Before you start changing equipment do you have a friendly local dealer who can lend you some different cables to try in your system? Kimber is good but may not be what your system wants. Try a different ic first on the cd...you're looking for that elusive synergy. I've used van den huls 1st and 2nd carbon ic's on rotel cd players before, with success. The carbons offer some warmth with a slightly relaxed attack. They could be purchased second hand. I've also used the carbons on a rotel amp...just a thought..good luck.
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Your system has bright spks, electronics and spk.wire/interconnects. First off I would change spk. wire/intercommects. Add after-market power cord to your Ra-972 if possible. Electrical outlet may be old and needs to be replaced. If these changes do not bring about desired effects either change amp or speakers. If you decide to go the spk. direction, Spendor would be a good choice.
The Arcam CD 23 or 23 T reproduces the tone of musical instruments and voice in a delightful way and, at least in my system, gives a palpable presence to Ella, Sarah and company. I wouldn't expect any miracles from magic cables on either end of your components. Your room acoustics (including placement of speakers relative to walls and the seating area) should be addressed also prior to buying any new equipment. BTW the CD 23 can be gotten used on 'Agon for around $1000-$1300, an excellent price/performance ratio.
My friend and I both tried my Kimber 8TC speaker wire on our systems and we both like it a lot but think it is lacking bass and would be more suited to a warm system. I imagine the 4TC would be similar and would start there myself.
BTW the Hero has gotten some good reviews in the magazines and by fellow listeners, I would be hesitant to get rid of them without experimenting first.
Try an upgrade to your electrical outlet. I am tinkering with the different ones out there and found the FIM-880 to reduce noise and add a nice warmth. This may give you the best bang for the buck
If you try this and it helps move you in the right direction, a powercord upgrade may take you to the next level
I would start demoing IC's and maybe even speaker cables through the Cable Company (www.fatwyre.com). Speak to Paul. One to look at would be the Purist Audio Museaus line. Relatively inexpensive and I think it would give you the body and warmth you want. FYI, the speaker cable is somewhat rigid.
I agree with the others that have stated that you have selected components / cabling / speakers that are all on the lean side of neutral. Having said that, work with what you have, especially speaker placement. This can really sway the tonal balance but would affect soundstaging and imaging at the same time. It is sometimes hard to obtain the tonal balance that you want with good soundstage & imaging when having to go this route though.
My first suggestion would be to go for some of Jon Risch's DIY cables. The specific model i had in mind was the Belden based 89259/89248 Solid Stranded Twisted Pair ( SSTP's as i call them ) interconnects. Obviously, you would have to build these, find someone to build them for you or someone that was selling a used pair. Match these with a pair of Goertz MI-2 Veracity ( available from Alpha Core on a 30 day trial basis ) and you would have a system that offered full bodied sound with great transparency.
Bare in mind that ALL cables are system dependent and open to personal preferences, so my suggestion is no better than anyone else's and it might not be to your liking with those specific components in the system.
Another combo, without being specific, would be to use some Tara Labs or Cardas cabling. I think that the Tara would be better suited to what you are looking for, but that is a matter of opinion.
If you don't feel confident with a DIY based cable and / or want specific model recommendations from an unbiased source that carries many brands, you might want to try contacting UsedCable.com and see what they suggest via their on-line technical questionaire. They typically have a very good assortment of used cables that won't break the bank and seem to have their act together in terms of working with customers & making good suggestions.
Once you've reached this point, you can continue on and investigate the AC side of your system should you choose to do so. Depending on one's location, this can make noticeable differences in most cases. It may be well worth your investment to experiment in this area, especially if you live in a highly populated area, an apartment / condo or near an industrial area. Those that live out in the boonies may not have as much of a problem with highly tainted AC and may not experience as much of a benefit from such tweaking.
I only mention the AC part as i've found that "dirty" AC can add a layer of glare and harshness which can easily be interpreted as added brightness. Getting rid of this tends to smooth out the presentation and can result in what one considers a warmer presentation with improved "inter-transient silence" ( blacker background ). Sean
Speakers and their placement. Try lowering them and moving them closer to the wall behind them. Use chairs or boxes of books or something, just to experiment with height. If you have a coffee table between you and the speakers, or anything that can reflect soundwaves before they get to you, remove it. If this makes enough of a difference and you like the resulting sound, get or make some inexpensive wooden stands at the right height. If not, shop for different speakers.
