It's not the sound I want!

My system consists of a Krell kav300i, Aeriel Acoustic 6s and AdcomGCD750. I have Cardas cables , Jenalabs interconnects and Synergistic Research ac chords. It sound great at times but I find many cds hard to listen to. I listen to vocals with acoustic guitar and the guitar sounds detailed but so metalic and unnatural. It sounds like sombody is playing a saw with a bow. Is this what digital really sounds like? Is it sytem matching? I dont think it is the speakers. Is it just a matter of settling for the best we can get for $8000.00 and limiting what we listen to?
Sounds like you have a great system Blbloom. The jena cable although not greatly advertised are good cables. I own a digital cable from them. If I am not mistaken your Aeriels have a metal dome tweeter. If so you might want to try a different set of spkrs cables. Something on the forgiving side. Hope this helps.
I'm sorry to hear that you're not satisfied with your setup. I suggest you completely rethink your system. From what you described, it's unbalanced. Assuming that you don't want to change the entire system, then the weakest component is your CD player. You spent too much of your budget on the speakers/amplifier and not enough on the front end. The money you spent on the better cables, interconnects and particularly the power chords was not a wise choice. You should only spend money on these items after the system basics are right. Your core components can easily support a CD player 3 to 4 times the cost of the Adcom. I know my reply sound harsh and overly critical, but I mean it to help you. Getting good sound is hard work and I don't know anybody who gets it right the first time. The high end is a journey, not a destination. Keep listening to your ears.
It think that alot of variables are present and an often overlooked one would be the actual listening room itself. You have great components now you have to tune your room.
Source, source, source! I adamantly echo the above comments. The Adcom is the likely "weak link" in the system. Audition higher quality CD sources (Wadia, Linn, Naim) and evaluate the change for yourself. And of course the room should ALWAYS be considered a component.
I also agree that the Adcom has GOT to go! In addition, I would say GET SOME TUBES. Given the resolution oriented amplification and speakers that you have, and the fact that you like acoustic guitar and vocals, you could do very well with SOME tubes somewhere in the system. A good way to try both recommendations might be to pick up a tube dac like the Cal Labs Alpha. $3-400 used, plus $50 or so for a digital cable, and you can try an upgrade to your digital as well as some tubes, without too much pocket-ache. Lastly, don't despair - identifying a sound that you don't like is an important step towards finding that ultimately satisfying system. And for most of us audio nuts, that last step always appears within our graps but just out of reach .....
I agree that the source is the most important. Try something like a Meridian 508.24 and the improvement will amaze you.
I'd echo much of the above comments primarily because I found myself in nearly the same position--and there was no mistaking that the "cure" was a new CD player. I had managed to scrape together some Thiel 2.3's, and Bryston 4B-ST amp, and a VTL pre-amp (my first dabble with the tubes), but was making it all go with the help of nothing more than a decade-old Yamaha changer (which is, admitedly, a whole lot worse than your Adcom). Nothing doing. Trouble was, I was REAL tired of spending money, and was just looking for an adequate CD player that would give the rest of the equipment a chance to shine while I got over the horror of realizing how much I had already spent (even buying used). By that time, I was also pretty infatuated with tubes, so I started looking at playeres from the likes of Cal Audio, Jolida, et al. By chance, I stumbled on this AH!Tjoeb retrofit sillyness which is based on a not-so-special Marantz player and then essentially gutted and re-tricked out with all of the latest fancyness and a tube stage. (for an extensive litany of praise, check out Well, I bought one, pretty much on a whim (can only order them from the factory in Holland or from a fellow named Kevin at Upscale Audio in CA, check out thier website...). Truth be told, if you have the will to invest in a Wadia, more power to you--I wish I owned one myself (or Levinson, or Meridian, or Linn...). But I've found that this little (ugly) tubed retrofit has hade me happier than I imagined it could. I had planned on it being essentially transitional when I bought it (yes, had to buy it unheard, which was tough, but they're only around $550 with all the options...) but I suspect that I'll end up hanging on to this one for a while. Maybe it's not your bag (maybe you should just sell the farm and go analog) but I would strongly suggest that it is worth a consideration. Best of luck, Peter
I hate to jump on the band wagon...but the Adcom is not the best choice. I would also say that the Krell, in my opinion, is not a very good amp either. Hyped, yes, but it's performance leaves much to be desired. I know that an integrated helps shorten the chain and lessens cost, but how about selling both the Krell and the Adcom and use the funds along with a bit extra(less than adding a DAC to the Adcom), and look for a good quality neutral amplifier and find a used Wadia 830 (former class A component, recently discontinued) and going direct connect, using the variable out of the Wadia for pre-amp functions,if you are a single source person. There are a number of reasonably priced used amps out there by CJ, ARC, Pass, ETC. that would make your promising system really sing!
