I'll pass this along for what it's worth.
While I'm not sure what you hear as "upper midrange glare" I had a problem with instruments like violins and sax's. They were so screechy and glaring I just couldn't listen to them.
After a bunch of equipment changes I have come to believe the problem is actually my room.
Using an equalizer with real-time display I have determined that there is a large (about 6db) peak at 1000hz in my room.
Speaker position doesn't change it. Amps don't change it. Different speakers don't change it. It seems like some frequencies are being sucked out and the room just rings at 1000hz.
For now, even though I have some pretty fancy gear, I use an equalizer to take away that peak and everything is fine.
If you can borrow some equipment it would probably be worth a shot at taking some measurements.
Hope this helps.
The setup basically looks good; how about addressing some room treatment?
A tube amp could possibly help.
Aragain is also on the right track.Could be the room.
Also could try different tubes in the pre amp.
have you tried different cables and ic's? that's where i'd start my quest (pun intended). -kelly
The answer is in your speaker cables. To remedy this problem you can assemble a minimum eight (8) foot length of 4awg (gauge) pure copper wire and replace ALL of your speaker cables. This will eliminate the shrill glare that you hear in your system. Continuing to use the cables you have now could in fact damage the drivers because they are denied sufficient power and are working at their limit. The difference in cable capacitance has a direct effect on the sound the drivers are able to reproduce.
Bowlerds, drop me an email if you'd like. I'm pretty sure that I have some interconnects that will take care of your problem or at least reduce it to an acceptable level. While i'm sure that they are not up to the rest of the level of your system, you can try them and see if it points you in the right direction. From there, you'll have a better idea of where to go or what to try next. A few others here have used them under similar circumstances and been quite pleased with the results. Sean
I will stick my neck out and postulate that cables are not going to help.
I do not seek a tussle with those who suggest cable changes. It is simply that in my experience cable changes are in the fine-tuning category and your problem is in the major anomality category.
You are going to need either measurement equipment, set up your equipment in a known good room or bring known good equipment into your room. I know this is a lot of work but it seems to me you are pretty much out of options.
I agree the cables are not what your problem is.You have 3 items you are using which are on the bright side.Adding the 3 of them toghther in theory should give you a nice system.It doesent allways work that way.Try a tube amp first.
The glare could be caused by any of the above or a combination of them. Something cheap ($3-$4) to try would be to pick up a small piece of wool felt at a fabric shop along with some double sided tape. Cut rings out of the felt to go around the tweeters (approx. 3" wide, so that they can later be narrowed for less of an effect) and mount them with the tape. Sounds stupid, but it can sometimes be very effective (smoothing) in the mid to upper registers.
Bow- You are bound to have a slightly different suggestion from every poster. You have obviously attempted to assemble a high quality system and have given thought to each choice. None of the suggestions above, or mine, are meant to belittle your efforts. I agree with others that you have a couple of components that may contribute too much in this area when combined in your system.
My first recommendation is a thorough evaluation of your room since alterations can be accomplished relatively easily. Could there be sidewall reflections or hard, reflective surfaces on any wall contributing to the glare? Have a friend/family member walk with a mirror along the sidewalls while you're seated in the listening location. If you can see the speaker in the mirror, this is an area that could be contributing to early reflections. Also, I strongly suggest playing with speaker tilt as well as toe-in. Changing the tilt of the speaker can have significant effects upon the tonality.
Next, consider using the Sakura OTA cable kit. It isn't well known (yet), and is relatively inexpensive. It provides enough cable and IC terminations for three pairs of interconnects and at least one set of speaker wire, all for around $600. Don't let the price fool you. I currently have over $10K in speaker cables and IC, and this stuff is equal to or better in many areas. One of it's strengths is a marked reduction in midrange strain or glare, yet offers marvelous detail, tonality and palpability. At the price, you can't go wrong.
Next, I would be experimenting with different sets of NOS tubes for the SF equipment. This can have dramatic effects on the sound, but can become expensive.
