I am also a newbie but will share my limited experience. I had a brightness issue with my 2 channel setup. Put lessloss power cables on my DAC, computer and USB device and tamed the brightness quite a bit. My new Musical Fidelity M6PRX is on the warm side for a SS amp. I will be selling my NAD C275BEE here on Agon soon, also a good amp.
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"However I am a little skeptical that I can solve this with just and amp. All ears open for a relative newbie."
You did make some mistakes (as we all do) but the above quote is a good call on your part. Don't waste your money on buying an amp to fix your speakers. It won't work. Fix the real problem and get speakers that you like.
One thing you may want to try as a test is using the tone on your receiver. If you can't fix the problem, or at least make it a lot better, there's no way an NAD amp (or something similar), can do that much to the sound to make the system work for you.
Just looked up the specs on the Monitor 9 version 7 on the Paradigm web site. I don't know the changes incorporated from version 5 (your version), but here's some high level thoughts which may be helpful if the v5 and v7 are similar.
The Monitor 9 v7 has an aluminum dome tweeter. The speaker's overall sensitivity is rated at 91 db, which shouldn't really stress an adequately powered amp. Some have said that the aluminum dome tweeter is hot.
Paradigm represents that the Monitor 9 FR is +/- 2 db, 46 Hz through 22K Hz. Even though Paradigm's spec sheet says FR is still pretty flat even 30 degrees off axis, maybe the speakers are beaming. Try turning the speakers off axis from your listening position, maybe straight ahead.
Also, I'm not familiar with your Pioneer amp, but I wonder if you're driving it too hard. You mentioned that "[t]he fronts ... get very bright when pushed especially with metal that I listen to and it is VERY BRIGHT." That permits the inference that the amp could be distorting. How many watts per channel is the amp rated at??
Another thought is that your amp may have a super high damping factor because its using a lot of negative feedback (NF). As some of our tech members have said on numerous occasions, even though NF reduces published overall harmonic distortion, what is not reported is so called "odd ordered" harmonic distortion. Even small amounts of odd ordered harmonic distortion will make your system sound harsh and bright.
I'm not saying the problem isn't the speakers, but I wouldn't rush to judgment. If you can borrow a decent SS amp with at least 75 to 100 wpc (if not more) from a friend or dealer, you might be surprised.
Good luck and please report back.
I would not assume the spks. are at fault. I own some Paradigm Phantoms which also have a metal dome tweeter. I own two small 50w amps (one is Mos-Fet, the other Bi-polar.) Depending on the music being played, I generally prefer the Bi-polar sound. So, add a small amp (your rec. has pre-amp outs) and I believe you will be amazed at the better quality of sound. (BTW, the amps I own, MOS-FET Rotel RB-951. Bi-polar, ADCOM 5002. Next, you haven't mentioned what interconnects and spk. wire you're using. This also has an influence on the sound. Finally, your source may be the culprit as well. I like the idea of adding an amp. That would be ideal for your 2-ch. stereo listening. Good Luck!
I fixed a similar problem (2 channel) by changing the source from various CD players to a dedicated laptop server and a NOS DAC from AudioGD. This allowed me to remove a digital EQ from the chain which was lopping off from 2 to 3db from various parts of the high band.. so if you can borrow some different warmer DAC's to try you may be surprised.
In my experience with a metal tweeter speaker, you will end up spending more to tune them into the sound you want, than it would cost to sell them and replace them with a warmer speaker. In my case it was a good result because I was happy to use tube power amps (not just a tube pre) and play around with various options over several years. I gather from you post that you don't want a journey just a change. So again sell the speakers as difficult as that may seem, and buy warmer speakers.
Mechans, as I posted above, the OP's problem may very well be the speakers. But in sorting through the issue, he has to start somewhere.
The reason I suggested he start with the amp is because it might be more convenient to move around a SS amp than the speakers. Further, rather than jump into another purchase, I would try to borrow an amp from a friend or a dealer and give it a try.
As I have come to appreciate based upon personal experience and reading about the experiences of others, "upgrade-itis" can be a daunting chronic neurosis. I'm just trying to save a "newbie" from this obsession by keeping it simple.
Oh my goodness, are you confused about what to do yet?
