Speakers for aging audiophiles - What's with today bass emphasis ?


I'd love to pick your brains on a issue and possibly a suggestion
My system has 2 sources, a Logitech transporter and Thorens 126 MKIII / SME / Supex.  Ampli recently changed to a Musical Fidelity M6si. My listening is 80% streaming and 20% vinyl. It's mostly classic and prog rock but also acoustic jazz and classic chamber music.
I have an issue with my current speakers setup: Dynaudio BM6 passive.
I have been using those for some months now and find that while they are satisfying in terms of scene, detail, resolution they are exceedingly strong in the bass (say 50 to 200 Hz) and not adequately balanced in the middle / treble, say from 1k Hz up. It seems as though the bass player stand in front with a big amplifier and everyone else is back in the stage.
I have changed the amplifier to the Musical Fidelity but while I am happy with that I did not see much change in respect to the issue I am describing.

I relate this issue to 2 causes:

1. Today's recordings emphasizes the bass unrealistically. Let me just give you an example. I recently bought Steve Wilson remix of Marillion "Misplaced Childhood". Great work. The mix is shining but compared to the old vinyl I have got you get this feeling of too much bass. Bass quality is great, well defined, solid, no complain but just too much of a good thing.

2. I am ageing, over 60 now. It is well know that as you age your sensitivity to the high frequencies falls down

Given those factors I'd like to change speakers to get something that:
- Is very open on the highs
- It's very analytical
- Does not over emphasize basses
- Bookshelf
- Ballpark cost 2 - 2.5 K

Can anyone make suggestions ? I was inclined to the Harbeths M30 but read several blogs where they say they do emphasize the bass. Maybe Dynaudio Special or Focus  ? How about Totem Sky ?

I don't mind spending a few more bucks to get what I want / need.

Thanks a lot everyone.

Mark.
marklings
ATC SCM 19 fits the bill. It won’t overemphasize anything including the highs and the mid range will be nicely in balance with the bass
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In terms of price the speakers I own are a bit higher but the Aerial 5T's are very balanced. Yet w/enough bottom not to sound thin.
I'll second the Aerial 5Ts. One of the best bookshelf speakers created and with the front port placement is easy. Imaging/soundstage depth are as good as it gets.

As to bass, I don't think new recordings overemphasize bass, especially as compared to vinyl. Majority of older vinyl recordings had the bottom octave, or two, or three filtered out to get more playtime on each side.
How close do you have your speakers to the back wall?  Do you have flexibility to try pulling them out further into the room?  That usually helps a lot if you haven't already tried it, and it's free!!!

You might also consider some kind of bass management system like DSpeaker Anti-mode 2.0.  There's one available here now for $599 -- much cheaper than buying new speakers and will definitely fix your bass issues.  Best of luck. 

You did not mention your room size. I experienced the same issue that you did. I am also over 60 and my listening room is a small second bedroom. I found floor standing speakers would overwhelm the room with bass so I got KEF LS50's. Even when I plugged the port, the bass energy seemed out of balance so I decided to look at sealed monitors. I currently have Proac Tablette 10's and they sound much better in my room and the bass is more accurate while still getting a nice wide soundstage and clear highs. There are a few sealed monitors out there- Proac, Studio Electric, ATC SCM series, etc. You might want to give one of them a try.
Bache is the new Troy. Starting to get a little annoying.....

Oz
thank for you advice@ ozzy, but  if you dont need my information is ok.
follow  recomendation  other member like move speakers little bit far
from walls , use different speaker cable and especially stands for
cable to ultimate unwanted  cable vibration
Can anyone make suggestions [for Monitor speakers]?

Consider the Tekton Design Impact Monitors. I believe they meet your checklist. Recently reviewed in Stereophile.

Another to consider ( and also a Utah option) is the Studio Electric M4, recently reviewed by part-time audiophile.
Room acoustics and placement should be considered first, as well as speakers. Some Dynaudio speakers are really tuned for low volume listening. 

These are also ported speakers, so you may find yourself liking them a lot more if you stuff the ports with a pair of old t-shirts or socks. 

Best,

E
The Harbeth M30s are more refined and better balanced and it's difficult to think of anything better of a similar size. Before making that investment though it may be worth trying some form of isolation underneath your Dynaudio BM6s.

Either some form of footer (Herbie's etc) or some sorbothane hemispheres may help clarify the bass response via isolating the baffle from resonance modes which tend to blur the bass/midbass in particular.