All other suggestions that I offer will effect the sound but aren't targeted for just glare reduction. I'd offer, though my preference is for tube amps, to investigate into a better tube pre-amp. Your system appears to be at a crossover point between good to very good. Having owned this piece, I would recommend seeking a higher standard. Some may hear this as a putdown of the SFL1 Sig, but it isn't intended as such. It is a fine unit and well built, but sonically, there are better with less contribution to your current problems. (With modifications, it can be significantly improved, but most people tend to want only stock equipment). This change will likely not be inexpensive. You might consider an integrated amp approach which would eliminate the need for a separate pre-amp and interconnects and power cords! There are some exceptional products available which might make this approach more cost effective. However, this can require a complete re-evaluation of the speaker/amp relationship.
Good luck with your quest. As always, Just my .02.
JC: When using a mirror to locate the first reflection point, how much of the wall area needs to be treated (is their a reasonable minimum)? This has always confused me.
While i'm not about to get into an argument about this, there ARE cables out there that can take care of such problems and there are members here that have experienced them first hand. I know that Issabre made a few posts pertaining to the cables that i supplied him with that seemed to "work magic" with the same exact problem in his system. Up to that point in time, he didn't think that cables made much of a difference whatsoever. He's also not alone in that situation, as i've sent these out to a few people that were in the same boat. Not ONCE have i ever gotten any negative feedback on these cables nor were any of them ever returned. Some folks have even bought a few more sets just to have on hand.
With these specific cables and depending on how severe the problem is, sometimes it takes one set to smooth things out, sometimes two. Either way, the "scary" thing is that these things cost less than just about ANY other "tweak" mentioned other than buying felt and putting it around the tweeters. Since i would have sent them to him with a money back guarantee if they didn't work out for him, he would have been out NOTHING to try them.
Other than that, i would suggest that you look at the room response with a spectrum analyzer. If things show to be reasonably smooth / flat in that specific frequency range, the next step would be to change tubes. Some tubes just sound like JUNK in specific components, regardless of all of the hoopla about specific make / model / brand and "tubes being warm & smooth". Some of the most forward / harshest sounding systems that i've heard made use of tube preamps. Like anything else, it's all a matter of having a balanced system that sounds good, not mixing and matching brand names, makes and models or specific topologies.
As to my comments and all of the others, take them for what they are worth. Nothing more than someone's point of view. Sean
Sean I agree with you to a point.
Cables should not be used as tone controls to overcome problems with equipment.
A cable should be neutral and truthful,it should not alter the sound.
I belive the problem is in the synergy or lack of it betwwen the components being used.
Each component on its own is a solid choice of gear.
For some reason they dont work well toghther.This does not mean the choice of gear is flawed it means our friend has to possibly make some changes.
Sean: I somewhat remember the cables that you are talking about which were very inexpensive. Please re-list the source of them, if you will. They sound like they might be a good choice for the few new posters that are just starting budget two and multi channel systems as well.
I have NO idea as to where to find these specific cables on the street. I stumbled across them when going through a catalogue from one of my RF distributors. Since they were quite reasonable in price, i ordered several different designs that they offered and tried them out. While a few designs were decent, the one specific cable works wonders on reducing / minimizing "Glare And Sibilance" ( GAS for short ). As such, i labled these "GAS Busters". They also help most SS systems to sound warmer and measurably more "musical".
As a favor to some other folks that were having similar "gas" problems and made them public : ) i ordered a few extra sets and sold them at MINIMAL mark up ($20 for a 3' pair / $30 for a 6' pair). Some of these folks ended up replacing Silver cables that cost hundreds of dollars with these "cheapies". While i'm NOT saying that these cables are "killer" or a "cure all", they do HELP until you can get things dialed in a little better.
As to Leafs' comments, there is NO such thing as a neutral cable. Every cable presents a different load to the source and their sonic signature will vary due to different equipment combinations and their associated impedances. While it is obvious that some cables work MUCH better in specific systems than others, those "good" or "neutral" cables sometimes fail miserably in other systems. I do understand where your coming from though and basically agree with your comments / train of thought.
Unfortunately, sometimes we end up buying "good" gear that just doesn't blend well together. With the amount of money that one might have tied up in a system, it would be pretty disappointing to not want to use it because it sounds so poor or less than one had hoped for. I would rather "band aid" the system with some cheap "flavoured" cables and enjoy it in the meantime rather than let it sit and rot until i could afford to make major component changes. Know where i'm coming from ??? Sean
Has any of the info posted here helped in any way?
It adds to the knowledge of everyone when we find out what was sucessfull in curing your problem.
Let us know what's going on!
