can a new amp amp tame my speakers?

Just spent some time listening to what I've been planning to upgrade to for main speakers. PSB Synchronys. The Imagine T2's are close, but slightly veiled in comparison. My current, but old, Infinity Kappa 7's really don't give much away to the PSB's. My amp is an old Yamaha MX2, 125wpc, and I've heard them described as bright or harsh, and that's the only complaint I really have with the sound now. Can a well-chosen amp tame the highs on the Kappa'a, which use a ribbon-style tweeter? Or is the 'taming' I seek only going to happen with a speaker upgrade. I honestly don't mind upgrading the speakers, and fully expected to, but after today's auditioning, I'm wondering if I'm going to get that much benefit from that level of investment. $3500+ is a healthy chunk of coin for benefits of slimmer profile and tamed highs. In terms of imaging, weight, and bass, the Kappa's are equal, imo. The system is also the theater, but the avr can power the surrounds, so an amp upgrade could be 2 channel. A power boost is a must too, as the current 125wpc isn't enough for when wifey's not home and the volume gets wound up ;)
An amp upgrade could certainly tame your top end peakiness. I've had some issues with metal domes tweeters in the past trying to balance detail with harshness. The Wyred4Sound ST-500 has a soft top end, gobs of power with good bottom end slam and control, is detailed, and images well. There are many reviews available for more details. I found it a pleasant amp, dynamic when necessary and yet capable of subtleties as well. It would probably partner up well with the Kappas.

Another option would be cables/plugs to tame the high end (though I would loose the Yamaha regardless). Good luck.
A well chosen amp certainly can tame your highs. As you have already found, your Kappa's are going to be hard to beat. If you like them, then shop amps instead.
Thanks. The PSB's sound great, don't get me wrong, but $3500-5500 better?? It would take an in-home trial to really compare, of course, but then again, if that's the only way to tell, then that's too close to be worth that much $$.

Ok, so we have a vote for the ST500....any other experienced ears able to offer suggestions?
I had the same issue, my Paradigms had a harsh top end with sibilance on some tracks. A Parasound Halo A21 was a big step up over the Emotiva amp it replaced. No sibilance, nicer mid range and imaging with more accurate bass.
All the components matter. With the same speakers, one amp will sound harsh, and the other smooth. Likewise, change the speakers but leave the amp alone, and you may have different results with different speakers.

Based on my own experience only, the most important parts of the component chain are speakers, then amp, then preamp, then source. Somewhere in there is the room and room treatments, and in my opinion cables make the least amount of difference (if any at all).

In this case, I can't help but think the amp could use an upgrade.
I've looked into Parasounds as well. The hard part is auditions. Surfing the forums, Emotiva is a great value, but likely to be no help with the issue I'm trying to solve. I agree speakers make the greatest difference in sound, but given the amp needs to go anyway, I'm hoping to achieve the goal for a lot less than the cost of speakers. I found a 1200 ST500 here, Halo amps are a lot more for equal power, but I'm willing to go there if necessary. Anyone have direct experience with the two? Halo vs their New Classic line? Also, the objectionable highs issue is a problem only at high volumes. Does that change opinions from those of you who know about how amps work?
Yes, it's hard to audition and reading online is not the most helpful sometimes. I can't help you with the New Classic vs Halo comparison, but I would suspect that the 2 lines would have similar house sound and if it comes down to it you could call Parasound, their C.service is apparently amazing.

