Listening Fatigue - Time For New Speakers?

admin_exported

New member
Aug 10, 2019
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Hello All,

I have a Cambridge Audio 640a V2 connected to my Wharfedale 9.1s with 12 awg pure ofc copper cable, I feed this setup from my PC that has an Asus Xonar D1 card (with a high spec dac), I connect to the amp with an Ixos shielded interconnect. I play mostly 320k lame ripped mp3’s with the sound card in pass through mode with no processing and my amp in direct mode.

My problem is that I’m finding the sound too bright/too much sparkle and suffering from listening fatigue. I’m currently blaming the speakers (after considering buying a dac or changing the speaker cables or new sound card etc) for this brightness and also I find the bass not as precise as it could be and sometimes a little boomy.

Am I correct about these speakers being a bit bright and the bass a bit flabby? Is my amp better than these speakers? I’m after a more natural sound.

I’ve read a few reviews and considering how much I’m prepared to damage my wallet I’ve come up with a few possibilities.

Mordaunt Short Aviano 1

Mordaunt Short Aviano 1XR

Monitor Audio BX2

Dali Lektor 2

I haven’t included the Wharfedale 10.1s (as they’re suppose to be fairly similar to the 9.1s) and £250 is about as much as I want to pay.

I’d be interested in anyone’s thoughts on these or any other speakers paired with my amp (maybe I’m wrong and my speakers a fine?).

Thanks all,

AzurBob:((
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Why speakers? Having heard the Cambridge 640 and the Wharfedales I'd say the amp is the culprit. Budget Cambridge stuff I've not been impressed by their, sometimes, clinical presentation. Wharfedales, and I've owned a couple, is a speaker for all occasions.

Before spending significant amounts on speakers or amps; make sure your room acoustics are okay: Do you have soft furnishings? Or is it hi-fi unfriendly? What DAC do you have?

If your answer to the first question is no, and you have a DAC which pulls in a similar direction to the amp, I'd either look at changing the amp to something like Arcam DIVA A70 or a change of DAC - either of these will calm things down.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Yup, try a different amp, something like a NAD.

As for speakers, just about all of those you mention are a touch forward. Q Acoustics might be a more suitable choice.
 

Sorreltiger

Well-known member
Apr 22, 2008
42
1
18,545
320k files are pretty good - I really enjoy listening via my my Spotify Premium account. However, one of the areas I do notice a difference is the bass, which doesn't have quite the precision or depth of a 'full fat' file. I would certainly try going lossless before changing any of your kit.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Hello,

Thanks for the replies,

plastic penguin:

Yes I agreed the CA 640a is a very clinical/cold amp and I've read a few reviews that indicate the same thing. Having agreed that none of these reviews say it is very bright amp and that’s why I point the finger at my speakers. My Asus sound Xonar D1 sound card has the Cirrus CS4398 dac that has 120 snr and is well regarded as an high end dac.

The setup is in a medium/small sized bedroom 12x12 ft and cant really change acoustics much.

I wonder if an external usb dac with different and warmer op amps may improve things?

grottyash:

I've tried the Nad 315bee and 325bee and found they delivered a good clear sound but a bit flat compared to the CA 640a soundstage.

sorreltiger:

I've tried flac and there's very little difference in sound quality between it an 320k mp3 and also the brightness is still there with either.

Thanks Rob,
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
AzurBob said:
Hello,

Thanks for the replies,

plastic penguin:

Yes I agreed the CA 640a is a very clinical/cold amp and I've read a few reviews that indicate the same thing. Having agreed that none of these reviews say it is very bright amp and that’s why I point the finger at my speakers. My Asus sound Xonar D1 sound card has the Cirrus CS4398 dac that has 120 snr and is well regarded as an high end dac.

The setup is in a medium/small sized bedroom 12x12 ft and cant really change acoustics much.

I wonder if an external usb dac with different and warmer op amps may improve things?

grottyash:

I've tried the Nad 315bee and 325bee and found they delivered a good clear sound but a bit flat compared to the CA 640a soundstage.

sorreltiger:

I've tried flac and there's very little difference in sound quality between it an 320k mp3 and also the brightness is still there with either.

Thanks Rob,
By all means go to Richer Sounds and listen to a couple of other brands of speakers. TBVH, I'd avoid Mordaunt Short with the Cambridge: They are brighter than the Wharfedales. After listening to other speakers, and the results are similar, I'd seriously look at the amp. If you like the Cambridge soundstage but not the 'sharpness' the 840 is the sensible choice. I've heard this amp with MA RS6 speakers and it certainly doesn't exhibit the traits of the budget Cambridge gear.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I had a Cambridge 640A for a short time (a month) and I have good experience with it. Yes, it sounds clinical and harsh in comparison to more expensive and refined amps. But have in mind MP3 is not an adiophile audio format.

In my opinion, NAD's budeget amps are not the amp to go. Musical Fidelity, Unison Research and Primare are safer choices but one of their entry level amps will cost you a bit more.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Hello All,

Audio Maniac & Plastic Penguin:

I've had this amp for nearly a year and have enjoyed the almost 3d soundstage it generates, but any music with violines in it just becomes to harsh and bright, most classical is difficult to listen to and even Sinatra "My Way" becomes hard to listen to in parts.