I have to agree with these posts, after looking at your equipment I think itprobably has a bright but detailed sound. I had a system and was very much the same, I switched the cables from AQ to XLO and tara. And that made helped but of course I don't not beleive any cable can cure big problems. I had to change my source. You can try cables, they help but there not a miricle cure. Save those dollar your going to use on over priced cables and get a different Source or Amp, that matches your system and likeness better.
FWIW, I wouldn't spend a nickle on any cable, interconnect, or other tweek until I had exhausted all of the possibilities regarding speaker positioning, including speaker highth, toe in, distance from wall, etc. I would also experiment with the listening position as well. If that doesn't do it, you can decide whether you need speakers with a fuller lower mid range, or a warmer amp, or both, or whether the problem is resolved to the point where cables will make a difference. In my experience, cables may make a big difference in the highs (you can roll them off, or brighten them up)but they won't give you any warmth in the mid/upper bass area where vocals predominate, unless you seriously roll off the high end, and it doesn't sound like you'd want to do that.
I'd agree with Newbee. Tweaks and cables are not likely going to make major changes that I'm guessing you are looking for. A tweak by definition is to make SMALL adjustments to what is already there. If what you are looking for isn't already there you have nothing to "tweak". Sound advice (pun intended) also from Nebee, to experiment with speaker positioning before spending $. Also your room itself may have something to do with it. No expert there, but there are many on this forum who are. I do think room dimensions and treatments have a big impact on the sound of a system. I have no experience with your components other than with both the Kimber wires you have which I found pretty darn neutral, contrary to Sugarbrie's experience of them, but I must admit it's been several years now since listening with Kimber. A friend of mine runs what I think may be the same Rotel CD player and amp through the larger B&W speakers and my impression of that was not at all what you describe. The sound was pretty full-bodied to my ears. Can't recall which B&W he was using, but they were towers with little eyeball tweeters on top. My gut would say look at your speakers and or amplification if room and positions don't pan out. If you have a local dealer you bought your gear from maybe they'd loan you some alternate demo gear with a credit card swipe if they knew you were serious about making a change? Just .02 more cents to thoroughly confuse things!
Newbee above stated "In my experience, cables may make a big difference in the highs (you can roll them off, or brighten them up)but they won't give you any warmth in the mid/upper bass area where vocals predominate".
I will have to totally disagree with his statement. I have heard vast differences in cables regarding warmth in the middle/upper bass performance of cables. Example Nordost SPM vs. XLO UNLIMITED cables a huge difference the SPM is very thin and very little warmth the XLO is very full and is extremely warm sounding.
I used to have the same complaints - thin & bright. Keep your hardware for now - you'll NEVER know the full potential of your present setup until you begin experimenting with upgrade AC cords, interconnects, speaker cables, AC line conditioning, tweaks such as shelving, cones, pods, footers. Even your rack has a significant effect on sonic signature.
At one time I was, like you, considering replacing components. That's only a part of the answer, part of the time. I tuned what I have to my liking & I'm so glad that I found out the true potential of my existing equipment. It was there all along - I just had to solve some puzzles to get it there.
Mejames- I can appreciate your experience with the cables you mention, but why would you doubt, or rather HOW could you actually DISAGREE with the statement by Newbee that is qualified with "In my experience". He was drawing from his own experience as you are drawing on yours. Surely you aren't disagreeing that he actually had the experience he says he did. Just a matter of semantics, but I guess it struck me because you actually chose to quote him in your post.