But the W4S ST500 sounds like a pretty good option. BTW, my sibilance issue was only at higher volumes above 80db or so. I'd say you're on the right track, just take your time and do the research. My Halo purchase was a shot in the dark and I got lucky.
Try an AVA Synergy 450 or 550, a 550 did wonders for my Maggies over an Odyssey and you get 30 daysa to decide.
Synergy's are a big step up from older AVA designs IMHO.
I'll call Parasound, thanks. Sounds like your issues were similar, and solved the way I'm hoping to solve mine...the measure of a man's intelligence is the degree to which he agrees with you? ;)

The AVA Synergy looks good to - listed to be laid back and 'easy on the highs'. Looks like my budget will be $1500-2000.
Oh, another question, brought on by looking at the amp options - Should I get a stereo w/225-250wpc, or for example 2 Halo A23's and bridge them to mono? W4S also has the mono options, so any opinions on that? I can't bi-amp the speakers, but I can use one amp per speaker.
I would suggest the new W4S MAMPS. Talk about taming! They make my Paradigm V1 S8's just sing. So smooth and refined. These speakers have never sounded so good. They eliminate all aspects of the forward and brightness of this speaker that the V1 tweeters are known for. The Spatial Quantum cables are the perfect match for these amps. Even listening to internet radio is enjoyable.
The question might be are you going to be replacing the Kappa 7's for the PSB Synchrony or keep the Kappa's with this amp. Because it looks like the Kappa 7's may have some ohm dips at certain frequencies that go down to 2 ohms or so. Using a bridged amp for that is not recommended in most cases.

If you're interested in the A21, they do go on sale. I bought mine from a dealer who shipped it to me for under 2K. And there might be deals on Audiogon used as well. The W4S I'm not as familiar with, but they have lots of power too. You just need a dealer willing to deal.
Ok, thanks.

So it's the ST500 vs Mamps from W4S.

The AVA Synergy 450,

or the Parasound 2250 vs HCA2200II (I'm reading that the HCA is 'better' than the New Classic Line).

I emailed Parasound last night, and the President emailed back with his advice within a couple of hours. Good sign for how they treat customers! Can anyone comment on either the comparisons within brands, or comparisons between the brands?
I responded to your thoughts on bridging, but my post hasn't appeared.
Correction, my amp is a Synergy 450 there is no 550.
In any event, doing a marvelous job right now in hearing all the instruments in Brahm's 3rd, not just the big clump my Oddesy Statos gave me, sweet as it was.
My Thiel 2.4s were a bit on the harsh side with a Hafler 9500, very nice from top to bottom, but losing some detail and transparency with a B&K 2220, wonderful with a Conrad Johnson 2300A and really gorgeous after I had the C-J completely re-caped with polyethelene capacators. A revealing speaker like yours should improve a great deal with an amp upgrade. As an aside, an ATI 1502 was literally unlistenably harsh with these revealing speakers, despite ATIs good reputation. I have learned that the amp matters a lot, given revealing speakers.
I was warned away from bridging by Richard Schram at Parasound as well. He said to go with the 2250. I've since read that an HCA 2200II is a better amp, though. It certainly specs out better in terms of current,but that doesn't tell me how the high frequencies would sound. I'm not writing off the PSB's, but the goal is to solve my high frequency issues with the Kappas with the right amp so I don't have to spend $3500 + on speakers
Amen Drjay, All a speaker can do is let you hear what your amp sounds like. I have a pair of Focal Titus 200 little monitors I bought off craigslist for 200 bucks.
They are fully able to let me hear the difference between my 2K Van Alstine and my sons 20K worth of Lamm.Much to his surprise.
I am a little surprised that my Kappa's, $1600 list 25 years ago, weren't blown away by what I heard out of the PSB's ($3500-5500). The PSB's were better, don't get me wrong, but not enough to justify that much cash. An amp is necessary purely because I need more power to drive the Kappa's to the volume levels I occasionally get to. I've always known amps sound different, I just wasn't sure if the degree of help I needed was possible from an amp change. I didn't notice the need until I added a sub, and even then, the volume does have to be high for the highs to be objectionable, but that's where the idea of the problem being the amp came from. So I can get the amp I need anyway and solve all my problems.....

