• SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh Laboratory MA252 Integrated Amplifier (November 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Hegel H90 and H190 Integrated Amplifiers (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - How Hegel's SoundEngine Works (October 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight  - Estelon History and YB and Extreme Loudspeakers (September 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - What Makes Hegel Different? (August 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Estelon Extreme Legacy Edition Loudspeaker (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion Overview and Technologies (July 2017)
  • SoundStage! Insight - Totem Acoustic Signature One Loudspeaker (June 2017)
  • SoundStage! Encore - The Cowboy Junkies'
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Anthem's STR Integrated Amplifier (May 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Paradigm's Perforated Phase Alignment (PPA) Lenses (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Paradigm's Persona 9H Loudspeaker (March 2017)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Contrasts: Dynaudio's Contour and Focus XD Speaker Lines (February 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - New Technologies in MartinLogan's Masterpiece Series
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Dynaudio/Volkswagen Car Audio (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Gryphon Philosophy and the Kodo and Mojo S Speakers (January 2017)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- What's a Tonmeister? (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - AxiomAir N3 Wireless Speaker System (December 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 90 (November 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Gryphon Diablo 120 Integrated Amplifier (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Dynaudio History and Driver Technology (October 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - The Story How Gryphon Began (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Devialet History, ADH Technology, and Expert 1000 Pro (September 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Devialet's Phantom Loudspeakers (August 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh Home Theater and Streaming Audio (July 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - McIntosh MC275 Stereo Amplifier (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - McIntosh History and Autoformer Technology (June 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - NAD Viso HP50 Headphones (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - GoldenEar Technology's Anechoic Chamber (May 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - PSB's M4U 4 Earphones (April 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight - GoldenEar Technology's Triton Two+ and Three+ Loudspeakers (March 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- KEF's LS50 (February 2016)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Monitor Audio's Platinum II Series (January 2016)
  • SoundStage! Shorts -- Pryma 0|1 Headphones (December 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- KEF's Blade Two Loudspeaker (November 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- KEF and the Uni-Q (October 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Monitor Audio Acoustics & Aesthetics (August 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- PSB's Imagine T3 Loudspeaker (June 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- Hegel's H160 Integrated Amplifier-DAC (April 2015)
  • SoundStage! InSight -- MartinLogan's Neolith Loudspeaker (February 2015)

To Hans Wetzel,

I enjoyed ["A Pilgrimage"]. What do you think of the Ascend Asoustics Sierra Tower, MartinLogan Motion 40, and Tekton Design Pendragon speakers? Keep the reviews coming.

Thanks,
David

If I'm being honest with you, I have to say that I don't have personal experience with any of the speakers that you mention. Still, I might be able to offer advice.

About ten years ago we reviewed one of Ascend Acoustics' bookshelf speakers on the SoundStage! Network, which appears to still be on sale today. Beyond that, I can only advise based on what I see from their website. It's promising though. Their Sierra Tower speakers have a seven-year warranty, are level matched within ±1dB of one another, and come with an individualized frequency-response plot for the speakers you order. Combined with the fact that they're made in the U.S.A., that's pretty impressive. For around $2000/pair, that sounds reasonable, and certainly worth considering for a tower speaker.

The MartinLogan Motion 40 was actually reviewed on our sister site SoundStage Hi-Fi last year. It looks like a lively speaker with some definite virtues, but you might take a look at the measurements included in the review. Between 400Hz and 800Hz, there is a massive 10dB swing, and that is smack dead in the midrange, where you're likely to hear most vocals. The reviewer characterized the midrange as being "lean" and the bass as "beefy," and the Listening Window graph in the measurements bears this out. Relative to the lower midrange, where male vocals would be, the bass is 5-6dB up. So unquestionably, the Motion 40 is going to have a sonic personality.

The Tekton Design Pendragon is interesting. Doug Schneider is finishing up a review of a Finnish speaker called the Aurelia XO Cerica, which, like the Pendragon, uses three tweeters in its design. Intrinsically, there are both benefits and drawbacks to doing so, but Doug found the Cericas, which are $7100/pair, unbelievable sounding. I've heard some good things about the Pendragon, and the three-tweeter design may help to explain why.

Something that gives me pause about them is that they're a two-way design in which the three tweeters are crossed directly over to a pair of massive 10" midrange-bass drivers. That's pretty unusual. Asking a 10" driver to handle both the mids and the bass in a design is demanding. Speaking of the word handle, the product's page on their website has it spelled "handel," in addition to spelling the word triple, "tripple." I have to say that if a company is going to ask me to part with $2500 for a pair of loudspeakers, I'd want to see that they pay attention to how the product is presented. The company does offer a 30-day "Risk-Free" trial for their speakers, but should you return them to Tekton, you are responsible for return shipping costs of a massive pair of speakers, as well as a 15% restocking fee -- that's $375! Hardly risk free. But that doesn't have any bearing on the sound of the speakers of course. We'll look into this company and see if we can review something of theirs.

So that's what I think. Around the same price range, I believe there are other models worthy of consideration. How about Aperion Audio's Verus Grand Tower at $2000/pair? Aperion ACTUALLY has a risk-free 30-day guarantee. Or how about Definitive Technology's $2000/pair BP-8060ST, or GoldenEar Technologies' $2000/pair Triton Three? These are just a few examples. There are a goodly number of competent speakers out there that could fit your bill for around $2000. Let us know if we can be of further assistance. . . . Hans Wetzel