Question B&W + Rotel RB-1582 (Room treatment?)

P.Pacific

Active member
Nov 15, 2021
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Hi All. Newbie here.
I would like your advice/opinion on getting a good sound with the system I have

  • B&W DM603 S2 speakers (vintage from 1999 :) bi-wired to
  • Rotel RB-1582 MKII 200W Power amp
  • RC-1572 MKII Pre-amp.

Initially I used Marantz PM8006 that subjectively lacked power to drive 603s and I had to use EQ.

With Rotel the sound has improved. High-res files on Rotel are much more detailed with more natural voice presentation. I don’t use EQ anymore on normal listening levels. However still the sound lacks depth and stage. With CDs everything is even worse: flat and lifeless 😓

Music sources:
  • Rotel RCD-991
  • MacBook Pro connected to Pre-amp via PC-USB 2.0 with a collection of DSD files (via Audirvana).
Cables:
  • QED Revelation Signature (HF),
  • QED Ruby Anniversary Evolution (LF),
  • XLR cables for connecting Pre-amp to Power
  • Tosllink connecting CD Player to pre-amp.
Room is 25 sq.meters (6x4 m), ceiling height 2,6 m with real height of 2,4 (plasterboard is used).
Tile floor with rug and one wall + corner door (6 m) is a panoramic glass (please see attached plan) .

As for the music, that's my experience so far:

1) Sounded best (bust still lacked weight in the lower frequencies and expansion):
Random Access Memories by Daft Punk (DSD 128), Mozart Violin Concertos (DSD 64), Love Over Gold by Dire Straits (DSD 64), Queen and Norah Jones.

2) Sounded flat and lifeless: all the CDs like David Bowie's Reality and Heathen, ELO's Balance of Power, Peter Gabriel's UP, etc...

Could it be that I am just trying to get a higher class audio experience from my speakers? I really enjoyed DM603 in the beginning. Bought them very cheap after Canton Chrono 507.2 and Yamaha integrated haven't provided the kind of sound I expected.

But I'm thinking of maybe DM 603s are 'bottlenecks' of my system and are simply not capable of reproducing that lower high quality register that gives music its depth due to the Frequency Response of only 48Hz?

Or maybe the room is the key factor for that underwhelming sound?

Apologies for naive questions, I'm lost.

Would be thankful for suggestions 👍
 

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P.Pacific

Active member
Nov 15, 2021
22
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25
It could very well be the speakers at fault here. Can you get to demo any other floorstanders?
Thank you for your prompt reply Al ears!
I have recently auditioned the Anniversary Edition of B&W 603 and Fyne Audio F702 and the experience was interesting with F702.

When connected to my laptop as seen on the photo the sound was almost the same 'meh' as at my home with B&W. The CD has changed everything. The scene was present although to my liking they didn't sound very convincing in the lower register.

After that, I have found second hand HDCD RCD-991 and even bought Prokofiev HDCD. Magic didn't happen either at home. The same 'flatness'...

Maybe I don't have the right kind of speakers for the expansive full-bodied sound? I wouldn't mind upgrading and investing in them. Maybe I need to replace Rotel or CD?
 

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Thank you for your prompt reply Al ears!
I have recently auditioned the Anniversary Edition of B&W 603 and Fyne Audio F702 and the experience was interesting with F702.

When connected to my laptop as seen on the photo the sound was almost the same 'meh' as at my home with B&W. The CD has changed everything. The scene was present although to my liking they didn't sound very convincing in the lower register.

After that, I have found second hand HDCD RCD-991 and even bought Prokofiev HDCD. Magic didn't happen either at home. The same 'flatness'...

