Are you saying that slightly elevated output in the lower mid / upper bass ( commonly called the "warmth" region ) added a sense of tempo or pace to your system ? Sean
I am relatively new to the audio world but that sounds right. The lower mid and upper bass are more obviously present with the JBLs(they come to the fore)compared to the Shearwaters. That's a quality that I really enjoy and gets me more emotionally involved(if that what you refer to as pace,? a more "musical" speaker)The Shearwaters excel at detailing in the highs and overall have a clarity(lack of distortion) that is better than the JBLs(IMHO). My ideal speaker would be one with a Shearwater's detail or lack of distortion and the JBLs warmth in the midrange and upper bass. And, oh yes, for less than $3000-3500. Should I be looking at 3 ways ?
You mention two separate issues but intertwine them: presence of midrange/associated warmth, AND pace/rhythm. These are two distinctly different aspects of reproduced sound that I think need to be addressed separately.
Pace and rhythm - what makes you tap your toe has more to do with an amp's synergistic relationship with a speaker (load, cones, etc.). Some amps are faster than others, and this can lend a better sense of timing. Some amps have a greater damping factor, this will allow the amp to “grip” the drivers – starting and stopping them authoritatively. I'd suggest that what you like in the JBL's is your amp's ability to better move the drivers than with your Shearwaters.
Warm mids/bass, but less accurate:
One might be correct in assuming that the drivers and crossover components in the JBL roll-off the frequencies at the upper and lower regions of the spectrum. This would place particular emphasis on the midrange frequencies, and thus more presence. The JBL crossover might also be of simple design (by lack of need) - this can also improve sound.
So… your JBL’s boogie while your Shearwaters waltz…
One might consider the speaker motor/materials used to fabricate the speaker/surrounds. I would suspect that the JBL surrounds are more flexible than those on the Shearwaters. I also suspect that the JBL’s design is less damped. So… right there one could surmise that the JBL’s would require less energy to move/control. It could also be assumed that while making the driver more efficient to move this flexibility might also make the driver less precise in its excursion (and therefore less accurate). This would also produce a somewhat warmer sound. …AND would also explain (to some degree) your perception of greater rhythm or pace. …A stiffer surround material and more heavily motored/damped design would require greater energy to move as quickly as lighter-motored/coned/damped & more flexible surround design. A STRONGER and FASTER amp would bridge the gap and lend greater control.
As with most things there are exceptions to every general rule. …But synergy is the key.
Quite frankly I am a bit surprised to hear what your saying. I have heard very positive things about the Shearwaters & tubed gear.
It’s my recollection that the Shearwaters are very efficient speakers, so I’d think that amplification is sufficient. …But Maybe I’m wrong. Are you using ultra-linear or pure triode mode? 35 watts may not be enough. …Have you tried more power?
You might also consider changing your speaker cables and IC's first. Being that you are listening through a really smooth sounding rig you might find that faster cables improve your sound. …YES! there is such a thing… faster cables do exist – Goertz MI-2 and others (check the compatibility of your gear if you consider Goertz).
Lastly, I wonder if you might be considering a REAL departure from your current sound …SS gear or a more SS-like amp? SS would certainly give you greater speed. ...Something like Sim, Classe, Plinius or Spectral (don't know how these amps sound with your speakers though) …BUT I do know that these amps are FAST; esp. the Spectral. Sim is my own choice for an amp with good pace and rhythm. If sticking with tubes I’d give a listen to BAT.
Best of luck,
It sounds like you might want to experiment with some tweaks to improve the Meadowklark combo. Interconnects, speaker cables, AC cords, vibration & isolation control all come to mind. Please refer to the following link: my post within that thread mentions some possible approaches of intetest:
You could very well be drawn to the sound, like I am, of the "BBC" monitors. Maybe a Spendor SP 1/2 or Harbeth Compact 7ES. All speakers are "voiced" and each of us has a preference. You can chase a particular sound with very expensive "tone controls" like changing amps, wires, interconnects, tweaks, etc... or you could find that these style monitors give you just what you are looking for with your present amp. Hit the web and look at past reviews on their webites, etc. Both these speakers fall in your price range, and the Spendors can often be found used here on Audiogon. Good luck, Charlie.
I tried hooking the Shearwaters up to a 100 wpc Kenwood receiver to try the more power theory and got alot of bass and highs out of the speakers. Midrange was very muddy and supressed compared to the Rogue. Of course I know we're in a different league here comparing a stand alone receiver to the separates. I also have a Rotel receiver that is 100 wpc and I may try that also to listen for more pace and midrange.
Mike, I am running the Rogue 88 in triode mode at 70 wpc. I may try to demo a higher end SS amp with more power with the Rogue 99 next or try some faster cables. I'm using DH labs T 14 now which I had recommended by my dealer and have read very good reviews of these especially.
My current system is MUCH better than I've had in the past and I have enjoyed it alot. It really is a fine system and in no way am I trying to make it sound like it has serious weaknesses. As Awdeeofyle points out one set of speakers boogies while the others waltz. I enjoy both sounds. I demoed many other systems before choosing these components. But as many of you know there there are many audiophiles who are looking for the next tweek to get even more out of their already good system.