Warm Sounding Preamp Suggestions


I'm looking to dial down some mid/high glare from my newly acquired B&W 801 S2.  I'm getting a little fatigued and want to see if I can warm it up a bit with a preamp.   Right now I'm using a Yamaha Aventage Receiver and a Threshold S500/II. 

Any suggestions?  Tube preamps? 
dastro
CJ
You don't mention your interconnects. They can have a significant effect on sound.

You could try some Transparent cables, before changing out the preamp.
They might mellow some of the harshness. 

Cary SLP-98
  You mention that the your speakers are newly aquired.  Maybe they need some more time to break in and the sound may mellow out some
Post removed 
Parasound p5 and Nad C165BEE are both worth a look for being on the warm side.

I can tell you from direct, first hand experience, that in order to fix your problem, you need to get rid of the speakers. I can also tell you that you will definitely get rid of them. The only variable will be how much money spend trying to make them work.

If you are compelled to spend money, start off with a passive line stage. Schitt sells one for around $50. That will allow you to remove the Yamaha receiver as a preamp. Doing that should take a lot of the edge off. Keep in mind that any bandaid components you buy now, will probably not be a good match for whatever speakers you buy when you replace the B&W's.

A lot of people talk about B&W being bright.  It is possible, however, that what you are hearing is the brightness = higher order harmonic distortion from your amplifier.  I've heard them sound glorious with a very good tube pre-amp and power amp rigs.  That being said, the pre-amp section of that Yamaha AVR is probably not the strong point of your system.  I'd also have to disagree with mgreen27; a passive is more likely to be transparent, so if the speakers are a problem (which I don't necessarily believe) that would not help.  I suppose if the Yammie is adding additional brightness it might help. 
I believe I would replace the receiver with a tube pre.   
Don't know your speakers but an older CJ PV10 will romanticize most any system. Also CJ classic or any legacy PV series but I believe you cannot get much warmer that the PV10.  Had one for years.

"I'd also have to disagree with mgreen27; a passive is more likely to be transparent, so if the speakers are a problem (which I don't necessarily believe) that would not help."

I have no issue with you disagreeing with me, but for the OP's sake, I should probably go into a bit more detail. At one time or another, I've owned the entire Matrix series, including the 800, HTM and the Matrix HT package. They all used the same aluminum tweeter, and on every single speaker in the line, the same problem would occur. After a while, the highs just became unbearable. Changing the electronics made some difference, but usually not enough. I know some posters recommended tubes, but I wouldn't buy them in hopes of fixing any problems. Either way, the best results were gotten with solid state electronics. Rowland was the best, followed by Pass. In the end, the only way to get rid of the problem in the highs, is to process the signal heavily or match the speakers to components that are so dull sounding, it ruins the whole sound. When it comes to those old B&W speakers, there's 2 kinds of people. Those who listen to them, and those that can't. Its that simple.

With passives, the transparency argument looks good on paper, but in practice, its a different story. The typical passive customer usually buys one because they can't afford a really good active preamp, and they can't listen to a cheap one. 99% of the time, using a passive takes the edge off the highs. It reduces sibilance. You may be able to make an argument that a really high end passive, like a Placette, may have the transparency to be an issue, but its very expensive and not the norm. The Schitt passive is only $50, and not in that league. He already has a Pass amp, so if the combo doesn't work, very little money is invested. If you can't get the highs under control with a Pass amp and a passive line stage, you need to rethink your system or risk loosing a lot of money.

I know my comments may sound a bit direct or harsh, but in this case, I feel its justified. I know dozens of people who lost money trying to fix B&W speakers, myself included.   

A tube preamp will definitely not be as bright. Brightness is often not a frequency response error as it is caused by trace amounts of higher ordered harmonics. 0.005% can be too much! Tubes tend to make less of the higher ordered harmonics and so sound smoother/not as bright.

The room itself can make a big difference too. If its a lively room or if you have slap echo (clap your hands in the middle of the room and you'll hear it if its there), it might be difficult to tame the brightness without treating the room.
Thanks for the input from all.  I also posted this issue in the "speakers" forum.  The purchase and installation of an Anodyne bass alignment filter fixed most of the issue for me.  It filled out a lot of the bottom end with more extension, vastly more articulation, and cleaned up most of the mud.  I now hear a much more even sounding, fuller speaker.  What a difference that box made.

I also need to get them off the floor and spike the stands.  This should help as well. 

Dastro

What a difference that box made.

It’s a great design, and was far ahead of its time allowing for full range, and in rooms that do not support it.

You are basically turning the 801 matrix’ massive woofer box into an EQ’ed subwoofer with one setting ...a factory designed one ..... settings on the BAF being different for each particular 800 - 805 matrix model.

The additional and maybe even greater benefit imo, is that the EQ boost allows the ohms requirement to remain in the 6 ohms range on 100 hz and less ..... not as taxing on an amplifier.


Did the unit improve on the mids/highs glare as well?
ct0517,

That makes sense.  I sometimes used a Velodyne DD-10 with a pair of 802 S2 and thought the 801's after the BAF installed reminded me of that sub's slam, extension, and grip, but with 2 of them,  producing a tremendous soundstage and depth.
213runnin, I think the BAF's ability to extend, tighten, and articulate the base rounded out the 801's overall response, resulting in much, much less glare.


Not familiar with the speakers, but in answer to your basic question, you can never go wrong with an audible illusions modulus 3 preamp. 
Interesting, glad to hear you found a solution.