I don't know how it would pair up with your Marrantz, but you might consider a Pass Aleph 3 or 30.
31 responses Add your response
ODYSSEY STRATOS SE
Any of these should do it.
If not... and even before throwing another amp at things, maybe adding a power filter for a couple hundred might help, like the UPC 200 from PS Audio.
If the receiver has a migratory power cord, that option too should be explored.
I overlooked cabling and conditioning early on and went through a lot more $$$ than I might have, had I looked into those accessories as a solution. Instead I began replacing components and that's an expensive lesson as ultimately they needed to be addressed.
Do not go with the Rotel 1080 if you are looking to warm up those speakers. Ii have owned the 1080 and it is anything but WARM, it is certainly on the bright side. The Cayin would be a good choice as would a Jolida 302BRC. The Jolida is an integrated using EL-34 tubes thus giving you the ability to take the reciever out of the mix if you wish.
Tubes would be a good direction to go if you are seeking warmth. I took from your post and your components that you were looking for SS, but in re-reading it I may have been wrong. I'd sell the Marantz and go with a tubed integrated, as has already been suggested. I'd be looking at Cayin, PrimaLuna, Jolida 502 or 302, etc., to warm things up in your price range. I would guess that if you used the Marantz (solid state) pre section that you may be running into more of the same harshness. The pre section is very important and should not be taken lightly. So the short answer is I don't think adding a power amp will do what you are after in eliminating the perceived harshness. Personally I've found that a preamp can potentially have greater effect in that regard - if you could add something to warm it up adding a warm pre would have more impact in my experience, but I don't think you can do that with your Marrantz receiver. I also wonder if the harshness you are describing has to do with "warmth", which I take to be an emphasis of the low-midrange, as opposed to clipping and distortion(s). Regardless, I'd still say tubes would be a great way to go. If you are looking for "warmer" sounding SS power amps in that price range, besides the Aleph recommendation, I'd second the Odyssey knod, and would also suggest a vintage Bedini 25/25 or 10/10 if your speakers are efficient enough (there are certainly risks in buying vintage stuff of that age though so weigh that in your considerations). The Aleph and Bedini run in Class A and are best left on 24/7 so can become space-heaters - great if you live in a cold climate, not so much fun in the South. Again, I'd still say your weak link will remain your pre in that case.
I think your best bet would be to get different speakers that suit your tates better. Speakers have the most effect on the sound you hear, so that is where you'll get the most bang for your buck.
It can be difficult to tame bright speakers so you may not be able to get the sound you want by changing amps.
I'd look for other speakers. I had Monitor Audio Silver 9's for a few years and couldn't keep them when I started listening to two channel more often because of the the same problem. I've seen a number of posts over the past months about Monitor Audios and brightness as well.
I switched to Quad speakers, but that too took some mixing and matching with integrated power amps to get the right sound for my taste (Musical Fidelity amps doing the trick as I tried both the A308I and A5, both with great results).
Look for something with a soft dome tweeter (woven dome or otherwise).
Stay away from Rotel. That would be disastrous with MA speakers (I had that pairing for a time as well...).
I believe it's more than the amp selection here that points to brightness.
I offered up the Rotel as a BTW mention. I had the rotel playing a pair of VR4 JR with a BAT VK5i preamp. the VR4 JR speakers have a lot of top end energy and regardless the SS amp I tried with them I had to keep the back tweet turned off... even with a BAT vk500 BP. there's not a bright bone in the 500's body!
Cabling played a big part in taming and straightening out brightness. the other major item in controling top end energy was power filtration.
I had a pair of Monitor Audio Gold 60s + a Krell KAV 250 + Sony 444es HT receiver as a preamp for a time then too. this was the most analytical, sterile, yet clear as a bell sounding rig I've owned. The cabling was crap. there was no power filtering going on, and there might even have been a ground loop issue for all I knew then.
ADding another upscale proc/pre helped. in the end I sold it all off... save the Sony receiver. I feel now though, had I investigated cabling and conditioning sooner, some of that rig might have stayed around lots longer... conditioning andd cabling are just that big a help.
However, given the choice between either getting another amp or changing out speakers, actually I'd do both eventually, but first I'd try something lots cheaper... a power filter like a PSA upc 200 FOR A COUPLE HUNDRED or so, instead of major changes first... and/or a power cord swap out. Then maybe do other big changes. that might well be all you need for now.
Addressing the incoming power in any rig is usually a great idea... though many attribute power line issues to a lack of component synergy or poor componnets instead.
Vandersteen and Quad come up often as "warmer" speaker suggestions. I only have experience with the Quads, which I'm more than happy with at the price point. MUCH better imaging, although I still found them a little bright until I paired them with a warmer sounding amp as well.