I have been in the hobby for 2 years. In that time, I started with Paradigm Mini Monitors V.6 (loved them!!), went to Studio 10's, 20's,60's,back to 20's (all V.5) then 40's (V.4), so I know that paradigm sound quite well. I ran them with an integrated Onkyo, an Adcom 545mkII, and then a Classe CA-150. I used the Onkyo as a pre amp with the adcom, then a Classe ssp-25 with the adcom, then the Classe ssp-25 with a classe ca-150, then a lightspeed attenuator with the classe ca-150. I also used different cables along the way.
Guess what. All the different set-ups sounded too bright.
I love Paradigms build quality and looks, but sound...not so sure.
The monitor series v5 and v6 are better than v7 imho. V7 is the first version I am aware of that is built in china. Look at the difference in cabinet construction and driver quality between v6 and v7.
Sooooo, how do you fix the problem? Not quite sure. I'd start with taking a kleenex or piece of toilet paper, fold it up into a nice square and layer it over your tweeter. Just tape itaround the face plate carefully, and don't push in your tweeters :-) this is free, easy to do, and you already have the matrrials.
Next, I would try changing the crossovers in just your front right and left main speakers. Call madisound and tell them you want to tame the highs. I think you could ugrade the sound acrss the board AND tame the highs, with cap upgrades on the crossover. You probably looking at $200 this route.
Another option would be to try a tube amp.
Another option, possibly the best and most "for sure" way of fixing the problem would be to sell your speakers (if you have the packing materials and boxes, thats a plus) and go with something more laid back. I had good results with Sinclaire Audio (budget speakers, made in china, but sound good), Kef qx5's, and Vandersteen 2ci speakers. All have good bass, aren't nearly as hot in the highs, and can rock the house, so to speak.
I think if you go chasing cables, amps, pre amps, you are just putting band aids on the real issue, which are your speakers. Change the crossovers in the speakers or sell them and buy different ones...
Mmartin..., let us know how you make out. As B_limo said, you've got so many divergent opinions, you may be totally confused.
Look ... whatever you do, take it one step at a time. I would start with the least expensive and easiest to-change-out first and then work your through the problem until you find the solution. I would try to borrow gear before buying if at all possible.
I had paradigm speakers(Studio 100 V-2) and after spending time and money . Came to realize that to get good 2 channel music SQ ,,I had to get different speakers. I liked the paradigms for HT ,but not for music.I bought a pair of good speakers and have been happy with them. You are attempting to turn a donkey into a race horse.You will always be less than happy with the results. IMHO
I'm telling ya'all, Paradigms highs are pretty hot; don't even know if they term "bright" describes them properly, because they are very bright.
I wouldn't try changing five different components in order to fix one component (well, actually I would do this, and did; save yourself the trouble). I changed cables, amps, pre amps, added room acoustics, turned the volume down, clinched my teeth, put kleenex in my ears...well you get the idea.
On a side note, my experiences with Paradigms customer service have been non-existant. They won't even call back or e-mail if you have an issue. Of coure your results may vary on this.
Seriously, sell your speakers now and get something else, OR, change your cables, amp, pre amp, add room treatments, THEN sell your speakers and buy something else, lol.
Good luck my friend!
Well if the OP wants to try and tune in his current speakers he should use Cardas Copper cables (the best he can afford) and use a Tube Integrated or power amp. Once he has the amp he can roll tubes to achieve an even warmer sound than the stock amp usually has.
There are some warmer, softer edged SS amps, Cambridge and Creek come to mind but there are others of course.
I do think a tube amp might be smart...
My question is, is it a bad idea for the OP to tone down his rig in order to make a bright speaker sound neutral? What happens if he goes with a more neutral speaker later, and now his other components make a neutral sounding speaker and make it sound super laid back? Honest question in which I don't know the answer, just something I was thinking about in order to helpthe OP...
The one suggestion I would make that hasn't already been said is that before replacing anything you try changing the receiver's speaker impedance setting from 8 ohms to 6 ohms, if you already haven't. See page 40 of the manual.
Although the impedance of your speakers is specified as "compatible with 8 ohms," whatever that may mean, it most likely drops down to significantly lower values at some frequencies. Therefore using the receiver's 6 ohm setting might result in an improvement in its distortion characteristics, and therefore perhaps a reduction in perceived brightness.
