Good power conditioning will give you a blacker background, resulting in increased separation and air around the instruments.
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I had midrange "congestion" issues with a pair of Vienna Bach speakers that mystified and bugged the bejeesus out of me...just a lack of clarity. In any case, it was out the door for them and in the door came a pair of Silverline Preludes that utterly showed it was the Vienna's fault (could have been a component in the crossover simply needing replacement)...with an issue as obvious as that I doubt power conditioning would help much as often the effects of un-conditioned AC are obviated by the time it gets through an amp, so get thee to a new speaker.
Nice link Rodman, I'll research room treatments. Also have looked at power upgrades. Entry level looks like $800 or so for new power strip/wall plug/cables. Also have gotten an estimate to run a dedicated line. Schubert, planning to audition the new Focal 906 standmounts. I run a 2.1 system so full range speakers are not totally necessary, providing I can integrate the sub with the new set...
Actually, it could be a number of things....one, or many. I would start with the simplest at first ..... cover any windows (glass), aim the speakers at your listening position, put resonance control feet under your turntable, cd player first...then preamp, and power amp. That will get you better sound....then upgrade (not necessarily more expensive) power cords. Power conditioners never worked for me.
Have you played around with speaker location, like maybe a few feet from rear wall or so? Possibly a tad closer together in conjunction as well. Speaker location relative to walls is a big factor usually for good separation and sound stage. With that, can also come less congestion and better detail.
Start with a good mono recording and get a solid and focused image between the speakers first. Then try some things in stereo. IF mono recordings are imaging clearly that is usually a good omen for stereo.
After that, you might try some sound absorbing panels or other sound absorbing materials or room items at first reflection points along the walls based on your primary listening position.
Then any other tweaks if still needed from there.
Wolf-Garcia, as usual, has told you like it is .
I've been listening to speakers for fifty + years, 98.9 % of the time a smeared or "washed" out sound on massed strings in a symphony is traceable to a cheap crossover .
Cheapest brands I know about that don't use them are Silverline and Totem.I suspect Focal doesn't as well, I know my Focal Titus 202 monitors don't smear.
Another vote for room treatment. I was very surprised at the improved resolution room treatment provided. I would put acoustic panels ahead of any new equipment purchase and even ahead of optimizing speaker placement since acoustic panels could well alter your optimum speaker placement. I called GIK Acoustics and also emailed them a diagram of my room. Their technical people were very helpful. I ended up buying 2 corner soffits, 2 bass traps (for wall behind speakers) and 4 regular acoustic panels for side walls. These made a very enjoyable difference. Good luck to you.
So most comments seem to be angling toward speakers, room treatments and speaker positioning. The room is 12x12x8, so not very large, and square in plan. The guy that treated the Odyssey room at last years RMAF pretty much demanded that I coat the rear wall of the room with sound absorbtion, more important than side reflection in his opinion.
I really thought someone out there would say "AMP!" but that hasn't happened, very interesting.
Schubert what defines a cheap crossover? Don't know much about them.
Description of the 22L2's crossover from the TechRadar review:
"Fed from twin terminal pairs, the crossover unit has a glass-fibre circuit board with large, non-interlacing tracks. Components (mounted to avoid magnetic inter-modulation) include air-cored inductors and metalised polypropylene low-loss capacitors, and the internal wiring uses heavy-gauge oxygen-free copper."
Small square rooms tend to be particularly problematical, and I second all of the responses that have focused on room treatments and speaker positioning. In fact, looking at the photo of your setup I would be very surprised if you did NOT have the kind of smearing problem you have described.
I also particularly second the person you quoted as having "demanded" that the rear wall be treated (assuming he was referring to the wall behind the listening position). You are undoubtedly seated very close to that wall. Reflections from it will arrive at your ears strongly, and without a great deal of delay in their arrival time relative to the direct arriving sound. Again, I would be very surprised if that were NOT a major contributor to the smearing you have described.
Also, as Mapman suggested the speakers are probably too close to the front wall (the wall behind them), and they are probably too far apart.
As an experiment, at least, I suggest that you try a "near field" arrangement, moving the speakers several feet out from the wall, placing them much closer together, and moving your listening position further from the rear wall (the wall behind the listening position). (Keep in mind, though, that if you get too close to the speakers their multiple drivers may not blend optimally). That should give you a better idea of how your present equipment is capable of performing under better acoustic circumstances, and whether upgrading any of it is necessary.
Good luck. Regards,
Thanks Al, this speaker positioning was in response to a two-person seating layout, which is hard to do in this room. I had a friend over and we were auditioning cables. Was trying to widen out the stage a little. I did originally have the seats too close to the rear wall and we had to move them out. My typical arrangement has the speakers closer together.
I had a room similar to this at one time. It was not easy to set up but what worked for me was using the Audio Physics method of speaker placement. It may be worth looking up and trying out. Almarg has suggested similar points in his post. Unfortunately you do not have a long wall but the system can still work with some modification. Put the listening chair within a couple feet of the back wall. Heavily treat the back wall, preferably with 4" panels. Then try moving your speakers into the room. In my set up they were half any in, but I also found that by moving them back towards the front wall in small increments that a third of the way in worked pretty good as well.
Another method you could try if it is feasible with your space is to use an off axis diagonal set up. If you visit the Decware website there is some good information on how to set this up. If anything you'll learn a lot about speaker placement which is not a bad skill to have.
Realremo, I would agree with others to work on the room acoustics first before you start down the hardware path. There are acoustic panel sites that can provide guidance based on your room size and recommend the proper amount of room treatment. You don't need to spend a ton of money. Perhaps some bass corner traps, and first reflection acoustic panels.
IMO the 12x12 room could be the cause. Temporarily relocate the speakers/system to your largest room. This could help you pinpoint the problem. Does the smearing get worse with increased volume? If the smearing still occurs in a larger room(with increased volume) it's probably more equipment related then... cables/vibration control/power conditioning or even room acoustics.
OK I've shifted my system to the short wall of the room. It's actually 12'8 x 11'4, so this layout gives me more space behind the speakers, and a little more distance between speakers and listening position. I'm also ordering some 2" foam for the back wall. The sub is now in a corner bracketed by concrete foundation walls, the room is in the basement. Bass has tightened up. I think the soundstage has shrunken in width tho, because the system is on the short wall.
If digital, you can currently pick up a Pangea audio ac14 se or ac14 power cord for your DAC depending on the one currently in use, for well under $100. Using a power cord like this designed for digital source applications can probably only help and not hurt.
I am noticing improvements similar to what you seek since applying the ac14se with my mhdt Constantine DAC. I did the upgrade needing to replace an existing damaged power cord and knowing that I have greatly improved performance of my setup in the past by systematically shielding against EM noise.