How do I get more detailed bass?

mattc76

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Dear All,

My current setup consists of Cyrus DAC XP + PSX-R, X-Power, and B&W CM1 speakers. Whilst the treble and mids are beautifully sweet with great separation and "air" between instruments so you can hear each individual element (improved a lot by the addition of the PSXR on the DAC), I don't get the same clarity/definition with the bass. The bass is definitely there but it is difficult to pick out and follow on most tracks. I am thinking that I have reached the performance limits on the CM1s as they are definitely the "cheapest" component in the whole setup. I really like the B&W sound with my setup so was wondering if the only real option is to carry on up the ladder maybe with some second hand 805s's? Or maybe save up and go for the PM1s?!

Im not necessarily after earth shattering bass but what I do want is real clarity, detail and separation in the bass region as well as the mids and treble!?

Thanks all for your help!

Matt
 

Dan Turner

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I also think that the power amp plays a big part. I don't have any experience of your power amp, so I'm not saying its not up to the task, but you could try a beefier one if new speakers still don't fully do the trick. Not necessarily something with an insane number of watts, but with the ability to deliver big current swings when the music demands. For a given volume level, the lower the frequency, the greater the power demand to reproduce it, which is often why bass ends up sounding weak and inarticulate. Obviously the capabilities of the speakers are just as important.

I would see if you could find a dealer who will let you try some gear at home (essential for speakers) and then first try the speakers and then the power amp if you still find you're still not getting the bass definition you're after.
 

CnoEvil

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What is satisfactory can be personal and subjective, but here are some possibilities:

- The speaker's bass is limited by their size/quality.

- Speaker positioning and room acoustics can play an important part.

- The characteristics/quality of the amp (ie. if has lean bass).

- Quality of the source.

- How the music was mastered in the first place.

I'm not familiar enough with the Cyrus to know how "lean" the bass may be; or with the speakers, and how much bass they would have with different up-stream kit (going up the B&W ladder will bring rewards)....I suspect the problem lies with the speakers.
 

True Blue

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simple answer = power amp

complex answer = power amp, bigger speakers, positioning, resonance, sub floors, furnishings etc

IMO the bass always gets tighter and cleaner with more control and that comes from the power amp
 

Overdose

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The speakers may be the cheapest part of your system, but that does not mean the weakest link. As has been mentioned before, try a different amplifier, as the Cyrus, expensive as it may be, is probably holding back your speakers.

You could try a home demo of the Audiolab 8200P for example, or something similar, to see if this is the problem. Better speakers may be the key, but speakers will potentially have the such dramatic effect in how your system sounds, that a swap may mask a weakness in the amplifier.
 

chebby

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mattc76 said:
The bass is definitely there but it is difficult to pick out and follow on most tracks.

It is easy enough to pick out/make sense of/follow bass with a well chosen £400 system (Denon DM38DAB and some MA BX2s for instance.)

So I can only assume something is terribly wrong between your room and speakers if a system - with the pedigree yours has - is failing to communicate what is going on in the bass.
 

mattc76

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Great responses thanks!

The Cyrus x-power is top of the range of Cyrus power amps before moving to their monoblocks. I think when I first got the power supply, the rewards in terms of clarity/detail were more pronounced when I connected it to the DAC/preamp. Maybe I should experiment with connecting it to the power amp. I think it'll beef it up (the power amp) from 70 watts/chan to about 120 I think - anyway it's worth a try. In terms of quality match of components the new prices for DAC xp (preamp and DAC), xpower, and speakers are £2000, £1000 and £500 respectively!? I think I might be talking myself into new speakers here!?

Hmmmmm....
 

moon

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It seems a bit of a recurring theme that Poeple spend a load of money on a system and are still not satisfied with its performance. :? I think it is never the answer to spend your way to better bass, unless, you spend it on more soft furnishings first.
 

CnoEvil

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I think you need a reply from someone who has your particular combination, or hope that David from F. Harvey comes along.
 

Overdose

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Don't get sucked into the upgrade path of power supplies, I dont' believe a power supply will increase the output of any amplifier.

