Cd player or Nautilus 804


I recently changed speakers from B&W Matrix 802 to the N804s. The speakers have been broken in for about a month and I am still not sure of the results. I know I like the sound better than the M802's, being more open and less laidback. The problem is on some material, the music seems a bit harsh and not a smooth as I previously remembered. At this point, however, I am not sure if it really is the speaker or my source.

The rest of my system is Krell HTS 7.1 (has preamp mode - a bypass) with KAV series amps, XLO ref & sig. cables, Cal CL10 CD changer and a sony 7700 dvd player. My general observations are...

*Cal with preamp section (bypass)...more open and forward vocals (Like)....detail sounding with less emphasis on the lower midrange (don't like..seems lacking). Can sound bright and harsh at times. Some CDs really shine, but overall fatiguing.

*Cal going through Krell analog inputs...vocals are more laidback, but a lot of the harshness is gone. More balance sounding with more noticeable lower-end. Nicer overall presentation, but doesn't seem as dynamic and engaging.

*Sony used as a transport...a bit surprised that it sounded as good as it did...sounded very similar (maybe better) to the Cal with the analog inputs. Once again, less harshness, but vocals are recessed. Seems more on the analytical side versus dynamic and musical.

At this point, I am not sure what to focus on....Is my issue with the CD player or the speakers? I know people either love or hate B&Ws, but I think the speakers can deliver the sound I am looking for without being bright (?) I am a bit surprised with the CAL...vocals are good (albeit a tendency to be bright) but much less emphasis on the lower end (didn't notice with M802's).

I have tried an Arcam player & I wanted to like it, but it didn't seem dramatically better than I have. Vocals were not as forward as the Cal and it didn't seem bright. It just didn't win me over. I am going to listen to a Cary 303 and the Ayre CX-7 player this weekend on my exact same setup at the dealer. I am just not sure this will get the desired result....a dynamic, detailed musical presentation without being fatiguing.

Sorry for such a long post....just not sure what to do next. Any thoughts...should I focus on the cd player? are the speakers part of the issue or just passing on what it is getting? Can a change in the CD player address all of these issues?

thank you, macct



macct
Need more info. on your interconnects, & especially the speaker cables?
My cables are xlo reference speaker cables (bi wire) with reference balance interconnects b/w amp & HTS. I am using xlo signature interconnects b/s CAL and HTS (previously MIT 3, but XLO has cleaner sound). DVD player also xlo signature digital cable.

any thoughts?
Having owned n803s and now 802s I can tell you that they won't truely break in for several months -- the 803s took six months, the 802s a little less. Give them a chance.

Tom
When I purchased my N802s I had the same feeling as you that I could get much better sound with better components upstream. After much experimentation this proved to be the case. I upgraded my Krell from KAV300i to the KAV250 to the FPB 300cx. I auditioned many CD players and I think you will be very impressed with the Ayre player. I was. However, it came in second to the Resolution Audio Opus 21. This player is very detailed and clear yet without digital hash. I am very pleased with it. PS: I sold my preamp and run the Opus 21 directly to my amp now.
Are the N804's near the wall? If so, move them out some; 4 feet or more if you can. What you describe happens with the "tweeter on top" in some rooms if the speakers are near the wall.

Speaker placements matters a lot in many rooms..
Tlday, is right I wouldn't abandon hope on the N804's just yet! Gosh at a period of a month they still have the new out of the box smell to them. You honestly can never compare them to the M802's, even after they break-in as they are entirely different speakers.

I wouldn't even start to listen to them till they hit the 200 hour mark, & critically until the 500 hour period. You are after all comparing their (N804) current sound to speakers (M802) with years of break-in.

If you where using the Sony as a CDP & not a Transport, I would say yes it could be somewhat bright sounding. But even in that case you could correct that with a trial membership to the joining the interconnect of the month club.

For now there is no Fast Fix, just remain patient, give the N804's time, & save your monies. If you feel the need to change CDP's at that tome the Cary should tone them down & warm thing up. IMO

Good Luck!
Tlday, is right I wouldn't abandon hope on the N804's just yet! Gosh at a period of a month they still have the new out of the box smell to them. You honestly can never compare them to the M802's, even after they break-in as they are entirely different speakers.

I wouldn't even start to listen to them till they hit the 200 hour mark, & critically until the 500 hour period. You are after all comparing their (N804) current sound to speakers (M802) with years of break-in.

If you where using the Sony as a CDP & not a Transport, I would say yes it could be somewhat bright sounding. But even in that case you could correct that with a trial membership to the joining the interconnect of the month club.

For now there is no Fast Fix, just remain patient, give the N804's time, & save your monies. If you feel the need to change CDP's at that time the Cary should tone them down & warm thing up. IMO

Good Luck!
Based on most of the comments here, it sounds like my issue is with the speakers, specifically not enough break-in time. The speakers are about 12" from the wall and I really can't move them out any further.

I still prefer the sound going through the Krell analog (not bypass). The sound is fatiguing with the analog-bypass. Any idea why this is? I never thought of the Cal player being bright with a shy bass signature. I think I will still look at a few new players, but take it slow until I have a better idea of how the speakers will work on my room.

thank you for your replies.
I would try moving them out from the wall a lot just as an experiment. If the brightness abates, then waiting for them to break-in just might be futile. If speaker placement is the problem, then no period of break-in is going to really completely solve your problem.
Just to widen your analysis perspective do you have any tweaks on your source meaning cones, etc.