Regarding the $1000 interconnects you do mention. Are you suggesting that Yxlei should invest in these cables given the cost of his other components? It would seem a bit out of proportion to me, but perhaps you are just using it as an example. I've got to say that I've certainly heard one cable sound warmer than another, and a power cord that can bring sonic improvements to a system. But I've never heard any of those improvements be as significant as a change in hardware. Now perhaps I just haven't heard enough cables in the really high-end to know what is possible, but I when I switched from Kimber 4TC speaker cable I went to a pretty expensive and well reviewed set of Synergistic Research Signature 2 cables. Yes, the difference was immediately apparent, and in that case I found the sound stage improved, the sound was a bit warmer to my ears, and the imaging a bit more focused. I was very happy with the change, but the system was not far from where I wanted it to be to start with. Did it impart a whole new voice to my system? I'd have to say it did improve the sound markedly, but I would not have called the difference a major shift in sonic presentation that would make a thin&bright system more rich and full. I would really like to hear cables that made that kind of difference. Perhaps I'm just not discriminating enough, or just haven't heard the right cables yet?
Mejames & Bob, please help me with my understanding of electronics - exactly how would a change in cable produce an (apparent) increase in sound in the lower midrange and upper bass (without a corresponding reduction in the adjacent frequencies)? I always thought that passive devices could not add, only subtract.
don't know about speakers, but replacing your amplifier might do just a right trick.
change it to Creek integrated or the best will be Bryston 3b-st paired with passive preamp such as McCormack TLC1.
You can also go with McCormack separates such as Micro Power Drive or higher powered DNA1.
Further, please remember that if you're not satisfied with the sound, examine amp and speakers first before you even think about changing ANYTHING else.
I would agree with a number of the posts above with respect to tweaking and tuning. Speaker placement and whether the room is really hard sounding and bright are critical issues. So are what your electronics are sited on.
So, for a freebie, experiment with speaker positioning; that is a given.
For under $150, you will get a major improvement and a big move in the direction you're looking for by:
1) replacing your electrical receptacles with Hubbell 5262's
(that is model HBL 5262) at about $10 each
2)siting your amp and CD player on either a maple cutting board from Home Depot for about $17 or vibrapods, (4 per component @$6 each), preferably both, using a vibrapod sandwich with the cutting board.
3) Buy one Quantum Electroclear for $40 and plug your CD player into it and the Quantum into the Hubbell receptacle.
If you like what that does (and you will), buy another Quantum for the integrated amp and plug the amp into it (it will probably have to go into another receptacle than the CD player is plugged into though-this, in itself would be a good thing.)
So far, it's pretty cheap. If you then want to blow big bucks, build 2 five ft. power cords for your amp and CD player by ordering 10 ft of in wall JPS AC cord (about $15 ft. from the Cable Co. or a JPS dealer) and use Marinco 8215 plug and 320 IEC to terminate it. This will cost you $100 per cord in total and you will own outstanding cords that absolutely address the problem you describe.
So, for about $350 (and you can do this in stages if you want to), you have addressed receptacles, isolation, power conditioning and power cords. You will then know what your system is really capable of without blowing your brains out on equipment. Only then would I start to make any equipment or wire changes (and I have owned both the 4TC and Hero, currently use 8TC, and replaced the Hero with something less expensive!). My system is reasonably low budget like yours, but with attention to details, you can pull some very high performance out of economical equipment.
Newbee: While i know that your "invitation to debate" was made to Bob & Mejames, i'm going to butt in ( what else is new ??? ) and throw some thoughts your way.
If you know what passive components go into building a tone control or filter ( and i think that you do know ), then you should know how other passive components like cables can alter the tonal balance of a system. All of these do the same thing i.e. they alter the load that the circuit in front of them sees and the electrons respond accordingly to those changes. There are differences though.
Tone controls or filters offer predictable results due to their presence being factored into the total impedance / conductivity of the circuit. The variables entered into the equation with different components and their various electrical characteristics responding to various cables contributing their individual and quite random electrical characteristics throw all formulas to the wind. This is why cables can tend to produce different results when paired with different components. The levels of stability and impedances / loads encountered with different combos can be quite varied. As such, the presentation from system to system is a combination of all of those factors combined.
I would suggest looking at the various waveforms / different transient responses / loading characteristics that can be experienced when substituting various speaker cables into what is an otherwise consistent system. The article / test results that i'm referring to can be found at Pass Labs under the title of Speaker cables: Science or snake oil.
