Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 Floorstanding Speakers

Ascend Acoustics CBM-170 Floorstanding Speakers 

DESCRIPTION

2-way rear ported design with advanced crossover. 6.5" Aerogel woofer with phase plug and 1" neodymium ferrofluid injected tweeter. Response 69hz - 20khz +/- 3db, sensitivity 89dB. Weight = 13lbs each.

USER REVIEWS

Showing 11-20 of 98  
[May 28, 2007]
Frank H.
Audio Enthusiast

As a guitar player of many years, I am familiar with various studio monitors, speakers designed to reproduce sound as accurately as possible for people who mix music professionally.

These speakers are studio monitors for the consumer. They are constructed in the same way as professional monitors, and have the great, flat frequency response expected in a studio monitor. There is a slight weakness in the midrange, but they are still the best consumer speakers I have ever heard anywhere near this price. There is no competition. Just buy them.

When you first get your speakers, expect a slight harshness as the tweeters break in a bit -- at least that was my experience. Then it all smooths out, and is beautiful. I love them.

Customer Service

Not needed.

Similar Products Used:

Studio monitors.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Feb 11, 2007]
JohnMichael
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

The CBM 170's greatest strength is their neutrality. I would not classify this speaker as warm or bright. You will know which of your cd's are well recorded and which are not. This speaker is truthfull but does not beat you up with the truth. I am still able to enjoy the music on poorly recorded cd's unlike some speakers that would make you want to discard many of your discs.

I am hearing more detail in the high frequencies. Cymabals and brushed cymbals sound much more natural. The delicate sounds of the harpsicord are beautiful.

Midrange detail is excellent. The speed of the midwoofer gives instruments new life. It is easier to hear differences in guitars and playing styles. Banjos and dulicimers sound more precise. Listening to a Michelle Shocked recording I noticed how playful her voice was in one song. I was never aware of that with my old speakers. Violins sound how they are played depending on the music.

I am pleased with the amount of bass. Living in an apartment it is enough bass to sound balanced without getting me in trouble with the neighbors. Cello recordings sound natural. Jaco Pastorius' technique is easy to hear even if the low bass is low in level. If I moved into a house I might buy a subwoofer but would not feel a strong need for one.

The efficiency of the speaker is also appreciated. It is 3db more efficient then my previous speakers and easier driven by my integrated amp. Music sounds more dynamic using the same amp.

I am amazed by the quality of sound achieved from two quality drivers, quality crossover and the designers talent. I even like the cabinet. The speaker looks like a speaker. The money was used wisely in drivers and crossover instead of a fancy cabinet.

Weakness:

None at this price point.

I have been wanting new speakers for awhile that were more accurate and detailed than my old ones. I had visited several traditional audio shops and was not pleased with the demos or the unwillingness to demo. I began to look online for speakers. It is a brave new world shopping for speakers sight unseen and sound unheard. I was aware of all the positive reviews the Ascend CBM 170 SE's had received so I checked out their site. I liked what they had to say about their speakers and design. They claimed that their speakers had what I was looking for in a new pair. Sitting at the computer I ordered a pair. I am pleased to tell you that they are as described on their web site.

They are very neutral speakers. They image well. There is more seperation between instruments. Soundstage is wide and has more depth. Bass is tight without any artificial boost to give the impression of more bass. They reveal the ambiance of the recording venue if it was captured on the recording. They sound good with my current equipment and will reveal any upgrades to source or components.

Customer Service

None needed. Speakers are shipped in double cartons and protected by styrofoam packing.

Similar Products Used:

My long term speaker was the NHT SuperOnes. I have owned speakers from Advent, AR, A/D/S, B&W, Bose, Celestion and Polk.

The Ascend CBM 170 SE's are being used with a Cambridge Audio Azur 640A integrated amp. Sources are a modified Rega Planar2 and a Marantz CD5001. Speaker and interconnects are by Alpha Core.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Feb 07, 2007]
Integra96
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Near perfect sound reproduction, great value, transparent sound. Surprising bass from a relatively small speaker.

