Need Help With a Bright System

My system consists of two NAD C 272 monoblocks, an NAD C 162 preamp, and an NAD T 532 DVD player. The speakers are Triangle Antal XS. My problem is that the system can sound pretty edgy and bright on many recordings, particularly rock and pop albums. One very noticeable aspect of this bright sound is edgy vocals that have exaggerated sibilants (i.e. ‘S’ sounds). I'm currently using a pair of Kimber Timbre interconnects between the preamp and monos, and Acoustic Research silver series interconnects between the dvd player and the preamp. I was using a pair of Kimber PBJs between the dvd player and preamp, but found the ARs to be warmer and better on the bass. The speaker cables are a pair of Straightwire Quartets, which I believe are plain copper. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get rid of this bright sound? Obviously I wouldn't like to lose detail while doing so, but I understand that this may be a trade off. I'm willing to make a necessary upgrade, but I just want to ensure that whatever I chose to upgrade will definitely take away a lot of the brightness that I currently hear in this system. I know that using a tube amp instead of solid state would make a huge difference, but what else can be done?
You might want to read a thread that just concluded a couple of days ago "Why am I experienceing listeners fatigue". There is much info therein which may be helpful. After reading thru it, follow-up with some detail about your room size and furnishings, speaker positioning, listening location, etc and folks will be able to be more specific in their comments or recommendations.
Do you have carpet or bare floors? How many walls do you have that are reflective, meaning no bookshelves, plants, knick-knacks. Do you have ceilings that can absorb sound?

Are the speakers toed-in, beaming straight to your ears?
French speakers tend to be detailed and fast, if you're patience, you need a good 200+ hours to settle down the top end.

I've owned JM Lab Electras for almost 16 months now, and the "edge" I use to perceive, now has burned into extended, but delicate top-end detail.
First the room ... is it hardwood floor, or carpet ? What about drapes or soft furnishing ? Any large windows. Hardwood, large windows and lack of soft furnishings all tend to make a room bright. Clap your hands ... does the clap deaden quickly, or does it ring ?

I don't know what the audio quality of your DVD player is but a lot of less expensive CD players can be slightly sibilant, I think due to poor timing jitter at the DAC. My own experience of adding a reclocking DAC to a Marantz CD67SE increased detail AND decreased brightness all in one go.

If there's any way you could borrow a good reclocking DAC (e.g. Benchmark) and give it a try it might give you an idea of whether the source is the problem.

Also look at speaker and listening position placement ... I recommend in the insights section under room setup.
I completely agree with the posts above, look to room positions first. It is amazing how much difference can be acheived by just moving your listening position by even just a foot. Or repositioning the speakers. If you are getting details now, you should be able to address most of the issues you are unhappy with by addressing room conditions. I suggest you take your time and investigate room acoustics. Visit the Rives Acoustic forum over on VA and search for information on room layouts that tend to match yours. Look for ideas on addressing issues that other people have had with these similar set-up.

Once you are satisfied, and maybe you already are, with the way your room sounds then you can always look to cables for that last little bit of tweaking of the sound. I believe the right cables can take a great system over the edge a bit more, but they will usually not solve short comings with room or component issues.
Try positioning your spks. in various ways, toe in/out, distance from back wall, distances, etc. Make sure your spks. are level. Perhaps a slight tilt might help smooth out the sound. If this doesn't do the trick then this is what I suggest. Try different interconnects which fall on the warm side of the spectrum. Your spk. wires are very good for the $ and they are warm and full bodied. I wouldn't change those. If this doesn't work, try different spks. Just auditioned some VR1 bookshelf spks. and these were superb. (My search is over and I'm ordering a pair!) Try to find a dealer whom will allow in home auditions. It sounds like to me you really either need to find a more suitable spk., different IC's or perhaps different electronics for your existing spks. Good luck!
Try switching around the Kimbers with the AR silvers.
Thanks everyone for the info. The room is actually filled with furnishings because it is my bedroom. At first I suspected that it was the room, but after a while I realized that it was more the fault of the speakers being bright. I bought these speakers used, so I'm sure there's at least 200 hours on them. Currently, the speakers are toed in; I had them toed out before which seemed to make a small difference in the brightness, but I lost a lot in terms of imaging. I also tweaked around with trying the mono blocks in bridged and plain stero mode, but didn't notice much difference....
Did you have previously everything except the Antals and sound was OK, i.e. better highs reproduction?

