A Bright Pair of Watt Puppys

I'd love some suggestions on taming my bright system. My Watt Puppy 6's are really bright and it often seems on many recordings as though the tweeter and midrange are just way louder and more dominant than the bass. Often, to get more bass punch (or just warmer sound) I find myself wanting to turn the volume up. This helps the bass level a bit but also sends the rest of the spectrum thru the roof: it gets very loud.

Although I assume my room is too small for these speaks and I need some treatment, can't believe this is the only issue here. Watching other woofers at CES for example, the things extend rapidly right out of the enclosures on systems that sounded warm to me. My drivers barely move at all. Just doesn't seem right.

Also was told by the designer of Genesis speakers that my amp isn't powerful enough to control the bass on the Watt Puppys. That was a surprise.

Here's my system configuration:
WP 6
BAT VK-600
Bat 31-SE Preamp
Kimber 3033 speaker cables
Synergistic Research Alpha Sterling ITC
Shanling CD-100 dual output cd player
Furman power conditioner
Room Size: 15 x 25

Any suggestions? Anyone?
I don't think your room is too small, Lee. And driver excursion varies with design -- some woofers never move, others flap at the least provocation. Your Hales sound a lot different in the same room and system?
Hey Dan,

They sounded different, yet also seemed bright. Thus my assumption for the room acoustics. I've not treated it yet, save for a few honeycomb blinds over the windows and an oriental rug.

As far as room treatments go, I'd always thought that too much boomy bass was the issue that they targeted, not too little. I'd heard that these speaks were a bit bright, but loved the resolution and imaging so much that I thought I'd solve for the less than stellar bass response on my own. Just love it when I hear deep church-organ bass. Raises the hair on your neck.

Wilson speakers are on the bright side,put in some overstuffed furniture and a tapestry or two on your walls,this will cut down High Frequency reflections.
couple thoughts:
1) digital is an inherently bright format. you might want to look into a tube based CD player (less bright IME)
2) my room is 11*15; taking away side reflections is a big help
3) adjust height of watt to your preference (change the spikes)
4) play w/ power conditioning. the amp should not go into the furman. but i've gotten better mid-bass punch w/ some passive power conditioning boxes (ala hydra 2 but using better parts). see the hydra 4 DIY on 10audio.com
5) no idea on the kimber cable. but no one ever calls transparent wire "bright", and its usually rec'd w/ wilsons.

just for the sake of experimentation, try a different front end. the hales will always be more articulate in the bass than a watt/puppy but the watt should play deep. as for the overall brightness you hear. i've always believed them to be very forward in the upper mids and highs. i suspect though, thats the plan when you want to sound detailed.
Have you experimented thoroughly with speaker placement? It sounds like a room problem, perhaps less about being too bright (though that may be true also) than about some big dips in the bass response. Have you taken any frequency response measurements?
Change the speakers :)

Placement of the speakers is paramount with Wilson W/P's. Play a recording that has a good deal of bass, and start adjusting your speakers in very small increments. You can use tape on the floor or on the walls using a laser device on top of the watt's. and then tape the wall where the laser illuminates on it.

Ask a friend or spouse to help you, patience is a virtue. Eventually you will find a balance you can live with. Hopefully you will not have pulled all of the hair out of your head.
Unless you've got some hard wall, floor or ceiling surfaces I would suggest trying another speaker. Your supporting equipment is not bright so it must be a speaker and/or room interface problem. Every time I've heard Wilsons they have been on the fatiguing side. I'm a fan of Vandersteen because they aren't fatiguing to me, probably because if they err at all it is on the warm side. There are LOTS of speaker choices that will make a big difference so try them out if room treatements can't tame them. The room size is not an issue either, you've actually got a fairly large room. As a point of reference Harry Pearson has a smaller room and he has reported on a lot of large speaker systems.
Thanks all for your thoughts. My guess is that room treatment (and placement) are my first step as I do have a few bare walls that are likely the culprit for first order reflections. Ceiling is entirely bare and is 10' high and left wall could use some treatment as well. Will also try dampening vibes under amp and component cabinet using stillpoints/vibrapods.

I do have a digital EQ and can alter sound as needed. But I prefer using my cd's tube output, which is now wired straight to pre, not EQ'd. My pre is also tube.

Thanks again for your suggestions.
You may simply not like the Wilson sound but I think it is more likely that you don't have them setup properly. A very small change in placement (like 0.5 inches) can make a big difference sometimes. Since you don't have pictures of your setup, it is hard to help any more than that.

