Dons tin hat and awaiting incoming.......
It is quite safe to remove your helmut again, at least as far as I'm concerned.....I always read what you have to say with interest, and whilst not necessarily agreeing, I find I do more often than not.
I know what the A19 + R100s sound like, so I'd be surprised if he found the Active solution worked.......but I have been known to get it wrong on occasion.
I don't need to tell you the difference in presentation between the likes of UR/Audio Note/ SF/ Jadis/Icon Audio/Harbeth vs The Active Monitor route.
"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again." André Gide
How did this thread get on to the bloody ACTIVE is best again? I was suggesting the op used a good old fashioned 80's style equalizer to gently roll the treble down.
I know all the purists out there are screaming right now but given the quite frankly appalling production values of most modern pop, rock, metal music recorded today and compressed formats i dont think an equalizer is going to do any harm to be honest.
As suggested by putting the equalizer in the tape loop the op can just turn it into the signal path or not.
Also this gives the op to have a play with reducing the treble output or the treble extension. If the op likes the sound with the treble turned right down then perhaps it would highlight either hearing or room problems.
HiFi. Arcam cd92,a85,p85 bi-amping Ma rx6, kimber silver streak & 8tc cables and r/a mains.
A/V. panasonic plasma, sony av amp. mordaunt short premier, rel q150 sub.
Incoming and waaaay off topic. Howard Popeck is still in the game Dave afaiaa.
As you were fellas.
Not entirely, thie issues i describe are real and 'could' cause the issues described by the op. I am not familiar enough with his components to say it is the problem, which is why I phrased the response the way that I did.
Quite right about Howard, floyd. Great but strange guy, that said I have not seen him in something like 30 years.
We do so many shows in a row,
And these towns all look the same,
We just pass the time in our hotel room
And wander 'round backstage,
Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,
And we remember why we came.
As you can see my 'helmut' is staying put, for the moment at least.
I am nowhere near familiar enough with the A19/R100 combination to offer any specific views but the general principle is sound.
The modern trend to 5 or 6 inch two way designs highlights the problem, finding bass units that go high enough and tweeters to go low enough is the real trick, which is one of the reasons the better speakers of this type are not cheap, witness Matt49s Cremona Auditors with expensive ring tweeter.
The other point worth mentioning that what we perchieve as treble frequencies in music are not, usually, that high, certainly way below 10khz, and the distortion content of some dome tweeters, driven to too low a frequency, falls in this range.
Strangely, and for no reason that I can fathom, some amplifiers can make this issue more noticeable (on speakers that are prone to this problem) than others.
FWIW. IMO. The Active route is not the way to go if you want a smooth sound with a rolled off treble.
Why do you think that?
You can't have it both ways......either Active speakers are much more accurate and neutral, or these active crossovers are not all they're cracked up to be.
I'm not sure recording studios would be queuing up to get nice smooth sounding active monitors with a rolled of treble (not great for looking deeply into a track)...it kind of defeats the purpose.
If you go the "Active Hifi Route", things tend to get very expensive, and the choice narrows dramatically......and the ones I've heard, certainly don't have a rolled off treble.
Arcam A19 with R100s sound quite smooth to my ears, so in this particular case, we are talking something with a golden midrange and a very smooth treble.....whereas Active speakers tend to give a clean and detailed presentation, often tipping a little into the analytical (which is the design brief for many).
NB. I am not being anti Active, but pro what I think is likely to meet the OP's needs / taste. eg A Unison Research "Simply Italy" Tube amp + Audio Note speakers is the sort of sound I think he is after, which is the antithesis of an Active set-up. In otherwards, it's about giving suggestions that IMO, have the greatest chance of success.
Cno, this could be an interesting one.
I know the OP is talking about rolled off high frequencies but we really have no real idea where in the range the problems lie, so this is not a specific answer but a more general one.
I many designs the tweeter is 'rolled off' quite slowly, Epos being a prime example for instance, so it is still outputing significant output well below it's nominal crossover point. At these frequencies the tweeter is no longer linear so much of what it produces is quite heavily distorted and these distortions are heard as higher frequencies, giving the treble a bright, somewhat wearing quality.
