New Gallo Strata's sound like tin-cans: break-in time problem?


First time Gallo-user. Have been breaking them in according to instructions for approx 80hrs. Amp: ARCAM P49 (200 wpc in stereo mode), pre-amp Sonus Veritas Genoa, Source, ARCAM CD player (2yrs old), connections and wires all Nordost Tyr-or higher level. The new speakers are eating up the P49, I have the pre at full volume, and Strata's output is only slightly above conversation level. And, the sound I'm hearing is just like listening to the music thru tin cans. A friend commented, "these sound like mid-level television speakers".  Is all this due to incomplete break-in, poor speaker orientation, bad system combination, or.....what?  Any ideas are appreciated, as I had great hopes for these speakers.
Many thanks.
maximoam85
When I had Stradas they were purchased used, and thus broken in, but my experience was NOTHING like what you're describing.  

Seems like something is seriously wrong somewhere, but where, I don't know.

I still kind of wish I hadn't sold the Stradas.  They are really good speakers.
I notice your preamp has two gain modes low and high. If it's in the low gain mode try switching it to high. It sounds like a system issue rather than the speakers.
Many Thanks to both responders
Since then I have made some changes to confirm the problem: moved the Stratas to a different and much smaller room with wood floors, and connected to an Onkyo TX8160 receiver (80 wpc into 8ohms plus an Onkyo CD 7030). In addition, I have connected my old Cambridge Soundworks Model SIx speakers to the original electronics I described in the first post. Results for the Stratas are the same; tin-can sound and only running the receiver wide-open produces a normal output volume. The Cambridge Model Six (connected to ARCAM P49 and Sonus Veritas Genoa pre-amp) sound exactly as they should, running at 12:00 volume setting produces full, clean output volume.
I read a few reviews of the Stratas before purchasing and did not find any indication of the problems I am hearing. Everyone loves these speakers right out of the box, and no one complains of needing extended break-in time. Although, the optional Gallo subwoofer DOES require considerable break-in.

Tried the Stradas 2 last week. Bought them used half a year ago but havn’t given them much time till now. Sorry to say I had much the same impression as you. Had high expectations based on reviews etc but find them lacking resolution in the mids. And they don’t produce anything below 150hz (open space). They really need support from a pair of subs that can go to maybe 300 Hz. For listeners that are into a warmer and non-fatiguing sound they may be a good fit. They certainly disappear as a speaker with a fine soundstage.
Are they bi-wireable? If they are, and you are not running bi-wires, do they have the straps installed? Could you possibly be running current to the tweeters only?

Perhaps internally the speakers have been mis-wired out of phase?  Maybe reverse + and- on one of the speakers.
+1 jetter.
OP- Make sure your amp-speaker connections are correct polarity also...
Thanks very much for these suggestions.

Strata's are not bi-wireable (only two posts on each). I have run the polarity tests for both the amp and the subwoofer. Also, the pre-amp has polarity options which I tested.  Essentially, I've been thru every user-available combination with no change in the anomalies I'm hearing. Note, that I have also changed equipment, wiring, and room characteristics when I moved the speakers into a small office (wooden floor, 12'x12') and connected to the Onkyo receiver and CD player with same results as before.

Only three options left I can think of: 1) the speakers are somehow defective, 2) they require much more break-in time, 3) this is their inherent sonic character.
Thanks again.
Sorry to hear that. Many of us probably know first-hand how frustrating your situation is currently. Hopefully someone will post some information that will prove helpful to you. Keep us posted...

Tom
Post removed 
I'm listening to a pair of Strada's as I write this.  I'm using a Wadia 151PowerDac Mini to drive them which is rated at 25W into 8 ohms and it drives them fine in my 10 x 10 office.  Sounds like either the woofers aren't working or somethings screwed in the Crossover.  Did you buy them used?  Have you tried calling Gallo?

I love my Strada's, which are wall mounted and paired with a small custom sub.  My wife hates the retro Telephone Receiver look, but they're in my Office and she doesn't have to look at them.
Realistically, these are two four inch speakers with a crossover-less tweeter.  I would be shocked if these things didn't sound tinny - especially in a larger room.  They would appear to be an exercise in artistry, not high fidelity.
"I have the pre at full volume, and Strata’s output is only slightly above conversation level. "
What you're describing is not a matter of break-in something is seriously wrong here it may he a bad sinergy with your system but my suspicion is that they are defected or just inferior speakers with very poor design.
My guess is that both speakers have been miswired internally such that the two woofers in each speaker are being driven with opposite polarities. In other words, one woofer is moving out while the other woofer in the same speaker is moving in.

It might be possible to determine that by connecting wires to a battery holder containing a 1.5 volt battery, then briefly touching the wires to the speaker terminals, and seeing which way the two woofers move.

