring me what I was searching for. They didn't. While very musical, their sound lacks the sizzle and snap the upper mid and high end sizzle and snap I desire. I'm sure there are those listeners out there that would love what the CJ tube/Harbeth combo brings to the table but I tried to like them and the Ascends did it more for me. At times, I did like the presentation of the Harbeth's thru my CJ. Certainly, my amp did change things.
Yeah, Tekton Double Impacts will be easier to drive, more efficient, play louder, much more refined, and almost universally acclaimed to compete with $10k speakers. Listen to this guy at 5:50 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RxRTFx6Cd0&t=627s
Or if you want more do like me and order Moabs. Or Ulfberhts, if you're really determined to spend $10k. Refinement and you are there presence in spades. Hang on, if you want yet another review, Eric says he should have my Moabs to me in a few weeks.
You may be loving your Ascend Acoustics and not even realize it.... The better your system gets, the easier it is to hear the problems in recordings. I personally have a real issue with the peaks in vocals that happen because of over saturating microphones.
I believe that I will produce a speaker soon. I have built the prototypes. 95db sensitivity, 5 ohms, great impedance curve, excellent frequency curve (flat) very tube amp friendly for any tube amp with 4 ohm taps. I'll let you guys know if I produce them. I am in the St. Louis area and would love a few people to put their ears on them.
I do agree about vocal sibilance and it having to do something with singing to closely to the microphone. The Ascends and Harbeths both show it. The AA's are nice and detailed but I was hoping spending a little more for a three-way that will give me more of that vocal and instrumentation that sounds more natural, real. Is your prototype a three way speaker?
To me, this sounds like a case of amp and speaker not synergizing -not playing well together. Again, to me, the amp/pre/speaker interface is most important. Get this right, and your system will sing. Mismatch and you probably won't ever get it right.
I'm unfamiliar with your amp and speakers. As your amp appears to be older CJ, I'd assume it is more syrupy and dark - unable to produce significant snap and sparkle - aspects of sound you and I are both looking for. If that is the case, it won't work well with the Harbeths, which on the other hand I know quite well. If I am wrong on the CJ, please disregard.
I have significant experience with the SHL5+, both at a friends and at our dealers. They synergize well with Luxman, Rogers Highfidelity, & Line Magnetic and various brands as others will attest. Since you like tubes, Rogers or LM would work well. Both have snap and sparkle with the SHL5+ and 30.2s and other speakers in the Harbeth line. In my opinion, they are both quite good with Harbeth.
In the end, I don't know CJ gear and so I'm not sure how it will pair with other speakers and what speakers it can make sing. But I do know Harbeth and they indeed can and do sing (snap, sparkle, etc) very well. I know you didn't ask for an amp recommendation, but it may not be the speakers, but rather the amp that is the culprit here.
The best $10k new speaker I've heard is by far the Wharfedale Elesian4 and pairs well with the amps mentioned above.
Good luck in your journey
I live in the Allentown, Pa. area, about 60 miles north of Philadelphia along the east coast of Pa. near NJ.
Yes, the synergy between the CJ LP70s tube amp and the Harbeth Super HL5+ is different than what I'm used to. Some listeners might love it. Maybe I'll get used to it down the line but I'm not too sure. Also, I paired the Harbeth with my Conrad Johnson ET250s hybrid (tube in, ss out) power amp with much different results: More snap and sizzle but at the expense of some upper mid to high end glare & shrillness to the overall texture .Also, I get the same results with the CJ hybrid/Ascend tower pairing, only worse. Perhaps CJ works better with other speaker brands.
Any CJ owners out there? I need your input!
OP - make short trek to New Jersey to go see Johnny R at @audioconnection He knows what your amp can do - I never recommend anything I have never heard ... so with that in mind try out the Vandersteen Treo CT - they will work great in your room and they are engineered to be an easy load for your amp. A used pair of Quattro w powered bass will sing w your amp.
@timlub I get to St. Louis now and then, will advise if I do. I would if I were you get Keith Herron to listen to them....
have fun, enjoy the music