Isolation can often help you to hear what the bass players are doing with dramatically increased clarity. Bass might actually become something to welcome, rather than some headache inducing noise. 

Remember that virtually all smaller loudspeakers will be voiced with a bass boost in 50-100Hz region. Without it you would seriously render much music (esp Chamber and Acoustic Jazz) sounding limp. You wouldn't want flat to 50Hz and then falling off a cliff.

I'd try the isolation first and if that doesn't work, book a demo with the Harbeths. 
Room is not small some 300+sqft
Distance form the wall maybe 10  " but I cannot move them further
Interesting suggestion about the sealed monitors, I'll certainly have a look at those
Finally, I disagree with one of the first comments that today's mixes are not bass heavy. They most definitely are IMHO. Any comparison I can make on new mixes / new mastering of old stuff shows that.
Thanks all for the contribution.
Also tx for the isolation / stuffing suggestion. I'll most definitely try those.
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Is the issue with the Logitech, turntable or both?

Also those Dynaudios are nearfield monitors. Is that how you listen when you hear too much bass?

Placement and room acoustics greatly affects bass response in that range. Have/can you play with that? Could be room acoustics and treatable by moving away from corners or walls and in some cases isolating speakers from floor interactiion better.

Newer digital recordings often have more bass.

I've  heard Tekton DI.   Sound fine but would not seem to fit your bill as described. 
I will chime in on the side of looking at your room first. It is worth the investment of $100 to purchase a calibrated mic and download rew to see what peaks and nulls you have in your room. Changes in setup (often minor) and room treatments to address these can make a huge difference in perceived bass. Best of all treating the room is not expensive and helps any speakers used.

You could also try an eq, the Schiit Loki is $150 and well designed to not degrade sound.

Finally, if you are intent on replacing your speakers, you should probably add Totem to your list.  
If you can move the speakers away from the bookshelf, preferably on stands, the Audience 1+1 for $2600 is what I use in my office (on a desk).

http://www.theabsolutesound.com/articles/audience-clairaudient-11-v2-loudspeaker/

It lacks the bass but has top notch sound above bass region. You do need to toe these in. They are crossover less and have drivers on all 4 sides. Each speaker weighs about 8 pounds. I agree with the review I posted and the description of the sound.

The imaging could be a bit better though I may have a problem in positioning these at the moment with the left side wall closer than the right.

Once I move to a bigger office I will add a new set of speakers with a bit more bass but I will still keep these around since they are rather exceptional.
Lowering bass levels need not be rocket science. Distance from wall and corner reinforcement will do it. If your floors are suspended plywood (they have some give and vibrate if you jump up and down). isolating stands like Isoacoustics will clean up the bass making it more articulate and also avoiding muddy bass which obscures midrange. Its possible you need cleaner more articulate bass not necessarily less.
To the OP: Its not an audio trend assault with an over emphasis on bass.

Without prejudice to the facts that
(a) room treatments and speaker placement matter, and
(b) personal biased tastes are big influences and
(c) synergy (or lack of it) by speakers with the rest of your system
are all big influences in bass bloat complaint.

there’s a vast plethora of available bookshelf choices in your price point strata.... some that work for you and others that don’t.

You need to audition personally, full stop. Any and all of the buzzilion personal choice faves randomly pushed herein are functionally meaningless because they are heavily biased and purely anecdotal personal fave choices with no assurance that they will work and/or improve audio performance in YOUR bespoke system.

I will borrow a topical speaker review extract (redacted to remove another brand name in favour of posting neutrality ) that summarizes the linchpin best-of-breed audio performance factor that separates the contenders from the pretenders in your journey to OZ....the driver midrange performance, with an emphasis on the last two sentences:

”......Immediate impressions are a clear and transparent portrayal with very high detail retrieval, fast and controlled transient response, and superb musical timing, both in articulating rhythms and tempi, and in placing instruments within the temporal flow and context of the performance. The XXXXX is an outstanding mid/bass driver, sonically and musically right in line with the midrange performance of XXXX’s amplifiers and phono cartridges. Get the midrange right and everything else will fall into place. Get it wrong, and all the king’s horses…”



@stfoth Agree to disagree, then. : )  In my experience, the Impact series varies per recording and is heavily influenced by what's ahead of it, including cabling. I've been able to go from very tubby and rolled off to extremely tight bass (this applies to the midrange as well). The speaker itself (to a large degree) doesn't lean one way or another. 

I know your experience has been different and I respect your findings. The 60 day trial period, if the OP chooses to explore it, will allow for him to find out for himself. 