Regards,
-- Al
Sounds like something is wrong with the speakers.  Contact Gallo support. 

I bought a used pair of CL4s here and something behind one of the tweeters was loose.  I emailed them asking for the proper screw-head to remove the tweeter.  They had me ship the speaker to them at my expense. They removed the tweeter, fixed the loose item, and shipped it back to me AT THEIR EXPENSE..

This sounds like a classic case of buying the wrong interconnect cables.  A lot of people think they have purchased interconnect cables when they actually have purchased coaxial cables.  They look identical but if you reveal the wire by unscrewing the body at the male connector you will see the difference.

Never considered that.

Try the speakers in a different system that is known to be functioning properly.
Thanks to everyone for all these suggestions.
A few are answered in my previous update when I moved the speakers to a completely different electronic system (Onkyo receiver and CD player using different wiring and connectivity in a different, smaller room) with the same results as I related in my first message.
almarg: suggestion is a good diagnostic but I am hesitant for fear of invalidating the warranty (they are new speakers) and/or damaging the speakers.
db212: for these speakers interconnects are not required, only speaker wires are used. With the optional subwoofer, the system can be run using HF connections (again with speaker wires) into and out of the sub itself. Between source components pre-amp, amp, CD player, I am only using XLR connectors which I am fairly certain eliminates possible coax vs interconnect confusion.

So. Here's my strategy. Return the speakers to the vendor (I prefer not to identify the vendor in print here) and ask them to audition the speakers. If the speakers sound  normal to them, then I will return the speakers for refund, since after much break-in and adjustment it's obvious I personally do not like the sonic character of the speakers. But, if they find the speakers defective, replace them and I will try again. If anyone here would like to learn the results, I'll be glad to re-visit this discussion in the future.
Thanks again to all.

Agree with all that said the speakers appear to be non-functional. Would love to hear the final update, please do post.
Sounds like a plan! Please post results.

Maximoam85 wrote: "almarg: suggestion is a good diagnostic but I am hesitant for fear of invalidating the warranty (they are new speakers) and/or damaging the speakers."

The 1.5 volts almarg suggested translates to less than 3/10ths of a watt into the Strada’s nominal 8 ohm load, and the speaker is rated at 150 watts. The crossover will route the battery’s DC current to the midwoofers; the tweeter will not see any of it. In other words, what he suggested is perfectly safe and would give you valuable information.

Every speaker I make is polarity-tested with a comparatively brutal 9 volts (ten watts into 8 ohms), because once upon a time I shipped a speaker with the woofer's polarity inadvertently reversed due my using the wrong color wire coming from the crossover board.  In other words, it can happen. 

I can understand you wanting to go to the dealer regardless of what the battery test reveals, because opening up the enclosure might very well void the warranty. But the battery test that almarg suggested is safer than playing them at normal volume.

Duke

Update:
 After checking with the vendor; he maintains the Strata's need "at least 200 hrs" break-in time.
So, in order to maintain my option to return the items for refund, I'm going to run these speakers a while longer......   maybe he's right, but I've had Magneplanars that needed less break-in time.

Maybe it’s none of my beeswax, but 200 hours seems like a stretch. That’s over six hours a day every day for a month. You might want to contact Gallo directly for a second opinion.

I would never tell a customer it will take that long for his new speakers to finally sound good. Improvement over time, yes. But not that much improvement.

I used to be a Gallo dealer. Never had the problems you’re having; all of my customers were very happy with their Gallo speaker right out of the box.  (I became a speaker manufacturer, that's why I no longer sell the Gallos.)

Note that your legal right to return something for a refund also has a clock ticking. Unless you are confident the vendor will take the speakers back after 200 hours regardless, you might want to find out when that clock runs out. For items purchased "mail order", my understanding is that it’s 30 days.

Duke

Let me amend my update by clarifying the 200 hrs are required for "full potential".  I didn't intend to portray the vendor as unreasonable.

Thanks for advise.
I posted earlier without looking at the speakers, now I have and they are a unique design what were your previous speakers? They go down to 68hz so not low at all. I could see how that might sound like a "tin can" if you had speakers with actual low bass previously.
Post removed 
Previous speakers were Maggies 1.7, themselves not the ideal of bass speakers. However, the 1.7's never sounded tinny nor did they have the output volume anomaly I'm hearing. When I use the Gallo 3D subwoofer with various adjustments of crossover, bass boost, and output level does not eliminate the tinny sound from the image.

My problem is in part a reaction to the general opinion that Strata's sound very good (albeit, not great without use of the sub) by themselves and straight out of the box.To my ears, and those of an unbiased friend, the Stratas aren't living up to that general opinion. Again, these speakers do sound remarkably like internal speakers on a mid-level TV set. IF they are intended to sound that way, then I accept that I've over-expected and do need to look elsewhere. Yes, I am used to a quite different type of speaker but I hope the difference is not so dramatic that I'm unable to enjoy a speaker everyone else seems happy with.


