Magnepan 3.7i vocals sound harsh

Noticing vocals are sounding harsh and grainy on the Maggie's on both lps and CD's, music sounds great. Using a parasound 2.1 integrated.
Currently have resistors installed on speakers but same harshness on vocals without.
All statements are suspect because I haven't heard the system personally johnto.
I currently own the 20.7 loudspeakers and have known of, owned and/or sold Magnepans since 1983, off and on.
Their core sound is smooth, very much so. How much power, which recordings, wires, sources... are you having problems with... with this info, it  will help responders get a better feel for what is happening. 
Do you have the ability and resources to try switching out the system, piece by piece.
Ultimately, with the right gear, you may find that the Maggies best feature is their mid range.
Hope we call all help.


I don't have the resources to switch out pieces, I may try to borrow a friends amp.
Prior to the 3.7i I had 1.7i and 1.7 which sounded smooth. The 3.7i brings more of everything but the harshness in the vocals are aggravating.
Is the harshness present no matter the volume (SPL)?
I would suspect it's either the Halo integrated or cables.  I always thought the Halo was bright when I had it in my system.
I really like my Halo 2.1 with MG12 speakers. It has mellowed out their aggressive nature. I play it medium volume at most as I live in an apartment.


also the guy who sold me the Halo said it's sound changes a lot when using different speaker cables. (I use AQ Type 4)
Are you using stock jumpers?  Your amp probably isn't powerful enough either.
Yes the stock resistors also tried solid copper wire.
Classic underpowered sign is the harsh high . More power !
Try swapping the left and right speaker and see if that helps!
Although the Halo Integrated puts out 160wpc into 8 ohms and 240 into 4, it doesn't put out that much current.  Look at the power supply in the amp, at best there is 40uf of caps per channel.  That isn't much energy storage.  I would try an amp that is known to drive the Maggies well and then go from there.  If you want the band aid approach, I would try some warm sounding speaker cable,  Audioquest comes to mind or the older MIT cables.  I would also ask on the Planer Asylum over at Audio Asylum.  Those guys will know for sure and be able to help.
Ditch the Parasound Ingegrated amp and buy a PrimaLuna Dialogue Premium HP Integrated amp and throw in some nos Mullard tubes and sit back and let the magic happen. PL HP amps work great with Maggie’s.

240 into 4 isn't enough for the 3.7i's.  Get a Sanders Magtech and be amazed.
@limniscate - That is more then enough for the 3.7i’s. It’s not about the watts it’s about bandwidth and current. I drive my 20.7’s with 200wpc PL Dialogue Premium HP monoblock amps and they have never sounded better. Trust me it’s not about the watts. Maggie’s are so misunderstood IMHO.

Did more critical listening and the problem seems to be rock CD's and lp especially during chorus singing.  Even the new Chris Hillnan is awful( does any one else have this).Jazz, opera and all other types of vocals and music are great at any volume.
I'll try some different cables soon.
Just popped on CSN and the vocals sound wonderful now wondering if it has something to do wirh things done in digital.
@bluesy41 At what volumes do you listen to music?
No too loud probably about the 10 o'clock position
@limniscate - I listen at around 85-107db with the max at any given time reaching 125db during a particular song.

Talked to Wendell yesterday he suggested trying 2ohm resistors in the tweeters and maybe som diffusion.
If anyone in the Boston Ma southern NH or RI area has the same speakers and wants to do some mutual listening let me know.
I have owned Maggies 3.5Rs and Parasound 2.1. I finally got rid of the Maggies for similar reasons as you, replaced them Emerald Physics KC IIs, an absolute bargain, I also upgraded to Parasound Halo P 5, which has a lot more more balls than the 2.1

Waiting to receive some 1.5 and 2 ohm resistors in the mail.
Also looking into possible amp replacement.
Purchased 1.5 and 2.0 resistors fron Magnepan arrived but when installed take all the life out of my listening. Gone is all the high end magic . I'll go back to just jumpers maybe try a different amp or more diffusion .

