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Speakers for bright room

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Electro

Well-known member
Mar 30, 2011
43
3
18,545
Have you considered experimenting with different op amps for your Nord amp ?

I am sure Colin will advise you, it might be worth a try.

https://www.nordacoustics.co.uk/cables-op-amps-upgrades
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
17
0
4,520
Electro said:
Have you considered experimenting with different op amps for your Nord amp ?

I am sure Colin will advise you, it might be worth a try.

https://www.nordacoustics.co.uk/cables-op-amps-upgrades
Good idea - I have Sonic Imagery, but might try the Sparkos as well. I see that people say it's softer, warmer and bassier.

I have also just bought a NOS Mullard I61 to go in the Croft pre to see what difference that makes.
 

Pedro2

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2010
42
0
18,540
jas0_0 said:
Electro said:
Have you considered experimenting with different op amps for your Nord amp ?

I am sure Colin will advise you, it might be worth a try.

https://www.nordacoustics.co.uk/cables-op-amps-upgrades
Good idea - I have Sonic Imagery, but might try the Sparkos as well. I see that people say it's softer, warmer and bassier.

I have also just bought a NOS Mullard I61 to go in the Croft pre to see what difference that makes.
Hi there Jas0_0

I used to own a Nord power amp and it drove a pair of ATC SCM11s. The source was a Linn Akurate DSM so some similar components to your own set up. I started initially with the Sonic Imagery op amps but replaced them with the Sparkos and there was a definite change towards a fuller-bodied sound.

The Nord is a fantastic amp and for the money would be hard to beat (pound for pound). It will probably drive virtually any speaker you throw at it and is super revealing without sounding harsh. I did find, however, that the combination of Linn, Nord and ATC was somewhat lacking in 'warmth'. I don't think the ATCs will give you this if it's what you're after. They will give you incredible detail, natural transparency and industrial volume levels if these are of interest. I have not heard many of the speakers suggested by other forum members but I'm sure there will be some gems amongst them. My advice is to audition any speakers with the Nord driving them if you can. Also be careful if you change the op amps yourself. It's quite an easy task but if you put them in the wrong way round, they fry within seconds (as I discovered to my cost!). Have fun with your search and don't be too quick to part with your money.
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
17
0
4,520
Pedro2 said:
Hi there Jas0_0

I used to own a Nord power amp and it drove a pair of ATC SCM11s. The source was a Linn Akurate DSM so some similar components to your own set up. I started initially with the Sonic Imagery op amps but replaced them with the Sparkos and there was a definite change towards a fuller-bodied sound.

The Nord is a fantastic amp and for the money would be hard to beat (pound for pound). It will probably drive virtually any speaker you throw at it and is super revealing without sounding harsh. I did find, however, that the combination of Linn, Nord and ATC was somewhat lacking in 'warmth'. I don't think the ATCs will give you this if it's what you're after. They will give you incredible detail, natural transparency and industrial volume levels if these are of interest. I have not heard many of the speakers suggested by other forum members but I'm sure there will be some gems amongst them. My advice is to audition any speakers with the Nord driving them if you can. Also be careful if you change the op amps yourself. It's quite an easy task but if you put them in the wrong way round, they fry within seconds (as I discovered to my cost!). Have fun with your search and don't be too quick to part with your money.
Hi Pedro, this is really helpful info - thank you. In that case I've now pretty much struck ATC off my list. Can I ask why you sold the Nord/ATC combo in the end? Also, would you say the Sparkos was a worthwhile change for the money, or do you think I'd be better off leaving the Nord as is and just demoing a few speakers (probably Harbeths, Spendors and maybe Sonus Fabers) in my setup before spending any more cash?
 

Pedro2

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2010
42
0
18,540
I'd be tempted to leave any op amp changes until after you've decided on speakers although it's not that expensive to change them and if you do decide to sell the amp, it shouldn't affect the sale (in my experience). As to changing the amp as well as speakers, that's an even bigger move. I'm just not sure that you'd find anything much better than the Nord at anywhere near the price.