I don't know how his preferences and ancillaries will line up, but I do believe that when set up to do so the Impacts will offer the OP what he has posted: "very open on the highs...very analytical..does not over emphasize basses."

The Impacts, as well as the Studio Electric M4, are just two of MANY options, that will likely fit what the OP is looking for.
The Stereophile review stated that the bass of the Impact Monitors was very overwhelming in the reviewers room.  Even after stuffing the ports with socks didn’t alleviate the problem as he kept removing and inserting them in the ports.   I would look at one of the original Magico speakers, detail in spades.  
Not a bookshelf but used for that by some (it's a fat, squat, floorstander), My Klipsch Heresy IIIs have very coherent bass to around 58hz (read the Ken Micallef review in the June...I think...Stereophile), and I use a couple of REL subs to get to the lower stuff. No port stuffing necessary, and for me simply lowering the input levels of the subs when things are too bassy is a simple solution. Another simple solution is to utilize a Schiit Loki EQ...works amazingly well. In my listening room anyway, the Heresy IIIs are relatively unobtrusive compared to pretty much any other stand mounted or tower speaker I've owned as their shortness obviates their physical presence somewhat. They're still fat...can't hide that.
marklings, it is my opinion that the speakers you have are a modern day Yamaha NS10 M, or are trying to be. Looking at their specs and reading about them, they are fairly accurate, and should not be that " off " as you say. If your earlier recordings are sounding good to you, then, it is not the speakers. In fact, your speakers seem to have the ability to play large scale music with a good amount of dynamic range. I am not sure another pair of speakers are your answer at this time. As some mentioned, room acoustics play a big part in listening, but, the BM6s are 
near field, and if you are not listening near field, you might be picking room aberrations. Enjoy ! MrD.
@marklings,
Based on your following requirements:

- Is very open on the highs
- It's very analytical
- Does not over emphasize basses

 I think you should replace all ICs and Speaker Cables with a cheaper silver based cable. Notice, I said "cheaper" silver cables. Those cables will extend the highs and not emphasis the bass. On the other hand if you install a "well designed silver cables", they will be pretty neutral and you will be back to square one.
So no point replacing your loudspeaker, since designers try to do their best to make them sound as neutral as possible. Cheaply designed "silver" cables are probably the best best to achieve your goals.
Herb Reichert: "Most of the listening observations below were made sans socks." 😊 Yes, that’s SANS socks.


@marklings I’ll mail you a six-pack of Wigwams, if you place an order. Send the thank you note to stereo5. AND if you find you don’t need them, send ’em back because they make a great outer layer when I’m hiking the Adirondaks. Little known fact, they can be weaponized if confronted by a bear. Good to have an extra pair in your pocket. 😊


From Herb’s Conclusion: "They delivered exceedingly smooth, liquid sound that was weighty, coherent, and impactful. ....The Impact Monitor is an all-rounder—a loudspeaker capable of satisfying many serious audiophiles, dance-partygoers, and record collectors. Few speakers can play every musical genre with the Impact’s level of ease, acuity, and, uh . . . impact. Add to these virtues the fact that few other moderately priced audiophile speakers can play so loud without distortion. And they’re unusually easy to drive. At times, the Impact Monitor looked—and sounded—a bit too big for my small room, but I doubt many pairs of stand-mounted speakers could fill a larger room as powerfully or effectively as these did mine. Highly recommended."

Note, I included the ’a bit too big for my small room’ part also. 😊

Let me know when I need to order the Wigwams!

https://www.stereophile.com/content/tekton-design-impact-monitor-loudspeaker-page-2#ga1vvMfHB6esyg2v...

All the best with your search and final choice.
I'm an aging audiophile too, turning 66 in August.  I bought a pair of Martin-Logan ESL from BestBuy last year for $2500 and I have been loving every minute I spend with them.  Imaging, detail, bass/treble balance, tonality, are all superb - especially for the music you like (which almost mimics mine - except for chamber music).  Try them in your home if you can; they are something special.
...ooops, sorry, just reread your original post and realized I missed the word "bookshelf".  Never mind about the Martin-Logan...unless you can re-arrange your room...
Hi, noticed you said your speaker placement is 10” from the wall. That may be possibly causing the bass accentuation. Before changing out your speakers give a test by moving them out, even if you can’t do that permanently to see if that solves the problem. Bass traps in your corners could be a solution to the problem too, although appearance can be an issue.
Recent Recordings have more impact and clarity in the bass region and may go lower in frequency that older mastered material. That punch may stand out as more bass. 
My Harbeth c7es3 have the perfect amount of bass!  
Thanks everyone for the comments.