The higher ohm fuses will only attenuate the high frequencies and will not affect midrange where most vocals live. Try diffusion but I doubt that’ll address your issue. I tend to agree with an earlier posting pointing to this harshness as a possible sign that the amp is straining although the harshness should normally be more evident in higher frequencies.
I did it spent above my means and bought a Pass 250.8 and XP 10 pre.
While the Parasound Hint was a great match with the 1.7i the sound wasn't the same with the 3.7i. The Pass takes control and is more musical in every aspect as it should be at 5X the cost.   There is still some grain in some 60's rock but I'm guessing this is just bad recording.
Congrats on your Pass X250.8. I’ve not heard the XP 10 pre but I’m sure it’s very good. I use an older X250 and love it with my ModWright LS 36.5. If you’re not using good balanced cables I would recommend that and don’t use the stock power cords regardless what the Pass manuals state; my X250 manual stated aftermark power cords don’t make a difference but they do. Hopefully your X250.8 and other components have dedicated circuits or you’re not hearing their best; made a huge improvement with my X250. If you can’t run a dedicated circuit then at least pick up some decent receptacles if you’re only using $2 spec grade which is what most homes have.
Hate to throw in this tidbit after your awesome x250.8 purchase, but a very simple, and easy error for anyone to make, that could cause your issue, is if you have directional cables and just 1 of them is going in the wrong direction.  The parasound is a good piece of equipment, but very detailed and tinnie compared  to the x250, which is amazingly smooth compared to most any SS.  I bring this up, because you mention still hearing grain on 60s recordings....sooo, it is possible that your ear is aclimatized to the reveal of the parasound, and you only think the problem is fixed with the pass labs because of how smooth that amp is...hearing is often just relative perception....take a peak at the directional arrows of all your interconnects and speaker cables.  If you find 1 that is turned wrong, be prepared for your audio nirvana.  If that is not a problem, then hopefully at the very least this comment might help someone else in the future that does make that exact mistake.
I currently owned a pair of 3.7i driven by the CAD 120S MKII, eight high power Golden Lion Genalex tubes, four NOS 6SN7 tubes fed in from a CAD preamp tube with four NOS Telefunken tubes for LP, and two NOS 6SN7 and two high power 6SN7 for CD. They sound rich, warm, lush and full at mid range where all male or female vocals are near life like voices.
After your amp and pre-amp purchase has the harshness gone away? I ask because I’m also experiencing the same problems with Maggie 1.7 series speakers.  I’m starting to look towards my signal generation (PS Audio Perfectwave transport into a Perfectwave DAC) as the major source/revealer of the problem. Like you, I hear a slight, background harshness - a gravel like quality - underneath vocals; mostly rock/pop male vocals, and most noticeably during the chorus parts when three or four male vocalists sing together at full volume - think any Moody Blues or CS&N album. Solo vocal parts and most female vocals are sweet and clear. Instruments however, are always crystal clear and a joy to listen to.
This makes me wonder if it’s the 1960s/70s recording process itself, that rock/pop male chorus sections are slightly overdriven in the recording process, since I think I can hear some of the same grainy, gravel like underpinnings when I listen to the same CDs on lesser equipment.
Some of the problem left when I moved from a Bryston BP-25 preamp to the BP-26. I really don’t think my Bryston 4BST amps are the problem.  My major listening sweet spot is between 76db and 86db with very occationsl peaks to the upper 80s. 
So, did you lose the harshness, or is it still there?

Hi Tim 
Yes I still hear harshness on some recordings this morning I had Elton John lp Madman on and it was almost unlistenable after I listened to a Patricia Barber cd Commotion and it was wonderful . I did not have the same problems with my 1.7 or 1.7i as I do with the 3.7i almost feel like going back to 1.7i or trying different speakers more in tune to my rock music.
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John, I am sorry to hear that. I  thought the Pass equipment had taken care of it.  
Reading through your thread I see you have tried quite a few things already. I will assume you’ve taken a flashlight and inspected your wires, both the front and back side. I also see you have experimented with different jumper material. The wording about your hooking up the resistors in place of the jumpers almost sounds like you hooked them up only to the tweeter attenuators instead of the mid-range attenuators. You might want to play around a little bit with different combination of resistor values and no resistors, and use some on the mid-range, if you haven’t. I have personally found that my setup benefited from some taming of the 400 to 500 Hz vocal range, plus a slight taming of overtones in the 1500 to 2500 Hz range. Not a complete cure, but a help. Then again, YMMV.
I’m really curious about the fact that you played Elton John on vinyl and it was terrible, but then you played a CD and it sounded great. That’s not going to sit too well with the vinyl set.  But, that does lead my to my main question.
Do you turn your equipment off when you are not listening? I am definitely NOT a proponent of leaving amps on 24/7, so that’s not what I’m suggesting.
In my experience, my set-up sounds WAY more harsh the first hour it’s on than the second hour; and it’s the third hour when it really starts sounding great.  I usually let it play for 1-2 hours before I actually sit down to listen.  Are you letting your equipment warm-up sufficiently before you do some quality listening?  I have found that the two hour mark is when my equipment finally starts to get into a groove.  Before that, not so much.
Anyway, this may all be stuff you’ve tried a dozen times.  Keep the faith. Your Maggies are too good to dismiss.