Regarding my own change, I decided to move down the active speaker route and changed both power amp (Nord) and speakers (ATC) for a pair of Acoustic Energy AE1a. I now use the Linn Akurate DSM as a streamer/pre-amp feeding the active speakers. After selling the Nord and the ATCs, I bought the AE1a and had money left over; somewhat unusual when upgrading hi-fi! You can find more information and discussion here if you're interested: https://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/acoustic-energy-ae1active

However, I'm not suggesting that you go down the same, or similar 'active' route. If you've got the time, opportunity and inclination, then it may be worth considering. I auditioned the speakers against my own (ATC) in the shop although they were being driven by a different amp (not the Nord) so a true comparison would have been a closer contest. I just preferred the 'flavour' of the Acoustic Energy speakers. As I mentioned in my earlier reply, take your time and don't be rushed into parting with your money. An audition is vital and if possible, one that can be done at home.
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
17
0
4,520
Pedro2 said:
I'd be tempted to leave any op amp changes until after you've decided on speakers although it's not that expensive to change them and if you do decide to sell the amp, it shouldn't affect the sale (in my experience). As to changing the amp as well as speakers, that's an even bigger move. I'm just not sure that you'd find anything much better than the Nord at anywhere near the price.

Regarding my own change, I decided to move down the active speaker route and changed both power amp (Nord) and speakers (ATC) for a pair of Acoustic Energy AE1a. I now use the Linn Akurate DSM as a streamer/pre-amp feeding the active speakers. After selling the Nord and the ATCs, I bought the AE1a and had money left over; somewhat unusual when upgrading hi-fi! You can find more information and discussion here if you're interested: https://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/acoustic-energy-ae1active

However, I'm not suggesting that you go down the same, or similar 'active' route. If you've got the time, opportunity and inclination, then it may be worth considering. I auditioned the speakers against my own (ATC) in the shop although they were being driven by a different amp (not the Nord) so a true comparison would have been a closer contest. I just preferred the 'flavour' of the Acoustic Energy speakers. As I mentioned in my earlier reply, take your time and don't be rushed into parting with your money. An audition is vital and if possible, one that can be done at home.
Thanks again for your help - really sound advice. I hope to stay with Nord for the moment, though the AE1 actives do look interesting (and reducing the box count is always a plus). One reviewer said avoid them for classical music... Is that your experience? What was it about their sound that took you away from the Nord/ATC combo?
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
17
0
4,520
nopiano said:
Not much I can add to the very sound advice above, except by suggesting spending a bit more time with positioning and toe in.

As for ATC, which I own in a floorstanding version with the same tweeter as those you mention: they are pretty well neutral, with a supporting bass so no brightness per se, and low distortion so negligible 'splash' and highly transparent with plently of natural shine on cymbals, for example.

Contrast PMCs which invariably have a deliberately elevated upper treble which gives 'added air'. In many rooms, aiming them straight down the room with no toe in, works fine. But they aren't neutral in my experience, though they can sound great.

A more rich-toned speaker that I ultimately could not get to work for me, but has many attractive qualities, is the Martin Logan ESL. Worth seeking out to hear, from an Absolute Sounds dealer in the UK. https://www.martinlogan.com/en/category/our-speakers#series-electromotion-series

If you are in the Sout West, then Stone Audio (Dorchester) and Paul Green (Bath) are where I've heard them. Not conventional looking but my wife loved the see-trhough look which minimises their bulk.
Hi - many thanks for the suggestion, I'd not heard of Martin Logan
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
559
336
19,270
Not much I can add to the very sound advice above, except by suggesting spending a bit more time with positioning and toe in.

As for ATC, which I own in a floorstanding version with the same tweeter as those you mention: they are pretty well neutral, with a supporting bass so no brightness per se, and low distortion so negligible 'splash' and highly transparent with plently of natural shine on cymbals, for example.

Contrast PMCs which invariably have a deliberately elevated upper treble which gives 'added air'. In many rooms, aiming them straight down the room with no toe in, works fine. But they aren't neutral in my experience, though they can sound great.

A more rich-toned speaker that I ultimately could not get to work for me, but has many attractive qualities, is the Martin Logan ESL. Worth seeking out to hear, from an Absolute Sounds dealer in the UK. https://www.martinlogan.com/en/category/our-speakers#series-electromotion-series

If you are in the South West, then Stone Audio (Dorchester) and Paul Green (Bath) are where I've heard them. Not conventional looking but my wife loved the see-trhough look which minimises their bulk.
 

Pedro2

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2010
42
0
18,540
I'm not sure why that reviewer mentioned avoiding classical music with the AE1a. We listen to all kinds of music although I would say that recently, it's been more classical than any other genre. The speakers give a very neutral presentation and acoustic instruments sound as they should. In particular, piano reproduction is excellent as is violin (our son is learning at the moment so the instrument is a familiar sound in our house). Vocals are also reproduced exceptionally well. As an example, we were listening to R Srauss Four Last Songs sung by Jessye Norman recently and the sound was beautiful; full of emotion - spine tingling even! To me, if the emotion of music can be felt, then the hi fi is really doing its job well.

