How to tame brightness

System is:

Audio refinement Complete Int
EPOS - M12
Music Hall Cd25
All Signal cables

I love the overall sound of this system, but the Epos tend to get sharp/edgy/hazy/shrill. How can I tame this issue, or does it require and upgrade?
Fix your room, setup and acoustics.

How do you have your speakers firing? Straight or with toe in? The more you toe them in, the more you will tame the high frequencies. As KR above mentions, room treatments would be first line of defence. You can try absorption/diffusion panels at first reflection points on the side walls and if your listening seat is right smack on your rear wall than a similar panel behind your listening seat (i would look for a panel with both absorption and diffusion or just diffusion in the panel behind your head). Finally, your choice of cabling can also tame a hot top end. Hope this helps.
Room acoustics seem to be the culprit here. I started playing around with the "reflection points" and found the one behind my head seems the worst. Thanks so much for your insightful comments and pointing to this issue so quickly. Most novices like me never consider this subject. It's always a problem with the equipment!

Try aiming the tweeter a little out from where they are aimed now. Sound stage may suffer some but if you reduce the brightness it may outweight the difference.
Thats a characteristic of EPOS that I've heard in the past. They might just be extremely honest and clear in the treble, or might exaggerate that area of the treble, I've always wondered. Anyway, personally I love Cardas cable. Use the Cross line to add a touch of refinement to an overly eager treble. Use reference line to preserve neutrality.
I disagree to some extent with all of the responses so far. Shrill or harsh top end is a problem with power supply. Get a conditioner for that Cd player....
04-10-10: Elizabeth
I disagree to some extent with all of the responses so far. Shrill or harsh top end is a problem with power supply. Get a conditioner for that Cd player....
Not just the power cord? :-)
Hi all ! My opinion is it could be all of the above . Try this first , put something heavy on top of your preamp or transport . 5lb bag of flour , etc or a weight wrapped in a small towel . Report back . You could also tighten all of the screws on your power cords ....tight = less highs . Try first report back .
Well maybe I'm like the guy whose only tool is a hammer, so to him every problem looks like a nail...

I tend to see loudspeaker radiation pattern issues behind this sort of problem. Briefly, in this case the tweeter has a very wide pattern in the crossover region and the woofer has a fairly narrow pattern. So if the response is "flat" on-axis through the crossover region, off-axis (in the reverberant field) you may have 6 dB more lower treble energy due to the tweeter's wide pattern. This will skew the tonal balance in a semi-reverberant environment, such as most home listening rooms. A thick felt pad around the tweeter would be my suggestion. Here's a link to a company that makes excellent ones; their product will also lower coloration and improve the imaging:

One other thing that might be worth investigating is enclosure tilt. My recollection is that the Epos has a gentle-slope crossover, which says to me that there may be a null in the crossover region either above or below the tweeter axis. Try listening with your ears higher or lower and see if that helps. If you find a height where the brightness is minimized, find a way to tilt the speakers back so that the same relative angle with your ears is duplicated at the listening position. I have no idea whether this will actually work, but as far as tweaks go the price is right.

I don't believe the issue is with my digital front end, as I get the same issues with vinyl.
Do you have your components on footers other than the awful sounding rubber or plastic feet that come with most equipment? An inexpensive trial could involve Vibrapods under each component. Be sure you check the weight of each component so you purchase the right Vibrapods.

If you want to take a bigger step to tune your system, consider trying Herbie's Tenderfeet under your components. Still reasonably priced from an audio perspective, they will enhance all aspects of each component's performance.

Good Luck!
Could be just the fact that Epos has metal tweeters and your ears don't get on with them. Have you tried a soft dome tweeter speaker before?
I really hate the metal dome tweeter scape goat. One of the brightess speakers I have is the Proac Super Tablette, yep soft dome tweeter. Also, much of the brightness comes from the upper mid range so the tweeter has not impact here.

Vinny, have you ever owned Epos? Are you familiar with their sound?
Metal domes generally are brighter, IMO and others, to soft domes. Some exceptions may apply of course.
Some SignalCable models are brighter than others... Which specific models are you using, including the power cords?

If you're using all Silver Resolution then use the copper high-current power cords and use the copper Analog Two interconnects from your CD source to your amplification.

It makes a very appreciable difference.
Fix your room and your power.

I feel your pain LOL!!! I just went through the exact same thing you are with my Epos M5i's!!! many hours do you have on the speakers??

See, I loved mine right out of the box, but then they changed and became brighter. I had to put alot of hours on before they tamed down a bit. the mean time, I tried everything...speaker cable, interconnects, new source, new amps...and you know what it turned out to be?? New amp!!!

I borrowed a buddy's tube pre...ran it with a solid state amp and now I have musical bliss!! BTW, I bought the set!!!

