What is the best way to tame a slightly bright speaker?


I know the answer is get a speaker that isn't bright,  but I've got a pair of TAD Evolution Ones that I like quite a bit except that the magnesium midrange and beryllium tweeter are just a little bright for me.  I'm driving them with a D'Agostino Classic Stereo, which I needed to drive my old speakers but I don't need all that muscle for the TADs (89db sensitivity, 4 ohm impedance {doesn't drop below 4 ohms}) recommended power 50 to 250 watts. 

I'd like to get  an amp that does voices especially well.  I know somebody posted recently that a subwoofer solved his brightness problem and I may look into that at some point.  Any and all suggestions are welcome.
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Think about room treatments also.Reflections on hard surfaces and glass will emphasize high frequencies.You can make your own very inexpensively.Experimenting with chair and sofa cushions at first reflection points costs $0.I agree that subwoofers can help take some of the workload off your speakers and smooth things out.
Thanks jtcf,  Yeah my room definitely needs some work.
Need to know which cables, power conditioner do you use one, power cables stock or aftermarket, high end rack or not, room setup, and of course what is your source.

What setup which works for one set of speakers may not work for another, so this might mean a retuning of the system.

Please feel free to contact us, we are really good at system matching and tuning. 

Dave and Troy
Audio Doctor NJ
Room treatment for reflections is high up the list.

Electronically, it would be to increase the resistor value in the tweeter’s high-pass filter on the crossover (e.g. go from a 2ohm resistor to 2.7ohm resistor). This would reduce the level of the tweeter by a db or so and leave everything else the same. But you’d need to be OK removing the drivers, crossover, and soldering. Tweeter crossover capacitors could also be swapped out for more boutique brands with a warmer sound signature. A couple of resistors would just be a few bucks. Boutique caps could get much more expensive depending on brand and values needed.

Otherwise, cable switching (or biwiring) could give you the normal audiophile "solution" to tone controls!

One might also consider a dsp solution for room eq.

A sub does not "solve" bright treble; it would rather change presentation if low end is lacking. Not the same thing.

TBH, everything except room treatment and the resistor change would be of dubious value for money in my eyes.
Placement along with room treatments....   I recently moved, my last room was a nightmare.   New room has better dimensions but more importantly a thick carpet.

I used my Veleodyne sms 1 to measure the new room's low freq response and it was damn near flat... the sms applied very little eq...   the old room has a serious room mode centered at 40hz that really muddied the sound ,  the sms 1 used a lot of eq for the old room, -9dB  and unlike the old room, the new room has no clap echo.  

This system has never sounded better and the only thing that changed was the room....  I know its probably not possible to set up in another room but my experience really demonstrated how much the room and it's properties play into the overall sound .  
The TAD’s are had a little too much air from my time demoing them. Coaxial drivers have a very wide and uniform dispersion pattern and perhaps that’s why KEF rolls off the off-axis response of their drivers quite aggressively, whereas TAD chose not to, resulting in perhaps more detail but a sound that will be much more aggressive in the highs.

Your best bet is probably some form of multi-point measurement room correction software like ARC or Diraclive and tune it to a more rolled off target curve.

Right tube amp and cables ?
My friend has the same TAD speakers in a dedicated audio room that has  built in acoustic treatment and they are revealing but not bright. The suggestions to approach the issue from that angle are probably going to be an essential part of the solution. While it is true that a sub doesn't "solve" the problem of an overly bright speaker, one's perception of system balance is affected by the addition of a sub. My Tidal Piano Ceras without subwoofers can sound too bright with some material. When the subs are turned on, the system balance seems natural on the same material. Lastly, a very low budget endeavor would be to try Grannyring's "Acoustic BBQ" Western Electric 10 gauge speaker cables. I know it might offend one's sensibilities to pair such inexpensive wire with expensive equipment but I found that wire to be just what I was needing to deal with excessive treble energy after replacing my amp. His description of the speaker wire in the Audiogon advertisement is not hype.
It might be worthwhile to toe in or toe out the speakers depending on its on and off axis high frequency dispersion, in addition to taking reflections.  And, it costs nothing. To achieve tone controls with cables is unicorn hunting. 
I don't have any experience with this specific system but assuming your source is digital, in a (friend's) similarly revealing system moving to an MHDT Pagoda non-oversampling DAC rounded everything out. Poor AC can also manifest itself as excessive brightness so adding a power conditioner is also helpful in cleaning the unwanted noise. The latter was my own experience.
Hi, You should look at a ZROCK2 from decware, go to their site and read about it. It just might fit the bill!Good Luck, Tish
Are the speakers revealing other issues further up the chain? Those big transistors or a poor source? Solid core speaker cables will help. 
Thanks everyone for your replies. They are varied as one would expect.

