Hope this helps.
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My rig is a MF Nu-Vista CD, A3cr Preamp, A300cr Power Amp (225 wpc), B&W N804s, Nu-Vista Silver IC's and Coincident CST-1 speaker cables. From the looks of your system, I'd say it's the Tara Labs cable/ICs which are the problem. The Nu-Vista Silvers really give fabulous detail without being bright and the Coincident Speaker Cable gives a full, rich sound - the 804s really sing with this set-up. I've always found Tara cabling to be a bit lean and bright.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for all of your responses. I would spend up to 2.5K on a cd player (my guess as to what's appropriate given the other components) if the impact was big enough. Regarding the cables, they are harder to demo given the current variety of dealers out there, so i'm not sure how to proceed. I'm very interested to CD recommendations given my system and concerns, and any ideas for demoing cables.
I disagree with you, Natalie. Jeff said his problem was that the highs are overly dominant, thereby making the sytem sound overly bright and unbalanced. IMHO, that symptom is a cable issue. If he had said that his highs were grainy or that the system sounded weak, I would agree that it was his old CD player.
I also have a MF a3 amp/preamp but with adio physic tempos. I use straigthwire encore II interconnects with nordost solar wind speaker cable. I also want to upgrade my source which is a Sony changer. I read Mcintosh makes a new one and that Carey will be introducing one in the coming year. The other solution might me to keep your changer for "party" time and buy a goog single drawer for serious listening. Has anyone heard The McIntosh. It looks wonderful.
Jeffsel - from the information you've given, I would guess that the problem you're experiencing is a result of a few issues - and yes, cables are one of the issues - but not necessarily the Tara.
Can you tell us about your room? Do you have hardwood floors, a large coffee table? Windows? I have a feeling that highly reflective surfaces dominate your room.
While you do need a new CD player, I wouldn't expect to find one which warms up the sound - the way you would like. The Rega's are "warm" sounding - the Sony XA777ES is warm sounding but.. if the rest of the system (and ROOM) isn't optimized, you'll have similar results - even with better digital front ends.
Musical Fidelity uses a different type of IEC AC connector than most gear - at least they do on their new 3D CD player so I am assuming that they do on the A3 stuff as well... which leads me to power cords. I guess you're using stock power cords right? And of course the Marantz has an attached power cord, right? (I'm guessing here).
Let me know.
These are MY personal thoughts on the question as presented. As such, others might agree or disagree:
Musical Fidelity SS gear sounds "quick & lean" to me, i.e. it has limited bass weight.
B&W's can sound somewhat bright in many systems.
Almost all older CD players / changers tend to sound "digital" i.e. hard and glaring.
Tara's typically tend to sound somewhat warm and smooth but can produce brash sounding cymbals IF the other components tend to highlight that frequency range. Burning of the cables can help this out quite noticeably but is not a cure-all in ANY case. It simply refines what is already present in the cable.
Besides trying to balance out the system a little better, i would check into some room treatments. Paying a visit to Jon Risch's website may work wonders for you and keep some of your money in your pockets. I'm specifically suggesting some of his sound absorption panels or something similar placed at the point of first reflection. DON'T think that you'll get anywhere near the results by using "Pro-Foam" or something similar, as it absolutely pales in comparison. Sean
I appreciate all the great ideas. About 3/4 my CDs sound great on this system, with fine balance and bass. The other quarter is where I get the brighter, less balanced emphasis. If the room were the issue, wouldn't I notice the problem consistently, same with the cables/cords?? I'm thinking of demoing a Rega 2000 just to see if it makes any difference. Please keep your thoughts coming.
Plashy cymbals, or the tweeter making itself known/apparent/sticking out, is a common comment made of the Nautilus Tweeter. I would look at the cables also as a fix. It ain't the CD if I am right about the tweeter (in your system). I agree that it would more likely be grain with a CD player along with the wrong interconnects for that player.
most of b&w's latest stuff all leans toward the 'bright' end of the spectrum. I had CDM9 NTs in my second system, they're essentialy cut from the same cloth as the N804s. I had to sell them after 6-months cos the 'brightness' became too overbearing...forget about masking this coloration w/ tubes. i hope you find a solution short of having to sell your b&ws like i did.
If anything, your $1500 (list) 120 watt amp is a little on the low/lightweight side for a $3500 pair of Nautlilus speakers, regardless of how nice that amp is. The Nautlius speakers seem to have a long break in period and tend to like lots of power. If changing hardware is a solution, it may involve upgrading the amp or downgrading the speakers to get a better match.
I don't think brightness is a "coloration", it is a complete lack of any coloration. You don't really need to decrease the brightness; that would just make it dull. You need to add more midrange and bass warmth.
Now you see why we are all nuts!!