Do you have any power treatment for your source?

Have you tried any vibration tweaks specially on DVD player?

Try mass loading the DVD player and see what happens to highs. Add a book (2-3 lbs) to the top of the player and compare same song part with ot without it.

Is your system set on a rack / furniture type?
Your comments
I think your problem is your speakers. Changing your cables is just a band aid and will only mask your problem at best. I have never heard Triangles sound decent with solid state gear. They sound mechanical and forward. Sell Them.. Problem Solved..

“Did you have previously everything except the Antals and sound was OK, i.e. better highs reproduction?”

Well, I was originally using an NAD C 340 integrated which I accidentally burned out. The NAD C 272’s that I’m using are my dad’s; I’m borrowing them for the time being after he upgraded to a Prima Luna Prolog 2. The highs seemed less harsh with the C 340, but that was only at low volumes. The C 340 could not be driven to higher levels or it would sound like crap. Now it seems that the highs have more of the “punch” and attack that solid state amps deliver, except this attack is just too much in the high frequencies. Tone controls don’t do a lot of good either; they can quiet the highs a bit, but I lose detail and the highs still have that exaggerated punch. But no, I’ve only owned these speakers for a few months now, so I haven’t tried a lot of different equipment with them.

”Do you have any power treatment for your source?”

No I do not. I was thinking about this last night as I noticed a buzzing sound coming from the speakers. I have 2 lights on a dimmer circuit which I must have turned off when I’m listening because it causes a fairly loud buzzing in the midrange when turned on. Right now I’m using an old power switch with 4 outlets that probably does nothing in terms of power conditioning. Would a mediocre $50 power strip help improve this? I’ve also thought about the UPS’s that are sold for computers since the power comes from a battery, but that may severely limit the amount of power available to the amps.

”Have you tried any vibration tweaks specially on DVD player?”

I’m currently using a set of cones underneath the player which to me seemed to improve the bass a bit, but they definitely don’t do enough for the harsh high frequencies. I will try your suggestion on mass loading and see if that helps (this is a very light DVD player, don’t know if that would matter).

”Is your system set on a rack / furniture type?”

The system is sitting on top of 2 hard wood boards that are on the floor. They seem to isolate vibrations pretty well.

The_kid: Yes, even the guy that sold me these speakers recommended tubes, but for now I’ll be using the solid state gear. I’ll be using these amps until I have enough money saved up to purchase an upgrade for the system.
I see clearly an electronic issue which might be the case with integration with NAD amps that might be clipping at high freequencies.
The power strip you mention IMHO won't help that much. Something at least at the level of Monster HTS2000 will be my first attempt to consider. Or better if a dealer can let you home try something.

Let us know what happens with the mass loading.

Do you have untreated reflective surfaces in your room? i.e. between your speakers, side walls. If this isn't the case seems you have a mismatching problem, you might lessen it's effects but have to live with it.
If you can swap your source with your father's you might know if source has a bearing with highs problem.
Good Luck
Pack all your gear and ship it to the White House for a few days. That should eliminate any brightness.
Given that the room is well furnished I agree with The_kid. You need to change the speakers.

Cables, vibration etc will not remove the brightness .... they are second order effects.

Improving the source (DVD player) would help but will probably cost at least $1000.

So I'd agree ... sell the triangles and invest the money towards less bright speakers. Since you bought them used you won't lose much.
I'm not all that sure tube equipment will be your answer. I wouldn't worry about topology (tube/SS) so much as quality. You need something more refined than the NAD you are presently using. I suggest a "band-aid" fix until you upgrade your eletronics. Also, the AC outlet you are using, you might want to change if its old or not high quality. This can make a big difference. I've found that the power amps that I own sound best just pluged in the wall socket. I believe Wiremold makes a power strip which certain Naim dealers recommend. They offer no conditioning. I bought one of these when I had a Naim Nait 5. Works well. (I have one of these around if you're interested.) Another fairly decent conditioner for little $ is the Panamax 1000. Use w/your source equipment. (I know a dealer which has a used one which I'm sure be less than $50.) Bill
Can you try your father's Primaluna with the Triangle speakers? That should be a good match, and could help you decide if the speakers are worth keeping.