My room is far from ideal, but I don’t think it’s having a major impact on this problem. The listening area is carpeted and has a fabric sofa and chair and the house has an open floor plan, so I don’t think it’s excessive reflections. This suggests to me that maybe subwoofers would help.

I do agree that room treatments could improve and maybe eliminate the brightness, but that would probably be the most difficult way to attack the problem. It’s something I would like to do over time, but it will require a lot of time and expertise.

There have also been suggestions for cables and the controversy that comes with them. I’m using Analysis Plus Clear Oval speaker cables. Don’t let the name fool you, they’re not bright cables. I don’t know how they came up with the Analysis Plus name, but they’re just good quality copper cables using their proprietary oval construction methods (to reduce skin effect, according to AP). When I get the right gear together I want to experiment with cables with The Cable Company, but I’d rather not try cables at random, unless someone has experience with these particular speakers.

That brings us to upstream gear. The D’Agostino Classic Stereo that I have is a powerhouse amp, 300 watts at 8 ohms 1,000 at 2 ohms according to Stereophile. I don’t need that power with the TADs and changing amps would probably be a good place to start. Would a Class A amp like a Pass or Plinius or Accuphase relax the mids and highs a little or just give me different sounding bright speakers? I don’t think the D'Agostino is a bright amp but I haven’t heard it described as laid back or refined either. Tubes are another option. Any suggestions for a change of amps?
1 - Listen off axis.

2 - More room treatment
Hang a sock in front of it.
Tubes were the biggest improvement in taming my 801Ns.  Made the mids and highs much more listenable to me.  I still use SS muscle for the lows tho.

Bill
What geoffkait said may sound funny because he is that way some of the time. But that is a real possible solution. I have used that method and it helps out a noticeable amount. Geoff probably knows why, but it has worked for me. If you do it, get some that are cotton or wool, preferable wool and get a neat design, It can look good on there with a neat design. Geoff is not only funny 1/10 of the time but he is practical about 1/10th of the time.  
If you don't have time or funds for room treatment pick up some 100% wool at fabric store. Cut inside diameter in rectangle form and make 3 or four layers. It may not be pretty but in my experience it smoothed out highs and improved imaging. I mounted it with blue tak.

If you want to see without as much work with rectangle cut out. Go to drum shop and buy dense felt cymbal washers ( they go under and on top of cymbal on cymbal stand, much better quality felt than at fabric store)cut into four pieces and blue tak around each tweeter.

If you want to experiment with tube components investigate tubed preamps.A smooth,warm sounding preamp such as Conrad Johnson units for example might add just enough sweetness to tame that brightness.Then experiment with various tubes until you get your system tuned to your preference.
Room treatments. 

Toeing then out out a bit to get to where the tweeters roll off could help too if it does not mess with other things too much. Just have to try and see. It is free. 
Jim Smith Book on better sound, felt, revisit excessive toe in and or tilt, room treatments and then hardware changes

No joking the Zobels networks I have advertised in Loudspeakers will reduce the upper frequency noise and your system will sound better .if not  money back .i just spotted this in the forum .
that  is the easiest way ,or you can solder  in new capacitors.