I disagree that your electronics or source are the problem. You need to play with speaker toe-in and distance from rear wall to see if your problem changes or gets eliminated. Try giving them just a little toe-in and move them closer to your rear wall first and see what happens.


The speaks are toed in accord to Wilson's instructions and sit about 1.5 feet in front of back wall, about 4.5' from side walls. One of the corners is actually not a corner at all but a passageway to stairwell.

I will play with placement more and, as Dan suggests, attempt to get some decent measurements.

Alas Roy, selling the speakers, as much of a gem of advice this one is, would be my very last thought. However, as soon as a pair of used Sarastros comes on the market, I may give in. ;-)
You say the room is 15 ft wide by 25 ft long and you have the speaks 4.5' from the side walls. So they are 6 ft apart. At what distance is your listening position? Could you be sitting in a bass null? Is the bass better/fuller in other places in the room?
And have you tried (are you able to) putting the speakers on the long wall?
Hey... sounds like you need someone to send your new speakers to.. :-)

If you have not heard of the room voicing procedure that David Wilson has coined, you might want to look into it.

Essentially, you have two choices when setting up your room. Defining where your room wants your listening and speaker positions, or (like most of our wives demand) establishing a listening position, and then figuring out exactly where your speakers want to be, and then treating your room to clean up the rest. Simple so far (at least to say).

So...given that your listening position is likely fixed, the next step is to voice your room relative to that listening position. The fist step gives you a smal box within which you fine tune your speaker placement. Without any technology aid (but someone with good listening skills), have that person sit in your listening position, while you do the manual work, or vice versa. Start from the wall behind where you expect your speakers to be placed, in front of the listener.... about 3 feet out from the adjacent wall (you'll do this for both left and right sides). SLowly begin talking in a monotone while walking towards the listener. At the first point the listener notices a decernable difference in your voices tone, mark the floor. Then continue from there until the listener again notices a discernable difference. That should define the front and back of the box within which you'll adjust your speaker placement (it's usally about 2 ft max). Then, to define the sides of the box, start speaking and walking from the back of the box from the adjacent wall. Marking the points where your voice tonality changes. Do that for the front and back markers you had previously done. The listener should have their eyes closed, and there shouldn't be any other background noise, so that the listener can concentrate.

I did this procedure in my theater with my daughter as the listener (she plays the flute so has a good sense of sound). Placing hte speakers within that box immediately reduced the beaming that you appear to be describing.

The next step is to address room resonances that arer likely muddying the bass so much that any artculation is impossible to determine. I'd suggest going to the ASC site and to do some reading. There are a lot of ways to treat eh room (both electronically and physically). But without understanding what you are treating, you'll be wasting your time (and likely money). A well setup room with some basic treatment for dealing with bass frequencies will make all the difference (ridiculous diferences you can't imagine).

SOooo...if all that sounds way to complicated... i'll send you my shipping info.. i've been lusting after some wilsons (watt puppies 6 or greaster or sophias) since '99...

BTW... my system is krell (HTS 7.1) driving plinius (a pair of SA250's) driving martin logan (ReQuests). I have a tower of 16" tube traps in each corner, corner traps (front and sides), and some sound planks (judiciouslly placed on the side walls). I bought all the sound treatments used on 'gon.
Wilson suggests that you sit 1.2x away from the speakers, where x=distance between the speakers. Seems like a golden triangle or something. Anyway, the speakers are about 6.5' apart Colopilot. Will have to try rearranging things and moving the speaks closer to the side wall, ie. about 8-9' apart.

Probably would have done all this already, if I had the time. However Colonel Patten (wife) and a 10 month old who can't sleep both keep me busy. Any suggestions on how to get a hyper baby to sleep? Oops, wrong forum...
Hey, maybe it's the loud speakers! Problem solved.
Oh yes, it's that simple. "It's the loud speakers". That's why hundreds of people have bought and loved Wilson Watt/Puppies. We must all be deaf.
Johnbarlow, it may be that simple if Leemincy is not one of the hundreds of people you cite who both bought AND love Wilson Watt/Puppies. Personally I think they ARE bright. They can sound very different over a short listening period in the audio shop with selected music than they do over the long haul with a full range of music. You like them - that is fine. But Leemincy may be one of those who liked them well in the showroom but much less so over time. Many of us have had experiences like this with speakers - it is part of the learning process in audio and part of discovering our own tastes.
Try the Cardas mathamatical formula.

