Well, you can't do much about the glass wall, but that's obviously going to affect things considerably. If it were up to me, I'd think about ways of putting a blind or curtain on that side, one that could be retracted as needed to enjoy the good view and light but then closed at least partially to give some sound absorption.
Can't comment on the digital stuff (I'm mostly a vinyl guy), but if you're able to make some changes, and you're playing a lot of vinyl records, you might think about switching to a more resolving cartridge. Lots of opinions out there on carts, but I like the Dynavector line. Others will chime in with their favorites. The Sutherland phono stage should be fine for cartridge upgrades.
I'd also be thinking about a quality subwoofer. You're a rock music guy, and you'd likely appreciate the bass (and increased soundstaging) provided by this move. See if you can get a dealer to loan you one so you can try it out.
Finally, room permitting, you might want to spread the speakers more than 6 feet if you're sitting 10 feet back.
Good listening to you.
There's a couple of things that stand out. You mention that your digital sound is lacking. Generally speaking, it usually is. In your system though, you may not have matched your components. Your Ayre doesn't have an active preamp. Given its price, I agree with Ayres decision no to go active, but you have to be very careful with your sources. Not having enough gain, like you mention, is probably the reason you are not getting your "Wow" factor. (Just to note, you don't really describe what you mean by wow factor, but I'm pretty sure that I understand. Also, I own Ayre equipment myself and it delivers the wow factor for me. At least what I think is the wow factor.). If this is the issue, theres one thing you can try that will be the best chance of confirming or ruling out you digital front end as the problem. You can try the matching Ayre 7 CD player or the Ayre 9 DAC. Those products are meant to work together and you'll know right away if this is the problem.
Other than that, your room may be a little small, and its square. Thats not optimal but its something you can work around with a little effort. Also, some of the other posters are bound to have all but a nervous breakdown, when they see that you have a whole wall of mirrors. The upside to that is if you turn your chair around, you'll still get a nice centre image of your stereo. If not, you may want to put something on that wall.
Understand, though, that all of this is just me guessing as to what your problem may be. In the end, what ever is done has to please you; not me or anyone else. You can expect to be doing a lot of experimenting to resolve this issue.
One thing you may want to try right away, is to move your system to another room, temporarily, just to see how it sounds. If it makes a big improvement, you are probably going to be best off trying to fix your room first. If not, your best bet may be to try a different digital source.
Your room doesn't know if it's digital or analog. First thing, I would do, is to try(borrow) a superior cd player, just to rule out the pre and or dac. I personally think you're lacking in the digital playback. Have you tried other dacs or cd players?
I personally could not come close to my analog, until I bought a Electrocompaniet Emc1up, now they are pretty even in sound quality.
i echo the comments about a sub, whch can add a tremendous amount of impact. I too have the 2m blue and really like it, but I know there are better cartriadges for $450-$900 which will be better in every aspect. As for your room, try to cover the glass and mirror with curtains. Also widen the distance bt your speakers and increase toe in further so the tweeter is aimed directly at your ear. Keep your ear at tweeter level if possible.
How much space do you have from the back of the speakers to the wall behind them?
have you swapped RCA cables or tried new power cords?
worth trying and can make a huge difference.
I'd get a sub, a different DAC or an Off Ramp.
What about the balanced inputs. Every review of the Ayre AX7e says the difference is huge.
Don't buy anything. Play with speaker positioning and your listening spot. 10 ft seems to be a bit far considering the distance between your speakers.. maybe you need to mitigate the reflectivity of the glass areas with some sort of absorbent material. I have found that speaker position and listening chair position have a real effect on sound and it's easy and free to correct. My speakers are 68" apart, and I sit 8 ft away. I just did this yesterday. I was about 9 ft back before. I will listen for a few weeks and move my chair again until I get it perfect, but it sounds much better than it did. When I look at my speakers from my chair,I cannot see the sides of the speakers. I also use a laser pen to see exactly where the speakers are pointed. Do the easy and free first!