Well.....for now....(evil grin)...
FWIW, taming my bright upper-mids and lower treble was a very long, involved process. My original speakers, with metal dome tweets, were very harsh at higher volumes. An amp upgrade, from a Rotel to an Odyssey Audio Stratos, did a lot to clean up that band, but I realized that the speakers were just bright-sounding, too much so for my tastes. I upgraded to Ohm Walsh 2000s a few years ago, and the problem is mostly gone now. But along the way, changes to other components, cables and even a power filter all helped in taming a hot brightness range. With each improvement, I got smoother sound in this range and beyond, while gaining improvements in detail retrieval. So it was not just the amp, or just the speakers - it was everything in the system, even the room treatments, that killed the harshness. IME, I found the PSBs that I've heard to be extremely harsh in the upper-mids and lower treble, especially when pushed hard. In fact, I find most affordable speakers with crossovers in the 2-4kHz range to be too hot in that frequency range. YMMV, of course. Older SS mid-fi amps, like the Yammi, also tended to be harsh in this range. Although there were, and are exceptions. While my old Pioneer AVR lacked detail and soundstage dimensionality, it was not too harsh in theat frequency range.

I guess the challenge is to "warm up" the sound without throwing a blanket over it, losing detail in the process. To me, that elusive combo of detail with natural warmth is my holy grail in this hobby. I am getting close, but a recent loan of some high-powered Class D amps has made me realize that I need a lot more power.
You make a good point, and I suppose the amp being a cure-all is optimistic at best, but it's where I need to start. At least the feedback/advice I've gotten (thanks to all!!) is encouraging me that I can make an improvement. Perhaps for long enough that by the time I do hear those 'I gotta have them!!' speakers, I'll have the money to get them :)
can anyone offer opinions of a Peachtree 220 amp as an option for taming the highs on my speakers?
I'm surprised no one asked what kind of preamp is being used. That could easily be the problem.
Possibly, but it's a Yamaha AVR, hardly audiophile quality, but since the issue is only an issue at higher volumes, it seems to be a power amp issue - a new pre isn't in the cards for now, the room is also the family/tv/movie room.
I'm not familiar with Peachtree, but that amp is Class D. In reading some of the previous posts, room treatments are good, but I think that high frequencies are less affected by room. That's why tweeters are usually recommended to be at ear level, they are not as robust as other frequencies. But other frequencies can certainly be an issue.

And sibilance, or a distortion like sound coming from the tweeters, is probably not room gain related. Is there a possibility that your Yamaha receiver is straining at higher levels?
My thought is the amp is straining, hence the thread. The receiver is running an outboard MX2 amp, 125wpc (although somewhere I read it was 150). Perhaps there's a gain issue between the avr and amp, but as both are Yamaha, I didn't really consider that. All I can say is that movies/tv are usually around -15 to -20db on the volume display. When I'm really cranking it, 2 channel, home alone, etc, I'll crank it up to 0db or possibly higher. the 'max' is +16.5. Does that mean anything to anyone in absolute terms? I understood it better when volume controls were a simple 1-10...
Anyway, since the problem is only a problem for me at 'I have the house to myself, time to let the neighbors know I'm home' volumes, I'm reasonably sure it's the amp running out of power.
English - In absolute terms, no, it doesn't mean much. Coupled with your speakers' efficiency rating and room size, it can mean a lot. IIRC, Yamaha AVRs used to be widely criticized for not having enough output. Especially when tested by mags like Home Theater, the power output would usually fall to well below the advertised output when more than two channels were driven.

I think the best way for you to procede is to either borrow a more powerful amp from a friend or dealer to try out, or purchase an amp from a direct seller or dealer with a good return policy (watch out for "restocking" fees). Then you will see quickly if a beefier amp gets you the results you seek.