I have a pair of VMPS RM40 ribbons speakers that have 40" of ribbons drivers per speaker. They are very detailed, transparent, and dynamic with good bass. They have a tendency to get a little thin and maybe hot sounding with some recordings. After a couple friends came over with their ICs they liked a lot, we listened to my system using my Darwin Ascension and some Amadi Maddie Signature ICs that I have used for a few years and really liked. Both of these have silver wires. I’ve never thought they were etchy or hot in the highs, but when we switched to Teo GC ICs, we were all in agreement that the sound was much improved in the organic sound of live instruments and made a big difference to the overall sound. They also were every bit as detailed as the prior ICs. Later in this year, Doug Schroeder of Dagogo online reviews, told a couple of us about the doubling up of Teo ICs to each component and the 3 of us did the same listening test at a later date to hear the difference. I had bought a couple pairs of Teo GCs to run from the CD to pre and from the Phono to pre. The result was even more impressive than just switching to the Teo GCs. There was VERY noticeable improvement in ALL ways compared the single. The sound of the RM40s was now about as good as could be desired and definitely the best I’d heard from these speakers. And I used to be a VMPS demonstrator for the last 5 years the company was in business.
These cables could be just the ticket. Whatever you end up doing, the doubling up of ICs, now called the Schroeder method in the Forum, will make a quantum jump in the performance of yours or any other system. The Teo’s will take them in the direction you want to go. I now have a pair of Vapor Audio Joule Black speakers and the Teos still sound fantastic with these speakers, and the Joules are much more organic and natural sounding than the VMPS’.

Bob
I own the TAD Evolution system with the E1s, C2000 pre and M2500 stereo amp. Source is Aurender N10 going Nordost Heimdahl 2 AES to the pre. Everything is connected to three dedicated lines via older PS Audio power cords, amp to the wall and other gear into an older Shunyata Hydra 6. Room was recently updated and all walls are still bare of wall hangings at this time. E1s are about 2.5' off rear & side walls and are around 8' apart. Floors are medium density carpeted. Sofa is cloth and about 10' away and five feet from sofa to rear wall.

In my room, I'd say that the sound is never bright unless the recording is subpar. There is plenty of snap and sparkle when the recording has it. I've been listening for a few months with very little setup performed so far. My dealer will come around when I'm ready and we will finish dialing them in then. Speakers are toed essentially to the center of the listening position.

I've heard the E1s with Luxman, Pass, Burmester, and maybe one other I'm forgetting. I preferred them with the matching TAD gear and voted with my wallet. I can't remember them sounding bright but they are very revealing and realistic. I'm no speaker setup professional, but maybe toe them in a bit to get rid of sidewall reflections. Play around with pillows and blankets to see if that may help as well. I've also used some plastic vases my wife had in her office to good effect.

I have heard the D'Agostino Classic Stereo amp but not with the TAD gear. It was with the Wilson Sabrina. My take was that amp was like a vice grip with mechanical-like bass control and the midrange/treble was nice but it was not of the usual refinement of the other D'Agostino gear I'd heard and I guess at the lower delta it shouldn't be. I wish I could add more but I just don't have any experience with your speaker/amp pairing. You didn't say what source you are using but that may bring the brightness you are speaking of. Good luck in your journey; I hope what I've described may be of help. IMO, the TAD E1 is very fine loudspeaker.
Tubes or class A amplification. I heard those speakers with an octave tube integrated and I started to cry. I hope you will also. 
Often that 300 a side SS Amp is clipping a lot more that you might think .Micro-seconds sound harsh .
Thank you everyone for sharing your ideas and experiences.  There's a lot to try in your suggestions and I'm sure something will work.  For fellow Evolution One owners, yes they are really good speakers.  I'm looking forward to getting them sounding their best (or close anyway).
Yes bi-wire would be the easiest way
take the crossover out and lower the non polarized cap to the tweeter, if its 1.0uf drop it in half.
take the crossover out and lower the non polarized cap to the tweeter, if its 1.0uf drop it in half.


Please don't.
If you’re looking for an excuse to spend money, you have been given many. But my immediate instinct without a second’s hesitation is, “Oh! Well, just toe them out!”

If you are receiving too much energy from the mids and the energy increases with frequency, toeing them out is a perfect fit.