To answer your question about changing the Nord/ATC for actives, it was partly about reducing the box count but mostly about getting a more immersive sound. Don't get me wrong, the Nord/ATC sounded good, very good. However, I had been wanting to audition active speakers for some time but most on my list were pricey (e.g. ATC 19a, ATC20a). Then the AE1a came along and every review was positive. On listening and comparing with the SCM11, I preferred the actives. Slightly more bass and definitely more 'close your eyes and the speakers disappear' about them. It wasn't night and day but enough for me to change. Hope this makes sense as trying to compare one set of good kit against another is not easy. It also often comes down to personal choice.
 

pyrrhon

New member
May 9, 2013
16
0
0
You should read that slowly :

https://www.stereophile.com/content/proac-response-one-sc-loudspeaker-measurements

-"The Response One has no low bass—the low frequencies are 6dB down at 51Hz—but note how smooth its measured response is throughout the midrange and treble."

Look at the measurements, its very nice and flat, better then most still today ! This speaker calls for a sub and thats it. It does not have too much treble.

[font="roboto, arial, helvetica, sans-serif"]If you want to change for warmer I can only advise the 30.1 in your list. The rest will not give you much warmer then what you have now.[/font]
 

Pedro2

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2010
42
0
18,540
pyrrhon said:
You should read that slowly :

https://www.stereophile.com/content/proac-response-one-sc-loudspeaker-me...

-"The Response One has no low bass—the low frequencies are 6dB down at 51Hz—but note how smooth its measured response is throughout the midrange and treble."

Look at the measurements, its very nice and flat, better then most still today ! This speaker calls for a sub and thats it. It does not have too much treble.

If you want to change for warmer I can only advise the 30.1 in your list. The rest will not give you much warmer then what you have now.
The suggestion to add a sub is worth considering especially if you can trial first before purchase. Although I'm not familiar with your speakers, I believe that they were highly rated on release and should still sound good or better given the right conditions and amp/source. Your amp and source are certainly first rate. One other thought; are you making use of Linn's Space optimisation? You can roll of the high end slightly as well as adding a bass shelf. It is highly likely that your room acoustics are playing a big part in your treble issues.
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
17
0
4,520
pyrrhon said:
You should read that slowly :

https://www.stereophile.com/content/proac-response-one-sc-loudspeaker-me...

-"The Response One has no low bass—the low frequencies are 6dB down at 51Hz—but note how smooth its measured response is throughout the midrange and treble."

Look at the measurements, its very nice and flat, better then most still today ! This speaker calls for a sub and thats it. It does not have too much treble.

If you want to change for warmer I can only advise the 30.1 in your list. The rest will not give you much warmer then what you have now.
Hi Pyrrhon - many thanks, though it was reading that review that made me realise my speakers might be the source of the brightness in my system in my room. Particularly this line:

"In a small, sparsely furnished room, the Response One SC might sound just a little bright."

I hear what you say about speaker warmth - I will definitely demo the M30.1.
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
17
0
4,520
Pedro2 said:
I'm not sure why that reviewer mentioned avoiding classical music with the AE1a. We listen to all kinds of music although I would say that recently, it's been more classical than any other genre. The speakers give a very neutral presentation and acoustic instruments sound as they should. In particular, piano reproduction is excellent as is violin (our son is learning at the moment so the instrument is a familiar sound in our house). Vocals are also reproduced exceptionally well. As an example, we were listening to R Srauss Four Last Songs sung by Jessye Norman recently and the sound was beautiful; full of emotion - spine tingling even! To me, if the emotion of music can be felt, then the hi fi is really doing its job well.

To answer your question about changing the Nord/ATC for actives, it was partly about reducing the box count but mostly about getting a more immersive sound. Don't get me wrong, the Nord/ATC sounded good, very good. However, I had been wanting to audition active speakers for some time but most on my list were pricey (e.g. ATC 19a, ATC20a). Then the AE1a came along and every review was positive. On listening and comparing with the SCM11, I preferred the actives. Slightly more bass and definitely more 'close your eyes and the speakers disappear' about them. It wasn't night and day but enough for me to change. Hope this makes sense as trying to compare one set of good kit against another is not easy. It also often comes down to personal choice.
Thanks Pedro - more really helpful information... making me think I should also audition the AE1 actives. If they work well, it would save both money and space. I had Acoustic Energy Aegis Ones years ago and loved them.
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
17
0
4,520
Pedro2 said:
pyrrhon said:
You should read that slowly :

https://www.stereophile.com/content/proac-response-one-sc-loudspeaker-me...