Maybe I don't have the right kind of speakers for the expansive full-bodied sound? I wouldn't mind upgrading and investing in them. Maybe I need to replace Rotel or CD?
To be honest I don't think it's an amp issue and if you did replace it what would you replace it with. Any lacking in sound quality is normally down to source of speakers.
If you are looking at speakers in that price bracket suggest you try to audition ACT SCM40 or Spendor D7.2, however use a CD player to try them out as I am not sure how you are getting music files out of your laptop. You say it's going to the preamp but perhaps it needs to go through a decent DAC first although having said that the one in the preamp appears to be decent enough
 
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P.Pacific

Active member
Nov 15, 2021
22
6
25
To be honest I don't think it's an amp issue and if you did replace it what would you replace it with. Any lacking in sound quality is normally down to source of speakers.
If you are looking at speakers in that price bracket suggest you try to audition ACT SCM40 or Spendor D7.2, however use a CD player to try them out as I am not sure how you are getting music files out of your laptop. You say it's going to the preamp but perhaps it needs to go through a decent DAC first although having said that the one in the preamp appears to be decent enough
I appreciate your advice, Al ears!

Will try to find and audition ACT SCM40 or Spendor D7.2 in Portugal where I'm based at the moment. Never heard of those brands before as I'm only in the beginning of the learning curve ;)

Yes, the music files are playing from Audirvana / Pine Player to the DAC of RC-1572.

Thank you!
 

twinkletoes

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2021
109
72
170
I appreciate your advice, Al ears!

Will try to find and audition ACT SCM40 or Spendor D7.2 in Portugal where I'm based at the moment. Never heard of those brands before as I'm only in the beginning of the learning curve ;)

Yes, the music files are playing from Audirvana / Pine Player to the DAC of RC-1572.

Thank you!
Hi There, though new to the forum I feel I can offer you some help here. I would hold your horse's on buying anything new and would investigate further the positioning of your room, I have a sneaky suppression you're sitting in a room mode/node eg a bass suck and its textbook from what you describe.
Out of interest what does your hi-fi sound like if you're sitting at the table? bet it sounds fuller and more alive.

I would say grab a chair from your table and sit, moving closer and further away from the speakers in small intervals, you will find the happy spot for the room really quickly and will be very apparent.

Sitting bang in the centre of the room is normally the worst place to sit.

I'd also say you're sitting too close to speakers relative to how wide they are explaining the hole in the imaging. If your drawing is to scale you should be sitting roughly another 50-60cm back. This will probably help your hole in the bass department as well sounding hopfully fuller. See attached, the green dot I think is an educated guess where things should sound pretty good. the best sounding spot I bet is right where your table is. 50 -60cm from the rear wall. The clue is how far your speakers are from the wall in front its normally a complete mirror.

In this case, I wouldn't spend any money at all, its a position problem that you may never be able to sort out unless you're willing/able to move your room around. No new speakers will sort out a room suck EQ might help though if you can't physically move bits and bobs.

Hope that help's Twinkle toes
 

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P.Pacific

Active member
Nov 15, 2021
22
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25
Hi There, though new to the forum I feel I can offer you some help here. I would hold your horse's on buying anything new and would investigate further the positioning of your room, I have a sneaky suppression you're sitting in a room mode/node eg a bass suck and its textbook from what you describe.
Out of interest what does your hi-fi sound like if you're sitting at the table? bet it sounds fuller and more alive.

I would say grab a chair from your table and sit, moving closer and further away from the speakers in small intervals, you will find the happy spot for the room really quickly and will be very apparent.

Sitting bang in the centre of the room is normally the worst place to sit.

I'd also say you're sitting too close to speakers relative to how wide they are explaining the hole in the imaging. If your drawing is to scale you should be sitting roughly another 50-60cm back. This will probably help your hole in the bass department as well sounding hopfully fuller. See attached, the green dot I think is an educated guess where things should sound pretty good. the best sounding spot I bet is right where your table is. 50 -60cm from the rear wall. The clue is how far your speakers are from the wall in front its normally a complete mirror.

In this case, I wouldn't spend any money at all, its a position problem that you may never be able to sort out unless you're willing/able to move your room around. No new speakers will sort out a room suck EQ might help though if you can't physically move bits and bobs.

