VR-1 is a great speaker for the money. You should be able to find a good used pair for $500 or less. Check craigslist if you can't find it on A'gon.
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i can't comment on the ascend sierra, altho i have heard their 340 monitors and wasn't blown away--build quality and sound were just okay. the vr-1 on the other hand, is fantastic--beautiful wood, dynamic, engaging, with a ton of low end slam. like the above posters, i just don't think you can go wrong with it.