You could try to dampen the wall behind the speakers and the side walls. You could also get a 2ohm or even a 3ohm resistor and try that, but normally dipoles need some type of acoustic treatment.
109 responses Add your response
I would definitely look to replace the anticables. I have found them to be too bright with every combination of equipment I have used them with. Also, the Rotel 1080 amp sounds a little tilted up in the upper midrange to me when I heard on in my system a couple of years ago.
Hopefully, changing just the speaker cables will make a big enough difference.
I would try MAC CuQ..........very smooth, but detailed with a huge soundstage.
I agree with Tkmetz the anti cables and Rotel may be the culprits, I am not familiar with the Emotiva.
Maggies are known to be sensitive to the input signal and will be bright unless fed a quality signal.
Also make sure to dampen the first reflection points on the walls, floor and ceiling in your room, maybe even a ficus tree behind them to diffuse high end energy.
I am not surprised you find the combination of gear currently harsher/too bright. I would suggest a cable set change (I have been unimpressed with single smaller gauge wires) and that you use the Denon 2900 as transport to an Eastern Electric Minimax DAC (reviewed by myself for Dagogo.com).
If you obtain a good quality digital cable the Denon/Minimax combo is extremely good and will give you the following benefits:
1. Massive upgrade in sound quality (i.e. detail, definition, sound stage, etc.) Note: The detail and definition is never the problem; the problem is how it is presented tonally.
2. Addition of tubes to mellow out the sound from all the mid-level SS components. This will assist in addressing the harshness, poor tonality.
3. The EE DAC has its own attenuation, so you can feather the output of the DAC in relation to the preamp. This allows you to have whatever degree of brightness or warmth you wish. It is an extremely effective way to tonally control the system.
You can get far, far better sound from your rig; you are not anywhere near the limit of its capacity. This should be welcomed news to you, as you will likely be able to approach your ideal sound with some more work on the rig. :)
How many hours on the 1.7's although used they may not be broken in yet. Also tell us about the room. How big, lots of glass, hardwood or carpet, furniture. How are the 1.7's setup? How far off the back wall, toed in? How much? Next to a TV or wall units? All of these things will effect SQ. Planar speakers tend to be fussier in setup than dynamic speakers.
Of course all cables may sound different on different systems, however, I find Anti-Cables very flat in frequency transference..as a matter of fact, I tried almost every cost no object cables in my system, and Anti-Cables were the best. Magnapans are hard to drive and if the Rotel is having problems and clipping than you will hear what could be a bright sound. Replacing the Anti-Cables with Cardas for instance will get you a more mellow sound, but increase the "mud" along with it. Rotel amps are good for the money, but not the last word in performance. Maggies ARE good for the money AND in the upper reaches of performance.
here are all of the options
1- new power cables - try shunyata viper only 100 bucks
2- new speakers cables - try regular radioshack cables
3- panels for sides and front wall - or heavy drapes on front wall
4- try hifi fuses on the speakers - I use them and love them
5- get a thick rug
6- make sure the sub is set properly sometimes its set to take the lows at too low a rate meaning have the sub only take on 40 and below pushing the lows to the speakers
7- change the size of the speakers in your denon - either from large to smallor or small to large
8- add a second sub
I took me two years to get my 1.6 set up . First i hung floor to ceiling curtains behind the speakers. This helped.Next i added "superchunk" bass traps in the 4 corners. Finally a full 4" wall treatment of OC panels behind the speakers .This tamed the highs significantly.Cost me around $200 for materials .$700 w bass traps. I had the anticables at one point and found them bright.Kimber Kable hero interconnects work well.Also 12tc speaker wire from KK.
I would look at your source first,then I would dump the emotiva I had one for two weeks and sold it my old hafler sounded much better its not the maggies.Try and find a tube pre after looking at your source first.Do not bother with cables they can be changed later.I wish I had the maggies they are fantastic much better than the ones I had.
