First, you need to study your room for it could be the cause. Then you also want to ask your dealer what cables he was using for that particular system at his store. I think you will find your answer from one of those two questions. Good luck.
I would give the Rotel amp and CDP a chance to break in as well. I had a Rotel 1052 reciever and 1072 CDP and they really benefit from breakin as well. Also look at moving the speakers around, check relationship to walls etc as room acoustics will also affect the speakers.
I know exactly what you are talking about and some. Five years ago, I had a Rotel 980BX amp and RC-995 preamp driving B&W 602 S3 speakers.
Obviously a big step down, speakerwise, from yours. But, I ended up getting rid of the whole setup because of the extremely aggressive high frequencies. My ears simply could not take it. I tend to be sensitive to HF's and prefer soft dome tweeters to metal anyway.
I tried a lot of different things to smooth things out, but nothing ever made it to the tolerable level. Rotel+B&W = cold&hard, to me.
How many hours play-time do you have on the system?
But, keep in mind, I am the low-power SET tube amp + high-efficiency single-driver system kind of guy. Many perceive what I like as soft and mushy with no balls.
Different strokes for different folks.
Wow, different strokes! B&W is usually a good match for the warmer Rotel gear. May I suggest that you hook up one of the speakers out of phase and position the speakers very close to one another with the front (driver sides) facing one another. Let the music play all day, as many days as necessary. The speakers being out of phase will allow you to play them much louder without disturbing anyone. The synthetics that are used in modern spiders and surrounds really take quite a bit more time to break in, as well as some of the modern caps. Don't give up the ship before you get out of the bay!
Do you have any power conditioning, upgraded powercords? It has made an unblievable difference for me. If you liked this combo in the store, then the main issues to look at would be, as others pointed out, the room, break in, and the quality of the electricity the amp and player are receiving.
Thanks to all for your suggestions...
Get a smooth, warmish fairly high quality interconnect like Music Metre Signature, Harmonic Tech Truthlink, or Luminous Synchestra Sig.
i also heard no bass in any b&w setups.
anything but bass even in the most expencive 'reference' models.
you could move them closer to the wall and you will reinforce mid-bass this way. the lower bass will still be shy.
I would try Van Den Hul carbon fibre interconnects [The First or First Ultimate]Also solid core copper speaker cables.
The lesson?Never buy a system until you have heard it in your room.
I think I am beginning to sound like a locked groove: Look to your room acoustics. What may seem like subtle changes in setup and treatment can have huge effects, well out-distancing anything due to break-in and/or cabling.
The Rotel 1072 is a hard/coarse/very-digital sounding CD Player. This Player has no warmth whatsoever. The Rotel Pre-Amps & Amps aren't quite so bad. I could not get Rotel electronics to sound good with either my N804s or N803s in a room with good acoustics. I did have good success with the top-of-the-line Marantz Players with the Rotel Pre-Amp & Amp. I finally spent the $$$ and bought the Krell SACD Standard + KAV-400xi and it was a hugh difference, completely transformed the B&W Speakers (detail/warmth/natural-sounding/bigger-deeper-soundstage, etc.).
The bottom-line is that regardless of what the Dealers tell you, B&W Speakers need good electronics, more so than most of their competitors. Krell, Classe, Mark Levinson, Musical Fidelity all work very-very-well with your Speakers and as you will see are worth the imvestment.
I've heard Rotel + B&W combos many times as they always seem to be on display together. I'd say they are a good match since the aggressive tweeter is tempered somewhat by Rotel's laid back approach. It's not your gear! The thing is the room where you audtioned was sound treated and probably didn't have any large reflective surfaces like windows or hard wood floors. You need to absorb some of those high frequency reflections which give B&W's a bit too much sizzle. Rugs are a must as are drapes which can be used to cover an entire window. If the room is solely dedicated to audio and not esthetic I'd go with actual sound proofing gear. This is usually not an option though given the price and look of some of these items. The easier/cheaper approch might be to swap out the B&W's for something with a soft dome tweeter.
I tried upgrading power cords and speaker wire. Sound is now somewhat warmer and fuller but still emotionally uninvolving. Dr. Lou, I haven't heard anyone describe the 1072 as you have. It was the first piece of upgraded gear I added to my old Nakamichi RE-1 and B&W P5 setup, and it was definitely a very musical addition to my ears-- certainly not hard or coarse. So, I tend to believe, that for my ears, at least, that's not where the problem likely resides. I'm going to try some different, more powerful amps. When I listen to the Rotel amp and cd player through Grados, the sound is still on the chilly side for me, which would seem to suggest the amp is contributing the coolness. Thanks for all the suggestions!
What you have described "sounds cold, dry, sterile, with harsh highs" in most systems can usually be traced back to the Digital Source Component. Most buyers of $700 CD Players have never heard a state-of-the-art Digital Source Component in their system and therefore look to blame other components that they are more familier with.
