"Operated in the right environment, the Ascendo D6 fully convinces the listener and, like the bigger D7, it’s worth every single cent. For many music lovers, the D6 probably is THE loudspeaker par excellence for small rooms.“ HiFi-Stars
Ascendo D6 passive Deepest translucency
It had been clear for quite some time that I would once again get speakers from Ascendo for testing. The active D7 model of the manufactory located in the Frankonian city of Ansbach had already enjoyed my hospitality, leaving a good "impression". For me personally, however – and also due to the relatively small listening room – they were "a bit too much of a loudspeaker", despite being priced out of my reach. In addition, and as far as my own needs are concerned, I followed my inner voice and opted for a passive speaker solution. In the end this leaves more room for using different amplifiers and experiencing various system combinations – well, for boys-at-heart, you know. All the more reason for me to be pleased that Ascendo is now launching the new D6, a loudspeaker that is exactly one of my prey. In addition, the D6 is available in both active and passive versions. The customer has thus the free choice of variants. Talking about Ascendo, I always have to think back of the home theater demonstration at the company’s premises in Ansbach, which we witnessed during a factory visit – absolutely awesome! But back to the topic and to the current object of desire, which, due to a variety of circumstances, unfortunately, made me wait for quite a while. However, the team from Ascendo gave their all, and so the speakers finally arrived in time. When opening the shipping cartons, the smell of fresh paint reached my nose – a clear sign of them being really brand-new. As great as the joy about new speakers may be for an author in general, it goes without saying that a longer burn-in period is required before everything starts playing as it should. Visually, the loudspeakers captivate me from the very first second. The smell of paint still in my nose, I admire the deep black piano lacquer and the quality of the mirror-like surface. The entire workmanship is simply outstanding! Now at the latest it becomes clear that we are dealing with a real high-end product here. The build quality of the D6 leaves no room for criticism – from the crown to the sole everything fits here. The connection terminal, which is slightly recessed inwards, is located at the bottom of the rear cabinet wall and, since bi-wiring is not provided due to the design, only accommodates one pair of binding posts. Those are of correspondingly high quality and provenient from the reknown German manufacturer WBT. Above the posts, which accommodate both bananas and cable lugs, there is a toggle switch, with which the speakers can be adjusted depending on their positioning. It can be switched between freefield or near-to-wall installation, in order to allow a large flexibility in the placement of the speakers in the listening room. In conjunction with the forward-facing bass reflex tube, there is nothing to prevent the speakers from being placed close to a wall. The enclosure of the D6 is slightly inclined backwards and firmly bolted to the plinth, which provides a slightly larger footprint and thus ensures the best possible stable standing of the speakers. With the integrated and height-adjustable cone-shaped feet made of a special plastic (POM), the loudspeakers can be unhesitatingly set up and adjusted even on sensitive surfaces. It's just everything as it should be, except for the non-provided front cover, which many a customer might want to make the already elegant appearance of the D6 somewhat more decent. But this is real nit-picking and only to be understood as a mere side note.
When setting up the speakers, which come up with a weight of 21 kg each, I cannot avoid myself in performing the obligatory "knock test" on the enclosures. The soft sounding "tock" discloses that the cabinets are sturdy enough without being overdamped – exactly as I thought they should be. With 200 x 1020 x 334 mm (WxHxD), its living-room-friendly dimensions let the D6 easily integrate into any kind of living environment, without looking too dominant even in smaller rooms. The bass reflex tube on the baffle, along with the generous cabinet volume, provides a lower cut-off frequency of 44 Hz, while the overall frequency range is 44-25,000 Hz (-3 dB). According to the manufacturer, the efficiency is 88 dB and the nominal impedance is an amplifier-friendly 6 ohms. This means that the volume control on the amplifier must be turned up a little higher to achieve the same monitoring volume as it is possible with a 4 ohms speaker of the same efficiency, thus having significantly less current flowing through the loudspeaker cable at the same power rate, which is particularly beneficial for tube amplifiers. In the D6, only a single driver unit is installed, which is a magnetically shielded 18 cm coaxial system supplied by the Scandinavian manufacturer Seas. Among other things, the special XP material of the transparent cone ensures a good-natured acoustic behaviour at the upper end of its frequency range. Instead of featuring the commonly used dust cover, its centre hosts a 25 mm soft-dome tweeter with strong neodymium motor, which, in conjunction with the cone of the mid-woofer form a point source. Coaxial systems have the advantage of inherently operating on a timecoherent basis and thus being capable of producing a spatial imaging of great naturalness. Ascendo calls it "Coaxial Time Coherent Speaker Technology ". Regarding the finishes, the customer is given the choice between black or white high-gloss piano lacquer and a simple, grey Nextel finish (thus providing a typical studio look ...), whereby special finishes are also possible upon request. No matter which finish the customer chooses – there is always a 10-year warranty on the speakers. And listen, isn’t that a good move?! However, our test samples in black piano lacquer look very exclusive, almost perfectly embodying the difference between hi-fi and highend products.