Hope that help's Twinkle toes
Hi Twinkle toes,

Thank you so much for your post! I appreciate your ideas and the time you took to draw the plan ;) After experimenting with a chair moving around the room, here are the thoughts:

1) You're totally right, seems like the whole sound issue is rooted in the room's mode/node. The room is boomy, a bit like inside of a cardboard box. This is especially true to a position you marked on a map as a green dot. The least annoying is right in from of the speakers (sitting on a rug) or on a chair with the wall behind.

2) 'No new speakers will sort out a room suck' — this is the most insightful. Sometimes 'just buy the thing and everything will be perfect' mentality is very tempting...

3) I have suspicious that my ceiling (plasterboard) might contribute to issue. I found an article of an Acoustic engineer (on a Ukrainian website). To quote one paragraph:

Gypsum plasterboard itself is neither good nor bad. If the construction is poorly assembled, there will be rattling (framing/cladding). If there is no sound-absorbing material or at least simple insulation inside the frame, there may be unwanted over-radiation of the sound at the resonant frequency of the drywall in the room, giving a specific tonal color to the sound. Drywall cladding has a critical resonant frequency of approximately 2500–3500 Hz. In addition, the cladding of one layer of gypsum plasterboard perfectly absorbs low frequencies around 160 Hz, but this absorption is of high quality, which is not very good for the tonal balance and leads to coloring of the sound. '
Thank you again Twinkle toes and sorry for a delay in my reply. I'm still in the process of moving in to the new place.
 

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twinkletoes

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2021
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Hi Twinkle toes,

Thank you so much for your post! I appreciate your ideas and the time you took to draw the plan ;) After experimenting with a chair moving around the room, here are the thoughts:

1) You're totally right, seems like the whole sound issue is rooted in the room's mode/node. The room is boomy, a bit like inside of a cardboard box. This is especially true to a position you marked on a map as a green dot. The least annoying is right in from of the speakers (sitting on a rug) or on a chair with the wall behind.

2) 'No new speakers will sort out a room suck' — this is the most insightful. Sometimes 'just buy the thing and everything will be perfect' mentality is very tempting...

3) I have suspicious that my ceiling (plasterboard) might contribute to issue. I found an article of an Acoustic engineer (on a Ukrainian website). To quote one paragraph:



Thank you again Twinkle toes and sorry for a delay in my reply. I'm still in the process of moving in to the new place.

You're most welcome. It can take time to sort not too worry about the slow reply it is nice to hear the advice is helping you.

If you're getting too much bass at that point i marked that means you're on to a winner that's easier to sort that's If I'm reading your post right. I'd now pick up some masking tape and put the tape on the floor to mark where your speakers are now.

Now slowly bring the speakers further towards you until the bass completely disappears again and then start very very slightly moving them back till that bass JUST kicks in, mark that spot with tape. They should be perfectly adjusted bass wise then you can tune to taste and play with imaging eg toe in. Like I say everything is a mirror so your table chair, for example, is say 80cm away from the wall behind, it's also a good starting place for your speakers.

I'd also move them slightly closer to together if your can BUT only do one thing at a time.

You should be forming an equilateral triangle as best you can with you at the apex of it. AKA the sweat spot.

All very simple things and costs no money just time.

BUT BUT i it could be you have to much of a good thing and smaller speakers or speakers with less bass might be something to look into But do all the above first and see how far you get. as i say nothing new will sort the problem of the room.

Have fun and let us know how you get on.
 
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P.Pacific

Active member
Nov 15, 2021
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You're most welcome. It can take time to sort not too worry about the slow reply it is nice to hear the advice is helping you.

If you're getting too much bass at that point i marked that means you're on to a winner that's easier to sort that's If I'm reading your post right. I'd now pick up some masking tape and put the tape on the floor to mark where your speakers are now.

