Try some inexpensive tweaks first, like putting felt around the tweeter. You may not even need a full ring (a little goes a long way).
What are you driving them with now (tubes or solid state)? Do you play CD's or vinyl or both (vinyl is generally smoother)? Any silver wire in the system (try copper for more body)?
What amp do you have now and what is your budget?
Also, your IC's and Spkr. wires? You may want to consider ones that fall into the "warm" side of the spectrum.
If your already using copper ICs and speaker cables.Next step would be a speaker with a silk / textile dome tweeter. Preferable a 1st order crossover..I find the 1 st order gives you the highs/detail on most designs but doesn't throw them at you IMHO.In other words the highs are there just not in your face. Also if using the Linn you may want the speakers to be amplifier friendly.
Gmood has hit the nail on the head. Metal dome tweeters have a natural resonance about 20KHz that is audible and comes through just as you described. It is actually very simple to prove without using sophisticated test equipment. If you drop the metal dome of a tweeter on the floor you can hear it hit. Do the same with the silk dome and you cannot. There is on-going reseach in Finland at the University of Jyvaskyla's Department of Biology and Physics examining brain wave activity and sound.
The research has two aims, first to see if high frequency sounds above the human hearing influence the quality of music subjectively, and secondly, can this be observed and measured in brain wave activity and recorded by EEG, electroencephalography. The purpose is to scientifically study whether ultra-tweeters make a difference in the quality of the music.
Measurements of objective, subjective and physiological reactions are being recorded in different sound environments, including high-frequency sounds above 22 kHz. Another physiological measure is the heart rate variability, which is the time between two consecutive heartbeats. The heart rate variability is a delicate quantity that indicates a persons stress state. (The Finns are big on healthcare research that focus on quality of life, heart rate and stress.)
The subjective evaluation entails test subjects completing a questionnaire regarding the sound quality of the different environments. These are then compared to their EEGs.
The baseline results prove the hypothesis, as well as show that humans subconsciously prefer the sound of wide-bandwidth music.
Sorry for the long response, but I have been on the fringe of this research, which is both cool and frustrating in that I am constantly second guessing my own system.
I would agree with the felting the tweeter advice above, but would also attack the problem (if you haven't already) with some very inexpensive power items. Cryoed Hubbell 5262 or 5362 outlets or Porter Ports, Quantum Electoclear Filter (approximately $40). For $100-$150, your system will be dramatically changed for the better by these items.
I agree that silk's are far less hostile than metal tweeters. However, the crossover slope shouldn't make a bit of difference in the presentation of the tweeter. The crossover has everything to do with the integration of tweeter and the mid/bass driver. The tonality of the tweeter is inherent in it's design and materials and how loud it is in comparison to the loudness of that mid/bass driver (talking about relative efficiency here).
Very interesting stuff Cellorover! In my limited experience, I always found that I preferred speakers which turned out to have silk/fabric tweeters. Though that is not to say that metal dome tweeters cannot be smooth, for example the nautilus line with good (smooth) amps.
As for the Finns and their research: do you think we could get them to do the same research with tubes vs ss!
It's a matter of the personal tastes that are currently somehow statistically spreaded throughout speaker manufacturers.
The largest differences heard in speakers in top-end are in tweeter designes. I prefere aluminium dome and someone would prefere soft textile.
I think to agree with Gmood1 that basically you havn't got the speaker you realy want.
Once upon a time my rig suffered from tonal hardness (aka distortion) of upper register piano, soprano sax, flute and, as you mentioned, violin. Turns out it was the preamp. Switching from a Forte 44 to a Threshold Fet ten solved the problem across the board. So maybe your speakers are not to blame. Painlessly conveying the tough tones may be a job for finer, less distorting electronics.
I can't believe it. I just went to the Bowers and Wilkens website and that's what they recommend... stick felt on their speakers!
I think anything with a metal dome is sheer pain on the ears. They should keep the material for making cars instead
Or they could just make cymbals and brass instruments out of silk.
Some of the smoothest sounding speakers available use metal tweeters. All metal does not resonate at the same frequency. Metal can be treated to alter its resonate characteristics. etc etc.
You really need to list your entire system. Also a detailed description of your listening room and placement would help.
B&W's can sound wonderfully smooth with the right gear. Every link in the chain matters with B&W's. That said, there are smoother sounding speakers available, many of which aren't as demanding of the upstream components.
It isn't the same with all music, piano for example is
great, but their analytical caracter shows too much detail
at the high tones for me, that's why you hear almost everything, it's also a matter of personal taste.
I use a Rotel 971 MK2 amp (60 W), NAD C 520 player, and use QED cable and wire with my B&W's. My room is about 5 x 5 m.
