Engineer after engineer point to the impossibility of two loudspeakers recreating a live event at home. And yet some loudspeakers get closer than others. One bass guitar-playing pal Down Under swore hard that the Zu Audio Omen sounded far more like his instrument of choice than did the KEF LS50. That’s likely a matter of tone. Zooming out to hear the full band, we look to the Zu’s higher dynamic contrasts as another approximator of live event truth.
I was reminded of these two trains of thought yesterday – high dynamics and heavy tone – as I sat down at Berlin dealer Max Schlundt for a brief listen to the Live 15 loudspeaker from Germany’s Ascendo. Visitors to Munich High-End 2018 will recall Ascendo as makers of that near 2-metre tall subwoofer:
Schlundt had recently swapped out his white Live 15 prototypes for a now finalised version (in black) that promised updated/upgraded voicing for greater refinement. Without hearing old and new side-by-side, I leave it to my host to confirm/deny. “They’re are LOT better”, he says.
The Live 15’s 40cm bass driver – a doped paper cone and built to Ascendo’s specifications – echoes Zu once more. As do the coaxially aligned doped paper midrange driver and tweeter. The largest difference shows up with 1650wpc of active drive. The Live 15’s DSP internals handle driver crossover to permit loudspeaker deployment as straight up 3-way (hi-fi mode) or 2-way + ‘sub-woofer’ (home cinema mode). End users make their configuration preference via Ethernet socket and web interface. Audio inputs number two per loudspeaker: XLR analogue and XLR AES/EBU digital.
Store owner Max Schlundt gives us the low down:
At €25,000 and up (options depending), Ascendo’s Live 15 land in the Kii Three + BXT’s price territory, also offered by Schlundt, as if to underscore the importance of local dealers.
Although not as reliable as hearing them at home, auditioning a pair of loudspeakers at a high street dealer is a) more instructive than an audio show demo and b) much closer to the home listening experience. We can listen for longer; conduct quick fire A/B comparisons with rival models; enjoy considerably less (zero!) in-room chatter; and, with Qobuz and Tidal running on Roon, hear the music of our choosing.