How to fix my detailed, accurate but BRIGHT system

Hi everyone, I need help. I like my system in that the base is tight, it has good detail, it's dead quiet and it plays well at higher volumes. What I don't like is the mids and highs are way to forward and the system is lacking warmth. I don't feel my system is very musical or engaging. I'd rather not replace my amp and speakers as I think they are a good match and I don't think I can use a tube amp as these speakers are hungry. I have a large room 22'x38' with a 17' ceiling. I have a lot of glass and all tile floors. Room treatment is not an option as this is our main living space. Should I try a tube DAC, Tube Pre., tube Buffer? How do I warm up the sound I'm getting? My system consists of the following.

Rowland Capri Pre.
Butler 2250 SS/Tube amp
PS Audio Digilink 3 Dac with stage 3 mod.
Aerial 7B speakers
Integra DPS-6.7 DVD/SACD
Wadia 170i (files in lossless)

Thank You in advance for your input!
if i had to guess, you have some issues with your room. it may not fix all your concerns but i am certain it will address some. i also have my stuff in the living room so rather than traditional treatments, i have heavy velvet floor to ceiling drapes, a thick rug and over sized fabric couches. it is amazing what these types of "treatments" can do, especially the drapes.

if it were me, i would start with that type of action before adding or subtracting gear.
My guess is you need more soft absorbing material to offset all the glass and hard surfaces..Heavier Curtains,Large Area Rug ,possibly Tapestry behind the speakers..This can be done very nicely to fit in the room..Actually soften a hard looking/sounding room....Bottom line that could be your first line of attack..Probablly the cheapest too....
I'm curious as to what interconnects you're using.
Although the Rowland Capri is a fine preamp... I have found that systems with tube pre and solid state amps with be more musical and warm. Tube buffers will only be a band aid and may even make the sound worse. Matching tube gear to solid state can be a touchy job. I am sure you spent much time in evaluating gear before you made the purchases, thats the down side! If I was you I would take a second look and my needs,then think seriously think about some changes that make sense. Thats the up side.

Good Luck

Good Luck
I agree with the above recommendations. You don't have to buy audiophile room treatments, but you need to address some of the reflecting surfaces in your room. Glass, tile, and good sound wont happen, until you add some absorption in your room. When you say glass, I'm assuming you're referring to windows and not mirrors.

I wouldn't waste your money buying different equipment either, until you fix your room problems. All you need is an area rug in front of the speakers, and some thick drapes over the glass, and you can close the drapes for listening and then open them, when you're done.

What is the distance the speakers are from the front and side walls?

Throw a little Mcintosh into it
It's amazing what small adjustments to your speaker set-up can do to tame brightness. Play around with your toe-in, distance of separation, distance to listening postion, etc. I've also found that titling speakers back (or forward) ever so slightly can make a big difference as well.
It's interesting you don't mention you I/C's and S/C's. Why not start with them?
I owned Aerial 7B speakers, and drove them with a Bryston 4B SST, Bryston 14B SST, and VAC Phi 110/110. In all cases, I thought the speakers remained on the "bright" side and lacked sufficient bass to balance the top end.

While you say you like the Butler/Aerial combination, the Aerials have a pretty wild impedance curve. John Atkinson write in his measurements section of the Stereophile review:

Its plot of impedance magnitude and phase against frequency (fig.1) revealed the 7B to be a moderately demanding load, with a nominal value in the midrange and bass closer to 4 ohms than the specified 6 ohms.

These speakers are best driven by an amp that doubles power output as impedance is that the volume in the bass is equal to the volume in the mids and highs. Your Butler 2250 does not double power as impedance is halved.

• Rated Power (all channels driven):
2 x 250 Watts RMS per channel @ 8 ohms
2 x 400 Watts RMS per channel @ 4 ohms
1 x 800 Watts RMS Bridged (Mono) @ 8 ohms

The result is that the amp produces somewhat louder volume in the highs than it does in the bass, which causes a tonal imbalance that emphasizes the highs.

IMO, your amp/speaker match is not optimal.

The tile and glass in your room exacerbates the problem, so as others have mentioned, some room treatment will be beneficial.

I've faced a very similar set of problems in my setup and room - an otherwise great sound that was just too bright. My room has wood floors and a tile lined fireplace/wall that I can't do much with. That said, I have two specific suggestions:

First, spend $50 and get Jim Smith's book Get Better Sound and make sure your setup is as optimal as you can get it. I thought I knew what I was doing before, but even some subtle changes in speaker placement and where I sat in relation to the back wall made a big difference in cleaning things up for me.

Second, if adjusting your room (to whatever degree you can) doesn't do enough and your ready to swap out a component, then my experience says the culprit is likely the DAC. I've been using the exact same PS Audio DL3 with Cullen level 3 mod and had consistent problems with brightness and listening fatigue - even after improving my room. Just this week, I've replaced it with the new PS Audio Perfect Wave DAC and the results have been fantastic. I've had three listening sessions of more than three hours each with no fatigue - something I could never do with the DL3. As an added bonus, I got $1,000 credit for trading in my DL3 - which is what you could get for it here on Audiogon.

But definitely start with Jim's book and whatever room treatments you can muster first.

Good luck!
I have a lot of glass and all tile floors. Room treatment is not an option as this is our main living space. Should I try a tube DAC, Tube Pre., tube Buffer? How do I warm up the sound I'm getting?
Sorry, but it *has* to be room treatment. Nothing brings out glare at higher volumes like glass, and tile doesn't help. Changing your components out is completely barking up the wrong tree. You need a thick area rug over the tile and drapes or pleated shades at a minimum for the glass.

Take a look at the Stereophile test measurements for your speakers: Three things stand out: 1) the sensitivity is *very* low at 84.5dB (your Butler TDB 2250 should be a great match as you say); 2) this system is nearly devoid of panel resonances, so it's probably not cabinet colorations creating the forward sound; 3) the response curve is *extraordinarily flat*

Your other components are also very linear and if anything, the Butler and the PS Audio should be on the mellow side. Early floor reflections off the tile and side reflections from the glass are almost certainly the culprits.

There are many room treatment panels available now that look like hanging wall art or at least decorator panels. You really need to look into these, or you need to switch to a speaker that has no vertical dispersion to speak of and tightly controlled lateral dispersion as well. That would be a shame because you have a great speaker.
My first response would be to address the room issues as others have mentioned. But you clearly state that since this is a living space your options there are limited. By far the easiest thing to do would be to experiment with different interconnects, although you don't mention what you're using currently so it's tough to make any recommendations at this point. But something like an Acoustic Zen Matrix Reference might do the trick, and it shouldn't cost you much more than shipping to give them a try. Best of luck.
As long as an amp produces more decibels into higher impedances (treble region) than into lower impedances (bass region), the speaker will sound louder in the treble.

The Butler 2250 has plenty of power to drive the 84db speakers to room filling volume, but that's not the issue, IMO.
These speakers are best driven by an amp that doubles power output as impedance is halved... so that the volume in the bass is equal to the volume in the mids and highs. Your Butler 2250 does not double power as impedance is halved.... The result is that the amp produces somewhat louder volume in the highs than it does in the bass, which causes a tonal imbalance that emphasizes the highs....

As long as an amp produces more decibels into higher impedances (treble region) than into lower impedances (bass region), the speaker will sound louder in the treble.

Tvad, this is one of the rare occasions on which I must disagree with you. Unless the amp is approaching the point at which it would be running out of either current capability or voltage swing capability, frequency response flatness will have nothing to do with the ability to double power into lower impedances. Basically, the amp will provide a flat frequency response into the speaker's frequency-dependent impedance as long as the amp's output impedance is low.