I'm not here to bash on MA and tell you to sell your gear, but I owned two pair of MA speakers over the past 7 years, both had the gold metallic dome tweeter which was the culprit (I originally wasn't listening to two channel much at the time I upgraded to the second pair...). I eventually tried everything, including different equipment (Denon to Rotel to Outlaw Audio to Musical Fidelity), nothing worked to cure the problem. They're just bright speakers, more intended for home theater in my opinion (which isn't esteemed...). I use Shunyata conditioning (Hydra) and good cabling as well and I agree with blindjim that cables/power conditioning help, but from my experience I eventually traded the speakers in on the Quads.
I own the Monitor 270s, a smaller tower featuring smaller drivers than yours - so take this comment with that caveat in mind. In my set-up, a subwoofer filled in the missing bottom octave and a half and nicely balanced the previously crisp sound. Take a look at the "measurements" section in the Stereophile on-line review of your speaker. At a glance, (and depending on your room) it looks like a sub might work for you, too. If you can borrow a sub for in-home demo, you may want to try this.
NB - If this approach works for you, the Velodyne SPLR subwoofers are being closed out at app 50% off list at Audio Advisor and IMHO represent great value.
Thanks, everyone, for your great advice. I may have to buy new speakers and amp eventually. But for now, I will try the subwoofer suggestion first. I was looking at RELs because I like the smaller size and was told it was very musical and they are available locally. Are the Velodynes good for music?
I just last night purchased a Panamax power conditioner. It is the smallest rack mount unit they have, ~$300. I have not hooked it up yet. Should I run everything through it, or not the receiver?
Do cables really make a difference? How do I know what cables will make a warmer sound and which make it brighter? I read copper warmer and silver brighter, but there are so many brands, and some are really expensive. Since I have a lower priced system $1000 speakers and $1000 receiver, I can't see spending more than 10% or $200 for all cables. Can you suggest some good ones that will give warmth and tame the brightness in that price range?
I listened to some Quad 11L2 and 12L2 and liked the 12s. I also liked Dynaudio Focus 140, Vienna Acoustics Hayden and Mozart, PSB Platinun and Era D5. I wish I could compare them all to my Monitor Audio RS6s!! I hate to buy something new and have the same problem with another pair.
Finding somewhere that carries the amps you have recommended will be harder. I will search. Any other suggestions for amps, speakers or tweaks?
I honestly wouldn't spend too much money on cables or power conditioning if you envision upgrading equipment. You'll find yourself spending $500-$1000 on cables/power conditioning when you could just use that money on speakers or a new amp.
I haven't heard the Quad 12L2s, I do have a pair of 22L2s which have been wonderful for what they cost. Still tricky to pair with equipment, but much less bright than MA and just as revealing (much better soundstaging).
Once you're comfortable with the amp/speaker combo, it might be better to focus on cables. If you're getting great sound out of cheaper cables (with good equipment matching that YOU like), better cables will only further the benefit you've got from that good equipment matching.
I've gone through Cardas (Golden Cross, Golden Reference), Acoustic Zen (Matrix II and Silver Reference), HGA Silver Lace, Audioquest Panther DBS, Tributaries Silver, Monster Cable, etc. I've also gone through VH Audio Airsine, PS Audio Lab, Zu Audio Birth, Shunyata Taipan Helix and Python Helix power cords. All of these cords shape the sound one way or another (some for the worse depending on your setup/tastes). I seriously doubt any of the aforementioned will qualm an excessively bright amp or speakers to the point you'll feel satisfied.
Key word is excessive brightness. If the setup is marginally bright or you have a slight bit of etch, cables work wonders...as does power conditioning and adding/removing sound isolation....and speaker placement.
Lefty, Take your time and listen to and read about speakers until you find a pair that really sound great to you. There are a LOT of really good speakers out there and one (or several) is sure to be just right for you.
From there I would get an amp and cd player or turntable that work well with your speakers. Your fellow speaker owners are usually happy to provide suggestions for gear that works well with that particular speaker.
Then, if you want to spend money on better cables, interconnects, etc. have at it.
I think that you will end up with the best sound and save a lot of money if you have a little patience and do it that way. We all get anxious to buy new gear but it's best to take it slow and listen, if you can, before you buy. You learned that with your Monitor Audios. If you're somewhere where you don't have the opportunity to listen first, then read a lot of opinions and reviews until you're pretty sure you want a particular speaker and then buy used so you don't take a big hit if you decide you don't like it.
Just browse the speaker ads, there are always plenty of great speakers available and if you miss one pair that you're considering buying, another will always come along.