I have found that highly detailed budget systems benefit the most from power conditioning. The Furutech and cheaper BPT models can take some of the glare off and can be found for $3-500. Upgrading the source will also help, but can be pricey to get a real improvement.
Wow! So many recommendation, I'm not sure which ones to try first. I know that Best Buy sells some of the Monster power conditioners, so I may be able to try one from there. If it does make a difference and I decide not too overpay, I'll take it back and try for a used one online.

I would like to try swapping out gear with my dad's. However, his source is much better than mine (Marantz SA11). Either way, I'd like to try swapping amps and speakers between the two rooms to hear which is the culprit. I'm pretty confident that matching these speakers with a tube amp will remove most if not all of the harshness.
a quick potential fix. I was trying to use a pair of HT pro silway II (silver and copper)between my CDP (ARC CD-2 going to VTL tube gear then to Dunlavy Athenas) and pre but they had a horrible top end glare while doing a bunch of other things much better than the all copper truth links which didn't have the glare. While experimenting with vibration control to see what i could gain/loose (both did occur depending on what control approach i used) i found that a set of cones/vibropod combo under the CDP took away all the glare while leaving the positives intact. adding some vibropods to your set up may be worth a try along with mass loading. Cheaper than a new pair of speakers
Piezo: Yes, buying new speakers is pretty much out of the question right now. I spent a long time researching and coming up with the decision to buy these speakers, and to be honest I like how clear they sound; I'd rather match other equipment to suit these speakers. I do in fact have a set of cones underneath the CD player. I've tried using them both ways (pointed end up/down). The interconnects i'm using between the cd player and pre and AR silver series, so I may try a pure copper interconnect. I'm also going to try swaping the ARs with the Kimber Timbres that are going between the pre and the monos. For rock music, I can handle having the speakers toed out/facing forward because the loss in imaging doesn't really matter.

I hear you on researching the speakers but let me share a friends experience. He too purchased the Triangles and I was taken back by how they imaged and the clearness you are explaining, I mean wow!, I heard it. However, I did not like anything else about the speaker. Also, try listening to them for over an hour. Better buy stock in Advil.

God forbid you try and play Rock & Roll on them which is what I (and my friend) listen to the most. I mean who really wants to listen to Patricia Barber and Norah Jones all day because of the recordings. It gets old and tiresome.

You see it is the "clearness" you are talking about that turns into "brightness-hash-glare" with a less than perfect digital recording.

I just set up a different friend with a budget bedroom system which consists of a NAD BBE integrated and a Pair of those inexpensive EPOS ELS-3s. Using a Rotel CD player and entry level AudioQuest, the system sounds fantastic. There is ZERO brightness and the system sounds much better than some bigger rigs I have heard for only $500.00 here on Audiogon used for the whole system.

I would put money on the table that your electronics are really not your problem. Putting vibration devices under equipment and changing cables will result in small changes but are merely band-aid and will not eliminate your problem. Why make sacrafices for the music when it is the most important thing here?


the nad components are 'by design'made to be neutal. they are also compatible with most convential dynamic driver loudspeakers, including yours. at least for now try other interconnects(not necc ones that are more epensive)and try lots of cds to make sure your brightness isn't just a software issue. the triangles do prefer low watt tube designs, but going that route is only going to cause more problems. wire differences are similar inherently inportant, if your pre amp does not have tone controls to adjust for different room conditions
If you must use these speakers (which are the problem, IMO) trade the gear for lush tube gear, like Cary, or maybe contact Kevin Deal @ Upscale Audio and see what he says. Your speakers are too ruthless in the presence range (guessing 2-6khz).

Using gear like these Triangles or horns is like preparing sushi. All of the ingredients must be fresh and of the highest quality possible or it won't be palatable. at all. While it's possible to make these speakers work, it is doing to be WORK doing so. This is why most are suggesting different speakers.

For now, think like a suhsi chef. Every piece of gear (including room treatments) isn't going to have to be synergetic and hand picked (and tweaked!) to match those Triangles.

Good luck!
"I spent a long time researching and coming up with the decision to buy these speakers"

And when you demo'd them did they have the same edge that now annoys you ? If not what was the partnering equipment in the demo ? Go buy it, or start saving.

If you did not demo them, but bought them on the basis of reviews then I think it's time to accept that you made an unfortunate choice, sell them and move on. You might lose a little money on the deal, but you'll be better off in the long run.

You could sink a whole lot more money and time into power conditioners, cables, outlets, vibration control, and other stuff, that in my experience delivers the last <5% of the sound, but it will not cure a terminally bright system.