The 2250's output impedance (or equivalently, damping factor, which as I'm sure you know is output impedance divided into 8 ohms) does not appear to be specified. However, even though it is a no-feedback design, I would assume it is a small fraction of an ohm, which would result in just a small fraction of a db difference in voltage delivery into 4 ohms compared with 6 ohms or 8 ohms.

Any difference in power delivery which that may result in is a function of the speaker design, not the amp design, as long as the amp remains within its output current limitations, which it should as even the last line of your last post seems to indicate.

I think the posts by Johnny, Rich, and others about addressing the room issues are very well put and on the mark.

-- Al
Buy headphones or move the system to a friendly room -- or get another system for a friendly room. Rooms can nearly make a system, and can easily kill one. Yours sounds to me like a killer.

By the way, I know nothing, and YMMV.
I'm in the 'room/set up problem camp' and fundamentally agree with Johnnyb53.

Appropriate acoustic 'treatment' would obviously be a great help but if you can't, you can't. But at least get an area rug on the floor between your chair and the speakers to kill the first floor reflection. That would be a good starting point.

Then, assuming that you are listening from a chair at the apex of a triangle, and your speakers are out into the room 4 to 5 ft from the wall behind, toe in your speakers until the axis of the speakers cross well in front of your listening chair. This will go a long way in eliminating 1st reflections off side walls and, since many speakers highs are substantially reduced when heard well off axis you will get some high frequency roll off as well. It might even help with floor reflections but no so much as a good thick area rug. FWIW it is tough to incorporate an audio system into a family living space without everybody making some substantial compromises.

I don't think a change of components would be a huge step forward for you unless you can do some thing with set up and acoustic issues.

Interesting post and Excellent observation Tvad.

It also seems that Tvad's Bryston 4B SST and 14B SST didn't double down either, which may have contributed to his findings of lack of balance from bottom to top, while leaning towards the "Bright Side."

However, I'm not sure why Robert Deutsch in the Stereophile review described the Aerial 7B's overall tonal balance, to be warm and laid-back rather than on the lean and forward side, even though the Bryston 7B-ST in the review didn't double down its power either. Maybe it was the CAT Tubed Preamp he was using? He also went out of his way to say that it sounded good in most rooms.

John Atkinson goes on to say that, "There is a slight negative plateau in the low and mid-trebles compared with the midrange, which could explain the slightly lower sensitivity, and might also contribute to RD's feeling that the speaker sounded a little laid-back."

Also keep in mind that although all of the Brystons' here in question didn't double down their power either, they were all 2 times as powerful as the Butler Amplifier to start with.

It's all interesting stuff..., but that doesn't let you off the hook Greg. Your room is not equivalent to "Most Rooms." First thing you need to do is take your Wife shopping for some home furnishings, and if that doesn't work then you may need to double down your power as Tvad suggests, or add a Tubed Preamp like John Atkinson, or try different cables as others have suggested.

Just curious, these speakers are approximately 10 years old, so were they ever in a different room were they sounded more to your liking?

Are you using balanced cables? I have a suggestion that will warm up the sound.

I cross-posted with you, so I hadn't read your post, before I posted.

Are you saying that an erratic electrical speaker impedance curve doesn't actually present a more difficult load to the amplifier in this case, because it's still within the acceptable limits of the amplifiers current delivering ability, and there won't be a problem with a frequency db imbalance, unless the curve dips far enough below the amplifiers minimal impedance, lets say 2 ohms?

Thus far, I'm the only one participating here other than the OP who has owned Aerial 7B loudspeakers. I can relate completely with his observations. My Aerial 7B speakers *never* sounded laid back. Not even close.

My listening room is carpeted, with full length drapes, overstuffed furniture, and treatments on the rear walls.

Sometimes I wonder if those of us who make such diverse observations about a given product (e.g., the Stereophile reviewers) are listening to the same device.
i've had the 7b's for about 4 months, in a near identical environment as the OP. plus the added negative of a hard wood ceiling. i do like my music "forward". some might call it a bit bright. i agree that the 7b's are on the bright side of the line. not by alot but they are there. obviously this trait is worse to have in a listening room like the OP's and mine.

in my system, the highs and mids are pronounced for sure...but smooth imo. i added a velodyn dd12 sub to add a tiny touch of hard bottom end. i spent a ton of time (weeks) with the sub and it's adjustment kit. got it right where *i thought* i wanted it, after alot of work. sub volume is set at 16 on a scale of 100. just the little back-up punch i was looking for. servo is set to max control so it's super tight too.

which brings me to the real reason i jumped into this thread. my old friend Rich commenting above on a negative plateau, quoting John Atkinson. my velodyn kit exposed said platau from about 125-160hz. regardless of where the mic was... it was glaring and impossible to miss on my big screen lol!. looked like 6db or more to me. since the parametric eq in the kit only adjusts too 125hz, i thought it was something i'd have to live with. can't say i noticed it in listening because i enjoyed the sound.

until recently, i had the crossover on the sub set at 60-70 for the most part. during a recent tweek session with the velodyne kit, i inadvertently discovered the crossover could be set as high as 200hz. i would never even think of setting a sub x-over point that high. by accident, i had sent it up to 140. but low and behold, half the platau was gone/dissappeared. i then tried it higher and higher until the entire platau was gone. with the volume set so barely effected the lower frequencies (maybe 1 or 2 db boost max). the x-over is now set at 162 and my FR curve looks incredibly smooth all the way too 200.

looking good on a graph can often be different then sounding good. i immediately tried a bunch of different music and to my really did sound "better". a very subtle but important improvement imo. smoother with better depth without being bass heavy. still don't like the idea of having the cross-over set so high but works and i like the sound better.

as a side note...i also agree with Rich and Tvad regarding amp/speaker synergy. thought the 7b's sounded better with the krells one dealer was using. your comments/observations above would make for a logical explanation (that had never occured to me).

if you're into music on the warm side of things, the 7b's are not a good option imo. they are near perfect for me though. i really like um. my budget was only 2k used when i picked these up. i think i got alot of speaker for the money. will be looking to upgrade in the next year or so but for now.....i'm enjoying them.


Amps which double their rated outputs or don't aren't always the place to start looking for brightness issues. Doubtless few if any of us will actually push an amp far enough along that it needs to output it’s highest level of voltage or current production. Usually we aren’t even close to requiring such amplitudes.

I've owned Krell, BK, & BAT, SS amps along with reasonably sensitive, and insensitive speakers ranging from 84db to 93db. 2 ohm to 8 ohm.

Brightness usually results from areas other than limited power output.

The glaring item indicated here predominately is the room’s outfitting… and why so many point to making changes there and I do agree.


… that’s not the only place I’d look. One spot to check out is your cable/satellite ground connection. It may not be as pronounced a thing as to produce the usually noticeable ground loop noise, yet might be still introducing sufficient artifacts to the system which will affect the upper midrange and treble areas by it’s very nature. I -say this as it was my issue… twice. Once in my old home, and then again in this new one.

Simply remove the main incoming cable connection, and/or go outside to the power pole and lift the cable ground. Wait a half an hour or so, and try the rig again. It should be plainly evident if that’s contributing.

Having recently heard the butler topology in my own system, I’m hard pressed to believe it’s the amp. Especially if you are using the 250 wpc version. I used one with 100 wpc less. There’s nothing bright about that amp at all. I found it extended and warmish across the freq range. The amp ain’t it. It drove my 86db dropping to 2 ohm towers, handily.

It seems though, cables aren’t a concern for you as none are listed nor has a response been issued that I noticed as to what is where on your rig in that regard. Wires matter.