Directionality increases with frequency, too. So toeing out just a little bit has the most pronounced effect on the highest frequencies, less on mid, and it goes drops off rapidly from there.
Toeing out sounds fine. Not to harp on this, but simple attenuation is the right solution. Looking at the crossover, a resistor change looks extremely easy to do cause it appears accessible from the base and detachable with screws.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/55f2f41ee4b0ef7e0849e07a/t/56217563e4b0fd57269f160f/154372792...

The tweeter section is at the top and you’d want to try higher values for the series resistor (before the coil!) to the tweeter’s positive input. Mills MRA is very cheap. You could also even just use alligator clips to parallel on incremental values to the existing resistor to determine the best overall padding. http://www.sengpielaudio.com/calculator-Lpad.htm

You might talk to Mark Kreckler at Soundings in Greenwood Village, CO.  They specialize in Master Setting speakers.  I would start there first.  They also specialize in REL subwoofers.  REL uses a different technology to create a sound stage in order to clear up high and mid frequencies.  They are not designed to produce that heart throbbing bass, but to provide greater bass extension to provide greater relaxation when listening.
Your clear ovals May indeed be part of the problem. They are entry level Analysis Plus. Try their Oval 9’s. They remover some glare and add more robust. They should tone down your TAD’s peakyness. An inexpensive way to resolve your issue. Next, I’d by a Lyngdorf Room Correction Pre-amp and be able to create a sound curve that you like. Lastly, yes, your room is likely involved as well. Dan D’Agostino designed he-man amps before he got tossed from Krell. I haven’t heard your amp or system for that matter. You ought to consult with your dealer as he or she ought to want you Happ y with the tens of thousands you graciously spent with them.
I own a Class A solid state amp - and owned Class A tube monoblocks. Love them both! But, they don’t cure brightness. Highly recommend a pair of subs - and room treatments. Just for grins - temporarily hang a large beach towel or afghan - centered on the front wall behind the speakers. It may offer a clue as to where to start. I’ve heard your speakers at several audio shows. They sound amazing.
Hi tomcy6, Did you go to the DECWARE site and read about the ZROCK2? I really think this will fix your problem.Good luck, Tish
MR squires,Why not, i have been doing this for years, AND IT WORKS.MOST TWEETERS AND SOME MIDS CONTROL THE AMOUNT OF POWER TO THE TOPS WITH A NP CAP, 0.X-1UF DEPENDING ON THE POWER.BY REDUCING THE CAP IS LOWERS THE AC SIGNAL TO THE TWEETER AND BALANCES THE AUDIO TO GIVE ONE A PURE TRUE TONE.IT ALSO PREVENTS THE COIL FROM BURNING.IF YOUR AMP HAS TO MUCH TOPS AND NO TONE CONTROL THIS IS THE BEST SOLUTION.
Concur with MotokoKusanagi.  Simple attenuation of the mid and high is the absolute most straightforward fix.  No snake oil voodoo tweaks. 
Get speakers with non-metallic cones.
I would strongly advise against any kind of messing around with crossover values. Any speaker worth its salt (certainly something as high-end as the TAD) has a network precisely tuned for attenuation, corner frequency and phase alignment in the context of the speaker’s impedance. Changing any of those values - caps, resistors, inductors, sometimes even minute changes in resistance from different hookup wire gauge - will throw off that tuning and have unintended side effects. You can’t just "pad" a driver in a typical crossover-based system without shifting other parameters.

