HELP - B&W / Rotel combo lacks sparkle? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 06-03-2011, 11:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi, I am fairly new to the world of Hi FI, so any help would be most appreciated!

I am currently running B&W CM1's, a Rotel RC-1550 pre-amp, a Rotel RB-1552 power amp, a Pro-ject RPM 5.1 turntable with a SHURE M97xE cartriadge and a Marantz NA7004 network DAC which I run my Macbook through. All connected with Chord Company banana plugged speaker cables with more Chord Company quality interconnects.

My issue is the sound is just not exciting. The combo is talented with laid back acoustic music, but when I am after something fast and exciting ('Power', from Kanye Wests latest album for example), the combination sems to strip it of any of the sparkle.

The sound is a lot less exciting than on my far cheaper Marantz NR1601 50w AV amp and B&W 685s. From reviews, this should not be the case.

I am thinking that it may be the Rotel equipment (the power amp is a big AB kind - possibly too warm) in combination with the CM1's? Would this be right? I know the NA7004 is supposed to be quite bright, so it doesn't really make full sense to me.

Yet I am thinking of selling the pre/power combo and picking up an 840a Azur integrated amp for a cleaner, faster sound with equal power. If not I was thinking of selling my AB power amp and buying a more efficient, smaller (and presumably less warm) D power amp like the Rotel RB1572?

Perhaps of importance is the fact I am currently in a small bedroom with the speakers about 2 metres apart. My new room I will be moving too later this week will see the speakers 3 or so metres apart. Could this make a difference?



Any answers would be most appreciated!



Thanks,

Alex
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post #2 of 11 Old 06-04-2011, 12:16 AM
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Regarding what you're hearing, room acoustics plays a huge role in presentation; electronics usually don't make that much difference (and this is usually supported with measurement and so on - while differences do exist they're usually VERY small on paper, and much larger differences can be measured and documented based on acoustics and other factors (like the album itself)). I would suggest trying the new room out, and potentially looking at the actual acoustics of the room depending on what you end up hearing. It may simply be a matter of positioning your speakers (or yourself) in a better way in order to get the experience you want. One thing I'm curious about, is there a subwoofer anywhere in this system?

I doubt a new amplifier, CD player, etc will change the playback experience for you - at least in any measurable way; if you're convinced that it will make a difference though, it may (and this is not "bad" - if that's what it takes for you to be happy with your music, that's what it takes ).
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post #3 of 11 Old 06-04-2011, 01:21 PM
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Nothing wrong with the Rotel gear...it could be a combination of a few things. Your speakers may not be full enough for the heavy bass music. The room acoustics could be a problem....the set up and placement of the speakers and lack of isolation with the tt could factor in as well. If it where me, I would look for better room placement of speakers and perhaps use a sub with bass heavy music.
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post #4 of 11 Old 06-04-2011, 03:47 PM
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Your problem is your speakers. That's all there is to it.

What you need are speakers designed for flat frequency response, strong dynamics, and smooth off axis response. High power subs will also help with Kanye west tracks, which can have powerful low frequency notes.

Buy new speakers, this time without giving in to brands that stereo magazines tell you are better. Your Rotel and Marantz are both fine. They are not warm, bright, aggressive, laid back, or anything else you seem to think amps are. They are low output impedance solid state amplifiers - FLAT, NEUTRAL, and WITHOUT A SONIC SIGNATURE! That is because they are merely amplifiers, designed to amplify an electrical signal - not to create any sound waves!

The only part creating sound waves is your speaker, and as long as it isn't stressing your amplifier beyond its design limitations, you're perfectly fine with that amplifier.
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post #5 of 11 Old 06-04-2011, 08:35 PM
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You've got some great gear with the Rotel. I'd love to have that setup myself. I agree with the other posters. I bet if you added a subwoofer it would sound much better. I have the 685s and they are definitely going to have more bass than the CM1s. The CM1s are great speakers though (great looking too!) and probably have better midrange response than the 685s.

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post #6 of 11 Old 06-04-2011, 10:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Great to know. Have had a tinker with the set up, moved the speakers way out from the wall (not practical long term, but I'm moving to a new bigger room soon anyway) and what a difference! A new found appreciation. Stupid of me not to try this earlier but as I said, its my first set up ever dedicated stereo set up and it cost me an arm and a leg (not literally, but all my savings) so I'm glad its not a bad choice of equipment.
Also rang my local dealer and put an ASW608 on order just to flesh out the lower ends that CM1's cant muster on their own. I assume this will be sufficient for music listening, I know it is small, but I don't have much space, and this means it doesn't extend really low but I have heard good things and don't need super deep bass extension. I believe, correct me if wrong, that subs are easy to integrate into set ups too?
Thanks for the advice, genuinely helpful. Made my week. Will let you know how the sub goes too.
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post #7 of 11 Old 06-04-2011, 10:16 PM
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alexcampbell90 - I agree with some of the other comments regarding the roll-off of your speaker's base response being somewhat responsible for your feelings on the Kanye tracks. This is not to say the CM1s are not good speakers (they are) but if you listen to bass heavy music you would likely appreciate adding a good sub or switching to towers with a good bass response.

As for Eternal Velocity's comments, clearly he hasnt heard the impact a change in components can provide in a good system and how those components will impart a sonic signature on the amplification being provided to a speaker. I havent heard the Rotel vs the Cambridge you mentioned and would suggest 1) waiting until you are in your new space, and 2) doing an A/B comparison directly for yourself.

One final suggestion would be to look on a-gon or another site for used integrated units. This would allow you to get the Cambridge (which is highly reviewed) at a significant discount, or perhaps get a better unit for the same money as a new Cambridge.
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post #8 of 11 Old 06-04-2011, 10:19 PM
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Alex - it looks like by the time I hit "post" you already had a good plan in place. Let us know what you think once you add in the 608. Its a powerhouse of a little sub.
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post #9 of 11 Old 06-05-2011, 12:08 AM
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I agree. The ASW608 is a great little sub. I have one and it's great for music and in small to medium spaces. You mentioned that you're moving to a larger room. How large will that space be? You may want to consider a bigger sub for the new room (like the ASW610 or CM series sub). Also, it's not at all critical for the subwoofer to be of the same brand as your fronts. There are a number of more cost effective options out there.

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post #10 of 11 Old 06-28-2011, 05:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Got the subwoofer - what a difference!
Thanks so much for all the help. Now a superb, smooth sound that can really sing when the time calls for it. Infinitely better than the old combo.
Thanks again.
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post #11 of 11 Old 06-28-2011, 08:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sounddude03 View Post

As for Eternal Velocity's comments, clearly he hasnt heard the impact a change in components can provide in a good system and how those components will impart a sonic signature on the amplification being provided to a speaker.

I clearly haven't because the differences are so far FROM clear ;P
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