Cabling is a part of, not a part from, the total system synergy, contrary to what other’s might feel. Such is my own exp. My failure to properly address the wiring cost me sufficiently. I thought the system entirely mismatched and lost a lot selling it all off in near new condition… then setting about to replace it all over again with different items, naturally. Sony CDP, B&K, Krell pre & amp, Monitor Audio Gold 60, BW 9NT, 805, 600’S, Velodyne sub.

It wasn’t the gear.

Lastly, as power filtration or conditioning was also left out of your list of system componentry I would look there too. Power line artifacts can indeed cause some attenuation of the freq band and by so doing, seemingly enhance other portions of it and contribute mightily to the fatigue factor. With a good one you’ll hear less of what you aren’t hearing, and more of what you should.

Isolation or racking & shelving of the gear is as well, another area you might look into. You don’t mention the stand you use either so I gotta in all good conscience jot that down as it can also be quite contributory to affecting both sound staging and tone.

I went from an MDF – wood rack, to a metal rack with acrylic shelves… and could not figure out why my formerly rich and warm sounding rig became so fatiguing. At that time I BAT pre and amp, with either Phase Tech or VR4 JR speakers… upscale cabling, and PS Audio & Shunyata passive power line filters at various times… again, it wasn’t the gear.

It was how the gear was set up.

Adding pods, nodes, shelves/platforms helped a lot, but getting a dedicated well damped rack was the true ‘big deal’ changer. Plywood helped on the metal & plexiglass monstrosity I had, so did simple wood block footers, especially the Ebony & Mahogany ones. Cocobolo was by far the smoothest sounding though of the lot.

These few areas are quick and easy enough to investigate and their associated fixes are quite inexpensive, save for the power line option, and cabling updates or upgrades.

Wood block footers are near free, compliant footers aren’t much more… see herbies Audio labs, a filter unit for the inline coax is about $10. A 2x2 hunk of Plywood is about $5. The Cable Co rents conditioners and cables too.

At some point (s) I’ve had similar issues to yourself, and all of the above were areas I had to ultimately address to resolve it/them.

Unless your gear needs servicing, that ain’t it.

Believe it or not…. Good… a Ripleys plug.
tvad...i was not suggesting that addressing the room was the cure all, more that it is the place i would begin. i have never owned the aerial 7b's and am not familiar with their sound but i have experienced vast improvement from the changes i mentioned in general.
I used aerial 7bs for a few years in
a 16 x 14.5 x 9 ft room with all bat electronics and cardas cables. My room is furnished with a large sectional, ceiling to floor velvet drapes Nd wall-to-wall carpeting. I used a bat or ayre cd player or sme 10 turntable. My system was the complete opposite of bright. The aerials are on the darker and warmer side of neutral. I am not familiar with your associated equipment. I believe the problem lies elsewhere than the speakers
Thanks so much for all the helpful responses, you guys are awsome! I'm hearing the room treatment horn loud and clear. I have tried temporary things like foam pads behind and on the side walls, and also put pillows on the floor in front of the speakers. These things make a "little" bit of difference and I'm not able to leave them there. I do have an area rug in front between my seat and the speakers and cloth blinds on the windows on the side wall of the one speaker. None of this has made much of a difference as the rest of the space is still big and reflective. Tvad, these speakers are NOT laid back to me either. I purchased them because of the review that Newbee mentions above and other favorable reviews. I thought I needed a laid back speaker because of my room. So, if I add another 2250 this would give me better tonal balance? Or, do I get a different pair of speakers? Rich, I bought these speakers less than a year ago here on Agon, I haven't heard them in another room. I've been thinking hard about getting a tube pre, or tube DAC, but wanted to ask here first. Richlane, my speakers are 2' from the back wall and 3.5' from the side walls. My interconnects are nothing special, some Pheonix gold and Monster. I just can't see cables fixing this big of a problem, mabe I'm wrong. Newbee, I will try toeing in the speakers some more so they cross if front of me, I haven't tried that yet. As much as I appreciate the input about my room problems, I really need to approach this from another angle. With that in mind, I'm all ears.


Sometimes a leaner bass may also manifest itself as a more forward overall sound, bringing into sharper focus other tonal characteristics.

Experiment with a little larger Toe-out on the speakers
This will also create a wider sound stage.

Also try moving the speakers back a little towards the wall / corner.

Careful speaker positioning can do wonders, and IMHO is one of the most neglected solutions...
accepting the fact that room treatments are out of order (which i totally respect), i do think cables could help a bit.

if you could ever audition a set of van den hul carbon cables (rca versions are: "the first", "the first ultimate", or my favorite "the first metal screen" {they are the most hum resistant of the rca options, which doesn't usually matter except in phono connections in my system}; and balanced is "the second"), you may be pleasantly surprised at how they tame a bright system. in some cases too much, but in your room maybe they would be just right. in my experience they don't so much roll off the high end as recess it, which is what you're looking to do it sounds.

a nice all-copper speaker cable would be a good idea as well. as WAF is an issue here, anti-cables could be a good fit visually, they're tiny.

and if you're still using stock power cords on your components, a $50 power cord from, say MAC, might make a noticeable difference in adding bottom end to fill out the sound.

so in a perfect world, you could find some used vdh firsts for around $150, try some anti cable speaker cables for around $75, and try a MAC power cable for $50-$75 and then you'd know if cables can help you out...

good luck, though, i'm with you, i HATE brightness. my favorite tv program is rugby matches from new zealand and the sound quality is so bad - worse even than the sound from any other country's feeds - that i have to turn off my system and listen to the tv speakers. annoying.
Forget cables - just get a PEQ and cut at 2Khz around 3 to 6 db and you'll be a happy camper. (Your room is too bright, your music is probably compressed and harsh sounding etc. - never mind the reason, most harshness comes out around 2 Khz - if you simply reduce the 1 to 3Khz band it will be more comfortable for you)

(Oh and BTW before anyone panics about the irreparable damage that might do to precious music, please everyone educate yourself about how recordings are made in the first place - all kinds of EQ are applied and if you have a good system and ear you can actually hear it yourself on most albums - often each track is EQ'd differently - worse some tracks have EQ changing during the track - all audible if you know what to listen for. So a decent PEQ won't "ruin" it for you)

I cross-posted with you, so I hadn't read your post, before I posted.

Are you saying that an erratic electrical speaker impedance curve doesn't actually present a more difficult load to the amplifier in this case, because it's still within the acceptable limits of the amplifiers current delivering ability, and there won't be a problem with a frequency db imbalance, unless the curve dips far enough below the amplifiers minimal impedance, lets say 2 ohms?


Hi Rich,

That is sort of what I am saying, but I would put it a little differently. As long as the output impedance of the amplifier is small compared to the impedance of the speaker at the lowest point of its impedance vs. frequency curve, and as long as the amplifier is not called upon to deliver more current than it is capable of delivering, then a tonal imbalance will not result.

The fact that an amplifier can double its output power into 4 ohms, compared to 8 ohms, is an indication that it has good output current capability. In this case, the fact that the amplifier can put 250W into 8 ohms but only 400W into 4 ohms, is an indication that its output is being limited into 4 ohms by its output current capability, and therefore the peak volume levels it can produce accurately into a speaker which dips to 4 ohms will be less than for a more benign speaker load (everything else being equal). But as long as the output current capability of the amplifier is not exceeded (and keep in mind that we are presumably talking here about tonal balance at moderate volumes), and as long as the output impedance of the amplifier is low, no frequency response imbalance will result.

A notable exception to all of this would be amplifiers which have tube output stages and are output-transformerless, such as the Atmasphere's, which may have an output impedance in the vicinity of 4 ohms or more. That would definitely result in a tonal imbalance working into a speaker that is basically 4 ohms in the bass and 8 ohms in the treble (see Stereophile's impedance measurements on the Aerial 7B). I recall Tvad once mentioning that he had an Atmasphere at one point, and perhaps that is what prompted his comment.

