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Speakers for bright room

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CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
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jas0_0 said:
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?
IMO. You can try tinkering around with Class D to get a warmer sound and it might work...but it's still Class D.

A half way house is changing either amp, or speakers.....and going the whole hog, is changing both. I simply don't know what will work for you. FWIW. I'd want to hear Harbeths on the end of your existing system, as they are more flexible over the amps they work with (Spendor Clasic are similar).

I think the Croft Power Amp is certainly worth considering. I can't help feeling that Croft/Harbeth will sort your problem for good.

Go out and try the various options and let us know how things go.
 

batonwielder

Well-known member
May 13, 2008
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CnoEvil said:
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
I started the first thread back in 2012. That's pretty cool.
 

pyrrhon

New member
May 9, 2013
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Your speakers = wide dispersion

Your room = narrow

Result = upper mids

Solution : Room treatment

Risky idea : narrow dispersion speaker could work. Some ribbons are more shoot ahead then soft domes.
 

batonwielder

Well-known member
May 13, 2008
32
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How can you tell if a speaker is wide dispersion or not? I thought because Proac in general recommends toeing in they would be pretty narrow. Brands such as Q Acoustics recommend firing straight ahead because they are wide dispersion. I wonder if there's a way to tell by looking at their technical specification.
 

Pedro2

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2010
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I think you'll notice a move in the right direction with the Sparkos op amps. I certainly did, although ultimately, it didn't stop me changing passive speaker + power amp to active speaker. It will be interesting to hear what you find.

Be careful if you're fitting them yourself, though. It's quite straight forward but I found to my cost that the wrong way round doesn't work (and renders the Op Amp useless!). You can find some decent photos of how they should be inserted on one of the other forums (sorry but forget which one). I personally found that Colin's written note wasn't enough for me and I needed a good photo to get it right. Good luck and please update with your impressions afterwards.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
559
336
19,270
batonwielder said:
How can you tell if a speaker is wide dispersion or not? I thought because Proac in general recommends toeing in they would be pretty narrow. Brands such as Q Acoustics recommend firing straight ahead because they are wide dispersion. I wonder if there's a way to tell by looking at their technical specification.
I would say that the typical dome tweeter is wide dispersion, whereas a panel speaker, like electrostatics from Quad or Martin Logan, are less so.

You don’t see them so much these days, but polar diagrams of the off axis response gave this info. The usual reason to listen off axis is where the tweeters are a bit ‘hot’, or elevated in level. They are often smoother and less prominent off axis. So, PMC and QA work quite well aimed straight down the room. My old Sonus fabers worked best crossed over in front of the listening area. My ATCs are pretty much aimed directly at me, in the classic triangle layout.

A quick Google found this. This 3rd diagram, in colour, is what I had in mind. It can be shown in other ways too.

https://en.toutlehautparleur.com/b-c-6fhx51-8-8ohm.html
 

newlash09

Well-known member
Aug 28, 2015
219
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10,820
nopiano said:
batonwielder said:
How can you tell if a speaker is wide dispersion or not? I thought because Proac in general recommends toeing in they would be pretty narrow. Brands such as Q Acoustics recommend firing straight ahead because they are wide dispersion. I wonder if there's a way to tell by looking at their technical specification.
I would say that the typical dome tweeter is wide dispersion, whereas a panel speaker, like electrostatics from Quad or Martin Logan, are less so.  

You don’t see them so much these days, but polar diagrams of the off axis response gave this info.  The usual reason to listen off axis is where the tweeters are a bit ‘hot’, or elevated in level.  They are often smoother and less prominent off axis.  So, PMC and QA work quite well aimed straight down the room.  My old Sonus fabers worked best crossed over in front of the listening area.  My ATCs are pretty much aimed directly at me, in the classic triangle layout. 

A quick Google found this.  This 3rd diagram, in colour, is what I had in mind. It can be shown in other ways too.  

https://en.toutlehautparleur.com/b-c-6fhx51-8-8ohm.html
I use both the PMC and QA concept 40's without any toe in.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
559
336
19,270
newlash09 said:
nopiano said:
batonwielder said:
How can you tell if a speaker is wide dispersion or not? I thought because Proac in general recommends toeing in they would be pretty narrow. Brands such as Q Acoustics recommend firing straight ahead because they are wide dispersion. I wonder if there's a way to tell by looking at their technical specification.
I would say that the typical dome tweeter is wide dispersion, whereas a panel speaker, like electrostatics from Quad or Martin Logan, are less so.

