system opinions?

I could do with some theoretical what-if-ing from the experts.

I've finally finished my building work and have assembled my system back together again - with a few new components I purchased along the way while the system was decommissioned. The problem is the new system isn’t setting my world on fire.

My original system was Meridian transport->Meridian 565 pre-pro->Pass X350->B&W 802 Matrix speakers cabled together with cheapo Soniclink/kimber stuff. The overall sound was great, quite warm and very musical. A very enjoyable experience overall, if not the final word in resolving detail, dynamics or soundstaging.

While the room has been pulled apart I had an offer for my Meridian system at a price too good to refuse and sold it with the intention of buying a Meridian 800 series system. After hearing a demo of the new EAD 8800 I was very impressed, and a fraction of the price of the 800 series seemed like a bargain…plus it had true analogue bypass for future SACD use.

I was offered a set of Revel Studios at a good price and having heard them several times with different electronics (Levinson, Classe etc) I knew they were superb speakers and I loved what they did. So home came a nice new shiny pair of studios and a buyer was found for the 802s.

Due to the new room setup and equipment location I needed new interconnects (pre->amp) and speaker cables, and being short on money I took a risk and bought the Argent Audio Pursangs interconnects and speaker cables from Ric Cummins that have been very well received by the audiophile community.

I wanted to try SACD/DVD-A and eventually settled on an Exemplar modded 2900, with the added benefit of being a great CD player for the basis of my experimentation.
I’ve had some issues with my unit which Ric is handling at the moment and so far I’ve only used the digital output of the Denon 2900 into the EAD's DACs so please bear that in mind.

The new system then is as follows:
Denon 2900->Kimber D60->EAD 8800Pro->Pursang->Pass X350->Pursang->Studios.

After setting everything up and letting it settle in for a few weeks now I have a sound which I find 'thin' and 'hollow', almost cold and sterile. The bass sounds nicely fleshed out and on some recordings, the good ones, the system through the mids can sound pretty good. Detail retrieval is very good. Soundstaging is good and the speakers have disappeared, something I thought the 802s did well, but not to the extent the Studios have.

I have to add at this stage that the room is very barely furnished, the room dimensions are 13ft by 21ft by 7.5ft. Walls are plasterboard (front and right) and brick (left and rear). The floor is a reflective rubber. Sole furnishings at the moment is a leather sofa two thirds of the distance back from the front wall. Speakers are across the short wall, it is not possible to move them onto the long wall.

Obviously room treatment is going to be a priority at some stage, but while I figure out the best plan of attack I’m hesitant to spend more money.

Obviously synergy is large part of the overall effect of a systems ability to make a nice sounding noise but I wonder if I have assembled something that would sound dry and thin? Could the problems be down solely to the room?

I’m happy to admit I’ve screwed up (wouldn’t be the first time!) and should of course have demo’d everything in my system in my room, but this wasn’t an option at the time. The good side is that I can probably sell the equipment and break even and start again…should I need to.

So experts, what do you think? Where should I look for salvation? Room treatment, change speakers, cables, tweaks…..give up!?

I have ETF and have started to produce some measurements and schematics of the room. I’ll post them when I’ve got them all hosted.

Thanks in advance for any help
I wouldn't even think of changing components until you thoroughly experiment with acoustic room treatments. Be patient and give the system/room a chance to show what they can do.
Your room sounds like its very bright with the plaster and brick. The leather sofa isn't helping much. I second the recommendation for room treatments.

Good luck,
I agree with Onhwy61. Cold and sterile could partially be the front end as it breaks in, but also is the sound of an untreated room. See what some rugs, pillows, drapes, plants, anything absorptive that you can move in and out of the room and around in the room do to the sound, then go from there.
Thanks guys. Ive posted some pics and ETF measurements on my web site. I think you can see what issues the room is bringing to the equation, especially in its untreated state.
Its pretty horrible - the decay time from a hand clap 'sounds' by ear to be around 1 second, maybe slightly less.

Also, the room isn't as wide as ideal to host the speakers, but Im hoping that by treating the first reflection points (walls and ceiling) with absorbtion I can make the room seem wider than it really is.

Luckily the leather sofa will be going as soon as I can find a suitable 'audiophile' replacement, and things like plants will be added during decoration. Do you know how crazy you sound when you start asking furniture makers about the type of stuffing they use in their sofas and if the know the sabine value of it! :-)

I was beginning to think the studios might be too large for the room, which they still might be. As an option I could 'downgrade' to Gems and use the extra cash to buy another subwoofer to help out with the low end.

Please have a look at the graphs and tell me where you think I should concentrate my room treatment efforts.
Would 1" foam at 1st reflection point and a PARC/TACt system for the low end 'solve' my problems...

The graphs are at

thanks all for your invaluable opinions,
your graphs are scary. Room treatment definitely necessary.
mejames....could you elaborate which bits are the scary bits for a novice like me please?
How do you know whether to use absorbtion or defraction at different room locations?

What ever happened to plug and play!?
Ian: Your last line is a thread in itself now, isn't it? Problem with this hobby is sometimes we overdo it worrying about perfect sound and forget about kicking back and listening to the music.

That said, though, you seem to be unhappy with the sound, and your graphs do show a lot of peaks and valleys, indicating that you're not getting the sound you shelled out the big bucks to get. The PARC can smooth out the bass response up to about 300 Hz by eliminating the big peaks, and a TACT can do the whole frequency range, I think, but you should first be experimenting with different speaker locations (perhaps a little farther away from the walls, if you can do it) and room treatments (again, make them temporary until you see if they work) before shelling out money. Remember, as in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, flat frequency response is really more a "guideline" than a hard and fast rule--in some cases a little extra bass and less upper midrange is more pleasing to the ear and more like what you might hear in real life, given today's prevalent recording practices. Experiment and use your ears as much as a frequency analyzer, if not more so. When it sounds right to you, that's all that matters, really. My two cents, anyway.
If you're going to use any foam you need at least 3" foam to do any significant good. You want real acoustic foam with an NRC rating. The 1 inch stuff only absorbes the highest frequencies and is little more than useless. Acoustic foam is a bargain compared to what we spend on the rest of our systems and can/will make a good to great improvement.
Vikingboy scary because of the large number of peaks and valleys shown room treatment isn't going too be something simple too correct it. the peaks require absorption the valleys require diffusion and the peaks and valleys are in narrow frequency brands which are harder to treat than wide frequency bands are. Exactly what is your "rubber" flooring?