Home Theatre. It is not directly a focus point of Alpha Audio. However, since the construction of our custom installation wall and the installation of the Optoma 4K projector – with a beautiful screen to top it off – , we have decided to to review special systems. And the surround solution from the German company Ascendo belongs without a doubt in the list of special systems. We take you into the world of bizarre home cinema!
Ascendo is a German brand, specialized in active systems. Although the brand also has passive models and separate power amplifiers, the focus is on active. Now they also have a hi-fi line, but in this review we will mainly focus on the home theatre products. Brace yourselves, because this is a different audioworld.
Big, bigger… insane
Those who know Ascendo will undoubtedly know the 50-inch subwoofer: the SMSG50. A subwoofer with 6000 watts of power and a frequency-range of 5 Hz – 100 Hz. A brutal beast that can – literally – tear walls apart. Compared to that brute, our SMSG21 is a little, cute sub. But still: 10 Hz is impressive. Especially if you can really feel that bass. More on that later.
Supporting the SMSG21, are three CCRM12 fronts and four CCRM6 surrounds. The CCRM12 and CCRM6 are coaxial units. That means the tweeter is in the middle of the unit. The CCRM12 has a larger range – from about 60 Hz – than the ‘6’, – from about 80 Hz – making them more suitable as fronts. Vocals get more body. And music sounds more complete without a sub.
To take the technical part a bit further: the CCRM6 has two amplifiers on board, just like the CCRM12. The CCRM6 has 500 + 150 watts and the CCRM12 500 + 500 watts. Both are Class D amplifiers. The SMSG21 subwoofer has 1600 watts of power available.
A special feature of Ascendo’s active series is that each speaker can be controlled via a network. There is both a ‘normal’ Ethernet connection available and an AVB link. AVB is an audio-video standard. This standard is mainly used in the custom installation industry and in large installations where a lot of equipment has to be connected via a network. AVB has the advantage that it’s extremely low latency – virtually no delay. However, a special AVB switch is needed; a normal network switch will not work: it does not understand the AVB-protocol.
But let’s get back to settling in. So each speaker can be controlled separately over the network. Ascendo has software for that. This software – UnosCreator – can EQ and ‘set’ each speaker perfectly in the time-domain. This creates a system that is perfectly adaptable to the room or space and plays phase-correctly. Very clever. And because each speaker can be adjusted individually, expansion is child’s play. Especially if someone chooses the AVB couplings: put in the Ethernet cable and you are ready. Awesome!
By the way, what we have noticed is that equalizing certainly does something in terms of tranquillity and coherence. However, correcting timing is even more important. The moment all the loudspeakers are time-corrected – at the listening position – the penny drops … all of a sudden, the whole thing just makes sense; it fits. It shows once again that our ears are much more sensitive to timing than to sound balance. Although it’s nice when both are right.
Installation and so on
To round off the technical side. We have the in-wall / on-wall series of Ascendo. They are fitted with a particularly sturdy housing, but given the fact that they are for installation in- or on walls: the finish is poor. Those who like to use them ‘on-wall’ without a custom finish or front: a high-quality finish is possible.
In terms of connections, we find three Ethernet connections (AVB-compliant), two XLR inputs and a power connector. The Ethernet connections are thus compatible with AVB. It’s just a networkswitch, so it can be looped through. Although this can be a risk with updates if one of the speakers restarts while the other is still downloading. So pay attention to that.