You don’t see them so much these days, but polar diagrams of the off axis response gave this info. The usual reason to listen off axis is where the tweeters are a bit ‘hot’, or elevated in level. They are often smoother and less prominent off axis. So, PMC and QA work quite well aimed straight down the room. My old Sonus fabers worked best crossed over in front of the listening area. My ATCs are pretty much aimed directly at me, in the classic triangle layout.

A quick Google found this. This 3rd diagram, in colour, is what I had in mind. It can be shown in other ways too.

https://en.toutlehautparleur.com/b-c-6fhx51-8-8ohm.html
I use both the PMC and QA concept 40's without any toe in.
Perfect!
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
17
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4,520
So I've just spent an interesting afternoon with a used set of Spendor SP3/1R2s and some Acoustic Energy AE1 actives, comparing at home with my Proacs - both on loan from the great people at Audio Gold in North London.

The Spendors were first on the end of the Nord power amp. Simply stunning. More air, separation and detail than the Proacs, a more 3D soundstage, a bigger sound and deeper bass, and achingly beautiful mids. But... still just a bit sharp on certain tracks - Miles Davis' trumpet was again too brash for my ears and, like with the Proacs, I felt there was some warmth missing in the upper bass and lower mids - it was a case of the same, but better.

By now I was convinced I just needed a new room, but then in went the AE1 actives. I ran them from the Croft pre and, considering their £1000 price tag, was very impressed. The bass was really deep for such a small speaker and the detail was good. I really liked their filled-out sound, and their balance and cohesion. They had great rythmic drive, with an easy going nature. But for me this came at the expense of some truth in the upper midrange and treble, which cost vocals emotion and the soundstage focus - and removed the sense of the recording room. Basically I'd been spoiled by the airy Spendors and Proacs. However, crucially, through the AE1s, Miles' trumpet did not shout - no matter where I put the treble dial on the back of the speakers. The AE1s never once hurt my ears.

This leaves me with two questions - first, was it the voicing of the AE1s' drivers or the replacement of the Nord with the AE1s' internal amps that solved the brightness problem? Second, is it possible to have all the air and detail of the Spendors and Proacs AND not suffer excessive brightness?

To answer both, the next step it to try some alternative power amps. Audio Gold have said they'll loan me a second hand Quad, and I will hopefully take delivery of a demo Croft 7R from Adrian at Audio Flair this week.

I'll let you know how I get on, but are there any other amps you think I should consider?
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
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Personally, I would be pointing the finger at the Nord.

I think the right amp with the Spendors will likely give you what you are looking for....which was my suspicion from the start.
 

Andrewjvt

New member
Jun 18, 2014
99
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jas0_0 said:
So I've just spent an interesting afternoon with a used set of Spendor SP3/1R2s and some Acoustic Energy AE1 actives, comparing at home with my Proacs - both on loan from the great people at Audio Gold in North London.

The Spendors were first on the end of the Nord power amp.  Simply stunning.  More air, separation and detail than the Proacs, a more 3D soundstage, a bigger sound and deeper bass, and achingly beautiful mids.  But... still just a bit sharp on certain tracks - Miles Davis' trumpet was again too brash for my ears and, like with the Proacs, I felt there was some warmth missing in the upper bass and lower mids - it was a case of the same, but better.

By now I was convinced I just needed a new room, but then in went the AE1 actives.  I ran them from the Croft pre and, considering their £1000 price tag, was very impressed.  The bass was really deep for such a small speaker and the detail was good.  I really liked their filled-out sound, and their balance and cohesion.  They had great rythmic drive, with an easy going nature.  But for me this came at the expense of some truth in the upper midrange and treble, which cost vocals emotion and the soundstage focus - and removed the sense of the recording room.  Basically I'd been spoiled by the airy Spendors and Proacs.  However, crucially, through the AE1s, Miles' trumpet did not shout - no matter where I put the treble dial on the back of the speakers.  The AE1s never once hurt my ears.

This leaves me with two questions - first, was it the voicing of the AE1s' drivers or the replacement of the Nord with the AE1s' internal amps that solved the brightness problem?  Second, is it possible to have all the air and detail of the Spendors and Proacs AND not suffer excessive brightness?

To answer both, the next step it to try some alternative power amps.  Audio Gold have said they'll loan me a second hand Quad, and I will hopefully take delivery of a demo Croft 7R from Adrian at Audio Flair this week. 

I'll let you know how I get on, but are there any other amps you think I should consider?  
First I'd consider changing the Nords op amp and I'd ask Colin's advice on which one.

2nd if you are looking for another amp I'd look at benchmark power amp but this is quite expensive but will definitely solve your issue.
Demo at home is a must
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
17
0
4,520
CnoEvil said:
Personally, I would be pointing the finger at the Nord.

