I need some clarity

Hey guys, can yall give some suggestions on how to brighten the sound of my system. It consists of:
Ah! Njoe Tjeob CDP with the Burr Brown OPA627 Op-amp upgrade
Van Den Hul The Bay C5 IC
Parasound HCA 750 power amp
Acoustic Reasearch speaker wire (to be replaced soon)
Magnepan MMG

The midrange is quite nice and strong, the bass is fine, but I need more clarity and detail. My options in placement is very limited because I live in the dorm at my school, plus I have a roommate so I only have half of the room. I'm hoping I wont have to buy a pre amp with tone controls or brighter speakers. Any and all suggestions are welcome.

Have you ever looked at the Virtual Dynamics line of cables. I introduced Nites (interconnects and power cord)into my system a couple of months ago and I have never looked back since. The clairity I know have is mind blowing! I am saving up for Nite speaker wire also. I have also had a chance to hear their entry level of cables, The Auditions, and I believe they are the absolute best line of cables for the money!

I generally don't recommend doing this but try a silver interconnect- it will bring resolution into the foreground, it will also brighten things up a little bit. I would recommend something reasonible like Tekline TL-500s, Stealth or Vantage audio. If you need a 1.5m length and are interested in the tekline(which will do exactly what you are looking for it to do) I can make you a very good deal. Looks like you have a nice system for a dorm! I really really like magnepan speakers too!
What tubes are you using in the Ah! deck? These would seem to be a likely candidate as it's the source.

Plenty of info on tube rolling with these units @ AA.
If you are not already using a Siemens 7308, maybe you should try. My brother have the same CD player (with the same OP-Amp upgrade) and his sounds very detailed and articulate. Soundstage was bigger too compared when he was using a Jan tubes.

Also, on my own experience, try a Nordost IC or speaker cables, or a Silver type interconnect like what Tireguy suggested. They are very good in giving a "bright" edge to any system that I hook them up.

Hope this helps
I agree...try new cables. Analysis Plus will brighten the highs a notch or two...I would definitly give them a try before you commit to anything else. Try usedcables.com to audition some.
I like the Siemens tube idea, but honestly don't think it will get you where you want to be. My guess is your room has a dropped ceiling 2 beds (possibly bunked), carpeted floors and possibly drapes. You have too much high frequency absorption relative to everything else. the midrange sounds okay in a small space because there is very little affecting it, but placement of the high frequency absorption could go a long way to getting better sound (realizing it's unlikely you can through your roommates' bed in the hall). Your speakers have more than 30 percent of their energy radiated from the back, so in your case, have a good hard surface behind them, this will accentuate the high frequencies and help balance the situation.
Magnapan MMGs? Are those the cheapy ones? I owned them in the mid eighties -paid $550.00 or so new... I was never satisfied with their detail either. I visited an audio store in "the valley" when living in L.A. where I heard some Conrad-Johnson "Synthesis" speakers (no longer made) that made me feel like someone had pulled cotton wads out of me ears! Truly high-end sound. Find some new speakers (with first-order crossovers -of course). -Think this will do the trick.
try experimenting with different upgrade AC power cords on any / all components that have detachable cords. Every cord sounds different, & they don't even perform in exactly the same way when placed on different components. Try out some different silver cords, cables, & speaker wire. Silver can definitely add some zip to a lackluster combo.
Dweller has identified your main problem. I used to sell MMG's retail, and while they are fun little speakers for the dough, you will not get crystal clarity out of them no matter what's before them in the chain - they lack the extension (both in frequency and dynamics) and resolution/articulation you want, and they add a grainy texture, all resulting in a comparitively veiled, midrangey sound. If you're a fan of the Maggie spatial presentation (as I am), maybe you ought to check out a pair of the 1.6QR's; I suspect you'll find them to be much smoother, more open, and more detailed. I also suggest that you address your speaker issue before making changes to your sources or cables, because if you try to do those things first, you may not like the balance that your choices have given you once you acquire more truly revealing speakers. Get something better to hear your system through, speaker-wise, and then you can focus on making upgrades elsewhere, knowing you have a 'clearer window' through which to evaluate options in the rest of the chain.
Get a turntable
Sticking strictly to cables, I would strongly recommend you try Mapleshade ICs and speaker cables. Mapleshade offers a 30-day moneyback, and clarity is their strong point. The more expensive Omega Mikros (same designer) are even better.
After buying a turntable, it might be worth it to check out speaker placement and room tunes. Moving speakers a little bit can make a lot of difference. 'Rives' has a website which can help with placement of speakers and the listening chair. See if it makes a difference. Moving speakers and chairs costs less than other options, so start there and move up.
Good luck.
Hi guys thanks for the responses.
I think I will try a silver IC. How about Nordost Solar Wind, RCA 1m, they are about $70 used. Any other suggestions in my price range (keep in mind that I am a student)?
I currently have sovtek 6922 tubes in my CDP, would replacing them with telefunken 6922 help the situation?
Would buying a better power amplifier also help, like a used Aragon or a classe? I might sell the MMGs and buy new speakers but thats a last resort.

