Warm romantic & detailed


Good morning Gentlemen & ladies... 

I'm just starting to toy with idea of replacing my Focal 1038's... No matter how I treat my room, or what equipment I throw at it I just can't seem to tame the harsh highs on this speaker. 

I'd like to stay in the same price range of the Electra's (7/8k), I don't mind buying used, the musts for me at this point are: Warm, romantic, yet detailed... It would be beautiful to just sit and listen and not have ear fatigue after 15 minutes of listening. 

Can you please recommend something? 
jeffinnh76
Have you considered a quality crossover to tame the highs? Perhaps find one you can return, try it.
I would look into Tannoy’s Stirling or Turnberry in your budget. They are exactly what you looking for .....no listening fatigue whatsoever. I have mine paired with Accuphase Integrated. Their synergy is simply off the charts!

Please also list your rest of your electronics for further recommendations.
I’d recommend a used pair of Joseph Audio Perspectives—very natural and refined-sounding speakers.  Best of luck. 
Try REW. Create a house curve -1db starting 1000 hz through 20khz. Adjust as needed might need as much as -3db. That will get rid of the high frequency tilt used to make these speakers sound good in the store. Or just get a pair of Revel 228be. 
Sorry Gents, sources are: Macintosh C2600, 452, Furman Elite reference, Lumin T2, Nad turntable... I have around 3k invested into room treatment etc etc.
Harbeth M-40.1’s would be a perfect fit for your desired qualities and budget.  I've owned them twice, spending a combined 8 years with them and only just recently replaced them with 40.2 Anni's.   Great speaker for warm, rich, full bodied, organic sound.  
Sorry, there's a copule of mods you could make, I've had the same issues with Focals. If you otherwise love them:

Replace the tweeter caps with Mundorf MKP or Clarity CE
Put felt on the sides of the tweet using PSA backed felt.
Absolutely.  Harbeth 40.1's as already suggested, or alternatively Vienna Acoustics Liszt (used).  Both will perform exactly as you describe.
Consider Jean-Marie Reynaud speakers.  They may well provide what you're looking for.
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You may like this pair of Acoustic Zen Crescendo speakers, used at an outstanding price. I think it may match exactly what you're looking for.
@djones, the BBC curve drops 2.5 to 3 dB from 2,500 to 5000 Hz. 

@jeffinh76, this is a job for Magnepan 3.7i's which we were just discussing in another thread. Add subwoofers down the line and you will have a very close to SOTA system. The 3.7i's will give you a sense of space and the third dimension that you can not get from typical box speakers. They are not the loudest speaker so if you like Nine Inch Nails at concert level they are not the speaker for you. They will plenty loud. Loud enough for most people. The subwoofers add dramatically to the sense of volume. 

Talking about NIN, The Downward Spiral is playing at this moment. 
OP what happens with the tone control. Set flat it does that?

Are you using a silver clad wire? for speaker ICs?, Again are you using silver clad wire, in you IC between source and Pre, and pre amp to amp?.. All of those can add a lot of "BOIL to the mix"  Right over your head, with 8 foot lids... Treat the heck out of it.. Rake the speakers 3-10 degrees. BACK, get the highs further over your head... Make a sticky foam filter for the front of the tweeter, sides, top. ALL low dollar checks, even the IC, use some less expensive copper... look out for silver right now... Gold terminals.

Regards 
Jeffinnh, thanks for posting information about your preferences and your amplification.

Can you tell us a little about your room, and what your placement constraints are?
Imo SoundLab fullrange electrostats... "used" in your price range... meet your "warm, romantic, yet detailed" criteria, and are totally non-fatiguing, assuming they are feasible for your room.

Duke
disclaimer: I’m a SoundLab dealer.
My room is 13 wide x 20 long... I've played around with placement for about 6 months and found the cardas method to be best for over all recommendations. I have atleast 3k + in room treatment: bass traps, combo panels on side walls, rear wall treated, as well diffusers (all GIK.) My current cables are bluejeans, with audioquest red river XLR's across all connections. I've tried towing them out, back, raising them up, etc etc you name it... 
Duke, I think 545's are over his price range which is why I mentioned the Maggies. The OP can certainly add one of your Swarm systems to the Maggies.

