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Klipsch Heresy IVs - What should I upgrade to make them sound better?

tweaver7777

Member
Aug 25, 2020
5
0
20
Hi All!

Haven't posted before so please forgive me if I break any rules of etiquette.

I recently treated myself to my first audio upgrade in years and bought a pair of Klipsch Heresy IVs. They replaced a pair of PSB Imagine T1 floor-standers that I had owned for about ~ 6 years.

Right out of the box, I was in love with the Klipsch IVs. I had always found the PSB speakers to be kind of dry and boring with a kind of hollow sounds that never grabbed me. Not so with the Klipsch! They sound (mostly) wonderful!

But! After listening pretty intently for two weeks I've realized that my system has one big flaw. The Klipsch IVs play instruments and electronics beautifully, especially guitars. Percussion is also incredible. And I'm fine with the bass response. Voices, on the other hand, sound of a much lower quality. It's not so much sibilance but a kind of static sheen that's almost a buzzing sound in harsher recordings. I hear it most at the beginning and end of words. In addition, the voices always sound stretched thin, ethereal, and recessed in a way that sometimes makes the words hard to hear or understand over the rest of the music, which is much clearer and more forward in the presentation.

Which brings me to my question: I'm hoping y'all can give me some advice on what parts of my system I can upgrade to address this voice issue.

My current system: Desktop (playing J River Media Center with almost exclusively CD quality FLAC files) => USB Out => Music Fidelity USB Filter/SPDIF Converter=> SP/DIF => Original Peachtree Nova (~2010) (used as DAC/Preamp/Amp) => Klipsch Heresy IVs. My cables are ~ $30. I'm using the somewhat cheap crutchfield brand speaker wire.

I was thinking of picking up a Schiit Aegir amplifier, since people say that the Heresy IVs are good with low power, Class A amplifiers. I don't have enough $$ to buy a Primaluna or a comparable quality tube amp. I've also thought about instead getting a different DAC since my Peachtree is now 10 years old (I think the Peachtree is otherwise good as a preamp?). On the other hand, I tried an Audioquest Dragonfly Red and the sound was actually a bit worse, so maybe the Peachtree DAC is still good. I also thought about improving the speaker wire and maybe getting a power conditioner?

Do you guys agree that I can probably get the best bang for my buck by focusing on the amplifier? I'm curious what you guys think I should prioritize given my somewhat limited budget of ~ $1200. I'd love to smooth out the voice sounds, even if just a bit. I feel the system is so close to being great, but vocal heavy music can be hard to listen to right now.

(It's also worth noting that I live way out in the boonies and the nearest audio store is about 3.5 hours away, and they don't let me demo stuff at home. So I'm usually buying gear without a good idea of how it sounds with my system).
 

tweaver7777

Member
Aug 25, 2020
5
0
20
Hi All!

Haven't posted before so please forgive me if I break any rules of etiquette (actually I tried posting, but I think it got taken down? Please, let me know if I’m breaking any rules).

I recently treated myself to my first audio upgrade in years and bought a pair of Klipsch Heresy IVs. They replaced a pair of PSB Imagine T1 floor-standers that I had owned for about ~ 6 years.

Right out of the box, I was in love with the Klipsch IVs. I had always found the PSB speakers to be kind of dry and boring with a kind of hollow sounds that never grabbed me. Not so with the Klipsch!

But! After listening pretty intently for two weeks I've realized that my system has one big flaw. The Klipsch IVs play instruments beautifully, especially guitars. Percussion is also incredible. And I'm fine with the bass response. Voices, on the other hand, sound of a much lower quality. It's not so much sibilance but a kind of static sheen that's almost a buzzing sound in harsher recordings. I hear it most at the beginning and end of words. In addition, the voices always sound stretched thin, ethereal, and recessed in a way that sometimes makes the words hard to hear or understand over the rest of the music, which is much clearer and more forward in the presentation.

Which brings me to my question: I'm hoping y'all can give me some advice on what parts of my system I can upgrade to address this voice issue.

My current system: Desktop (playing J River Media Center with almost exclusively CD quality FLAC files) => USB Out => Music Fidelity USB Filter/SPDIF Converter=> SP/DIF => Original Peachtree Nova (~2010) (used as DAC/Preamp/Amp) => Klipsch Heresy IVs. My cables are ~ $30. I'm using the somewhat cheap crutchfield brand speaker wire.