I use the word sharp, but that's not 100 % correct, maybe
hard is a better discription.
Joekras, where did you exactly found that about the stick felt at B&W website? I was not able to find anything about it. Thanks.
I own the CDM-1nt's. This is what I've found:
I don't know how long yours have been broken in, but mine seemed to take ~3-5 months. At first they were shrill and bright, presently they are smooth and warm. My wife noticed the difference.
I tried felt and this seemed to work but not as much as I would have liked. The big difference for me was:
1) Moving the speakers further apart ~8 feet and using less tow in. This made a unmistakeable difference.
2) Changing the power cord on my Rotel RA-1070 int. amp to Volex 17604, 14 gauge/shielded (cheap ~ $5.00 thru Newark.com). I plugged the cord directly into the outlet bypassing the surge protector. This was not insignificant it was HUGE! (I was not a believer in power cords). The sound became warmer, bigger, and the bass is now much deeper. I then changed the cord on my CD with the same cord, bought two. This helped as well but not as much as on the amp.
Hope this helps.
can someone explain 'felting' the tweeter?
Linn gear is smooth??? Give me a break. Talk about bright and painful, IMHO. So sure, blame it on B&W.
Cellorover, B&W tweeter's resonance is more like 25kHz, not 20. Monitor Audio IS around 19-20kHz.
Treat the room, aim the speakers more straight ahead than at the listener, and try smoother electronics whether tube or low distortion like Musical Fidelity.
Cdc-- I may not have communicated enough details. All metal dome tweeters resonate. It is inherent in their physical properties. The research found resonating frequecnies at 20kHz. This does not mean that this is the only point of resonance. Most start at 20 but really begin to ring at the 23-26 range. So, the B&W is right in the middle.
I will see if I can get a copy of the preliminary findings and methodologies and post it.
Cellorover, February 2004 Stereophile says the B&W 705 has a PRE-resonant notch at 25 kHz and resonant frequency is "just above 30kHz". Not bad for a metal dome tweeter.
i'd blame your speaker cable and mostly, your NAD cd player...
when i doubled up on CV-6 speaker cable my highs went from being forward-in-your-face to quite laid back and smooth. other big improvements in taming the nautilus tweaters were good power conditioning (incl. a good home-brew power cord from a hosp. grade outlet) and interconnects (i like AQ's coral line, for CDM1s you don't need anything more than good copper aka silver seemed too bright).
I agree with the poster who suggested that your problem is with your source. The 1nt is very sensitive to partnering components. Any tonal brightness in your system and the 1nts will pass it along to you. As well, the rotel amp is not the last word in warmth or refinement,very capable though it is. My suggestion would be to borrow a couple of different cd players to switch between in your system. I think you will find that the 1nt will convey the sonic differences between those players in a way that will be quite clear.As well, I would suggest that the Rotel-though very good, may not have the kind of current or stability that will bring out the best in this speaker. This is a very good speaker, by the way. It may not be your cup of tea, but given the right system the 1nts are capable of truly impressive sonics. I think you are on the right track to question your electronics
You're not imagining things. When I upgraded my system, the first thing I noticed was massed-string harshness on more than a few recordings. I have a Musical Fidelity A308 amp and Vandersteen 3a sigs--both know for being friendly and warm. The only thing I've found to tame string harshness was moving to SACD.
How about moving to vinyl - or R2R - and hearing what the master tape actually sounded like?
You are using low-end budget components with your CDM 1NT and that's why you're getting a 'hard' sound. I have the CDM 1SE for 5 years(they are now used as rears in HT) and have upgraded my amplification from Arcam to Classe and then to Audio Research and the sound changes dramatically with every component change.
I agree with Timf that you change your electronics and cables since they are not on par with the CDM's. They are not bright speakers but just ruthlessly revealing of the upfront components. If you don't believe, try using the Arcam Alpha 10 integrated and Alpha 8 cd player(my first system) with Cardas cabling throughout and you'll see how warm the sound will get.
I sold my B&W's because my system frustrated me.
So I intend to buy new speakers and listened to Sonus
Faber Concerto's with my Rotel amp.
It sounded bad, but when the salesman used an other amp,
in this case the LFD Mistral, I was schocked from the
improvement, I bought the LFD Mistral and use them with Dynaudio audience 40 (my first speakers), now I realise this was a perfect partner to my B&W's, the salesman said that the amp and speakers are the most important components, not the source, I'd agree with him.
"the salesman said that the amp and speakers are the most important components, not the source"
Although it may be quite true but the the salesman is definitely not talking to an audiophile point of view and may well be flamed for his words if he were to tell this to a true audiophile.
I'm surprised that you've sold off your B&W's so quickly.