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I had IIIa's for years, and found that they could really sing with low powered tube amps, but, got very anemic sounding with passive pre amps. I didn't go through tons of preamps, but when I plugged in the Cary SLP 90 it was an awesome and immediate improvment of great proportions. I just saw an SLP 98 on this site today which is the current version of the 90. Well worth checking out regardless of what amps you are using. Don't be scared by all that "warm" sounding description, you can tailor the sound depending on what tubes you use.
?how long are your ic's? I agree the passive attenuators may be giving you the "brightness". I would say the front end doesn't have the 'power' to push your amp, in a passive mode. The brightness and midrange suckout/lean bass is NOT the fault of the amp. Try a bigger cord on the amp( doesn't have to be expensive)and real short IC connections as a test (any old cheap but super short 8" to attenuator, 8" to amp to see if the sound gets fuller (even if it gets crummy sounding with cheap ic's, then you know it's the too long IC
Or try borrowing another front end of a different make and see if the tonal balance changes,borrow a preamp and stick it into the line WITH the current attenuators... If the tonal balance improves then the source is probabaly not able to drive your amp in the passive mode.
All this is guesswork and fanciful speculation, but also a place to start thinking on some experimentation to find a GREAT solution without tossing out the "baby with the bathwater"
vintageguru, are ewe primarily a digital kinda guy? if so, i tink this also may contribute to what yure experiencing - vinyl prolly woodn't show these symptoms as much.
be that as it may, i can vouch for the cary slp98 - an *excellent* pre that will do that toob-thing without being coloured - it's wery accurate, imho. that being said, if it were *my* money, i'd take a risk & go for a melos - either a sha-gold/maestro, at a quite bit less than a used cary, or a melos ma-333/music-director, at a bit more $$$. in fact, this is yust what i *did* do w/my money! ;~) while the cary was a bit better all-around, than a hot-rod rogue 99 i tried, (except bass & accuracy, where it's a *lot* better, imo), the melos music-director, which i got, is in another league altogether, imho. i think this preamp will acquit itself well against *any* current top preamps, and, cuz of melos' recent difficulties, they are a bargain on the used market.
i also agree w/liz, that if yer interconnects are long, this will be a likely contributor to yer problems.
good luck, doug
I have the 777ES and up to about 90 hours it sounded great. After 90 hours, my system sounded exactly like yours. At about 180 hours the foundation came back, but even at 240 hours it is still bright and sibilant.
My system is as follows: 777ES -> AQ Lapis III 1m -> Audible Illusings M3-A most recent version -> Siver Audio Hyacinth 3m -> Bel Canto EVo 200.2 monos -> AQ Sterling II 6' -> Sonus Faber Grand Piano HOME latest version (fantastic speakers).
Adding a second EVo 200.2 is a great idea. When you audition it with the one you have you will keep it.
I do not know if the passive EVS Ultimate Attenuators are the problem or not. I am pulling my hair out hoping that the brightness goes away in my system as I approach the much talked about 400 hours of break in. But no one seems to be willing to say what the 'sound' of the 777ES's terrible break in period is like, just that its 'terrible'.
Good luck and let us know if it is indeed the passive preamplification.