The room treatment and positioning suggestions are good, and based on measurements from the Stereophile review you might be able to use the directionality of the coax driver to your advantage. But I think speakers have an intrinsic tonality that your ear will always pick up on regardless of the particulars of the setup. I can hear this from speakers at shows - even if the room is totally dead or bright or unknown, you can still kind of tell what kind of energy the speaker is putting out. In the case of the TADs, in my run-ins with them I noticed a bit of hardness/ringing to the upper midrange/lower treble that I found fatiguing. I wonder if this is what you might be picking up on rather than an actually elevated treble response, especially given that the measurements from the aforementioned review seem quite flat in the upper frequencies, and if anything slightly tilted down in the top octave. If that’s the case, ameliorating with a different amp and/or cables may be more effective. I hesitate to go down the cable rabbit hole in a forum like this, but I’d avoid anything silver or tinned. Audience is a safe bet for natural, un-fatiguing highs, and I’ve also been impressed with Crystal Cable in a few different setups.
Perhaps I missed it in all of the chatter.  What are you running for a preamp, DAC, turntable, etc.  Seems like a lot of very complicated solutions for a simple task.
This may be redundant but get a multi band (31?) equalizer. First line of defense for room treatment especially if your room is small. The judicious application of equalizing bright speakers will more than compensate for the addition of yet another electronic component in your chain.

Also makes a great notch filter for bass traps in a small room as well. I use one and find it indispensable. Not the "purist's" choice but it works and it is inexpensive. Have fun.
I have similar challenges and posted similar questions, got similar responses, here's what I have and have not tried so far - 
1) Modify the crossovers - probably a good route for those with sound understanding of circuit design and comfortable working on gear, but that's not me, not yet anyway.
2) Change amps - I went to a tube amp and this helped, made a marvelous improvement in the mids (no surprise) but high end smear still there.
3) Room treatments - a never ending pursuit.  Adding heavy draperies on the front wall, furniture in the corners, diffusers and/or absorbers at first reflection points on sidewalls have all helped.  The draperies made a huge difference in my room, but I have a window on the front wall. 
4) Speaker placement - I used the Cardas approach, then experimented with angle, ended up about 5 degree toe-in.  Some report much improvement by moving the speakers to the long wall, but in my room that didn't help and made it nearly unlivable, but my room is only 11.5 feet wide.
5) Change/improve source.  I have a PS Audio DSD and some suggested going to a "warmer" DAC, Mac or Bryston, but so far I have chose to stick with the PS Audio.
6) Power - upgrade everything you can in the power supply.  For me, Cardas Clear M AC cord for the amp, plugged directly into wall, made a nice improvement.  Listening room is already on it's own circuit, I will be trying a higher grade outlet next.  Fuses maybe?  
7)  Isolation - improving isolation of the amp helped a surprising amount for me, so I will keep tweaking with other components too.
8) Different speakers have been recommended (I have Thiels) - well that's just silly, as I want to optimize the SQ of my current speakers.
9) Room correction components/software - kinda like the speaker crossover modifications, this is just beyond me at this point, I'd rather spend my audio dollars on other things for now.
10) Subwoofers - same as above.  Someday probably, but not in the near future.
11) Cables and interconnects - I have avoided going down this rabbit hole so far.  

Bottom line - there are many ways to skin this cat.  The good news is that most of the things I have tried so far, while not always helping solve the treble problem, have led to other very nice improvements, like detail, resonance, and staging.  
Vandersteen CS2 Signatures use ear bleeding tweeters, but they run the audio signal through 3 capacitors in series. I am not sure that I would recommend doing that, but adding a solen cap or padding the signal with mills non-inductive wire wound 1 ohm resistors may do the trick. Cables may also help, but when I was having issues, I finally, out of desperation as I never really bought into AC conditioners bought a hospital grade isolation transformer and that cured my problem. Also, for under $100 for SE, and I suspect under $150 for balanced ICs you can get ICs made with Dualund's improved version of Western Electric wires, and I'd be pretty shocked if they don't sound better than your Analysis Plus ICs, but it certainly won't break the bank to find out.
Room treatment for sure, power conditioners and cables will not tame that speaker, if they do they are affecting or colouring the signal which they all claim not to do. Your speakers are a bright speaker, I’m very familiar with them. You can spend 000’s on cables, power and upstream components but the fact of the matter is in your room with those speakers interacting with the room and everything located within it, they are intrinsically a very open, “brighter speaker”. Also try repositioning them, less toe etc. That may work. But, and I say but, your best first option as mentioned above is room treatment, it is an inexpensive trial that I learned about years ago and what a difference it makes. More difference than any cable and especially and power conditioner!!