Now slowly bring the speakers further towards you until the bass completely disappears again and then start very very slightly moving them back till that bass JUST kicks in, mark that spot with tape. They should be perfectly adjusted bass wise then you can tune to taste and play with imaging eg toe in. Like I say everything is a mirror so your table chair, for example, is say 80cm away from the wall behind, it's also a good starting place for your speakers.

I'd also move them slightly closer to together if your can BUT only do one thing at a time.

You should be forming an equilateral triangle as best you can with you at the apex of it. AKA the sweat spot.

All very simple things and costs no money just time.

BUT BUT i it could be you have to much of a good thing and smaller speakers or speakers with less bass might be something to look into But do all the above first and see how far you get. as i say nothing new will sort the problem of the room.

Have fun and let us know how you get on.
Twinkle toes, thank you very much! I'm learning a lot of new things, especially the equilateral triangle.

Still, no matter what I do with the positioning of the speakers (and myself) in the room, the room feels like it's humming when listening to music / the bass is muttering and rumbling. There is even a sense of echo (as if listening to live performances).

But the scene now sounds more interesting (especially at the apex of the equilateral triangle) when the speakers are closer together. The sound is detailed, but there is a "cheap shoebox sound" feeling.

Maybe acoustic panels on the walls or traps in the corners could help? Or maybe the only thing that would help me is redoing the whole ceiling (remove/fill the empty space between the slabs and plasterboard)... I'd like to avoid this, but if the whole problem is a resonant ceiling, there are no options...

Again, I'm so thankful for all your help and support! Have a great weekend ;)
 

twinkletoes

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2021
109
72
170
Twinkle toes, thank you very much! I'm learning a lot of new things, especially the equilateral triangle.

Still, no matter what I do with the positioning of the speakers (and myself) in the room, the room feels like it's humming when listening to music / the bass is muttering and rumbling. There is even a sense of echo (as if listening to live performances).

But the scene now sounds more interesting (especially at the apex of the equilateral triangle) when the speakers are closer together. The sound is detailed, but there is a "cheap shoebox sound" feeling.

Maybe acoustic panels on the walls or traps in the corners could help? Or maybe the only thing that would help me is redoing the whole ceiling (remove/fill the empty space between the slabs and plasterboard)... I'd like to avoid this, but if the whole problem is a resonant ceiling, there are no options...

Again, I'm so thankful for all your help and support! Have a great weekend ;)
From your photos you very modern flat/house and very “clean” walls. A few large canvas print will help to start with

Do you have some scatter cushions and some blankets and a large mirror?

With the mirror sit in your seat and place the mirror up and down your side walls and when you see yourself in the mirror that is a reflection point before the sound gets to you.
place a large cushion in those places. It should cut down on the echo. But seeing as one of your walls if pure glass there won’t be a lot you can do. Unless you’re willing to hang curtains along the window wall.
 

P.Pacific

Active member
Nov 15, 2021
22
6
25
Hi all,
A quick update: the sound has improved without any gear upgrade so far. Guess the following have contributed to the changes:
  • Burn-in: as my Rotel gear was all new, I've let it play for ~ 100hrs+
  • B&W rear ports insulation with acoustic foam
  • New bookshelves / furniture / books + 2 new plants with heavy pots near the speakers (please, see pic attached)
  • Canvas paintings
  • Switch to 32B interface with USB 2.0 drivers for Rotel pre-amp when listening to Roon/Audirvana
The music now sounds with much less resonance. The bass has appeared even with Bypass mode. Details, instruments separation is audible even with Rotel RCD CD-player and non HDCD CDs (not to mention playing high-res files where a scene has acquired depth and width).

Thinking now about vinyl and speakers upgrade especially after auditioning ProAc DT8 (no luck with finding Spendor or ACT available for audition), but even the old B&W that I have are different now...

Big thanks everyone for your kind help and support, especially Twinkletoes and Al ears!
 

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