My read on the published reviews and quite a few of the user reviews on line have lead me to believe that the 303/200 can be bright, at least in some systems. I doubt that you have a unit with a defect, it just isn't synergistic with your components. Cardas might help, but in my experience good IC's only make subtle differences. Now if you had a warm tube pre-amp as the prior owner did you probably wouldn't have a problem.
I try not to put too much credit to cables for dramatic changes, but Straightwire has a reputation for being bright. I had the SW Virtuoso XLR cable years ago and I was amazed at the improvements, i.e., HUGE loss of fatigue, when I switched to any number of cables: CardasGoldenCross, HarmonicTech, MIT and then NBS.
The Cardas will make a big difference in tonality, primarily in a much softer presentation and overly warm and rich midrange, but you will lose extension and resolution on the top. For the same price on the used market, the NBS Signature is tonally much the same, but does not at all have the weaknesses of the CGC. The NBS is the clear winner here by quite a huge margin.
And whatever is your best cable, focus on putting this from preamp to amp rather than source to amp. Over the years, with so many system changes, I have found the line stage to amp link to be the most sensitive to cable differences.
Hmmm.. I think what you are hearing is more detail from the Cary CDP. I would say that your demon is probably the Straight Wire Interconnect. That stuff is BRIGHT! The Rega is a very warm player so the Straight Wire was probably okay with it as a source. I would personally suggest using the matching interconnect to your speaker wire. Acoustic Zen.
Then give things are serious listen. The Cary should give you more Air, detail and focus over the Rega. Not grain, brightness, or glare as you are describing. Good luck
Before changing any components you should experiment with the toe-in and vertical tilt axis of your speakers.
I hope this is not throwing too many issues at you at once, but have you considered that the room might be the problem? The room is too often overlooked as the source of problems but it is every bit as important as the gear placed within.
What is on the floors, walls and ceiling?
Could be the Plinius. I had auditioned a plinius integrated (don't remember which one), and found it very bright in the treble, (not the upper mids) with Quads. The dealer called the Plinius "sparkly".
I'm experiencing the same problem. I used to have an Audiolab pre and amp using a Classe .3 cdp. This had a very warm a smooth sound.
I first switched out the amp with a Belles 150A Hot Rod. Everything still sounded warm and smooth, but more details. The characterics of the Belles that I've read is that is transparent, warm, smooth, and "tube like". I was satisified with this sound, but noticed that the Audiolab was somewhat coloring the sound.
What I did next was replace the Audiolab pre with a Placette passive. Music became more transparent, detailed, and dynamic. Half way through a cd I can notice some listening fatigue or having a "glare".
Not sure if the Placette is revealing the weak link in the system or the synergy is not good because both the Classe and Belles are described as having the same sonic signature (warm, smooth). I know the Placette doesn't add or subtract from my system so I know it can't be that.
I'm not convinced it could be my room causing the brightness, but it might. I'm just trying to avoid having to add room treatment since I know the wife won't go for it.
Since I'm experiencing somewhat the same problem as Mdp0430, my hunch it could be the amp. I've heard the Cary and I can't see that being the issue since I would describe that to be warm and smooth sounding. Very "tube like". Then again, it's probably just not a good match for the Plinius kind of like how my Classe is not that good of a match for my Belles.
Thanks again for everyone's input. I certainly welcome others to provide any of their input as well.
Honest1, I think that your dealer is the first person to classify the Plinius sound as "sparkly." From what I gather the Plinius is about as "dark" as Solid State can get, espcicially my 8200 Mk1 Integrated.
Nrchy, my floors are hardwood. There are a couple of shelves and frames on the walls. No treatments if that's what you were looking for. Though there are a significant amount of pillows, sofa, etc. in the room. It's not practical for me to make any adjustments to the room.
Onhwy61, I played around with the speaker's positioning yesterday. No change.
The_Kid, Jafox, I had no idea how bright that StraightWire IC was. Playing around I swapped it out for a Monster IC300 that I was using on our DVD player. The brightness of the Cary diminished a little bit but so did all of the Higher Frequency detail. I guess I have to wait around for some of the higher end interconnects to come up on Audiogon. Thought I really can't believe that they will make that much of a difference. I don't want to spend more than $400 used. Any suggestions other than the Cardas Cross, Golden Cross, and Acoustic Zen Matrix for a warm cable?
Newbee, I have been thinking about going the tube route. Can you point me in the direction of where I can educate myself on the topic? Perhaps there is a primer thread here on A-gon? What would be the effect of mixing a Tube preamp with a Solid State amp? Or using my Plinius 8200 Integrated as the preamp with a Tube amp? Apparently, my Soliloquy 6.2 speakers are in fact tube friendly. I really want to like the Cary.
Interesting. I had a Cary 308. Nice extension and detail, but could be slightly bright and fatiguing on some recordings.
I have a Musical Fidelity A 300 integrated which some feel is tubelike for a solid state. Used silver IC's that are known to be tranparent,neutral and not harsh (RS Audio).
I have ACI Sapphire monitors which also are known to be neutral, or very slightly on the warm side of natural.
I guess what I am saying is that you may be experiencing an inherent issue with digital which is some glare/brightness/grain-even with good digital.
I then moved onto vinyl. Totally smooth and great detail and extension on good recordings. But I am not one of those guys who claims vinyl is the holy grail. It has lots of flaws if we are honest.
I stumbled onto the Tube Research Labs (TRL) SOny 595 modded sacd/cd unit. This provides the level of extreme detail I want without any harshness. Very analog like.
I guess you can try cables as tone controls, but I am not crazy about that. You might also try a rug on your floor.
Finally, you may look at a different source, unfortunately, for your system and room. System synergy is sort of an art it seems and what works for some does not for others as every room context and system is different.
If you live in IL, WISC, IN, I'll drop by and get to the bottom of the problem.
Audio Buff, sorry, I live in the East Coast... What's your prognosis without dropping by?
Lkdog, I'm not crazy about using cables as tone controls either.
I tried that a bit with some expensive Straight Wire cables I borrowed, but I lean toward cables that stay out of the way versus adding something.
Good luck in finding that right mix of components.
I'd have to hear what your definition of bright is? And I agree cables as tone controls is never a good idea.
i have had similar stuff, but with dynaudio speakers. can the ic! after trying about 20 brands best bang for the buck between the cary goes to analysis plus solo crystal, better yet is siltech (i had the sq88b). the balanced output is best on the cary, but the plinius olyn has rca...you could pick up a stealth pgs and have serguei reterminate one end. those are warm cables with a ton on detail. enjoy the tunes!