-- Al
It is an expensive fix but if you use Cardas Golden reference ICs and the best Cardas or all copper speaker wire you can afford,the sound will warm up a great deal. No need to change decor. I second the liberal use of dampening stands platforms etc.It won't be as sure tonal change like the best Cardas. It brought the bass into better focus where I have used it.
According to the the numbers, I think it is in fact a very difficult load. I respect Al Marg's math but rules of audio lore are not so easily dismissed. We all know that using SS with an increasing impedance SPLs go down. Beyond the sound levels and more importantly the quality of the sound changes dramatically in real life. Tubes like a higher impedance and I proved this to myself comparing a SS Mac with a tube amp of similar wattage driving c. 1960 16 Ohm JBLs.
With the Butler, my understanding is that most of the power comes from supercharging the 300B with SS bipolars. The natural power dissipation from a 300B is 8-10 watts.

Warning what follows you may find funny or just idiotic read at your own risk.
Finally as a bit of humor take a sheet of Dynamat and carefully cut strips of it to apply to the outside of your tweeter frame only. Start with an X then add more strips as needed until almost covering the tweeterif need be. It is crucial that you use a cage to cover the cones themselves. That stuff won't come of very easily so only apply when completely sober and but frustrated at wits end. Lead tape will work as well and you can get lead sheet without adhesive. With the no adhesive sheet you can paste it up using a very small amount of green damping glue.
Or-Keep the rig exactly as it is but try the trendy Victorian bordello look. It should be dank dark reek with coal candle and cigar smoke (cuban please,) You will have to use a crystal chandleer but be carful and try to get one the scaters sound up. The room must be repleat with thick maroon colored velvet drapes, thick wool plush cut carpets to match and scatter some deer and moose heads on the walls for diffraction. A few heavily gilded ornately framed portraits of well known patrons in real cracked oil paint help as well. You can always find authentic large gilded framed 19th century oil paintings at garage sales and such.
I'm in total agreement with BlindJim. Often enough, it's not the gear but how it's setup.
08-08-09: Gregfisk
...if I add another 2250 this would give me better tonal balance?
No, the tonal balance would remain the same.

Or, do I get a different pair of speakers?
Not necessarily. However, if you do get a different set of speakers, you should find some that have a flatter impedance curve if you intend to keep the Butler 2250.

Look, the proof is in the listening. We all can debate here for days and days. It's very easy to test my theory of improving tonal balance using an amplifier that doubles power as impedance is halved. All that is required is for you to buy one of several amplifiers (that double power as impedance is halved), that are available with 30 day home trials. Try the amp and listen for better tonal balance. If you hear improvements, then you know you're headed in the right direction. You can always return the amp for a refund and look for another amp with similar power output capabilities.

A few possibilities: Wyred 4 Sound ST Series, Ice H2O Audio S250 (or its monoblock cousin), Bel Canto Reference S500 (or its monoblock cousin), Pass Labs XA-.5 series, Portal Audio Panache.

It's really a no-lose proposition.
I recall Tvad once mentioning that he had an Atmasphere at one point, and perhaps that is what prompted his comment.

-- Al
Almarg (Answers)
No. Not in the case of the Aerial 7B loudspeakers.

For more info regarding the concept I am trying unsuccessfully to describe, I refer those interested to chapters 6 and 15 of Robert Harley's "The Complete Guide to High End Audio".

So, here you have a list of solutions to your problem from many intelligent and well intentioned contributors that includes:

Room treatments
Speaker set-up
Changing source components
Changing preamp
Changing amplifier
Changing wire

The truth is that the solution is likely a combination of the above.

Isn’t high end audio fun?!

Did you say Changing Wire or Changing Wife?

You know one letter could make all of the difference in sound quality! (LOL)

Only Kidding!

Thanks for the explanation Al, but I need to read up more about this subject, so I think I'm going to get Robert Harley's book and some others that I've heard about here, because I would certainly like to understand electrical impedance mismatches better.

I have several pairs of Aerials including the 7Bs. I've run a lot of different amps on the them. I found they sounded all sorts of different depending on the amp. I'm sensitive to highs in recorded music so it was an especially important point to me that they sound right. I also had a number of other speakers and can't say that the highs really change all that much from speaker to speaker. Also, the Aerials are so well built that's it's very easy to have them up too loud and that ends up being painful. I settled on McInitosh and also Bel Canto. You can't beat Mcintosh for smooth pleasing highs IME. I've got the 7Bs in the bedroom now running off Bel Canto's S500. The BC has stronger highs and dynamics than the McIntosh but I would say the highs sound good. Surely the room has something to do with it but if I were you I'd be in the market for a different amp. The Aerials absolutely sound different depending on the amp. I would even go so far as to say that in a blind test with the 8 or 10 amps I've tried with them I could dicern which amp was being used with them.
it has been suggested that a slight alteration of speaker placement might help. i suggest a slight toe-out of your speakers. if you don't like the sound, you can easily reposition the speakers. make sure you use tape to mark the position of your speakers, before you move them.
Well, I have a lot to take in. Pretty funny richlane, you too Mechans. I did try toeing my speakers in, then out to see if this helped. Toeing out did tame down the high end, but then I didn't feel like I was part of the music anymore. sort of like standing in the back of the room listening to a band. Shazam, you stated you thought the PS Dac was a problem for you. I'm wondering if I tried a tube dac like a Havana if this would calm things down. I can get a new one for what I can get for my PS audio. If I don't like it they sell like hot cakes here. I understand that bat tube preamps are discribed by some as dark. I'm wondering if I would benefit from that type of change. Tvad, I will try a different amp. I'm not stuck on the Butler, I just know it's on the warmer side of SS. Listening today I did notice that the louder I turned up my system the brighter the highs got. Maybe this is an indicator of what your talking about, or maybe the highs are bouncing around more, I don't know. Yes, this is a fun hobby, a little frustrating at times, but fun none the less. I thank all of you again for taking the time to help me out.
Mechans makes a great point about certain IC's. i'm doing IC comparo's as we speak and the Cardas Gold Ref's are in the mix. there is no doubt that these IC's really warm things up, and not by a small margin either. so much so that i don't care for them at this point. (remember that i like things forward or a tad brighter then some). even using krell power, they sounded to warm for me. on the flip side...the acoustic zen silver ref II's sound way too bright with my krell/aerial 7b combo.

a few of you mentioned speaker position. this is something i've been working on too. with help from Rich, i discovered what a big difference this can be. experimented with several new positions in a new location and was shocked to hear how much better everything sounded. have not made the permanent move yet but will very soon

the last comment that rang true to me was that regarding power supply. getting plenty of clean juice to your equipment makes alot of difference imo. kinda pricy but well worth it for me. upgraded to a dedicated 20A line, porter ports, PSA quintet and PSA PW power cords (2 AC-5's and 2 AC-10's). can't tell you which upgrade did the most because each step was very subtle. but together...the whole power supply upgrade did wonders. great depth was the biggest improvement with additional smoothness coming in second. who would-a thought???

being a newbe...none of the above 3 area's of improvement came to my mind naturally. they were all suggestions from various folks around here, kind enough to offer good advice. i thought my system sounded good right when i set it up 4 months ago. can't beleive how much i've learned and how much better it sounds now.(and how much less money i have now =) )

you guys really know your stuff!

08-08-09: Gregfisk
I'm wondering if I tried a tube dac like a Havana if this would calm things down.

It would likely affect the sound by softening the highs slightly and emphasizing the mids (depending on the tube installed), but you'd be removing resolution that your speakers are intended to convey (along with your preamp and amp), and you'd be masking an inherent system problem that would be better solved than band-aided, IMO.

