"Air, Extension, Resolution" Music or Hi Fi?

I have mentioned in other threads my efforts to tame the treble on my Tympani IV a's which has led to a number of upgrades:

tweaky resistors in line with the tweeters
MYE stands
a Musical Fidelity tube buffer
new tubes for the Audio Research SP11
new Signal Cable speaker cables and interconnects

Once in a while, with the right recording, late at night, the system sounds very, very good, and although not quite the midrange magic of my Apogess Stages with Jadis preamp and Aragon 4004 MK II, probably some of the best "sound" I have ever heard.

But to be honest, I dont find myself compelled to go and listen to the system and often, the system still sounds fatiguing.

Ever the audiophile, I have wondered if

Rives Audio room treatment and/or
Replacing the SCD-1 with a TURNTABLE

would really restore the passion that got me into this hobby nearly 30 years ago.

But reading an ad for Tympani 1-Ds on ebay a couple of days ago gave me a Eureka?! moment:

As much as the ribbon tweeters sound really impressive, with air, extension and detail that the non ribboned models clearly dont have...

...I am suddenly wondering if all of this comes at the expense of the MUSIC.

I cant ever remember, for example, listening to my Magneplanr MG-1Bs, for example, and saying:

"I stayed up all night listening to MUSIC, but sadly the experience was ruined by my craving for more "extension" "air" and/or "inner detail".

All of this is making me wonder if the evolutionary push for "transparency" "lifting veils" "inner detail" "resolution" is exactly what turns music into hi fi, and if I might enjoy a newly restored pair of Tympani 1D's more than my Tympani IVa's.

Just my latest thought.....thank you for listening.
Air, Extension, Resolution" Music or Hi Fi? Food for thought. I guess the more we try to improve things with our systems, the less we enjoy them. What is the saying "to much of a good thing" maybe that's it. We expect so much, and when we receive less, we become dissatisfied with our gear and go the upgrade path, sometimes with no improvement for the better,or many time's for the worse.
Cwlondon, I have had MG-20's for over a decade and never found them to be "unmusical or lacking emotional involvement" at all. They just get better and better with finer gear upstream in my system. Yes, the ribbon tweeters are very revealing, but if driven with the right gear they sound musical not "hi fi" in a false sense. It might be time to update some of your pieces in your system, and if you are still using your Monster cable/IC's I think your really missing out on what your Tympani 1D's could really give you sonicly. I also think its time for a new digital front end to move you back to a more "musical/organic" sonic signature that you are looking for.
Is music your passion or is it audio?

Ever walked down the street humming a tune of your favorite piece of music? You hum "da da da ...." or however you did it, but you enjoyed that music very much even when you did not reproduce the exact sound of a musical instrument.

In essence, the music does not change whether or not your audio system can closely reproduce the timbre, air , soundstage, transparency, etc... close to a live performance. It does for very few pieces of music, but not for most. When your system can "reasonably" reproduce the sounds from all the instruments, the music is coming through.

I found the music as enjoyable with my $1000 system as the $30K system I gave up. It is liberating not having to constantly think how much better the sound will be if I spend more money. Finally, after I started cello lessons and touched real music, I abandoned the audio hobby.

Briefly said, not to bore anyone.
I experienced the same feelings as I built my present system over the past couple of years or so. My former system didn't have nearly the same resolution and detail yet was much more satisfying musically. Finally, after much trial and error with room acoustic treatments I can once again enjoy my system with both the head and heart. The room is a large percentage of your sound, and if that room is not right you are not hearing what your system is capable of.
I've probably taken the hard road in becoming informed as I've used a trial and error method to determine which treatments work best. If I had to do it all over again I would use Rives to design my room. It is also critical to finish all the room treatments before making any judgements. Absorption and diffusion are both necessary, and a somewhat large expenditure in time (if DIY treatments) and/or money is also needed.
With proper absorption and diffusion your bright highs can be vanquished, replaced by harmonically rich, palpable mids and highs. Believe me, you can enjoy extreme resolution and detail and not feel musically deprived!
I've also found that AC and speaker placement are also critical, get these three things right and you should be most of the way there to acheiving a musically satisfying system.
To be honest, I don't think Maggies (maybe some do?) integrate as well as they should. When comparing my Apogee Duetta Signatures to a pair of Maggie 3.6's a couple years ago I first came to this conclusion.

