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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What interconnects and/or speaker cables are you using?


Finding my new N803's to be a little bright/harsh (even after break in), which is surprising, given my upstream equipment: Anthem AVM-20 pre/pro and Parasound 250w x 2 amp (HCA2200 mkII).


I've gone from silver Analysis Plus interconnects to copper (Analysis Plus Solo Crystal Ovals) with some improvement. Speaker wire is bi-wired Analysis Plus 14 ga. in-wall (Theater 2).


Can anyone suggest other alternatives based on experience? My dealer has recommended Straighwire Rhapsody II's and I did think they helped tame the highs a great deal without much detail loss.


Other suggestions?


Thanks,

-Paul
 

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How much tweaking have you tried with position and toe-in? You can make major changes in treble response by changing speaker angle. Try having them fire straight ahead and see if that helps...


You may need also to treat first reflections acoustically...


John
 

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Paul,

Part of this is just in the speakers. However, MIT cables are pretty darn good at dealing with this. I have several friends who've switched to MIT as it has a special network in it that really mellows out the sound. Also, a Pass Labs amp would help, though they're pretty inefficient.


I think Bob is alluding to the possibility that you may have chosen the wrong speakers (what attracts you is often what drives you crazy). While that is a possibility, there are *some* things such as the above to help out, but don't spend too much as sometimes, changing the speakers is far more effective.


Do you have a rug or carpet between you and the speakers? Also, ditch the glass coffee table if you have one.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Alimentall
Do you have a rug or carpet between you and the speakers? Also, ditch the glass coffee table if you have one.
Yeah carpeting, drapes, and plush sofa's can really help in taming bright speakers. Maybe consider some other room treatments as well.


Though like some already mentioned if the speakers themselves are bright, then you may have to buy something else if none of the tweaking works.


Best of luck. :)
 

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Also, now that I think about it, I think I gave you this info before you bought the 803s:


"I agree with Mit07, though the B&Ws I've heard DO have some of the personality you describe. Some of that will fade away, but a lot, maybe even most of it, will stay. Room acoustics can really change the bass balance so much as to cover or lay bare more of the midrange/treble character. Also, I think we tend to conform to the flavor of our speakers over time.


Also, I believe that very well recorded CDs or CDs with not much upper octave energy will diminish the harshness in a speaker, making it seem like the speaker is just brutal on "poorly recorded material". Sometimes the CD isn't all that poorly recorded, it just has energy in places that excites resonances in the drivers and therefore shows the worst of the speaker. IOW, sometimes it's the CD showing the worst in a speaker, not the speaker showing the worst in the CD. I know this because I've heard "badly recorded" CDs that sound just fine on other higher end products, but don't sound so hot on some types or brands of speakers."



Unfortunately, I may have not been as clear as I could have been, not wanting to trample on anyone's toes.
 

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Okay, screw it, I'm going to say it. B&Ws ARE "a little bright/harsh". Sorry. They just are. Some people love it. Others blame the gear. Others buy different speakers.


Did I say that out loud? [blush]
 

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Joel:


I've got to agree. Interconnects, amps, etc aren't going to tame brightness. Room treatments, maybe. New speakers, definitely. Based on the review of the Paradigm sigs in Ultimate AV, I don't think they'd be the ticket either.
 

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I completely agree with the idea of reducing Toe-in. I had this with some older Paradigm Studio 20 speakers. Face them straight, that should help. If you already have done that then you can go down the new cable route. I have found that cables have a subtle influence on the sound of a speaker, not a dramatic influence. Maybe your dealer will lend you the cables for a trial?



Good luck,

Charlie


PS- Personally I found the N800 Series to be a bit bright
 

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The biggest difference will come from setup and room treatments. Early reflections, hardwood floors, leather furniture, glass tables, windows, etc. - all combine to make a bright room. Carpet, upholstered furniture, drapes, room treatments, etc. - all combine to dampen the room.


Treat the room first. If you don't like the resulting sound, find another pair of speakers that are more suited to your tastes.


Most importantly, there is no substitute for bringing speakers home for a demo before purchasing.:D


Finally, if you need to change cables, amps, etc., for anything more than subtle changes you're wasting your time. Your already said, "My dealer has recommended Straighwire Rhapsody II's and I did think they helped tame the highs a great deal without much detail loss." If they helped a "greet deal" and you are still unsatisfied, IMO you need to look elsewhere.


Good luck.
 

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Also, Straightwires are pretty neutral cables. Not rolled off much at all, not enough to do much. MIT and Purist seem to have warming up the speaker as the primary goal. Don't get Nordost or Goertz or Kimber, they're very transmissive which is what you don't need. If you turn the speakers out make sure you put something on the sidewalls to absorb the first reflection or you won't gain all that much.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by tonygeno
Joel:


I've got to agree. Interconnects, amps, etc aren't going to tame brightness. Room treatments, maybe. New speakers, definitely.
Bingo. I am still amazed and stunned that discussions about speaker brightness wind up centering on interconnect choice, tip toes, relative indoor humidity, or signs of the zodiac.


If you have a walk-in closet near by, wheel one of those speakers into it and listen to a bright recording. My guess is...because of the acoustics...your B&Ws will sound muted and tame. You might try dragging some blankets, quilts, or tarps into your sound room temporarilyand draping them all over to see if the speakers sound different...which they will.


Look, B&W makes great speakers, but acoustics are only everything. Good sounding rooms (without additional sound treatment) must have wall-to-wall carpet, upholstered furniture, drapes, etc., or almost any speaker will sound bright. That harshness you hear is probably reflected sound, which is not the fault of your excellent speakers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks guys - I appreciate the responses and am hearing what I was afraid I might about cables, room treatments and B&W speakers.