-"The Response One has no low bass—the low frequencies are 6dB down at 51Hz—but note how smooth its measured response is throughout the midrange and treble."

Look at the measurements, its very nice and flat, better then most still today ! This speaker calls for a sub and thats it. It does not have too much treble.

If you want to change for warmer I can only advise the 30.1 in your list. The rest will not give you much warmer then what you have now.
The suggestion to add a sub is worth considering especially if you can trial first before purchase. Although I'm not familiar with your speakers, I believe that they were highly rated on release and should still sound good or better given the right conditions and amp/source. Your amp and source are certainly first rate. One other thought; are you making use of Linn's Space optimisation? You can roll of the high end slightly as well as adding a bass shelf. It is highly likely that your room acoustics are playing a big part in your treble issues.
Again thanks Pyrrhon and Pedro. I had thought about a sub, but I'm actually quite happy with low frequency performance and to be honest I don't think I have the space!

Space Optimisation has been really eye opening. Spending time with this combined with Room EQ Wizard has brought huge improvements to the extent that I now consider some sort of software room correction a mandatory part of any future upgrades (unless I can some day afford a dedicated, treated listening room). I have applied a treble shelf, which definitely helped, but everything is still just a bit sharp.
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
17
0
4,520
Hi all, a quick update on my quest to tame system brightness. I replaced the stock ECC83 line stage valve in my Croft pre with a NOS Mullard and the result has been interesting.

The sound is now definitely fuller. For example Paranoid Android by Radiohead had sounded particularly lean, and is now more rounded out with more apparent lower mids and bass.

Though the most noticeable change is in the highs. Cymbals now sound just beautiful, with a wonderful metallic shimmer that was previously more of a hiss.

But the system still sounds bright. I think I’ve narrowed it down to a peak in the upper mids, where Miles Davis’ trumpet on So What is just a bit wearing.

So I’ve just ordered some Sparkos op amps to go in the Nord. All the advice here and reviews suggest they’re less mid dominant and warmer, so I thought it would be worth a go and not too expensive. If that doesn’t work I’ll start auditioning speakers, but I’m keen to try to make the Proacs work if possible - as they can sound absolutely stunning with the right music.

Will keep you updated.
 

Macspur

Well-known member
May 3, 2010
77
0
18,540
jas0_0 said:
Hi all, a quick update on my quest to tame system brightness. I replaced the stock ECC83 line stage valve in my Croft pre with a NOS Mullard and the result has been interesting.

The sound is now definitely fuller. For example Paranoid Android by Radiohead had sounded particularly lean, and is now more rounded out with more apparent lower mids and bass.

Though the most noticeable change is in the highs. Cymbals now sound just beautiful, with a wonderful metallic shimmer that was previously more of a hiss.

But the system still sounds bright. I think I’ve narrowed it down to a peak in the upper mids, where Miles Davis’ trumpet on So What is just a bit wearing.

So I’ve just ordered some Sparkos op amps to go in the Nord. All the advice here and reviews suggest they’re less mid dominant and warmer, so I thought it would be worth a go and not too expensive. If that doesn’t work I’ll start auditioning speakers, but I’m keen to try to make the Proacs work if possible - as they can sound absolutely stunning with the right music.

Will keep you updated.
If you can make the necessary adjustments by changing valves, well why not, makes sense and I guess that's the beauty of such amps.

Let us know how it goes with the next change.

Mac

www.realmusicnet.wordpress.com
 

batonwielder

Well-known member
May 13, 2008
32
2
18,545
If it were me I would keep those Proac's forever. Are you still using the biwire rods that came with the speakers? If so, I would like to strongly urge you replace them with properly terminated biwire jumpers. Nothing fancy, but something with strands with copper. No bare wire, as it's easy for them to get lose under the screw after a while. Those Proac's vibrate a lot, so take care to have strong mechanical connection as well as solid stands. Then hook up your cable to the woofer part of the terminal. If you have done these already, I apologize for wasting your time. But this is what I've found to work best with the Proac speakers in general.