Most good Amplifiers sound more-or-less the same, if their power is rated the same and their cost is comparable, then they will sound within a shade-of-gray to one another. Now I'm not saying that 200wpc of Rotel will sound like 200wpc of Krell, but you get the point.
There is nothing wrong with your Speakers. The B&W 703 is widely accepted as being a very neutral, easy to place and nice sounding Speaker that performs quite a bit ahead of its price.
The 703s driven by 200wpc Rotel, Parasound, B&K, etc. (good Mid-Fi Amps) with a very good, smooth, easy on the ears but still detailed front end (not just good-for-the- money) from say Krell, Classe, Musical Fidelity, Mark Levinson, Ref. Marantz, Ref. Sony, etc. partner with some good inexpensive (generic cooper/silver blend) Cables and you will hear what I'm taking about.
What your listening to when you play your system is the Source Component PERIOD. This is the only component in your system that is tasked with making music. Your Source IS your System.
A truly reference quaility Source Component will maximize the performance of all other components that come after it.
This is the only golden rule to Hi-Fi, learn it, live it and all the frustation that you are feeling will melt away...
So there you have it - it's probably your room, interconnects, amp, source, and speakers. If you replace those, you are on your way to audio heaven. Of course, that's what most of us are doing, it is just a matter of optizing order and priority around a budget constraint. Although I agree with Dr. Lou, I believe based on my observations that your situation would dictate starting at the other end of the audio delivery chain.
forget room, interconnects,cables, any kind of voodo treatment and get instead some tube amp, push pull is ok but all the better if you can get something which will work in triode mode. I gave up of SS gear a long ago, and it is the best advice I can give. there is no way to make SS to sound THE SAME as good tubes. maybe similiar, but never weighty, fully, and nicely rounded as tubes. go straight to it if you like to avoid frustration, loss of money and desperation.
I've never tried it, but what about a tube buffer, like the one made by Musical Fidelity?
I'd suggest giving Dakiom Feedback Stabilizers a shot as well, understanding that they can be returned and Dakiom will even pay shipping. Dakiom claims that "break-in" is primarily if not exclusively a psycho-acoustic phenomenon. I respectfully disagree, based on my own empiric experience with their product. I DO think the stabilizers break in after a while.
OK, Dr. Lou, as you clearly have much more experience than I, (I'm obviously no audiophile-- just a passionate music-lover who's currently in over his head re: acquiring gear)-- I will bring up this issue with the salesman. I thought the Rotel was a very well-thought-of piece of gear, but it could be that it is outclassed by the speakers, which have been described by more than one person as "revealing". If what they are revealing is in fact the shortcomings of the
digital source, then of course it makes perfect sense to address this part of the system.
Stuartk - My intention is not to rain on anyone's parade...
2 things are going on here.
1. You bought bad gear. If you have other local dealers around, try bringing home something like a PrimaLuna tube integrated and Von Sweikert speakers. That is just an example, but the problem here is that Rotel gear is mid-fi at best, and if you don't have a room working wonders on your system, it is going to sound harsh with minimal midrange texture. That is SS for you, and Rotel is cheap SS, so.... Also, B&W speakers are known for: harsh highs, spotty and dry midrange, poor driver integration, etc. The 703s are perhaps one of the worst offenders of this. I would bring home some other speakers to compare and find some reference points to these 703s. Are there other local dealers that carry other makes of speakers, or does this one? What brands are local to you?
2. The room needs to be addressed. Become an expert in acoustics, get in touch with a company like Rives audio to talk about your room. Make sure your dimensions are good, the speakers are placed properly (try cardas or AP positioning), and that you have adequate damping in all the important places.
Don't waste your time trying to EQ your stereo with cables or other silly tweaks. Fancy cables will maybe give you a 1-2% improvement, whereas the right speaker choice, well setup room, good speaker placement, and a quality tube amp/preamp system will be 98-99% improvement.
First of all, let the speakers break in. I suggest about 500 hours of playing on moderate volume. Your amp will break in as well during this time. Second, are your speakers bi-wired? If not, B&Ws may sound offensive through upper mids when run with a single run speaker cable, resulting in listening fatigue. Another point to mention - the cables on the cd player. try different interconnects and the Audience powerChord, which is a great match for digital components.
There are some good ideas on this thread, but I wouldn't be too fast on replacing the B&Ws and going with Tubes. The advantages of good SS are well established and Rotel makes a pretty good Amplifier. I would try a Hybrid (SS/Tubes) Digital Source Component from say Musical Fidelity or Cary Audio, I'd recommend buying one used, trying it for a bit and then if your not happy, sell it.
I would start @ the Source, it may solve your problem and you can stop there.
BTW: B&W sold more Speakers worldwide last year than all of their competitors combined, more R&D money was spent in developing the "Diamond Tweeter" than most High-End Speaker Companies spend developing an entire line. There must be more than a few nice sounding systems out there that utilize B&W Speakers, just a guess...
I still say you may want to give the Dakiom Feedback Stabilizers a shot. You can return them if they don't work. If you decide that you want to improve your digital front end, then perhaps it would be reasonable to consider a high end dac.