This is part of the problems with 2 way designs, getting the tweeter to go low enough to take over from the bass/mid unit before it starts to break up, it is always a tricky call for the designer.
In active designs the crossover slope is often much higher 24db/octave being quite common so that, an octave below the nominal crossover frequency the tweeter is recieving far less signal than it's passive counterpart. Distortion is much reduced as the signal is lower anyway and the tweeter may not be driven as far into it's non linear range, so distortion is reduced still further.
So in this respect, and if tweeter non linearity is the issue, actives are usually superior.
Dave's reply touches on why I find decent actives to actually be quite smooth (I think of smooth as something different to dull). Also, a rolled off treble may have to be very rolled off to make a difference, my Opals had a 'HF Trim' dial which could be used to put a dip in the treble output and used to its fullest could even make them sound a bit dull - the dip was at 5khz and frequencies above this were left untouched, cymbals and such would be cut quite a lot by using the hf trim dial, a speaker that is rolled off above say 15khz might make no difference whatsoever to the op's problem. I sympathise with his issue because I find lots of speakers to be, err, unsmooth, and it leads me to dislike almost everything I hear - not sure if it's a quirk of my hearing or not. The latest version of the Avi adm9rs which I have now is not rolled off but I do find them to be on the smooth side - ie. not harsh or grainy, they'd have been returned in the blink of an eye if they were.
Short of changing all his kit and starting again, the recommendation of an equaliser might be the easiest way of dealing with it. I personally (on the info given) doubt the problem lies with the very top of the frequency range.
Synology NAS + ATV2 > ADM9RS
Dave's reply touches on why I find decent actives to actually be quite smooth (I think of smooth as something different to dull).
I agree (it does happen from time to time. )
Smooth does not have to mean undynamic.....in some ways I prefer the word "sweet", for describing treble.
Bright doesn't necessarily mean harsh.
We all have a different baseline (terrible pun) from which we judge sound characteristics......and this effects our tolerance for either too smooth a sound, or too bright a one.....which in turn effects the advice we give on here.......and why there is no "one sound fits all".
I know where you're coming from goat. I remember going round the What Hifi show a couple of years ago walking out of 80% of demo rooms thinking "Ow, that hurts my ears" and it had nothing to do with the volume or rather dubious thrown together playlists from some of the exhibitors either.
Exceptions I found were some Spendors (A6's from memory) beautifully smooth and punchy with little cabinet resonance; Kudos Cardeas and some Neats, although these were more forward than you'd probably like. So it might be worth checking these out.
Arcam stereo amps are known for their warmth generally, so I would tend to point the finger more at the KEFs.
CD Cambridge Azur 640C; Streaming Spotify Premium > iPad Airplay > AV Receiver Pioneer VSX-2021; Speakers Monitor Audio Radius R270HD, R250HD, R90HD, R370HD; TV Panasonic TX-P42G30B; BD Panasonic DMP-BDT310; PVR Virgin V+BoxHD
Agree with Spendor, perhaps some SA1's or if you can find some used Harbeth P3 ESR.
Accuphase E350 amp, Electrocompaniet EMC1UP CDP, Siltech 25th Classic anniversary 330I XLR Harbeth Super HL5 on Sound Anchor Quod ELS63 stands, Chord Odessey2 speaker cable. Grado SR60 headphones.
Thank you all for the suggestions, it is all food for thought.
I think it is either going to be a case of a bit of (an expensive) revamp, or, trial and error with some cheaper measures, such as resisters, or an equaliser, perhaps routing the streamer through a quality DAC like the Arcam Irdac etc. Or, just getting used to the sound of what I have!
I’ve always been tempted by Spendors, it’s just that they’re so damned expensive. Couple of questions though – 1. I presume for my current room of 11ft x 9ft, that it is either going to be the SA1 or A5, which would be most suited? 2. Is the Arcam A19 up to the job of getting decent performance out of them at moderate volumes? 3. Is there any significant tonal difference between the A5 and SA1?