I drove mine back in the day with a Krell KSA 50 killer Amp!
Hi Tim
I have the preamp on at all times the amp is usually given at least 45 minutes to warm up.
I'll play that same lp over the weekend once I'm sure the amp is sufficiently warmed up and see what the sound is like. I also plan to take it to a friends to test on his system.
I was running with both 1 ohm resistors in place have just tried using only the tweeter resistor and 12 guage copper on the mid.
A couple of suggestions. First, I have found that sometimes harshness doesn’t always eminate from the frequency range you think it’s coming from. I would try attenuating the midrange by trying the resistors there, and maybe put your nice copper jumpers in the tweeter spot. Or, maybe both tweeter and mid-range get the resistor treetment, or both get the copper. Whichever way sounds best. Sometimes it just takes a lot of little steps.
Second, I’m glad to hear you’re going to test the record when your system has warmed up. You’ll probably have to test records one day an you CDs on some later date.
I might suggest you turn on all of your equipment and let it all warm up for 45 minutes, as you usually do. Play just one side of a harsh sounding record (your Elton John record seams like a good candidate), and note the harshness - where it’s most noticable, how loud, etc. It would be good if you had a second pair of ears to verify what you are hearing. By the time you finish the album side your equipment will have been running about an hour and 5-10 minutes.
Now, try not to change the volume setting, or any other setting, and play another 3 or 4 album sides worth of music. Play a different album or two until your equipment has been running for a total of about 2 1/2 hours. It would be better if you had other things to do and left the room. That way you’ll have a better memory of how the harshness initially sounded and your ears won’t gradually get used to the sound of your stereo if it changes. (Also, don’t keep playing the Elton John album. Repeated playings of the same record could introduce new distortion). While I’m at it - no alcohol or other perception altering activities.  Sex with the wife is OK though.  Just tell her it's for science.
After your equipment has been playing music for a total of about 2 1/2 hours, sit back down and listen to Sir Elton again - same side as earlier.  Noting the distortion or harshness - is it the same?  Is it different? Has it improved?
I would also repeat the same test a few days later, using an offensive CD and sticking with CDs throughout the test.
I’ll be interested to find out what you hear.

I have recently been playing around with the resistors on my Magnepan 20.7s. (they have the same tweeter (interchangable) as the 3.7/3.7i).                   
Previously I have used no resistors on the tweeter or midrange.I did have a small handmade coil on the tweeter to cut ultra high frequencies, a choke tweek suggested in the past. Just Kimber wire around a dowel, 31 turns.                        
I started with the one ohm resistor upplied by Magnepan on midrange. Made the sound rather dark, heavy. I went to Madisound website (they sell speaker parts) and ordered a pile of Mundorf MOX 10 watt in 0.33    0.68    1.0    1.5    2.0 ohms .. The best so far has been to combine two 1.0 ohm to make 0.5 ohm resistance.  
So I recently ordered a couple of Duelund Cast (considered the best sounding speaker resistors in relevant reviews) plus many values are on sale nearly 50% off at PartsConnexion. I ordered pairs to make up a 0.5 ohm resistance. I plan to insert them behind the Magnepan connector plate, so I can further refine the resistance either by adding additional resistor(s) in the provided space, or just bypass them with the stock jumper. (problem with adding is can only go down in final value. But after using the 0.68 value, I feel pretty good about the 0.5 ohm as a baseline.)

you our got some great hints here to help you.  I got your email and want to hear your system once you get this taken care of.  Once you get to the highest resolution that your system has, it’s the little things that can make or break it. 
Went naked no resistors which I think sounds best(probably some high frequency loss at my age).
Let the equipment warm for an hour much improvement in sound.
Tried 3 lp's Charlie Byrd direct to disc truly incredible, Basie Jam# excellent, Elton Madman some improvement. I also tried EJ on a friends system yesterday and could hear some of the same distortion but not as pronounced.
Maybe it the price you pay moving up the food chain the good sound better and not so good recordings worse.
OP, just finished reading all the above posts and you've gotten lots of good responses. One thing I remember reading about was a similar situation as yours, harsh vocals/good instruments on a particular recording. Turns out, the singers mic had been wired in reverse polarity, everything else in normal polarity. And because you have some of the most resolving speakers around (I own Vandies, but I do know how good Maggies sound), I believe that the resolution of your system is bringing up the good, the bad, and the ugly from your music collection. My experience is similar. In fact, I mentally grade each of my albums into classes A, B, C, D, and F based purely on sound quality.