I am not either a Sound Labs, Magnepan or Audio Kinesis dealer. I have no relationship to any of these people. Not that I have not tried but they generally run in the opposite direction. Must have bad breath. 
Yes, I wasn’t trying for the BBC curve. I use a 1db drop from 1khz to 20khz but my speakers are very flat through that range which is why I suggested maybe up to 3db or just get some Revel 228be. If we could see a graph would help a lot in figuring out where to adjust. Looks like he's tried room treatments taming that harshness with PEQ is probably the easiest. If you use roon you can try REW and load the filters in roon. 
Taming qualities you don't like from a speaker is a losing battle.  They simply need to be replaced.  Sounds like you have some good recommendations from others.
Spendor SP 100R or the previously mentioned Harbeth Monitor 40.
Having 20 + years rebuilding,upgrading loudspeaker Xovers 
The weakest link in the vast majority of speakers is the Xover .
I have seen $50x speakers with $10:Solen capacitors Go to Humble homemade Hifi capacitor test , the capacitor bible 
modt havedapacitirs rated around a 6-7 ,top caps 11-15.
even resistors most use crappy ceramic ,path audio best made today , for NOS before Millsmoved in 2011 made in USA Mills grea5 resistors still using Silver end caps. And quality wire, Cardas or wbt, Mundorf silver solder, inductors cheap sledge hammer 
many 7nder $10 k use Jantzen Copperopen coil excellent for the money . If keeping your speakers upgrade them ,and get rid of the stock junk gold over brass ,brass is bright a good WBT loudspeaker connector , or Cardas gold copper . That’s my opinion after 40+ years in Audio.
djones and three _easy_payments. You can tame any speaker if you can measure it in the room and see where the problem is. Then it is only a mater of creating a filter to correct the problem. My computer does this automatically. Unfortunately, most do not have this capability so they either gain this capability such as the DEQX or Anthem units or they get speakers that fit their environment better. These units are not all that expensive ( like the Trinnov Amethyst) and may be less expensive than buying new speakers. They also give you the capability of adding subs with great bass management. 
Jeff,

I understand what you are going through. I used to own the Focal 1027be and no matter what I tried, I had the same conclusion as you are having. The Focal beryllium tweeters were quite annoying especially on poor recordings. They were very detailed but they also lacked body. I tried several amps including Classe, Hegel and Pass and lastly a tube amp but still wasn’t happy. I decided to sell the speakers 5 years ago but should have sold them sooner. 

Happy speaker hunting. 

Tannoy Turnberry/Spendor SP100R2
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OR
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Replace the Mac branded JJ tubes in your preamp. 
There are multiple choices in the Tekton line that define neutrality.  Don't waste your time trying to rebuild a speaker that was never voiced to please you.
Yes, change speakers.  Nothing more to add really than what was stated in the first 4-5 posts.

maggies, harbeth, spendor... 

happy speaker hunting indeed!
I don't believe your budget will stand the outlay for the HARBETH 40.1's, but there are other fine Harbeth speakers at a lesser price offering. Depending on your taste in music, virtually any Harbeth speaker will provide you with infinite hours of engaging pleasure. One of the worlds most balanced natural speaker line in existance. One note; - -  Harbeth speakers are not at their best for hard rock and "bass thumper" fans. Jazz, Classical, solo instrument and voice are their forte.
Sonus Faber olympicas. Warm, detailed and beautiful. 
I am a fan of vintage speakers. If you don’t mind vintage, I would suggest you do some research on vintage KEF Reference speakers like KEF 105 (Mk 1,2,3), 104.2,107. They are not rock speakers, but excel at vocal/opera, jazz, instrumental, chamber and orchestral. I have at present the 105 and 103.3 and I can truly say they are simply smooth, dynamic and spacious sounding. Details on these speakers depend on your electronics. 
My advice is to check out Bache Audio. I have the latest Tribeca with the Eton woofers. Absolutely no fatigue, these babies have a big, smooth, coherent sound with a huge open soundstage. The 8” bamboo wide band driver is directly connected to the amp, while a simple cap is used for the horn super tweeter and a coil for the woofers. Check this out https://www.soundstageglobal.com/index.php/blogging-on-audio/201-howard-kneller/921-a-visit-to-bache...