If not, report back, and we'll take it from there.
Bondmanp, ok, so I'll fill in the blanks: The problem I'm having is in 2-channel mode, so the avr's only sending signal through the preouts, the surround speakers it is also powering aren't in the equation. The speakers are notoriously tricky, Infiniity Kappa 7's (but they're far easier to drive than the 8's or 9's big brothers) with a guestimate of efficiency @ 87ish. The room is 12X19X8. I had thought of just trying an Emo amp, but then I read they can be bright anyway, and that's the last thing I want. From the feedback here, I'm 'aiming' for a Parasound, Classe (read elsewhere they are laid back), or Wyred. Emo has the best return policy if it didn't do the job I need, but if they're bright-ish anyway, what would it tell me?
I'm of the opinion that one should purchase an amp that best allows the speakers to do all that they're capable of, not fix the speakers.
I agree, but if you read my earlier posts, you'll see that the sound is great until volumes get elevated, THEN it gets harsh/bright and objectional. Until then, they sound great. My question originally was perhaps phrased badly, and it was written badly badly, but the intent is clear enough. I certainly wouldn't want an amp that tends towards brightness, based on the problem I've having. Most brands claim and aim for neutrality, but the reality seems to be that there is a tendency, or favor, towards one range or another. Some emphasise bass, some mids some highs. At least until you get to the upper price ranges I can't reach. So, here I am...
I did read your earlier posts, and somehow missed the part of high volume causing problems with the highs. I've just reread it, and sure enough its there. Another amp, perhaps with more power might help, then again it might not. Are the added subs self powered?
There are enough amplifier manufactures that offer trial periods some simply for the cost of shipping.

I experienced similar issues with my first experience with entry level speakers at more realistic volumes powered by lower wattage linear solid state amplifiers.

I purchased a very newly released PS Audio HCA-2 switching amplifier, my first class D and, since then, three other sets of switching amplifiers including my current Hypex nC400s which power the monitors in my studio. One of the benefits of most of the class D amps that I've audition and owned is their ability to remain sonically stable and uncongested at their higher output limits.

All my A/B and most of the class A linear solid state amplifiers I've auditioned have difficulty in this area, some worse than others. To class D detractors this ability subjectively comes across as cold, sterile, or too forward. The Hypex and a few other newer design switching amplifiers are improving this trait by priority design and not with tubes or with the usual solid state tuning methods.

Even so I can't caution enough the importance of and in home audition if you're switching to a class D amplifier. Personally, I listen to Carver tube amps in my main system. The Hypex are used for track playback of mic locating for which they are ruthlessly accurate.

I loved my Yamaha R1000 and my neighbors Yamaha CFX grand Piano is absolutly stunning. Yamaha's electronics are simply not their strong point and your description mirrors my own experience with them.

That said another amplifier should bring new life to your old speakers. I would suggest learning everything you can about Vandersteen speakers which IMO would be the natural progression from your Kappa's.

A very nice pair of used Rowland Model 6s currently on the Gon would do well with both your Kappas and a pair of Quatro's.
Sorry, I sounded pi$$y there, not my intent. The sub is a ULS15, powered.

Vicdamone - point taken, and I'll admit to a bias against D amps. Unwarranted, I'll grant you, as I have never listened to one, but nonetheless...I'll work on that. The JRDG's look wonderful, but a little out of my price range...;)

I was impressed with a set of Vandersteen's I heard that same day I was listening to the PSB's. Don't remember the model, but they were $6K, about 48" tall, and tapered. Someone was auditioning a Reva 'table, and Peter Gabriel was sounding wonderful!
Sorry, I missed your budget. It's just so easy suggesting higher end gear. Still, those Rowlands would be sweeeet. How about a used Parasound A21?

One point about speakers like Vandersteens, Avalon, and Thiel. Generally speaking they were designed with more emphasis paid to time and phase correctness, and quality crossover design. In my case most speakers that do not do these things well are easily noted and easily dismissed.
I've been looking at Parasound. It 'seems' to my uneducated eyes that the older spec out better than new. Richard Schrma at Parasound recommended a 2250, but the specs on that seem far below the HCA220II for example. I'm trying to get something good sub-$1K, which seems possible but not easy. An A21 seems comparable spec-wise to an HCA2200II, so I've been looking down that path. Nothing available yet...Haven't seen much in used higher power Parasounds, although a non-mk.II HCA2200 just popped up on fleabay. I can't remember the difference, but seem to remember it was a worthwhile difference to the II.