Quick Q: Did this brightness issue start only after adding the Butler amp, or has it always been lean clean, and bright sounding? If so, you have your answer on the amp not being the culprit.

Ever wonder how many amps are out there which do not double their outputs when the load impedance is halved? A bunch.

Ever wonder too, why the owners of these amps aren’t lineing up posting about top end brightness?

Did this system you have ever sound otherwise than it does now? Exactly when did this brightness clear and clean non musical adventure first rear up it’s head noticeably? I’d look there then.

I’d bet good money to or with whomever, the items I noted above if addressed, would remedy that fatiguing sound you are encountering, without undertaking wholesale component change outs. Of course you’ll find out when another amp is employed. maybe.

AS Tvad says repeatedly do ensure the ??? amp doubles its power when the imp of the loudspeakers is halved though. Considering any other sort which does not is just time well wasted… or so it seems. Such advice will surely narrow the field of amps to look into for your needs. Given the Butler's output, start with those in the 400 wpc @ 4 Ohms... and up, as you already have that on tap.

Never mind the voice of the amp… or associated gear, setup and cabling, it’s simply always the power aspect.

It’s funny the notes of system fixes follow the trends of their posters. Gear houhnds point to the gear as the bug a boos, room treatment aficionados’ allude respectively to adding items there, cable mavens exclaim buy better wires, etc. well, to each their own aim. And after all, it’s only money.

BTW, there's nothing wrong with those approaches or philosophies, I just feel all of the rig needs careful scrutiny, not merely the stuff you rest on the rack or a shhelf.

it might be as simple as one said the spikes or footers of the 7Bs... or their need for a platform of sorts.

Putting another engine into a car that has bad brakes, a slipping transmission, and or poor suspension, only remedies motor problems.

The thing which confounds me here is I’ve never heard anyone remark the 7Bs were aggressive in their upper ends. Never. This is a first for me… so in fact I’m going on their popularity and no mentions of their so apparent shortcomings. I know that Butler isn’t contributing adversely to the situation too.

* Hand selected/matched 6SL7GT Twin Triode tubes
(One per channel)
• Fully regulated Tube Heaters with Delayed Soft Start
(10-15 second turn-on delay)
• Load Adaptive Vacuum Tube Driven output circuitry
• Modular power channels with a seperate massive, oversized heatsink for each channel
Independent AC Secondaries and Rectifiers
with 60,000µF per channel filtering

• Rated Power (all channels driven):
2 x 250 Watts RMS per channel @ 8 ohms
2 x 400 Watts RMS per channel @ 4 ohms
1 x 800 Watts RMS Bridged (Mono) @ 8 ohms
• Freq response: 20Hz to 20kHz (+/- 0.5dB)
Power Bandwidth: -3dB, 50kHz
• THD: <0.10% @ 8 Ohms, <0.15% @ 4 Ohms
• S/N Ratio: Better than 120dB (A-Wtd)
• Slew Rate: 15v/µsec
• Input Sensitivity: 2V for 250 Watts into 8 Ohms
• Input Impedance: 47k Ohms

400 wpc into 4 ohms!

If that’s not enough power for the 7Bs, maybe other speakers or as said, another amp is needed, depending on which one of those two is the newer or more desired. Personally the 7Bs could be more easily improved upon IMO.

Anything is possible I guess. The Aerials may just hate the Butler or vice versa.

Despite Tvad's well meaning but abreviated listing of proposed areas to find possible avenues for a resolution, I made mention of my own listings as the result of my own exp... and found out about it the hardest way imaginable, by spending money that did not need spending, had I looked into the system as just that a system. The sum of it's parts all working together to perform properly and provide enjoyment for the owner.

The underlying caveat here and elsewhere has always been, "Everything matters, and everthing makes a difference."

Perhaps it has changed now.

I do pray your issue is resolved quickly and without more frustration or length.
It’s funny the notes of system fixes follow the trends of their posters. Gear houhnds point to the gear as the bug a boos, room treatment aficionados’ allude respectively to adding items there, cable mavens exclaim buy better wires, etc. well, to each their own aim.

LOL! Interesting observation, Jim. I suppose that a reason for that is that it's hard "at a distance" to have a feel for the DEGREE of excess brightness, and if everyone had first-hand exposure to the sound, opinions would probably be more convergent.

BTW, re Wireless200's comments, I want to make sure it is clear that I did not mean in my earlier posts to totally rule out the possibility of the amp as being a contributor to the brightness, and I don't disagree with Tvad's assertion that "these speakers are best driven by an amp that doubles power output as impedance is halved."

What I was saying essentially was that assuming the amp has low output impedance, the following is incorrect (aside from the first sentence):

Your Butler 2250 does not double power as impedance is halved.... The result is that the amp produces somewhat louder volume in the highs than it does in the bass, which causes a tonal imbalance that emphasizes the highs....

As long as an amp produces more decibels into higher impedances (treble region) than into lower impedances (bass region), the speaker will sound louder in the treble.

-- Al
A few clarifications to remarks made by Blindjim about my suggestions.

First, my "well meaning but abbreviated listing of proposed areas" was not my personal list, but a combined list of suggestions proposed by contributors up to that point in this thread. It was done to illustrate the many viewpoints about the problem, and I closed that post by saying the solution likely rested in a combination of several, if not all the suggestions.

Second, my repeated recommendation of *trying* an amp that doubles down power output is not based on the massive amounts of watts per channel (as I have previously stated). It has nothing to do with being a power hound. The well regarded Portal Panache that I suggested has only 100wpc into 8 ohms and 200wpc into 4 ohms (and it's inexpensive on the used market at around $750). The other amps I mentioned do have a significant amount of power output, but that wasn't the criteria for their selection (which was their ability to double down power output, and the availability of a home trial period).

Third, I suggested the OP try an amp that doubles down power simply to hear if doing so made an improvement in his speaker's tonal balance. Bass volume in balance with treble volume will mitigate perceived brightness (but it won't make a revealing tweeter or midrange more forgiving of what's upstream...another issue all together).

Perhaps I should have been more specific, but the intention was for the OP to try the experiment first, and then use what he learned to seek an amp (or to *not* seek an amp if he perceived no difference in the speakers) with the sound characteristics he preferred. Without question, several of the amps I listed have variations in their sound. I wrote, "If you hear improvements, then you know you're headed in the right direction. You can always return the amp for a refund and look for another amp with similar power output capabilities." And I should have added "and different sonic characteristics".

Fourth, my list of is comprised only of those available with home trial periods, with the idea of keeping down the cost of the experiment to just the cost of shipping.

Finally, I don't claim that the amp solution is the only solution, or that it's the best solution, but in my experience it has proven to be a valid solution.

Having owned the Aerial 7B speakers, and having looked at the speaker's impedance test measurements from John Atkinson, and having looked at the output specs of the Butler 2250, I believe the amp/speaker combination is a worthwhile avenue to investigate, and I've attempted to offer some options to minimize the cost.

Almarg -
I'm not disagreeing with your discussion of low output impedance. However, in rereading Harley's discussion of power output into varying impedance loads, and the resulting loudspeakers' varying dbW (decibel watts) measurements, he makes no mention of low output impedance negating the effect. Perhaps this is an issue of voltage paradigm versus current paradigm?

Gregfisk, you might try tilting your speakers back a bit so the tweeters are firing slightly up rather than straight at your listening position. Also, you might try placing the speakers on platforms so the tweeters are above ear level.
Hey Greg,

One other area that I would like to address with you is, How loud do you listen to your music?...., because, that room of yours is fricking huge; 22' x 38' with 17' ceilings.