Thanks for all the interesting suggestions, I guess I have at least a few weeks project ahead of me, experimenting.
If I were to change one of the electronics, to make things a little warmer, cd player / pre-amp / power amp which one would be the best bang for the buck, I cannot afford to change all three at present.
I understand every system is different. In my case, I don't have luck in SS preamp. I always feel the sound is too bright and sometimes harsh. I tried upgrade cables, no significant improvement. I tried to change to another SS amp, no luck. I tried to add a DAC with tube buffer, no luck. Until I change to a tube preamp, I start to see the improvement. So, I would suggest to get a nice tube preamp. I am not sure what is your price range, tried to search for the thread for best tube preamp under $1000. I remember some of the suggestions are Mapletree 4 SE, AES DJH, PrimaLuna Prologue 3. I am using a PrimaLuna Prologue 3 now, very good preamp. But you need to pay attention to its very high output impedance and 12dB gain. You need an amp with at least 100k ohm input impedance.
I'm partial to Cary tube pre-amps, but I think the Prima Luna's are among the best deals in all of audio. Great, warm sound, at a reasonable price.
Also, older ARC and Mac gear that is less expensive sounds stellar as well. I like maggie with a tubed pre, and powerful amp. Mellows out the sound with the tubes and gives you great bass with the powerful amps.
Well you sort of opened a Pandora's box when you asked this question. My advice, don't spend any money right now, especially on cables or power cords. First play w/ the speaker position and the see what you can do about the room interactions. Post the dimensions of the room, where the speakers stand in the room, and what you have behind the speakers. Start with the room and speaker placement before you buy anything else. You've got a speaker, for better or worse, that is sensitive to what's driving it; however, even w/ very high end equipment Mangepans can still perform well below par if they are not placed correctly. With some more detailed information about your room the folks here will help you optimize your acoustics, first priority.
Djcxxxis giving good advice.
Usually the advice is to throw money at the problem...
Enough money and the problem will disappear.
Better to solve the problem with no money, or very little money. Then you've got something going.
I used the things in my apartment and rearranged some stuff behind my Magnepan 3.6s.
I added some bookshelves to the rear sides of the speakers to act as an absorber. They are right into the rear corners, floor to almost ceiling filled with DVDs etc. Then in the other part of the corner are heavy drapes.
I have my 3.6s with the tweaters 'inside'. I calculated a good position for my speakers, and then left the tweeter in that spot, but swapped them so the bass was on the outside of that position. Worked well. Wider, with no hole in the middle. And a better appearance too. A little better lower frequency response added in.
So try adjusting the room some. You may not even have to buy anything to get some good from it.
And then in the other site for your question, i mentioned some ferrite on the disc player cords, interconnect, and power cord. Radio Shack has some, and others, so a $15 set of three ferrite might help a bit.
I have ferrite claps I bought 20 years ago, and always find new things to do with them. So they can be a permanent part of the arsenal of things to use to adjust stuff.
One other thing i just thought of is the coil in place of the resistor for the tweeter.
Over on AA the planar asylum, a tweak of using a small coil in place of the resistor, smooths the HF. The coil is like a $2 part. i do not remember the value. but check out the AA planar forum for it.
There is a lot of good advice and good ideas here. The take home message is that most of what you have may not be the best match with the 1.7's.
I'm with Macdadtexas on the importance of good clean power. I use CAD 500 MB's with my Maggies. Unfortunately you are not going to spring 3-4K on an amp right now. You are trying to work on the cheap, so here is my hierarchy using mostly suggestions from the threads. Buy used to save money. Each one of these will help.
1) < $200 Deaden the corners, floor to ceiling. Glue Auralex panels to blue insulation pannels. You may be very surprised.
2) < $500 Promethius TVC volume control. I use a Promethius Ref 4 with my Maggies. You will want to watch the length of your IC's and use an amp with a reasonably high input impedence if possible.
3) < $700 I like the Eastern Electric DAC suggestion above. I've had Denon players with Maggies before and they were not a good match.