I would go along with most of the previous advice about the CD player, most people who go on and on about digital sorces have never heard a good CD player. I would recommend you audition a CAL Labs. If you have the bucks check out the 15 or 20, the 20 is expensive, but is also a great DVD Player. If money is an issue, try to pick up a older Cal Icon Power Boss used. I would take issue with the previous advisor and advise that before you 86 the Krell 300i, wait till you play a good CD player through your system as it now configured. I use a CAL 20 thru a Krell 300i as kinda a second system and it soulds great with several different speakers I have tried (Soliloquy, Magnepan) I do also have some B&W speakers and the Krell can sound a little bright thru them.(Remember the 300i is also a Stereophile class A rated unit) It just may not be the amp for the speakers you are using or the speakers you are using may not be suited for the Krell. I have no experience with Areiel's. Bottom line, get a good CD player, and if that does not float your boat, then it may come down to getting a new amp for your speakers or getting new speakers for your amp.
After all the advice you've gotten, most of which sounds right to me, I'd just add: look for a used Sonic Frontiers SFCD-1 one-piece CD player. It has a tubed output stage, and impressed the Stereophile people, including Atkinson, before it got more or less forgotten as other "flavors of the month" came along. And it's a lot cheaper than a Wadia 830 on the used market. Of course if you can afford the Wadia, few would deny that it would be a better choice.
Tom is right about SFCD-1 among the best CD players made. However, i wouldn't recommend this player as good match for Krell 300. Even though that SF is tubed, it isn't, what most of us would expect from tubed electronics: "lush" "sweet" "harmonicaly rich...etc". SFCD-1 can be harsh if "hooked" to the wrong "stuff". Krell will also sound overly "analytical" if source is wrong. I would have to agree, with above mentioned Meridian the latest version.
Before doing anythig rash, try to borrow a P.S. Audio Powerstation (for your front end), put your CD player on three sorbothan feet, and about eight black diamond racing cones on top of your Adcom (do the same for your amp if you can go the $$$). I think your rig is basically sound. Ken
If it's not the sound you want, take up horse racing. You can even wear earplugs. (sorry, I couldn't resist), you have too much advice here already but it is alllllll good.
EARPLUGS ! Wow! What a tweak. I think I'll start a company to sell earplugs, and start by sending several samples to reviewers at Stereophile.
Any of the above advice about tube dacs or players may be just what you need.I own the Cal Alpha/Delta combo(with a used reference balanced digital interconnect.(cable list $700. used$225.) Tubes offer a way to custom tailor sound to your own taste and needs.The above setup ,including cable can be had used for ,within $1000.(U.S.)The Alpha dac can later be upgraded by Cal to 24/96 which brings the overall performance up another notch !You can easily get most or all your money back on reselling used gear and this offers one the ultimate and most affordable way to fine tune their system.I would strongly recommend that you focus on one component at a time and wait until your budget allows for you to purchase the new addition to compare with your current one.While room treatment, isolation and ideal speaker placement are all essential to fine tune your sound,proper component matching is of the utmost importance.If the digital upgrade is not the entire solution ,then consider comparing amps that will have a smoother high end. I went from a well broken in Bryston 3BST to a McCormack DNA-1 Deluxe,that I will soon send out for the top revision A upgrade.The 3BST sounded fine,yet the DNA-1 was smoother.A perfectly matched and properly setup system will give you a very satisfying sound.I recently had a second system(5k) that was very satisfing.BTW, both of these systems also benefited from tube pre amps.One step at a time and a little patience.