I see that your speakers go down to approximately 35Hz, and they're down -6dB at 30Hz, which would be a nice match for a small to medium sized room, however I feel that they are probably undersized for your room. I would venture to guess that you're probably playing your system louder than expected, in order to fill your room with sound, and as you're turning up the volume to increase the bass fullness, and sound pressure levels in your room, you're further accentuating your reflective brightness and forward sound, because the bass is not holding down it's end of the bargain (pun intended).

It's certainly possible that you could add a subwoofer or two to your to do list, as this would add more bass to your room, while allowing you to play your music at a more reasonable level, without over-driving the midrange and treble.

Keep in mind that I'm no longer discussing more powerful Amps, I'm actually talking about increasing your Sound Pressure Level (SPL) in your room, by adding a subwoofer or two, or for you to consider larger floor-standing speakers for your next speaker purchase, if you should be required to go that route.

Another option, is for you to move your Aerial Speakers to another smaller room in the house.

Here is a link to Devon's thread, who also had a huge room 17' x 35' with 12' high ceilings, and when he moved his speakers to a smaller room, he was thrilled with the sound.

A Smaller Room is Cheaper than Buying New Equipment.



Re-reading throughout the thread I saw where you noted the Monster cables, and one other sort. Before I plunked down serious money to replace good items with other good items, I’d strongly suggest you check out just two power cords. A Voodoo Black Dragon, or a Shunyata Taipan helix VX… both of which if attached to that DAC will completely ease off the bite you are getting in the highs of your rig… both should run you under $375 or so. The VooDoo new should be a bit less.

If using the stock pc on your Butler, simply adding a sunami pc there will help too… about $170 or so.

If $$$ for ICs is an issue, the Audio Art ICs aren’t bad at $100 per pair, and for still less, the Micro pearls from Goertz are severe over achievers and were listed on Stereophile’s preferred cable list. The AA are a bit rounder sounding than the MPs. Used Pearls run around $50 or so per pair. Kimber hero might help too in the budget cable area at about $100 per pr. But I’ve not heard them.

I’d also spend $25 on some Vibra pods and put them under either the Capri or Link III.

The Cable Co. can give you more options and afford you a better perspective for a small investment, which you can recoup on any subsequent purchase.


“… Interesting observation, Jim. I suppose that a reason for that is that it's hard "at a distance" to have a feel for the DEGREE of excess brightness, and if everyone had first-hand exposure to the sound, opinions would probably be more convergent.”


I so commiserated with the title:
“How to fix my detailed, accurate but BRIGHT system”
…having been in that exact spot previously, albeit with differing gear and room. Noteably gear which did not have any of those inherent characteristics, and a far smaller less reflective room!... yet the same or likewise end product was my own dilemma! It astounded me.

The ‘fix’ was some investigations into and acquisitions of, power cords, interconnects, racks, isolation, and devices which attended to signal integrity and it’s transmission, along with addressing power line artifacts and their control or suppression or elimination.

What I ultimately wound up with was the best sounding rig I’ve ever owned. One I promptly sold off a week later. lol. I did that so I could investigate another haunting auditory experience pertaining to an all tube set up. To that end, I’m not regretful… well, not much.

Personal experience has few peers. Yet my own experiences seldom emulate someone else’s identically.

My position on system formulating and tuning turns an eye towards those areas that affect the balance and voice of a rig with as much or nearly as much impact…. As do it’s major devices. Once, of course, the prime components are in place.

Another factor for me is operating without the resources that allow for wholesale interchangeability of the main parts.

So much of the gear made today is very very good, and only the flavor of it gives us possible consternation, as we go about mixing and mating a this .with a that. Barring outright poorly mixed scenarios and I don’t see this one as such; a finger pointing out causality might rest itself on those other contributing aspects of the systems entirety. Although there can be some preconceived notions which preclude thoughts pertaining to investigations of these areas, Iv’e found for a thing to be true, it doesn’t require my belief in it. It is true with or without me.

Some folks simply don’t believe accessories or peripherals amount to providing much if at all, any tangible influence to the sound or performance of their audio rig. Hanging it all onto the main players, sources, power train, and speakers.

Consequently, these non main stream areas roll along almost completely ignored by a good many. Developing technology has conjured some powerful magic into these areas since the 60s & 70s, and they all merit more thoughtfulness these days. Not to mention their costs remain usually well less than the owner’s main appliances.

I know, because I did exactly that… I ignored or devaluated the import of wiring, attendance to power line purity, acoustic treatments, and mechanical isolation. Only thru the ongoing nagging of a friend I met here did I even begin to consider all these items did I realize substantial gains, and the genie was then out of the bottle.

Hearing a lesser powerful Butler in my home recently on more stodgy and less benevolent speakers, given the 7Bs numbers, I’m pretty sure racing off after another amp might not be the most efficient move to bust right now. Nor would I suggest it as the initial one to take. Especially as the OP said he’d prefer not to as he likes the combo.

Richlane’s post made a lot of sense. Mentioning the addition of a sub or two. Great idea Richlane! AS well, moving things into a more conducive room… though I bet some thinking went into selecting it’s present location and that will likely precluding further relocation.

It wasn’t an indictment, ya know. Sheesssh. Touch-eee!

My statement regarding your truncated list of options is quite valid, nonetheless. It didn’t contain all of the avenues listed herein to that point…. Merely those paths and people you felt were more appropriate to the mix. By so eliminating other as noteworthy and genuine efforts, you diminish them all as you confirm others. Nothing did you note about mechanical isolation, power conditioning, or possible electrical troubles being present either. You simply made up your mind as to what was or is prudent and listed it.

If you are going to preface a list of options by assigning positive accolades to those people whose options are on the list, you as well lessen those who are omitted from it.

Everyone here offers something compelling from time to time, albeit, personal exp, levity, technical expertise, or simple unforeseen or heretofore unimagined perspectives.

One other item which could be embarrassing to some, is your cavalier attitudes towards the in home trials of major components you offer as paths for solutions so regularly. It’s more than presumptuous. People who are buying, or have bought much if not all of there gear pre-owned, likely aren’t about to put up 2, 3, 4, or 5 thousand dollars for a look see in home trial which will likely include both shipping and restocking fees as well, if the item is rejected following the preview. Probably not just the $50 to $75 or more for shipping costs alone. Ask the folks at your Wyred 4 sound option if they will charge such fees…. and they do as I was recently told.

There is too the subjective position on sonic artifacts…. Is your own definition of bright, that of anothers? AS you prominately wrote you were in this thread the only other past owner of the aerial 7Bs… they weren’t owned with the same gear, or room and oh, yes, the same ears as the OP has. More importantly though, you might also indicate publicly far more often how easy you are to please, sonically speaking that is. Some might mistake the vast amounts of gear you’ve owned or previewed as mere curiosity otherwise.

There’s more than one way to build a mouse trap.
Another thing to remember about the so-called doubling down amps. Some of the manufacturers' amps don't exactly double down. The simply make the 8 ohm output higher than the advertised power. For example a 200/400 watt amp can have 300 watts at 8 ohms instead of 200 and the 4 ohm output is 400 wpc. In this way they get to claim it doubles down (all amps that double down must be better!) when in fact it doesn't. Nobody complains because the 8 ohm power is higher than rated but in this case it's a marketing choice - double down is better than the value of 8 ohm power. In the audiophile market this marketing technique is likely to hold more weight with buyers.

The Krell 400xi is a great example of this although they seem to take both marketing routes - advertising doubling down of power and not quite truthful specifications. Adverstised 200wpc 400 wpc. Actual: 290 wpc 350 wpc. It's a good amp if you like that sort of forward sound and have great sources.