Epos LOVES tubes!!! The synergy is there...I went back to the cables I was running before and they sound really good now...vocals are great...wonderful depth and imaging...natural tone and's all there!!

Here's a rundown of my gear:

Sonic Frontiers SLF-1 with Brimar CV4024 tube
Mitsubishi DA-A10DC amp (diy silver interconnect from pre)
Arcam Alpha Original CD Player (non-oversampling mod)
Atlas Equator MKII Interconnect for the cd player
Supra Classic 2.5 Speaker Cable

As you can see, nothing fancy or high end but blends extremely well and it makes the Epos sing!!

My ears can't take bright or harsh edges to music either...I have some folk cd's that I could not listen to before and now they get played in regular rotation. That tells me plenty of what the speakers like!!

Too, I have some recordings that are pretty badly done but now they are at least listenable!!

This has been my experince since I bought the speakers at Christmas time...which btw, I bought on a recommendation without hearing them!!! But they had so much potential that I didn't want to get rid of them and I'm sure glad I didn't cause I am very much enjoying them now!!!

I think this would be the best place to start :) Can you borrow a tube setup or take your speakers somewhere that you could listen to them with one??

All the best!!
Might I ask - please name one or two recordings which you find too bright. Also, how far are you sitting from the speakers? is typical of Agon :-), you ask a question and you will get 16 responses with 16 different suggestions. While an issue like "excessive brightness" can be caused by many different things, I suspect there are a few things from this list you want to try first. Eventhough, I suggested speaker toe-in and room treatments as a first attempt, having read through all of the suggestions, if I were you, I would try Duke's (or Audiokinesis') recommendations first, given his knowledge of speakers and their interactions with rooms. Many speaker designers use felt inserts around the tweeter in their designs to tame brightness, so his suggestion of buying an after-market felt product that you can fit around your tweeter seems eminently reasonable to me. You should check out the link he provided. His other suggestion of finding a point in the vertical plane (where your ears are relative to the tweeter that is) where the sound is not as bright is also an easy and cheap way of finding a fix. The fix will incorporate finding seating that either has adjustable height or is fixed at the height where the sound presentation is no longer bright. The seating height fix by the way can also be found in Jim Smith's book, "Getting Better Sound," which is probably one of the most cost effective investments to enhance system performance (no affiliation with him just a satisfied customer). If the felt and seating height adjustments don't cure your problem, then treating your room, changing cabling, and ultimately changing speakers (suggestions for soft domed tweeter are not off the mark in this respect)are the way to go. Good luck and let us know how it works out for you.
I have made some makeshift room acoustic adjustments which helped some. I also changed my speakers cables which also helped some. But there does seem to be a synergy issue between my amp and speakers as "sideways" mentioned.

I do use isolation on all my front end components. And thanks to everyone here for you input!

A lot of solid advice here. One thing I will add is I would suggest changing your Integrated Amp. I owned one for a very brief period and had system-brightness issues with a pair of JM Labs. I actually borrowed a friends less expensive Cambridge Audio Integrated and the issues disappeared. Not to mention, it sounded significantly better than the Audio Refinement.

At that point, I ended purchasing an Electrocompaniet ECI-3 Integrated which I enjoyed for years with the same speakers and source. Anyway, that AR amp has a sonic hardness quality to it which may be your culprit. I would almost put money on it.

Good Luck!


The cd's in mention were by the bands Nathan and Dala...fantastic music but definitely done in the bright sort of folkie tang LOL!!!

And with my setup, the Epos are about 12ft apart and I listen about 11ft back!! Both speakers are toed in slightly as well.

Spike your CD player (and your whole system if necessary) into a maple platform(s).
Get an equalizer.
Based on the measurements and the comments in this review of the Epos M12.2, which I am assuming is not particularly different than the M12 in relevant respects, the comments by Duke (Audiokinesis) about listening height appear to be right on the mark. As well as the comments by Sideways about tubes.

The M12.2 has a considerable frequency response peak centered just below 1kHz, and another one around 4kHz, which the review indicates can be mitigated by listening from a point a few inches below tweeter level. That listening height apparently helps to smooth the upper treble response as well.

Furthermore, the impedance vs. frequency characteristic of the speaker is, in the upper mid-range and lower treble, close to being the exact inverse of the frequency response plot. Meaning that with a typical solid state amplifier having near zero output impedance, more power will be drawn at exactly the parts of the spectrum where the response peaks occur, presumably either causing them or further reinforcing them.

So first try various listening heights. If that does not satisfactorily resolve the problem, consider changing to a tube amp having relatively high output impedance (= low damping factor), although not too high or you will degrade bass performance.