4) As Macdadtexas points out, you can do all of the above and still not completely fix the problem. But it sounds like you may need to wait a while before you can really get an amp that will do justice to the maggies. Just keep in mind that you are going to need to get the amp replaced at some point.
Your problem is simple,you have Ferrari speakers running on WalMart tires.Providing you have the financial resources you most definitely should replace the source and the amp.Cable upgrades will help but improvements will be less than dramatic.
I agree with others that have recommended room treatments.
I've owned several Magnepan speakers and I can provide you with some recommendations for equipment upgrades if you care to flip me a pm.
NOBODY has suggested the cure which worked for me.
My 1.6s were bright, too. And very beamy. Too much toe and the highs were nearly unbearable, while the center image was razor sharp and little sound extended beyond the outside edges of the speakers.
Tweeters in/out didn't make much difference.
Toe OUT until the balance was right and you could get a hole in the middle effect.
The cure? 15 or so years ago, Magnepan started shipping with the Mylar forward, to the listener. I kid you not, when I suggest FLIPPING THE PANELS around to listen to the pole piece side. This will improve dispersion to the point that a wider toe angle will be fine.....I am at about 10 or 11 degrees which is about 3 1/2 inches difference between measures of inside and outside of the speaker to the 'front' wall. Widening the toe will take you out of the tweeter 'hot spot' on axis and improve image while providing fine center fill and a near wrap-around sound field.
Save all that expense of cable / amp / dac / seance stuff until you finish experimenting with speaker orientation and placement.
At that point, some diffusion BEHIND and BETWEEN the speakers works wonders. At least you aren't running your Ferrari on Firestones.
1. Use the spacers on the stand screws to tilt the panels back. If you do not have the original spacers provided by Magnepan then use a properly sized washer. Angling the panels back a bit will help with the hot top-end
2. ABSOLUTLEY replace the Emotiva; this piece is too bright and forward to use with Magnepans. Switch to a well-balanced tube preamp if possible
Confirm that your power amp can and will double-down it's output power into the 1.6's; if it does not, then switch to an amp that will. All Magnepan speakers need high current and an abundance of watts to sound their absolute best.
Tweaking your room surroundings is good advice but on it's own that will not correct serious deficiencies in your upstream components. (a really poor room can ruin very good components, but in your situation it's the system matching of your pre amp and amp that is most likely causing 95% of your problem). I've auditioned the 1.6's and 1.7's extensively in my room and titling the panels back on their vertical axis should make a positive difference. If your amp is running out of power then the sound will harden and get bright. And, as I mentioned above the Emotiva is definitely bright.
I ultimately went with the 3.6's because they were a better match for my larger room and I felt that their top end was smoother overall than that of the 1.6's.
The Maggies are fantastic speakers and a true bargain at their prices (especially when you buy them used), but they absolutely require the best amplification and properly matched components.
The 'not enough power' carp is, IMO, a red herring.
That is, unless you crank it up....lots. EVERYONE without exception that buys panels and has lesser amps still likes them. The also all, without exception report better results with more power.
Even my RB1070 of 130x2 at 8 and NO 4ohm rating...unless you count the bridged 8 ohm rating as 1/2 of that per channel into 4ohms, did OK until pushed. It was replaced with a 'd' amp of 500x2 which for sure gets the job done. However, I've never measured more than maybe 12vac to the speaker terminals. Even allowing for the fact that it is a 'slow' meter, I'm sure I've not exceeded say.....24vac which is nowhere near 'redline'......
Personally, I'm not into the Rotel house sound so I'm not the best judge.
Work on the 'cheap' stuff before starting down the 'swapping stuff until you go broke' path.
I'm not a big fan of the tilt back, either. Image is impacted in a bad way. The panels when vertical just sound right, to me. Especially when I listen to the pole piece side. Tilt back brings more ceiling/floor bounce into the picture. don't forget that the way low sensitivity of the panels is mitigated by the line source / dipole behavior.