After viewing the test results and reading the information that Nelson documented while doing this research, I would also look at the differences in frequency response of an amplifier itself as the load that it sees is altered. Some results can be found in an article titled Questions of impedance interaction that was printed in the January 1994 edition of Stereophile. Bare in mind that you are looking at the frequency response of the amplifer itself as the load changes, NOT the frequency response of the speakers connected to the amps in question. One should note that many of the amps share common loading characteristics with certain speakers, which is why some speakers seem to have a very specific sound to them whereas other speakers can be "chameleons" when different amps are substituted into the system.
Now if you take into account that one could simulate different loading conditions by altering various aspects of inductance, capacitance, impedance and reactance using passive components, you can begin to see that cables CAN play a role in how components sound / load up. On top of this, just as an amplifier responds to the load that is presented to it by the cabling / speaker, components respond to the load that is presented to them by the cabling and component(s) that they are loading into.
I specifically remember Frank Van Alstine working with Julian Hirsch on this subject. Frank actually demonstrated to Julian that some components were 100 times more susceptible to cable loading than other, more stable designs. The funny thing about all of this is that Frank is basically a "cable naysayer" yet he knows what he does about loading variables, etc...
While some would say that "all designs should be stable" and i agree, unfortunately, this is not the case with every component known to man. As such, one must "experiment" with various components / cabling to see just how they do respond to changes and if the changes are both discernable and beneficial to the reproduction and enjoyment of music. Sean
Sean, You're always welcome to butt it - you usually shed lots of light in dark places. My point, if I have only one, is that trying to improve a system thru changing cables can be a frustrating and expensive pursuit, not to be undertaken lightly. Some times I get a bit annoyed in this forum as it seems when ever some one has a tonality problem everyone immediately suggests that its best remedy is to change cabling. In my experience much more progress can be made in careful attention to in-room acoustics and placement of speakers and listening position. My unstated challenge to Bob and Mejames was simply to recommend a specific cable to Yxlei that they knew would work with his components and would be cost effective. Its too simple to say if you want more warmth get, lets say, Cardas (but I think you may give up some resolution in the process) or Nordost if you want more detail (but then you may risk getting enhanced highs eviscerated bass and dammed little warmth), all of course depending on how your amps and speakers see them (thats how mine did). What was interesting, in my case, was that it didn't make much difference which amp I was using, the signature of the cable remained close to the same. Then you always have the neurosis to deal with - OK this cable sounds pretty good, should I stop now or is there a better cable at hand I just haven't heard yet. Judging from the number of cables for sale a lot of people are still looking. Enuf for cabling! I ain't against it, I just view it as a tweek which can make a great system even better but it can't make gold out of lead.
If I had a second point, and in fact it was my main point all along, its about proper set up, a subject which I think many either ignore, hoping in vain to solve their problems with electronics and wires, or just don't understand at all. Its one that you recognized in your initial response. Something as simple as, perhaps lowering his speakers somewhat might reinforce the 200hz range and give him the body he was looking for in his speakers. Or moving his listening position might put him in the apex of a standing wave and give a sense of enhanced lower registers (his listening position could be in a null). And this costs ZIP except for the time required to learn about speakers, room acoustics, and a lot a patience, or a sound meter, a good disc of tones, some graph paper and a lot more patience. Reves recently suggested that perhaps we need a seperate forum for this as doing a search for prior posts is frustrating at best. I'm done now - time for bed! Thanks for listening to my rant.
I too like the quotation "all designs should be stable" and I shall realy repeat it and emphisize it to all audiocomponents.
There is a plenty of effort already had been placed onto design of every audio component to be that stable AND independed.
As to the wires they can only be a "passive reactive elements" such as filter block or shunt on radio and video freequencies. Even if the wire is designed as a shield from such the component can still have a possibility to oscillate from RF and VF interfearance if not properly designed.
The bottom line is that if there is such degree of instability present than it should be infinitessimally small and applying wires that are designed to block RF and VF will change the sound by only small fraction of decibell.
Sounds like your room to me. The first thing to do is get a bunch of blankets and towels and cover any hard reflective surface in the room especially the front half by the speakers. If you sit close to a back wall this should also be covered. Now play your lacking body cuts and see if the problem has gone away. Slowly remove the dampening blankets until you achieve an acceptable balance in the sound. A mix of half absorptive and half reflective is best along with uneven hard or reflective surfaces for diffusion. Avoid a large hard surface any where near your speakers as this will give an early reflection in the sound which will smear the image and harden the critical midrange. The ear needs 10 milliseconds between direct and radiated sound if your imaging and intelligibility is optimized. (Sorry Amar).
