Cardas interconnect cables should help. (I don't have experience with their speaker cables.)
Maybe it was just the recording, since it was the 1st time with a MP3 recording? How long have you had the system? Other standard recordings do this too? I agree that the IC's you have should be upgraded (and speaker cables)but I would wait until you get your stands and then play around a little bit. Room acoustics (do you have wood floors, bare walls, etc.), speaker placement, vibration and isolation, etc. I would then look into your cabling as that final icing.
How long have you owned the NAD C320BEE?
It could be a break-in problem. I own the same integrated and have experienced the same brightness.
While the C 320BEE sounds nice with piano and female vocals, If I play pop or rock music, I find that I want to turn the music down. Im hearing an over exaggeration of cymbals and snare drums -- too much pop/snap. Plus it's not sweet or liquid, it almost sound sibilant and tinny -- not smooth like everyone else is hearing. Right now I'm giving the amp a couple of months to break-in and changing my interconnects to Tara Labs and Audioquest. It could be that the 320BEE just doesn't work with my set-up or I'm expecting to much from a $400. integrated -- it's still a bargain though! I'll let you know soon of my results. Also my Uncle bought the NAD C 370 and had the same experience. He told me that it takes about 3 months to truly balance out!
The amps always will sound the same,,,,You will just get used to the sound. Think of it if it happened the other way around, and you went to a tube preamp,and found it a bit liquidy,,,well, you will get used to it after awhile...
I dont think you should use cables as tone controls. play with the off-axis aligmnent of your sweetspot.
Personally I feel that any audio or video system should have decent basic cabling to help reveal and allow your system to perform at its best. This also eliminates the chances of noise / interference invading your signal path.
Im looking at used cables on Audiogon total investment of $250.00, which is very a reasonable amount to spend in order to get proper shielding.
The last time I tried cheap interconnects (Radio shack or low end Monster) I was able to hear faint AM radio signals on my surround sound channels really no joke! Of course when I moved the surround components to the other side of the room it disappeared plus I ditched the 12 ft pair of cheap I.C.s (They cost me $6.95 at Radio shack.) When I spoke with the audio shop owner that sold me the surround processor, he agreed that it was probably an interconnect shielding problem.
I had everything from MIT T2's to cheapo Radio Shack, to Vampire Wire lower end, and DH labs....I never had a problem with noise whatsoever,,,
Its ok to have better cables, in my eyes, due to better quality connectors, better looks usually, and if shielding is an issue as well...but I dont agree with using them as tone controls. Why spend so much on cables,when you can probably just trade in the hardware for a different unit that suits your taste.
I buy all my equipment used.
Stands positioned well away from reflective surfaces will help a lot. Play with the toe-in angle and distance to the rear wall.
BTW, fancy cables can make your wallet thinner and more comfortable to carry, but if they audibly change the sound of your system, there's something wrong with the cable design.
Good cables are electrically neutral, well sheilded, have good connectors, and cost about $20.00
1. MP3 is not a high fidelity source and should not be used for critical listening.
2. Interconnects that come with your equipment should not be used. For cd player to amp suggest you try MIT, Harmonic Tech or if you're on a budget, Phoenix Gold 810 (from Parts Express). Avoid the cheap AR cables recommended by Stereophile.
3. Radio Shack speaker cables should be replaced. For low cost, try Canare Star Quad available from Markertek or the CL-3 Monster cables from Parts Express. Search the forums for more info. Even a good ofc copper based 12 gauge cable will probably work as a starter solution.
4. Good speaker stands will improve the sound.
5. After trying all of the above, if your system still sounds brite, suggest you investigate the AH! LS Noise Killer filter for your speakers.
No...it's the TREBLE-cut that they take FROM the music that may help that particular recording that may help Threetwo.... That's what lots of magnetic material (steel shot, in this case) does as a field medium around the electrical core.
Cheapest out for ThreeTwo is to install nice cheap neutral CANARE starquad mic ICs and star-quad speaker cables and relisten to several CDs, and then do spectral tilting with room placement/damping, IMO.
I've reduced brightness several ways: transport, power cord, cables & interconnects, power conditioning, tubes, toe-in and sound absorbing gear.
I had very good improvements going to a tube preamp.
I had amazing, jaw dropping improvements by changing a transport.
I heard night and day difference between interconnects. IMHO, if neutral cables were easy everybody would have them. I find cables to make a tremendous difference. Try borrowing some cables/wires and see if it makes a difference. If so, go to audioadvisor.com and look at their discounted audioquest or kimble kable gear (not that this is better than Cardas or other wire). I've frequently heard Cardas can tame a bright system but don't have experience with them. Anyway, if the cables are the problem, then it's an easy inexpensive solution. I'm suspicious about your wire and cables.
On the other hand, some gear is made bright (like my previous Adcom or Micromega gear). Try switching out components with friends and see if you can find the culprit.
Recently I found a stock power cord to have a larger impact on sound than two different expensive DAC/filter combos. This in comparison to an inexpensive DIY power cord design by Crump. Two of us were comparing gear and felt one set was brighter than the other, until we swapped cords, and suddenly it was the opposite.
Less or zero toe-in should sound less bright at the sweet spot, but worse in the rest of the room.
Sound absorbtion at the first reflection point on the side walls can help a lot. Also, add carpet and wall hangings if you're in a bare-walled sheetrocked room with wood floors.
Just a follow-up about my NAD 320BEE amp and dealing with brightness, inspired by Jsujo's post. I returned the NAD and purchased a NEW MODEL Jolida 1501 (Four months old Silver faceplate) used on Audiogon for $500.00. Wow!!! What a difference the Jolida made in my system. It is detailed without grain. It has huge amounts of natural bass, much more than the NAD. It is close in sound to my previous amp & preamp combo -- A Krell KSA 200s combined with a McIntosh preamp What I was looking for in an integrated amp. This integrated will stay in my system for along time. Give the new silver Jolida 1501 a listen Ive heard its been upgraded quite a bit from the older Black & Gold model.