I was thinking of picking up a Schiit Aegir amplifier, since people say that the Heresy IVs are good with low power, Class A amplifiers. I don't have enough $$ to buy a Primaluna or a comparable quality tube amp. I've also thought about instead getting a different DAC since my Peachtree is now 10 years old (I think the Peachtree is otherwise good as a preamp?). On the other hand, I tried an Audioquest Dragonfly Red and the sound was actually a bit worse, so maybe the Peachtree DAC is still good. I also thought about improving the speaker wire and maybe getting a power conditioner?

Do you guys agree that I can probably get the best bang for my buck by focusing on the amplifier? I'm curious what you guys think I should prioritize given my somewhat limited budget of ~ $1200. I'd love to smooth out the voice sounds, even if just a bit. I feel the system is so close to being great, but vocal heavy music can be hard to listen to right now.

(It's also worth noting that I live way out in the boonies and the nearest audio store is about 3.5 hours away, and they don't let me demo stuff at home. So I'm usually buying gear without a good idea of how it sounds with my system).
 

12th Monkey

Well-known member
Aug 31, 2015
1,014
668
12,070
I take it the way vocals sound wasn't an issue with the previous speakers? If so, it might be that the Klipsh aren't for you. I wouldn't be spending any more money until you find out. Do you have a friend nearby with a good system? You could try plumbing them into that and see whether the flaw is still present. If it is, I'd guess you'd have your answer.
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
737
332
11,270
Hi Tweaver,

And welcome, I own a pair of Heresy mark 3's, and careful matching of amp really really matters. To much power with the heresy's can actually excite the tweeters to much making then sound hard and brittle (with the Mk3's anyhow) and your line of thinking of low powered class A is the right one BUT only when speaking in terms of brand new.

Back in the day things were tuned a lot differently, solid-state was more in line with tubes. If it where I and wanted to experiment without spending too much cash id go through eBay looking for some vintage amps from the 70-80's period.

for example, vintage pioneers would work well (cost no more than about 140quid here), Marantz (though these are a lot more popular and worth more money), Vintage Sugden a21's/a48s 60s onwards and so on. With these speakers less is more 20-30watts really should be all you need, sound pressure levels easily reaching 90db peaks with not even a quarter turn on the volume in my 5x5 meter room.

I have a class A Sugden a21sig by the way only 23watts with a chord qutest, the qutest also has a class A output stage further refining the top end for me. These speakers just require a slightly different thought process.

Look up Andrew Robinson on youtube he uses the heresy's IV with a vintage pioneer and loves it, perhaps start with that model and go from there.

What i found though its not really the class of amp its the tuning and most importantly the power and having to much of it.

But as 12th monkey has said, they seem to not match what you have at the moment and without spending tons of cash it might be better to find somthing more suitable to partner your amp.
 

tweaver7777

Member
Aug 25, 2020
5
0
20
Thanks for y'all chiming in. Sadly it's hard to shop carefully where I'm at (middle of no where Vermont). Not a lot of audiophiles around here and not a lot places to demo stuff. So I tend to have to go for (hopefully informed) leaps of faith.

I think the buzzing sound may have been present in the PSBs, but they weren't high quality enough for it to stand out. And they may have had a less aggressive presentation. What draws my attention to it is how much it contrasts with how beautifully literally everything else sounds.

I'd be surprised if this is simply the natural sound of the Klipsch speakers. I have a pretty good ear, and I think this is something that most people would dislike.

I *think* it's the amplifier section of the Peachtree Nova (Class D, early reviews criticized the amp, but my speakers were too crappy to notice). But I can't rule out the DAC, cables, speaker wire, which is why I'm throwing it to everyone for thoughts. :)
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
737
332
11,270
Thanks for y'all chiming in. Sadly it's hard to shop carefully where I'm at (middle of no where Vermont). Not a lot of audiophiles around here and not a lot places to demo stuff. So I tend to have to go for (hopefully informed) leaps of faith.

I think the buzzing sound may have been present in the PSBs, but they weren't high quality enough for it to stand out. And they may have had a less aggressive presentation. What draws my attention to it is how much it contrasts with how beautifully literally everything else sounds.

I'd be surprised if this is simply the natural sound of the Klipsch speakers. I have a pretty good ear, and I think this is something that most people would dislike.

I *think* it's the amplifier section of the Peachtree Nova (Class D, early reviews criticized the amp, but my speakers were too crappy to notice). But I can't rule out the DAC, cables, speaker wire, which is why I'm throwing it to everyone for thoughts. :)
You have to remember that the Klipsch are very sensitive and any noise up stream will be magnified. Could be as simple as a ground loop problem

If the “noise” Is always there the. I suggest pulling things out of the chain till it disappears.

