Help Finding my system bright...

I am finding my system on the thin, bight side and I really dont know what it is. MOst of my gear is known to be warm or smooth sounding. So I want to ask you guys what is the first thing in my set up that catches your attention for being bright. Thanks

Totem Model 1s
Plinius SA100 mkiii
Bel Canto DAC3
Audioquest pikes pike
Audioquest jaguar xlr
Signal cable magicpower
signal cable digital ref

Thanks guys
speaker placement, and/or your room(both unseen). model ones will be much more mellow on top dropping a couple of inches toward the floor. placement within the room in releationship to walls, and listening position,etc...nice system
Room acoustics can make or break a system... Otherwise some
Extreme Electronic equalization injected would be the only other way to help flatten out the mids and highs to balance out to get back the missing lows.

You can chase the dragon with some thicker copper power cords, and colored interconnects, speaker cables etc... But even all this will just take baby steps and not totally satisfy or eliminate your issue.

I am guessing your plinius is an integrated amp, I have suggested in the past the Mcintosh integrateds do help a lot in these cases as they are rather warmer sounding pre section and amps all in one with a good 5 band equalizer that will pretty much fill out the sound of any speaker you throw at it.

Plus I have read the totems might be a bit difficult load to drive via efficiency and Impedance character, so if it drops down really low like 2 ohm some integrated amps might sound thinned out trying to handle the load or matching up easily. So without getting into a room overhaul, you might want to go the route of a integrated as stated above, no super cheap tweak is gonna do it, or a few hundred more in cables. Not to say it can't help but your kinda looking to just solve it I would guess. Only other free thing to do is some serious evaluation on speaker position, back forth, further apart, trying to get them on another wall etc...
Well my plinius is a 90 pound 100 watt separate. I do not think its even stressing pushing the model ones. And I know its not my room acoustics becuase I have heard my system not bright before. I have am starting to believe that it is my cables. Are audioquests known for being bright or revealing?
Are your speakers new, break in will take the edge off... It happened to me.

Room placement is also very important, closer to the back wall will give you more bass, putting them closer to each other will make the bass tighter, try to play with location.

My experience with Audioquest is that they are not too revealing and not bright at all...
"And I know its not my room acoustics becuase I have heard my system not bright before."


My question would be, what changed in your system that in your opinion made it bright? I have AQ (IC and speaker) in my system and I've never got the impression that they were bright or revealing, and I'm the type of person that prefers a "warmer" presentation. Have to say I'm somewhat in agreement with Undertow that it might that the amp/speaker combination that is contributing to the problem.
Speaker placement, listener placement, furnishings, and room acoustics have about as much to do with it as the speakers you bought and more than anything else except the source material.

First reflections off hard surfaces like the side walls, wood floors, televisions behind the speakers, a wall or windows behind the listener, and hard coffee table will all contribute to a birhgter sound.

The overall reflectivity of the room at high frequencies will make for a brighter sound. A carpeted room with book shelves and drapes will be more pleasant than a brick-walled loft with huge windows and wood floors.

Aiming the speakers so they cross in front of you will reduce both the direct on-axis sound you're getting at high frequencies (but not at lower frequencies, with the speakers actually becoming omnidirectional in the bass) and intensity of the side-wall reflections.
Well then I echo the question above, what changed to now make you feel its bright? Realistically I have had audioquest designs back in the 90's… they were always a bit Grainy and harsh with some components, mostly due to the multiple solid conductor litz type arrays the speaker cables seemed to use. At the time Kimber and Audioquest along with monster and MIT, straightwire, wireworld were mostly available at most of the higher end home theater stores when they started all changing over from 2 channel to multi channel focus…

However again not sure cables will completely solve the problem, it seems more like a room and or synergy of the components issue, and if in fact the Plinius you list above is a standalone amp than what is the preamp used? This will have a bigger effect in many systems tonal balance than the amp. Or are you just running the bel canto straight into the amp with its onboard volume control or something? If so that is your issue, you will need a full frequency preamp to add body back to your digital sound helping eliminate the "Digititus" that many experience running direct eliminating a good preamp. Has more to do with impedance and just harmonic problems that make music lose that full organic feel.
Very interesting, yeah before I found my system bright I was using a classe integrade. So my problem may be the lack of a preamp. I see how the harshness of digital could be what I am trying to descibe. Thanks everyone for your input.
Hi Macd, i see that there is a Decware ZSLA-1 tube buffer pre for sale on audiogon right now for 275.00 it is intended to be used between CD and amp to match impedences and warm up digital sound. i don't know the seller, just saw it today. You could try it out and if it does not satisfy you could resell and not lose too much$. Go to Decware website and check it out, might be just the ticket!
you might try putting 'plain ol' 14 guage wire between the amp, and your speakers and see what happens iand you'll only be out a few bucks if it doesn't tame the treble.
I tried the signal cable digital cord on my Trivista DAC. After a week it still sounded so thin and cold (non-musical to my ears) that I got rid of it. The Signal cable magicpower on the other hand made my amp seem dark and sluggish. You probably have stock cords or something similar around...if you have not already tried alternative powercords.

I used to own that amp and it was anything but bright I can tell you but I wonder if the speaker is having a weird interaction with it

in other words maybe it is just component matching (that old bugaboo)
Lots of good advice above. Just to chime in on the Plinius amp. I have a similar amp, and it is a dark-sounding amp. Totem speakers, I presume not bright. The two matched up together are supposed to give a warm sound.

Verdict - speaker placement and room are the culprits, unless you are looking for a *very* warm sound.
I agree with you ryder. What do people think about the lack of preamp thing? I had all of my electronics(not my cables) on my fathers forests, and it sounded very warm and full. I am starting to think its not the lack of preamp but my power cables. Today I replaced my power cables with the stock, and found it much more musical and warmer. All these varibles and comparisons are killing me haha. But yeah I bought the power cables about a month ago so I am trying to cash in on that 30 day return policy, Thanks mogalsvs for your input, you could have saved me a couple of grand..
One thing for sure, with any change you make in your setup you need to be patiient. I realize you're running out of time with a 30 day return policy. I find that a system and cables need plenty of time (days) to sit untouched, turned on 24/7 if possible, and frequently playing music in order to reveal what it will eventually become sonically. Waiting and patience is difficult but crucial as the sonics generally change slowly and gradually as everything settles in. In addition, I have always used integrateds and once had seperates. My research of other's experience tells me that in most cases a preamp helps rather than harms and lack of a preamp in more cases than not is not optimal.
In my experience, brightness is often alleviated by readjusting your speaker placement. Play around with your toe in, the distance between your speakers and your seating position relative to the speaker placement. Also, try tilting your speakers back in small degrees to see if that helps.
setup and room acoustics - 90%

everything else - 10%

(assuming nothing is broken or grossly incompatible)
get an earwax removal kit... go to the source.
Macd, what do you use for a digital source ?
Macd, given that your other components are not thin-sounding, I would suspect a computer-driven digital source (if that's the case) with Windows or Mac OS doing their usual tantrums below the table, like downsampling by default all music files to a lower-resolution format. It's been known to happen to many a computer-savvy user.
Just a hunch...
How would I know whether it is down sampling or not?
I suggest that you ask this question at a PC sound forum. There are some very knowledgeable guys there.
I have read that Vista and Itunes downsample by default. Due to continuous virus atacks and technical problems I am no longer playing in Microsoft's sand box.
I have the latest Imac with Itunes and CD copies sound slightly worse than the original CD.
Otherwise, it is a much better, ergonomic, trouble-free platform, a joy to use. I wish I made the switch earlier.
Good luck