Not sure if the power conditioner would tame down brightness in your system. When I installed Shunyata Hydra power line conditioner in my system I noticed overall reduction in noise floor, but I can't say that it reduced sibilance. You may want to audition different speaker cables and interconnects to begin with. B&Ws are pretty critical to upstream components, so if any of your components has a tendancy to be bright, it will be shown by the speakers. Also, you may want to try corner busters from Echo Busters or any other company that makes a similar product. Aside from that I don't know what else to suggest. However, be carefull with power conditioners as few brands and types actually can hurt the sound of your system. I know 2 brands that won't probably make it worst - Shunyata and Richard Gray. Steer clear of strip power bars.
Have you tried towing the speakers in so the tweeters cross in front of the sweet spot?
I would assume that your room acoustics have something to do with it. As you upgrade to more revealing equipment, sometimes the room will be more noticeable.
In my system, the power conditioner smoothed the sound out just a bit, but I don't think it will cure anything.
I have never seen (or heard of) a power conditioner that had an effect on silibance. If it did, what else in the same range of frequencies would it affect?
Work on the speakers and the room - and get a power conditioner if you have an AC problem.
Thanks for all the replys. My room is actually an acoustic nightmare and am looking to add some canvas prints to tame things down a little. I have fiddled with toe-in but not to the point where they cross in front of the sweet spot so I shall also give that I try. I was actually looking to purchase a RGPG 400 but I will hold off to see if I can alleviate the problem by focusing on the room. Thanks again.
Often times a tizziness, digital-like hash, or grainy highs can often be interpreted as an intollerable 'treble brightness'.
This can be the result of poorly designed ics and speaker cables, usually those that induce time-smear. Some silver cables will introduce a certain tizziness.
But unconditioned lines can and will also introduce its own sonic harm in much the same way along with the negative sibilance you mentioned.
If none of your components are properly conditioned and you're using a digital source, then there is an excellent chance that the bi-directional digital noise that is generated is also infiltrating your other components. For that you need to make certain that any line conditioner you purchase is also bi-directional to keep the noise from going back into the AC line back to the service panel and then into your other components.
So if you're concerned about certain aspects, don't assume that fixing one fixes all.
Not all line conditioners will reduce or eliminate negative sibilance or prevent digital noise from going back into the line. For this and other benefits, I would recommend the Foundation Research LC-1 and LC-2 passive and dedicated in-line power conditioners that come with their own built-in power cable. New they sell for $795 (for front end source components) and $995 for the amp. Used these should be right around your budget.
Among other benefits, the Foundation Research line conditioners should eliminate all negative sibilance induced by noisy AC. But keep in mind there are certainly negative induces occurences of sibilence embedded in the recording itself via the microphones or others. There is no line conditioner that can remove this type of negative sibilance.
With regard to ics and speaker cables and a grainy digital hash-like sound resulting from a time smear, some to many cables have this unwanted characteristic.
If per chance you are also experiencing these effects, then you might want to consider the Audience Au24, Paul Speltz' Anti-cables and Anti-ics, or the Audio Tekne lines of ics and speaker cables.
The reason why I had originally thought of power conditioners as a solution was due to the fact that I entered 'sibilance' as a audiogon search item. A number of threads alluded to poor AC as a generator of this problem and I started this to read more into the topic. Thanks.
Hi Adam: I have indeed experienced successful results in taming sibilance / glare issues via AC line conditioning. Upgrade AC cords furthered the sonic enhancements. My line conditioners are the Chang Lightspeed 3200 ($250, 6 outlets, 15 amp capacity, for source components) & a separate Chang 9900-Amp ($800, 4 outlets, 20 amp capacity, for a large stereo power amp). Even the 9900-Amp would fit your price goal if purchased used; note that it does not constrain current dynamics.
Chang offers many different models such as the 6400, which would probably cover all of your needs in a one-box solution. All Chang models include integral AC line transient protection; look for this feature to be included in whatever line conditioner that you decide upon.
I think that you will find some excellent choices in the Balanced Power Technologies line. I am also very pleased with EquiTech though they don't have as many offerings at as many price points. Both are true balanced power units. Based on the research I did at the time, I wouldn't get anything else. Both are available used on the 'Gon. BTW if this is part of an HT room you won't believe what one of these will do for your CRT/plasma/LCD display.
There is little doubt that conditioning your power will improve your sound by reducing the noise floor. And as also has been suggested by filtering the line noise from the digital unit(s). As Bob suggests, improving power cords also helps, get one (or more) that is specifically designed for digital front end sources - again there a lot of them for sale here.
Depending on your setup, ie if you are feeding from a transport to a DAC, you might also consider trying a different SPDIF cable to see if some of the unpleasantness you are hearing is some kind of smearing or jitter
While I, like Bob use Chang PC's (I have the 9600, HT 1000, and 9900 amp models in my two systems now), I don't know if that will solve your problem. Yes, for many of the reasons listed above, it may help, but I don't think your components are the main trouble. I have had this problem with B&W's speakers (I had the original 802's) and have always heard what to my ears is an over abundance of sibilance from their speakers ever since....