For placement, I've tried the speakers all over the front of the room, from pressed up on the front wall to three feet off it. I've tried and broken every placement "rule" I know. At present, I've got them very near the side walls toward the front, maybe 2' off front wall. No toe-in, just firing straight ahead. Surprisingly, the soundstage holds together very well, despite this unconventional positioning.


As far as room treatments go in my case, the room is fully carpeted with DIY panels on primary reflection points. In addition, I have experimented with draping a quilt on the (exposed) back wall and it does warm things up, but crushes detail (especially ambient detail). I had always thought that a theater should be dead at the front, live/reflective at the rear, hence the setup of my room (somebody check me on this please).


You can see the room at this link: (sorry pics are poor and show N804's which were in for a go before the 803's came home).

http://gallery.avsforum.com/showgall...00&ppuser=1251



Hate to say it, but I've had about enough experimentation. These may just not be the speakers I had hoped they would be in my room.


...bummed.
 

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PaulG - what did you think of the 804's - especially in regards to your issue with brightness? What did you expect from the 803's? The biggest difference between the 803's and 804's is in the bass - and you seem to have that covered pretty well with your subs.
 

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I shopped a long time before deciding on my purchase. I probably spent weeks of listening time on different systems. All in all I had a fun shopping experience.


I purchased B&W 803s with a Velodyne HGS-15 sub, Audioquest Gibraltar single bi-wire cables. My amp is a Proceed AMP-5, and my original processor was a Proceed AVP. I use XLR cables between the processor and the amp. I used my old Yamaha CDC-735 multi-disk player's digital out into the Proceed.


I took this system home to my apartment, a carpeted cathedral celling which contained little to dampen the sound. The speakers were placed about a foot from the back wall and a foot from the side walls.


The sound was very bright, clean, with deep bass thanks to the sub. I did enjoy the sound. I experimented with speaker position. I didn't purchase any room treatments because I was planning on moving out of the apartment.


I ended up trading in my Proceed AVP for a Lexicon MC-8B. The Lexicon improved on the sound (to my ears). Shortly after the trade-in I moved. Moving into a new room had a HUGE impact on the way the system sounds. I cannot emphasize this enough.


My new room has a high celling, carpet, drapes. I am able to place my speakers on a long wall where there are no side walls. This room is much damper than my apartment. I have never heard my system sound better. It improved again when I replaced my CD player with a Dennon DVD-3910 (still using digital out).


Is your room naturally bright? Clap your hands, do you hear any echo? If the answer is yes then dampen the room. I believe another factor is placing the speakers on a long wall where there are no side walls involved.


I am still building my system and have an HTM2 center, SCM1s in a box waiting for installation.
 

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Something I did to my CDM 7NTs (I have 803s now) was biamp them. I still used the speakers' passive crossover, and didn't expect biamping to make any difference because I wasn't using an active crossover (it was just a free experiment because I had two spare channels on my Outlaw 7100 power amp) but I found that to my ears it did tame brightness audibly.


You may or may not hear any difference, but it couldn't hurt to try using two channels from your amp to biamp each 803. If it makes no difference (more likely) it didn't cost you anything. If it does make a difference you've at least got another avenue to explore.
 

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What are you using as a source? CD/DVD player? Based upon two people I know that have B&W, both with this same problem, changed CD players to a dramatic improvement that reduced "harshness". Not saying that this is the cure, but an in home demo might find it to be an improvement. The same people tried switching cables and didn't improve the situation. The CD player change did, and that is how they left off. GL
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Speakers are bi-wired, but not bi-amped.


Sources are Marantz DVD-7010 DVD player, Cambridge Audio D-500SE CD player.


pre/pro is Anthem AVM-20.

Amps are Parasound HCA2200mk ii (250w x 2), HCA2205A (220w x 5).



Thanks to all for your input - much appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
well, I've hit the wall. after six weeks of tinkering with B&W speakers in my rig and 4 weeks with the 803's, they've all gone back. I returned the whole system (N803 mains, HTM-1 center, DS7 surrounds) this afternoon.


Reason for the return was the problems above and in no small part, the fact that for my wife they "hurt her ears" and I just can't fix it. This is a shared hobby, so she gets a vote. Home Theater is a family thing at our house and if she's not happy, neither am I (this sentiment will resonate best with married guys).


We're both out of patience and after trying everything I can think of, the B&Ws are now gone.



man, am I bummed/dejected/frustrated/burned out on trying to get those speakers to work.


Now what do I do?! (that question probably constitutes a separate thread).


For now, I'm closing the Cinema for a bit to regroup.


Thanks as always,

-Paul
 

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Upon first reading this thread, I assumed that you simply didn't have enough room treatments. That may still be possible. One can suck all of the high frequency energy out of a room to the point that it is lifeless. Curing brightness is not impossible or very difficult with enough Owens-Corning 703 or similar. However, you do have a nice amount of treatments so I just will not blame your room. Considering your room treatments, I'd say that you did the right thing by returning the speakers. I'm a big B&W fan but choose Mcintosh LS-360 speakers as my main speakers. The speakers were voiced against the Nautilus line to remedy compliants that were made against the Nautilus line. Find someone with some Mcintosh LS-340s which should be about the same price as your 803s and try them at home. I'm sure this will solve your problem and provide you with more treble detail with a fabric dome tweeter while at the same time not being as bright.
 
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