Keep the suggestions comming.
Do you want the old clarity or the new and improved clarity?
I also had a pair of MMGs in 1986-87 as background music speakers. They lack detail and are really quite dull sounding for real music listening. They are also based on a technology that Magnepan has surpassed alomst 15 years ago. The speakers are exactly where you need start (by replacing them). No silver or tube replacement juju is going to help. These things are fine tuning.
Solar winds should help. You don't have to blow your budget on telefunkens. I really like golden dragon tubes as well as svetlana, don't rule out any old stock 6922s. Sovtek are crap. Switching to the aragon or classe will still leave you with a softer sound. If you need more bite in the highs after new interconnects and tubes, it's time for new speakers.

Good tube sites: tubesandmore.com, thetubestore.com, tubeworld.com (pricey), tubeman.com or jeffssoundvalues.com
The late production Sovtek 6922's have about as much HF extension as most of the more desirable 6922's (exceptions would be early Amperex USA 7308's and Tungstram 6922's), so if you are not hearing HF detail then it's not the tubes.

A silver IC will change the sound. A good/inexpensive silver IC is the Homegrown Audio Super Silver (used ones show up in the classifieds) and it has an exciting sound to it.

Instead of spending more money @ this point I will suggest more time/effort in regard to setting up the system. Try placing the CD player on different surfaces, organize the cabling and experiement more with speaker placement (a few inches or degrees of angle will alter the sound of your speakers). In other words get the most out of what you already have and then go from there.

You are probably dealing with a bad room and a bad power source to start with, but fudging these factors runs into some money. Start with the easy/inexpensive things first.
If you're determined to bark up the silver IC tree (which sounds like a decent idea), I'd suggest checking out the kits available from Homegrownaudio.com. Assuming you can solder, $40 for the Super Silver (which is, in most regards, the functional equivalent of the $240 Kimber KGAC) is a no-brainer. Oops, I stand corrected, they've upped the price a bit since I got mine, looke like a 1m kit will run you about $70. Still worth a look, even if they're not quite the bargain they used to be. (And, looking above, looks like Dekay beat me to this one, too. Rats.)
Try Bybee Quantum Purifiers on the positive terminal of each speaker binding post. The cost for both is about $150, and many people have had great results with them. The frequency range you desire is precisely where they work best. The remove noise and clear up the detail in the midrange and treble. Some claim they enhance the bass as well, but I didn't notice that so much. What you will get however is cleaner highs, more distinction between instruments, sounds, and vocals that occur simultaneously. Hope this helps.

I think after reading the replies that there is strong evidence that speakers are your problem. Changing tubes, ICs or speaker wire will tweak the sound but not 'change' it. Stop spending money on tweaks and save for an 'upgrade.' To answer your question about Telefunken, I have found those tubes to be darker than others, but have a very sweet sound with good bass. A tube that would add a little brightness would be Siemens (as others have suggested) or an Amprex 7308 tube. But keep in mind, its a tweak, not a fix.
I find it both amusing and sad - how many times do audiophiles have to been reminded not to treat cable swaps, tube swaps, tweaky supports, etc. as band-aids for fundamental system shortcomings? Lawbadman has a mid-fi system right now: Fine, we all had mid-fi systems at one point - the solution is not to go spending money blind on the sorts of tweaky band-aids that audiophiles like to apply in order to max out their high end systems, the solution is to continue putting the money toward fundamental system upgrades first. The poor guy's in a cramped dorm room, and is asking about adding tone controls, fer Pete's sake (which would make a lot more of a difference, but still wouldn't address the problem) - and he's obviously got a budget to contend with - he's not in need of your tweaky-ass BS yet! He should probably put the Maggie thing on the back burner right now and get some decent small monitors while he's still in school. Whatever - you guys ought to be more responsible than to persuade our fine student to chase after silver IC's and NOS tubes when his speakers and set-up won't even allow him to hear what he's doing, much less fix his problem. Boo! :-(
Zaikesman: Amen.
Umm, thats what I said Zaik;)
whine whine whine
Thanks guys for taking such great interest in my post. Special thanks to Zaikesman for his strong words, which have caused me to think more about getting new speakers.

So I guess my next step is to get rid of the MMGs and get monitors. Now there is the issue of which monitors (used)to buy. Any suggestions (keep in mind that i can only spend about $700)?
So ZaiK:

What decent small monitors do you suggest in the $0-$50 price range? This is the budget that I ended up with in my last post.

The MMG's can sound quite good when set up half way right and this takes some time if you are not experienced with planers.

I do not see any problems with the system (should sound pretty damned good if the speakers can be placed 24" from the front wall) and suggested further work on setting it up properly.

As far as some of the silver IC's go I feel that they work quite well with softer sounding speakers (like the less expensive Vandersteens and the little Maggies). Since when is using the proper IC a tweak if it balances out what is otherwise lacking (in this case dynamics and HF's)?