Don't forget there are 4 ways to place your panels. Tweeter in/out and pole piece front/rear.
Lots of interesting points.
My room is 22ft by 32ft and 12 feet high, I have the speakers in the middle 12 feet apart, and 3 feet from the rear wall with 3 inches of toeing with the tweeters on the inside, I have a large rug and a pair of bookselves behind the speakers and I sit about 10feet in the middle. I have ordered some 1.5 and 2 ohm resistors. I will play more with positioning and tilting and will experiment with a vinage Dynaco PAS - 3 tube pre amp that a friend is willing to lend me. Any other recommendation on a used tube pre-amp under $500 will be appreciated.
I just might get those cheap ferrite power cords and a basic AC filter from radioshack.
Having owned Emo gear I would say replace the pre amp first and also then the source for something with tubes or try a tubed pre amp. Personally Emo has always sounded bright to me whenever I've used it and I will not use it ever again in two channel due to this.
If your looking for budget run a Jolida ect if you wanted to get started in tubes and not have to output a lot of coin. Also not sure about cables but I would try the pre amp first as to me cables do make a difference but the pre will make more. Also the source before cables. IMHO.
My Maggie 1.7's are in a room with 9 foot ceilings, 35 feet long and 15 wide. Fully carpeted with couch, loveseat, and chair. Palm trees behind the speakers. The room is on a lower level with stairs near the listening end and an el around the back so it opens up behind the listening position.
The speakers are four feet from the front wall (15 foot wall) and about seven feet apart. I sit about ten feet away (which is too close to get the full effect of different instruments in space). This means about 20 feet behind me. I would like to move to 3.6's or 3.7's but do not think that they will fit given the current room setup. (Mancave to a point but with a healthy dose of WAF!)
I have the tweeters oriented "in" which helped with focus and imaging. Moving them around inch by inch impacts the bass. Mye stands (new used on Audiogon) have made a noticeable improvement in bass.
The speakers have been used for about 350 hours. They seem to continue to improve in the richness of the sound. They started out a little analytical and bright but have mellowed. An improvement.
I have not made the plunge to any special interconnects or speaker wire. Using "no name" stranded wire for the speakers that is thicker than lamp cord. My interconnects are home made from a Walmart out door patio cord with soldered RCA connectors and heat wrap.
I listen to some vinyl, but mostly CDs through a tubed Audiospace CD8.
I run a 300 wpc/4ohm Krell that can play quite loud when I am in the listening position. The volume goes from 0 to 150. If I go above 90 it will overheat and autoshutdown occurs. When the wife comes to talk I have to turn the volume down to about 50 which is a loud background level in order to hear her. We have a bar at the far end of the room and when I sit there I want them louder. Also, I think that 300 wpc into 4 ohms is not enough to carry the peaks.
So...Wyred4Sound SX1000 and STP SE are on order from Underwood Hifi.
By the way, Wally says that Wyred4Sound is contemplating a "reference" line of amps that can be played in digital or tubed mode. They will have better asethetics. Price will be much higher than SX series and the digital side of the sound will not be any different.
For the record I too own a 'd' ICE amp....
Be careful with 'd' amps. The Krell sure cooks, doesn't it? Maybe better ventilation? I tested 3.6s with the xi400 integrated and it sure got warm, and I didn't even try to abuse it. In my less than perfect space for amp, I'd kill it in a week.
Anyway, back to 'd' amps. The ICE modules are NOT whatever power FTC rating. No 1 hour at 1/3 power preconditioning and STRICT time limits at full power. The ASP module used in the kilowatt amps is ONLY 30 seconds at full power. My 500 watter is 60 seconds. Figure the efficiency at 100% power is about 83%, plug to speaker. That is a lot of power ALL going to heat. Go to the B&O website and look at some photos. Not much heatsink in any of those modules.
That doesn't mean they don't work in to REAL loads with MUSIC. Especially since music will only consume a fraction of an amps power with the rest being dynamics...at which the 'd' amps excel.