The speakers should be dead silent at the seating position. They will have a hiss when very close. And you might hear the woofer humming.

There’s not much else to do other than swapping things out I’m afraid. You might have to travel that 3 hours
 

YtseJammer

Active member
Aug 27, 2020
4
1
25
I also have the Heresy IV and my recommendation for you is to go with a good tube amp like the Unison Research Simply Italy. It's a match made in heaven with the Heresy IV, trust me. And the good news for you since you are in Vermont, there's one available at Fidelis AV in NH. Probably not too far from where you are.

 

SpursGator

Well-known member
Jan 12, 2012
51
40
18,570
I was thinking of picking up a Schiit Aegir amplifier
I highly and enthusiastically endorse this - your first idea. Why? I think it will knock your socks off whether it solves your specific problem or not, first of all. And I bought, and love, an Aegir and am still stunned and delighted by this amp (even now that it is 'broken in,' LOL). It really throws up an image and vocals sound wonderful. It is a noticeable and surprisingly strong performer -pretty incredible actually.

But other reasons that make me recommend it here: It's the cheapest option proposed (I think) so never a bad place to start. Its two big drawbacks (heat and low power) don't hit you hard (you live in freezing Vermont and and have super-efficient speakers). It's a mail order company and you live far away, and they do allow returns (mail order returns suck, but in your case, not as much as driving that far).

I have never heard Heresy + Aegir but had actually considered how great that combo could potentially be, even before you started the thread. You gotta try it.
 

Kfentin

Active member
May 10, 2020
11
9
25
Hi, good decision on the speakers :) I also own them for nearly two months now and went through the amp and streamer selection process. You can find a few words on these in my thread (link) . Interesting,I have tried home 5 amps with the Klipsches and none of them had such a problem, even using a TV as a chromecast streamer. Maybe it is something wrong the speakers? before you buy anything try to hook up any other amp to see if this sorts out the problem.
My choice was finally Unison Research Simply Itally. I tried to avoid ending up with valve amp, but after compering Unison head-to-head with others I had to take it.
Good luck!
 
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tweaver7777

Member
Aug 25, 2020
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I highly and enthusiastically endorse this - your first idea. Why? I think it will knock your socks off whether it solves your specific problem or not, first of all. And I bought, and love, an Aegir and am still stunned and delighted by this amp (even now that it is 'broken in,' LOL). It really throws up an image and vocals sound wonderful. It is a noticeable and surprisingly strong performer -pretty incredible actually.

But other reasons that make me recommend it here: It's the cheapest option proposed (I think) so never a bad place to start. Its two big drawbacks (heat and low power) don't hit you hard (you live in freezing Vermont and and have super-efficient speakers). It's a mail order company and you live far away, and they do allow returns (mail order returns suck, but in your case, not as much as driving that far).

I have never heard Heresy + Aegir but had actually considered how great that combo could potentially be, even before you started the thread. You gotta try it.
What speakers do you use? Can you get them playing decent loud?

also, Vermont is WAY hotter than most people think this time of year :)
 

SpursGator

Well-known member
Jan 12, 2012
51
40
18,570
Tweaver - funny you mention I just returned to NYC from a long weekend in the Adirondacks, sort of up by you. I know it does get hot ;-) - although thankfully this weekend was just plain gorgeous.

Don't worry about volume. It'll do the trick. I currently have the Aegir hooked up to a pair of PMC DB1s - these are small inefficient speakers and I can blast them.

Class AB wattage and Class A wattage should not be considered the same. The slightly cheaper Class AB version of the Aegir (the Vidar) does 100 watts per channel (and 200x2 into 4 ohms too) and has the same basic power supply. You can use a lot of class A watts before the distortion becomes unpleasant, whereas the key to a good class AB amp is plenty of power so you never go into the stress zone.

The people that would need to worry about "only" having 20 watts into 8 ohms are people with very demanding speakers. You have the opposite - your speakers, given 1W, are something like 32 times louder than mine! Your speakers will absolutely shred, volume wise, with any of the recommendations you have received on this thread. They won't even get that hot.
 

Kfentin

Active member
May 10, 2020
11
9
25
Exactly, with my Unison Reasearch with 12 wpc I have never passed 10 o'clock on the volume knob with my Heresys hooked up. 9 o'clock is already too loud for most of the listening situations.
 

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