On the systems which were cured with your cables, what do you hypothesize the root cause was and how did the cables cause the sound to improve?
Also, what is the effect of placing these cables in a system which sounds good to begin with?
Thank you for your suggestions. I have read all the feed back and noted all of them. I made some changes to the room and the settings on the PowerPlant. My system sounds impressive. Something to enjoy and be proud of. I am also going to upgrade my preamp to a Herron VTSP 1A or the Levinson 380S.
I found out my front end responds better to the PS2, SS5, SS6 settings. I made minor toe adjustment to the speakers . I found that the cables were not the problem even tough I ordered the XLO limited digital, I guess it would be better than what I have now. My Siemens tube are due to arrive today. I will replace them on the DAC, it should sound better than the stock Sovtek 6922.
Aragain, i have NO idea as to what causes some interconnects to be audibly different than others or work / not work within specific systems. All i can say is that i have experienced such things first hand and i'm sure that many others here share that experience and point of view.
As to using these cables in a system that already sounds good, that is WAY too much of a variable to make any kind of educated guess at. If the cables that were originally in the system had similar electrical characteristics to the "gas busters", i would assume that the audible differences would not be very drastic. On the other hand, i have heard these cables sound FAR WORSE than the generic factory supplied OEM interconnects that are supplied free of charge with a lot of gear. As i and many others have mentioned here before, it's all strictly trial and error. Sean
Thanks for the info.
I think we are basically on the same page and am looking for an explanation of our different posts.
My view is that under 'normal' conditions cable changes make subtle changes and are used to fine-tune a system.
You have posted that your GAS cables can rescue a system with a glaring midrange problem.
To me a system with a glaring midrange isn't 'normal'. There is a root cause which should be determined and corrected to return the system to normal.
The fact that a certain cable can make such a system listenable is to me a special case.
In addition, you have said the GAS cable can make a system sound worse than the freebie cables. This indicates to me they have some unusual properties which happen to be useful in taming certain misadjusted systems.
In summary, I recognize that you have an unusual cable that can tame some systems. It seems you don't want to allow me my view that under normal conditions cable changes have subtle effects. I believe both are positions are viable and there is no need to discount the other.
Aragain- Though I don't discount your view on cables, my experience in my systems have suggested otherwise. I guess it comes down to the term "subtle effects." In absolute terms, you're quite right. However, in terms of musical appreciation or increased emotional connection to the original musical event, the differences can be quite profound.
Synergy is the key within the contexts of the system. Numbers, including price tag, and manufacturer's hype won't guarantee a great match. You have to personally experience the sound in situ and then decide.
Dekay- I usually start with about a 1 ft width, 2"-3" thick piece of Sonex that's about 4 ft in length. Position it so that the top of the Sonex is about a foot above the baseboard.
Just my .02.
Jcbtubes - I agree completely.
What I'm trying to say is - if a person says their system is so far out of whack they can't listen to it then we're out of the realm of cable optimizations. The system problem should be found and corrected.
It's like having a car that pulls to the left and 'fixing' it by dragging a block of cement from the right rear. Ok, the car no longer pulls to the left but you still don't have a properly functioning car. People are entitled to that approach but it seems there is so much more performance available if the root cause is corrected.
Thanks JC: I will start with my 6' and 5' tall (foamcore) free standing Empire State Building and Sears Tower. They won't do much good from the listening position on the sofa, but should be easy to place for near field listening.
Hey, Dekay - Does the miniature, giant gorilla (oxymoron intended) on the E.S.B. throw off the imaging?
Bow- The Herron is an excellent choice for a pre-amp upgrade. Once it is fully broken in and you have a good feel for how it sonically fits in your system, be sure to play with different NOS tubes.
Also, I'm sure that you've already thought about it. But, if you don't have separate, dedicated A/C feeds for the system, definitely check into it. The gains can be significant, even though you're using the PS.
Aragain- I certainly agree with you. I've had system configurations that were tolerable, but gave no enjoyment at all. In several instances, otherwise good cables were the culprit. The tough part is knowing where the imbalance lies. Too many systems have been built using nothing but "Stereopile A" rated equipment and cables with no real insight for synergy, and sound like it.
JC: We coudln't find a tiny King Kong, so placed "Lambchop" up there instead (good place for him/it/she if you ask me:-).