I'd sell the whole rig and buy a Ping Pong table. Pocket the cash and adopt a hobby the whole family, and your friends will enjoy.
tvad, good suggestion! We can all come and play, can't we?
Goatwus, I'm not at all convinced that B&W 703's are "bad gear". I may yet arrive at such an opinion, but I heard a pair of 804's with classe SS amplification that sounded very rich and musical-- I just wasn't contemplating spending $10,000. at that time. The salesman I'm working with insists the 804 is not an inherently richer (or "less-bright", for you folks who don't like B&W) speaker than the 703, so I'm inclined to believe the Rotel amp and perhaps, as DR. Lou suggests, the Rotel cd player is/are to blame. Unfortunately, Sacramento CA is not blessed with many high-end audio dealers. Most folks around here don't seem to care about audio unless it's coming outta their television, so consequently, dealers sell "home theater" increasingly, while two channel audio has been pushed further and further into the background. I'm going to demo some classe amplification next. Anyway, thanks for the input!
StuartK,It is possible that one of your speakers is out of phase.This would cause a lightweight bright sound.Even if they are wired up correctly there is a chance that one or more elements are incorrectly connected.Most obvious would be one of the woofers.You should check that all the drivers are wired the same.This entails unscrewing them and looking at the connections.These should be colour coded.
I have come across two pairs of speakers that were factory wired out of phase.
A quick way to check this would also be to reverse the polarity on one of the speakers and see if it sounds better.
Your Rotel CD player has a rolled off treble so this is not likely the cause.
The Rotel is a fine player. But it will present what it's fed, bad recordings will sound bad and good recordings will sound good. I've got the CDM9 NT's, the 703's precursors. Those 703's are pretty nice. Keep 'em.
Let the new amp burn in for awhile. The speakrs should burn in for awhile too. Don't jump to conclusions for a bit. A couple of weeks at least. Let the system play, get some hours on it.
BTW, my Krell sounds great with my 1072 and CDM9's. But it is CD dependent. Some CD's are completely unlistenable, it's a joke what the music companies are putting out. Some CD's are sublime.
JTgofish, Hammergjh: thanks for your comments. I hadn't thought to check whether the speakers are wired in or out of phase. Will do. As far as cd's go, my ears are painfully aware that cd's vary ridiculously in terms of quality. IMO, there's no excuse for labels to release crap!
Stuartk, First, let me make clear of one thing :I am not into bashing any products. I am looking for a product or products that produce sound as human as it can be. Now, some listeners do like bright ( transpatent term use by reviewers), some will like warm and little syrupy sound. Take it to another step, let talk about the soundstage. Some products will produce a huge and wide open but up-front soundtage. Some others will produce a deep per image ( again the term holographic often used by reviewers). The Rotel sound is like it or not, bright and harsh at the top end. It is engineered that way to produce the dymanic and a sense of having plenty of headroom. I have played with Rotel gears some 20 years ago and sold it to pawn shop since it did not know about Audiogon web-site to replace by Parasound pre/amp. Keeping the same pairs of speakers and the bright, offensive high disapeared. Is Parasound better than Rotel? I cannot answer that question without open a can of worms. All I can tell you is that, I re-visit the Rotel gears recently with the RDC 1072 and RA1060 but I have listed them for sale after a few weeks. My advise to you is to savage what you can and move on. Don't spend too much money on IC, PCs or Speaker cables with the Rotels,the sound will alter only at minimum. Remember, every hifi company has their own signature sound : Classe is warm but laid back, Krell is tight and punchy, Parasound is warm but a little grainy in the mid-range, Brighton is clean and bright....been there, done that for some 30 years, from mid-fi to ultra hi-end...none of them sound the same. I was trying to set up a small system with the Rotel for my bedroom and move my Krell gears to the den. I tried to going cheap route and I made the same mistake again by trying to cut the corner. Please read the reviews from Soundstage equipment reviews and Soundgood archive reviews and read carefully when you find the words : bright/ harsh/ sounstage forwarding...It is what it is . Cut your loss and learn a lesson that : when audition the gears bring your worst CDs and your best CDs. I myself find the brightness/ harshness is offensive and irritated. Do you ?
I had a RB 1050 with the RC 1070 and a NAD C525Bee driving a pair of B&W 705 and they did sound bright to me, however with wall treatment and feet tweaks the sound improved greatly. Trust me you will get rid off that harshness and gain more detail and imaging with the right room tweaks. In my experience although cd players sound different the room treatment is key. Try it yourself before spending another 2k on a new cd player. At the end if you are not satisfied get a entry level tube integrated and you will get sweeter highs and a more analog sound.
BTW I need a remote for my RCD 1072 someone has one for sale ?
Leave the system on and put a cd on continuos play when your not home. med volume. that will help break them in. Also room treatments help carpet , drapes, thick furniture, etc. you want more of a dead room sound wise. not live, echoey. clap your hands around the room listen for echos