I live in the lightning capital of the world, and as such always use power conditioning... and hell even have UPC's on my Replay and cable box in the one system... but I suspect you will find your real problem is the B&W sound.
Let the B&W bashing begin.
I don't agree with the problem being casued by B&W speakers.
These speakers are revealing, that's all. That could be a disadvantage, but you really do want your speakers to be revealing, don't you. The whole idea is to match other components properly. Digital components cause extreme sibilance, not the speakers. Besides, B&W speakers like to be bi-wired, preferrably with a shotgun run of speaker cable of decent gauge in order to have as less impedance as possible. Matching cables both ICs and Speaker wire is a challenge. I would first look at wires that integrate well with your components and this way you will avoid all the brightness. And also your room....Just my opinion.
Adamg, Before you invest in wire and power conditioners etc make sure you have exhaused your explorations regarding system set up and room treatments. Toe in is a huge issue for sibilence (or brightness in general). Many speakers are 'hot' when you are listening on or close to axis and need to be pointed straight ahead, or pointed so they cross over in front of the sweet spot (substantially some times). You might check with the manufacturer to see what their set up advise is, or identify your speakers and hope some one here is familar with them an can advise you.
You also need to be sure that 1st reflections points are delt with, that is floor, side walls, and if possible the ceiling. Just put some temporary stuff up and see if you solve your problem. If it works then you can seek a permanent solution. If not, then on to the next thing.
Like I said it's your room - you know it and I know it. You can get conditioners, DACs, etc and you will have a great system - but flutter echo and brightness will continue to destroy the sound.
I just don't want you to throw all your money away and find yourself in the same spot.
While I cannot argue with any of the suggestions above, I believe there is no "universal" right answer as to what is causing the sibilence in YOUR system.
I have been chasing a sibilence problem in my system, taking the suggestion that room treatment should be the primary target. I chased my tail with treating first reflections, rear wall reflections, covering all windows, etc.
Then it dawned on me to conduct a simple troubleshooting test.....I used headphones hooked to the tape out of my ARC SP8 preamp. I figured that would take the room acoustics out of the equation. Put on a troublesome LP, and the sibilence was still there. So my problem in my system is somewhere between the turntable, cartridge, I/Cs, and preamp. It is not the room.
So, I'm now changing out I/Cs between the TT and preamp to see if I can solve this.
The moral of the story....I dunno....keep trying! ;-)
Thanks again for all your responses. I toed-in the speakers such that they cross before the sweet spot and much of the brightness and sibilance have been reduced but not eliminated. I have plans to add some canvas prints behind the speakers in order to reduce the wall reflections. A RGPC power conditioner is something that I will look into purchasing in the future but clearly the room and the speaker placement was the large source of my problems. As far as changing cables and ICs, I use mostly XLO ultra and signature which are expensive for those who are still recieving education and I would prefer not to experiment with new cables. This is my 3rd pair of B&W speakers as a result of my dealers trade-up program and I definitely enjoy their sound. Nevertheless, the metal dome tweeters can interfere with the sound of the music by being overly bright and forward and require a great deal of attention in order to tame them. Once again, I appreciate all of the feedback as this was the first thread I have attempted on this site. Given the useful information I have recieved I will continue to use this as a resource in the future.
I doubt cables will make a difference.
Adam, I know there isn't much faith in cables changing the sound of your system, but I decided to mention this to you anyway....
Is your speaker cable a bi-wired pair?
If not you must be using the B&W jumpers? My speakers sounded terrible with a single run of speaker cable using B&W jumpers. Midrange and trebble were out of control. I changed to same cable but a bi-wired pair and I could not beleive the improvement. At least with my speakers, I noticed a huge difference. If you have someone to lend you a pair of bi-wire cables, try 'em out. See if that will change anything. It was a big and positive change with my N803s.
The bi-wire suggestion has come up in comments regarding my system and is now something I am considering. I use XLO ultra 6 and the bi-wire version (XLO ultra 12) sells for $50/foot in Canada. I may have to look into it but that is a little steep for my student budget.
You could actually find another used single run pair of the cables you already have and just double your run. Find a place that will let you audition a pair so you don't waste your $ on something that will not produce desired results.
Cable could make a difference, but it will be subtle. You will still have the brightness problem, but possibly to a lesser degree. It's kind of like using duck tape.
Power conditioners can offer great results with pc based systems. I have heard and seen major differences between plugging my pc direct into the wall, parallel filtering, isolation transformer, and balanced ac. Currently I use a custom balanced hybrid PLC designed for studio use. My pc has never sounded or performed better.
PC PSU - Power & Cooling 510 Ultra
Hard Drive - Western Digital ATA and SATA
Motherboard - ASUS K8V Deluxe
CPU - AMD 3400+
Soundcard - Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe (AES option)
AGP - ATI Radeon 9800XT
CD/DVD - Plextor 712A
Case - Cooler Master CM Stacker
Power Cord - Perfect Cable Silver Reference III
DVI Cable - RAM HDTV Cable
Digital Audio cable - Perfect Cable Studio Reference III
Internal Shielding - Stillpoints ERS and TI Shield
Internal Cabling - Cooler Master Shielded Cabling