-- Al
Is it that far-fetched of an idea to take a disc shape of foam, similar in density to what used to be used on some manufacturer's speaker grills in the 70's and 80's, and just cover the tweeter to reduce the brightness, of course being careful not to physically touch the tweater and afix to the baffle with tape??
You don't mention whether your shrillness problems are at all volumes or just loud volumes. The following may be a bit of an aside. Here's what I have done on my B&W 805S, standmounts, experimenting when I have played select CD rock recordings that are just too shrill when playing them rocking loud, examples are My Bloody Valentine "Loveless" or Sonic Youth's "Daydream Nation", both great records and really shine when played loud, IMO, except for the shrillness. I use the foam cylinders (approx 2" diameter, 3" in height) that came from B&W with the speakers which are provided to optionally stuff in the reflex port in situtations where the speaker is to boomy, BUT instead use them on the tweeter, holding them in place over the front of tweeter (co-axial with the tweeter) with a small rubber band. With the B&W tweeter you can use the rubber band since the tweeter is in a small separate housing on top of the cabinet as most well know. It works from me and can be put in place in seconds. I notice a slight degradation in imaging but would rather live with that then having my ears be victim to the shrill guitar notes within these recordings yet enjoy the benefits of loud volume in the bass and mids which apparently my ears are better adapted.
Nisna, folded tissue tapped to the baffle sometimes works.
Do what Kal said. I had my room treatments done after I purchased speakers and it is a world of difference. Like upgrading speakers.

If that doesn't work buy some flour. :)
Gmc56-Did you see Duke's(Audiokinesis)response?
I think you should give that a try;I think it will address your concerns quite well as I knew a guy who ran Polk SDA's and he did as Duke mentioned with great success.
The best is to use some absorbers on the wall
It might be that you have an issue with RF pollution getting into your system. I have found that a simple DIY RC filter across the speaker terminals can greatly reduce system brightness and make the sound more musical. Here's how you can try this out:

Solder a .01uF Multicap RTX cap in series to a 10ohm, 1 watt PRP resistor (both available from PartsConnexion for a total cost of ~$4.00). Connect the capacitor end to the (+) terminal of the speaker, and the resistor end to the (-) terminal of the speaker. Take a listen. When I did this I heard more detail and a more relaxed and musical, less bright presentation. I also put them on the amplifer outputs as well after they made a difference on the speaker end - that made less of a difference.

Give it a shot - it's only $4.00 and a few minutes!
I have just replaced the Mundorf Silver/Gold Cap in a monitor Speaker Crossover. An Ampohm Polyester in Oil cap of the same value has smoothed out the brightness of the MB Quart Metal Dome.
I believe your Speakers use a metal dome with a simple First Order Network. A replacement of the one Polypropylene cap in each speaker will tame the brightess and enhance your Middle Range.
I've reached the 100 hour mark and my monitors are much more enjoyable to listen to.
I agree with the post from Duke as well. I have a pair of Aerial 7Bs and was having the same problem with too much brightness. I tilted my speakers back at first by just putting a couple of 1" wood blocks under the front feet of my speakers. This made a substantial difference and really help the tonal balance. I also ended up getting rid of my upsampling dac and purchased a nos tube dac, now this really fixed the issue. Good luck!
I also agree with Duke's suggestion to felt the tweeters. Just go to any fabric store and pick up some felt and double sided scotch tape. You can choose a color to match the speakers.

Carefully cut a hole slightly larger than the tweeter and apply it to the speaker. You can then add additional pieces, layering the felt until you reach the sweet spot in terms of what you want to achieve.

Completely and fully customizable sound in terms of what you are looking for at a cost of around $6 to $7.

I've done it. It works. If it doesn't, you're not out very much.
I picked off 2 30" by30" by 2" buchter blocks for $10 each at an auction and put them under my paradigm60v5's,put a piece of carpet on the wall and made sure all 4 speaker feet were footed well on the block,and use a level on top of the speakers and a ruler to exactly match tweeter height on both.For almost no $ nice upgrade and less harsh,wider sound.
Try different toe in, more,less, loudspeaker may have a on axis peak in response this could reduce it. Also address room acoustics if you have not, might but be a reflection off side wall floor etc.
I agree with attacking the acoustics first since this is where a smart 'file begins the quest to get great (best) sound. If you can take the brightest sounding system/room and turn it into a dull mush by overdoing sound treatment, then your happy medium obviously lies somewhere in between. If you have slap echo, you're gong to have bright sound. Start with the 1st reflections then the room tri-corners where slap echo lives.

While I agree that felt is a good thing because diffraction sucks, diffractions usually affect imaging more than anything else.
the Epos tend to get sharp/edgy/hazy/shrill

This is a characteristic with Epos. Been through this with B&W. While I tried all reasonable solutions (including covering all the walls with blankets), in the end I found no good solution in adding one error to compensate for another. It was a bitter pill but had to dissolve the entire system.

If you must keep the speakers, Creek CDP and amps are voiced well for Epos, all being from Mike Creek's company, and this is the best I heard from Epos.

Other option is to buy an equalizer.