The take away here is to take the power ratings with a grain of salt.
You may like the panels flipped around. I spend a lot of time.....maybe 15 or 20 minutes per session tuning my speakers. When I got 'em where I wanted, I carefully documented and MEASURED the location. I used the wooded side stiles as marks and carefully drew my room in Google Sketchup and place the speakers.....A little trig and I know where the speakers 'cross' and the angle at which they are toed in.
You have a nice space. The ONLY red flag is the length being about 4x the height, but this is made better by the characteristics of panel/dipoles.
If I had really.....reallly deep pockets, I check out a Pass INT-150 and make whatever accomodations necessary if it sounded right. Maybe end up sleeping in the garage.....and eating rice and beans for a couple years.
FYI, I lived with Maggies for many many years. About a dozen different amps; ss and tube. Used the Maggies in stock form and heavily modifed to their limits. Having said all that I am inclined to agree with Madactexas; the amp is probably the issue. However, everyone (specially you; obviously) has left out a key part of the equation: WHAT WERE THE SPEAKERS THAT YOU USED PRIOR TO THE MAGGIES, THAT (PRESUMABLY) WERE NOT TOO BRIGHT FOR YOU? Answer that question, and the advice will have some significance, instead of everyone stabbing in the dark. "Brightness" is a difficult thing to describe to someone else. I have often heard equipment described as "bright" when I would describe it as thin or harsh; and definitely not "bright". Very different things. Having said all that, I have a strong suspicion that if you stick with these speakers (I would), you will ultimately find that a decent tube amp is what will make you happy.
GREAT question! What WERE the last set of speakers!? I Hadn't thought of that!
Have you flipped 'em around yet? That tamed mine. And Yes, I'm a magnepan veteran. Close to 30 years now, but only a few amps. I've never been an equipment swapper and simply don't have the deep pockets it would take to do extensive experiments.
I'd like to hear what Frogman thinks 'modded to limits' means.
If you've been around panels a long time, you know they swapped sides sometime in the '90s....this to me, made 'em brighter sounding.
Great advice here. I offer a small addition. I had a similar issue with my Mirage OMD-28s, and solved it by spending less than $200 on a Grant Fidelity Tube Buffer. I run it between my DAC and Preamp. It gives you some of that tube warmth and dynamic nature for a tiny investment. Worth a try, as its cheap and easy to resell if you don't like it.
Also, get the book 'Get Better Sound', as your room is uber important in sound quality. Good luck.
Magfan, my MGIIIA's were "modded to their limit" with:
-replacement of all xover components with Solen air-core inductor coils (Litz for the ribbon and midrange), and bypassed MIT capacitors..
-everything outboard in a well dampened wood box, with attention paid to the placement and orientation of the coils for minimum interference.
-all wiring was Siltech pure silver, completely hardwired. Not a single mechanical connection after the amplifiers' (Manley) binding posts.
-fuses bypassed (living dangerously)
-custom stand/frame for rigidity
-removal of the speakers' socks
-Harmonix Tuning Dots
I am sure some would not consider MIT caps to be "the limit", but very good nonetheless.
Good mods. I'd do it a little different...not necessarily better, but different.
Just 2 examples::
I won't use a rigid, mechanical, bridgework style stand for my panels. Living, breating wood is where I'll head, and as light and rigid as I can design. Minimum metal. I'm designing them in Google Sketchup for construction in a wood working class.
Inductors? Since my 1.6s have only ONE, I'll wind it myself using simple 14ga wire and a form made from standard PVC sizes. My design has the same number of layers as turns per layer, so the coil itself is square in cross section and the entire coil is just over 4" in diameter.
Capacitors? The worlds SECOND largest can of worms! Followed, perhaps, only by the 'bypass or NOT' discussion. I don't have deep pockets and may have to compromise with a cap from the Clarity line....SA, maybe. The stock Solen caps are good value, but easily bested.
#1 priority? Enjoy.