Weakness:

They don't come with a 12-pack?

If I walked blindfolded into a room with CBM-170 SE speakers playing and was asked to guess the price of the sound-emitting things before me, I'd have to say "umm, maybe a thousand dollars?"

These speakers sound expensive. They certainly don't look that way, but who cares? What's important is how great they sound! They're hooked up to an old Yamaha receiver, sitting atop 32" Sanus stands about 10' away from my couch. The soundstage is huge, crystal clear, and lively. The speakers are very honest - they reproduce sounds - both good and bad exceptionally well. This means, as others have said, that good recordings are breathtaking and bad recordings sound that much worse. Either way, the sounds are pure and not annoyingly colored like lesser speakers do. You may or may not want to use a subwoofer. Surprisingly, after a few dozen hours of listening, the bass response really picks up. I'm quite impressed by the low end, but a sub will be added down the road.

All this for under $400? Yes. Even after reading dozens of glowing reviews, these beauties exceeded my expectations. Buy them if you want brilliantly engineered speakers at a wonderfully low price.

Customer Service

No complaints.

Similar Products Used:

Kenwood, Infinity, Polk, Mirage, Boston Acoustics

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Nov 18, 2006]
Peter Byrd
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Natural, detailed, and uncolored sound.
Bargain price.
Decent looks.

Weakness:

They aren't free.

I'm a music lover first, an audiophile only by necessity. My interest in audio equipment is a means to an end. I just want to hear what is on my favorite recordings without anything added or anything missing. But I am pretty darn serious (my wife says fanatical ) about it. I am also interested in the technical aspect of speaker design. Back when I started, AR and KLH were the undisputed leaders in the speaker biz. Around 1970 Dynaco came out with the phenomenal A-25s. About a decade later later the Boston Acoustics A-40's came along. Both of these were smallish inexpensive speakers than sounded amazingly close to the best that was then available, consequently they sold by the truckload.
The Ascend Acoustics CBM 170 is the current heir to the best small inexpensive speaker of their time throne. Everything you've read about how good these speakers are is true. I have the new SE model and it is more realistic sounding than the best I've heard from B&W, Boston, Paradigm, and Monitor Audio at up to $800 a pair. I would have gladly paid $500 for these speakers. If they had a nice veneer finish, they would still be a bargain at $1000.
They will not fill a large room at rock concert levels. No small speakers can. They don't have really deep bass. No small speakers do. What they can do is play from about 60 Hz right up to the limits of anybody's high frequency hearing about as accurately as today's technology allows. That means that cellos will have their full weight in the bass, but the lowest half octave of the double bass is attenuated, as is the bottom octave of the piano. They don't boost the low end to fool you into thinking you are hearing more bass. They give you clearly and exactly what is on the recording and they blend perfectly with my Hsu Research VTF-2 subwoofer. All instruments sound full and natural. Vocals are especially lifelike. Detail is sumptuously realistic. I can hear the difference between every one of the many mics used by J. Gordon Holt on the first Stereophile test disc. Every recording has it's own distinct sonic character through these speakers. They do not make everything sound the same or mask poor recording practices by smothering your CDs with colorations. They are phenomenally clear and precise.
You can't buy these speakers in stores. You have to order them to hear them. Ascend makes it easy to return them if you don't like them but I really doubt that many would. I've looked for years for small speakers this good because I've been spoiled by the $1500 Monitor Audio Silver 8i floor standers in my living room. Not anymore. The search is over. We have a new small speaker king. Do yourself a favor, try these. You won't be sorry. Long live the king.

Customer Service

Superb. All questions answered quickly. Fast shipping. Great follow up.

Similar Products Used:

B&W, Boston, KEF, Paradigm, Monitor Audio.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jan 17, 2006]
ichigo
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

-Extremely neutral -Bass response (-10db) down to 35hz -Wide imaging -Not fatiguing - throw all the brightest albums you have and be amazed how you can hear the detail yet not be fatigued at all.

