Do you get that brightness on all music you're listening too? I'm not familiar with your speakers but your components do not tend to sound bright along with your wires as well except probably preamp.
As far as I know TL2.5 is not the best preamp for the budget you can get. You might look for Pass Aleph P or Plinius CD-LAD for replacement.
Before spending or upgrading you can experiment more with placement. Placing speakers so that they're completely parallel to each other can also tame some of brightness in sweet-spot position. You can also place them under angle to the floor by changing the height of the spikes or using adjustable feet. Place them either closer or more apart from each other and see how it works.
As far as I know Manley's amps have adjustable global feedback that you can play with(not shure if inside or outside the box) that can also help to tame the brightness.
You can also acquire Totem Beaks that bring UNBELIVABLE results in radiation and stage adjustment compared to mega-priced room treatments. You can hear and feel it right next to the speaker that you're placing the beak on top. It basically tend to adjust highs and upper-mids.
I can't now imagine my stage without Beaks! I often can come close to speaker and move it arround just a-bit not only to adjust for a specific music I listen to it's just simply fun!
I also think you should explore placement issues before investigating new electronics or cabling. However, I think you should look to make sure that you have eliminated or reduced your sidewall reflections. You would also want to play with toe in - many speakers are hot if listened to on or anywhere close to on axis. You can point them straight ahead or if you have problems with sidewall reflections you can try toe them in substantially crossing them well in front of the listening position. Give it a try - it cost zip.
Nice to see someone dispelling the notion that Harbeths are rolled off, but they aren't inherently bright either. As Newbee suggests, sidewall reflections and toe-in are worth considering, as are ceiling reflections and hard furniture reflections.
The other thing I would point to is the speaker stand height. I have my 7's on 16 inch stands. When I tried them on 21 inch stands they took on a completley different tonal character, still Harbeth clear and precise, but the whole lower midrange and bass was down 1-2 dbs. So, I would say first experiment with stand height. If the tweeters are lower than your ears, tilt the speakers back just a tiny bit.
I am not familiar with your preamp or amps, but if the output impedance of the preamp is high compared to the input impedance of the amps, that could cause a loss in the bass, which could in turn have the subjective effect of emphasizing the treble. If the Manleys have some sort of adjustment, that would be worth a try.
Finally, if you are bi-wiring, put the shorting straps (jumpers) back in and see what you think.
Do not put Totem beaks or anything else on your speakers. Totem speakers are designed to be inert. Harbeths have lossy boxes designed to resonate with low amplitude at unobjectionable frequencies. You will change their sound by putting something on them to something not intended by their designer.
Good luck, and feel free to email me.
Well, sir, it sure is not the speakers. I use my C7s on 22 inch stands and listen in near-field and they are not bright. (They are just RIGHT!) Everyone's suggestions as to looking at room interactions seem like the way to go.
Something is wrong, and I promise you should look somewhere other than the C7s, unless they are broken. I bet you will find something, on further inspection.
Enjoy your music,
the 7's sound darker with solid state gear...i also know that if you downgrade your speaker wire it will eliminate the high sizzle inherent in these bbc type designs...you'll find you don't miss any music either...i would leave the manleys alone,they are classics...keep the wire simple........you'll notice an incredible difference.
Note: anyone who says "inherent sizzle in these bbc type desings" has never heard a pair of Harbeth Compact 7ES-II. Take any advice with a huge grain of salt.
p.s. What cds do you notice this with?
Or Compact 7, or 7ES (I), they're all the same except for minor cosmetic differences and a slightly revised formulation of the woofer material in the last series (but not corresponding to the name change). The drivers, crossovers and cabinet specifications are all the same. They are very revealing. So a mismatch between preamp and amp, or an underpowered amp, or a bad amp will be revealed. How they will sound with a solid state amp depends on the solid state amp. If it's bright, they will sound bright. If it's dark, they will sound dark.
I have measured mine in a couple of real world rooms. They are dead flat from just below 50 hz to 1.6khz, then dip into the presence region coming back to flat at 5khz. In my larger room with no reflection problems, they then have a slight, very slight, roll-off after 12-13khz, but not much. In a smaller room with reflection problems from ceiling and walls or windows, because the tweeter has such wide dispersion, I have seen too much energy in the 6-10khz region, which can sound sizzly. This is not a fault of the speakers - they do not measure that way in an anechoic chamber or in my larger room, and other speakers in that smaller room have the same exaggerated response in the 6-10khz region. So, w/re the original question, the relationship between the speakers and the room is the first place to look.
And regarding the wires. The dealer from whom I bought my 7's (Alastair Gardner at Signals in the UK, who has sold more of them than anyone) recommends Nordost Blue Heaven, which is a little bright, if that is possible, and he wouldnt make that recommendation if it didnt make sense. I do use reputedly smoother AQ cables with mine.
Tks for all your feedback.
I'm not sure if it will perform better with just a good integrated amp? Any body using transister integrated amp with C7 and get good results?
I am not familiar with your equipment, so I can't say for sure that the following suggestion will work. However, I was able to tame the brightness in my system with the AH! LS Noise Killer. This is a small filter that you hook to the tweeter terminals on your speakers. It only costs $50, but I do not think you can return it if it doesn't work, so proceed with caution. Suggest you read the reviews at audioreview and search the forums at audioasylum for more info.
I used to use a Creek 5350SE with my C7s. It worked perfectly. A bit underpowered for large scale orchestral moments, but listening in near-field, I never pushed it to clipping.
Please don't fool with the speakers. Mr Shaw did all that for you. Work on the rest. Maybe your cd player is flawed? You could borrow another one and see. I have a lesser Marantz changer in a second system that doesn't get tizzy, but I did find the DAC1 to be quite satisfying in my main rig. (I still use the original, and you can find them here cheap.)
As many have suggested, I don't think it's the Harbeths. They are lively indeed when the music requires but I would never call them bright. Check for problems up the chain. Happy listening, you have chosen really one of the best speakers out there.
p.s. My stands are 19" if that helps.
It seems I remember from an earlier post that you and I have similar listening habits. So, I would be interested in two things. First, what amp set-up do you use now, and second, what do you mean "listening in near-field."