I think the right amp with the Spendors will likely give you what you are looking for....which was my suspicion from the start.
Yes I think you’re right - the Nord seems to be the problem in my room. I’m listening right now with the Spendors and though the detail and soundstage are just beautiful, certain notes of Chopin’s Nocturnes are having an unpleasant compression effect on my eardrums.

I just went back to the start of this thread and found your list of suggested amps, so will track them down as well - thanks.
 

Pedro2

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2010
42
0
18,540
Andrewjvt said:
jas0_0 said:
So I've just spent an interesting afternoon with a used set of Spendor SP3/1R2s and some Acoustic Energy AE1 actives, comparing at home with my Proacs - both on loan from the great people at Audio Gold in North London.

The Spendors were first on the end of the Nord power amp. Simply stunning. More air, separation and detail than the Proacs, a more 3D soundstage, a bigger sound and deeper bass, and achingly beautiful mids. But... still just a bit sharp on certain tracks - Miles Davis' trumpet was again too brash for my ears and, like with the Proacs, I felt there was some warmth missing in the upper bass and lower mids - it was a case of the same, but better.

By now I was convinced I just needed a new room, but then in went the AE1 actives. I ran them from the Croft pre and, considering their £1000 price tag, was very impressed. The bass was really deep for such a small speaker and the detail was good. I really liked their filled-out sound, and their balance and cohesion. They had great rythmic drive, with an easy going nature. But for me this came at the expense of some truth in the upper midrange and treble, which cost vocals emotion and the soundstage focus - and removed the sense of the recording room. Basically I'd been spoiled by the airy Spendors and Proacs. However, crucially, through the AE1s, Miles' trumpet did not shout - no matter where I put the treble dial on the back of the speakers. The AE1s never once hurt my ears.

This leaves me with two questions - first, was it the voicing of the AE1s' drivers or the replacement of the Nord with the AE1s' internal amps that solved the brightness problem? Second, is it possible to have all the air and detail of the Spendors and Proacs AND not suffer excessive brightness?

To answer both, the next step it to try some alternative power amps. Audio Gold have said they'll loan me a second hand Quad, and I will hopefully take delivery of a demo Croft 7R from Adrian at Audio Flair this week.

I'll let you know how I get on, but are there any other amps you think I should consider?
First I'd consider changing the Nords op amp and I'd ask Colin's advice on which one.

2nd if you are looking for another amp I'd look at benchmark power amp but this is quite expensive but will definitely solve your issue. Demo at home is a must
Worth checking out those Sparkos op amps. I found that they tamed the top end a little but not sure whether it will be enough for your taste. Definitely worth a try though.

I found your take on the AE1a interesting. The bass control and quality is quite amazing for the size of enclosure. Their presentation as described is quite even across the spectrum and you would not describe the top end as sparkling. However, it’s not dull either. Just very musical!

I noticed that you used a Croft pre amp rather than the digital volume control in the Majik. Not sure whether Linn’s Space optimisation still works with an external pre but I’m sure you’ll know better than me on this one.

Good luck in your quest. You’re definitely doing the right thing and sizing up lots of options before parting with the cash!
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
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Pedro2 said:
Worth checking out those Sparkos op amps. I found that they tamed the top end a little but not sure whether it will be enough for your taste. Definitely worth a try though.

I found your take on the AE1a interesting. The bass control and quality is quite amazing for the size of enclosure. Their presentation as described is quite even across the spectrum and you would not describe the top end as sparkling. However, it’s not dull either. Just very musical!

I noticed that you used a Croft pre amp rather than the digital volume control in the Majik. Not sure whether Linn’s Space optimisation still works with an external pre but I’m sure you’ll know better than me on this one.

Good luck in your quest. You’re definitely doing the right thing and sizing up lots of options before parting with the cash!
I agree about the AE1a and I can quite see why you went for them. I found that I just let tracks play out when listening. The bass really is astonishing for such small cabinets and easily competed with the much larger Spendors. Their cohesive sound made everything sound great, and not dull in the slightest. It's possible I'm chasing something impossible: sparkling treble that also isn't too bright!

The Linn also outputs Space Optimisation via the DSi's line outs so I've been playing with that - it has transformed the bass of the Proacs, but I've not been able to solve the sharp higher frequencies and overall leanness.