Oh, and the same to you Dweller (we probably listened to the MMG's in the same shop - Shelly's). They sounded good and musical to me for a $550 planer.
Lawbadman, I can't tell you which speakers to get, nor would I presume to try. You'll need to listen to some things yourself if at all possible. What I want to stress is that you don't need "brighter" speakers, as you say - tonal balance is only part of what you crave. Clarity results from accurate transient response and low resonance as much as it does from outright extension or a flat frequency balance, which is why even tone controls will not fundamentally correct the flaw you perceive, despite the fact that such a control could certainly be used to provide some sort of additional 'brightness'. It is quite possible to have brightness without clarity, and it will sound even worse.

While I disagree (but only to an extent - I still like the speakers for their essential 'Maggie-ness') with Dekay's assessment of what the MMG's are ultimately capable of, he's dead on with his diagnoses of why these may well not be the speakers for you at this time (even though he doesn't frame it that way ;^) Flat-panel dipoles like Maggies are critically sensitive to both in-room positioning and listener positioning relative to the speakers, and a dorm room is probably not going to allow for the correct placement of either. As to the first factor, ideally Maggies should be at least 3ft., and more optimally 4 - 5ft. out from the front wall (although the MMG, which is both shorter and more angled than its big brothers, won't benefit as much from the greater distances, which is as it should be). As to the second factor, the listener must be able to position themselves with their 'line of hearing' absolutely perpendicular to the plane of the speaker panels. If you have to listen at all off-axis, you will quickly lose a lot of high frequency response - it's just the nature of this type of radiator.

My assumption is that you are experiencing both problems associated with this speaker - it's not as good a speaker as you want, and you can't properly utilize what goodness it has. Dekay is also right about them being a great value at $550 - MMG's give you some things no other speaker close to the price can do (primarily in their spatial presentation and lack of boxy colorations - great clarity however is not one of them), but that recommendation shouldn't be taken for more than what it is - on an absolute scale, these speakers are lacking in many ways. They are kind of a 'loss-leader' teaser for the Magnepan brand; consider that their next model up (the MG12) is almost twice the price, but only slightly larger. MMG's are basically sold on the premise that they will shortly be traded in and up using Maggie's full-credit program.

For your situation at the moment, a decent set of smallish 2-way box speakers (which may well run more than the MMG's, although not necessarily, especially used) could offer the kind of broad dispersion and ease of placement that you could probably use, and the right pair could also offer higher intrinsic clarity (in the senses mentioned above) than do the MMG's. It's got to be your call though - the MMG's are hard to beat in certain ways for the money, and sound quite different than what I'm suggesting. Depends on what your priorities are, both sound-wise and money-wise, and whether or not you can achieve optimum set-up with the Maggies. Even if you like the Maggie's special sound, if you can't set them up right and listen to them on-axis, don't waste money on other system tweaks trying to compensate - it won't work. And if you do have them set up right, but still crave more clarity, look for new speakers before spending on system tweaks, because you are already up against the MMG's limitations in the area which concerns you. (All IMHO, natch - Bob! :-)
Lawbadman...if your dorm room was like mine...Mags would be a "tight fit"...as others have stated...they are very room sensitive and not "space savers"...if you plan on moving off campus...I would keep em as opposed to taking a hit on the used market...although Mags have good resale value...probably around $400...monitor alternatives would be Spendor 3/5 used(sealed design)...Triangle Titus(front ported)...the Triangles are very detailed and transparent...some would say "bright"...neither will have the spacious qualities of the Mags...but there is not much out there at the $500 level that is...

Looks like we agree more than disagree.

What do you think of our future Lawman trying some DIY diffusion panels for the back wave (place them on the front wall behind the speakers)?

There are some examples of these @ the Cain & Cain website (photos of their listening room) and it looks like two panels could be made with a single (4 x 8) sheet of MDF and a scroll saw (glue them up).

I had once considered using these with a pair of the little Acoustats in our spare bedroom which is about the same size as a typical dorm room and in which the speakers would have had to be approx. 24" from the front wall. I gave up on the project as the room was converted from a non-cat zone (we needed to add a second litter box in the bath off this room due to the addition of a psycho cat).
A friend and I went and listened to a bunch of <$1K monitors, and the Meadowlark Vireos were hands down the best of what we auditioned (I forgot all the models we listened to... sorry!). Very BIG sound, filled the room. I loved them, and my speakers are hybrid electrostats, so they must have been relatively transparent. I've seen these on Audiogon for about $600 used. Front ported, so they can be placed right up against a wall.
Since there are not much options with monitors in my price range, should I go for floorstanding speakers?
There are a ton of options - why not give us your budget? Other things being equal, floorstanders will cost more, not less, than 'bookshelf' speakers (the term "monitors" is used interchangably, if not entirely correctly, and is derived from the smaller size of recording-studio or remote-location 'desktop' playback monitors). The cabinet is the single biggest expense in a conventional box speaker, so in general the smaller the cheaper. Maybe also give the dimensions of your room. Of course, given that most respondents here have chosen to recommend tweaks over fundamental upgrades, your most productive strategy may be to start a new thread or search the archives...