I agree with Kkirkpa don't do anything rash - I would work to get the best out of what you have first. There are a lot of things you can do to take the 'edge' off of your system. I have had GREAT success tuning my system with Bybee products and Black Diamond Racing Cones/Parts and the (ridiculously expensive) Shunyata power cords. It is amazing how far these things go to improve the sound and take the edge off of what sounds like a great system. Why throw away a group of components you found and like? Things like the stand they are on, and power cords can really make a big difference. I would contact DJ at BDR to get his advise (he's a no BS guy who will tell you if he thinks it won't help) and then borrow some cables (the Cable Company is good for this) and try to find ways to 'tune' what it sounds to me is a sound you are basically happy with. I have a Meridian 508-24 and Pathos Twin Towers and I too was surprised to find CDs somtimes sounding a bit hard compared to my VPI MK4. $8-grand is a lot of scratch for system; I would focus on taking reasonable steps toward cleaning it up before I started swapping major component out.
I have listened to the Aeriels with Classe` equipment and I can assure you the problem is not the speakers. They are wonderful with the Classe` gear. Try "The Cable Company", They will let you audition Harmonic Technology cables. They are not expensive (relative to your system) and at the least can let you relax a bit while listening to the Adcom. I think they may help you here. You dont have much to lose by trying them out. Good luck. Let us know how things progress.
Borrow a good turntable (VPI, Gouldman, Rega, Linn, Project, etc.) from a buddy or dealer! You'll be amazed how good your system sounds. Your system is so revealing that you are hearing artifacts of the digital source.
I suggest before spending alot of money, to work on your speaker placement or room response. If your room overemphises high mids/low trebles it can be fatiguing, and acoustic and electric guitars will sound edgy or shrill. I am a guitar player and am very picky about tone, and I have never had a problem with guitar tone with my c.d. players. Maybe I've just been lucky.
I want to thank you all for your taking the time to post a response. I believe I received a lot of good information. I borrowed a Meridian 508.24 cd player and tried it with my system. The difference was not as much as I expected. There was a bit more air and transparency, and I found it to be smoother on some recordings that were quiet, like Kieth Jarret's new album of solo piano. Otherwise to me the sound was very close and at this time, I don't think worth the extra $3000. I am considering a used Meridian or Wadia 830 if I find the right deal, but on the whole I would say that this experience has helped me to appreciate the sound I have now. I also played with speaker location and found that greater toe in reduces the harsh sound I was hearing. I know there are some acoustic problems with my room, but as it is my living room, and the system already dominates, I am limited in what I can do there. I will post soon and ask for advice on this topic. I have also played with cables and interconnects (Cardas Golden Cross) and found that there is not a noticable difference here. The Jenalabs are actually more nuetral and have all the same good qualities. Thanks Again, Blbloom
Just to re-iterate what's been said from another Krell 300i owner. I would look at the cdplayer as your problem. I have an average cd player (Sony ES85 with an Audio Alchemy DITB) and sometimes experience what you describe. When I listen to the same CD recording on vinyl the brightness goes away. It happens mostly on your average rock recordings for me. That said, I have had the Levinson 39 and the Theta Miles hooked up to my Krell and the sound was glorious on every recording I tried. The Krell does take careful matching from the digital I think auditioning some good CD players will show that to you. Good luck.
*all* cd players are the problem. pick up a cheap tubed buffer-stage for the cd. like the z-man ase, or the musical fidelity (X-10?), then spend ~$1k on pretty much *any* analog set-up you can find, new *or* used. it will blow into the weeds *any* cd set-up at *any* price. if ya have more to spend on the analog set-up, so much the better. perhaps one of those new (i.e. cheaper than dcs) digital up-samplers would help out your cd's also...
Your metallic acoustic sounds like the problem I had with violins: they sounded sweet but shiny, like they were made of silver. The solution for me was AtmaSphere M60's and a Metronome CD/DAC combo with a tube output stage. Now the fiddles sound like wood. Bought all used on Audiogon. I tend to focus on the amps before anything else, but I know that opinions differ on that point.