First thoughts were that the Maggies had better "Air, Extension, Resolution" and that the laid back sounding Duetta Signatures had less of this quality... "rolled off" so to speak.

Longer term listening to the Maggies changed my mind though. My opinion as it turned out was that the Apogees integrated so well, that I was fooled short term into thinking in reverse. The Maggies in truth sounded as if their high freq's were floating on another layer of sound...not as well integrated into the picture.

I think this is one reason why Maggie owners play with toe and inside/outside setup so often. The Apogees on the other hand (at least the large models) do not require any toe or outside HF ribbon placement to get a good image...sweet spot is much larger also.

I hope Maggie owners don't get the impression I'm doing an Apogee-Maggie shoot-out here and trashing Maggies...I'm not...I like Maggies a lot!.

I do think the integration problem (as I hear it) that I mentioned above is what gives them "that HiFi sound" your talking about.

Sogood51 nailed it very well me thinks. I also had a pair of the MG-1Bs and a pair of the 2.5Rs. The ribbon series had more resolution. But it wasn't as integrated as the basic panel of the older Maggie. Honestly when I think about it, I enjoyed the older model sooo much better. The treble is a tad bit tilted up on the older ribbons and it could be fatiguing at times.My first thought was HiFi sounding when I fired them up. It reminded me of what an S.S. amplifier sounds like with too much negative feedback.

So anyway your not crazy ...if you crave the one panel maggies, get you a pair and be happy.You can have good resolution and the system still be musical.It's more about tonal balance than anything else. Once you find tonal balance everything else will fall in place including the passion.

Good listening
Also one more thing, if you have an itch to try something a little radical but inexpensive. A pair of Visaton B200s in a open baffle should give you what your looking for. From communicating with a friend that also owned maggies.This speaker mated with a subwoofer, digital crossover and tubed amplifier is extremely musical and satisfying. Here's his post on the subject. WARNING this man knows how to write.LOL Visaton B200’s.
I suspect there is nothing wrong with your system. The ribbon tweeter is very revealing of source material and there are a good number of recordings out there that have tipped up treble and upper midrange responses. Your system could just be reporting the facts on the record. If this is the type of fatigue you are experiencing, then you should experiment with a high quality parametric equalizer with shelf controls. A broad 1 or 2 dB dip centered anywhere from 7 to 12.5kHz can do wonders for those overly hot sounding records.

You do hint at a broader question about music vs. audiophile effects. It's not always clear cut, but I've come to the conclusion that some of the qualities audiophiles strive for are not that musically important. I'd put much of soundstaging and imaging into that category.
The fact that it can sound very, very good late at night makes me think that you may have noisy power. If you don't have power conditioning in your system, you may want to try it and see if it helps. :o)
Enjoying music and high fidelity reproduction can be, but are not necessarily the same thing. For instance, I used to like driving around in my dad's 67 Comet because I enjoyed the heck out of listening to his AM radio: it was a blast, though certainly not high fidelity. I enjoyed the music and songs themselves because of what they did for me mentally and emotionally. I got into them in my head, and my mind made them sound, not like they did on the radio, but the way they had to sound to be what I needed them to be. My mind completed what the radio could not. I guess it worked that way for the music I wanted to hear when I wanted to hear it.

However, I surely did enjoy live performances too, and of different kinds of music: rock, religious, classical, jazz. But not all live performances were good or particularly inspiring. In these instances though, I only heard what was actually there, which was usually mediocre. But when it was good, it was like nothing else. Man, I could listen to that stuff all day. That's what drew me into high-end audio: trying to create that magic anytime I wanted.