Arcam A19 - Kef R100's - Marantz NA7004
Here is something you might try, that could be an idea for the future, if it works. See if you can borrow a Linn Sneaky DS (with Linn Black I/Cs), and compare how that sounds (as a source). If they won't lend it to you, try and put the same system together in the shop. It's quite possible that it will give you what you're looking for.
The Spendor SA1s are one of my favorite small speakers, that have a sound which is little smoother and a touch more refined than the R100s (which have more bass). I personally prefer the SA1s over the A5s, and the Arcam should be able to drive them at moderate volumes.
As always, my advice is to listen for yourself.
That's a small room, A5s might be too bassy - I found them to be quite a 'dark' sounding, bass heavy speaker. If you want a floorstander the A6 might be a better fit, they are a more open sounding speaker than their little brother. I haven't heard the SA1. If you're looking at spending that sort of money it might be worth you considering a pair of AVI ADMs, igglebert, who used to post here, had a pair of SA1s before changing to an earlier version of the ADMs (the 9.1T) - the latest 9RS version are a considerable step up on earlier ones and have a very smooth sound. A search on here, or a post over on the AVI forum, might get you his thoughts on the comparison. Obviously the ADMs aren't the best idea if you want to continue to 'tweak' but might be just the job if you're after a great sounding final solution. Good luck, it's s*** when a system doesn't work out for you.
... If I can't find anything suitable, I think I am just going to sell the whole system - I never had any of these problems when I owned a cheap micro system for years!!
Marantz M-CR510/ Dali Zensor 3/ MacBook
I bought Sony after auditioning some mini systems at store ( Denon was prised at that time in WHF and sounded dreadful compared to Sony) I won't buy any hi fi without auditioning anymore... all advices ( sorry guys) are useless. I bought Rotel & Kef's earlier this year based on 'advice' and music nightmare began. For next audition I'll have Sony with me, regardless how silly it will look like in the eyes of a dealer.
What is your listening environment. How close are you to speakers?
I am still struggling with treble...or rather, spending far too much time focusing on it when listening to music. Try as I might, I just can't shake the feeling that it intrudes too much and detracts from the overall enjoyment. The times I enjoy listening to my system the most, are on the treble-shy tracks, the mid-range heavy ones. This really shows the strengths (to my ears) of the arcam a19 and kef r100 speakers, which beautifully place and articulate the various strands of the mids and upper bass tones.
And don't get me wrong, the Kef R100's are still a significant improvement over the Kef Q300's and the Epos Epic 2 speakers I used to have. The transition from mids to highs is much smoother, and the overall quality of the treble is better too. But still...it grates, after months of trying to 'live with them'. I also appreciate that there are much much brighter and less refined speakers out there, but then I guess it is all relative.
Perhaps I am just oversensitive to it, but it has certainly got me wondering whether I am simply listening to the wrong speakers. Maybe more modern, revealing ones just aren't for me, even if they are technically 'better' in many ways.
So...I was wondering if anyone could recommend some speakers, prefferably bookshelves, which posess more rolled off treble, but still have a lovely midrange (and preferably taut bass, as that is another annoyance with the R100's. If I can't find anything suitable, I think I am just going to sell the whole system - I never had any of these problems when I owned a cheap micro system for years!!
Try out Tannoy's Revolution DC4 or DC6, depending on your room size. I felt they left the R100s standing on demo and I know KEF are flavour ot the whatever around here, but the truth of it in my room is that the Tannoys deliver a sound that's way above their price.
Clarity without harshness, bass which is accurate instead of being lumpy (something I'd accuse the R100s of incidentally) and a midrange that's as good as any I've heard. They work best awway from a rear wall (mine are about two feet out), and well positioned. They're not fussy, but five minutes trying them out in different alignments works wonders - this applies to any speaker of course.
Assuming your room isn't massive, you'd be recommended to try them out, if only to later disregard them.
Onkyo TX-NR818 / Tannoy DC4 speakers / Marantz UD-7007
AVI Lab Series CD player / various cables
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