Newbee: I agree with your clarification whole-heartedly. If you notice, the first part of my original post stated that i thought that the components selected could result in such a problem as Yxlei was describing. I also stated that Yxlei should try to optimize the speakers and room placement prior to doing anything else. If everything is set-up as good as possible and the problem persists ( and it probably will because of component selection ), THEN more drastic steps should be taken. Suggesting cable changes as an instant "cure-all" is kind of like saying that one should fill a gaping wound with sand in order to stop the bleeding. Sure, the bleeding will stop, but you've got one helluva infection that you'll have to deal with at a later date. The more appropriate approach would be to get to the root of the problem. In doing so, one may become as healthy as possible without having to deal with gross side-effects getting there.
Ron: Good basic and inexpensive suggestions and is an excellent "quick & dirty" approach to finding out how much room treatment one needs and where it would be most appropriate. Whether or not it has a very high WAF or Martha Stewart approves is another story : )
Using Ron's temporary approach above and you find out what you need, a good source for "inexpensive" ( by "audiophile" standards at least ) sources for room treatment materials can be found at Markertek. They also have a good variety of other audio / electronic related items, so folks that are not familiar with them should take a look at the website when they get a chance. Sean
Thanks for all your good advices,
I did go through all the local audio shop and bring home 12 interconnects(under USD 130) and 3 speaker cords(USD3-7 per foot) before I picked Kimber Hero and 4TC. I feel tired if I need to do it again.
My listening room is 5m x 3.5m. I put speaker on the short side. speakers is 55 inch apart and 20 inch away from the wall. I use B&W regular stand come with the speaker. I put amp and cd player side by side on the carpet. Windows are all covered by thick curtain. I like soft and slow music like "the Carpenters"
I know changing cables, power cord can make improvement, but I am thinking about change my main component first.
If I use Arcam A75 or Puccini amp and Arcam cd72 cd player with Kimber hero, will it get too warm?
Your speakers are too close together unless you sit right on top of them. Unless you do sit nearfield, this also tells me that you need to spend more time experimenting with placement. Changing the stands can also affect tonal balance. What you hear will depend on the speakers' height above the floor and the angle of the speakers' trajectory. Obviously, toe-in, distance from back and side walls, etc... all come into play also. This is not to mention the acoustics of the room itself.
If you change components, you will effectively change the tonal balance of the system. Problem with this is that you may not like the match that you have with your current cables. Since you've already tried out several different cables, i'm assuming that you did hear a difference in them and realize that you may have to do this again after changing components. Sean
When a system sounds "thin," it means that there is a lack of body in the upper bass and lower midrange, which contribute to the fullness of voices and instrumental texture.
The first place to start is at the beginning. My experience with Rotel gear is that it has "detail," but is a bit on the lean side. Also, what you're talking about is "dimensionality," which is a sense of a palpable, invisible person or instrument right in front of you, either between or behind the speakers. The equipment DOES have everything to do with that.
First, ALWAYS start with your source equipment. CD player, turntable or the like. Although it may be something further down the line (i.e., interconnects or speaker cable), the source will ALWAYS show you whether or not it itself is contributing to the issue at hand.
Borrow one that has fuller sound. You mentioned the Arcam 23, which has a fuller sound. See how that improves - or changes the overall musical feeling of the system.
Then try the interconnect, especially if you have the same manufacturer's brand throughtout your system. First the interconnect between the source and the preamp/integrated connection.
You'll need to replace each piece of equipment, BUT!!! Manufacturers have a "sound" they believe in. Rotel, from what I know, is not particularly 3 dimensional and you have, perhaps, aggravated it with cabling that is also on the lean side of neutral.
And finally, be sure your power cords do NOT touch the interconnects or run across the speaker cables. Keep them at least several inches away from each other, or you'll introduce hash into the upper midrange sound.