Of course, as when live, not all recorded performances are particularly good or inspiring. Then too we have some terrible recording sound quality. And when our electronics get better and more resolving, we hear the mediocrity, noise, and distortions all the better. But I also think that some high-end equipment is designed to sound a certain way, or create a false illusion of reality. I have heard sources, electronics, speakers and cables that, IMO, colored the sound unacceptably. And when the sound is so influenced, it is covering up the actual recorded performance, regardless of how live, pretty, or clear and extended it may seem.

But if we are going to enjoy music reproduction, it has to be about the music. If it isn't, then we became audiophiles by accident: we all want to have something good, and maybe we wandered into a highfi shop instead of a camera shop or computer store. Of course there is more and I could go on, but I won't.

Good point where I didnt make the immediate connection, DUH?!?! Yes, I should examine the AC angle in more detail.

But I still wonder if I might be happier selling my Tympani IVa's and going back to the Tympani 1-Ds.

Gmood1, you hit the nail on the head with:

"Honestly when I think about it, I enjoyed the older model sooo much better. "

So I stand by my epiphany when I think that "resolution, air, inner detail, resolution, extension blah blah blah blah blah' live in the domain of "hi fi", not music.

Imaging, I would agree, is not critical to whether or not a system sounds "musical".

However, I would suggest good imaging is FUN and certainly doesnt DETRACT from the experience.

Overly hot or revealing highs, however, despite air, extension etc etc can ruin the whole thing.

Look forward to more of your thoughts and opinions.
Cwlondon, I had the exact same thought today. For some reason speakers keep getting toned brighter and brighter. For example Epos got bashed for years with the "airless" presentation of their M15. Now the M15.2 has a rising response curve - ugghhh too bright for me. I don't see the same trend with electronics.
Maybe this is one reason people are going back to tubes and vinyl - to mellow out the speakers.(just my uneducated statement as I own neither). ITOH, maye people like tubes and vinyl so speakers are voiced to sound better with them.

I agree with Auaarons about most recordings NOT sounding like live music and tweaking a system to make these recordings sound live is going to cause problems elsewhere.

When you can analytically hear the improvements but emotionally enjoy the music less and less something is wrong.
I think the Signal cables are a good buy, but not all together smooth, and may be contributing greatly to your observations. I would try some other cables (from local audio ship, local aphile) to see what it does for you. Cardas and Audience immediately come to mind.

just my $0.02
Auaarons, so what did you end up with? I'm in the process of doing the same thing. When you don't spend a lot of money, you don't worry so much.
I somehow connect the statement "the devil is in the details" with hi-end audio. Defined as:
"The devil is known for always make life difficult for man in many small ways"
Isn't that what hi-fi is all about; undefinable small details?

I think some people get off the merry-go-round because they give up trying to figure it out and decide to just accept what they own and resign themselves to be happy with their $$ six figure $$ purchase
Onhwy61, your post is so sane it's astonishing.

I have a pretty decent system (with ribbon speakers) that I think is extremely "resolving", "detailed", and, well, you know the rest. In my experience, the range of recording equalizations is huge. How can one system ever be perfect when the recordings themselves vary so greatly? Contrary to the standard audiophile bible proclamation that tone controls are forbidden, I want them as long as they can be bypassed. When the recording is too hot, as you pointed out, just dial out some treble. Bass too light for your taste on a CD? Turn the bass up a little.

If we somehow guiltily think that the whole sound is degraded and the audiophile police will show up, maybe we aren't listening to the music, just the equipment.
"Air, Extension, Resolution" to a limit is must have. This is what makes music Realistic sounding, provided you have good recording and good equipment that reproduces instrument harmonics faithfully. As soon the scale tips towards excessive ( few dbs above ideal falt response), no matter what the music does sound hifi. Analog on usually sounds warm, has 'complete' music information ( the wave form is not truncated like in redbook cd format), but most of the combos, inexpensive to expensive, I have heard tend to be so warm that it is slightly less realistic when upper mid and low highs( not to mention uppe highs) are few dbs lower than flat response. I think analog needs to be slightly tilted up at the upper freq to be complete. And I have heard some combos that has this. If you have evrything, meaning good cd or analog base system that has flat (my definition of flat being 1-1.5 db tilted up at low bass, flat from 125 hz to 4000 hz, 1-1.5 db up from 4000-7000 hz and then 20 db gently down from 7000 hz to 16000 hz) . I have found that this curve yields the most satisfying balance in my system. Of course my system also is dead quite, has good sound stage- L to R, F to B, and contains great to good components with good cables- nothing too expensive. So much so that I do not want to change a thing. At time where I attempted to go up in top of line preamp or top of line Cd player of same make, or have tried to insert expensive cables, It ruins the balance. I admit some of the things my systems does I know it does not sound right at times, but that is very rare and goodthings outweighs these rare occuances. When you get the acoustic guitar, piano, drum kit (watch for that body, highly defined but some what dullness of the high hats), human voice then everything else pretty much falls in place. In summary, My digital based system sounds pretty much analog with realistics upper mids and highs.