With over 20 K worth of amp and preamp alone, why would you think a pair of the Strada would give you the same output as a pair of Maggies ? Too small for you and your room. I believe you purchased the wrong set of speakers, and just had unrealistic expectations. Enjoy ! MrD.
MrD. you provide humorous but realistic counterpoint. Thanks.

I have several reasons for downsizing and right now none of them seem worth the loss of my Maggies. Still, I assumed the professional reviewers would be astute enough to place the Strata's where they belong in the audiophile speaker domain. Certainly, the opinions of people who own Strata's and presumably have some experience listening to a variety of speakers are not altogether naive.  I've personally auditioned smaller speakers which sounded better. Also, I did run these Strata's for a few hours in a 12' x 12' room with wooden floors and detected no improvement.
BTW, how did you know the dollar worth of my amp and preamp? The ARCAM is well known, but only a few Sonus Veritas preamps have been sold over the years.  Do you have some knowledge of that brand yourself?
After 200 hours, the stereocilia in your ears will have been beaten into submission by whatever speakers you're listening, and consequently they will start sounding better to you.
twoleftears;What was that????? 

I think it was Paul Klipsch who theorized, the best way to improve a speaker was make it louder.
It’s about the ear/brain/body adapting to a new sound.
In my primary system, I have 5 Stradas fed by a Sherwood Newcastle R-972 Receiver and an Outlaw Audio 125 watt/channel amp in a room that is 13 1/3 feet wide by 39 feet deep with vaulted ceilings and hardwood floors.  Paired with an Outlaw Audio THX Ultra certified subwoofer, they play well over 100 decibels during movies and do not strain.  The imaging is spectacular.  Something must be defective with your speakers.
alltrinnov7;Thank you. Your description of set-up and impressions is very helpful.

A few questions. Did you have the system professionally installed?
Is this exclusively a theater system and if not, how do the speakers perform playing source music? Assuming the system was initially installed by you, what was your first impression> That is, did the system require extended break-in time for full sonic quality? 
Finally, what speakers did you prefer/own before the primary system you've described?

Your information will provide me substantial evidence when I ask my vendor to make his own evaluation of these speakers to determine return-ability.

-M
Gosh, the opinions.... if you are running 200 watts per channel that was sufficiently loud into your Maggies into these and they're barely above conversation level, then they're faulty. Period. Especially if you have your preamp turned all the way up. Unity gain (full power) in the majority of systems is at 1 o'clock or so on the volume dial. Where did you have it set for listening to the Maggies?
ALL GALLO SPEAKERS DO THAT.  I've owned Stradas as well a the Ref 3 and probably the Gallo Ultimates (from 1996) I'm using now (I bought this pair used, so the previous owner(s) did the break-in). It's right there in the owner's manual and you better believe it.  All it takes to make them sing is around 100 hours, the more the merrier.  Nothing else matters.

Stradas DEMAND a subfwoofer -- actually a woofer -- and do not sound as good as the Reference 3 variants, but not bad at all. Too bad the company is essentially defunct.  I love mine.
I have the Reference 3.1's driven by a Rowland M2 (75w/channel) in a 25 x 25 x 8 foot room and they can play much louder than I ever want to listen to. The Strada has a newer version of the mid and HF drivers used in the Ref. I do remember a considerable break in period and being concerned about my purchase, but not the extreme volume problems you are experiencing. Something might be wrong with your new Strada's. Contact Dan (US office located in Texas), email on the web site. He is very responsive. Gallo is not defunct. They are now located in Scotland. And the Stradas are not junk by a long shot.

Markmuse, the Stradas (not Stratas) are definitely not junk. All of the Gallo speakers are and were worthy.

Anthony Gallo introduced the Strada2 variant a while before he sold the company to its European distributor some years back.  Since then, I have not seen any new models introduced (someone correct me if I'm wrong), just the models that existed at the time of the sale.  Note that I said the company was ESSENTIALLY defunct.  I'd love for someone to show me a new model.
alltrinnov7;Thank you. Your description of set-up and impressions is very helpful.

A few questions. Did you have the system professionally installed?
Is this exclusively a theater system and if not, how do the speakers perform playing source music? Assuming the system was initially installed by you, what was your first impression> That is, did the system require extended break-in time for full sonic quality?  
Finally, what speakers did you prefer/own before the primary system you've described?

Your information will provide me substantial evidence when I ask my vendor to make his own evaluation of these speakers to determine return-ability.