Just realize that all this talk of doubling down the power to drive speakers has wrinkles. And frankly I don't see how it affects the speaker output as long as the amp isn't being driven hard. If the amp can deliver the current that's drawn across the impedance across the frequency range then what's the problem? Of course an amp has to deliver more at 4 ohms but up until the limit of the amp is reached it should do that without affecting the sound.
I'm not disagreeing with your discussion of low output impedance. However, in rereading Harley's discussion of power output into varying impedance loads, and the resulting loudspeakers' varying dbW (decibel watts) measurements, he makes no mention of low output impedance negating the effect. Perhaps this is an issue of voltage paradigm versus current paradigm?

I don't have Harley's book, and so I don't know exactly what he is saying, but yes the question can be considered in the context of the two paradigms of amplifier and speaker design. Those being the voltage paradigm, and the power paradigm, which is more accurate terminology than "current" paradigm, as explained in Ralph's (Atmasphere's) excellent paper on the two paradigms.

Consider the output stage of an amplifier to be a theoretically ideal voltage source (zero output impedance), the voltage being proportional to the amplifier's input voltage, in series with a resistor (equal to the amplifier's output impedance).

In a voltage paradigm amplifier, by definition, the value of that resistor approaches zero (i.e., it will be a small fraction of an ohm). The result is that the speaker will see a voltage proportional to the amplifier's input voltage, regardless of what the speaker's impedance may be at the frequency that is involved (as long as the amplifier is capable of supplying the required current, the required current being higher as the speaker's impedance decreases -- recall Ohm's Law). Nearly all amplifiers with solid state output stages work this way, and the majority of conventional box speakers are designed based on the assumption that they will be driven this way. Many tube amplifiers approach this model, although only approximately because their output impedance is typically higher. Other tube amplifier's, with even higher output impedances, fall into the power paradigm category.

As Ralph's paper mentions, a significant downside of voltage paradigm amplifiers is that they typically (but certainly not always) require more feedback than power paradigm amplifiers, increasing the well-known side-effects of feedback.

In a power paradigm amplifier, the output impedance is much higher, for instance 4 ohms or more in the case of many of Ralph's designs. That will cause both the voltage that is seen by the speaker and the current that is drawn by the speaker to depend on the impedance of the speaker at the particular frequency that is present. The higher the speaker's impedance at the particular frequency (or frequencies), the more voltage it will see (because it represents a greater fraction of the total impedance that is in the path, meaning its own impedance plus the amplifier's output impedance), but the less the current that will flow (because the total impedance in the path is greater). Since, if we neglect the effects of inductance and capacitance, power is equal to voltage times current, the power that is delivered to the speaker (as opposed to the voltage) will remain fairly constant as a function of variations in the speaker impedance.

As I said, most speakers, especially box-type speakers, are designed with the expectation that they will be driven with voltage-paradigm amplifiers. But Ralph's paper includes this statement:

Loudspeakers that operate under Power Paradigm rules are speakers that expect constant power, regardless of their impedance. Examples include nearly all horns, ESLs, magnetic planers, a good number of bass reflex and acoustic suspension designs. Horns, ESLs and magnetic planers do not get their impedance curve from system resonance and so benefit from a constant power characteristic and indeed, many of these speaker technologies are well-known to sound right with Power Paradigm amplifier designs.

So that is some background. Returning to the original question, I think all of this should make clear that a tonal imbalance can result from a paradigm mismatch between amplifier and speaker, such as the excessive brightness that would undoubtedly result from using a power paradigm amplifier (high output impedance) to drive this particular speaker (4 ohm impedance in the bass, 8 ohm impedance in the treble). But a voltage paradigm amplifier (near zero output impedance) would deliver essentially the same voltage into both the 4 ohm and 8 ohm impedances, which is presumably the expectation the speaker was designed based upon (or it would not sound right with just about any solid state amplifier). And the ability of the amplifier to deliver twice as much current into 4 ohms than into 8 ohms has no direct relevance to tonal balance; its main relevance is to maximum volume capability. Although, of course, for any of many other possible reasons one voltage paradigm amplifier may sound different with the particular speaker than another, and it stands to reason that an amplifier that can double current into 4 ohms will, everything else being equal (which of course they rarely are), be more comfortable dealing with a speaker like this.

I'll add in closing that although I haven't read Harley's book, I have read a lot of his writings over the years in TAS and Stereophile, and I suggest that you do not exclude the possibility that anything he says of a technical nature may be flat-out wrong.

-- Al

I suggest that you do not exclude the possibility that anything he says of a technical nature may be flat-out wrong.

-- Al
Almarg (Answers)

On the other hand, we can also not exclude the possibility that he is right. In the acknowledgments section of his book, Harley thanks several experts in specific fields of audio who provided technical review of his manuscript. I am going to take the viewpoint that they know their fields, and that therefore the information provided in the book has been determined to be correct.



My statement regarding your truncated list of options is quite valid, nonetheless. It didn’t contain all of the avenues listed herein to that point…. Merely those paths and people you felt were more appropriate to the mix.
The list was intended to illustrate the wide range of suggestions to one problem. It was not intended as a comprehensive resource. I did not intentionally include only the avenues I felt were appropriate in an attempt to diminish the contributions of others, as you suggest.

I agree with you in general about restocking fees. It's up to each individual to decide if the cost of shipping and a possible re-stocking fee is worth the price of an in-home trial. I believe there's no substitute for listening to a component in one's system prior to buying, so for me the cost of shipping and a restocking fee can be worthwhile. When I had the opportunity to home-trial the Pass Labs XA-30.5 amplifier, I gladly agreed to accept a possible 10% restocking fee in the event of a return. For me, the ability to hear what that amp could do in my system was well worth the price of admission.

My present ownership of Pass Labs, SMc Audio, and my prior ownership of Moscode products were all results of in-home trials. In-home trials have also afforded me the opportunity to audition Audio Horizons, NuForce, and CI Audio products. Only CI Audio, and the Pass Labs dealer charged a re-stocking fee, and I paid it in both instances (the XA-30.5 was returned because a used pair of XA-60.5 became available during the third week of the demo).

The Portal Panache is available with a *60* day home trial, and there is no restocking fee mentioned on the Portal Audio home audition policy page. While there are no specifics of the Ice H20 Audio home audition policy on the H20 Audio website, I doubt Henry Ho (owner of Ice H20 Audio) would charge a restocking fee. He's happy to have more people hear his components.

Those who believe the cost of shipping and restocking is too high to allow experimentation should definitely look at other alternatives.