Weakness:

-Slightly less detailed than metal-based speakers like Axioms -Very wide, needs a stand with a large base -Wide imaging (not pinpoint accuracy if that's what one prefers, so meant more for HT than for nearfield)

This is for the Signature Edition: I will make no assumptions of how this compares to much more expensive speakers. But what I can tell you is, I have auditioned this set with what is usually considered good speakers in this price range and found this to be my favorite.

Similar Products Used:

Axiom M22ti NHT SB2 Onix Rocket RS250 Athena AS-B2

OVERALL
RATING
4
VALUE
RATING
5
[Nov 03, 2005]
marisa
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

extremely accurate, the frequency response is incredibly flat quality parts and sophisticated crossover network low price excellent customer service

Weakness:

logo looks cheap

this is a true audiophile speaker that you can buy at mass market price

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Aug 20, 2005]
mainlymusicman
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

great for rock music!! open sound and not compressed which is what you want. amazing value. tight little......base response

Weakness:

are you kidding?, none at this price.

wow, for 328 US these are a steal, no doubt. i use my system mainly for music listening in stereo. i own a pair of Paradigm studio 60's and have these in parrelel with the 170's. when i hooked up the ascends, they somewhat took over, they seem to play louder than the studio 60's and to me a are more open, (and by far better for rock music!!) im even considering selling the paradigms and getting another set of cbm 170's to go in parrelel. i have 2 300 WPC sunfire stereo amps that i use to biamp the studio 60's, total of 600 + 600 + 350 for my powered sub, = 1550 watts. all this just to get a more powerful system with more output, and the only thing that actually gave me more output in the end was the addition of two more speakers: --the "cbm 170's". darn right. if you want more output -- add speakers, not $3000 amplifiers!!. also they say these speakers have weak base? not exactly so. i have them mounted on the wall up high (which i totally recomend, they will sound at least 20-30 percent louder!!) so there about 3-4 inches from the wall and let me tell you these little speakers thump pretty good. i use a HSU VTF-3 350 watt powered subwoofer and the cbm-170's significantly added to the overall base output of my system as a whole, the base now seems more rounded and fuller. these speakers definately integrate well with the HSU subs. make no mistake! -- these speakers rock! and dont be afraid to dish out the power to them, im running them with the same sunfire 300WPC amp as the paradigms, and they handle it , no sweat.

Similar Products Used:

-

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Aug 08, 2005]
genki
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

The best adjective I can think of to describe these speakers is transparent. The speakers are very clear and revealing compared to the other speakers I got a chance to audition. The sound is crystal clear and does not sound veiled at all. The speakers also create a wonderful 3D-sound stage. When I close my eyes I feel as if the music is being played live right in my room. There is no sense that the music is actually coming from the speakers but is instead permeating from different areas on the stage. The speakers just disappear. Another thing I love about these speakers is their ability to play male and female vocals. The sound of the human voice is incredibly accurate and realistic. I am not really a fan of opera but my mom popped in her Phantom of The Opera CD when the speakers first arrived and the sound of the female singers sent chills down my spine, it was that good. (We ended up listening to the whole first half of the play!)

Weakness:

Being that the CB-170's are my first real pair of speakers it is hard to find any fault with them. To my ears they are as close to audio perfection as I have ever heard. Of course I have never auditioned any high-end speakers. I guess the only thing I can really criticize is the bass but these are bookshelf speakers and are designed be paired with a sub for low-end extension. Nonetheless the first few weeks I listened to the speakers without integrating a sub and they did an adequate job handling the low end.

I started off my speaker search like many audio newbies. I went to all the mass-market chain stores like Best Buy and Circuit City. I listened to a lot of different speakers like the Energy line, Infinity Primus, JBL, and Athena. All the speakers I heard sounded "ok" but nothing blew me away. Thankfully I came across avsforum and after reading through countless posts I discovered that internet direct may be the best bang for the buck as far as speakers go. People had nothing but good things to say about Ascend and after reading some positive reviews I called Ascend and ordered a pair of the CBM-170's. After having the speakers for about 6 weeks and getting the chance to listen to many different CD's, I can honestly say I am in audio heaven :)

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Dec 29, 2004]
sdgjkc1
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Soundstage Vocals are believable Off-axis soundstage quality components

Weakness:

since Ascend Acoustics was upfront about the need for a sub, this is not reeally a weakness, but if you want very load and low base you'll need a sub.