-M

This system was NOT professionally installed.  Well, I'm a professional corporate finance guy but that probably does not count.  Right out of the box, the Stradas sounded great but they did sound marginally but noticeably better after a week or so of daily use.  They replaced Boston Acoustics CR-8 speakers which are very large bookshelf speakers.  Although the CR-8s are more efficient and have bigger bass drivers, the Stradas did not sound impaired in comparison.  In fact, they sounded superior in every way except bass.  A robust subwoofer easily solves that shortcoming.  The system is used 90+% for UHD Blu-ray, Netflix, and PS4 gaming and below 10% for music.  It sounds outstanding for all of the above.  As I have upgraded components, the difference has been immediately noticeable through the Stradas.  My wife and I use this system 5 or more days per week and I doubt we will ever part with the Stradas.

I don't really understand all the pro/con strata commentary in here. If this is really true: "I have the pre at full volume, and Strata's output is only slightly above conversation level," then the speakers are simply broken and should be repaired or returned. That's not a break-in problem. As usual, Al and Duke have zeroed in on the reality of the situation.
Strada 2 speakers really tickle my fancy with the Gallo Floor Stands and a pair of the Gallo TR-3d subs but it took a great deal of time and effort to work out the best placement for the Strada 2's and the subs before everything "clicked". I can understand how someone who likes the Magnepan sound might not go for the Gallos though. I'm a former Magnepan and Martin Logan owner.

I bought my Stradas and subs used and they had several hundred hours of break-in before I owned them. I use them in a 20 x 14 listening room with a 10 foot celing. 
 
You probably know about Mapleshade's recommendations to place the Strada 2's very low to the ground on angled wooden stands. The 6 moons review talks about using the Stradas on the Mapleshade stands both in a nearfield desktop set up and in a full room set up. I have tried the Mapleshade stands but I prefer the Gallo Floor Stands. Two TR-3d subs are best, but I've tried using just one sub and could easily live with that.

I tried the Strada 2's with some Arcam and Rotel amps that I own and they sounded pretty good but they sound fantastic with my PrimaLuna tube gear. I owned the Audience ClairAudient 1+1 speakers earlier but prefer the Strada 2 with the subs overall for the classical music I listen to most often. 

'
alltrinnov8, your description was exactly what I needed to know. The statement, " Right out of the box, the Stradas sounded great but they did sound marginally but noticeably better after a week or so of daily use" confirms my speakers are something less than normally functioning Gallos. Having read the Mapleshade recommendations, I can believe noticeable improvement is possible, but not to the extent my speakers would require to meet the performance level you have experienced. And, the recommendation for a long break-in period would seem to be additive but not fundamental. However, it is puzzling that both these speakers would have the same mechanical problem producing the same 'tin-can' sound in both at the same time.
BTW, as an audiophile, I have made it a point of life-philosophy not to disparage the sonic experiences of anyone even if they are a "corporate finance guy". All professions are equal in the realm of acoustic physics.
-M
Mark Muse has taken me to task for implying that he didn't know how Strada was spelled.  He obviously does, and I apologize.

But some of you don't.  Tsk, tsk :-)

As for the idea that I was claiming Mr. Muse said Stradas were "junk," please read it again, Mark. I was AGREEING with you where you said "Stradas are not junk by a long shot." Sorry anyway.

I had my Stradas in the same dual-sub setup as Knever after reading the same 6mooons review he did.  6moons pointed out the one downside/deficiency -- a minor response "hole" between the Stradas and the TR-3D  subs -- and while this didn't bother me at the outset and I couldn't seem to ameliorate it,  it eventually drove me back to the original (1996) Gallo Nucleus Ultimates which continue to please me greatly.
Breaking news!
In re-packing these Stratas for return to the vendor, I uncovered the original shipping label on the box. It was sent from Gallo in Chatsworth CA to the vendor. The shipping date was 03-2013.
I'm not surprised about a set of speakers a few years old but SIX years old?? Who knows what could have happened in that time, and to both speakers together.

Perhaps the speakers' performance is in part due to six years of sitting, boxed-up, on a shelf.


dopogue:
Incorrect spelling of Strada.....are you perhaps referring to the careless person who initiated this whole discussion? 
Well, all I can say is you're right, and old habits die hard.
Correction noted.

-M
Six years old speakers means nothing .they should work properly regardless the date of the production.
Actually, if they were stored in a facility with poor climate control (such as excess humidity) the speaker components might deteriorate over a six year period.
Strada2 has def not a loudness problem. A few watts make them sing loud and clear. 
Issue resolved...I hope.

Vendor has an experience based diagnosis of the problem and replacement speakers are on the way. I know everyone who has contributed is curious so I'll post a conclusive report once the new speakers are up and running in my room.

One conclusion is direct, the problem was not a matter of break-in, as most every contributor has observed. Thanks to all who took the time to provide serious feedback.

-M