So What is my point? My point is that Air, Extension, Resolution are NECESSARY for high end system. But to a RIGHT degree, be it digital based or analog based. That good combination is hard to find and happens with LOT OF LUCK.
CDC - I use a 1998 Sony DVD player and Denon home theater receiver driving a pair of B&W DM302 speakers and Mirage subwoofer. The Denon does a really nice job. My bedroom system is a portable CD player driving $10 computer speakers. Without the Audiophile mindset, I am now able to enjoy my music from more sources, even with laptop driving good computer speakers or using headphones with my PDA as a player. Even the Bose system in my car played music I could enjoy!

Spending long trips away from home helped me detach from the Audiophile bug. When I spent a month away from home on business, my only source of music was my laptop and it served me just as well. I realized I was thirsting for music and not audiophile sound. More lengthier business trips simply reinforced the realization even further.

Exactly, we are thirsting for music, but it would be even better if that were consistently delivered to us in the highest quality, non fatiguing musical fashion.

My point about "downgrading" from Tympani IVa's to Tympani 1-Ds is the same - I want more MUSIC, and LESS "extension, transparency, inner detail blah blah blah"


Your point about Epos is interesting. A few years ago, I bought a pair of Epos monitors (M12's?) over the phone, never saw or heard them, basically because they were on sale at Audio Advisor for 4 or 500 bucks.

I may have read a good review or two, but otherwise wasnt really bothered about auditioning them, because they were going in my bedroom, primarily to use while watching cable TV.

And guess what - although lacking the air, extension, inner detail etc of many other speakers I have had, they sounded great.

I hooked them up to iTunes with a Naim Nait integrated amp and spent more hours listening to MUSIC than I have in years -- with no bothers, worries, or neuroses about whether or not I needed to cryo my power cables.

This paradoxical discussion has taken place in different forms and in different threads on Audiogon, but I started this one to suggest and perhaps isolate the idea the worst non musical, audiophile evils live in the domain of high frequencies.

But if I do "downgrade" to the Tympani 1-Ds, I still want speed, dynamics, imaging, and clean, uncolored bass that my computer - or even the Epos monitors - will never provide.

I agree with ARTG that the Signal Cables may be the issue in your system. I also had Signal Cables interconnects and speaker cables a year ago in a Naim Nait 5i, Arcam FMJ CD-23T and Von Schweikert VR-1 system. The highs were very bright after I plugged in the interconnect, even after 200 hours of breakin time. The manufacturer claimed the cables did not sound bright in his systems. I replaced the Signal Cable interconnects with the Transparent Music Link Plus interconnects and the system became musical with a full liquid midrange without all that glare and brightness.

I suggest that you consider trying the Transparent Music Link Plus (current MM version) interconnects. They are about $200 per pair used, but they are worth the money. Transparent cables have characteristics of a fuller midrange and bass, and low noise floor (dark background).
Auaarons yes, when I get bored with music is when I start thinking about the sound of the system. But it's the music I'm missing.
Cwlondon, nice to hear someone hears what I do :-). I think a gaincard or gainclone would give *some* of what you missed with the Epos as it is somewhat bright but immediate and detailed - from what I've heard.
Getting rid of the HF nasties is not easy.
Good luck.