Magico A1 ?? Jeff can you get to nj to listen to a very good option 
I gotta say these Harbeths & Spendors you guys have recommended really are catching my attention. They seem to really check all the boxes I'm looking for, but can they handle modern pop music as well heavy rock? 
Consider KEF Reference 1. I like them better than my harbeth super HL5 plus. And I love those. I had a pair of Focal Electra 1008 BE. Nice speakers, but not in the same league as the KEFs or Harbeths.  
Love my Harbeth 30.2s in a similar sized room, plus a REL sub.  Everything you described in your wish list.  I’m extremely impressed with the Harbeths.  Fourth pair of different speakers I’ve had in that room, and these really nail natural tone without sacrificing air, transparency, and detail.  I probably arrived from the opposite side as you, with very relaxed NOLA models preceding these (I also had some Electras in there, sold them pretty quickly, not my cup of tea).  I’d say that what the Harbeths don’t do compared to Wilson’s in another (larger) room: throw a large and deep stage, invite large scale dynamics, deliver big impact. But if I had to listen to a reproduced human voice nonstop on a desert island, I think I’d opt for the Harbeths.  And resolving enough to genuinely discern VTA changes, cable swaps, different AC power handlers, ... that kind of thing. 
"Warm romantic & detailed"  - That's Sonus Faber sound signature. You may check the Olymica Nova range i think it will suit your budget
MAGICO A3s with big tube amp buy it ASAP.
I’m not ready to say it’s your speakers necessarily. Could also be a mis-match of cabling.
I’d be willing to send you a pair of MIT 700+ speaker cables to experiment with to see if they are a better fit.
These cables are from 20 years ago and are like garden hoses.
They quelled every "harsh" sound I ever hooked them up to.
Spendors definitely can handle the music you like. They are tremendous speakers and much more natural sounding than the Focals.
Sonus Faber and Habeth are also brilliant. Will work well with your Mc amp. Any one of the tree will resolve the issue.

The Focals need a very warm amp. You would have to swap your Mc for Naim to get that balance closer to natural.

Alternatively, you could look at other warmer amps like Pass or AVM. I have had a few customers swap AVM amps int systems with bright speakers and they are getting wonderful results.
How about Spatial M3 Sapphires open baffle as an alternate speaker to consider? Check out New Record Day review to get an idea of whether these may be what you are looking for. 60 day return policy if you decide they do not work for you. Plus 92 db efficiency.
+1 on Tannoy
+1 on Sonus Faber

The Mac/Tannoy or Mac/Sonus Faber combo is tops so maybe sell your current speakers and don't look back.

-1 on Furman Elite reference... I had the Furman it reference 15i and found sound noticeably better when amp was plugged into the wall. YMMV. Now have a AudioQuest Niagara 7000 and notice no difference when amp plugged in to it. A 3000 or 5000 would also do the trick. 

