Different speaker cables, & interconnects might also work.
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I have the CDM 1nt's that I originally ran through an old NAD 7220PE receiver. I then switched to a Bryston B-60 that I loved, but as you say, there was a bit of harshness on some recordings...especially classic rock such as Hendrix or Zeppelin. However, for music like Madonna, NIN, Beastie Boys and other pop music, the high's were wonderful. I recently switched to an Electrocompaniet ECI-3 and now, Hendrix sounds wonderful...as does jazz & windham hill music (haven't put classical to the test yet) however, the zing from the "pop" music is less and I feel like there is a little something missing in the top end. It is supposedly a tubey sounding unit. The Cary integrated will be way above the $500 limit that you want to spend. The Bryston will run about 6-800 w/o remote 200 or so more with...and they do have an incredible warranty. the Electrocompaniet will run 1000-1200 (I thought the price differential here was worth it)...so probably out of the range. Two amps that were initially suggested to me were the Audio Analogue Puccini and the Audio Refinement Complete...and there looks like there are some for sale now...I've never heard them so I can't make any real comments, but one may work...if not...you won't lose much if anything on the resale...at the $500-$800 price range, there are alot of options that can be bought and sold. I would check out a few of these "musical" ss integrateds before going tubes, because if you get the urge to start "tube rolling", that inexpensive Jolida will all of the sudden become alot more than 500 bucks.
just my nickles worth.
Audiobugged- I will definatly try the cable/interconnect route, but I want to change the amp first then fine tune. I'm looking for changes that a non-audiophile friend would notice right away.
Ellery911- Great suggestions, I've never even heard of Audio Analogue or Audio Refinement, I'll certainly look into those.
So far my list is as follows:
Audio Analogue Puccini
Audio Refinement Complete
Pop, Jazz & classical are not big on the playlist, alot of Dylan and Dead, and some rock, both modern and classic mostly. Do any of these do well with poorly recorded material? Any experience, particularly with B&W speakers and these amps is greatly appreciated.
I agree that the first step is to launch the NAD amplification out the window. Sorry, but I have never heard an NAD amp that I liked and they all have the same problem you are talking about, in addition to other worse problems. I have heard the CM 2's on several occasions and in my opinion, the metal dome tweeter is just fine. These speakers have some other more subtle problems, but an etchy high register is not one of them. My recommendation is to look into amp, cables and source.
I have had good luck with the Acoustice Zen Epoch speaker cables and WOW interconnects. These smoothed out some etchy highs that some other cables produced in my old system.
As for an amp around $500 that has a less etchy sound, you may try a newer model (last 2-3 years) B&K integrated. This is the best I've heard at this price range (used), but it may still not be enough. I have heard some Linn amps that are very good, but I think they may sound best with Linn speakers using the AKTIV crossover. I don't think the Rotel should sound terribly harsh with the right cables, but I have not heard many of their recent offerings. I recently heard an Audio Refinement preamp/amp combo and was very impressed with the smoothness of the sound. The system was using Analysis Plus Oval 9 cables and similar interconnects. However, this system was also fed with a good source:
Even after an amp and cable change you may end up looking at the source. The system with the Audio Refinement amplification was fed by a McCormack UDP-1 universal disk player. What a GREAT system, but the disk player itself was over $3000. My own older system had a Magnum-Dynalab MD-308 integrated amp and the Acoustic Zen cables I mentioned earlier. The sound in the higher registers was still etchy on some (definitely not all) poorly recorded CD's, but I believe this was the fault of the source, a Denon DVD-2900 universal disk player and of the original recording. While detailed, the Denon was just not as refined as the rest of the system. The McCormack UDP-1 would likely have made a huge difference in the sound, but at a much higher price.
P.S. I am selling the MD-308 for just over $1000 if anyone is interested
My Bryston was great with the Dead...I have many Dead cd's and 4 dvd's...if that is what you primarily listen to, I think that the B60 may be a nice thing to option also. After all...I liked mine so much that rather than sell it, I gave it to my Dad...keep it in the family. Can't say much for what any amp would do with Dead Bootlegs as the sound quality varies so much from recording to recording. I have heard some soundboard mixes that were awesome...and some that were so bad that I dont think there is a system in the world that can help them.
That's kinda what I thought, can't polish a turd, but I thought a less resolving amp would allow certain recordings to be played without gritting ones teeth. Call it the 'aiwa' effect as those little 3 piece systems could play anything. Any comments on the Linn or Jolida 1501? I'm not sure bryston would be forgiving enough, the B&Ws can get dowright brutal at times.
I have heard the Bryston B-60 be brutal in the higher registers on many different speakers. This is why I am not a big fan of Bryston amps - they simply require VERY careful system matching to sound good to my ears. I have never heard NAD sound good in any system, but I'll keep listening and may be surprised some day.
It would be a shame to get rid of the CM2's since I have heard them sound good in several systems. They have a problem resolving complex harmonics and chords in orchestral pieces, especially when the chord stradles the crossover between the tweeter and the woofer. There seems to be a disconnect betweent the two drivers responses to some music. That said, I truly enjoy their sound on the types of rock and jazz sounds that you are having trouble with on these speakers. I have not found them to be overly bright.
You have so far not mentioned the source or the cables that you are using. From what I have heard of these speakers I really think that the fault lies elswhere. For example, in my old system that had quite good sound, some CD's that were poorly recorded sounded awful. One of the worst was Prince's Purple Rain album - it positively screems in the higher registers. I love the music on this album but the recording is among the worst I have ever heard. It was recorded and mastered at at time when some thought that "digital is perfect." They just did not completely understand the recording and mastering of digital music since it was so new. I could not listen to this album on my old system. This album may be a prime canidate for remastering.
Sometimes you can buy a remastered version of an album on which the sound is greatly improved, but not always. The remastered version of Joe Jackson's greatest hits from A&M still sounds terrible in the treble. This may be because some of the mastering studios do not have updated equipment and do not have speakers that can resolve some of the problems. Another reason could be that some record companies do not care to spend the time and money needed to do a good job of remastering. If you want to hear a good remastering of a rock album, listen to Dire Straits "Brothers in Arms" in XRCD format (playable on all CD players - buy at amusicdirect.com for $39.99). Also, all of the Sony remasters that I have heard sound good.
I have had the B&W 602s and have the Cdm1nt. Used with with a Denon integrated and rotel Cd player,niether model sounded bright or forward sounding to me- never hard or harsh. However, I will say that I once auditioned a marantz cd player in this system and the difference was night and day. The sound was considerably brighter,even aggressive. Whether this was the result of the attributes of a very well made cd player in a not so great system I can not say. Perhaps. I would not doubt it, even as I liked the balance achieved with the Rotel. It did make me aware of how much influence the source can have on the rest of the system though, and how remarkably changed the B&Ws could seem through system changes.One thing has been consistant through both models. They do seem to reveal the quality of recording listened to. I am pleased I can hear the difference, so for me it is not a bad thing.It might be worth your while to borrow some different components to switch into your system for some critical listening. Then perhaps you could discern whether the B&Ws are consistant in what you percieve them as doing. Although I have not heard the Cm2s , I liked the 602s and I love the Cdm1s- both were worth the time invested in some experimentation.
i own a pair of cdm2's along with a rotel 970bx mk2 60 watt amplifier. there isn't a hint of brightness with my rig.. the cdm2's sound better than most speakers i've ever had, and i've had magnepan 1.5's, dahlquist dq20's, apogee centaur's, and vandersteen model 1's as well. maybe check into the pre-amp cd player combination. bad cd players will usually show up to be a problem in cases like this.