In preparation for the actual listening test, I decide on a relatively free position for the D6 and set the toggle switch on the terminal panel to "freefield" accordingly. Although the D6, due to the used coaxial driver, allows for a close listening distance of already one meter, the manual states 2 to 3.5m as the optimum distance. Incidentally, in the operating instructions of the D6 speakers Ascendo uses the designation „floor-standing monitor“, which sums it up very well – sonically and visually speaking. Both sound and design come across honest and straightforward, without any airs and graces. During the burn-in process the loudspeakers let you experience the biggest changes in sound already in the first few hours, but after that, although the performance improves even further, the impact of the changes aren’t as dramatic as at the beginning. After about ten hours of operation, everything then is in balance. When having the active D7 around, they particularly captivated me throughout with Keith Jarrett's "The Köln Concert". Since the D6 acoustically strikes the same notch, I will at this point quote my own words: "... I immediately feel at the scene. The concert hall is palpable, while the tones of the grand piano fade away in a wonderfully clear and endlessly audible way..." In addition, the sound spectrum of the grand piano performs through the D6 so holistic that I seriously wonder – is there really an affordable speaker playing? Connected to appropriate electronic gear and speaker cables, the Ascendo manage to create an absolutely convincing spatial imaging, sounding very natural throughout all recordings, while getting timbres and spatial references absolutely to the point. What’s the distance between two guitar players on stage? In this respect the speakers from Ansbach immediately make a clear acoustic statement. The D6 tends to play dry, accurate and in detail, and the sonic image actually has much of a monitor. Nevertheless, these speakers touch me emotionally more than most studio monitors known to me. However, I neither want to constantly have superlatives in the wings, nor do I want them to create an inflationary situation as a result, but the D6 are among the few speakers that are really able to let the appropriate recordings give you a good load of goose bumps. The performance of the D6 captures the listener and requires his full attention – these aren’t speakers of the „to-go“ kind! Worth of also being mentioned are the speakers’ very fine response and high level of detail. The listener becomes access to a flood of musical information, which the D6 always assembles to a fascinating whole. Now Nils Lofgren is about to delight the CD player and I start with the track "Keith don’t go", leaving the room shortly afterwards. On my return, I get the impression in front of the open door of my listening room that I am actually standing in front of the concert hall where Nils Lofgren is performing his song. Sitting in my listening chair again, I enjoy the rest of the concert with my eyes closed – goosebumps included.
Bringing it to the point
The Ascendo D6 are wonderful loudspeakers – those you won’t find just around the corner. Noble in their appearance, excellently crafted and flexible in their installation. In addition, these speakers are able to play in small to medium-sized rooms at very high volume levels and stay absolutely clean in sound up to their maximum. However, they are not made for big rooms or truly brute listening volumes, but for these kinds of demands you find the right answer in the bigger models from Ascendo. Operated in the right environment, the Ascendo D6 fully convinces the listener and, like the bigger D7, it’s worth every single cent. For many music lovers, the D6 probably is THE loudspeaker par excellence for small rooms.
Loudspeaker Ascendo D6
91522 Ansbach / Germany
Phone: +49 721 95139929