Those Rowlands would be sweet!! Wonder if they'd keep me warm on a cold night sleeping in my car?? :)
That your powered subs didn't seem to help alleviate the high end issues, makes me wonder if the problem isn't just inherent in the speakers themselves. Does the problem occur on all or just some recordings when the volume is raised?
Well it seems in 2 channel, my speakers are still full range, so perhaps that's not factoring in, however I found last night one of the Polydome mids is blown, so first order of business is to replace those.
I found some reviews of Odyssey amps, and talked to Klaus from there, and he swears his amp will make my speakers sing like never before...even with less wpc than I currently have...this ain't getting easier. Time to fix the mids, and pull the trigger on something...the only thing I know for sure is that there's no right answer..
A used Butler 2250 would sound good with the Infinity's, I would think. Lots of power and smooth top end.
Found some reviews on that, and it does seem like a nice match. A little pricier than I was planning on, but not totally out of the question used, there's a couple here used for $1750/1800. The Odyssey is still leading the way though...we'll see...
Thanks again
Just a thought:
Oh Boy, more choices :) - at least that is a loal pickup in PA, so no real temptation there. I know nothing about tube amps, or the maintainance involved, whereas the Butler supposedly gets around the maintenance issue by not driving the tubes to the max...

It seems tubes would smooth out the highs, though, is that the consensus? I'm wondering how much of the objectionable highs I have is from the amp running out of juice. Does that make the speakers sound that bad, and therefore, a 'real' amp with 'real' current would eliminate the problem? Or is it a speaker issue that just comes on at high volumes, and needs an amp that's softer in the highs to reign in a problem inherent to the speaker. As I've said, I have no objections to the sound at low-mid volumes, just when I'm cranking it up. Perhaps the ribbons in the Emit tweeter are heating up due to the amp running out of power, and that's why they sound bad, or will they do that at high volumes even with more (enough?) power?

My thinking is, if the speakers are inherently flawed in that area, and even a 'good' amp doesn't fix the issue, then the speakers needed replacing anyway, and anything I get would need a better amp than I have now. So a good amp now (first) isn't a waste. If getting an amp does fix the problem, then I've saved a significant outlay on new speakers. Klaus at Odyssey swears up and down I'll be blown away by what my speakers sound like with his amp, even though the wpc rating is about what I have now...

I suppose I'm not really looking for a amp that's 'softer' in the highs to counteract the speakers, but rather hoping that the objectionable highs I have now are because of the amp I have now, and therefore a better amp will eliminate the problem. I don't want to correct a speaker problem with an amp, but correct an amp problem with an amp.
I haven't actually heard the combination, in fact I'm not sure that the Kappa's I heard so long ago where the same as yours.
I do seem to remember that back in the day the Infinity IRS' (along with the Wilson Wamms) were the top of the line, most expensive speakers going. I could be wrong, but I think those IRS' might have used something like the emits that are on your Kappas. This is a long time ago, but I seem to remember that tubes were the only way to go with the IRS' (the bass panels had their own ss "servo" amps built in), and c-j tubes were a popular choice for them, but even with tube amps, some used to cover the IRS' tweeters with tissue paper to attenuate the brightness. In as much as that might seem to be an anathema on a speakers that cost around 50-60$K in the late 1980's, it was pretty effective. I even have a friend that uses the same fix today on some old Linn speakers.
Those IRS' midrange/tweeters did some magical things, and are still sought after today, but obviously they weren't perfect (at least IMHO).
I believe your speakers have a nominal impedance of about 6 Ohms, but I have no idea what the minimal impedance is. The use of self powered subs might be very advantageous with them, but that's purely speculative on my part.
As well as I can remember (not very well), I remember the Kappas as being OK, but found other alternatives preferable. You might very well disagree.
The c-j I hyperlinked is actually a tube/ss hybrid, seemed like a calculated safe choice. YMMV.
A good used class A krell amp,any model old or new class a/b would drive the hell out of your speakers with ease!,with very good sound!,you can find many used krells at different price points,depends on what you can afford,regardless,krell is known to drive any speaker! cheers!
My Kappa's are way down the range from the IRS's, they are a 3-way box, and IIRC, retail was $1600/pr back then. The 8's and 9's were the real beasts, and many an amp went up in smoke, literally, trying to power them. I fully expected to be blown away by the improvements a $3-5K speaker could offer, but it hasn't proven true (yet). The PSB's sound wonderful, yes, but I'm struggling to hear $3-5K better. Plus I'm very aware that a better amp can bring more out of what I have, and the PSB's were on far better electronics than I have, so if the gap were to be closer when I upgrade the amp, it would be harder yet to justify a speaker upgrade. I had heard of the tissue-tweak as well, and wouldn't be opposed to it, but as I said, I'm mostly happy with the sound until I want to get loud. That's when things get ugly.

