The speaker cable can definetly be the suspect. Perhaps someone can recommend a better set. But then, did the EPOS ELS sound a little lean on the Stereophile review? I cannot recall.
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Owned the EPOS ESL3's for a while and they were not bright sounding at all ... perhaps a little boxy sounding, which was more due to how I had them placed. I had them paired with a vintage Marantz receiver and Signal Speaker Cables & Interconnects. In the HIFI review of the EPOS, their only caveat was to pair them with quality amplification, in fact better amplification than you would normally provide for $300 speakers. Can not imagine why this combination would sound so bright that your ears would hurt. Are the speakers connected in phase? If you are willing to do some research, there was a thread either here or in Audio Asylum in the last month, about an ESL3 owner who took apart his speakers and removed some loose tape or something similar to that.
First of all, thanks for the replies, I should have clarified the fact that the problem seems to go away when I put the grills back on. I re-read the stereophile review on them a couple of days ago, and they said that they perform better with the grills off. There was a noticable improvement as far as detail and highs are concerned, but it came at a price... I put the grills back on last night, and I can listen to my system again... however, you should be able to get the detail and no listening fatigue at the same time.
I would tend to agree about the Arcam/Epos combo. I has Epos M12 and with the wrong SS gear would be bright due to the metal tweeter. This was mentioned in the reviews about them as well. I heard the Arcam, great amp, lively, detailed and basically neutral. Are the ESL tweeters metal?
You may want to try taking the edge off via different cabling. Discovery cables as an idea. Also, give the Cable Company a call, for a small deposit they will let you demo various cables at home. You don't lose your deposit, you can then apply it to a purchase with them.
PS - You could also switch amps to a Creek amp, like the 5350SE (which is what I had). It might be easier to switch speakers though.
I swapped out my Audioquest Copperhead RCA interconnects with a pair that my dealer made, and the edge was gone, but since the dealermade cable was belkin 75-ohm video cable, I lost some detail, clarity and the midrange was muffled. I think the interconnects are the culprit. The Copperheads have very nice detail, but they are way too bright for my ears. What do you guys recommend? I don't want to lose the detail and resolution.
If you are trying to figure out if this combination is unerringly bright and edgy you might want to approach your culprits one at a time. Were I in your shoes I would experiment with the room/accoustics/placement situation and cables first. If this proves fruitless,then you have your primary players to consider- source, amp, speakers. If you introduce the cdm1nts into the mix(switching the epos out), you may only discover that you like that combination more or less than what you have. Fine, I guess, but it really does not tell you what you are trying to find out.