The Yamaha a-s500 has a lot of good things said about it (and cheap £270), less clinical/more musical (but also slightly bright if not matched to appropriate speakers)

If a new dac or speakers will not help me, I might save a bit more and go for a decent amp+speaker combo?

Rob
 

roger06

Well-known member
Dec 23, 2007
374
0
18,890
Check out the Marantz PM6003 also. An awesome amp for the money. I went with my cousin to buy one and it blows the Yamaha AS500 out of the water...
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Hello all,

roger06:

To be honest no I hadn't considered it seriously because it seemed a bit underpowered at 45w watts compered to my CA 640a (75 watts), but it did get 5 stars (what hifi), was it really that much better than the Yamaha?

And when I think about it the volume knob is never much more than 1/4 the way around on the CA 640a.

Thanks

Rob
 
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Anonymous

Guest
You'd better not to purchase a new amp without listening it in your system.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Compared to your current amp, Marantz PM6003 sounds warmer on the mid-bass and softer in its mids and highs which I call a laidback presentation. Anyway, both have their drawbacks as expected for a budget amp. If you replace your 640A V2 by the referred one you'll trade off dynamics and timing by softness. It'll be better for classic music but rock and pop will likely lack rhythm and excitement. I wouldn't do that if I were you.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Hello all,

Audio Maniac:

This is a difficult one, I certainly don't want a downgrade in sound. The main reason I kept the CA 640a was the soundstage it set and if thought anything I bought was "flat" compared to it I wouldn't, but I will go to Richersounds and have a listen to it and the Yamaha a-s500 (nothing to lose by a demo). Have you heard the Yamaha?

Thanks

Rob
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I couldn't comment on your source but I have the 640A and 640C plus Dali lektor 2's

The 640 combo used to be hard work when I also had the 9.1's bright and fatiguing as you are experiencing....I have found the Dali's considerably better than the 9.1's and they (Dalis) have gone a long way to increasing the presentation of the 640's.

The Dali's go much lower and firmer and the brightness is helped considerably. They do take a bit of running in though.

Not long ago RS had them for £150.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Hello all,

Nooby:

My source is my PC via a Asus Xonar D1 (decent spec) sound card playing mostly 320k lame mp3's.

Very Interesting!

I looked at the Dali Lektor 2's and they were the favourites until I discovered they were not shielded. One of my speakers sits next to my pc about for inches from the case and I'm a little worried about it (lots of shifting things around and general mess to accommodate them).

Having said that everybody loves those Lektor 2's.

I want to keep this amp if I can and the fact that you struggled with your 9.1s as I am now and found a way out the lektors will have me down to RS tmo!

Was the difference between 9.1s and Lektors night and day (once run in)?

Thanks

Rob
 
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Anonymous

Guest
If your PC doesn't have a CRT screen that won't be an issue. LCD and LED screens are not sensible to magnetic field.

I didn't mention anything about your loudspeakers just because I have no idea how they sound. It might be the main reason of the harshness. Loudspeakers are usually the most senstivie part of a audio system.

About your current integrated amp, it's far away from being perfect but in my opinion it's fairly priced. I'm sure you won't get anything much better for a similar price. You'll have to spend nearly 800 pounds to get an overall better one.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Hi again Azurbob

Re "Night and Day"...can I answer with a reserved "yes,....for me"

I don't know about the more qualified/experienced in here but I have found that the high end/treble is the most most critical and sensitive thing to right to my ears.

I have listened to much higher priced kit and still found myself thinking "what the hell is that" when certain usual suspects on vocals are hit with the s, f, c, t.

Some of this seems to be the recordings themselves as I have a few which are worse than others.

The Dalis are a significantly better speakers and will get you hearing nuances and a much better soundstage. The base will go lower and firmer and the treble will be much sweeter over the 9.1's

If I were you I would get down to RS with the cd's you are unsure about and get a good demo session...Many RS shops have demo rooms now.

Hope this helps but sometimes these kinds of issues are really subjective...

AzurBob said:
Hello all,

Nooby:

My source is my PC via a Asus Xonar D1 (decent spec) sound card playing mostly 320k lame mp3's.

Very Interesting!

I looked at the Dali Lektor 2's and they were the favourites until I discovered they were not shielded. One of my speakers sits next to my pc about for inches from the case and I'm a little worried about it (lots of shifting things around and general mess to accommodate them).

Having said that everybody loves those Lektor 2's.

I want to keep this amp if I can and the fact that you struggled with your 9.1s as I am now and found a way out the lektors will have me down to RS tmo!

Was the difference between 9.1s and Lektors night and day (once run in)?

Thanks

Rob
 

roger06

Well-known member
Dec 23, 2007
374
0
18,890
AzurBob said:
roger06:

...was it really that much better than the Yamaha?
Yes. My cousin and I couldn't agree on the speakers (I favoured MAs, he went for B&W 685s - his choice of course!) but neither of us liked the Yamaha amp. It just sounded boring, flat and lifeless. We listened to a Norah Jones track with a 'walking' bass line played on a double bass, and the Yamaha seemed to let it wonder all over the place.