Perhaps he sells Nad and audioquest, lol.
lets buy cables that have no highs in order to tame an overlybright speaker? Makes no sense to me...
Again, the 6 pairs of paradigms I've owned over the past 2 years have all been hot. Kinda like real housewives of beverly hills; beautiful to look at, not so beautiful to listen too.
Al, why would a SS amp have different speaker load options? I would "a-thunk" that most if not all SS amps have very low "decimal-digit" output impedances. So what's going on inside the black box when switching from 6 to/from 8 ohm speakers?? Does it affect the amp's output impedance?
@ to others -- I really don't want to start a speaker skirmish here, so I won't. I get B_limo's comments and experiences about Paradigm speakers and accept his opinion.
I just want to note that the Paradigm Signature line (v2 or v3) uses beryllium tweeters which I think possibly might ameliorate some of the problems B_Limo's raised in his posts. I've owned S8s (v2 and v3) for quite a few years, and maybe I'm just tone deaf (which is quite possible), but IME I think the acoustic presentation is pretty smooth. But ... in fairness to B_Limo, it is quite possible that the Monitors do sound harsh and I respect his opinion.
Ok ... now that I vetted my spleen, let's go back to the amp issue. As Al, Ralph and many others have discussed before, distortion can be one of the biggest reasons for what one perceives as harsh, bright and/or fatiguing sound. And even if an amp is purportedly operating within its rated power limits, it could still be distorting when responding to dynamic transients.
The OP noted that his speakers sounded harsh when playing music at loud levels. Notably, he said that "[t]he fronts do get very bright when pushed especially with metal that I listen to and it is VERY BRIGHT." That sounds like distortion to me - either speaker or amplifier distortion.
Incidentally, I checked the specs on the OP's amp. It's a 7 channel amp with a power rating of 110 wpc (8 ohms). It's quite possible that if the amp is hooked up to the fronts and a bunch of other speakers, the power supply could be choking. Just a guess of course.
For the technically curious, take a look at Keith Howard's article on amplifier abuse, "Heavy Load: How Loudspeakers Torture Amplifiers." I found Mr. Howard's article interesting and informative.
[Btw, I'm the President of the Philadelphia Chapter of the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Amplifiers).]
So ... I stand by my original advice that the OP should borrow another amp (an even higher rated power amp) and see if the speakers still sound harsh. They just might be as B_Limo surmises. But I think there may be more going on here than just crummy tweeters. Just guessing.
Cheers and let me know if anyone is interested in joining the SPCA. :)
01-19-14: BifwynneHi Bruce,
I'd expect that the output impedance would be negligibly small for either setting. I would guess that in the 6 ohm setting the DC "rails" (supply voltages) provided to the output stage are reduced, and perhaps bias is adjusted, such that the output stage is operated within a smaller range of possible output voltages but a larger range of possible output currents.
Thanks Al. Just thinking out of the box a little. I wonder out loud if flipping the 6/8 ohm switch changes the amp's sweet spot where it is best able to deliver "clean" power (watts) under the two loads ( 6 versus 8 ohms).
Frankly Al, I think the 6/8 ohm switch is a little hokey because I think it permits an inference that the amp may have marginal power supply headroom as a threshold matter. A 110 wpc amp driving up to 7 speakers. It kinda' makes me want to re-read Keith Howard's article about the prevention of cruelty to amps.
Also Al, ... you and I have gone around the mulberry bush a hundred times discussing hard to drive loudspeaker loads -- low impedance in the bass region, coupled with negative phase angles. I haven't seen any bench reports on the OP's speakers, but if his speakers follow the Paradigm S8 paradigm (pun), that poor amp might be doing some serious power delivery rock and roll.
That amp doesn't need a switch. It needs oxygen. :(
To add to my previous post, of course anything I say here is just my humble oppinion and my experiences with different components and speakers in my room to my ears :-)
The paradigm signature series with the berrylium tweeters are a completely different animal and are actually 1 of about 5 different speakers on my wish list.
I found that the monitor series v.6 tweeter to be less bright than the studio series tweeter and I believe a crossover upgrade would do wonders to the studio series, but again, the berrylium tweets in. the signature series sound really nice to me; airy and delicate with great extension.