Speaker placement, simply stated

The distance from the center of the woofer face to the side walls is:

Room Width times .276 (RW x .276)
The distance from the center of the woofer face to the wall behind the speaker is:

Room Width times .447 (RW x .447)
This is all you need to know to place speakers in a symmetrical, rectangular room!

Kimber cable, BAT equipment could be the potential culprit in contributing to the brightness. I heard good and lively sound from Watt puppys with Audio Research all tube equipment in the past.

I would keep everything constant but slowly overtime switch out the Kimber with some other cables and listen for a couple of weeks. If that doesn't work, the BAT have to go.

Good luck..
Call Geoff Poor at Glenn Poor's Audio Video, http://www.glennpoors.com/index.html, and ask him. His phone number is 217-356-5456. Tell him that Chuck Davis asked you top call him.

Geoff's dad started the Audio Store in Illinois, and Geoff runs it now. BUT, Geoff is also a partner in BAT. In his store he has all of the BAT equipment and he carries the Wilson line. I've heard the set-ups and I can tell you personally BAT and Wilson goes together very, very well the way he has it set up.

Call him and ask him what cables he's running and what he suggests about your system set-up. He's extremely knowledgeable.

Quoted from Leemincy, "Hey, maybe it's the loud speakers! Problem solved."

Sounds like Lee is referring to getting the baby to sleep, rather than a complaint about the Wilsons. :-) I disagree with the above comments which claim the Watt Puppy 6 is a "bright" speaker. It is not...but it is very revealing (which is much different from "bright"). Since Wilson speakers will reveal any deficiencies in your components , room, interconnect/speaker/power cord cables or speaker placement, I believe that Johnjbarlow provides very important information for you in his comments above.

Begin with speaker placement and use a well recorded CD or LP that has significant bass extension. When my new Wilson Sophia Series II were setup by my dealer using Wilson's recommended speaker placement, they played "Pigs, Sheep and Wolves" from Paul Simon's "You're The One" CD, and "brand new '64 dodge" from Greg Brown's "The Poet Game" CD (both came from a demo disc that Wilson provided). So, be sure you are using well recorded discs for evaluation. The old saying, "gargage in, garbage out" has a lot of meaning. For example, no matter how many synergistic, revealing, audiophile systems you audition using Don Henley's "End of the Innocence" cd, the sonics are going to sound poor. The reason: the mastering of this CD is very poor, and consequently so are the sonics.

Next, focus on your room. Are these speakers in a carpeted room or one with hard surfaces? If so, rugs are needed. Do you have accessories, furniture, bookshelves filled with books or LPs, in the room? We might be better able to assist you with room suggestions if there was a more detailed description of your room other than dimensions.

If it is not speaker placement or room issues, then you have a weak link upstream. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, Wilson speakers will not allow any compromises. Best of luck in resolving your issue.
Patience and perserverence. Start with the least costly method of tuning. Discover, Uncover and discard all components and ancilliary gear that does not provide optimum synergy.

I performed room treatment, and placement first. Then fine tuned with tube rolling and swapping speaker cable and IC's.

The process took about two months. It was well worth it. I love my Wilson speakers. I have disdain for the real culprit, poorly produced recordings.
Wow. What a response. I love this forum!

First off, I was referring to the baby sleeping. That was a joke.

Yes, these speakers do tend torward the bright side. But that's ok. They reveal everything and sometimes this is because they are brighter. Maybe I'm wrong but my guess is the human ear is far more sensitive to higher pitches than low (remember, I have a baby) and that may well be the reason why these speaks sound more detailed and crystal clear. Perhaps the tweeter is dialed up a bit relative to the other drivers to achieve this "analytical" detail and just perhaps a warmer pair of speakers lacks this detail in the tradeoff. It's subjective.

The upshot is simply that your Vivaldi Lute Concerto sounds like it's happening in your living room. The downside seems to be that when friends come over and crank up Sneaker Pimps (ie. dance music), the speakers sound louder than does their bass and many may actually run from the dance floor.

Per the kind instructions above I have been playing a bit today. The speakers now sit within a foot of the back wall and about 2' from the sides. Bass response seems to have improved. To be be sure, they're toed in to the sitting position. Man these things image great. Gota love that. However, to feed my bass addiction I am seriously considering adding a REL B1 sub in the corner. From what I've read these speakers could really use it and Rel seems to be the company that make fast, tight and integrated bass. If this doesn't help me, then perhaps I'll invest in some old JBL's from Audiogon, you know the one's with the 10" white low freq driver. Just kidding. But I think I'm making progress.