I will order some Sparkos today to compare with the other power amps. It's not a huge outlay and it would be great to keep the Nord if I can as it does a lot of things very right, and I'm confident it will drive any speaker I throw it at in the future.
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
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jas0_0 said:
Yes I think you’re right - the Nord seems to be the problem in my room.  I’m listening right now with the Spendors and though the detail and soundstage are just beautiful, certain notes of Chopin’s Nocturnes are having an unpleasant compression effect on my eardrums.

I just went back to the start of this thread and found your list of suggested amps, so will track them down as well - thanks.

 
I think, as you've mentioned, the first thing to try is the Croft power amp, as you already have the Pre.

I suspect that will work...but if it doesn't, you are probably looking at a Valve Amp from the likes of Unison Research or Jadis.
 

davedotco

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Apr 24, 2013
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Might be a more sensble solution.

Among hi-fi manufacturers, the AVI ADM10s at around £2k might be an option, they are said to be very smooth in the HF, but my choice would be to try something with ribbon tweeters.

With that in mind, check out the Unity Audio 'Rock' monitors. Custom drive units built by Elac in Germany and amplifiers by Tim de Paravicini of EAR. My favourite speaker at anything like sensible money, under £2.5k pair for the pro version.

 

Pedro2

Well-known member
Nov 29, 2010
42
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18,540
jas0_0 said:
CnoEvil said:
Personally, I would be pointing the finger at the Nord.

I think the right amp with the Spendors will likely give you what you are looking for....which was my suspicion from the start.
Yes I think you’re right - the Nord seems to be the problem in my room. I’m listening right now with the Spendors and though the detail and soundstage are just beautiful, certain notes of Chopin’s Nocturnes are having an unpleasant compression effect on my eardrums.

I just went back to the start of this thread and found your list of suggested amps, so will track them down as well - thanks.
I remember reading a review of the Nord where the reviewer had a problem with piano; stated that it didn’t sound quite right. Then replaced the sonic Imagery with Sparkos and problem solved. Worth a try for the money and if you do decide to sell, I found that the Nord has an amazing resale value.

Further expolation of actives is also possible. I had planned to listen to a number but heard the AE first and was smitten. Keep us updated and have fun.
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
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So I took the Spendors and AE1 Actives back to Audio Gold - the Spendors reluctantly... they are beautiful things but they didn't solve my problem. Once it's sorted with the Proacs I'll see what pennies I have left and hope no one has bought them. However I didn't return home empty handed - a loaner Quad 606 has been wired up in place of the Nord most of the afternoon.

First switch on was a bit of a disappointment. Still the same sharp trumpets and painful pianos. Slightly dispairing I cast around and my eye fell on the big, bare, white concrete wall about 8 inches behind my head. I pulled up the two big, flat sofa cushions either side of me and propped them to my rear, against the wall. Back on went Miles Davis... and... bliss. I owe an apology to EllisDJ (and probably a few others) who suggested I should look further into room treatment from the outset - you were dead right.

Since then I have been switching back and forward between the Quad and the Nord. The Nord wins on separation, timing and bass control, but the Quad takes it for organic musical involvement, emotion and fun, and for me that's a much bigger win. It will be interesting to hear the Sparkos and Croft power in comparison when they arrive, but for the time being the Quad is staying connected.

Now to find some domestically-acceptable room treatment - any suggestions?
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
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I suspect the Croft will give you the compromise you are looking for.

There are 3 companies that you should should check out regarding domestically acceptable treatment:
1. Advanced Acoustics
2. GIK
3. Blue Frog Audio.
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
17
0
4,520
davedotco said:
Might be a more sensble solution.

Among hi-fi manufacturers, the AVI ADM10s at around £2k might be an option, they are said to be very smooth in the HF, but my choice would be to try something with ribbon tweeters.

With that in mind, check out the Unity Audio 'Rock' monitors. Custom drive units built by Elac in Germany and amplifiers by Tim de Paravicini of EAR. My favourite speaker at anything like sensible money, under £2.5k pair for the pro version.
Thanks Dave - I'd never seen these before. EAR ampification sounds very tempting! I also just read the Sound-on-Sound review and they seem like they could be perfect for my room. Will see if I can track down a pair.
 

Electro

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Mar 30, 2011
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jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
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Great room treatment suggestions... will investigate.

Cno I really appreciate all your patient advice - thank you.
 

jas0_0

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2015
17
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4,520
The Croft 7R arrived and I’ve been demoing against the Quad. Despite being new and probably needing time to burn in, the Croft is the immediate winner. In comparison the Quad’s highs sound artificial and closed in. Pianos, voices and strings all sound so much more natural through the Croft and make me finally appreciate quite what the little Proacs can do.

The final showdown will be Croft vs Nord once the Sparkos opamps arrive...
 

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