If you really like imaging and want to lose the brightness I'd suggest a used pair of Spica Angelus, or Tc-60s, or if you can stretch a pair of GMA Europas.
I think what some of you may be forgetting is that the NAD amplifiers I'm using right now are not mine; I've made no financial obligation towards these amps or CD player, they're just something for me to use while I save up for my own components. Yes, these speakers are bright and are definitely harsh on rock music--with solid-state amps. I'm not ready to sell these speakers before listening to them on a tube amp. No, I did not get to audition these speakers because I bought them used off of Audiogon.

The_kid: I understand what you mean about getting fatigued by listening to these speakers, but did you hear them on solid state gear or tube gear? A HUGE part of having the “right” system is correctly matching the components. I doubt these speakers would have gotten such good reviews if they sounded bright and harsh with every single type of gear out there. I'm still going to try a tube amp with these speakers, which I think will really make them sing. However, if you're a semi-headbanger like myself, the tube amps just can’t deliver that extended bass and attack that are a big part of that kind of music. But I'm certainly willing to accept that trade off to get rid of this brightness, especially because of the milky smooth and airy midrange that you get from tubes.

I heard them on Cary Tube and Electrocompaniet Solid State Gear. Something was just missing as the speakers sounded analytical and mechanical. Again, the imaging was impressive but the dynamics and musicality was just NOT there.

Also, I disagree that tube amps cannot deliver extended bass and there is not shortage of extension in my set up. Please see my system here on Audiogon.

Please keep in mind that reviews only go so far. I have read tons of reviews that I disagree with and some that I agree with. Maybe the reviewer did not listen for extended periods and I am sure he/she used only good recordings; not rock & roll. I agree with you though as it all comes down to system synergy which you are now missing.

I would reach out to other Triangle owners and see what their setups consist of. However, I again do not think that you will get what you are looking for out of the Antal XS speakers. My prediction is they will be on Audiogon in the Classifieds within 6 months after trying different combinations. Maybe I am wrong but I doubt it.

Good Luck!

I played around with speaker cables last week. I have some Transparent Musicwave 100s that were clearly warmer than both my Analysis Plus and a set of Signal Cables. When I placed the Transparents on the bottom end of a biwired speaker it seemed to extend the Bass a little too. If memory serves me correctly, I would also say that Transparents lower priced ICs were somewhat rolled off as well.

You could also try placing felt around the tweeter. Literally cut a donut shaped piece and using a removable adhesive place it around the tweeter.

Similarly you can place foam rubber blocks beside or below the tweeter. Somewhat like Dunlavy's.
Hi Jwglista, room adjustments would be the first thing i tried. Bare floors, walls, glass, giant tvs, any hard surfaces. Try homemade solutions, rugs, wall hangings, pillows,etc. I use a wall hanging[thick cotton], pillows, and stuffed animals in strategic places!, thats right, i'm single! After that, maybe warmer cables[ i like harmonic tech], incerting a tube preamp, and internal damping of the DVD player[marigo dots, sorbothane,etc.] I love Rosstaman's suggestion! [Yah mon, thanks for that , you made my day] Happy tweaking and thanks for listening, Alan
You may want to invest in a Radio Shack SPL meter and an audio test CD (to generate fixed frequency tones) before you make any changes. If the sound is as bright as you claim, it will show up on a graph of SPL vs frequency. Then you can retest every time you make a change (whether room decor, system components or tweaks) and see the real difference the changes make. At the very least this will give you a good feel for the quantifiable impact varies changes make on you overall system acoustics. Good luck.
Well I had a chance to bring the Antals back home and hooked them up to my dad's system (PrimaLuna Prologue 2 + Marantz SA-11S1). I have to say that the transparency and imaging was pretty remarkable, producing a very accurate sound image that had a great amount of depth. The room was set up better, and I could hear more bass than I could in my own room. As for the brightness, it was toned down quite a bit, but I could still notice the brightness even with this tube amp and a much better source. SACDs sounded much less harsh/bright. We made a trade (temporary) and I brought home the Paradigm Studio 60 v3's knowing that they would sound much better with the NAD equipment (I had heard this setup already before). Comparing the Triangles to the Paradigms, I would have to say that I enjoy the sound of the Paradigms more, simply because they are more listenable and seem to be a bit more musical. They are also more of an "all purpose" speaker, being able to handle a broader range of music. Rock music is iffy when it comes to the Triangles; some recordings are ok, others are intolerable. The Triangles seem to do a better job at reproducing room ambiance and detail, but also lack the dynamic range that the Paradigms have. I still can't believe how transparent the Triangles are, but it's the brightness that takes away from me being able to acually enjoy that transparency. I think that if you listen to mostly classical and jazz, the Triangles are an excellent choice; for a listener that still likes to enjoy rock, it's like The_Kid said: better buy stock in Advil.