There is no sure-fire, cost-free method to solving the OP's brightness problem (the most common complaint in Audiogon threads). If there was, we'd all be doing just that one thing and these threads would be really, really short.
Again, thank you for all your input and your time doing it. Blindjim, The situation with me and my gear is this. Several months ago, maybe 6, I decided to get back into the hobby. I had an old NAD preamp tuner and a cheap audiosource amp3. I still had my KEF 103/4 speakers from 20 years earlier and decided to buy everthing new (to me). I started reading the forums here and several audio reviews to try adn decide what I should buy. I know this isn't the best way to put a system together, but we just don't have the retail stores around here in Seattle like we used to. And, although I grew up here and have many friends I don't have a single one that's cares about gear or music for that matter. This is why after several months of listening to my system and continuing to read what many of you have to say on these forums I decided to reach out and ask for help. I will say that I did not have the brightness problem with my old set up. That being said, the system was very closed in and I'd say even muffled to some degree. I can say one observation is that I did play my NAD with the Butler amp and also my surround sound Denon 990 and the system was not bright. But it was also very closed in without a lot of detail and the Denon just sounded bad. When I added the Capri which was slightly used it also seemed closed in. Then after a couple of weeks bam! While I was listening it just completly opened up. That's when the brightness started. So much for me not believing componants break in. Yes, the sytem is brighter, but I can hear everything now like a veil was lifted. So, my thinking is that any quality pre would probably do the same thing.
I do listen to my system pretty loud around 70 to 95db depending on my mood and the music I'm playing or how much I've had to drink :). And yes, I do have to turn up the system to get the speakers to fill the room, otherwise the music just feels like it's not forward or engaging enough. I've thought about a sub and also wondered what another speaker that dives a little deaper in the base might do for me (Aerial 10T?). I expected the 7B to do the job, but they seem to mostly do a really good job at tight fast base which I do like. TVAD, I've been contemplating raising my speakers up already, but for a different reason. Mabe I can solve two problems at the same time. The ends of my two identical couches are very close to the front of the speakers and yes, this does effect the base to some degree. I've moved the couchs out of the way along with my coffee table and know what the differences are so I didn't bring that into the mix here. That is not the heart of the problem. When lifting my speakers up, are there some general rules to follow? Do I use wood covered in carpet, concrete, how high do I lift them ect? I really do want to get to the bottom of this, I hate a bright system. I'd rather go the other way and lose a "little" detail. Thank You All Again!
When lifting my speakers up, are there some general rules to follow? Do I use wood covered in carpet, concrete, how high do I lift them ect?
Gregfisk (Answers)

You'll receive a lot of good suggestions and techniques to try.

I have used 1" threaded, brass spike footers, Sistrum SP-101 platforms that allow height adjustment from about 1" to nearly 8", and presently I use 2" thick maple platforms flat on the carpet and with no spikes on the speakers. In my room with my nearfield listening position, raising the speakers by 2" has proven beneficial, and simply raising the speakers seems to have made a more consistently positive difference than has the type of device used to raise them.


I noticed great extension using the butler multi ch amp with my receiver, still greater with only my BC DAC 3, and when attached to my tube preamp and better cabling, it was more than intriguing. Piercing, etched, glaring, or hard sounding, it was not… not with any pair of speakers, or pre/pro combined with it. Even using my most modest spkr cables and sans conditioning on my tuffest spkrs, it sounded very nice.

On every other occasion however, it was fueled by an upscale power cord, and got its power via a Running springs Haley power line filter which was inturn, supplied by yet another upscale pc. The pc’s in my case certainly can be migrated about to add or subtract their audio influences from time to time, but I like the Elrod Sig III as supply cord for the Haley… and the older red Python VX for the revolving digital items. The Gold dragons drive SS amps and my DD 15…. Usually. PCMV.

I run the rec and tube pre directly from a dedicated 20 A ckt. Sources, are provided via either the Haley or a PS Audio duet and as well, Taipan helix’s most often or a Nirvana pc, or Voodoo Tesla II. OEM power cords around here stay in the box they came in or find their way onto a cable box, VCR, pc, etc.

Those wire choices I submitted earlier are as just, but on perhaps a more amenable front, financially. I’ve jotted down my thoughts here on the ‘gon in reviews of Voodoo power cords, and others. Not sure about the Taipan helix’s though. They are a more up front higher resolute and detail oriented cord which offers a more front row sound stage, and introduces a harmonic rightness that is very attractive when used on tube gear especially.

The Voodoo Black has an expansive sound stage and yet again, that near front row seating scenario, yet is vastly smoother though still allowing for great detail. Both work everywhere and with almost any scenarios save for use with digital masking cords with high capacitance. It will also seem to lower the overall timber range by nearly an octave, thereby adding more bottom end and relieving an attention getting top end. The Tsunami pc is about as smooth as is the Voodoo. A Cardas or it’s doppelganger, the Mongoose could also be effective for you.

I’d have mentioned the Shunyata Python VX, and helix VX but they range upwards of $550 - $700. With newer models just now out, these prices might drop more so quite soon. For more info on these or other pcs, just PM me. Same for cables that might help your rig or have some interest to you.

Just as fitting together a systems devices, the same process is had for mixing cabling, or even choosing to enlist the same brand cabling throughout.

AS for the aerial 10Ts… I’ve heard even from dealers that didn’t sell them, they were great speakers… then. Maybe now too. Albeit, a close look at their numbers might find you in need of some other power supply for them… I’m not so familiar with them I can recall their specs just now. Your amp should be fine I guess with 10Ts.

250wpc @ 8 ohm amps are probably the place to begin building a new rig. Wether they double down at 4 ohms or not, isn’t nearly the ticket. It’s the amount of reserve power they have on tap. Without enormous power reservoirs apparent in the construction of an amp, to gain needed headroom, the ability to double a rated power output very well may be required. BAT illuminates this reserve power ideal as best as any in the industry. The BAT vk 500 SS amp that makes 250wpc @ 8, is likewise to the butler’s output of 400 @ 4…. Yet the power banks are vastly different, with BATs being far bulkier. I know of some which use the vk200 (100wpc @ 8) to drive panel speakers that are quite power hungry.

Sonically the 500 and 5150 were much more alike, than different.

To understand better some terms I use frequently, openness for me, is when I point to the separation of images in a sound stage. Closed in, similarly but as it’s opposite. Expansive sound stages by their nature open up the recreated venue.

Power cords do primarily two things… formulate a sound stage better, and refine the sound itself, in many cases. The Darkness terms associated with BAT I think revolve about direct comparisons, and a lack of attention to adding the proper wires to them. For ‘dark’ as I understand it equates to muddy or a lessened ability to discern facets within the reproduction. BAT amps aren’t dark… and their preamps definitely are not.

I’ll say this and split… if effecting a cure for the situation and the amount of money available to do it is finite, and overt room treatments a ‘no no’, look into razing the bar commensurately with your cabling, to a more appropriate level to that of your current system components. There’ll be a lot less thinking about replacing gear thereafter… ‘till the mood strikes once more. Rugs and plants can go a long way to helping a room sound better too.



The point you miss is simple…. Everyone else is not you. Do not have your resources. Inordinately high standards…. Or personal temperament. On your account, one could spend on just 3 amp in home demos, $600, if the entire burden of shipping was the demoees, and only a 10% sir charge was assessed on amps retailing for $1000.

…and perhaps be no better off. Not to mention having to use aural memory predominately thru the series of trials. Even with wizard like skills of coordinating shipping and arrival times, once 4 amps are in house there’s the needed settling in and switching about which can be quite confusing. Unless of course, one offering initiates some profound auditory epiphany. Let alone there be some cooling off time following that event which could further confuse things… and then we’re back to “Well, what if I had put a so & so pc on that whosit, instead of the ABC it had on it then?”

But it does sound good on paper to serve it up as an option I suppose. It’s just that I find it costly and possibly providing no true answer once endured.

I feel until a system and/or room is stabilized in fact or just pretty good, not only does one not really know what they have on hand, nor will they by migrating in & out other major devices so prematurely.

How is your own cabling, conditioning, and power cord situation, BTW? Still using OEM pc’s and entry level or DIY cabling? How about platforms and those aluminum cup & ball (Oreos?) footers?

I recalled you saying frequently some years ago “Everything matters. Has your position on that changed now?

I saw the other day a thread where you said cabling would not be the way you would attend to a speaker problem regarding some Wilson Sophias and the Ops designs on upgrading away from them. There in that same thread was a follow up which pointed out how much change was made to the Stereophile reviewers thoughts by making some cable changes. That resolution came after other major items had been moved in and out, without notable success. Making some ‘suggested wire changes the results were well improved and the reviewers stance took on a complete about face.

‘course, you remain consistent. I’ll give you that… as singularly authoritative as it may come across now and then. IMO

Ease up Grant, you ain't all that.