Anyhow, check out the thread started by 'atticus', who, like yourself, found his Cyrus system wanting.
 
mattc76 said:
Dear All,

My current setup consists of Cyrus DAC XP + PSX-R, X-Power, and B&W CM1 speakers. Whilst the treble and mids are beautifully sweet with great separation and "air" between instruments so you can hear each individual element (improved a lot by the addition of the PSXR on the DAC), I don't get the same clarity/definition with the bass. The bass is definitely there but it is difficult to pick out and follow on most tracks. I am thinking that I have reached the performance limits on the CM1s as they are definitely the "cheapest" component in the whole setup. I really like the B&W sound with my setup so was wondering if the only real option is to carry on up the ladder maybe with some second hand 805s's? Or maybe save up and go for the PM1s?!

Im not necessarily after earth shattering bass but what I do want is real clarity, detail and separation in the bass region as well as the mids and treble!?

Thanks all for your help!

Matt

Hi Matt

I feel that in the first instance you should look at alternative makes of pre amplification.

All the best

Rick @ Musicraft
 

mattc76

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Sometimes I wonder if the performance of the treble/mids (to me) is so good that it highlights the not so good (but still good bass). Admittedly I also have rubbishy stands so I could upgrade those. Fortunately my own personal rule of hifi is to always buy second hand - that way you can chop and change without losing any money as the residual second hand values don't seem to change much. I also feel that you can only truly get a sense of whether the kit is right for you by living with it for months or even years - that way buying second hand is like getting a demo which you can extend indefinitely! This is why I originally plumped for Cyrus as the second hand market is very buoyant - I've worked my way up the Cyrus ladder over the years and made small profits reselling some kit and also made small losses but was able to live with the kit for an extended period and thus deciding if it was right or not. I've had this setup for probably 2 years (maybe more) and really enjoyed it - it's only just recently that I've twigged that the bass isn't as detailed as the rest - as I have no realised this it has started to bug me! I feel it's taken 2 years so I think I'm almost there!?
 

mattc76

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I've just read Atticus's thread in its entirety. Very interesting. Maybe I just need to go out and listen to a whole range of different kit?! The problem maybe that I've got one of those "never satisfied" type personalities such that if something bugs me even slightly then it becomes amplified over the weeks/months to the point where I find it very annoying! I guess what I want is a system that just makes me listen as opposed to sitting there constantly flicking to the next track... This happened to my mate once ages ago when he came round to listen to my hifi. I left him there whilst I made a cup of tea and came back to find him slumped there mesmerised by this completely new listening experience - admittedly this effect has worn off on him and he now thinks it sounds "very good" but I personally would like this mesmerising listening experience every time I put the music on! I guess it's just trial and error?
 

lindsayt

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Getting good, detailed, textured, tuneful bass from the OP's system would be simple and inexpensive.

All you'd need is large sealed box speakers with large, lightweight, good quality bass cones. You can buy such speakers 2nd hand for £500 or less.

The CM1's, bless their little hearts, are far too small and far too ported to get decent bass from, even if you feed them with the best recording in the world, the best source and the best power amps.
 

mattc76

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Funny you should say that Overdose because the other thing thats started to niggle me is the number of boxes / connections etc. I listen via my squeezebox or airport express (using digital) so a single cable into the back of some actives is very appealing. Incidentally I had been watching some ADM9Ts on t'bay recently as I've been after some decent speakers for my mac mini as I use logic studio a lot to make music, which incidentally I am terrible at but nonetheless thoroughly enjoy! However it is difficult to sneak these purchases by SWMBO without a good reason other than I just want them, so as yet have not taken the plunge. Part of me had wondered whether they would sound better than my Cyrus setup...
 

mattc76

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Lindsayt - could you recommend any? Preferably second hand. I came very close recently to bidding on some b&w 805s recently (infact I did bid on them but they went only slightly too high), my other shortlisted ones were spendor a6's, some sort of similarly priced dynaudios or the new b&w pm1s but I'd have to buy these new and hopefully try and wangle a good deal on some stands and speaker cable!
 
mattc76 said:
I've just read Atticus's thread in its entirety. Very interesting. Maybe I just need to go out and listen to a whole range of different kit?! The problem maybe that I've got one of those "never satisfied" type personalities such that if something bugs me even slightly then it becomes amplified over the weeks/months to the point where I find it very annoying! I guess what I want is a system that just makes me listen as opposed to sitting there constantly flicking to the next track... This happened to my mate once ages ago when he came round to listen to my hifi. I left him there whilst I made a cup of tea and came back to find him slumped there mesmerised by this completely new listening experience - admittedly this effect has worn off on him and he now thinks it sounds "very good" but I personally would like this mesmerising listening experience every time I put the music on! I guess it's just trial and error?