I have researched and auditioned mini-monitor/bookshelf speakers for nearly one (1) year. I have listened to speakers offered by boutique stores, high end audio and box stores including: Axiom Audio, KEF, Monitor Audio, Dali, Von Schweikert, Dynaudio, Triangle, PSB, and other makers of "state of the art" offerings. And how did I come to purchase a set of speakers that I never auditioned? I did so based on the strength of the customer testimonies found on Audioreview.com, the fantastic customer support from David (the owner) at Ascend Acoustics and lastly the professional reviews found on the web. Getting to the point, I find these speakers everything the testimonies and reviews conclude. It was a near revelation when I put on a CD by Diane Krall - When I Look In your Eyes. With the "old" floor-standing speakers the piano seemed to move about the entire width and depth of the soundstage. It was rather annoying. When I put the same CD on with the Ascend Acoustic 170s, I found that what I was hearing was an "echo" during the recording. With the Ascends the primary point source was Diane's piano with a bit of delay noticed off to the left. The Ascends differentiated between the primary and secondary sources (artifacts of recording with multiple mics perhaps). It simply sounded more real. I am especially appreciative of the lack of bass bloom, shrill highs and muddy mids found in my previous system. Overall a good performer. I will add a sub later just to fill in the bottom end a bit (though not absolutely required) and complete the musical presentation. Think pipe organ peddles and good ol rock and roll (EL&P, Pink Floyd, LZ) When I listen to the 170s I think of an athlete: strength and agility; power under control. With the 30-dayguareentee you have nothing to lose.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
[Jul 30, 2004]
boxand1
Audio Enthusiast

Strength:

Purest sound you can imagine, then some! Better than the movies and just like the real thing for music!

Weakness:

None than I can think of.

I replaced a set of suround sound Klipsch speakers with these Ascends as surrounds. I have the 340c for center, 340m for fronts, and these 170's for rears. The difference in sound was immediately noticable and astounding. My wife, a musician with a trained ear, generally does not appreciate my audio pruchases immediately, but when listening to Dizzy Gillepsie on DVD-Audio and Lord of the Rings 1 and 2 on DVD and the detail was incredible! There are numerous posts comparing these speakers to Axiom Audio speakers, which are, themselves, fine speakers. I have enjoyed them a number of times at a good friend's home. They produce an excellent sound with abundant detail and clarity. They sound wonderful on home theater, but may be a little loud or harsh on music on the high-end... this is certainly not a weakness, as some people enjoy that type of sound a good deal. The Ascends: the Ascends produce an enveloping sound in 5.1 that can only be described as awe inspiring. After ordering the Ascends and throwing down the necessary dollars for it I had a bout of buyers remorse because I really, truly, enjoyed the Klipsch and was having a difficult time giving them up. However, when I set the Ascends up that quickly faded away in a room filled with the purest sound I have ever heard. I will have to rewatch all of my movies, relisten to all of my music, and invite all of my friends over, because this is the real deal! Many thanks and much praise to the fine people at Ascend. David Fabrikant has produced a masterpiece here and I can't sing his praises enough. The sound is crystal clear, not too muffled, not too bright, and extremely musical, all the while perfect for home theater. The proof is in the listening! Listening to Dizzy Gillespie, my wife closed her eyes and simply enjoyed the ride. Afterwards she said she the experience reminded her of actually being in a Jazz club listening to live performers. This is no small feat, as she has done so many times, as well as having been the one to perform on stage! As far as I am concerned, there can be no higher praise than my wife's thumbs up on speakers!

Similar Products Used:

Axiom, Klipsch, Definitive, Polk, JBL, etc.

OVERALL
RATING
5
VALUE
RATING
5
Showing 11-20 of 98  

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