I appreciate all the input. Much has confirmed suspicions I already had, much has given me new directions to look, and with the consensus being that there's more to be brought out of the speakers I have, that's encouraging....
Have you heard any other speakers besides the PSB's? Perhaps something like the Vandersteens 2's? The cost of which would be significantly lower, low enough to buy a really good matching amp too, for the same price as the PSB's. The used market has some steals too.
IF I change speakers, and it's a big if, I'd be more likely to have to get some that are more streamlined and 'fit' the room better aesthetically. The PSB's are 'approved' in that regard. Having said that, I've listened to B&W CM9's (I think that's the model, about $3K?), Paradigms in the same price range, Studio something's, neither of which impressed much, although a slight edge to the B&W. I did hear the 804's, and was impressed, but not in a particularly great listening setup. I heard the Vandersteen Treo (again, I think, about $6K) that someone was using to audition a TT. Associated electronics were also significantly upmarket on those, but they did sound pretty good!

I haven't covered all bases by any means, but so far what I've heard is leading me to believe that I'll need to get close to $6K to get to an improvement in sound that's more than just incremental and doesn't involve a compromise elsewhere - although I am also aware there would be a 'boost' to the sound of most of what I've heard by getting them into my room vs. the setups they've been in, but that applies to the PSB's as well. That I'm not ready for. I would be quite comfortable buying used speakers from that level though. I do see a set of Synchrony 2's on the 'gon for a great price, about 1/2 of list, and they are really tempting...
...but again, how good would they sound with the amp I have, a 25 year old Yamaha that was nothing special when I got it, never mind the march of time, although it's never missed a lick in all that time either...
What I'm looking at mostly is amps in the sub-$1500 range. I can't help thinking a good quality amp will bring the most out of the speakers I have, and when it is time to upgrade the speakers, I'll have quality to drive them with already.
Other items in your system besides amps can change your sound, I would try some different IC's. Try some old monster cables. I remember I did not and still do not like monster cable because to me they seem too polite especially on the high end range. It could also be a lot less expensive depending on the IC you purchase. Go for IC's that are on the warm side of neutral.
Hmm..I have Audioquest from the AVR to the amp, which was an upgrade over the 'Radio Shack' level I'd been using, but heonestly, I didn't notice much if any change.
I have owned Audioquest and found them to be more to the lean side of neutral. They could be why your system needs to be tamed. Have you tried your old IC's since your speaker change, They may sound good compared to the new IC's.
I would look for IC's that are some what on the dark side of neutral. MIT may work well for your system but can expensive unless you get some used or try monster. Also remember new IC's do need time to breakin around 200 hours and will sound very different over time.
I think your idea of a good amp to mate with your speakers is a good plan. Then fine tune with IC's as Hevac1 says. Then move to better speaker if needed.

If you buy used you can keep $ losses to a minimum if you don't like the results. Cables can be changed like underwear with this theory. Amps and speakers get a little tougher.

Btw, almost any of the amps mentioned would sound good. Be sure and check input impedance of your amp against Preamp impedance.