Some people find Proac bright and think it's the treble, so they try to kill it as much as possible. What they are actually doing is only emphasizing the upper midrange. Combine this with some amplifiers from Rega and Naim, then you don't hear what those speakers are supposed to sound like. Do nothing fancy with the Proac's, and they will be pretty mesmerizing.
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
17
0
4,520
batonwielder said:
If it were me I would keep those Proac's forever. Are you still using the biwire rods that came with the speakers? If so, I would like to strongly urge you replace them with properly terminated biwire jumpers. Nothing fancy, but something with strands with copper. No bare wire, as it's easy for them to get lose under the screw after a while. Those Proac's vibrate a lot, so take care to have strong mechanical connection as well as solid stands. Then hook up your cable to the woofer part of the terminal. If you have done these already, I apologize for wasting your time. But this is what I've found to work best with the Proac speakers in general.

Some people find Proac bright and think it's the treble, so they try to kill it as much as possible. What they are actually doing is only emphasizing the upper midrange. Combine this with some amplifiers from Rega and Naim, then you don't hear what those speakers are supposed to sound like. Do nothing fancy with the Proac's, and they will be pretty mesmerizing.
Thanks - interesting idea for cables. Currently I have Van Damme 4mm copper cables with screw-on banana plugs for the main wires and small lengths of the Van Damme replacing the rods that came with the speakers. Do you think that will do the trick?
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
17
0
4,520
Macspur said:
If you can make the necessary adjustments by changing valves, well why not, makes sense and I guess that's the beauty of such amps.

Let us know how it goes with the next change.

Mac

www.realmusicnet.wordpress.com
Thanks Mac - I will do. Further listening with the Mullard reveals much better separation between instruments, which actually helps to tame some perceived brightness as my ear is drawn into the nuanced top end detail, rather than just hearing a treble mush.
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
jas0_0 said:
Thanks - interesting idea for cables. Currently I have Van Damme 4mm copper cables with screw-on banana plugs for the main wires and small lengths of the Van Damme replacing the rods that came with the speakers. Do you think that will do the trick?
BW will answer for himself, but FWIW, this is my opinion.

- ProAc work best with Valves and Class A (like Sugden), or they can sound a little bright.

- The problem is not being caused by your Van Damme cables, which are perfectly respectable "no nonsense" stuff.

- In your system, the DS and Croft are very musical...and the ProAcs can be.

- Nord is very clean and neutral sounding, with no extra warmth and is probably the culprit, when mixed with the Proacs (in your room).

If you want to keep the ProAcs, you will probably need to change the amp, to something like a Pathos or Sugden. If you are happy to let the ProAcs go, then you should be looking at something like Harbeth or Spendor Classic Series.
 

batonwielder

Well-known member
May 13, 2008
32
2
18,545
Are the jumpers terminated? Are the main cables hooked up to the the woofer? Then you are golden. Think of it as a reference point.

Now, you have three components. How are they connected to the outlet? Are you using a power strip/surge protector? The Proac's are very sensitive to the equipment upstream as you'd probably know. Ground loop can elicit strange grain in the sound. I suppose you are ethernet wired to the Linn, which is also a cause for more electrical problems, with shielding and all.

Take nothing for granted. I've only recently caught the electrical problem in my system after 5 years of living in the same place. I went from the D2's to the Tablette 10's during this period.

I also had the Harbeth 7es3 and P3esr before this.

What Cno is saying is right. Proac likes Class A and valves. It doesn't mean they need to be tamed. It means they can take transparency and are easy to drive. They are not dark sounding speakers, for sure. Then take advantage of their openness and transparency by giving them the best support electrically.
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
556
8
0
Here are some great threads discussing ProAc and Harbeth:

https://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/proac-response-d1-or-d2

https://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/harbeth-p3esr-v-spendor-sa1v-proac-one

https://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/speaker-shoot-out-harbeth-p3esr-vs-proac-tablette-anniversary
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
17
0
4,520
Thanks Cno and BW, I gather the Sparkos op amp in the Nord gives a warmer, more class A sound, so will start with that, then move on to experimenting with speakers if it doesn’t solve the issue.

I think I’m more inclined to change the speakers rather than the amp, as I think this will make the system more future-proof when I come to move house - will definitely audition Spendor Classics and Harbeths if it comes to it.

However, Cno would you add a Croft valve power amp such as the 7 series to that list of amps to drive the Proacs?
 

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