- MrD, Yes they are trying to be Yamaha NS10; this is really why I picked them in the first place, I wanted clarity, monitor like precision. I am not getting that. They are not in a nearfield position. They stand apart some 10 ft and I listen from 10 ft to each of them, properly placed I guess but not nearfield; I realize I might be getting room aberrations; I'll try with some frequency sample and see whether there's any bump up in the 100 Hz region.

- No, I can't really move them away from the wall

- A possible solution would be as someone suggested a closed design speaker; maybe one that does not go so low and the addition of a small subwoofer that would allow me much more control over the bass region.


The best first step advice was given by Wolf. "Another simple solution is to utilize a Schiit Loki EQ...works amazingly well."  Might be your best solution and for $149.
I have looked at those small boxes and I do like them. Couple of issues though:
- Will it not lower dynamics ? It's one more box, one more cable
- That type of EQ is not precise enough I guess. I cannot zoom in on a specific freq or can I ?
marklings,

Try Dynaudio Special 40. I listened to them and think they may fulfill your requirements. I, also, dread overemphasized bass and found Dynaudio Special 40 almost lacking bass at first. After a few minutes, I realized it was there but far from dominating or overpowering. I am not sure how to describe it. It was there, but not there to be noticed. Something like that, I guess. Remainder of the spectrum was very clear and obviously came from a fine speaker and not some quick company afterthought.

They may not be to your liking in the end, but are definitely worth a few minutes of introduction and consideration. They are $3000, small, and good.



I have only used their Sys passive to temper the gain on a very high gain amp. Worked like a charm. Hopefully Wolf will chime in with his positive experience with the EQ as he has in the past. Also, you can download the manual on their website. I hate to say it early in the a.m., but they make good schitt.
LOL tx for the comment

UPDATES

- I have checked with a tone generator and my room does have an even response to freqs. There’s a very noticeable dip in amplitude around 80 and 160 Hz

- Also I have tried one simple suggestion someone gave, stuff the ports with rags. The booming effect suddenly disappears; so the bass strength unfortunately.

I am wondering whether my best choice at this point would be to go for a sealed cabinet design such as ATC as someone suggested, either SCM 11 or 19 and possibly a sub.

Tx all again
It has been an extremely educating experience reading all those posts. I made further digging and reading. I am coming to the following, very opinionated, conclusions.

- There's surprisingly little sealed cabinets around
- 99% of the speakers are ported designs
- A ported design makes the room part of the acoustic much more than a sealed design; which in essence is a bad thing because we do not live in apartments designed for listening to the music, quite the contrary; and room management is practically impossible in most situations
- Ported designs have taken the lead because they are more "glamorous" and lend themselves more easily to the current Rap oriented, bass heavy trend in music production
- Also they need less powerful amps
- Sealed design do not go that deep and require lot of power but are more accurate


I just have to comment on ATC SCM 19 v2; they very neutral. They are not analytic or unnaturally open in the highs. I actually have a pair and I have had them for about two years. The thing is that I’m about to replace them because I’m looking for a speaker that’s more open. But I want more of the lower bass frequencies (below 50Hz) also. I feel that they are a little veiled, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the speakers fault. I think it’s a combination of my room, my other gear and my aging ears;)
Another "problem" with ATC SCM 19 v2 is that have to be played at quite high (in my opinion) volume. And they need a powerful amp.

Just for the record; I’m trying out a pair Tannoy Legacy Eaton just now.

@marklings
I just realized that you own a Musical Fidelity M6si. When I bought my ATC:s I used a Musical Fidelity M6i, but I thought that with that combination the sound was harsh and dull.

@marklings, couldn’t agree more with your conclusions except to add that ported designs can also sound a little more relaxed in the bass regions.

The bass often seems able to breathe a little better albeit at the cost of some definition. Many are happy to accept that trade-off.

Controlling bass resonances seems to be one of the major challenges of loudspeaker design.
@marklings Have you considered demoing a Lyngdorf TDAI 2170?

With regards to speakers, since placement close to the wall is a factor, in addition to sealed designs, consider front ported speakers or those that port below the speaker cabinet. Transmission line designs may be a great option for you.

At some point you will run into a clash between the features and performance you want, and your budget. PMC (transmission line and front ported) comes to mind, but may be above what you want to spend. Likewise, Aerial.... which was recommended early in the thread.
A well designed ported speaker sounds every bit as “tight” as a sealed speaker. It is a function of qtc and group delay. It is not a matter of sealed v ported, but how the designer has tuned it.

