What ohm taps are you using on the MC352? If not the 4 ohm taps, try them.
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Smaller speakers are usually less efficient. It's easier to fill a room with sound with more drivers. Your room is large and you are using an amp that is not really a good match for the speakers you have. I suspect the output transformer used in the Mac is limiting the available current needed to drive the B&Ws successfully.
Having said that, your setup is not really ideal either. You should move the speakers out into the room further if possible and move them closer together. You can try this in small increments until you get enough center fill. But two feet from the wall is really not enough. The golden rule is one third of the room length I believe, which would be ten feet. This probably not feasible for you. But it shows how much off you are.
Instead of a triangle set up I would try (if possible) either move the speakers closer together (6ft apart) or move the sofa back another 5ft. I would play with the toeing too if you can try either of these suggestions. You should gain depth by moving them farther from the back wall. Can't argue with the cost.
Thinking of a great smaller speaker that may be more efficient with better imaging (Dynaudio C1 is being considered).
At 85db they are not too efficient (love current). But the imaging will be better. I have the C1's and the B&w 802d and 803d were on my list for for 'full range' speakers but full range and my room don't get along too well. Should be great for your room in my opinion.
Last you may be surprised how a more power amp may sound.
Just my opinion
I run a pair of 803s with a c45 driving an mc 402 - not much different than your system; and use the 4 ohm taps. Room is smaller 12/22 but with an open plan into other room. I am 9-10 feet back with speakers away from walls. The sound just gets louder with more juice but doesn't fundamentally change. You may want to look at the furnishings - I would be surprised if it is the speakers. I don't see going to a smaller speaker as a solution - maybe a larger speaker or a whole new design - planars, horns etc. Big room with two available corners? - go for a pair of k-horns with a warm tube amp.
It's the speakers. I have had B&Ws with the same issues. They need to be played loud to make them shine. I would get out and demo speakers (your gear is pretty good and your set up is fine).
I would think smaller speakers are the wrong move. It sounds like you just want more bass at low volume. What is your budget?
Wilsons thump at all volumes (used Sophias are under $6000 these days).
Thanks to eveyone's advice.
Switched to 4 ohm taps a long time ago. Did positively change sound.
I have played with separation and toe in many times and find it does make a big difference.
My guess is that Rwwear may have had iit right the first time. I need to change the location of the speakers, which is currently impossible.
I am however, going to pull some furniture out, just to test the effect over the weekend.
I may need a different type of speaker. I owned a pair of Magnepan Typonies years ago (talk about tough placement) and have been spoiled ever since. Just dont have the room for 3.6 or 20.1.
Played with positioning for the millionth time this weekend. Moved speakers a bit closer together and imaging improved a bit. I'm also enjoying the anti cables which seem to be a bit more revealing in detail.
This system moves from wow to uggghhh depending on source music. The aluminum tweeter can sound spectacular with good instrumental passages and shrill with some female voice (even with the tube DAC). Is it just the source music and the fact that the 803s are revealing?
You are not going to like this, but the "harshness" or "shrillness" may be from the tweeter. When A'gon member Dougdeacon went from the 803 to the 803D, we all heard a significant improvement in the high end w respect to what you may be talking about. We attributed it to reduced distortion from the tweeter. You may want to talk to him directly. He gets great sound from the 803Ds in a relatively small, multi-purpose space. Luckily for him, his spouse has even more sensitive ears than he does, but last time I was there, they had a big ole flat screen TV in there, plus lots of furniture and it sounded great! As best as I can remember, they use a significant amount of toe-in, FWIW. Good luck.
If you want to find out if it is the tweeter carefully attach a kleenex over the front of the tweeter with the aid of a rubber band. If you get a decrease in the harshness it's the tweeter, if not, keep looking. One reason I doubt that it is the tweeter is even a soprano is still going to be in the range of the midrange on the 803, not the tweeter. You really aren't getting much out of the tweeter other than cymbals, some lead guitar on the high frets, and some harmonics but the harmonics are at very low levels in comparison with the fundamentals which, in the case of vocals, are below the cutoff freq
I may be swimming against the tide here but....I think the problem is the electronics. I have used 803S's with a number of things now including a number of choices from mcIntosh and really didn't care for the Mac, B&W combo much at all. Naim, ARC, Primare, etc....all sounded much better and none of them give the sound you are describing.
ARC, B&W. Fit it and forget it....and get ready for some gorgeous music.
PS. Those should have imaging that completely leaves the speakers. Almost 3d.
Have often thought of changing the preamp to a good tube preamp (CJ, ARC, Audio Horizon, Mac 2200/2300). Wondered how much benefit I would see with a tube DAC already in my system.
Owned a CJ preamp years ago with an ARC 100B and loved the sound. These speakers love power and current and worry about an ARC that delivers this at a reasonable price.
I doubt there is anything wrong with the 803S's, but you're right in that there will be a "Magic" placement. However, everything else in your system will affect the sound that is "best for you".
I have 802D's and drove myself crazy until I got the sound I was after. Ended up with Class D amps (to feed the beast), and an ARC tube preamp. I use silver interconnects amp to preamp and everything in the phono circuit. However copper to the DAC and copper speaker cables. Bi-amping made a significant improvement. High pass filters built into the amps kept the highs quiet.
It takes time and effort but you'll get it worked out.
As far as power and current and how speakers are driven it seems that more power is definately better IF the amp is superb. I have driven that very same speaker many times for customers with a ARC VSi60 60 watt integrated tube amplifier and the reaction has always been "wow".
Vibrant, dynamic, present, natural. That is what ARC delivers in spades. You may be surprised at how much power you really need for those speakers.
The VS115 will deliver all you need for what I feel is a very reasonable priced amplifier for speakers of that caliber. That said, their new 200 watt DSi200 integrated amplifier is SUPERB and sounds sublime on the B&W line. THAT is plenty of power.