In spite of speakers been same brand the room response does change, a look at accoustic treatments and placement mya be worth.
Good luck and keep us posted
I tried moving the speakers out a few feet, and the results were startling. The treble harshness was virtually eliminated and the speakers sounded great with a dynamic and wide soundstage. I couldn't get over the difference.

I moved them back a bit, but the speakers are a still in the walking path. I really need to moved them back a bit. If I add sound treatments behind the speakers and add curtain to the window (its near the left speaker) would it enable me to move them back a bit without bring the harshness back? In terms of tweaks....I don't currently use any....suggestions beyond the rooom treatments.

I really appreciate all of the feedback. The suggestions have made a world of a difference.
As a former owner of the 804's (I now own the 803's) I can tell you that the right electronics make a big difference. I ran mine with a Classe CA300 and it was a pretty fantastic combo. I also tried it with my HT set up; a Harmon Kardon 500, only 85w, and it was somewhat as you described. I can't speak to your electronics as I am not familiar with them. I wouldn't rule out the room qualities either. The size and shape can drastically alter the quality of a good speaker.
good luck, I think you have a fine speaker.
I, too, was initially disappointed with my N804s, but after about 300 hours, and an upgrade or two in upstream components, I'm now pretty happy (which is about the best that a neurotic audiophile can hope for). I found that a high-current amp was critical for bass, and that a good digital front-end (Wadia) made a huge difference in all areas.

As to your specific issue, you may want to experiment by making a partial "hood" for the tweeters out of felt padding. Absorbing the tweeters' side and rear emissions close to the source is more effective and cheaper than treating the walls. It looks stupid, but it's a really great experiment, and you may decide that being able to place the speakers close to a wall with the hoods is the most practical solution. Also, since they're front-ported, the bass is still pretty tight near a wall. Finally, don't underestimate the amount of energy that the Nautilus tweeter sends out of the hole at its rear. Using just a bit of felt to absorb that may be all the difference that you need.

Happy listening, and let us know what happens.
I just had the pleasure to sit with an audio reviewer for 4 hours and listen to his system with both my music and his. The system was Kharma Midi- Grands, all Meitner digital, SME-Manley Steel Head- Clear Audio analog, feeding Tenor 75W OTL's and all Nordost Valhalla wires. Needless to say the room was tricked out and the sound was the BEST my ears have enjoyed. My new friend loaned me a pair of Valhallas to go from my Arcam CD-23 to my Levinson #383 which powers my N804's. MY lord what a difference!!! I spent 6 months fine tuning my speakers in my sound room. AS has been so well stated by others on this post speaker placement is the most important, but what is up stream is very important. To make a long story short don't give up on the 804's and you also needed to give the Arcam some time. My player came on song after about a month of dailey playing and I am so glad I waited. Because with the Valhallas in the system the sound is INCREDABLE!! I honestly would not up- grade as of now except for the IC's (and I'm going to buy the Valhallas) and that is after listening to that super system. With everything clicking right now the 804's are a whole lot better than I could imagine. As far as the windows are concerend I have 4 in my listening room. I had custom window treatments made for the room because it's the first room you see when you enter my house. They are very heavy material gatered in the corners from just above the windows to the floor. Covering the windows are cloth blinds called silohetts.(I think thats how they are spelled)they are cloth blinds. I close them when I play and the light still comes in but the glass is covered. I also place large and small plants all around the speakers by the walls and windows and I have 2 listening chairs and some well placed pillows. It looks fantastic and the wife is happy and the neighbors all love the room. Best of all it sounds great. It cost some money but it is more bang for the buck than most tweaks. The moral of this story boys and girls is to be creative and trust what YOU hear. Have fun and make listening to music a pleasure. Peace and Good Listening, Pat.
Macct:

Have you made any further progress in your situation with the speakers?
PLS advise status
Do you have accoustic treatments in your room? What's the distance between the speakers and to your listening chair?
12" from the wall (rear I suppose) is not that much....Have you tried to hang a blanket in the wall between speakers to see if that helps moving them back to the wall and still having part of the improvement in sound you got when moved away from wall?

Luis
I have made a lot of progress. I appreciate all the helpful advice. The first being moving them further from the wall just to see if it was the room or speakers. Moving the speakers further out was simply an amazing difference. Its incredible how much of an improvement. I have always been somewhat skeptical of tweaking claims, but you can truly hear it.

Since then I have moved the speakers back and have tried a number of items. I have made little felt baffles which were recommended. They made a big difference for a little effort. At this point, I only have them draped over the rear opening of the tweeter housing. I have also added acoustical panels to the side of the tv as well as to the wall in back of the speakers. Finally, I added curtains to the window which is near the left speaker.

At this point, I am very pleased with the improvement in sound. They now sound like what I demoed. The speakers do not sound bright at all! The biggest downside is the two acoustical panels on the wall. While they are a nuetral color, they still stand out and detract from the room visually. Its a trade-off I find worth having. I will probably work on the aesthetics at some later point.

I now understand why people's reactions can be so mixed with these speakers. It has taken a lot time to get them to sound good in my room. I am not sure most people will want to or expect to go through this excercise. Overall, I very pleased with the sound quality and hope to just enjoy my system for a while before anymore changes.

thanks, macct