You really need to look at your room. Without running REW or the equivalent, you will never see the likely 30db varience you have in bass levels at your listening position. Small changes in speaker and listening position can make major changes in these peaks and nulls. You also need to measure your decay time. If your decay time is long, it will only further emphasize standing waves and bass bloat.  Treating the room (look at GIK acoustics which are inexpensive and will make recomendations if you send them your room information) will run under $1000 and do far more to address what you are experiencing than chasing different speakers.

Digital correction can also be used (i.e. Mini DSP), but I would always start with placement and room treatment becore applying DSP.
If you're an aging audiophile your high and mid frequencies are depressed.  Try hearing aids....they aren't perfect, but certainly can help if you choose the right pair.
If certain recordings are a problem and the "bass quality is great" I would assume a tone control and/or maybe some seat or speaker positioning experimentation would be fruitful, though I do relate to the idea that bookshelf speakers commonly have a major problem with bass balance and most ports sound pretty bad. Used Radio X1s can be had in your budget. They are "analytical" in a sense with a ribbon top end and basically no bass. The downside is, imo, one has to buy in to Raidho’s idea of psychoacoustics. B&Ws have a tipped up tonal balance and and typically do not have an aggressive bass tune. I can’t attest first hand to their current models regarding the bass, though.

"I feel that they are a little veiled"
I agree, even by ATC's own admission the drivers are a bit opaque. Not that I do not like them; I almost bought a pair. 
i own the MuFi M6i. the version before yours. 
my speakers are B&W 804d2.
you mentioned the speakers cant be moved.
pity.
i found wonderous pleasure about 2' from rear wall.
if you cant leave them that far away, can you experiment...
find your happy spot and mark the floor?
then it takes but seconds to reposition when about to listen.
this route costs zero....

What you want is bass control and not necessarily, bass extension. If your speaker is rated to "only" 44Hz, the in room response should be fairly good, if not great, in the mid 30s with satisfying results. 

All the best,
Nonoise
I agree with others that the speakers on their own may not be the issue, however, their positioning is likely a big part of the problem. As modern recordings go, you’re not delusional, the bass is often boosted in the mix. I’ve read reports that claim our ears develop greater sensitivity to high freqs as we age, not that we hear them better, but that they’re more likely to cause fatigue. I believe they we’re referring to the 4kHz to 8kHz range - not the 16kHz^ range that folks often describe as "air."

Rear ported/slotted speakers are just not very compatible with such wall proximity. 10" is just too close. DSP can do pretty marvelous things, but at that distance, it’s more like a bandaid on a hemorrhage. It’s best to mitigate problems where you can before you’re forced to process your analog signals. Because you can’t move them, you should seek out a transmission-line or sealed box speaker. I can concur with Wolf that Heresy IIIs work very well against walls, and they’re as detailed as any Harbeth for half the cost. If a lack of high freqs or "forwardness" really is a problem in your system, they can very likely solve it. This isn’t to say they’re fatiguing, but they can require careful gear matching. The ATCs are another good suggestion. But in the meantime, you can temporarily pull those Dynaudios away from the walls (a good 4’ or more) just to see how much it changes the balance. My bet is you won’t find the highs lacking in that condition.
Note: When the NS10 started showing up in every recording studio I started dreaming that one day I could gather all of them up and burn them all in a giant bonfire. Sad but true.
It’s just not a great speaker. In that size try the

1. Canalis Anima with a nice amp of your choosing.   2. Amphion One 18, with amp.   3. Powered ATC SCM 20 Pro mk2
Don’t abandon the Harbeths. In my experience they are incredible. I have the SHL5+ and they are the most open, have perfect midrange and the bass isn’t emphasized or bloated.

I believe any of their bookshelf models would serve you well.
marklings

Lots of good advice here.  I own the LS50s and was having some similar, but somewhat opposite, sound issues.  I ended up drastically changing the room arrangement. The speakers now sit 65cm from single pane glass wall and are 2.8m apart with a VHT sub in between.  I did a bit of research on the reflective index of different materials as I was looking for a "fuller" sound.  I also have the old, front ported B&W CDM1se and they are basier than the LS50s.  I don't use them much anymore.  I keep the sub volume at min.

With all that said, if I had to do it over again, I would get stick with Dynaudio and get the special 40s.   They are impressive, and I love the LS 50s.