Our systems are similar. I have the 602s & Rotel RCD 951, and use Kimber Interconnects as well. In the first months of having the 602 I was plagued by that thin sound/lack of warmth you describe. I think I considered replacing my components too. Eventually it occured to me to move the speakers off the short wall. What I discovered was that the 602s like space, not only to be a couple of feet off the back wall, but to be spread out-6 feet at least, in my case. I discovered that my furnature acted as a sort tone control. Lots of soft furnishings the sound gained some warmth-too many direct hard surfaces and it became too thin and bright. It went something like that, the point being that these speakers are sensitive to their surroundings. Once I made these observations and made some efforts to address the rooms effect on my speakers the sound evolved to something more to my liking. As well, I noticed a solid stand really improved the bass in the 602s, as well as giving the sound some added impact/solidity. They were very sensitive to speaker cable, or more so than the interconnects. Once I changed from 16 gauge to 12 gauge the sound gained even more presense, and this was not at any substantial expense even as I was biwiring.Finally, the 602s are a quandary. They can sound incredible one moment and horrible the next. I would not say they were the last word in neutrality, but you definately get to enjoy the quality of recordings you listen to. In this the 602s can sound distant or veiled one moment, bright and edgy the next. It took a long time for me to get used to that, and it is something that I have come to appreciate.Very finally, I never enjoyed my rock recordings with them. I have read so many reviews of them where the reviewer felt that they really kicked loose. I never had that experience. I dont doubt that those reviewers are correct in this. I just dont have a set up that exploits this particular attribute of their many fine qualities. My advice is to take the time to experiment with placement and the room environment first, then perhaps stands and cables.
Your room is the most important component in your system next to your speakers and will have the most profound effect. Moving the speakers where you can at first. Even an inch or two or angling them in more or less. Like the person above said a room with alot of hard surfaces usually has a negative effect. Do these things first as they are free until you get into room treatment which I've found to be of the best bang for the buck in audio. Good Luck
How about a Rega Planet 2000 CD player? It's relative warm and analog sounding compared to the Rotel. You can usually find one here for around $600 range.
Or make a move from solid state amp to tube. I've just done it a few months ago and never looked back. You should check them out at your local shops and see if you like the tube sound. It shoud fit perfectly to your musical taste.
I seriously auditioned a rotel(1o60) system before buying my current kit. I listened alternately with the b&w 602 s3's and then dynaudio 42's. There was a very disernable difference in the way these two speakers were making music. the b&w's had mesmerizing detail to them. the dyna's seem to present a warmer and more you are there, real mid range. I think that rotel does sound like very solid state but excels at an upfront real presentation with plenty of warmth in the mids. try tubes or different speakers.
An integrated amp is a good starting point however if you want a full bodied sound (with warmth) as you descibe, you have to think big! Lose the Rotel int. and get separates! such as a nice tube preamp and a big powerful SS amp. Maybe invest in big, full range floor standing speakers. I have this type of setup and regardless of what type of music I listen to, it never lacks in body, warmth or musicality. Then tweak the system to "your" liking afterwards.
I also have the 602 s3 speakers and rotel ra-02 amp and 02 cd player. The most important thing is the placement of the speakers. The tweeters are a bit bright. I use some older no-name multi stranded speaker cable for the tweaters. For stands i use my own diy made solid brick stands. This really kicks donkey. And yes there is cement between the bricks.
Both Phd and Sean have hit upon the most important factor in buying and amp, that is output impedance. Lower is better and you probably will not find it in an integrated. If you want the amp to be able to drive any speaker load, you have to think "lots of output transistors". 16 per channel is about right for complete independence from load effects, but the design is also key. Amps with zero negative global feedback tend to be thin sounding and cannot control the bass. Look for an amp that has low output impedance, reasonable power (>200W/chnl) and some kind of global feedback.
Audioengr: My old Perreaux's use zero global feedback ( according to the manual ) and are anything but "thin" sounding. The bass on these things "pound with authority", hence my use of them for subwoofer amps. If you do a search in the archives pertaining to Perreaux PMF-3150's, you'll find others using them for woofer / sub-woofer duty on several low impedance multiple driver speaker arrays. On top of all of that, these are Mosfet designs, which are typically not known for being "bass hounds". Sean