Something is amiss
Recently started getting back into audio after a 2-3 year hiatus (had to sell all my gear due to a financial crisis situation).
Picked up a modded Sugden A48B, which I have connected to an old pair of NHT 1.5's on a pair of cheap-o target stands. Using an Energy ESW-V8 sub to fill in the bottom. Source is an old Rotel RCD 971. Interconnects are MIT (old, not sure which model anymore). Speaker cables are a choice amongst Ecosse, Audioquest type 4 and cheapo monster 12guage.
Now, being familiar w/ the NHT line, i know the characteristics of the 1.5. In a nutshell: top end can be gritty/ harsh, midrange a little thin, recessed and not the most transparent, bottom end tight and tuneful down to about 60 hz or so, with a very steep drop off thereafter. They usually have very good focus and near pin point accuracy.
The room is small - approx 9 x 14 - small condo, kitchen area open to the living area, so left speaker is in an 'open area' (ie. no wall to its left).
The room's acoustics are very tough to deal with. There is a small wall unit housing a 27 inch tv in between the speakers, which i realize is not optimal. Carpet is moderately heavy, which can really dampen the sound. The room overall is not very reflective.
The sound w/ this setup is lacklustre. It is not particularly clear, does not have good focus, the top end, although does not extend into the highest of frequencies has a harshness to it that is irritating (Especially to my gf) and does NOT assist in making the audio picture 'clearer'. The midrange is veiled and vocals seem lost in the distance, to a degree.
Now, i understand the room is very poor acoustically; I used to own a unison unico w/ neat mystique speakers along w/ the rotel cd player coupled w/ an msb link dac III half nelson w/ upsampling and even THAT system sounded muddy in my room, whereas in a different room at my previous residence, it sounded wonderful. There is very little i can do about the room at this point, though, as i am only a condo renter and not the condo's owner.
Can anyone offer any ideas as to what i could do to improve the sound? I still don't have a lot of funds at this time, so cheapie solutions would be appreciated.
Perhaps sugden A48b integrated is not powerful enough (although i really have no clue what its power rating actually is)...it's a model from the early 90's which was pretty heavily modded.
Perhaps the cables are not good matches... the Ecosse are the most gritty sounding/ harsh sounding, Audioquest sound blah and the monster, believe it or not, is the 'best' sounding of the bunch.
Perhaps it's just that i've grown away (and up) from the Nht 1.5's and require a more refined, more open speaker.
I'm soooo confused, so i'm turning to you audiogoners for opinions/ suggestions, as my bank account will not allow me to make any really stupid purchase mistakes.
Thanks in advance!