I can't see spending more than 10% or $200 for all cables. Can you suggest some good ones that will give warmth and tame the brightness in that price range?My recommendation is to acquire the system & then check out usedcables dot com OR thecableco dot com for suitable USED wires within yr price range. You can try them out and return them if not satisfactory.
Plug in the conditioner! It'll take a little while, like all gear, to run in fully.
Sure... plug in what you have to it as well... if it's designed for everything. some filters are for front ends others for power amps, still others for analog. it shouldn't hurt to try.
One power cord upgrade at the point between the cond and the wall may be of immense help right there!
When I had my Monitor Audio Gold 60s all I had was a sony HT receiver. First I ran a dedicated ckt or two. that only proved out marginally better. Then I added some Monster M1000 ICs. Again, a bit better but nothing to write home about.
then I added a B&K amp, and quickly replaced it with a Krell amp. This was a questionable move at best.
Prior to letting the spkrs go I gave one shot to upscale speaker cables, again, Monster. I regret not having tried out more... but I wasn't then aware of the Cable Co. and their lending - renting library of cabling.
Figuring I had chosen poor components I sold off all of that system save for the Sony rec.
Cabling does matter. Component synergy matters too... but I feel now that with proper cabling and very good components you'll win far more often than you'll lose.
Don't buy things just because of brand name recognition to fill a spot. Think about where you want to wind up first... including what type of sound suits your ears and preffs... and simply go from there.
I feel MA are better suited to HT generally speaking, or with tube gear for music.
A sub won't reduce their top end energy/brightness... I'd look to the EQ in your receiver for that quick fix. it will help fill out and to some degree mask some of the lower midrange sibilence though, but going that way isn't an appropriate path ultimately. it's merely a patch and you're removing more than you are adding.
I tried a few subs too. I now have a Velodyne DD15. I didn't like it too much at first for either HT or music. Messing around with it some revealed a better more suitable setting in it's EQ which solved much of my disappointment. I now enjoy it a lot more. in fact it's very good for either HT or 2 ch. Placement mattered most there and then, dialing it in... and a power cord for it was THE deal.
Get a nice smooth power cord for that conditioner. Get some good cables for them speakers, like Audience or Synergistic Audio active cables, either will translate to other speakers along the way.
There's always two themes for gear you either don't want or don't want in your main rig... trickle down, or resale. I still got the Sony rec. the SR speaker cables, and the PSA UPC 200 power filter, they're just now in other rooms in the home comprising another system and I enjoy them a great deal regularly.
For a cheap but very nice fit for HT and music speakers that are revealing but not bright at all, try looking for some older Phase Tech PC (Premier Collection) speakers like the PC1000 OR PC10.5s. They're great performaers and possess super values. Why more folks don't talk about this speaker line up astounds me. They've been in business now for over 30 years and are quite inovative with several design patents many other speaker makers use frequently today.
Call the Cable Co.!
Thanks, Blindjim, for your history. I feel bad that I don't love these speakers since so many have raved about them in other forums. So, it is good to know that others have found MA to be more home theater than music oriented. I want warm, smooth, non-fatigueing music first. Then we can watch an occasional movie. I don't care if I hear every detail or if the blasts are thunderous. Music is what I listen to every day in the background, and we might watch two or three DVDs a month. Just not sure how to put a whole system together that is reasonably priced, when there are so many components and I need to listen to, in so many different locations. By the time I had listened to the 6th pair of speakers, several days had passed and I can't compare it to the others I liked somewhere else. Then add in comparing amps or receivers and then which goes with what. Its like solving a puzzle! Thats why I chose what I liked best at Magnolia with what they had available in the price range. But they don't play music that "moves me". Yet, in these economic times, I can't move up to expensive equipment. So that is why I am on this forum, avs and audiogon to get suggestions on how I can find what might best suit me in a moderate price range from people like you all that have experience with a variety of components. Something I do not have. I am here to learn and get suggestions so that I can direct my search, rather than just guess randomly or buy something in one day from one place (as I did with the monitor audio).
By definition power amp is NOT suppose to affect the sound.
The only job power amp is doing is amplifying signal. If you find power amp with warm sound or sharp sound or smooth sound it can only mean one thing : the amp is broken.
It could be that it was damaged in shipping or damaged by starry-eyed, kitchen table engineer.
In either case my advise would be to avoid such product or be eventually dissapointed.
My suggestion is that you go out and find some dealers that carry things you are interested in and listen, and then buy from THEM.
You are going to be chasing your tail for quite some time if you do the same old "well reviewed, must be good" dance and honestly go nowhere as far as a assembling a musical and satisfying system. Good luck.