Also using a Sbooster for a Lumin T2
I was looking for speakers a couple of years ago in that same general price range and auditioned several including Focals and Sonus Fabers . My favorites fit the description of what you’re looking for. Aerial 7t’s are just sublime. I have since purchased a Mac MC 452 and a C47. They are in a room with significant treatment. The focals were too bright for me also and the Sonus at the same price were no match for the Aerial’s. 
I had a similar issue with my old Mirage M3-Si speakers.  I was considering a couple of the Focal speakers but again, a metal tweeter is not what I wanted.  I really liked the Sonus Faber signature sound and came close to making that purchase.  However, I made my decision and recently took delivery of the new model from Dynaudio, the Contour 60i.  A wonderful soft dome tweeter that is very detailed but never overly bright.  And the midrange is perfectly forward, yet balanced, and never harsh.  Vocals, wind instruments, string instruments all sound so nicely balanced and natural.  A real pleasure for long listening sessions.  They play very well with all sorts of music genres.  And when you ask them to deliver on high volume with Classic Rock music, they excel. The Contour 60i has some improvements over the preceding model, the Contour 60.  But the differences are not night & day.  If you can find an authorized dealer who still has the Contour 60 remaining as a floor demo model they can be had for a very reasonable price.  I have recently seen $6,500 to $7,000 posted for those demo speakers at several dealer locations, Nationally.  Anyway, the sound quality is my opinion, of course.  But I wanted to share that I had the same issues as you and was able to solve them by getting the Dynaudio speakers.  Best of luck to you.
Jeffinh76, these are all 6 of one and a half dozen of the other. You really have to listen. Speakers are the most important and variable part of any system. You got stuck with a set of speakers you don't like. don't do it again. Excepting speakers like the Sound Labs and Magneplanars. All these other speakers have similar modes of dispersion using dynamic drivers in a point source situation. They are essentially omnidirectional and the most prone to room interaction. Differences between them are due to different drivers, crossovers and tuning method. These are all going to affect the frequency response of the speaker more than anything else. Planar dipoles are significantly different as are horn loaded speakers like the Klipsch heritage series. Only you know what you like. Listen to the three types, planar, horn and dynamic to decide which type you want then nail it down to one speaker. 
Find out where the nearest high end stores are to you and travel if you have to. I live in New Hampshire and I will travel to NYC to hear stuff on a Saturday have a nice dinner, hotel sex with the wife and travel back the next day. Don't listen to salespeople or us for that matter. Our opinions as to what speaker sounds best are based on what we like, not what you like and salespeople can be helpful just let them sell you anything. You sell yourself.
just don't let them sell you anything!
You will never tame those speakers.   If you went with the Proac Tablet 10's ( they are not expensive ) you could eventually pick up a 300B amp and have more of the sweet involving music you are looking for...someone had mentioned Reynaud speakers, I heard them a number of years ago and they to are extremely natural sounding....
Just a note warm and natural sounding speakers never sound " detailed " they sound rich and engaging...
Best
Jim
I finally went with Meridian DSP speakers. While they don’t sound like they have the same detail it’s all there but in the music instead of in front of it. Good luck with your system.

its interesting that you don’t mention the front end? While I agree those speakers are intolerant of average recordings sometimes a hybrid amp can tame hard speakers.
Some very good and very bad suggestions above. I can't do the Focal
Berries or Magico Diamonds either. Forget ATC. Salk also uses Berries.
Spend the next year or so listening to the British and Italian and Spatial selections above which fit your budget-Which I never quite saw but am guessing is $3-$4k. That is enough to get you excellent sound used. 
Please let us all know what you decide.
I'll second the Tannoy recomendation. Warm, romantic, and involving sound. They look beautiful to boot. 
The ribbon tweeter in the Proac K-series is beautifully smooth. The speaker is also an impressive all-rounder. Works with rock well too. I home demoed the K-6 and was very very tempted. 

The Avalon Ideal is also a wonderful speaker, rich and non-fatiguing. I home demoed this and I very nearly kept it.

I suffer from hyperacusis, which is a sensitivity to loud noises at certain frequencies, and for me it is triggered my harsh trebles so I am fully understanding of your issue with the Focal - I find Focal’s trigger my hyperacusis whenever I hear them at shows.

Having heard many of the ones recommended I would add that the Sonas Faber I home demoed (top of the range Guaneri tradition) whilst the best I have heard for classical and jazz, was not so good with rock, too smooth. Similarly Harbeth and Spendor are great speakers but like many British speakers, strong detail and a sense of driving rhythm is not one of their most potent characteristics, and if this is important to you then you may be disappointed.

I ended up with a Boenicke speaker which is an extraordinary speaker but may not be so widely available in the US.