Back to the baby. Thanks for all your help evryone.
In addition to the above suggestions re: brightness, be careful of any silver wire - even in the power cords. I just swapped one out that went to the conditioner and it made a huge difference. No more etched highs.
Ok a couple of things.. Try keeping you Bat amp on for 3 days straight...ideally 7 days and see if that smooths things out. 7 days on made my Audio Research D400 MkII sound like butter! Becareful if you have aftermarket power cables on.. you might consider changing them all back to stock and slowly introducing them to make sure they aren't added that extra edge... (been there done that...)

Next, Read your Wilson manual about the spikes length between the WATT and Puppy and change the spikes (1 size) so the tweater shoots a little higher (aka over your head).

Treating 1st order reflection points will help a little, don't forget to either treat the floor or ceiling at the 1st order reflection points. This won't get rid of any brightness but it will clean it up even more (In case you were lacking any detail..... haha).

You could put some really warm tubes in your CDP, or switch to Audience or Cardas cables to warm it up.

Keep your Grills on the WP6 that will help as they were designed to be run with grills. The WP7's reduced that brightness and the WP8's reduced it one more time with the Maxx II tweaters.

Stick with the Wilson positioning method! They were designed to avoid room interactions by projecting at you! and as a result the cleanness and detail causes you to crank it up..

I've never met a Wilson owner that listens softly to their rig! Your addiction to volumn will continue... if you use a dB meter you will find that you can't tolerate other brand systems at that volumn level.. you really are listening a lot louder to your WP setup.. (Maxx's can damage your hearing they play so cleanly to extreme dB's!)

I had to get rid of my Lamm amps to get some more current for bass control! They will take anything you can throw at them like Magnepans.

Mcrheist said it best.. crap (overcompressed poor mastering) in, sounds even worse out on a Wilson system.

The room is not two small I have WP7 and a Watch Dog in a 12x16 room, I use extreme bass absorbtion methods because I like to crank it... WP's work great nearfield since they were designed as recording monitors originally.

Nice setup! and later as you upgrade preamps you will get even more detail out of you Wilsons!
Leemincy: The Rel's are tight but might not provide enough output compared to your WP 6's. Check out JL Audio Subs or James Subwoofer for some tight bass... I have a DD15 and even at it's tightest setting it's not fast enough.

My new JL Audio Fathom F113 is pretty impressive but not quiet the output of my Wilson Watch dog.

Or a little 280lb Watch Dog sub for a perfect match.....
Thanks Cytocycle. That's pretty much my synopsis of Wilson as well. Especially the changes from 6 to 7 to 8. And garbage in garbage out adage. So true. All good advice.

Daryl at Wilson has me switching out a few resistors that drive the tweeter and mid, ultimately to increase resistance to these two drivers, lowering hi-bandoutput a bit. The Caddock film resistors are pretty easy to get on the internet. Will try this as well as several room treatments. And My Bat amp is almost always on. (Stock tip for ya: PG&E). Takes at least 1.5 hours to reach crit temp. But this makes a huge difference.

Funny thing about the Wilsons. They soud louder and I think this is because of a 4ohm load. Compared to my Hales speakers (at 8ohm) these things crank at relatively low volume, which is ofcourse what drains the amp. I find myself listening louder (and my wife bitching louder as well.)

Ironically, I met the owner of Genesis at CES a few days ago and he told me my amp is in fact too small to control the bass in these speakers. I was amazed.

I was really impressed with Verity Audio Parsifal Ovations and wish I had known about the Sarastros over at the Mirage (someone said).

By the by, do you employ digital xover for the watchdog? Rel allows this and also has a high current cable that comes directly from your power amp, same as to the Wilson's. It recommends this format in fact.

The 6s are not the problem. But they need LOTS of room to sound optimal. Cardas GR helps. Now that I have 8s, it's the 6s I miss, not the 7s!
Khrys, I am curious. Why do you miss the 6's and not the 7's?
Lee, I use the Marsh crossover that's built into the Wilson watch dog, I have used my Tact before with the second DAC card to control my setup but found that as a preamp (even modified) it was not clean enough. The Wilson manual is amazing for discussing how to setup your subwoofer and tune it. It comes with a Wilson CD and test tones and music for tuning the sub... The manual integrates using the CD.
Hey Khrys,

Perhaps we should talk about a trade? ;-)

The Cardas Golden Ref help tame the high end a bit? Interconnects or Speaker Cables? Probably both.

