After experiencing the limitations of my KEF LS50 as the rear surround speakers, eventhough working at 120Hz upwards. I decided its time to check out some dedicated Home Theater speakers that can work well even at high SPL. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t require the Home Theater to play that loud (maybe peak at slightly below 100dB)…I do want to protect my ear. However, certain movies such as the JURASIC WORLD 2: FALLEN KINGDOM, UNBROKEN, JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3: PARABELLUM, TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION, etc, do require any speakers to work (very) hard! I realised that those movies and some others, have discrete full bandwidth surround channels (even at the ATMOS/ Ceiling surround channels) that smallish speakers proved difficult.
I called upon two well known local audio distributors whom specialised in Home Theater products and installations, AV DESIGNS SDN BHD, and CREATIVE AV SDN BHD. Both companies were gracious to loan me samples to test at my Audio Den.
AV DESIGNS understood my requirements and recommended the ASCENDO (and I insisted) The 12” speakers…that they claimed I would not be able to over work them. Whereas, CREATIVE AV loaned me their best seller, the MILLER & KREISEL (M&K) S150 THX Certified speakers which were heavily used in the movie industry for the past 3 decades.
I connected them in turn, as the rear surround speaker at the cut off frequency of 80Hz from my LYNGDORF MP-60 AV Processor. The amplifier driving them was my ol’ MARK LEVINSON No.29 Stereo Amplifier. The following were my observations:-
JOHN WICK (3) with ASCENDO Kicked Ass!
At the final scene of hand to hand combat between Mr. Wick with the assassins, where glass cabinets were shattered and flung all over, I found the ASCENDOs were able to extend the effect and the soundscape of the soundtrack to envelope my entire 18′ (W) x 28′ (L) x 8′ (H) audio den…which was a ‘Shocking Surprise!’
Whereas, the M&Ks were no slouch in throwing a convincing effect and revealed more minute detail of the glass being shattered and fell to the ground.
ASCENDO, MILLER & KREISEL survived JURASSIC WORLD (2)?!
The movie was filled with excitement and effect that kept the surround channels at their toe, or in this case, at their respective best. At the scene where the main characters/ heroes were running away together with herds of dinosaurs from the volcano eruptions and catastrophe, I found the ASCENDOs were more than able to handle the tremendous headroom of sound pressure, maintain the spaciousness of the sound effect and uphold the grandness of the orchestral soundtrack. However, the M&Ks were not far behind the ASCENDOs and, better at resolution, detail, spacing, separating and distinguishing the vocal from the effects and the effects from the orchestral soundtrack. Therefore, I could easily enjoy the ‘unsuspecting chorus’ from the orchestral soundtrack amidst the heavy bombardment of sound effects.
UNBROKEN MILLER & KREISEL!
At the scene where the Allied Bombers flew in to bomb Japan, and their Zero Fighter plane engaged the Bombers, the ASCENDOs delivered the sound of the semi opened hull of the Bomber and the mechanical sound within it, with realism. Yet, I was surprised that the M&Ks were able to distinguished more distinctly the shout by the ensign at the background, comparatively.
TRANSDUCERS Roll Out!
At the scene in TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION, where the Deception Battle Cruiser was hovering over Hong Kong and sucking up into the air all metal vehicles and the Autobots, and then releasing them mid air, was a serious toll to any surround speakers, especially at high SPL…NOT for the ASCENDOs nor the M&Ks. To me, I felt that both transducers were designed to handle such demanding scene(s) and more. I do not feel being short change for transient, detail, resolution and effect.
ALL ARE WINNERS!
Both ASCENDO and M&K were dedicated Home Theater speakers, some of the best transducers at their category, almost at the same retail price per unit, and supposedly meant for LCR channels (but can be used for surround channels too, if insisted)…and their sound and built quality definitely worth the retail price.
The ASCENDOs have the slight advantage in the envelopment and transient effect but the M&Ks have that slight advantage of discernment, space and separation (…if I being picky). I could easily and happily live with either the ASCENDO or the M&K.