The Marantz sounded controlled and really toe tapping. I've always found Marantz a little velvety for my taste so wasn't expecting to like it.

In fact his Marantz / 685 combo he now has something my Naim / Dynaudio, at three times the price, doesn't. It has real 'stonk', hard to explain, power, guts etc. Whereas my kit digs up way more detail, it sounds relaxed by comparison.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Hello All,

Audio Maniac:

I love the sound stage on this amp and from what has been said on the forums and heard first hand at Richersounds I would have to pay a lot more for a similar sound elsewhere. It makes it extra sweet for me because of the fact that I only paid £200 (Xdisplay) for it including a 5 year warranty from Richersounds, it had a few minor scratches and scuffs that gave me some bargaining leverage.

It looks like the Lektor 2's might warm the sound up a bit while getting a grip of the brightness, has to be worth a try.

Thanks for your reply but it's actually not my LCD Monitor I'm worried about, I know they're fairly immune to emi. It's my PC itself the speaker will be just 10cm away from the case itself.

Nooby:

It looks like a done deal for me, I'll be getting a pair. Sadly, I checked the RS website and there's no sign of the offer or the speakers and so it looks like I be paying the full wack (£250 ouch!) for them elsewhere (I always miss out on these amazing bargains. Lidl were selling high spec 10x50 binoculars for £15 fully coated with Bak4 lenses worth at least 5 times the sale price - missed them as well - "Only the lucky are ever lucky!").

Thanks,

Rob
 
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Anonymous

Guest
What are the acoustics like in the room?

If you have a lot of glass. wooden floors and metalitc objects the reflections of the sound waves will lean towards brightness.Also your brain will be fatigued decoding all the phase differences in the soundwaves between the original source and the sound reaching your ears.

If you have lots of soft furnishings, carpets etc most of these reflections will be aborbed. Have you tried drawing the curtains and putting rugs down on wooden floors and seeing if that helps?

Also have you tried...dare I say it backing off the treble of the amp? I have to do this on my Energy 2.1e's with metal dome tweeters, and when I use the Wharfedale 9.5's I have to do the opposite as the tweeters are silk woven. You're amp doesn't know what speakers it will be mated with, nor what the acoustisc are like in your room, hence the eq'ing options.

I doubt the problem lies with the speakers, which are a similar design to my 9.5's (silk dome tweeters and Kevlar cones) and I feel are very soft, probably too soft..
 
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Anonymous

Guest
hi i'm in a similiar situation, and my system started going harsh and bright after the upgrade so it was a frustrating experience. Though after experimentation on cables and speaker positioning, the sound continues to get better. From my experience with hi-fi equipment, the key is to find components that gel well together, a quick way to make a difference is to try different cables(not all copper cables sound warm, some are bright and lean), but for long term u might wanna sort out your source, afterall mp3 files are compressed, and u might benefit by getting a tube DAC, moreover if u wanna go the cable route, i find power cable for the amp makes big change, unless there's something u can't stand about your speaker presentation, i'd try to tame the harshness for now, and then take time in auditioning amp+speaker combo, try nad, arcam or rega amp.

good luck

andy
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Hi AzurBob!

Man, good question! Does magnet field cause interference on motherboards, memory cards, CPUs and hard disks?

I consider myself an advanced PC user but honestly I never thought about it before your post.


About trying Dali Lector 2, I think it's worthwhile. Do it and afterwards, tell me your conclusions.

Regards
 
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Anonymous

Guest
I think the Dali lektor 2 would be a step forward and great value.

But I did demo these lek's against the AVI neutron 2.1 set, and kept the AVI they are very very good for the money and you have amp+dac+sub+speakers.
 

Blackdawn

Well-known member
May 7, 2010
88
1
18,545
I agree, and have a pair of Lektor 2's myself and think they are better than the Wharfdale 9.1 speakers. However, if you have a large room you might want to consider some larger speakers.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Hello All,

Audio Maniac:

Surely I’m not the only person who’s had this problem. I was hoping someone might let me know it’s ok, there won’t be any problems so do it. So it looks like I’ll have to try it and see? My only other choice is the MA bx2’s (that are shielded)?

Tegmen:

9.5s way too big, I’m after bookshelfs.

Karmatogdral:

Common opinion seems to be 640a (bright) + 9.1s(bright) = bright.

I’m thinking of changing the amp based on its clinical sound as much as brightness. The speakers will go if the amp goes.

GeorgeK & Blackdawn:

Yep, most if not nearly all of what I’ve read about these lektor 2’s has been positive and I would have bought a pair by now if it wasn’t for this magnet/emi business. The MA bx2’s look very good also, but he Dalis are favourites.

I had a listen of the Marantz PM6003 with MS aviano 1’s and it was an impressive piece of kit, any opinions on this or another amp for £250 - £350?

Thanks,

AzurBob
 

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