I do sympathise... but STOP! Why do you think, after 2 years, there's a deficiency in the bass?

All hi-fi is a compromise or at least a trade-off, and it's so easy to over-analyse a system - I know because I've experienced it at first hand.

yes, you could throw money into better speakers but who's to say you won't find fault in 3 months, six months, twelve or twenty four...?

I have a similar disparity between my components: Leema @ £1300, Arcam CDP £400, RS6s @ £600. Yet, since giving up analysing, over the past six months or so, I've just listened to the music and enjoyed my gear. Just as important, my expectations of my set-up hasn't been exceeded. In isolation, nothing comes close.

Your Cyrus/B&W set-up is very capable but one has to keep a realistic head.
 

Overdose

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I wouldn't be in a position to say if they sounded better, but they would sound very different. 'Better' is down to your personal taste, they would definitely be cheaper and if you sold your kit to make way for the ADMs, SWMBO could get a nice little 'sweetener' with some of the change. :grin:
 

mattc76

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Plastic penguin - I guess a lot of me thinks that my Cyrus kit is not being allowed to fulfill it's potential with the CM1s and by upgrading them to something comparable (at least in terms of price) I would see a relatively big improvement quite easily. I have always said to myself that I want a decent balanced (in terms of components) system that I will keep forever. I think I am almost there - it's just the bass. Don't get me wrong some bass sounds very good but tends to be when it's played in isolation and when it's more of a crunchy sounding bass - but when the mix gets going with other stuff, the bass tends to get a bit lost in everything else. Other factors to consider as to why it's taken 2 years is maybe because I have a new and better paid job so I feel I can justify a bigger outlay on speakers without feeling too guilty (although SWMBO will see to that!)
 
mattc76 said:
Plastic penguin - I guess a lot of me thinks that my Cyrus kit is not being allowed to fulfill it's potential with the CM1s and by upgrading them to something comparable (at least in terms of price) I would see a relatively big improvement quite easily. I have always said to myself that I want a decent balanced (in terms of components) system that I will keep forever. I think I am almost there - it's just the bass. Don't get me wrong some bass sounds very good but tends to be when it's played in isolation and when it's more of a crunchy sounding bass - but when the mix gets going with other stuff, the bass tends to get a bit lost in everything else. Other factors to consider as to why it's taken 2 years is maybe because I have a new and better paid job so I feel I can justify a bigger outlay on speakers without feeling too guilty (although SWMBO will see to that!)

That's fine: However, you need to plan an end game and set your expectations to that objective, even if it means holding back for a couple of months or so. For example don't undersell the system by purchasing 'stop gap' speakers like me. Although the RS6s are great for the money, with the benefit of hindsight, I should've held off two or three months longer and gone for speakers that really made the amp shine. That said, it'll take some speaker to replace the MAs now.

The by-word is 'audition, audition, audition'

Good luck, pp
 
A

Anonymous

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Hi Matt76,

I can totally see where you are coming from. I have CM series for my home theatre and Cyrus as my hi fi. I can say with some certainty that the disparity is caused by the CM1s. I have those for my rear speakers and CM9s at the front.

Your problem is made more apparent by the fact that Cyrus tend to have a rather, for want of a better word, "lighter" bass presentation than a lot of other brands. This does not in any way mean that Cyrus bass lacks detail, it is all there.

I would recommend you to try to floorstanders like the CM9s or equivalent. Many dealers will let you home demo for a day or two, and then you can see exactly what a difference they make.

When I was choosing my hifi, I looked at several brands and I love the Cyrus form, mids and top end, but had concerns about the bass, even with CM9. But in the end, its just different and I am now more than happy with my system... although with CM1s I do not think I would be too happy at all.

I was also not that concerned to have big overall bass, just detail and definition.... I have cyrus monoblocks and, even with a lot of power, the bass is not boomy, but it is detailed and defined.
 

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