Thanks all.
I swapped out a pair of A Capella La Musica speaker cables for a pair of 8ft. Transparent Reference XL V. They helped Smooth things out a bit.
Johnjbarlow: I use to own Transparent Reference XL speaker cables and the new reference MM versions are light years ahead in smoothness and definition.
Can't be the puppies, gotta be the cable.
cytocycle, thanks for the info.

I ran out of time yesterday and did not have time to add some additional information that might be of use to you. I had a similar issue with my Wilson Audio Sophia Series II loudspeakers. After 3 weeks or so, I had concerns about how revealing they were. My dealer kept telling me that I needed to get either acoustical treatments or simply (and more economically) to just get "stuff" in my room. He emphasized to get "stuff" rather than acoustical treatments. At the time, all I had in the carpeted room was the audio equipment, a leather listening chair, and ottoman. I finally listened to him and added:

A 7' silk ficus behind each speaker (2)
A 7' ficus (placed in a corner behind seating area, in front of the speakers)
Artwork on the walls
1 Very Large Painting (canvas)
1 Ikea Expedit LP Rack -- 4 cubes X 4 cubes
1 Ikea Expedit LP Rack -- 2 cubes X 4 cubes
1 Ikea Billy bookcase with CD Inserts
3 leather cubed ottomans/footstools
Cubed Magazine Holder (soft material) filled with Audio Mags
--Both LP Racks are filled with LPs
--The CD rack is filled with CDs
--Accessories throughout the room
--6 framed LP Covers
--Books, Pix

The difference was extremely pronounced, in a very positive way. I wish I had listened to my dealer and added these items sooner. The furniture/accessories were strategically placed, and now the room feels so much more like a "retreat" rather than a "room", and sounds phenomenal. I highly encourage you to get "stuff" in your room; try this first before investing in expensive acoustical treatments. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Thanks Mcrheist!

Shopping for stuff! My wife will love hearing this! Might even make her want me to buy more audio?


This makes good sense though. Fill the room up strategically with items that will absorb and scatter sound.

You know, it could simply be that you like "too much" bass. I know some people who find my system lacks bass but my frequecy response actually shows I have a little too much.

Then I have visited dealers who have so much bass going on that you can't hear the midrange - but to them, it is perfectly normal and the way it should be.

The point is you spend all this money to be happy so maybe what you need is a sub. You may want to try this route if your speakers placement and resistor attempts still fall short. Afterall, personal taste always plays a role.

Have you checked to make sure the Puppy is working?
The speaker cable from Watt to Puppy could have detached.
If the puppy isn't working because a cable came loose (the tail), then the watt wouldn't work. The watt receives its signal from the cross over in the puppy.

I don't know your cables very well, but cable matching is definately more apparent with a highly resolving speaker, like the W/P.

Not being a bass fanatic myself, I find that the bass on my WP (5.1s) is quite good, certainly tight and fast. However, I recently installed a pair of balanced Cardas Golden Cross when I purchased a new CDP and found that I lost some of the speed and impact of my bass with these cables.

My guess is that there could be a couple of things at play; cables, other components (you mentioned with the Hales you also felt the sound was too bright), and a combination of placement and room acoustics.

As for room acoustics, I would buy a couple of panels of the Auralux foam and mount them to a very simple frame to make them more rigid (I just cut strips of thin plywood and glued them to the foam to make them rigid enought to lean against things/walls without sagging too much). With about 4 of these, you can then place them around the room in a temporary fashion, combined with adjusting the speaker placement, tilt, toe-in, etc. . . This is a very low cost approach to help determine what changes in the room will really help. You can buy the Auralux at most Guitar Shops. It may not be the best product (it is pretty good), but this is cheap and can tell you a lot about where you might be having problems in your room.

To me, it sounds like you have a very strong bass null or void in your room and a lot of upper frequency reflections that are creating this bright sound. FWIW, I have found that my W/P are not bright, detailed definately but not bright like I have had with other speakers.
I don't know if you can do this with the WP6 but on my WP8 I called up wilson and had them send me new transistors or something to drop the tweeter a db or two.
This is possible with the previous (to the 8s) and can help if you are too bright. However, unless you are fairly skilled I would suggest having somebody else do it. The Duettes (and possibly other models of newer Wilsons) come with external tweeter resistors that can be changed out for just this purpose and is no more difficult than changing speaker cables. This is not the case with the older Watts.