"Range of of and new rock." equals a subwoofer. don't skimp on size. 10" is good 12" is great and 15 moves all the air you may ever need. Post related to appropriate subs for your rig. You'll be reading posts until the Spring. I think you will find a sub will deliver the goods.
Hello,There are some good answers above.I was just wondering if you are listening thru Itunes? The BelCanto DACs have a reputation for good SQ.I have an older BC DAC 2 ,that sounds very good in my system.Playing thru Itunes sounds OK.The quality goes up quite a bit when I use Audirvana.I just finished a demo with the newest version of Amarra,and thought it sounded as good in a different way(really liked the EQ).Good luck and Happy New Year,Ray
oops, I forgot. I prefer a down-firing subwoofer any day of the week.
I have very little space behind the speakers (due to room size/function). Less than a foot.... And thank you and everyone else for all the great insight!
Thanks Jeff- I know a superior CD player would make a big difference but I would love to hold onto the convenience of iTunes. So maybe an Ayre DAC (as someone mentioned) would be a good step in the right direction. Not in love with the Bel Canto anyway.... THANKS!
Yep- That was on the list of changes to make. Seems to be agreed across the board that balanced will improve the sound. I've heard a few arguments that it doesn't but mostly for it.
Haven't considered different software. Interesting. Thanks for the info. Will check that out as well. Happy New Year!
Thank you so much for taking the time to post all of this. The curtain seems to be the biggest suggestion (both here and from friends/dealers). Looks like I am curtain shopping in the new year!
As far as repositioning- I don't have much room to play with but i am ALWAYS tweaking the position of the speakers to "dial it in". I have a feeling curtains plus subwoofer will change things drastically. Thank you and happy new year!!!
Thanks so much. All very good points. I think curtains, a subwoofer and a demo of the Ayre DAC will be the first steps.Have a great new year and thanks again for the input!
I would try to get the speakers a little bit further from the wall.
I do love Ayre...the products, the customer support, the philosophy... the weakest link is the Macbook. I have one and suggest that it degrades performance appreciably if you are using it to store music files. The MacMini, however is world class...quiet, able, etc.
Move your speakers further out into the room. Even an additional foot can reap large sonic rewards. You should also experiment with sitting closer to the speakers.
Definitely go all balanced.
In this review
from Soundstage the writer notes that Vienna Acoustic demoed your speaker with the Ayre integrated, but he thinks they responded quite well to higher powered amps.
Definitely do something about the the wall of windows...curtains, blinds, etc.
Upgraded audio software could help.
Do the above before changing you D/A or computer. Whatever you do, the last think you need is a subwoofer. Your speakers put out more than enough low frequencies for the music you mention and your square room will make deeper/louder bass more of a problem than a solution.
Please post what you do and your impressions.
The MAC's USB as a source is the weak link on your digital. Also, the USB input on the Bel Canto DAC is an older implementation on an otherwise excellent DAC. The SPDIF inputs on this DAC are definitely superior to the USB input. If you use a good USB to SPDIF converter such as Bel Canto's new asynchronous uLink and then output SPDIF to the DAC, it will be a huge improvement. Also, make sure you use a good USB cable as well. Customers of ours with MacMini's have noticed big improvements using a USB to SPDIF converter such as the Bel Canto uLink or the April Music Stello U3 versus the USB implementation built into their DACs.
Also, as mentioned, use the balanced XLR outputs to your Ayre as well.
This will take your digital playback to a whole new level.
Disclosure. We are Bel Canto and April Music dealers. Other high quality USB to SPDIF converters should provide great results as well.
Srtingreen- Thanks. Wondering why the MacMini is superior to the macbook pro? Would an iMac also be superior to the MBP?
Thanks! Just checked out the uLink online. Liking the idea of upgrading to balanced and adding this piece. Seems to be a good first step before thinking subwoofer and/or new DAC. I appreciate everyones smart input. I will re-post once I implement and experiment with all of your ideas. Thanks everyone.