Although I don't want to go through the trouble of selling the Triangles and getting new speakers, I think that in the end I'll end up doing just that. I'm dreading the day when I have to hook the Triangles back up to the NAD stuff....

What about mods? Someone suggested adding felt around the tweeters? Are there any other fixes for a bright speaker?
There are many 'band-aid' tweaks that you can implement, but in the long run, it'll probably cost the same as buying new speakers. Just bite the bullet and get speakers that you'll love instead of annoy.
Good suggestion. I'm really enjoying these Studio 60s. I may try and find a set used instead of doing research and buying another pair without hearing them first. I imagine I can pick up a pair of Studio 60 v3's for about $900 here on AudioGon. I think these speakers would also sound really good with a hybrid amp...
My overall impression of Kimber ic's is that they tend to be analytical with emphasis in the top end.A Transparent Cable or older MIT 330 IC's would eleviate the problem,plus give u more solid bass response.The MIT's have this even consistent sound from top to bottom.Some of the Kimber Silver is very transparent,and will just magnify the shortcomings of a front end.
Keep your Triangle's. I have Revel M20 monitors, known to be very revealing and for a somewhat analytical top end. They are driven by a Krell amp (also somewhat edgy) and a Meridian 24 bit DAC (very detailed). Cables by Cardas Golden X and Transparent Super work wonders here as they deliver so much music in a warmer flavor. Staightwires are exceptionally detailed but do not work well with bright systems. Don't think of cables as accessories, they are true components and spending the money makes it worthwhile if you want to really feel the music.
I will say this one more time. SELL THE SPEAKERS! They are your problem.

Sure they image but they are mechanical sounding, bright, and just not pleasant to listen to.

Why would you want to keep them?

A warm speaker like the Sonus Fabers would be an option.
First things first: treat the room.

Next, I have auditioned at least 30 different types of speakers, perhaps as many as 50. None were as bright as the Triangles. And that even while mated with hybrid amps. I can't imagine how edgy rock music could sound on those when running a SS amp. Sell, sell, sell. Just my opinion, of course.

Well I just swapped out the Paradigms for the Triangle again, and I've been listening to mostly accoustic and classical music on them. For this type of music, these speakers sound very good. But yes, rock music sounds very edgy with my system. Previously the Triangles were hooked up to a Prima Luna Prologue Two and a Marantz SA-CD11, Bi wired with Kimber 8TCs and 4TCs and Van Den Hul interconnects. The speakers sounded great on the system, even with rock music. I'm not sure that i'm quite ready to sell these speakers yet. They have a very detailed sound that is rewarding with some types of music.
Also, I did a quick search on Sonus Faber here, and the prices are a bit out of my range for the full range speakers they offer.
I thought I had a bright system too. I bought PAD Musaeus speaker cables and an interconnect for the CD player and it helped more than any other cable I tried, but the system was still brighter than I preferred.

When I finally tried the Musaeus interconnect between the AMP and Preamp though, the difference was night and day. Now I have a deep sonorous tonal balance that sounds right all across the spectrum.

From my experience the best thing you can do to kill system brightness is to add a darker sounding cable between the pre and the amp. The two that worked wonders for me were the Pure Audio Musaeus and the Acoustic Zen Matrix II.

As always, the more transparent your system the bigger impact on sound your cables will make.
I thought I had a bright system too. I bought PAD Musaeus speaker cables and an interconnect for the CD player and it helped more than any other cable I tried, but the system was still brighter than I preferred.

When I finally tried the Musaeus interconnect between the AMP and Preamp though, the difference was night and day. Now I have a deep sonorous tonal balance that sounds right all across the spectrum.

From my experience the best thing you can do to kill system brightness is to add a darker sounding cable between the pre and the amp. The two that worked wonders for me were the Pure Audio Musaeus and the Acoustic Zen Matrix II.

As always, the more transparent your system the bigger impact cables will make.